QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Monday, July 30, 2012

How Long Should It Be?

                                             ©Stina Lindenblatt

By Arthur Plotnik @artplotnik
Here we go again with "size matters." Not long ago I was asked to help some writing students answer the question: "How long should a piece be?" Talk about generalizing---it's almost like asking "How good should a piece be?" (Answer: Pretty damn good.) But the length question is a common one, and, as I mused about it, my muse and I came up with some practical guidelines.
In answer to "how long?" the stock response is “as long as it needs to be.” “Needs” covers a lot of ground, however, and depends on what you mean by “it.”  Often a publication and its editors set the length limitations. Sometimes the form itself does, as with a sonnet (14 lines) or haiku (17 syllables). Time can be a factor, as with television scripts.
But if there are no set limits, writers still have to consider their purpose and the interests of an audience. You don't want to run at the mouth or come up short. What will make your communication hit home? Which elements have to be there and which are going to be a distraction?
Limits are off only when writing something out of personal need; say, to get a jumble of pressing thoughts into some kind of form. The result might be a riff or a rant as long as the Alaskan Iditarod---and just as forbidding. Or it might boil down to about 140 characters, luring you to spill your inspissated guts on Twitter.
But what determines length when addressing a wider audience? Again, form is key. In news writing you have to lay out the who, what, when, where, and sometimes why, enough to tell a story; and, in opinion pieces, enough argument to persuade---all within the attention span of the average reader. In newspapers, that might mean 200-500 words for the average piece, and some 700-2,000 words in longer-form media, like magazines. (A double-spaced manuscript page holds 250-300 words; a typical printed magazine page about 700-1,000; a page of an average published book about 350-500.)  
Poetry is mainly a form of “distillation,” where meaning is boiled down to the fewest telling words and images. Many literary journals call for poems no longer than about 40 lines, which is what fills one of their typical printed pages. Reflecting the tenor of the times, the editors suggest that if something can’t be distilled into 40 lines of poetry, then it hasn’t been worked on enough or the topic is unworkable. “Epic” poems, of course, are long verse narratives that might be book-length. They are stone out of fashion given the patience of today’s reader.
Short stories, too, are confined by journal guidelines. While quick-take stories (or “flash fiction”) run up to 1,000 words, 2,500 is the average maximum for short stories as the form has come to be developed.  Experience has shown that 2,000-3,000-words constitute a workable length for developing characters and taking them through a meaningful episode.
With multiple characters to develop and more complex episodes, or a time-span of many years, one enters the terrain of the “long story,” about 5,000-12,000 words, or up to 40 manuscript pages.  Higher counts, say 15,000-30,000 words are usually classified as “novellas,” or small novels. Like long stories they face a sheer cliff in getting published other than through the occasional contest or in a collection of the author's otherwise short stories. But here and there a bulked-up tale scales the heights.  Published novels tend to run from 80,000 words (e.g., romance novels) to 200,000 (e.g., historical sagas).    
Common nonfiction lengths include the editorial essay or op-ed of about 300-700 words; 1,000-3,000-word topical essays, and 100,000-150,000 book-length treatments of a rich topic (e.g., a biography, history of a war, or a year spent living in a tree with koalas).  
Within the general lengths mentioned, a hundred aesthetic factors make for variations. If a created character or suspenseful atmosphere is so compelling that readers are likely to want more, greater length might be justified. If the idea is to stimulate by understatement, then like the “minimalists” you’ll be writing shorter pieces. 
Often, an agent or even an editor will suggest cuts or expansions of a book manuscript without any promise of publication. And, blast them, they are usually right from a commercial publishing point of view. But not always; you'll want some second opinions. Once the book is accepted, you're still likely to face length changes from the editor---or a succession of editors during the long publishing process. You can go along with them, argue, or give back your advance. Your choice.
Crazily, the length might have to be changed at the last minute, owing to a budget change or, with print books, to fit the number of "forms" on a press (usually total book pages must be divisible by eight). You'll need to be a good sport, even if it feels like they're reconfiguring your very molecules.
But back to first things, your manuscript. The famous advice of writer Elmore Leonard still holds: I try to leave out the parts that people skip. And in the age of Internet, when words from every imaginable source flood every screen and every mobile device, people are skipping more than ever, especially self-indulgent, off-message digressions of interest only to the author and his/her unquestioning golden retriever.
And I hope I’ve left out those parts here.

