Friday, February 2, 2018

Working on your Query

How to be a Writer
by Victoria Anne Krol
Victoria Anne Krol wrote a post two years ago on what it takes to be a writer after she came to our Pen and Ink query session. It's still very relevant.

When you submit your story, you have to write a query letter (new word for me).  You first have to look up agencies on line and see if you can find ones your really like.  Then you read the rules, which are called the "submission requirements" so you do it correctly.

My mom's group was meeting to this together.  Mom spent all day on the couch with her computer reading about agencies and agents.  By the end of the night, she had picked four she thought would be good. Her writing partners, Sue and Lupe, helped her re-write her letter.  Mom got upset when they made lots and lots of changes to her letter.  And by the time they finished, Mom loved the letter.  She told me that writer's often "get attached" to their words.  She's glad she has her writing buddies to keep her on track.

Steps for a Query Letter:

1- tell them who you are and what you have written.
2- where you have submitted your work
3- then include a synopsis (really cool word) and the word count
4- and finally, make your letter succinct (another good spelling word)

I asked the group what else they thought makes a good writer.  They said-

and more editing
typing and more typing

I think I get it.

And mom added sharing and networking too.

I really, really enjoyed watching the Pen and Ink team work on query letters and support each other. Lupe lives in Northern California, so he was Skyping with us. Sue, Mommy, and I set up our large folding table in the living room and set up our computers and got to work.

Just call us the Query Ladies.
You can't see Lupe, but he's on the TV in front of us.
I was able to read Sue's book, Tasha, and too bad I am not an editor or it would already be published.  It was excellent. And I read everyone's query letters and they were very good. 

The result of the meeting? Everyone submitted to at least one agency.  


Writing is a lot of hard work and some of the work isn't even about writing your story.  I guess you have to really, really love it to do it because it's harder to do than my homework.

And I can't wait to do it more!

I took lot of notes- if I could only read my handwriting!
What are some tips you have about query letters and submitting?  Let's share!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

12 Days of Christmas For Writers

We interrupt our hiatus to share this post with youl
This post is from writer Julie Jarnagin and was first published in 2010
Happy New Year.
May all your best dreams come true.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
12 Days of Christmas for Writers

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me

12 Fulls Requested

11 Muses Musing

10 Plots-a-Flowing

9 Bloggers Blogging

8 Hours-a-Writing

7 Editors Editing

6 Tweets Retweeted


4 Best Sellers

3 Query Letters

2 Agents Calling

And a Contract to Fill you with Glee!

Merry Christmas to all my wonderful writing friends!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017



Photo courtesy of Ffffound
                Things change.  Needs change.  After 429 blog posts, eight years and who knows how many batches of Hilde's famous chocolate chip cookies, the four founders of The Pen and Ink Blog need to say farewell to the beloved Pen and Ink Blog and its cherished readers.  Thank you all for your support, encouragement and friendship over the years.  In the writing trenches, you are the readers who had our backs and we are grateful. 
                Below are the farewell thoughts from my co-founders.  We had some fun times together and supported each other through thick and thin.  Among my personal favs that will stay with me forever were the great times at the SCBWI conventions, fab posts by the kids, hamsters, pirates and ah, you know the rest.  I love you all – always.
Write On – Kris Kahrs
Eight years ago, Kris suggested we do a blog. I laughed. “Who would want to read anything I write?” I was brand new to the world of children’s publishing and didn’t think anyone would want to hear what I had to say. But somehow, everyone got me on board, and we launched the Pen and Ink Blog, which ironically, was a name suggestion from me.

What did I learn? So much. First of all, it inspired me to write a YA book and I completed it and have been submitting it. That happened because of the amazing replies to our post, all that I learned from the posts, and feeling supported as a writer.

I had been an actor once upon a time and can tell you that it does tend to crush your soul. How different to be lifted up by your peers and others in this industry who have reached a high level of success and to be told that you, too, will be worthy one day and not to give up on your book.

And while we’re going to be dormant for a bit, our blog will stay up so you can enjoy some of the fun we created over the years. And who knows, we may pop back in and say hello. But know this, your support has meant a great deal, especially to me, and when I succeed in publishing my book, YOU will be the first to know.

From all of us at Pen and Ink, thank you for your friendship and collaboration. Happy Writing.


by Lupe Fernandez
First Draft: (mic drop)
Second Draft: Dear Gentle People, I'd like to <WARNING! WARNING!> This the a Test of the Emergency Management Quality Control. Had this been a real blog post, our Foreign Correspondent wouldn't be a sluggard at reporting from the Northern Hinderlands and we would have more posts to post. And now back to your regularly scheduled blog in progress... the one about the Maine Coon cat and the tuna fish? Hahahahahaha!
Third Draft: I thank my colleagues Hilde, Kris and Susan for their encouragement in writing essays for the Pen And Ink blog. This is the end of this post, but the work continues. Ciao.

