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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Query Tip Tuesday

For this week's query tip, I'll be referring to another one of my favorite sources: Query Shark.

If you haven't visited Query Shark and you plan on querying at some point in the near or distant future, I'd suggest you click on the link and spend some time there. Similar to what Jessica Faust does on her Wednesday blog, Janet Reid critiques queries (submitted for that very purpose). Here, you'll learn, as stated at the top of the page, "How To Write Query Letters ... or, really, how to revise query letters so they actually work."

Feeling brave? Thinking of submitting your query letter? Great. But don't do it until you've read entirely through her blog. You don't want to send in a letter that reeks of mistakes she's already covered (see post Why you REALLY want to read ALL the posts).

This is a great way to become familiar with what works and what doesn't work when summing up a novel in just a few short lines. You'd be amazed at how easy it is to ramble about things that simply do not matter. Even if you're not ready to query, be reading over these examples. Trust me, it will help.

If you missed yesterday's post, scroll on down and read about Tasha and her awesome blog, My Book & Me, where she rates and reviews the books she reads. Who knows, perhaps she could read and rate your book down the road.

Also in yesterday's post, I mentioned something truly amazing: Patrick McDonald, the very creator of, has offered to donate one FREE PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP for my next giveaway! That's right. I'LL BE GIVING AWAY A QUERY TRACKER PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP, right here on my blog! I'm so, so excited about this, but I'll have to wait and give you more details later.

For now, I want to hear from you. Have you ever been to Query Shark? Are you querying yet? Past the point? Dreading it every day of your write-ridden life?  Don't get shy on me now; let's hear it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Someone Worth Getting to Know!

So as promised, I'm featuring the lovely winner of my Krispy Kreme Giveaway. 

Tasha, also known by her blog name, Hello Tata, is a sheer lover of books. In fact, she is certain that if there were a program for "reads too much anonymous", she'd be first in line. Of this, she says, "My intro would start like this: Hi, my name is Tasha, and I'm a book-aholic." She went on to say, "I read a ton. To the point I joined a book club and got kicked out because I read the entire book list in a months time. I went through the entire Twilight series in a weeks time, and am one book away from being current with the Pretty Little Liars series (I started last week)."

Writers, most of us book-aholics ourselves, LOVE meeting fellow book fans, don't we? This one even started her own blog called, My Book & Me so she can share her "love and sometimes hate" for the books she reads.

Though she's only been blogging for about a week, she already has thirty-five followers! Interested readers who want to know her thoughts on the books she reads. Of her fast-growing blog, Tasha says, "I never really expected it to grow at the rate that it has, but thanks to Twitter, Goodreads, Book Blogs, and many other blog and book sites, it has, and will continue to grow."

Coming up soon (June 6th-13th) on My Book & Me, Tasha will be hosting the Small Blog Big Giveaway Blog Hop Event, where she'll be giving away a gift card to Amazon or Book Depository.

Also, on June 19th- 25th she'll be hosting her very own event called, The Birthday Week Extravaganza! She says that during this time, she'll have "a week's worth of guest blogs from various authors, along with giveaways!"

Sounds awesome, right?
Hop onto her site, follow her post! It's awesome!
Foller her on Twitter @!/luvlovemedew

For those of you interested in building your platform, Tasha's a great person to connect with. And if you love to read, tune in to hear about the books she reviews.

Thanks again for all those who entered, and those of you who just stopped by.
Please drop your lovely comments below. I LOVE your comments!

Oh yeah! Before I forget - You know how much I love Well, Patrick McDonald, the very creator of, has offered to donate one FREE MEMBERSHIP for my next giveaway! This is huge! In case you missed that, I'LL BE GIVING AWAY A FREE MEMBERSHIP TO QUERY TRACKER, right here on my blog! (Ouch, my voice hurts from all that excited yelling.) Stay tuned for more details.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Do You Tell Them?

You're out shopping with a friend, and just as she holds up the most adorable dress, gleaming with joy because they actually have it in her size, you notice something small and green lodged between her pearly whites.
"Don't you love this?" she says, unaware of the ugly little morsel marring her smile.
"Uh." You're eyes are fixed on the green thing. "What?"