Arthur Plotnik is a distinguished editor and author whose eight books include The Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts Into Words (2012, rev. and expanded, Viva Editions) and Better Than Great: A Plenitudinous Compendium of Wallopingly Fresh Superlatives (2011, Viva). His Spunk and Bite: A Writer's Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style (Random House) has been a bestseller in its category. Website: www.artplotnik.com.
A. P., copyright ©2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Publishing Pulse: Friday, July 27, 2012

Hungry for Success Stories and Agent Updates?

Sure you are--which is why you can't wait to read the Query Tracker blog's Publishing Pulse every week. But why wait...when you can see them every day? Consider this and many other benefits to becoming a Query Tracker member. See what level of membership is right for you.

Around the Blogosphere

It's the shot heard around the 'Net: lawsuits over graphic rights and image piracy.

Kristin Nelson shares a post on the Pub Rants blog. If you've ever found a picture on the internet and plugged it into a blog post, then you better read it. It is very interesting to note that disclaimers aren't going to defend a blogger if the owner of a photo comes knocking on their web site door.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. Bye, bye, Tumblr and Pintrest. You were a delightful diversion to getting work done...but we'll miss you, for sure.

What do the words otter, toast, fan, bouncing, and trap have in common (besides oddly recurrent themes in my recent trip to Niagara Falls)? Well, if you feel like entering a flash fiction contest on Janet Reid's blog, YOU can tell US. Contest runs this evening through Saturday 6pm.

Rachelle Gardner shares the podium with guest blogger Erin Reel (@TheLitCoach) in her post about building on online platform...and shares excellent advice for writers who are intimidated by the idea of audience-building from the ground up.

The Writer magazine (writermag.com) will go on hiatus after the October 2012 issue. There is hope The Writer will re-emerge under a new owner.

And Now: A Word from The Grammar Corgi
...on the subject of dangling modifiers.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who resides in the heart of the Pennsylvania coal region, where she keeps the book jacket for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" in a frame over her desk. Visit Ash's blog at www.ash-krafton.blogspot.com for news on her newly released urban fantasy "Bleeding Hearts: Book One of the Demimonde" (Pink Narcissus Press 2012).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Value of Adversity

Courtesy of VinnyPrime
Like death and taxes, adversity is an inevitable part of life.

This is especially true when you're building a career as an author. Adversity will come at you from within and without, and sometimes from both directions at once.

But if used right, adversity and setbacks can become powerful catalysts that build instead of tear down. That create instead of destroy.

The first bit of adversity happens when a writer sits down to write. Sometimes it's a matter of discipline. Never is the urge stronger to check my email and message boards than when I've just sat down to write. Especially if I'm researching something on the Internet.

Sometimes adversity comes in the guise of fear--fear that is rooted and so deep that we don't even recognize it for what it is. It's common for creative types to be taught early on by well-meaning people who love them that making a living spinning tales out of words isn't going to happen. That it doesn't pay well and it isn't reliable (depends and depends), so why not choose a healthier, safer thing to dream?

But that's the thing. Most creative enterprises aren't safe, because the artist/writer/sculptor/etc. puts a piece of themselves into everything they make. Saying something, seeing something through the unique lens of your own perceptions, isn't safe. Because once you do, once you share that with someone else, there will be plenty of people who will come along to tell you that you're wrong.

Some of those people are invaluable. They point out our weakness and show us the flaws in our work so we can correct them. They tell us where we're strong, and then show us how we can be even stronger. They help us become better than we could ever be on our own.

And there are the other types who, possibly from fears of their own, see nothing but cracks and flaws and how it's all wrong. These are the people you will need to learn to recognize and shut out, because they can be detrimental to your well-being. Nothing is so perfect that it can't stand to improve, but nearly everything has a spark of beauty in it--even if that spark is buried deep and requires time and patience and persistence to find.

There is a third group who just may not be the person for whom your story was meant.  Every story is not for everyone, but there is a story for every person. The trick is in finding it.

