Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Query Letters--Do or Don't?

A query letter is a formal way of introducing yourself and asking an editor or agent to see your work. Sometimes it is the only way for an author to reach out to an industry professional.

There are lots of great resources on how to write a query letter.

Helpful Links for Query Letters:

But are they always necessary? If an agent or editor has requested material, must you send a query letter?

Some agents and editors say that the answer is no. If you have had the opportunity to discuss your manuscript with an editor or agent for an extended period of time, and they have requested a full or partial manuscript, then generally a cover letter reminding them of who you are, where you met, and some key elements of your story are fine, along with any other requested materials, like a synopsis or outline.

The query is an introduction to an editor or agent. If you have met them in person and shared conversation, then chances are they will remember you if you send the requested material within a short period of time, then again, maybe they won't. The degree of formality you use depends a great deal on the individual and the relationships you build.

Some say not to send query letters at all. See the video below in which Michael Levin discusses how query letters are "invitations to rejections." He gives advice on what you should send instead.

Researching the editor and agent, asking questions, and getting to know them personally, will help you decide how best to present and sell your work.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

LIRW's 2015 "Shining the Light on Romance" Luncheon

                    Long Island Romance Writers
                      proudly present the 18th Annual 

                  "Shining the Light on Romance"
                          Agent/Editor Luncheon
Spring was in the air and so was the excitement at the Long Island Romance Writers' 18th annual Agent/Editor Luncheon held on May 8th at the beautiful Fox Hollow in Woodbury, N.Y.

Keynote speaker, Jim McCarthy, gave a humorous and insightful speech about his journey on becoming an agent, the perseverance of a couple of his clients, and the value of never giving up.  It was a wonderful, inspiring talk that had the group laughing and nodding their heads.

LIRW President, Myra Platt, welcomed all to our event and informed the attendees of the accomplishments of LIRW members, many who had  made that special contact at previous luncheons. 

 Jim McCarthy,
 vice-president of  Dystel & Goderich Literary Management

LIRW President and published author Myra Platt 


Melissa Edwards - The Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency
Samantha Bremekamp -- Corvisiero Agency
Marisa Corvisiero -- Corvisiero Agency
Rebecca Strauss -- DeFiore and Company, LLC
Stephany Evans -- President, FinePrint Literary Management
Kate McKean -- VP & Literary Agent, Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, Inc.
Jill Grosjean -- Jill Grosjean Literary Agency
Kathy Green -- Kathryn Green Literary Agency, LLC
Leon Husock -- L. Perkins Agency
Sandy Lu -- L. Perkins Agency
Lori Perkins -- Founder, L. Perkins Agency
Elizabeth Copps -- Maria Carvainis Agency, Inc.
Shira Hoffman -- McIntosh and Otis
Eric Ruben -- Ruben Law
Cassie Hanjian -- Waxman Leavell Literary Agency


Elle Keck --Editorial Assistant, Avon Romance

Megha Parekh -- Associate Editor, Grand Central Publishing

Lauren Plude -- Associate Editor, Grand Central Publishing
Shannon Barr -- Ed Asst HQN Intrigue + Nocturne
Allison Carroll -- Ed. Assistant HQN Desire/Rom Suspense
Carly Silver -- Ed. Assistant HQN Special Edition
Esi Sogah -- Kensington Publishing Corp.
Bette-Lee Fox -- Managing Editor, Library Journal
Jenn Fisher -- Assistant Editor, NAL
Marla Daniels -- Assistant Editor,Gallery Books|Pocket Books|Pocket Star Books
Cat Clyne -- Assistant Editor, Sourcebooks Casablanca
Aubrey Poole -- Associate Editor, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky /Fire
Amy Stapp -- Editorial Assistant, Tor
Bess Cozby -- Editorial Assistant, Tor
Lindsey Stover -- Tule Publishing Group
Rhonda Penders -- Editor-in-Chief, The Wild Rose Press

We want to give a special "thank you" to our luncheon chairperson, Beth Ellen and vice chairperson, Pamela Burford,  the LIRW board, the Luncheon Committee, our drivers, volunteers, and all the guest agents and editors who made our event special this year. 