Do you tell her?
For me, the answer is of course! You're her friend, right? That one's easy.
Let's try this: You're meeting a new co-worker for the first time, and upon introduction you notice his fly is down. That one's a bit tougher.

My situation is a little different, and hardly embarrassing at all. Just odd.
So I'm at the grocery store the other day, wandering through the place and filling my cart with everything on my list. Same old, same old.
But then I get to the front, ready to pay, and realize that my backpack has been wide open the entire time.
I don't mean that it was simply unzipped a little, giving a limited view of its contents. I mean it was way open; stuff was on the verge of tumbling out. I'm surprised I didn't loose the novel I had stashed in there along the way. (Luckily my wallet was in a different compartment.)
Now what makes this situation odd, is that I talked to a couple of people in the store. A few workers who politely asked me if I was finding everything okay. (Yeah, like the stuff that's flying out of my open backpack as I walk down the aisle?)
But one woman stood out to me the most. We talked for a moment about the produce. She was at my side with surely a perfect view of my wide open, just-about-to-dump-everything-out backpack. And she didn't say a thing. Sure, she seemed a bit shy, but still. I just can't imagine not saying, "Hey, your bag's open. Looks like you're about to lose a few things there." Right? (BTW, as far as I know, I didn't lose anything.)

So tell me what you think.  Have you had a moment where someone spoke up to save you a bit of embarrassment? Or a time where you wished somebody would have?

Are you the type to tell people when you notice something you'd want to know about?
Or let them discover it on their own?
Confess it here and now; I promise to still love you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Day I Almost Quit

Ever been close to calling it quits?

I have. Very close. See, from the moment I started writing I, like most writers, fell in love with it. So much. Yet I had no idea how difficult it would be to secure an agent and get published.

I haven't shared much about my own journey so far, but here's a piece of it now:
Once I finished writing, editing, revising, shelving and re-editing EVIE'S KNIGHT, I gave it to just over a dozen beta readers. After receiving feedback from them, I went over it one final time, and then started to query.

Querying sucked. A lot.
I got rejection after rejection after rejection, until I got a request. For a full.
That didn't suck; it felt amazing!

But what's funny is I actually thought the agent would read the ENTIRE NOVEL before making a decision. And I was convinced that anyone who read the entire novel would fall in love with it. Of course, agents aren't required to read the whole thing. They could get as far as the synopsis and decide it's not going where they hoped it might and reject it before even getting to the novel. You never know. Not to mention, as any agent will tell you, this is a subjective business. They could read the entire thing, like it but not love it and you've still got a 'no'. But that's all beside the point.

So fast-forward to ... I'm not sure how much later, and I get a rejection stating that though she liked the voice and plot of the novel, she felt it "lacked polish".
POLISH? After I went over it a million times and shelved it and went over it a million more times and had all these beta readers go over it and... (Later I realized she was right, but let's not spoil the mood here.)
I was devastated. And ready to call it quits. Who was I anyway? Some ... twilight-loving, kid raising, not even best grade-getting woman who didn't know a thing about writing until she dedicated sleepless nights and insanely early mornings to a passion that took her by storm and refused to let go. Sure I had a dream. But maybe it just wasn't meant to be.

Writing was time-consuming. And though I loved it, though I couldn't imagine my life without it, I was wondering if I should call it quits. For good. I remember praying about it like, "Okay, is this my answer? Am I just stupidly pursuing something that is never going to happen?"  This is about the time I got a phone call from my dear, sweet mother who sensed the distress in my voice (never mind the hopelessness of my words) and got online to find out what local writers did. Surely there was a place to turn. Somewhere writers like myself could gather, share writing tips, gush about the highs, whine about the lows,  who knows? 
She was right. She discovered a local group that met once a month at a nearby library.
Now here's the kicker - the meeting was that very night. The one night of the month they met. So I went. Even though I didn't really want to. Even though I wouldn't have gone if it had been on any of the other twenty-nine days of that month.

