Our Mission Statement:

The mission of Pens & Pages Writers Guild is to facilitate and encourage writers of all genres, to share resources and tips about the writing process and, most of all, to provide a positive and productive forum that will encourage and support each writer in his or her creative endeavors.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Query Letter Blues

The dreaded Query Letter…

We’ve all been there— staring at the screen, reading then re-reading our attempts at the dreaded query letter. Every writer has to write them, and every writer seems to hate them. I myself loathed my recent foray into the seventh circle of query letter hell.

My journey started simple enough: a homework assignment from an RL writing group. My mission: to write a first draft query letter for critique. No problem right? Wrong. Many problems, and drafts later (I think I got up to version 9.2) the query letter had me beat (500) to my (0). I was lost.

Miss Conceptions

It’s not that a query letter is confusing. It’s not. No, really— it’s not. The problem with query letters is that they are subjective. There is no right, or wrong way to write a query letter. There are good query letters and bad query letters. Mine fell into the latter category for many reasons.

Thanks to Writer’s Digest resources which can be found HERE I had lots of advice on how to craft my query. But something was still missing. What I had was a lifeless letter that didn’t represent my voice, the tone of my novel, or even its characters. My problem was that my query letter lacked the punch my novel had, but why?


In a query letter, you have one page to sell your writing, and your novel idea to an agent, or editor. The piece I decided to do my letter on wasn’t even a completed project! I realized that I had to boil my query letter, and my project down to the bones, then pick the bigger plot question, and that would become the basis for my query letter. Sounds easy right?

Then why did it take me four days to figure that out? Because I got so tied up in trying to find the right way to do it, that I forgot to step back and look at the bigger picture.
Query letters are a pain in the neck. There is no magical way around that, but knowing what I now know, I would strongly recommend authors write a query letter regardless of where they are with their particular work in progress. 

If you’re looking for a place to workshop your query letter, there are several online forums that were of great help to me. The first is WritingForums, I’ve been a member here for years, the people are polite and extremely helpful. Kevin Hearne also recommends AbsoluteWrite’s water cooler forum.

I hope this post helps fellow writers remember to take a step back (and a deep breath) before the query letter blues get to you!  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where Writers Get Their Ideas

Given Carol's question at our last meeting, I thought some she and maybe some others might be interested in this post on the Books And Such blog.  The comments section is as good as the article itself.

How Do You Get Your Book Ideas?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Useful Blog - Books and Such Literary Agency

I've recently started following the Books and Such Literary Agency's blog.  Different agents take turns blogging, and it's giving me a lot of insight into how the publishing industry works.  I thought it might interest some of you all, too.

Books and Such Blog

Monday, October 22, 2012

Final Blog Homework Found!

Okay, I went back to Bernice Simpson's blog and came across the one post I couldn't find last time I was there:

 Manuscript Format for Critiques.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Links to Bernice Simpson Blog "Homework"

Here are links to the blog articles that Bernice Simpson wanted us to read before next week's meeting. Since I had to find them I thought I'd save everyone else from having to do it the hard way.

 How to Keep Writing Momentum

Manuscript Format for Critique (I couldn't find this one)

 Don't Shout at Me

Hang Tough

 How to Deliver a Thoughtful Critique

Another Way to Use My Nook

Thought this might be helpful to those with E-readers (I assume something similar could be done with a Kindle). Before I start the line-by-line editing on Queen's Mouser, my 2010 Nanowrimo novel, I want to read the whole thing and find the large structural things that need fixed. Then I can fix them in Liquid Story Binder, and print out the chapters one by one when I'm ready to start line editing. To avoid printing the whole thing out, and also avoid reading it on my computer, I built a manuscript in Liquid Story Binder that had all the chapters, and exported it as a rtf file. Then I used Open Office (my free alternative to MS Word) to convert it to PDF, and downloaded the PDF to my Nook. It all seems rather complicated (it wouldn't be so bad if I could export as PDF from LSB, but that's not an option) but it saves a lot of paper, and will allow me to do the initial read-through without being sidetracked. I will be unable to fix the glaring typos even if I want to. I'll just keep my notebook with me to note the structural things that need fixed so I can go back to them. If you write your first drafts entirely in Word (since most of you don't use LSB), it would be even easier, since you wouldn't have the whole first step of building a manuscript, etc. There are some real inconveniences in the way LSB is set up for that, which I won't go into.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Poetic Asides -- April 1 -- Plan On It!

You think you can't write poetry. Think again! Poetry is not always perfect verse and rhyme. Poetry can take many forms. I wrote one and mentioned this might not be a form but was fun to do. Another poet said, "It is now!"

Try this April Poetry Challenge by Robert Brewer found at

You will be amazed at what comes out in your poetry!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011



Greetings to those that are new to eBlogger Pens & Pages Writers Guild page! This is a great site. Thanks to our facilitator who maintains it for us. Hope your session on the Library Computer Lab went well and you can visit the site often and add your own unique wisdom!

Go! NaNoWrimo-ers, go! Check out http://www.nanowrimo.org/ to see the fun members are having. Hope you can join the fun next year! If you get the bug before then you can participate in April's Script Frenzy sponosored by the same kind people.

One other way to motivate yourself to write is join a poetry challenge in February. This is a little less hectic month for many than November. Be watching for more info.

Time Management Exercise

At the library meeting (Nov. 8) of Pens & Pages, our Fearless Leader suggested that we just maybe might need to work on the most important stuff first. She had us list five things that we felt were most important that needed doing this week. Then as we looked over the list, we put a star beside the thing that should get done first. Before the end of the meeting we had established three lists: "Things to do this Week," "Things of Writing Importance," and "Things to improve my Writing." Some of these overlapped, but it made us more aware of how to accomplish more in less time. In my case, "Straightening up the mess around my desk" seemed to end up as more important than anything else. That should take up the rest of this week. Who knows --- I might actually get some writing done NEXT week. I hope the rest of you are more efficient.