It was such a fun afternoon, and I made so many great connections with agents, editors and fellow writers!I feel so lucky to be a part of this community! ~ Ruth  Vincent

table 1
Beth Ellen, Nike Chillemi, Melissa Sasser, Judy Fischer, 
Harris Fischer, Michele Lang, Linda Cook, Penny Moore

table 4
Sam Bremekamp, Elizabeth D.Spencer, Lindsey Stover, Samantha Williams, 
Ally Bishop, Maggie Van Well, Karen Friedrich, Megan Kastner

table 6
Catherine Woinich, Beth Iorio. Georfrey Wells, Riley Mackenzie, 
Lynn Marie Hulsman, Lillian Marek, Carly, Silver, Melissa Edwards, Leon Husock

table 7
Jolyse Barnett, Elizabeth Copps

table 8
Dawn Berkoski, Effie Speyer, Cat Clyne, Catherine Moore, Lyla Bellatas,
Damon Suede, Elaine Violette, Jill Sooley, Shira Hoffman

table 9
Donna Coe-Velleman, Mecca Cerny, Bess Cozby, 
Margie Malone, Jolie Mohn, Patricia Mohn, Eric Ruben

table 11
Lori Perkins, Annav Taylor Sweringen, Lauren Watson, Rhonda Penders, 
Stephanie Kepke, Debra Druzy, Candy Caine

table 12
Mary Tuohy, Ann Lettal, Mona Sedeak, Voule Walker, 
Kimberly Rocha, Lauren Plude, Deborah Ann Dana

table 13
Lynne Cannon, Elle Keck, Jennifer Welsh,
 Sandy Lu, Theresa Schevis, Linda Ingmanson, Karen Smith

"The luncheon was a beautiful affair again - delicious food, gorgeous setting and a fabulous mix of guests. Most importantly, it was inspiring - from Jim McCarthy's funny and wise keynote address to networking with agents, editors and other authors, I left ready to get to work!" ~ Stephanie Kepke

We hope to see you again next year! 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Let's Get Ready to Pitch!!

This Friday, May 8th, The Long Island Romance Writers will host their 18th annual Shining the Light on Romance Agent/Editor Luncheon. For the last 17 years, this has been a writing event worth every penny (and not to mention the food is always fabulous!)

When we first begin our journey down the path to becoming a published author we all imagine the path a little different. Some of us start out with our rose-colored glasses firmly in place, seeing a flower-strewn path or the proverbial yellow-brick road and others see nothing but the fog up ahead, a road filled with speed-bumps, dips and hairpin turns.

Then we dig down deep inside and dare to let the words flow from our hearts and minds onto the page. We edit, revise and write more. We learn the craft and write more. We mingle with other writers and write more. We step out of our comfort zones and show our work to our peers...asking for criticism and suggestions!

When we are finally confident (or as confident as any writer can be when faced with the possibility of sending their work out to the public) it's time to put aside our insecurities and follow the next logical step. It's time to execute the plan. If you're going the traditional publishing route, it's time to query agents and editors.

It's now time to achieve your goals, your dreams.

If you have a seat at the LIRW Luncheon, for one afternoon every May, you have at least a dozen agents and editors to mingle with and pitch your book to in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. Like a little bee you can move through crowd, take a sip of champagne punch for courage, and talk up your ideas. Boil your book down to a few succinct lines, know your genre and be able to chat about what makes your book exciting! Collect business cards and get ready to send your manuscript out the door with the coveted words, AS REQUESTED in your email subject line...because chances are you will get requests, if you pitch.

 The truth is, the LIRW Luncheon has a great success rate. Many authors can credit their attendance at the luncheon with their agent representation and book deals.

Today is the day for you take that idea brewing in the imagination to the next level...are you ready?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Beyond the Written Word

What is a book? It is a means to pass thoughts, creativity, and knowledge from one person to another.  What is an old book? Sometimes it's a cherished item but most of the time it's given away and passed around until it's finally thrown out, unless you're an artist who will transform these volumes so they're able to communicate in another way.

                                    Guy Laramee    (http://www.guylaramee.com/)
  Representation : www.jhbgallery.com

Guy Laramee cuts away pages to reveal landscapes hidden within the pulp.  His work has an air of solitude about them. It asks the viewer to rest and contemplate. 
                                                                                    Guy Laramme

Kylie Stillman 
Artwork by Kylie Stillman courtesy of Utopia Art Sydney.

Kylie Stilllman carves pages creating silhouettes of objects we can't see. Her work is simple and dramatic at the same time. 
To me, the pots in the above picture,  have an almost Trompe L'oeil effect.  Are they carved into the books or are they protruding?  What do you think?
Besides books, Ms. Stillman uses wood and even ballpoint pens as mediums for her work.

                                                                    Kylie Stillman

       Julia Strand  
Julia Strand's approach is to find interesting things inside a book and cut away what surrounds it, leaving only the pictures and words she wants displayed.  The result is a montage that draws you in and invites you to explore.

To see a video of Julia Strand demonstrating her work, click here

To see more artists' work, please go to Inspiration Green's post.  Here you'll find many more styles of this art form that will inspire and have you in awe. 

There are also two videos at the end. One is of Brian Dettmer, who speaks about his process of cutting and using what's in the book. The other is a procession of Long Bin Chen's busts and heads that look as though they're carved from marble or wood.  

Here are a few more things you might want to explore.

How to:  
Book Art: Creative Ideas to Transform Your Books, Decorations, Stationary, Display Scenes and More by Clare Youngs

Artists and their work: 
Art Made from Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed by Laura Heyenga

For basic page folding :


How to make a book safe (there are three parts): 

editor's note: All three artists gave their permission so that I could use their photographs in this post. I hope you'll visit their sites.

Monday, April 20, 2015


About a year ago, they hired a new maintenance worker at my day job. He’s extremely polite and conscientious.  One morning, also about a year ago, he startled me by greeting me by name.

“Good morning, Betty. How are you?”

Awkward… you see, that isn’t my name.

My real-life name is relatively close to that but it never has been nor ever will be, Betty. What do you *do* when someone calls you by an incorrect name? I’m sure I wore a clichéd "deer-in-the-headlights" expression at his friendly welcome.  Do I correct him or not?

Frozen in place, I considered differing hypothesis in the split second I had before replying.  

  • OK, the guy is competent, but our cleaning company changes crew members so quickly – he’d likely be rotated out of our company location before the floor he was mopping was even dry. Definitely.  For sure.
  • I was in much earlier than normal that day – I should not have even been in the area he was working in at that time. I’d rarely see him in the future, right?

  • He’s so nice, and it would seem rude, wouldn’t it?

Yeah - you guessed it – I convinced myself to totally cave to the non-confrontational, not-enough-caffeine-in-the-morning reply.   “Good morning, Mike.  I’m well, thanks.”


Of course, this began what has become a year-long unending stream of being greeted as “Betty” morning, noon and night. I wince when co-workers overhear him call me Betty and cast me sideways glances. I see Mike in every section of the huge building when I leave my desk. In a short time he was promoted to team leader and he must work lots of overtime as he’s always here. He’s still so unfailingly nice and polite it would be really, really rude to correct him at this point.

And so I remain Betty.

So – what does this all have to do with the craft of writing?

It’s a roundabout way of introducing the topic of character names, and some questions:
  •          When do you develop character names? Before you write a word or after you begin a story?
  •          Do you research names? If so can you recommend any sites to visit? Some good suggestions can be found in this Writers Digest column:
7 Rules In Picking Character Names

  •          Some authors reach out to readers on social media and ask for specific types of names for their current WIP’s – has this worked for you?
  •          Do character names affect whether you buy into a book's premise or not?