This was a turning point for me. Being around other writers was incredible. Just the vibe in that room invigorated my writer's soul. I came home with a renewed passion, ready to get back on that laptop and do whatever it would take to make that manuscript shine. I also met the amazing women from my critique group (not to mention some super awesome friends) at such meetings.
I continue to learn, grow and renew my passion each time I attend a writer's meeting or conference. And most importantly, even when the going gets - well - straight out brutal, I hang in there and keep on writing. Truth be told, I don't know if I ever had much of a choice. :)

I want to leave you with one of the most fantastic blurbs on querying I have ever, ever read. YOU MUST READ The Ten Phases of Rejection. Best laugh ever.

Okay, so now you know a little something about me. What about you? Have you come close to calling it quits? What helps you stay with it when the writing world gets rough?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

And the Winner Is...

Announcing the lucky winner of my first ever Krispy Kreme Giveaway contest:
Are you ready?
The winner is: hello tata
*Loud applause here* 

On Monday, I will highlight hello tata and her blog here, on twitter and FaceBook.

A big thank you to all who entered, and I hope you'll try again next time. (There will be a next time because I love spreading delicious, edible [or readable] joy!)

Come back for tomorrow's post where I'll be sharing my own 'lowest of the writer low' experience and how I pushed through it.
Friday I'm going to share a weird experience I had in the supermarket because I'm dying to get your thoughts on it.

Feel free to congratulate our lucky winner! In fact, whoever congratulates her in a comment will get one extra point in my next contest. You'll have to remind me then, of course. But let's all show her some love! See you tomorrow! Until then, happy reading & happy eating!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Query (Tracker) Tip Tuesday

Okay, I can barely believe I've already written two blogs on queries without even mentioning the brightest guiding light known to queryers: QUERY TRACKER. (QT)

While finishing the final (ha, ha)  revisions on EVIE'S KNIGHT, I started researching agents. And while there were a lot of great sites out there, none was more helpful to me than

I can't even tell you how essential this is for anyone even thinking about sending a query into the world. Querying without QT is like going on vacation without a map. You've gassed up the car, loaded up the kids, the luggage, and the survival kit (some Diet Coke and a stash of jerky), all without giving a single thought to what lies ahead.

Why would I say that? Because before QT, I sent out queries. And waited. And waited. Sometimes I'd get  a rejection, other times I wouldn't hear back at all, but every time I was left in the dark, wondering what to expect. I was dying to know what others were going through, but all I had was the info on the agent's submission page - nothing more. (Their website will most likely not volunteer that said agent hasn't responded to a query in over a year. Yet this would be good to know - right?)

And then I found Query Tracker
*Angelic hallelujah chord here*

 Not only does this site help you keep track of those you've queried, how and when you queried them, and their responses, but it also lends insightful little tidbits (shared by fellow writers) about each agent.
See 'comments' tab to read what other writers have shared about their experience with that agent. Here, we sympathize with each other when times get hard; we congratulate one another when there's something to celebrate. When a fellow Query-Tracker lands an agent, their Success Story gets posted on the QT Blog (which is fantastic btw; sign up for it!). This interview often includes the actual query letter used to land their new agent.

Go to 'query statistics', to find out how long the average wait is for a particular agent (at that time; it changes). You can see what genre(s) they've requested recently, and how long it took them to request. (All based on info provided by fellow QT-ers.)

On each agent's page, there are direct links to their website, email address, and even their twitter and blog page (if they have one). You'll also find links to, Preditors and Editors (a must!), Publisher's Marketplace, and more.

Wondering how much it costs? Well you can join for free (and get limited use), or become a Premium Member for $25 a YEAR! (This could change, but that's the price as of today's date.) It's a steal.
Join, and experience what it's like to step into the query light.

Tomorrow I'll announce the contest winner! (Sorry, too late to enter this one, but I'll be doing another soon.) 
Thursday I'll share my lowest of the writer lows and how I pushed through it.
Friday will be sort of random because I want to share a weird experience I had in the supermarket today and get your thoughts on it.

Have you used QT before? Let me know how research agents, or keep track of your queries; I'd love to hear it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Dream Is Just a Dream

First off let me say - the contest is STILL ON! I'm talking about the Krispy Kreme Giveaway from Friday's post. I have the most awesome group of fantastic people who have left their lovely comments, and I can't wait to see who wins!
Haven't entered yet?
As mentioned in my post, you have until Monday night to enter (10pm mountain). Get your comments in by then and you'll be entered in the drawing for a $20 gift card to Krispy Kreme (or Barnes & Nobel if you'd prefer, in which case I'll have to assume you don't have a Krispy Kreme in your area because as much as I love Barnes & Nobel I don't have the will power to choose books over doughnuts.) 

So later on this week, I'm going to tell you guys about the time I almost gave up on writing. A time that I hung in there, despite all the discouragement. It's easy to get discouraged when we're pursuing a dream, and I'm sure we've all found ourselves ready to let go because it's simply too painful to push past the hardships that come along. I'll be sharing my personal experience, along with what helped me press on.

This week's posts will go as follows:
Tuesday: Query Tips
Wednesday: I'll announce the WINNER of our lovely contest and highlight him/her (and their blog if they have one) on my blog (as well as on twitter and FaceBook).
Thursday: I'll share with you the lowest point of my writing journey thus far. (I know there are more to come, but I'm buckled up and prepared for the pits and bumps. As much as I can be, anyway.)
Friday: To be determined. If you have any ideas, share them with me. I'm game.

To warm you up for Thursday's post, I thought I'd leave you with a few inspirational quotes about pursuing dreams. I love these ones!

"If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it." Jesse Jackson

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." Anatole France 

"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." Brian Littrell 

"A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline." Harvey MacKay

Got any quotes/ words of wisdom that have helped you in rough times? A request for my Friday blog? Anything to say at all? Leave your comments with me; I promise to take good care of them! 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Krispy Kreme Giveaway!

I LOVE fellow writers/readers, and I LOVE Krispy Kreme. Why not bring the two together?

Who's that lucky girl out front of Krispy Kreme? Oh yeah. It's me. But it could be you standing there, holding an adorable white box with green little polka dots filled with warm, delicious freshly made doughnuts. IF - you win my lovely Krispy Kreme Giveaway.

Exactly what do you win?
A $20 gift card to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. (If you don't have a Krispy Kreme in your area [so sorry for you!], perhaps a B&N gift card?) 

Also, you (and your blogspot if you have one) will get major shout outs from me on my blog, twitter, and FB. (I know, I know, it's too much, right?)

How do you enter?

1) Follow my blog. This gives you ONE entry.

2) Post a link to my blog on FB, Twitter, or your blog. ADD ONE ENTRY FOR EACH. 

3) Leave a comment telling me what you did, how many entry points you get, and the link(s) (if you can) to where you've mentioned the blog.

Easy, right? 
Do this by Monday night. I'll draw Tuesday morning and announce the winner on Wednesday of next week. 

Have a great weekend, folks. Looking forward to your entries! 
~ Kimberly Krey ~ Spreading literary love one Krispy Kreme at a time.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stop Whining and Do It Already! Platform Building

Okay fellow writers, you've been told you should blog, tweet, facebook and do anything and everything you can to build your -dun, dun, dun- PLATFORM. Is that dread I see brewing in your eyes? No, really. Some of you are even giving it a go, right? I mean, you're here, aren't you?

Yes! You are. And I love you for that! In fact, I'd like you to give yourself a nice pat on the back. No, forget that. I never liked when a teacher told me to pat myself on the back because it didn't actually feel nice and it seemed more like a chore than a reward.

So ... hmm... I know! Treat yourself to a melt-in-your-mouth Krispy Kreme doughnut. Or maybe a great big delicious Oreo shake. Indulge in the scrumptious treat of your choice, knowing you deserve it for doing what you've been told. Even if it's a bit time consuming. Even if you can't actually KNOW it's going to help you down the road.

One thing to keep in mind is that you're not alone. There are a ton of writers out there just like you. One great way to find them (aside from lovely blogs like this), is to get onto Twitter. Did you know there's a cool sort of code word we writers use to make it even easier to find and follow one another? True. To learn more about that go to best-selling author Kristen Lamb's blog:

If it's time that's getting in the way (Uh...Yeah!), then set a limit. Maybe a half hour in the morning, another just before bed. This is what I am going to do. Starting tomorrow. I swear. 