Dealing with outer adversity that comes from critics is a lot like gathering a group of people together to view the Tower of Pisa. Some will find beauty in the lines of the tower. Others will discover the wonder of a building that stands like no other building they've ever seen before. And others will see only the flaws in the architecture, and rather than savoring the moment, will focus on the fact that one day gravity will have the final word.

Each of those perceptions is valid and true for the person experiencing the moment. So what should the architect do? My guess would be to share in the wonder, revel in the moment, and use it as a learning experience to be more careful about his calculations in future projects. Even so, the Tower of Pisa would not be standing today if additional work hadn't been done later on to stabilize it.

So, as a writer, we see something. We say something. We make loads of mistakes in the beginning. Not all of our towers that tilt will be salvageable, but neither will they all be complete disasters. Learning to let go of the need for perfection is an important step in releasing ourselves from those fears that keep us down, allowing ourselves to learn and grow from the adversity that comes from a document that is covered in red.

The same is true of hardships and setbacks that come, not by way of critics, but by way of life. In many ways, the stages of life where we face difficulty brings who we are into sharper clarity. There's nothing like hardship to show us where we're strong and where we're weak.

But we can use those times to refine how we see the world, to broaden our own perceptions, to give proper life to the story burgeoning within us, to better understand both ourselves and our fellow humans.

It isn't by seeing the world the "normal" way that enables people to change it. It's the very act of looking at the usual scenery from a different angle or with different eyes that allows us to peel away another layer of truth.

Adversity is hard. It can be heartbreaking, and sometimes it harms more than it heals. But we have a choice. We can use it as a tool to make us stronger, better, more able teller of tales. It can only destroy us as far as we allow it.

And sometimes what looks like devastation is really just a new opportunity waiting for someone to come along who can recognize it for what it is.

Danyelle Leafty| @danyelleleafty writes YA and MG fantasy. She is the author of The Fairy Godmother Dilemma series (CatspellFirespellApplespell, and Frogspell), and Slippers of Pearl, and can be found on her blog. She can also be found on Wattpad.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Engaging Openings

You hear a lot about having "a gripping opening" and beginning your novel with a fast-paced sequence. And, well, I'm not impressed.

Ursula K LeGuin in Steering the Craft stated that most novelists begin their story three chapters too soon, and I admit I've seen several novels with what my instructors have called "throat-clearing."  It's what you say before you really begin to tell your story.

But the current trend of beginning with an action sequence isn't the answer to "throat-clearing." Not every novel in every genre needs to begin with your main character battling a werewolf or an explosion ripping through a warehouse. So let's stop and think about what an opening needs to accomplish.

Most people will tell you that your story needs to begin as close as possible to the inciting action of the story, the moment after which nothing can be the same again. I don't agree. Let's pretend for a minute. Let's pretend the inciting incident is important, but not as important as knowing the significance of the inciting incident when it happens.

What would that mean? It would mean we trust Blake Snyder in Save The Cat: first we need to know why life for the main character can't stay the way it is. That, as Snyder says, "to remain here is death."

Your main character won't know that at first. Your main character won't suspect that not only will everything be shaken up soon, but also that it needs to be shaken up. That's because your main character isn't aware of his or her "hidden need" (as Amy Deardon says in The Story Template) but you, the writer, will be aware of this hidden need, and you're going to have to establish it in the opening.

Your main character is perfectly happy as an assistant pig-keeper, or your main character is eeking out an existence in an overcrowded colony of rabbits, bullied by the Chief Rabbit's special police. But although the characters are settled in the way things are, you're establishing, word by word, that things mustn't stay the same.

Snyder has the inciting incident taking place almost ten percent into the story. Deardon has it happening earlier, but still after the main character's introduction. So, take some time. Don't spend three chapters telling us how your main character learned to shoot when she was seven years old, but also don't drop us into a scene where she turns around and shoots five men in an alley.

The problem with these action openings is that we don't know whom to root for. We don't know why it's important.

But back up a bit. Your opening needs to establish who your main character is. Yes, I know there are novels which don't begin with the main character, but let's just ignore that for now. For most of us, the opening chapter needs to establish the main character and why she's important. Not important in the world: important to us. 

My agent and I struggled with the opening of my WIP. A first scene with the inciting incident left readers with a bunch of who-cares people being accosted by an angry client. Um, okay. I added a chapter before that where I carefully established the main character's hidden needs, and my agent fell asleep before page three. I lopped off the first three pages and opened with an interesting sequence, and it still wasn't working. My agent (who deserves combat pay) suggested a crisis for the opening, but it felt too much like a red herring because it would never come up again. (Which is another problem with action openings: if your MC shoots a bandit in scene one and then gets recruited to hunt vampires, never to encounter a bandit again, it's rather unsettling.)

I turned to my much-abused critique partner, who after three versions of the opening scene said, "But I don't care."

Ah. People in three surrounding counties may have thought it was a freak lightning storm, but it was an actual lightbulb going off over my head.  I sat down with the opening and told my main character to talk. Just talk. Enough with the tight writing and trying to get to the main action as soon as possible. Just talk to me.

Talk she did. My MC talked about birthday gifts and calendars and her grandmother's thimble collection, and after an additional five hundred words of padding, out came the thing she needed to say. Her hidden need expressed in one sentence, one concrete longing: she wished that just once, when she came home from work, she'd find a note from her grandmother that she'd put a leftover chicken drumstick and mashed potatoes in her fridge.

I deleted the thimbles and the birthday gifts and the calendars and kept some of the other things, but there on the front page is my character's longing to be nurtured, to be accepted. 

I passed it along to my second crit partner, who said, "This is awesome, and I can tell she's afraid of failure, but how does she define success?"  Second lightbulb moment.  

I passed the new revised fiftieth attempt back to my agent, who said (sweet relief) she really liked it now.

Days later, Kristin Nelson wrote about action openings versus active openings, and I felt vindicated. It's not about action. It's about engagement. It's about giving us someone to care for and then putting her in a situation where we can care about what she's up against.


Jane Lebak's first novel The Wrong Enemy (originally titled The Guardian) will be re-released this September by MuseItUp Publishing! She is also the author of Seven Archangels: Annihilation (Double-Edged Publishing, 2008) and The Boys Upstairs (MuseItUp, 2010). At Seven Angels, Four Kids, One Family, she blogs about what happens when a distracted daydreamer and a gamer geek attempt to raise four children. She is represented by the riveting Roseanne Wells of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Publishing Pulse: July 20, 2012

By Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL

Success Story

Our congratulations go out to Dan Ricchiazzi, our latest QT success story.

Publishing News

According to the Association of American Publishers, e-books are now the dominant single format in adult fiction sales. Children/Young Adult titles are showing the strongest performance. 

Here is the latest news on the Apple e-books lawsuit.

Authors sue Harlequin Enterprises for e-book royalties.

Penguin acquired Author Solutions (a self-publishing company).

Agent Rachelle Gardner explained what is happening with your publisher contract while you’re waiting for it.

There is a lot of discussion flying around about whether or not traditional publishing is dead or if you’re better off going indie. Some people only want to be traditional published. Others are content with being indie published. And a third group sees the benefit of being both. There are no right or wrong answers here. But in order to make a choice that is right for you, you need to know the realities of all forms. Brandon Sanderson shared his views on both types of publishing, and Bestselling author Dean Wesley Smith discussed the secret myth of traditional publishing.


Agent Janet Reid explained why you NEVER want to make these two mistakes when querying.

With all the changes going on in publishing, is it still worth trying to get an agent?

Social Media

Editor Jane Friedman shared on the subject of e-media and new opportunities.


For those of you who haven’t already done so, check out author Janice Hardy’s writing blog. She posts extremely helpful articles that help fiction writers, no matter where they are on the skill continuum. This week she explain how less is more when taking away elements and how to cut a major part of your story when it really needs to go.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch shared on writing perfection and on the business of writing. They’re long posts, but both are insightful.

Have a great weekend everyone. 

Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes young adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and blogging addict, and can be found hanging out on her blog, Seeing Creative.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Are You a Real Writer?

I started writing in the sixth grade, and by the seventh I was working on a novel. By the eighth, I had something solid—a real story with decent characterization and real character and plot arcs. I started thinking of myself as a writer before it ever occurred to me to wonder what that meant, and “writer” has remained a core aspect of my personality ever since.

But not everyone has that experience. In fact, I’ve met a lot of people who write who aren’t sure whether they qualify as  “real” writers.

Since I’ve been doing a lot of digging into the psychological and sociological research on writing and creativity, I decided to explore how scientists understand or “operationalize” (define) a writer.

Here’s what I learned.

At the most basic level, a writer is someone who writes regularly. This is repeated over and over in the literature, albeit in different ways: A writer is someone who shows up every day and writes. Writing is incorporated into the writer’s daily life.

That may seem obvious, but there are a lot of people out there who want to be writers but don’t do much actual writing. They plot constantly in their heads (or even on notecards or a bulletin board), but never actually do anything with the material.

I’m not sure exactly why they do that—one reason I’ve heard is that these people are afraid that if they actually start trying to write, their stuff will be awful.  And heck, let's be realistic—maybe it will! But you have to start somewhere, and as we’re discussing, you can’t be a writer if you don’t write.

Iris Murdoch once created a character who said, “I live with an absolutely continuous sense of failure. I am always defeated, always. Every book is the wreck of a personal idea.” And Gail Godwin said, “For every novel that makes it to my publisher’s desk, there are at least five or six that died on the way. And even with the ones I do finish, I think of all the ways they might have been better.”

So even successful writers struggle with that feeling that they’re not producing material that’s as good as the original idea. Nonetheless, they press forward and keep writing. And strive to keep getting better and keep growing.

Over time, according to the research, someone who continually incorporates writing into his or her life is— consciously or notfostering the identity of a writer.

And if you don't think you write regularly enough? Then try building some dedicated writing time into your day, even if it's just journaling about ideas or possibilities. It doesn't have to be every day, and it doesn't have to be for hours at a time. Just carve out a niche of time—half an hour, maybe, every other dayduring which you nurture the writer in you.

Because that’s all it takes to be a “real” writer!

Your turn: When did you start calling yourself a writer? What makes you feel like a real writer? What tips would you give to someone who wants to build on his or her writing identity?

Carolyn Kaufman, PsyD's book, THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment, and Human Behavior helps writers avoid common misconceptions and inaccuracies and "get the psych right" in their stories. You can learn more about The Writer's Guide to Psychology, check out Dr. K's blog on Psychology Today, or follow her on Facebook or Google+

Have a question about psychology in your writing? Use the email address on the right-hand side of the QTB page, or visit ArchetypeWriting's Q&A page.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Forensics Q&A: Fingerprinting

By Kristy Lahoda | @KristyLahoda

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post should not be used for malicious intent unless it is in the form of crime writing. The author is an explosives expert, not an expert in fingerprint analysis. 

QUESTION:  In my novel the protagonist is at a crime scene where fingerprints are found. What are some ways the fingerprints would be readied for analysis and what are some technical bits I can use to make it sound more authentic?

ANSWER: Fingerprints are analyzed by physical or chemical methods.

Types of Fingerprint Evidence

There are three types of prints that can be found at a crime scene: patent, impressions, and latent. Patent prints are those visible prints left as a result of contact with items such as dirt, blood, oil, and grease. Impressions are three-dimensional prints left in soft surfaces such as silly putty, tar, and butter. Latent prints require processing in order to be visible and will be our focus.

Latent Print Residue Composition

Our fingertips have skin called friction ridges that secrete sweat through pores. The composition of this sweat actually forms the latent print as well as any variety of materials that are on the friction ridges.

Latent Print Development

There are two types of methods for print development: physical and chemical methods. The methods used are primarily dependent on the surface the print is found on. The primary physical method is powder dusting. In this method, the powder adheres to the residue allowing for print visualization. Afterward, a piece of transparent lifting tape is applied to the powered print and then mounted onto a background that contrasts with the color of the print powder. Speaking from the limited experience I had during my training in fingerprints, dusting and lifting are art forms. Both procedures require patience and a great deal of skill. The prints can easily be damaged and you are out of luck if only one print is found and it is damaged during processing. Another physical method involves magnetic powder. It has magnetic properties and sticks to a wand. Since there are no brush bristles, the risk of damage to the print is reduced. This method is really cool, but again, I found that it requires technique.

There are several chemical methods. The chemical method that we use often in the crime lab is cyanoacrylate fuming, otherwise known as superglue fuming. The chemical name of superglue is alkyl-2-cyanoacrylate ester. The fumes interact with the latent print residue by polymerizing (i.e., the process of many small molecules combining). We place the item containing the print or prints into a chamber. We place a small dish of superglue in the chamber. The chamber is kept at a certain relative humidity and heat is used as a catalyst (i.e., to speed up the process of the reaction). There are several nice things about superglue fuming. It is an easy procedure, but it also allows for further processing if necessary. The print can be treated with a dye stain that induces fluorescence or luminescence when an alternate light source (ALS) or a laser illuminates the print at a specific wavelength. Examples of two dye stains that the crime lab uses are ardrox and Rhodamine-6G. Another common chemical process is called ninhydrin and is useful for porous surfaces. Ninhydrin reacts with components from the ridge lines containing amino acids. It is commonly applied by spraying, painting, or dipping. The process is slow, but like the superglue process, it can be sped up by adding heat in humid atmosphere. The ninhydrin develops bluish-purple prints. An analog of ninhydrin is 1,8-diazafluorenone (DFO). Ninhydrin and DFO react with components in the latent print residue that are water soluble. A follow-up treatment to ninhydrin and DFO is called physical developer (PD). PD is often used as a follow-up method because it reacts with components in the residue that have not already reacted—water-insoluble components such as lipids. It involves a process based on silver deposition onto the latent print residue.

There are many other chemical methods that can be used. I highlight a few of the more common methods here. The important takeaway is that even though it may seem to be an easy job, it takes a skilled crime scene technician or lab analyst to nondestructively lift the prints.

Kristy Lahoda, Ph.D., is an explosives analyst contractor in a crime lab as well as a technical editor for a scientific journals publishing company.  She writes Christian forensic suspense and discusses forensics on her blog called Explosive Faith.  You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

If you have a forensics question for Dr. Lahoda that you'd like to see answered on the QueryTracker Blog, send your question via Carolyn Kaufman using the email link under Contact Us in the right-hand column of the main QTB page.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Publishing Pulse for July 13th, 2012

It's Friday the 13th! Boo!

New At QueryTracker:

Congratulations to our newest success stories! Valerie Cole, Francesca Zappia, and Deanna Romito

Six agents updated their profiles this week. Please make sure you double-check every agent's website or Publisher's Marketplace page before querying. Yes, it takes an extra few minutes. Yes, it's worth it.

If you're a QueryTracker premium member, then you can be notified whenever an agent or publisher is added or updates their profile.

Publishing News:

Harper Collins has acquired Thomas Nelson Press, giving them control over more than half the Christian publishing market. I have a soft spot for Thomas Nelson because they published my first novel, so I wish them all the best.

While you're reading your ereader, your ereader is reading you. No, really, you knew this was coming. Your ereader may be collecting data about how much you read, how quickly you read it, and so on. Rachelle Gardner gives a response from a business point of view.

What's the best sentence you've ever written? Tweet it to Galleycat and you could win a free webcast pass to their literary festival and workshops. For the rules and the hashtag you need to use, check out their contest rules.

Also from Galleycat, a talking book cover. This is either very cool or very scary, or both.

Around the Blogosphere:

Janet Reid tells us a fabulous secret to writing a successful query letter in Every Query Letter Must Have This One Thing. (Lest you think I'm being unnecessarily snarky, I've written query letters lacking that One Thing, so I know how easy it is to do.)

Nathan Bransford discusses whether, in the push for tighter stories, books have been stripped too bare.

What to do if you feel your writing life is a bit bi-polar

Literary Quote of the Week:

“You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. So part of us believes that when the tide starts coming in, we won't really have lost anything, because actually only a symbol of it was there in the sand. Another part of us thinks we'll figure out a way to divert the ocean. This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won't wash them away. I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be.” -Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird

That's all we have for now. Until next week, keep those queries flying!

Jane Lebak is the author of The Wrong Enemy, to be released by MuseItUp this coming September. She is also author of The Guardian (Thomas Nelson, 1994), Seven Archangels: Annihilation (Double-Edged Publishing, 2008) and The Boys Upstairs (MuseItUp, 2010). At Seven Angels, Four Kids, One Family, she blogs about what happens when a distracted daydreamer and a gamer geek attempt to raise four children. She is represented by the riveting Roseanne Wells of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency.