Thursday, September 15, 2022

rejection, challenges of writing for kids, powerful writing hooks
                                                                                                                                                      Photo: Dmitry Schemelev 


From time to time, I question whether I should stick with writing.  This doubt arises when my work is rejected or worse ignored, which makes me wonder if my submissions were ever received.  

It's hard to remain positive, even though many authors say never give up.  

Disappointment lingered (so real I could almost touch it), but I shoved it aside to work on a fictional story and a nonfiction picture book.  I toggled back in forth between the manuscripts, editing the pieces but felt they would never be completed, never reach perfection (in my mind), never become what they should become.  I moved sentences around, deleted words, added dialogue, and I am so f*cking brain-tired and full of doubt.   

The week before had been easier.  I submitted two picture manuscripts to agents, one playful and the other more serious.  These stories have unique characters, memorable opening lines, good flow, strong tension, and story arc.  I believe they are different than what agents expect to find in their inboxes.  But will an agent be open to something different?  Will they get my writing and share my vision?  Will an agent fall in love with my work?  

Ozzie relaxes behind my computer and I give him a chin rub.  Lizzie climbs in my lap for attention.  They are a nice distraction.  I need it.  My cats help keep the depression at bay

I take a break.  I work a Wordle.  I move on to Quordle.  I solve them both quickly. 

At times, I wonder why I continue to write when publication has changed so much over the years.  At first, writers only had to compete with the celebrities and published authors.  Now days, writers have to compete with author-illustrators and with writers who have a referral.  Lately, we compete with the LBGTQ and marginalized authors and I applaud them because it's time their voices are heard.  But submitting has never been tougher.  

On top of the competition, writers must match their manuscripts to an agent's wish list.  But it's like trying to read an agent's mind.  I do my best to send an appropriate piece and end up with replies that say, "it's not a good fit," or, "it's not what I'm looking for."  I feel defeated.  And I don't want to feel this way.  

By chance, I noticed an online class on querying. Though I've been submitting for years, I signed up.  One can always learn something new and useful.  

Instructor Kathy van Eecke revealed 20 common query mistakes (yep, I had made one) and ways to correct them.  She advised us to take a look at Query Shark, a website that critiques queries.  Most of all, she encouraged us to rethink our queries.  She said it probably wasn't our books that needed help, it was our hooks. 

The timing of this workshop could not have been better.  It was the boost I needed.  After watching the webinar and studying a lot of query examples, I scrutinized the hooks of the five books I had written.  They were good, but they needed to be exceptional.  They had to grab agents and make them want to keep reading.  

So, I inserted a teaser (a captivating line or quote) before the book description.  I also reworked the book descriptions so that the first line of each one indicated three things: the main character, the inciting action, and the dilemma.  I found this would require concise writing.  But within a few days, I had jazzed up the five queries. 

I don't know how agents will feel about my submissions.  They are a picky crew and have very specific tastes in what they want to acquire.  But at least I know my queries are more intriguing and even a bit mysterious.  Having taken my queries to the next level, I have more belief in my hooks and in my books.  I am hopeful.  More positive.  Encouragement flows in, so real that I can almost touch it.         

✌ and 

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