Anyway, I think that if we go into it like it's a terrible chore, it will feel like a terrible chore. But if we dive in with the intention of meeting and helping others along the way, we might actually enjoy the journey.

Click here to check out Kristen Lamb's best-selling book, We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media.
So what has your journey been like? Are you blogging? Tweeting? Facebooking? All of the above? I gave you a Krispy Kreme (sort of), so now you give me your savory comments, and I will eat them up! Yum!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sticking it out!

The writer's life isn't exactly what I imagined it would be. Granted, I hadn't given it much thought. But I figured it went something like this: Write a book, get it published. Move onto the next.

For me it all started with an idea. More specifically, the conflict. I went with it, and soon fell in love with everything about writing. 
It's magical, right? Discovering who our characters are. Experiencing the way they come to life and take over. Those payoff moments when pieces start clicking in ways we never saw coming. 
Sort of like the honeymoon phase. For me, anyway.

And then the editing phase comes along. And stays a while. And frankly wears out its damn welcome. The editing phase becomes its own life form. One that moves in, takes over the bed and eats all the food. 
I have literally fallen asleep at the laptop while doing revisions/ edits (more than once), and though I can't be certain, I'm willing to bet it wasn't as pretty as the picture above. I will say that I've learned to appreciate the editing phase though. Because in its own way, it offers a different sort of pay off: polish. 
This is the time to really make our story shine. I think it's easy to get to this point and say, "Meh, I'm sick of this one and I'm really loving my new idea so I'm just going to work on that one for now."

My advice? Don't. Do not move onto the next one unless you're shelving your current work in progress. Don't get into the habit of backing down when the going gets hard. Stick with it, make that thing shine, and then do everything it takes to share it with the world!

Thoughts? Comments? I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Query Tip Tuesday

Ready to take the plunge?

You've got your novel the way you want it. You're ready to kiss it and send it to every agent on your list. All you need is a short, one page letter that sums up your masterpiece.
Easy enough, right?
If you're laughing right now you've already discovered that this task isn't very easy at all. If great puddles are welling at the base of your eyes, and your bottom lip has developed a sudden & uncontrollable quiver than you've most likely discovered it's a surprisingly difficult feat. (See post below, Kill, Kill, Kill! The Query)
Luckily, there are many folks offering help. And who better than the very souls you'll be addressing those queries to: literary agents.
I have found Jessica Faust's blog to be one of the most helpful. In fact, every Wednesday she posts an actual query letter, breaks it down into pieces, and gives her thoughts, feedback and advice. (These are queries writers have sent in for this purpose.)
This is amazingly helpful!
Not only does Ms. Faust point out what isn't working, she often gives examples (using the info provided) to create a line or paragraph that works better. Way, way better! You'll be blown away when you read the difference.
Even if you're not quite ready to send out those queries, I'd suggest you start reading her blog. Go through, scroll down to read all the prior Wednesday posts, let them sink in and simmer. Get a better idea of what agents want from that letter.
Do this, and you just might be ready to jump when the time comes.

Have you sent out any queries yet? Have something that has helped you? Share your thoughts by leaving a tasty comment below.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Damn You, Synopsis!

See that face?

Pretty sure that's what mine looked like during the frustrating stages of writing the dreaded synopsis for my first novel. Okay, so I'm not quite as young as she is, but still.
I can't tell you how many times I'd step away from the keyboard, certain I'd created the perfect summery of the important events in just the right amount of words only to come back and find that I'd actually made a total mess of things.
In the end, I finally came out with something I was happy with, but not before a massive loss of blood, sweat and tears. Well, maybe not the blood, but if I could have made that synopsis bleed...

So is there a better way to do it?

Some say writing the synopsis before writing the book is best. Joanne Rock suggests we do just that in her article, Honing Your Synopsis Skills. (Very helpful article, by the way.)
I didn't have much of an outline when I started my first novel, but when the idea for my second came along (middle of the night, of course!), I got up and wrote the entire synopsis in under ten minutes. Yes, please. Let's do it that way every time. Really. For the love.

What's your experience with the whole synopsis thing? Love it or hate it, we can't avoid it, no matter how many tears we shed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Are We Doing It Wrong?

How many times have you wondered, as a writer, if you're doing it wrong?
Ever watch Mr. Mom? Remember the part where he tries to do the drop off with the kids at school and the whole time the kids are in the back seat saying, "Daddy, you're doing it wrong." And he's like, "Don't tell me I'm doing it wrong. I know what I'm doing." Meanwhile, there are moms honking and shouting, I think one even flips him the bird. He gets a little further on, is approached by a woman under an umbrella (if my memory is accurate) who knocks on his window, introduces herself and  then says, "You're doing it wrong."
The nice thing about this scenario is that someone was there to tell him (besides his own kids, of course) that he was doing it wrong. She even told him the right way to do it.

Well, writing is an art form. There's no right or wrong way to do it. Right? Maybe. But there are some pitfalls to watch out for. Agent Kristen Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency posted a blog entitled, Culprit: Writing Mechanics. In this piece she tells us of her "Agent Reads The Slush Pile" workshop, where she basically pretends she's at the office, going over the opening two pages of a submission. During the actual workshop someone else reads it aloud, and she speaks up and tells them to "stop" at the point where she would not continue, and then tells them why.
She goes on to say that 99% of what she sees in these workshops is not ready for an agent to read. (Ouch!) When asked if her view was subjective, she allowed for that on some level, but said in these cases, the offenders were universal. She then listed the Top Ten Culprits. Want to know what they are? You're in the right place.

1. Telling instead of showing.
2. Including unnecessary back story.
3. Lose sentence structure that could easily be tightened
4. The use of passive sentence construction.
5. Awkward introduction of character appearance.
6. Awkward descriptions/overly flowery language to depict.
7. Starting the story in the wrong place.
8. Not quite nailing voice in the opening.
9. Dialog that didn’t quite work as hard as it should.
10. A lack of scene tension even if the opening was suppose to be dramatic.

This is one of those blog posts I will go back to time and time again. I hear the list of offenders rambling in my head as I review my work, asking myself one simple question: "Am I doing it wrong?"

Click here to read Kristen Nelson's full post on Culprits: Writing Mechanics. If you'd like to view her blog, go to
Have a favorite blog post you'd like to share? Drop us the link and share the wealth (of knowledge)!

Monday, May 9, 2011

LDS Storymakers 2011 Summary

Okay, so I'm not even going to try to sum up the entire conference in one post, that would take forever, but I will say, I'm so glad I went! Like with most conferences I've attended, I came home with a refreshed writer's tank, a newly inspired writer's brain, and a frankly disillusioned view of where we stand as aspiring authors. This delicious dose of reality was served up best by our keynote speaker, Larry Brooks, when he stated that we could easily fit all of the 'really famous' authors into a single booth at Dennys. (Perhaps he said a different restaurant but you get the drift.) This comment earned a round of laughter from the crowd because, well, it's hilarious, and if you can't laugh at these things you just might end up in tormented bouts of therapy instead.

Brooks also stated that if one intends to write a book, one should have knowledge of what it takes to write a good book. Riding in an airplane does not authorize us to actually fly an airplane. Eating a certain dish at a restaurant doesn't qualify us to then make the dish. And in turn, reading a novel, even enjoying many of them, doesn't necessarily mean we can write a good novel.

Brooks, a best-selling author himself, recently released Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Storytelling. A review for this book can be found @

Anyway, tons of great classes taught by authors Dan Wells, Clint Johnson, Lisa Mangum and Elana Johnson (who happens to be the reason I'm finally blogging!) to name a few.
Our panel of agents and editors gave feedback on first pages submitted in advance by attendees. This was one of my favorite parts of the conference. It was so interesting to hear literary agent Sara Megibow explain why she would not read any further on a particular page. Or to listen to agent Becca Stumpf describe what she liked about a certain read, and what she could have done without.

So, were you at the conference? What was the most memorable part for you? And if you weren't there, share a memorable experience from a prior conference. I'd love to hear it.