Oh – and I’ll confess the real reason I choose to remain as Betty…. How often does our real day to day life get to mirror the exact lyrics of a popular, beloved Paul Simon song?  Story has it, he and a former wife were at a party and someone kept calling his wife "Betty" and himself, "Al" - so he wrote a song about it.

Lyrics can be found on Paul Simon's official website, here:

You Can Call Me Al...

Maybe my next heroine will be named Betty... it's a thought!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Love and Research, Love of Research

I happened to mention to an acquaintance the other day that I belonged to a romance writers’ group. “Oh, god,” she said, “anyone can write that stuff.”
                Before you go all fifty shades of offended, a brief analysis of that phrase, taken word for word, indicates that she’s perfectly correct. Anyone can write that stuff.
                But who says they can do it well?

One of my first, and favorite, conversations with our own Bertrice Small happened several years after I had encountered her writing. I did not come to Bertrice’s stories the usual way: I was hired to proofread one of her books, and came away fascinated by the amount of actual history she included in her epic romantic novel.
                When I finally met her in person, I mentioned to her that I was amazed by how much more she’d managed to teach me when she wrote about the goings on in 1500s European courts than I’d ever managed to stay awake for in college.
                Bertrice gave me a confidential smile and said, “Ah, you caught me. I like to slip that in so my readers actually learn something.”
                Her “slip that in” comment was an understatement for the way she presented a deep knowledge resulting from vast amounts of research. Her books, and her writing, are her legacy. She didn’t Wikipedia a topic – she was old school. She read and cross-referenced and read some more. Bertrice was not famous for the amount of books she wrote – she was famous for the quality of the books she wrote.

It’s the depth of a story that makes it stick. And no, not anybody can write that stuff. It requires intelligence, insight, organization, and a willingness to go deeper and write a bigger, more colorful, and ultimately richer tale.
These days, there are so many ways to get published, whether a writer is good or not, that a reader’s options for entertainment are literally limitless. If your geography is off, or your murder method doesn’t work or your forensic timing is botched, or even if your regional accents seem forced or incorrect, you’re going to jar your reader and turn them off. And they will pick up another book, only it’s likely to be by someone else.
                But the good news is that as the options for readers of romance are virtually limitless, so are the sources for accurate and intriguing information. Just a miniscule sampling of what’s out there, in so many areas:

The Book of Poisons, Stevens and Bannon, Writer’s Digest Books, 2007.
Women of the Beat Generation, Knight, Conari Press, 1996.
Fashion in Underwear: From Babylon to Bikini Briefs, Ewing, Dover, 1971.
Religions of the World, Breuilly et al, Transedition Limited and Fernleigh Books, 1997.
Architecture Explained, Stevenson, Dorling Kindersley, 2007.
The Steampunk Bible, Vandermeer, Abrams Image, 2011.
American Victorian Costume in Early Photographs, Dalrymple, Dover 1991.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Guns, Fowler et al., Metro Books, 2010.
Miss Manners’ Guide to Domestic Tranquility, Martin, Crown, 1999.
Charms, Spells, and Formulas, Malbrough, Llewellyn Publications, 2001.
Images of Lost London 1875-1945, Davies, Atlantic, 2012.
Damn the Man! The Slang of the Oppressed in America, Dalzell, Dover, 2010.

If you’re writing location or time period in a place you can’t actually get to, there are also geographical and historical DVDs, museums, community websites, even realtors who make great resources for getting your facts straight. Even if you’re working with a fictional setting, it’s good to place it somewhere, culturally or climatically, so researching environment, seasonal weather trends or plant life enrich your descriptions. Your primary plot might be about love, but where and when that love occurs and how your characters behave or endure with what’s available to them in the complexities of their cultural and physical surroundings, keep your readers coming back for more.
Of the books listed above, my current favorite is The Book of Poisons. I used it initially as reference for a novel but it’s also extremely well-organized and engagingly written so I’ve learned more than I expected on an unusual topic.
                Are there any resources you’ve discovered that really filled out a story you wrote or one that you’re working on now? Are there any you haven’t found that you wish had been written?
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