Writing Tips

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Investigate the following:
Free Home Office Hints
Writing Query Letters
Writing A Synopsis
Or Bottom of the page Where You'll Find A Link To MORE Writing Tips.


Home Office


From Rosalyn Alsobrook

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1. Don't try to make the most intimate room in your house (your bedroom) also your
office unless absolutely necessary. Do try to find an area with very little traffic
and few distractions.

2. Because of the time you will spend sitting, do yourself and your back a favor: don't
use a kitchen, dining room, or folding chair for your desk chair. Invest in a quality
chair. You'll save a fortune in doctor bills and aspirin.

3. Establish office hours that will allow you to get enough work done yet still have
time for yourself and your family

4. Don't let housework or hobbies or "chatty" neighbors distract you from a working
schedule. Remember your office hours and stick to them. Post them on the door
if necessary.

5. Don't allow paperwork and office equipment to become scattered all over your
home. As you need for more space grows, use space saving storage systems to
organize and keep everything in one area.

6. Stay out of the kitchen during office hours or your waistline could suffer greatly

7. Get an answering machine or a special office line if constant personal incoming
telephone calls are a problem. There's no law that says you have to answer the
telephone just because it rings. Let the answering machine handle those calls for you.

8. If your children refuse to cooperate with your office hours and stay constantly
underfoot, consider child care services. A few hours of uninterrupted time could
be well worth the investment.

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Writing A Good Query Letter:

by Rosalyn Alsobrook


What exactly is a query letter?


A query letter is what the name implies. It is a business letter inquiring whether or not a particular editor would be interested in seeing a particular piece of work.

It is any writer's strongest selling tool, and is important for several reasons. To me, the most important reason is to save time. To a serious writer, time is very important. Why waste some of that precious time, much less valuable postage, sending your work to the wrong markets? Why waste an editor's precious time having to repackage your manuscript and send it back to you because it is not at all what he or she is looking for, or because her inventory is full at the moment and it will be months before she can consider purchasing another book?

Query if you are not quite sure a particular publisher would be willing to consider your work or whether your topic is actually suitable for that publisher.

To find out if a particular house is buying at the moment, it is wise to query first, even to the beginning writer--especially if the idea being proposed is a little different. Also, be aware that some editors flatly refuse to consider anything BUT queries.


What makes a good query letter?

Remember a query is a letter in which you politely and professionally ask an editor if he or she would be interested seeing your work. You will in fact be selling yourself and you work by letter, so you will need to be certain to do both.

A good query letter has three basic parts:

The first paragraphs focuses on selling the work itself. In it, you should tell the editor the type of story it is, where and when it is set, how long the book should be (or the exactly word length if the work is complete), and give a general idea of the plot. This first part must be thorough and convincing, but brief and that is not always easy to do.

In the second part of the query letter you HAVE to sell yourself, but don't make the mistake of over sell. List your writing credits and any information pertinent to the writing of that particular piece, but don't bother telling the editor that you have a lovely house in the country, two charming kids, and a small dog that won a blue ribbon just last month for its unusual tongue tricks. The editor is only interested in details that pertain directly to your writing. And don't relate writing details not worth mentioning. Don't mention that you've had a recipe in a recently published community cookbook or that the local newspaper once printed your letter to the editor. That's not necessary and reeks of being a beginner.

If you have no publishing credits, tell what expertise you have with the subject matter you have chosen, or how well acquainted you are with the setting. If nothing else, mention that you are a member of RWA, or other prestigious writer's groups. That at least shows that you are serious about writing.

What not to do?

An editor once told me, NEVER ever resort to emotional black mail. Never include any suicidal tendencies you may have. Never mention that your children will starve and die in the streets with crooked teeth and ragged underwear if you don't make a sale soon. It doesn't work.

Nor does bribery.

Another editor once told me she'd received a two-foot chocolate bar in the same box with a manuscript. She admitted that she ate the candy bar and thoroughly enjoyed it because the chocolate was very good, but the manuscript wasn't, and she quickly rejected it.

Editors want only books that will sell.


What else do you include?

By the third section of your letter, it's time to get down to business. You mention whether or not the novel is in progress or completed, when you can have it on his or her desk, and to contact you. Suggest either by the SASE enclosed or by telephone, whichever is most convenient for the editor. And always make certain that somewhere on that page is your correct telephone number.

Before mailing, proofread for mistakes. Make your final copy as picture perfect as possible. You want your first impression to be a good one, a professional one. Also, before you mail the letter, be sure you've kept a copy for your files (never trust an only copy to the U.S. Postal System). Also make sure you have indeed enclosed your SASE.

It is a courtesy most editors insist upon.


How quick do editors respond?

Depends on the editor. A writer can usually expect a response on a query within weeks--a lot sooner than on a proposal with sample chapters or a completed manuscript. Sometimes on a full, book-length manuscript the wait can be six to eight months. I know one woman who mailed her full manuscript to a popular New York publisher without querying first and it was nearly two years before she finally received a response. Two years passed during which she could have been sending it elsewhere, and possibly have made a sale.

THAT, my friends, is why being able to write a good query letter is so important.


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By Rosalyn Alsobrook


Just what is a synopsis?

A synopsis is that horrible-to-face condensation that tells your story to an editor in as few pages as possible. Keep it to a preferable 3-15 pages, depending on whether you plan a 280 or a 600 page manuscript. For EMERALD STORM, a historical romance saga which ended up being 770 manuscript pages, I wrote a 26 page synopsis. For "The Gift", a time-travel written in anthology form, the synopsis was barely 2 pages.

Synopses are always written so they can stand alone, but have a better "impact" if sent with sample chapters. By sample chapters I mean the first two or three--not the first, third, and tenth. Always start where the book itself starts and always give the ending. Editor's don't play guessing games. They don't have time.

In my synopses, I sometimes list the main characters and offer a very brief verbal sketch about each one, telling what relationship they have to the story. That keeps me from having to stop in the middle of the action to explain that this character is the evil-twin of the hero's ex-mother-in-law's older brother, or whatever. By including character sketches, I keep that sort of information easy-to-find at the front of the synopsis and don't have to repeat it in the text itself.

Many times, for extremely complicated stories, I also include a simple time-line to help simplify what pertinent events happened prior to the opening of the story, usually starting with the birthdates for hero and heroine and any main events pertinent to the story. That not only helps the editor in on the order of things, it helps ME keep "on track". And believe me, that is important to someone like me who is so easily "derailed".

I usually place the time line either directly after the very brief character sketches or at the very end of the synopsis. Placement depends on how important the information is in understanding the synopsis.


Quick and important warnings:



E-mail Rosalyn--E-mail Rosalyn



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Romance Writers are encouraged to visit the Romance Writers of America website for further helpful information!

For those Published authors who are already members of RWA--check out the PASIC web site.

You Might Be A Romance Reader if . . .
You Might Be A
Romance Writer if . . .


Link to yet more
Resources for Romance Writers from fellow writer, Charlotte Dillon

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Tips On How To Prepare A Manuscript


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