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The next Children's Writer's World post will be on June 15th.

March 15, 2016

To Be, or Not To Be Snappy

Many publishers and literary agents agree that queries should be professional.  That means the letter needs to be straightforward without any outward attention-grabbing devises. 

There are however, some writers who believe that a witty query will help them stand out from the slush pile. Some writers like to send a query written in the voice of the main character.  I wouldn't recommend this tactic.  It is usually frowned upon by agents.  

Other writers have met agents at conferences, and they feel confident enough to approach them with a snappy synopsis or bio.  Again, there is no guarantee that a writer will snag an agent this way.  

Literary agent Mary Kole says, “The point is, some agents will always prefer a straightforward, businesslike query.  Others will tolerate some cuteness or gimmick. You don't know who's who until you try it, though, even even then, most people won't tell you if that was part of the decision to pass."

I personally wouldn’t try a gimmicky query, but that’s just me talking.  I’d be afraid my clever query might backfire.  Even if my story is titled “The Bright and Brainy Pony ," I’d be scared to label myself as a bright and brainy writer in my bio.  Though it’s clever and plays on the title, it’s risky.  And…I’m not a risk-taker. 

So, how will you write your query?  Will it be snappy or strickly professional?  In the end it comes down to your gut feeling.  To paraphrase a quote from the movie Dirty Harry:  “You’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?  Well, do ya?”

March 1, 2016

The Five Senses on a February Day

I like to walk for about an hour around my neighborhood even when it's freezing.  Only snow and rain keep me inside. So bundled with layers of clothing, plus gloves, ear muffs and a scarf up to my chin, I brave the cold.  

Here are the five senses on a brisk February day before I sit down to write.

I Hear:  
blue jays screeching 
fire engine siren screaming 
train whistle wailing 
dogs barking, snarling, and growling 
wind chimes tinkling

I Smell:  
smoke from a fireplace
the flowery scent of laundry being dried
dry cold air
damp oak leaves 

I Feel: 
a breeze sailing through my hair
wind striking my face
cold cutting through my jeans
fur-lined gloves warming my hands

I See:  
10 American flags, 8 Christmas decorations, and 6 University of Kentucky Wildcat flags
the sun peeking through thick grey clouds
a discarded beige leather sofa by the street curb
wine-colored buds trying to push out on oak trees
a cluster of emerald-green hyacinth leaves waiting for spring 

I Taste
nothing yet until dinner (pan-fried pancetta tossed with brocolini served over pasta)

Coming March 15th:  To be or not to be snappy. How witty should a query letter be?