Since Stay‘s publication, I’ve gotten a flurry of questions about writing and publishing and I’m happy to share what I’ve learned. Keep checking back. I’ll add more questions and answers in the not-so-distant-future. If you have a question you’d like answered, send me an e-mail.
Can you read my manuscript?
No. I’m very sorry, but I can’t. What worked best for me while writing my first book was to participate in a writing group. If you can’t find a writing group, look for a trusted friend or reader who can give you honest feedback. Having readers for your work is vital, and finding the right readers takes time. Be patient. Listen to your gut when receiving feedback. Remember the writing process is about telling the best story you can for the characters you’ve created. Check your ego at the door, but also remember that it’s your job to make the best choices for your story, and not all the feedback you receive will work for your story. I find that often the advice that annoys me the most is the advice I should be taking.
How did you find an agent?
I used AgentQuery.com to search for agents and look up their submission guidelines (which I then cross-referenced with agency websites). I read blogs like Miss Snark and Pub Rants, and books like Give ’em What They Want and The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit to learn how to write a query letter and submit to agents.
What’s a query letter?
A query letter is a 250ish word letter to literary agents describing the story you’ve taken 80-100,000 words to write and asking if they’d like to read some or all of said story. The body of a query letter should be similar to the jacket-copy on a book.
Can I see your query letter?
Dear <<Ms. Agent>>,
What happens when you find love and he finds your best friend instead?
If you’re Savannah Leone, you tear off your orange satin maid-of-honor gown, get drunk on Kool-Aid and vodka, and buy a German Shepherd from Slovakia off of the Internet.
In Savannah Leone and Her Trusty Dog, Joe, Savannah, “Van,” struggles with the marriage of her best friend to the man she’s secretly in love with, the loss of her mother to cancer, and all the confusion that goes along with the “now what” stage of twenty-something life. She’s lost her sense of which end is up, so she’s acting on impulses that lead her to love, strength, and a ninety-five pound dog named Joe.
Her inexperience with dogs leads her to consult Dr. Alex Brandt, a vet with floppy blond hair and a winning smile. But just as things are starting to heat up with Alex, the newlyweds come home from their honeymoon, forcing Van to decide between past relationships and the promise of new ones.
Stay is women’s fiction and is approximately 80,000 words. I’ve also written an outline for a sequel.
I live in upstate New York with my 95-pound German Shepherd, (who is from the Catskills, not Slovakia), and write AlliesAnswers.com, a daily eco-friendly blog. My short story, “Bathtub Mary,” will appear in the March 2008 issue of The Summerset Review.
I’ve enclosed the first two chapters and a synopsis. Thank you for taking the time to review my materials.
Are their any books on writing you recommend?
My all-time favorite book on writing is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It’s been useful at every stage of my writing career. I also like The Writing of Fiction by Edith Wharton. While it’s not a writing book, Sanford Meisner on Acting, is a wonderful resource for character development.