Query Letter Examples & Advice

I wrote last week about the need and purpose of query letters — to get an agent for your masterpiece. This time I have a good article by Robert Lee Brewer at Writer’s Digest, which explains a little more about the query concept and also gives good examples of query letters that were successful in […]

via Query Letter Examples — In A Tale-Spin

More sage advice on querying from In A Tale Spin…check out the previous post here.

Query letters are such a daunting task. You must do the research. You must find who is publishing your type of book, who the agent is within that agency, and then decipher what they are looking for. I wrote one query letter about 12 years ago and was just sure I was getting an agent. I had a contact from another author. I had good feedback from beta readers. I felt confident my book was coming to fruition. I spent a long time crafting that query letter. I worked on a platform because I read that was important. I sent my query with high hopes.

Obviously, it did not work out the way I thought. I received a really nice, personal email from the agent explaining she wasn’t taking on any new manuscripts in my genre. She also offered I may need to revisit my sample chapters, and consider some revision to add tension. I was crushed.

Looking back, I see she was generous. My WIP was not ready. It was a good idea, but my writing was not there yet, and like she said, I needed some tension. It was too nostalgic, too giddy. I put it away and did not look at it for over a decade. Now I am in the thick of rewrites and restructure. I feel good about the direction, but I will not start querying until I feel it is ready. I also will send out more than one letter. Most authors I interface with say they sent anywhere from 30-100 queries. I also got some great advice about platform. Yes, they look at it, but it is not a deal breaker. It is better to have a following you grow organically, interact with regularly, and can count on wanting to read your work when it becomes public.

For now, I will keep writing.

Beginner’s Guide To The Query Letter — In A Tale-Spin

Writers write. A pretty basic philosophy, but, sadly, there’s more to it than that. Writing is really all most of us want to do, and then have that writing appear out in the world and bring a nice dose of appreciation and fulfillment…and yes, even a little fame and fortune would be quite acceptable. The […]

via Beginner’s Guide To The Query Letter — In A Tale-Spin

I am not at this point yet, but query letters and the submission process in general, is daunting. I like what this gentleman has been writing about the arduous undertaking of researching and locating the right agent with the right query letter for your manuscript.

Father’s Day During a Pandemic

anonymous crop father helping kid to ride bicycle

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on Pexels.com

My dad passed away before his 40th birthday. Father’s day is one of those holidays that is always bittersweet for me. I miss him, and wish he could see the amazing grandchildren he has. I wish he knew Dylan did not turn out to be a guitar picker, but he loves music. He is happy playing tennis, and working in a career he loves. He is kind, and generous…just like my dad. I wish he knew Olivia. She is smart, and ambitious. As a freshman in college, she is a NIH INBRE Scholar doing research in a lab alongside grad students and phds. She is passionate about conservation, just like him.

Father's Day

Family Dive Trip in Grenada

Now there is another dad in my life, my husband. He is boisterous, intelligent, kind, and an engineer just like my dad. This year father’s day is different. Our kids are in another state, and everybody is being careful not to contract or spread Covid-19. We have a house in Virginia waiting for renovations so we can sell it. The pandemic happened, and it has been sitting, waiting for us to come show it some love and find its new owners. My husband decided to make the drive this weekend and see if he could go through the meager possessions left there, and enlist some contractors who can start the process of giving it a light makeover.

Our kids will both be in town this weekend, but it is a hard choice about seeing them. They have been careful of exposure, but they are also of the generation without fear of getting Covid-19. They have seen friends, significant others, been out paddleboarding, grocery shopping- wearing masks, but still around others who do not.  But, it is Father’s Day, and we are a close family. I am sure he will take the risk, but use caution.

I don’t think any of us realized how difficult this would be when we undertook sheltering in place. There is an allure to ignoring the numbers, thinking even if we get it, we will survive, the risk is acceptable to see our family, and enjoy some of the comforts foregone for so many weeks. But, that also would mean ignoring reality, ignoring the spikes in infection and hospitalizations across states that have blindly reopened. It would also mean putting those we love at risk. So, my husband won’t go see his mother while in town. He won’t see our close friends while in town. He will hunker down and stay isolated in our house, and see our kids from six feet away as they have a socially-distanced, takeout Father’s Day.

