Monday, May 12, 2014

Using Canned Responses for Query Letters

One of the things I've seen in query do's and don't lists is authors who copy and paste their submissions into another email and send it out. Sometimes you make mistakes and forget to write the correct agent name, and sometimes the formatting is off.

Well I am going to walk you through never making that mistake again. This is what you need to do:

If you're a gmail user on your settings tab on the right side under your photo when you open gmail click on


It takes you to this page:

On the left side where it says 'labs' you're going to click on that. This is what the next page looks like:

Now scroll down to where you see 'Canned Responses' and click 'enable'.

Then scroll to the bottom and click save changes. 

Now, go back to your email and hit compose.

This is where you paste in your query information. You'll notice on the bottom right a downward facing arrow. Hover over that until the canned response menu pops up. Now, hover over canned responses. This is what your page will look like:

You're going to choose new canned response where a menu will pop up asking you to label your new entry. Label it accordingly. I have only a few canned responses right now as I just went through and deleted old ones I was no longer using. 

Now that you've done all that your new canned response is saved. When you want to send a query out all you do is repeat the step above where you hove over canned responses, and then you just click on 'insert' 'query title' of whatever you want to insert. 

Why should you do this? 

1. It will save you time when you query.
2. You will avoid making juvenile mistakes, like not having your query formatted the same for every part of it. One of the don't items I recently saw Carole Blake post was not having the same font, font size, and color in your entire query. Don't be that writer. 
3. You want it to look professional. Do it once, and you can ensure it's professional every time you send it. 
4. You won't have to do anything other than the introduction. 
5. This is what your query should look like:

Dear [Agent Name],

[Insert specific reason why you are querying them here, why did you choose them]

[Canned query] 

This will be so much easier for you to do once you begin to treat your 'hobby' of being a writer as a business. Yes, it's all fun and games, but let's make sure those games are all polished. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Writer's Voice

Dear Writer's Voice Coaches,


Scarlett Rivers is as strong as titanium, but lately, she's felt more like a cracked china cup. Being her granny's chauffeur, her mama's maid, and her granddad's field hand is wearing her thin. Her thirteenth birthday is a few days away, and she has one wish: meet the father who split when she was born. Taking fate in her own hands she 'borrows' her granny's Lincoln, with a pocket full of her mama's rainy-day cash, and makes it to San Francisco like she's driving the Scarlett Rivers Express. She knocks on his door only to have it slammed in her face. Eventually the door slammer, Madison, lets her in and explains where her dad is.

He's standing right in front of her, in a floor-length black dress, with painted nails, and - OMG - boobs. 

Finding out her dad is a woman was not one of her birthday wishes, and hanging out with him is confusing and strange. But soon Scarlett realizes holding onto resentment is the last thing Jesus would actually do. Her mom wants her home, like yesterday, so she talks a reluctant Madison into driving home with her to Alabama. The closer they get the more Scarlett realizes her dad is just a normal - girl, and her broken heart starts to mend. 

But not everyone is as compassionate as Scarlett. Word gets out to the Bigot-brigade that Scarlett's dad is a woman. Bullies young and old are cropping up like mangy dogs, and pretty soon it's clear there's more on the line than just Scarlett and Madison's relationship. Scarlett has a choice to make: let ignorant swamp-turds chase her dad away, or fight to prove that being transgender isn't contagious. 

MAMA'S GIRL is an Upper Middle Grade Contemporary LGBT complete at 39,000 words. It is a stand alone novel. The full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you so much for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

First 250:

I stood by the fence, wishing I had x-ray vision to see through the door looming innocently at the end of the concrete walkway. On my right shoulder my good angel kept telling me to get back in Granny's Lincoln and head home to Alabama. On my left shoulder, my bad angel was doing a freedom dance from my big toe to my shoulder bone.

Running a clammy hand down my face I mentally flicked my good angel into the bushes by the gate. As my chest heaved beneath my green hoodie I could've kicked myself for not bringing a paper bag to hyperventilate into. Big girl panties, Scarlett. Red hair - don't care, remember? I said to myself. 

I flipped my long tresses over my shoulders and shook my hands out at my sides. Glancing up at the sky above San Francisco, I prayed to Jesus for the hundredth time that Mark Rivers, otherwise known as 'child support paycheck', was home. I pushed the gate open as the last of the sun slipped over the rim of the Pacific Ocean in the distance behind me. 

I crept softly on the walkway to the front door, looking left and right, expecting someone to jump out and yell at me. My head swam a little on step four, and a word my mama would've popped my mouth for tumbled out like granddaddy's beer cans from under his Ford bench seat. As my stomach performed a mean back hand-spring, I knocked on the door.