Friday, 27 March 2015

Spring is Query Season

Spring is busting out all over…and so are queries. It seems I am not alone in my quest to create the perfect query. Many of my writerly friends are working diligently on refining their letters to agents. It is important to read a variety of approaches, check out a good selection of agent preferences and then go at it, applying the sage advice and maintaining your own voice. No small task.

In an effort to support those on a similar journey, I have compiled a list of sites that I have read, or continue to follow, that contain support for the query writer. I hope it is helpful.

Happy spring. Don’t forget to stop and feel the season as you journey toward your own sun.

 And, if that is not enough, get lost in The Write Life’s links to The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2015.


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Raven's Path--a query in progress

Many of you who read my blog are not writers. For those of you not familiar with the steps taken toward that magical land of publishing, one of the first ones you take (if not self-publishing) is to seek an agent. To this end, one must write a brief letter that entices the agent to request the manuscript.

Amazing beta readers gave thumbs up to the story accompanied by insightful and helpful comments. I dove back in, tearing it apart, rewriting, editing and revising. It is now time to go forth once again, stop dabbling in the query process and, instead, approach it systematically and thoughtfully. Of course, that begins with a good query.

Below is the body of my letter. What do you think? Does it entice you enough to want to read more? Many of you email me personally, and that is fine, but feel free to post your honest opinions in the comment box below. Other writers may learn and grow from it too. Thanks, in advance, to all who take the time to respond.

Their paths should never have crossed, yet rescuing her from a Mohawk raiding party changes everything for Brandan “Raven” Murray and Ana McGregor. Leaving abuse and Scotland behind, Ana has fled to the colonies and is searching for her father—a man she’s unlikely to find, but is unwilling to forget. Brandan is determined to secure peace for his Wendat people. The uneasy truce between England and France is a powder keg ready for a spark and, though he is as mixed in blood as he is in allegiance, Brandan will do anything to keep the Indian nations out of the crossfire.
His mission is perilous enough without the complication of being saddled with a woman. As they travel through the vast wilderness of the Ohio Valley, Brandan soon realizes that rescuing Ana was the easy part. Letting her go may prove impossible. When they are betrayed by the very tribes he is trying to protect, he discovers he may have no choice.
Set in 1750 Colonial America, Raven’s Path is a historical romance complete at 114,000. While it stands alone, it has series potential.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

As We Celebrate 30 Years Together...

There are no happy endings and yet I want one, dammit! I have read so many novels in my life, too many to even begin to tally. DH and I went through an Oprah book club period until I screamed “Uncle!” I was tired of reading about the ugly in human nature and viewing the world through such a dark lens.
I want happy endings. I want to believe in happily-ever-after.
A dear friend of mine emailed when I shared on the blog the slump that followed retirement. She is the sweetest person I know, a person who lives the Christian spirit in a true and honest way, in a way that makes sense and makes me want to be a better person. Love you, SB.
“Mom has bouts of it every few months -- the same thing over and over. Just in one now actually, as she again is trying to figure out her purpose, life-plan, future, whatever you want to call it, without my dad. One shoe in the past, one shoe in the present.”
Forgive me SB’s mom, because this will seem inconsequential and trivial in comparison to your endless ache. But know that I share it with heartfelt sincerity. We had the most amazing dogs. We loved them and when they died it broke our hearts. Never again would we open ourselves to the pain.
Our house was empty and lonely without them, each of us delaying our return home at the end of a workday because we did not want to face the lifeless rooms alone. Fate intervened, a snowstorm, time on my hands, breeders willing to forsake their choice of one little pup to allow two little fur-sisters to stay together.
They turned eight in January and if the winds of fate continue to blow gently in our direction, we will have another seven years with them. And, when they die, so will a part of us. Would we trade the years of joy and pleasure to avoid the pain? Not a chance. Our lives are richer, we are kinder, and more understanding of life in general, because of them. I will hurt, I will cry, I will feel. And I will bless the years that we shared.
I cannot imagine what it will feel like for either one of us when the other is gone. My mind cannot fathom not waking up to DH’s gentle kiss, his wonderful smile each morning and the laughter that lights every day. What I am sure of is that my heart will know the truth. I would not trade a single moment of our years together to avoid the pain. Not a single moment.
Happy Anniversary, DH. I love you.


Saturday, 7 March 2015

There's No Place Like Home

The journey home was fraught with excitement and abominable weather. On our final day, we hit freezing rain and snow. A twelve-hour drive turned into sixteen. We counted nine cars and trucks in the ditches or meridian, including one police cruiser. You know you shouldn’t be on the road when you see that. Yet, what to do when you are theoretically five hours from home and you crave a bed you haven’t lain in for over two months? You persevere. Besides, we’re Canadian. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night—wait, that’s the postal service. Well, we’re a damn hardy bunch, that’s just all there is to it.

Despite freezing temperatures, it feels terrific to be in our home. Now, don’t get me wrong, we relished our two months in warmer climes. In particular, the home in Austin, the city itself, and the friends who joined us entwined to create a thoroughly enjoyable and unforgettable month. We would do it again in a heartbeat. But there is something to be said about being surrounded by one’s own stuff, to be able to reach without hesitation for something because you know exactly where it is, to have more than a handful of outfits to wear.

As I catalogue and put away the new used books I discovered in Austin, I gently stroke my extensive research collection, thrilled to be back in its company. I glide Bird by Bird in with my writing books, slip Early American Inns and Taverns neatly in the American Colonies section and smile in pleasure as I add Bathing Houses and Plunge Pools to my Regency shelves. Oh, I have plans for that little gem in my next novel, a companion story to Love Denied.

Yes, it’s good to be home, safe and sound. It’s particularly delicious to once again be surrounded by the things that support and nurture my love of writing. Now, if we can just do something about these disgusting temperatures…