      Pen and Ink will always be a joy to me. We are leaving up the site so you can enjoy some of our jokes like the pirate alphabet and first line posts and recipes Someday we may be back, who knows. In the meantime we wish you every kind of good reading and great luck publishing.




Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Picture Books and Memories

By Susan J Berger
We all know Memorial Day is not just for picnics. But sometimes, that's easy to forget.
I remember Memorial Day parades from my childhood in the 1950's. In those days we not only had soldiers from World War II and the Korean War. Riding in autos draped in bunting were soldiers from the Spanish American War, World War I, and even the Civil War. A parade of wars going back almost a century. I remember marveling at the Civil War veterans. Fewer of them each year.
I haven't been to a memorial Day Parade since I left the small towns I used to live in New York and Connecticut. I am sure those parades still exist. 
I also remember fondly teen books by Janet Lambert set against a background of World War II and a bit before. The Penny Parrish series are still available as Kindle books. So are some of the Jordan Family books. I read the first one, Just Jennifer over and over. It was published in 1945 and is only available in hardback.
I mention these because these books could be considered source material. I am unaware of any current books set against a background of WWII in America. Maybe one of you would like to write one?
I did find three picture books about Memorial Day and one about soldier moms.
I deep searched and found a few self published ones with no reviews.
Any one want to add to the field?  Here are my finds. I wish you inspirations for new books and a Happy Memorial Day.

Kate Messner's new picture book Rolling Thunder illustrated by Greg Ruth, pays tribute to Washington DC's Memorial Day Parade.
Every Memorial Day in Washington, DC, more than a million veterans and their supporters gather for the Rolling Thunder® Ride for Freedom, a demonstration that pays tribute to the men and women of the US armed forces. This lyrical story honors the bravery and sacrifice of those American heroes -- the ones who have returned home, and the ones who haven't.

Here are the first lines:

Lines of bikes are miles long,
Shining, half a million strong.
Rumbling, grumbling engines roar.
Peace signs. High  Fives
Spirits soar.

Of course the inimitable Eve Bunting has a picture book about Memorial Day. The Wall. It's illustrated by Ronald Himler.

This is the wall, my grandfather's wall. On it are the names of those killed in a war, long ago.
"Where is Grandpa's name?" I ask.

The Poppy Lady Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara Walsh. Illustrated by Layne Johnson
When American soldiers entered World War I, Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia, knew she had to act. Some of the soldiers were her students and friends. Almost single-handedly, Moina worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers. And she devoted the rest of her life to making sure the symbol would last forever. Thanks to her hard work, that symbol remains strong today. Author Barbara Elizabeth Walsh and artist Layne Johnson worked with experts, primary documents, and Moina's great-nieces to better understand Moina's determination to honor the war veterans.

Hero Mom by Melinda Hardin. Illustrated by Bryan Langdon

Our Mom's are superheros.
My mom doesn't leap over tall buildings—she builds them.
 My mom doesn't fly in to save the day—well, sometimes she does.
My mom doesn't command animals—she works with them to find missing people and dangerous objects.
Do you know any other Memorial Day picture books? Please share.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Revisit Avonlea with Victoria, Sam and Hilde

Netflix has a new version of Anne of Green Gables called Anne With an E. From what I  read in Vanity Fair it's more Dickens than L.M. Montgomery.  Other reviewers agree.  Some reviewers like it's darker side. You decide for yourselves what you think.
For those of us who are devoted to Anne, Pen and Ink is republishing Hilde Garcia and Victoria and Sam Kroll's 2014 account to their journey to Avonlea.

Our Journey to Avonlea.

by Sam and Victoria Krol

with some thoughts from our mom, Hilde Garcia

I always knew that Avonlea was a fictions name that L. M. Montgomery gave to the setting that served as a backdrop for her novels.  She grew up in Cavendish, the prettiest spot on the north shore, as many have commented, and in her enchanting novels, she had us all fall in love with a place called Avonlea.

Then on Canada Day, while in line for Cow's Creamery ice cream, the best ice cream we have ever tasted, a lovely family told us that we had to go to Avonlea. I, of course, said, that was not the real name of the town, but they said, "No, you have to go to Avonlea.  It's an actual place."  Well, we attempted to find it on our phone and the woman says, "You can't miss it.  It's on the way to Montgomery's Cavendish home."  Imagine my delight when I thought about really traveling there. No journey to P. E. I. could be complete without a visit to Avonlea.

SO we put our phone away. No one else had theirs out and we trusted we'd find it in the morning. I stayed up late that night and read all about it on the internet though, and couldn't sleep for the anticipation of being able to walk through time.

I wondered if it would be captivating for the rest of my crew.  From what I could tell, we were going to go back in time and "play" as if we were in the novel.  It sounded like fun to me, but you know how kids are today, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

SO here are their takes on visiting Avonlea.
It was fun pretending to live in 1901.  Josie Pye asked me what air conditioning was when I mentioned it to her.  So I explained it during flag making time.  We also did wool dying with Ms. Rachel Lynde.  We had to fetch water from the water pump because there wasn't a sink.  And then we brought the bucket back to the tub where we were going to place the wool.  We all took turns.
"Today, we are going to dye wool," Mrs. Rachel Lynde said.  Then she pulled out some samples in different stages of the dye process.  The she said, "We're going to use this new fangled thing called Kool-aid."  Some adults chuckled.  Then she let us smell it.  It smelled like beets.  She poured the grape kool-aid into the bucket full of water.  Then she stirred it, then she dumped in the yarn and said "Let's soak the yarn in the bucket until 4 o'clock.  I ended up coming back two days later and I bought the yarn I helped die and made a scarf for me and one for my doll.
Then we did a whole bunch of other stuff.
For example, step dancing, square dancing, (not the same thing), pie eating contest, and more.
Okay readers, here's a little news flash.  The whole time we were on Prince Edward Island, we saw no one on a CELL PHONE!!  And in Avonlea, everyone was having wholesome fun!!!  The second day in Avonlea, I went to and played around with Josie Pye who was glad we had returned.  We had this shannanigan going on that started when she wrote Anne's name incorrectly on the chalk board.  My middle name is Anne, with an e, so I had to let her know.
It all started when Josie Pye told a falsehood on the first day of school.  She said that Anne broke her tablet over Gilbert's head 117 times. We knew that couldn't be true, because we saw it, it was only once.  I of course, defended Anne and told Josie my middle name was Anne, with an e.
Josie said, "It should be Victoria Josie."  And preceded to call me that the rest of the day.  During knitting with Mrs. Lynde, she announced it to everyone in the store.  I went, "Uggh!"  My dad asked why I was annoyed and I said, "Because she dislikes that my name is Anne and is calling me Victoria Josie." (But I secretly love it.)
During this whole time, Josie was waiting for me so we could go and play, but I told her I would catch up with her.  My dad and I decide to have some fun and we ran back to the school house and wrote on the chalk board Josie's name wrong five different ways.  We wrote Josey Pye, Josee Pie, Josie with the Pi symbol, and even José Torta which is Josie Pye in Spanish.
Then she came and read it and left me a note, "Dear Viktoreeeah Josie, You should focus on your spelling more. Love JOSIE PYE."  What I loved was how much she played along and she was all grown up and loved pretending.
It was hard to say goodbye.  She hugged me and told me to have a safe journey out West.  I could have stayed in Avonlea forever.
When I went to Avonlea in Prince Edward Island, which is in Canada, I played a game called Crokinole with three of the townspeople who were named Tommy, Gilbert, and Moody.  Crokinole is a game where you shoot discs across the circular game board trying to land in the higher scoring regions of the board, while also attempting to knock away opposing discs.  We played about ten games together on one of the games I shot the disc so hard that it bounced off of the board and landed in Moody's shirt pocket.  Since there were four people, we made teams of two.  Every few games, we switched teams so we got to play with everybody.  Crokinole is a game that's hard, but fun.
There was also a fair and in the fair they had a pie eating contest.  The contestants that were in the pie eating contest were my mom, known as Hilde, a town boy, and two other visitors.  The winner of the pie eating contest was one of the two visitors.  My mom didn't win because the crust was stuck to the plate and she couldn't get it up off of the plate!  The contest was very funny because you could only eat with your mouth. What I mean is you couldn't use your hands.  At the end of the pie contest, my sister and I, started to dip our fingers in the pie. A few dips later, my mom told us to stop.  All the contestants had a pie mustache and by the way, the pie was chocolate!
We also participated in a sack race.  Well, it was actually four sack races. One for the small and young ones, one for the the big and older kids and two for the adults- ladies and gentlemen.  My sister got placed in the little kid race because she is short and she WON first place, and was given an
"I love Gilbert!" tattoo.  In the older kid race, I WON that race and I got the same tattoo.  My mom yelled, "Those are my twins."  My mom asked if I could have the tattoo so I gave it to her.
The adult race was very funny.  My dad came in last place because he fell down.  My mom got 3rd place because two taller girls beat her by one jump and they tied.  I think it was too close, but there wasn't any kind of replay camera.
I also played a kick ball game and threw balls into a wooden board that had holes in it and every time you made it in, you had to back up and throw from a farther distance. I did really well in that game.
And the pig races were awesome! It was fun and I didn't want to go.
Today's kids have a world of electronic gadgets at their fingertips. Many children today do not look up when they speak to you, have trouble reading facial expressions, and simply cannot pretend, converse, or make believe.  It's a travesty.

Avonlea to all the visitors that came and to me was a haven, hope that we haven't lost all the kids of today just yet. So many kids loved the story and loved that it was brought to life.  My kids reveled in it and suspended their reality for not one day, but two, as we simply couldn't get enough of the first day there.

The second day, feeling like we had come home, I simply let the kids run amuck doing whatever they wanted while I wandered around and shopped. They shadowed the town "children" and played with them and even skipped down the side walk.

Happier times. Simpler times.  I cannot wait to return.