I will be at home in Florida thinking healthy thoughts for him and the kids.

I want to do something special for him when he gets back, and show him how much I admire and appreciate the parent he is to our kids.

He has fond memories of strawberry cake on his birthday. The strawberries are beautiful right now. I am in the midst of testing recipes. It is a good time for some Strawberry Lemonade cupcakes. Recipe and pics coming next week!


#1000WordsofSummer Reflections

coffee notebook pen writing

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

The challenge officially ends today, and I have mixed feelings. It has been a boon to have the accountability of pushing out at least 1000 words every day for fourteen days. I did that. I wrote close to 20,000 words just these last two weeks. That is pretty frickin’ awesome!

I also established a routine- I write every day. Sometimes it feels like a chore. Sometimes I can’t wait to get going, but every day I do it. This challenge forced me to establish a routine, and I am going to stick to it. If you don’t write, you aren’t a writer. Pretty simple.

I am sad I will not have a community of people engaged in the same task as me to check in with daily. We shared book recs, writing advice, pictures of our pets, and personal struggles. A strong writing community makes the solitary task of writing easier. Once this pandemic ebbs, I will find a writing group. I know I need that conduit for feedback and support.

I downloaded all of Jami Attenberg’s inspirational newsletters in case I find my dedication to #stayinit waning. It will not be the same, and I am eternally thankful to have been a part of her group, but it is a touchstone now for taking a serious step towards finishing my book.


be brilliant neon light

Photo by Timothy Paule II on Pexels.com

I started a thing today…a challenge…1000 words every day for the next two weeks. I made my goal! I wrote 1800 words on my memoir. It was not easy, and it is not pretty. I have been thinking about a very private topic I never talk about, but it keeps cropping up. I decided to dive in, open the wound, and see where it went. I am not comfortable with it- yet. But, am going to keep going and see where it leads.

I like this challenge; it makes me accountable to myself to set aside time every day to write. I struggle with thinking I have nothing worth saying. I need to make peace with this and the only way to do it, is to keep writing. Anne Lamott wrote an essay I read when I was younger, “Shitty First Drafts” that was included in her seminal work, Bird by Bird. This excerpt keeps me going when I have doubts.

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start
somewhere. Start by getting something — anything — down on paper. A friend of
mine says that the first draft is the down draft — you just get it down. The second
draft is the up draft — you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more
accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to
see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.

Chronicle of #1000wordsofsummer via Insta





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Day 12 Day 13
















Links to Jami Attenberg’s newsletters 2020

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four- #BlackoutTuesday, no newsletter, just writing

Day Five 

Day Six 

Day Seven

Day Eight

Day Nine

Day Ten

Day Eleven

Day Twelve

Day Thirteen

Day Fourteen

Recipe Testing: The Good, The Bad & The Tasty

set of tasty fresh vegetables and parsley with empty clipboard

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I challenged myself to write along with the community participating in #1000wordsofsummer to help kickstart a working draft of my food memoir and establish a regular writing routine. It is day eight and I have hit my goal every day.

The hard part of this has been facing the realization that most of the first draft of my book was trash. Jenny Bent was kind to me when she sent my rejection letter a decade ago…too kind. Most of my writing time these past eight days has been salvaging a sentence or two to bounce off and completely rewriting the rest. I had 90 pages plus another 42 of recipes to start. I am now at 22,739 words which is roughly 88 pages. I think I probably saved about 12 pages of original content and the rest is new. I feel good about where the narrative is going. It is much more raw and honest, but that is what it needed to be from the start. It is hard writing some of these moments though- it is a lot of me coming to terms with things I have pushed down for years.

Now that I have a good chunk of story, I need to get to work on recipes. I am terrible at writing down what I do in the kitchen. I sort of just throw things in, taste, adjust, serve. I need to make the recipes something a novice could follow successfully. My husband has gladly volunteered to be the tester 🙂 He will taste the product I make, give me feedback. then make it following my directions and compare the end products. He is a usability engineer so I am a lucky girl.

The list is lengthy. Follow along as we navigate recipe testing while #shelteringinplace with no escape from each other. First up: pickled vegetables and pimento cheese spread.


Chasing Dreams


I found my dream job. It combines all my loves- writing, cooking, reading, and literary discussion while eating. I was on Instagram posting about another dream come true, I was accepted into Bich Minh Nguyen’s memoir workshop at the Key West Literary Seminar and Workshops in January, when I happened on Tables of Contents.

Let me get this out of the way….AAAAAHHHHH!!!!! So excited to sit at Nguyen’s feet and soak up all her knowledge about crafting memoir. Her book, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, is exactly the style of writing I love. I feel a writing life-changing January coming on.

Back to my dream job (besides being an author who can finish her WIP), Tables of Content. From their website:

Tables of Contents makes events that use food as an unconventional but revelatory entry point for experiencing books, music, art, and culture.

We run monthly tastings in collaboration with the world’s greatest literary talents, throw spectacular dinner parties to take you course-by-course through an artwork, curate recipes and interviews from the artists we work with, partner with brands on custom events and special projects, and make bomb ass biscuits.

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The Home Page for Tables of Contents. I mean, c’mon…


I can make fabulous food (owned a restaurant for nine years); I read like an addict; I have experience interviewing authors (thx Write or Die Tribe); I majored in English Lit & Art History (so conversation should be doable); I make bomb ass jams & compound butters to go with those biscuits. Let’s be real- even if they just let me be an awkward fan at their events, that would work as well.

If I could create a dream job, I could not have come up with a better concept. I need to be a part of this food and book smorgasbord.

Forget Platform—Build a Bridge — BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog

There are three big myths about platform. Myth #1: platform = social media followers You may have seen writers on Twitter with statistics like “20.1K followers, 20K following.” Some writers build these numbers with “#writerlift” posts (everyone follows everyone else), or use apps to mass-follow hundreds of accounts, hoping they’ll follow back. That’s not a […]

via Forget Platform—Build a Bridge — BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog

As a writer who uses social media to amplify readership of my own writing, I completely feel this post! I keep seeing Writer’s Lifts on Twitter, and quiet confession…I participated in a few, but I realize if the person I follow does not produce content that speaks to me, I cannot pay it forward. I just become a voiceless number on their follow list or vice versa. I love the idea of building a bridge to organically create your platform. This is my new project! Thanks Brevity for always being awesome!

Writers Near and Far: Shared Prompts and Tic-Tac-Toe Boxes — BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog

By Megan Vered and Jennifer Lang Part One: Creating Community by Megan Vered I open the link to our scheduled Monday evening meeting and, one by one, mini faces appear in virtual boxes. How happy I am to see the women from my weekly writer’s group! We’ve been meeting in my home for the past […]

via Writers Near and Far: Shared Prompts and Tic-Tac-Toe Boxes — BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog

A writing group is so essential for a writer. I have been a part of a few over the years, and they always make me a better, more aware writer. I was introduced to the concept at the Blue Ridge Writing Project at Virginia Tech in 2010, and since Sheltering-in-Place started, I have not thirsted for one more. I love that writers like Megan Vered and Jennifer Lang are making the magic of writer’s groups work virtually across continents, and time zones. We need these type of communities as we try to document and give voice to what is going on in society. We also need the support and fellowship as writing becomes an even more solitary endeavor.

Stay Safe, Find Your People, and Write On!

Writing Prompts for When You Can’t Write Due to a Global Crisis — BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog

Every writer out there…this list is gold 🙂 I’m thinking of a braided essay on toilet paper and bras…

By Julie Vick Can’t seem to get much writing done during the pandemic? Here are some writing prompts that probably won’t help: Write a letter to your younger self. Find a way to casually suggest that you start learning how to cut your own hair. Plan a trip to a different room in your house. […]

via Writing Prompts for When You Can’t Write Due to a Global Crisis — BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog