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June 7, 2023

            If you’re a fiction writer, then you know imagination is critical to creating a good story since you’re making something up.

            How best to use this imagination?


            It can be difficult or impossible to write freeform, letting your imagination go wherever it wants. More than likely you’ll just end up with a big mess of words that only make sense to you.


            Your imagination needs to be reined in.

            Is that a restriction?

            Only for the good of everyone else!


            Your imagination can run wild to a point. However, this wild imagination needs to be reined into some form of a structure if it’s going to make sense.

            Structure is a beginning, an end, and what happens in-between.

            Moderate these ideas a bit so it all makes sense to the reader.


            Whether you become a pantser or an outliner, you need to control your imagination enough to put it all into some kind of pattern.

            First, you get a wild idea and your imagination runs wild.

            Second, think about this and ask yourself “Does it makes sense to anyone else?”

            Uh oh…while developing your wild idea, it’s going to take some work to turn it into a viable story.

            I highly recommend you figure out what the goal of your wild idea is. Once you’ve figured that out, then turn it into a sensible structure with a beginning, a middle and an end. For a pantser, the middle is the easiest part. For an outliner, well…you’re going to basically write the entire story in outline form before you ever get going. Either method works if you think it out ahead of time.

            Once you have the basics, does it make sense? Maybe that great burst of imagination turns out to be a great idea and the parts fall into place. However, what if they don’t?

            Does that mean your wild imaginative idea is no good?

            Something to ponder before you go further and commit.

            For example, you get a great idea for a murder mystery. You think of all the cool things you want to include in the story. However, when you get down to planning it all out¸ some parts of it don’t make sense. Are they fixable things, or do you have to scrap part or all of the idea?


            Lucky for me, I hardly ever have that problem.

            When I think of a great idea and my imagination goes wild, I ponder this for a bit.

            Does it make sense?

            Can I turn it into something workable?

            Only once did I have a wild idea and start writing before I figured out what I was doing.

            Luckily, I only got about fifty pages in when I realized it just wasn’t working.

            I learned a lot from that lesson.

            Never start writing with a wild idea until you give it some kind of structure. Sit back, and see if it all makes sense.

            It’ll save a lot of effort.


            Whichever way you do it, catalog your wild ideas. I do it by memory but for many of you, it’s best to write it down so you can go back to it if you want to reliably recall what it is. In my case, I tried writing ideas down for later reference, but when I came back to them, I forgot what I originally wanted. When I keep them catalogued in my brain, I recall them over and over again. I tweak them, play around with things. This cements that idea into my memory for later recall.

            Everyone has their own process. Learn as you go, or use your hard-won experience to think your wildly imaginative idea through.

            Use a little planning before you commit.

            You’re welcome.

            Happy writing!



May 31, 2023

            I was reluctant to call my recent trip to Spain a research trip because in all actuality, it wasn’t. It had the potential to be one, but due to unexpected circumstances, I never got to visit some of the places I used in Spanish Gold.

            This trip was for our 50th anniversary and best laid plans…

            Could I still get something out of it?


            The original intent of our trip was to celebrate our 50th anniversary where we got married and lived for a decade. Within all that, I wanted to take advantage of the situation and revisit some of the places I used in my latest book, Spanish Gold. There was the trip to the castle ruins at Alcala de Henares, the church in Nuevo Baztan, the road between Eurovillas and Loeches, the leaning tower, Calle San Cosme y San Damien.

            It would’ve been great to revisit these places since the last time I saw them was over 30 years ago.

            Best laid plans.


            When reality set in, it all depended on renting and driving a car all over central Spain. I managed to get the car for one day, but the driving experience was so awful, we turned it back in the next day. We barely made it to our old housing area in Eurovillas, through an unfamiliar route, and couldn’t find a single house (out of three) we lived in. In addition, all the street names had changed.

            With the car turned it, we had to rely on cab rides to get anywhere. Therefore, we had to be choosy about where we traveled, if not walked to.


            While my original side quest never came to fruition, I didn’t close my eyes and forget where I was. I had a great time and with open eyes, observed people, places and things. All of this bundled into a great, but different, research trip than I originally intended.

            Along with my imagination, what I observed is fruit for further adventures, whether my Gold series or Meleena’s world, or something else.

            Always use what you have.


            While our recent trip to Spain didn’t go as planned, it was still a great time and as a writer, I didn’t come away empty handed.

            You have to take advantage of every situation and make the best of it.

            I did!

            Happy writing!


April 26, 2023

            I always think back to that line from the Cheech and Chong movie, Up In Smoke: “Everybody ‘chares’ things,” Cheech says as they pass a joint around. Everyone doesn’t “share” everything, but as a trained teacher…well I prefer instructor because that’s really what it is…I always get a certain joy out of “paying it forward” (or sharing). That happens to be another movie line that’s been adapted into the current lexicon.

            When this article first came out in 2016, I thought back on it and decided a good update would be nice.


            There’ve been countless times in my life that I’ve been mentored, way beyond the scope of this article. To keep it focused on writing, while I have to give credit to Rhondi Vilott Salsitz, the most prominent writing mentor for me has been Carol Davis Luce. I’ve been at this passion for almost twenty-eight years, and she’s been with me through all of it. Even though it’s a cliché, she’s been with me through thick and thin.

            Everything she’s taught me has been reinforced by countless others over the decades. There have been other writers that have done their parts here and there, but before I take up this entire article listing names, I’ll just say that collectively, they’ve all helped me become a better writer. That’s including the good and bad advice.


            Everyone has to develop filters. This isn’t something that comes automatically. Trust me on this. It isn’t always instinct, though sometimes it may seem that way.

            Filters, and knowing what’s right and wrong for you takes time. Lots of people give a plethora of advice and the majority of it’s useful. However…how do you tell? Sometimes by consensus. A lot you find out by developing your own instincts after you’ve dived into a few manuscripts and forming your own style.

            Your filters develop over time and experience. A good mentor can help steer you with that.


            Okay, some of us aren’t natural teachers. Then again, are you a parent?

There you go.

If you’re too young for that or never went that route in life, well…mentoring is a way to prepare for kids or even helping those nieces and nephews.

            Paying it forward. If you’ve been at this awhile, you probably didn’t get here in a vacuum. Well…I’ve known a few people that did, and started asking questions after years of writing solo without any interaction from the outside. Then again, they were asking me, so guess what? I mentored them, in a way. Could they turn around and do the same? To them, they felt far from qualified (this is from conversations with them). Does that mean they can’t pay it forward with someone else? Some of them never will because they have no confidence in what they do. Their contribution would be to send that someone to another person who might be able to help. That would be this person’s way of helping…a very small way of paying forward. I hope most of you are not in that boat!

            Once you’ve been at this a while, you develop certain skills and when and if you get something published, there can be a certain joy in passing on what you know to help others. Pay it forward.


            There’s always that jock mentality that by helping others, you’re helping the competition.


            Writing and stories are art. There is no competition. There are thousands of books out there and each has a unique voice. Some say each book is competing for your attention. In that respect they’re right. However, look at it this way. Your book is also presenting them with another avenue of adventure, entertainment, another escape. It’s not so much competition as variety.

            If you do your job well, have a great cover and let people know you exist, they’ll find and read it. If they like it, they’ll come back regardless if Joe Jock thinks he’s competing with you for a better book. They might read his also, but that doesn’t mean they won’t read yours. If the mood strikes, they’ll read both and move on. They’ll read whatever they want, not because one is better than the other. There’s no such thing. It’s all about mood and flavor and what each individual likes. You can’t really compete for that. You can’t compete for taste.

            Taste is not sport.


            Just think of this. By paying it forward and mentoring, if you have the skills, you’re helping to prevent the marketplace from being polluted with substandard material.

            By paying it forward, you’re giving the world better variety of books.

            By paying it forward, you’re contributing to the world of books and supporting a robust writing market.

            By paying it forward, you’re seeing that “aha” moment when that other writer finally gets it.

            Happy writing!


April 19, 2023

            This subject has come up again in my personal reading, so I thought I’d revisit the subject.

I’ve been reading a lot of icky bug (horror) lately. Unfortunately for me, a lot of it tends to be literary writing, which I cannot stand.

            What do I mean by literary writing?

            Endless characterization and description. I’m including description in this piece on characterization because it can be just as ponderous.


            While I’m a huge fan of icky bug, I’m no fan of literary writing. I once read a very thick novel by a well-known but shall remain nameless icky bug author and I was so mesmerized by the lack of action, I could barely get through that draggy tome. I recently read a science fiction novel that was the same thing.

            For the icky bug, this was the great so and so?

            You’ve got to be kidding!

            For the science fiction novel, it was a first time I read them and will be my last.

            Then after suffering through all that, several reviewers had the audacity to complain that they never got to know the main characters in either tome.

            You’ve got to be kidding!

            There was almost no action at all in the icky bug because this top-of-the-line author rambled on-and-on-and-on about the characters, endlessly going through trivial feelings and hopes and dreams and bla bla bla. I wanted to give up reading after suffering through that. The science fiction book was much the same except it included woke writing, using a lot of they’s instead of he or she.

            So, in a nutshell, and I don’t apologize for this cliché, I hated those books.


            For those of you that have been reading my blog a long time, you have read my infamous quote from old cowboy actor Jack Elam. He once said that he was sick of all these movies that went into the heads of the bad guys and their feelings. “Maybe they just wanted the money.”

            That’s kind of how I feel about things. I don’t like to waste a lot of time characterizing. I also don’t like to spend a lot of real estate building up an entire world for a character while letting the action, the entire plot, come to a screeching halt. To me, I want the story to progress.

            Why take five chapters to say something you can say in a paragraph?

            Come on now.

            I’d much rather leak out bits and pieces for the reader to put together as the action progresses. I do not want to bring everything to a screeching halt while the reader has to slog through another flashback, or a sideline while I explain why the character does or doesn’t like something.

            Geez, give me a break.


            I’ve once read two bad examples of icky bug while I was on vacation. Both should’ve been quick reads. However, they were excruciating.



            The plots were fairly simple.

            The characters were not.

            Each chapter would start with something happening. However, right as the action started, the author brought it to a screeching halt as the characterization started. Then for ten or more pages, he or she would go off into la la land, describing the characters history, feelings, hopes, dreams or whatever, then at the end of the chapter, finally get back into the action.

            Then in the next chapter, start doing the next thing.

            Sometimes, the author wouldn’t even do that, but go right into the characterization before starting the action.

            I was practically yelling “come on!” so often, my wife was wondering what was going on.

            The reviews were mixed on both of these books. Some loved it, while others slammed the authors for never getting to the point.

            I won’t specifically mention them because I don’t want to slam other writers and authors. Let’s just say that neither were the huge writer mentioned in that other section above and leave it at that.


            There’s a big literary crowd out there.

            There are some that are midway, so they could enjoy both.

            However, there’s a huge crowd of readers that like to get to the point.

            For me, I get to know the characters just fine with a few sentences and a random paragraph mixed in with the action. I don’t need page upon page, chapter upon chapter to get information I don’t want while the plot stews on the back burner.

            I’m not alone.


            I’m a strong advocate for tight and right. Characterization does not have to be half the book. It can be done in small doses, so the author doesn’t lose sight of why they’re writing the book in the first place. Story and plot. If the story is about the character, fine. Don’t make it out to be a thriller or a mystery or something with action. Call it a character study and make it plain to the reader. If it’s a thriller, make it a thriller that moves (or whatever category it is).

            Characterization should be an enhancement to the story, not a hindrance.

            Happy writing!


April 12, 2023


            The other day I talked a little bit on my Saturday post about diversity. I thought it would be a good time to address the issue.


            In today’s polarizing political climate, the word “diversity” can be a hot button topic. It doesn’t have to be, but one can only do what one can and hope for the best.


            Regardless of how some may view diversity, it’s always been part of my life. Since I was a little kid right up to so many years working for the government, I’ve not only been exposed to, but have never seen an issue with diversity. What does that mean for you?

            As a writer, it’s part of your job to reflect society. If you live in some kind of bubble, which is getting harder to do, you may not be able to reflect the majority of society.


            Maybe you grew up in, or currently live in a place with little to no diversity. Many of you have grown up in a diverse society. While many of you can reflect your own experiences, what if they weren’t diverse? Why is diversity necessary?


            While the purpose of some stories is to deliberately isolate certain groups for either story purposes, or because of personal experience, as a writer, you should be appealing to the widest audience. What does that mean?

            It means that when certain minorities read your book, it’s far more comfortable for them if they see themselves somewhere in that story.


            It might not be the best idea to write a main character of a different race, gender, religion, or whatever if you have no experience in that area. You can research to make it more realistic, but for most writers, portraying someone of their own race or gender is most comfortable and accurate. Does that mean excluding everyone else from the story?

            No, not at all.

            You can introduce different people into the story, just be sure not to pander to tropes and stereotypes.

            Just because someone is usually represented as so, doesn’t mean you have to.


            For example, my main character in the Meleena’s Adventures is female, yet I’m male. Does that mean I can’t write the character? Of course not. Authors do it all the time. What they keep in mind is that they have to make sure the character isn’t just following tropes and stereotypes, or doing something they would never do in real life. This comes from deep observation and plenty of beta readers or critiquers. It can be done realistically.

            If you’ve grown up with diversity, it’s a lot easier to portray someone different from you, especially if you have experience and open eyes.

            At least half if not more of all the people I’ve known in my life were female. When I decided to go with a female protagonist, it’s from personal experience and plenty of observation. As I read the first drafts to my writer’s group and beta readers, I got called out if I had her do something a female would not do. Then again, if I did have her do something a normal female would not do I had to justify why she did some certain thing.

            When you’re writing about someone different from you, whether it be gender, race, or political/religious differences, you need to make sure it’s realistic and not stereotypical. Other sets of eyes, especially someone of that persuasion can be big help in getting it right.


            For the most part, people are people. It doesn’t matter race, religion, sex, political persuasion. People are still going to act like people for most things. There is no stereotype. They don’t call it diversity for nothing. Despite our many differences, we are still people.


            Including people different from you not only reflects the real world, but brings them into your world and makes them feel part of the story. The key is to include others realistically and not with tropes or stereotypes.

            Happy writing!


April 5, 2023

            I recently did a series on query letters and attending a conference. In this summary, I want to go over some final thoughts about the Las Vegas Writers Conference and conferences in general.


            There’s nothing like the thrill of being at a conference in person. The setup where I was always a volunteer, working the front desk, attending classes, eating the food. Most of all, interacting with other writers and the staff has been something I’ll never forget.

            Nowadays, especially since COVID, these conferences are no longer live for the most part. There are, of course, exceptions.

            Videoconferences are the thing now. Our regular writer’s group meetings have been on Zoom for a long time now, and I have to admit, on-line is very convenient.

            So, what’s the big difference?


            A live conference is meeting everyone face-to-face and there’s nothing quite like it. For sure, it’s more expensive, but getting to rub elbows with everyone is worth it, despite some waiting around, indecision of maybe what classes to take, dealing with the occasional idiot. I have to say in over a decade of attending conferences, they were overwhelmingly positive experiences despite an occasional glitch. That being said, especially for those of you coming from out of town, it takes time and money and a lot of extraneous hassles to attend.


            The difference in videoconference is that not only is it cheaper, but you can do it right from your home without even having to dress fancy. That means you don’t have to travel from A to B to get there. Most of the same things are available. The big difference is that you’re not physically there. There’s no chance to just bump into someone, sit at a dinner table and talk shop, or a host of other interactions not possible on line. Then again, it’s a lot cheaper to bring experts to the field, plus you can schedule one-on-one time with them if need be.


            While it’s a lot more money, I prefer the in-person event. The convenience of having the conference in my town is also a plus. The food is usually great, and the chances of a random encounter with an expert to pick their brain is much better.

            On the other hand, I can see why videoconferences are the thing right now. No chance of getting sick from whatever’s floating around out there. You can sit in front of the camera in your jammies and go through the same basic steps as a live event. You can chose your own food. No driving or flying. With a few exceptions, you can still get that one-on-one time with an expert. What isn’t available are spontaneous unscheduled events. To some this can be good or bad, especially if you feel awkward. It can be better to prepare for a scheduled meeting, rather than being caught off guard.


            One day, maybe the conferences will go live again. In the meantime, I can’t encourage you enough to attend one of these events, whether video or live. They both have their pluses and minuses but it all boils down to getting out there and learning, presenting your work, taking a leap to get published or learn how to do it better.

            Yup, attending a writer’s conference is something every writer needs to do, regardless of format.

            Happy writing!


March 29, 2023


            This just popped into my head this morning as I write this, but for those of you that are active on line, do you engage with your fans?

            I’m going to talk a little about how I do it.


            Many authors use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat or TikTok as ways of connecting with their readers (fans). Do you?

            It’s great to have a web site but how do you encourage and engage fans with just that? While your link may appear in your bio on Amazon or even within the bio of your published book, sometimes it takes that extra push to social media to get any engagement.


            I have to admit the social media choices are overwhelming. I’ve dabbled in Pinterest and Goodreads, but found them less than productive. Goodreads in particular seemed to be overly complicated from what I recall so I gave that up. Instagram? Never tried it and have no interest. TikTok sorry but won’t even go there.

            What does that leave me with?

            Facebook and Twitter.

            I’ll have to admit I don’t get much out of Twitter. I post a tweet every week for my blog post, but only see a small fraction of action from that. I have responded to a few replies, but I don’t get many.

            My biggest engagement is with Facebook.

            While Facebook is quite awkward to use, especially when they keep improving it beyond comprehension (okay, a little sarcasm here), it’s still a useful tool.


            Between my web site and Facebook, I always respond to comments. Okay, I have to point out there are plenty of spammers who want this or that. I ignore or delete those comments.

            I get an occasional response on my web site and an occasional response to my Facebook posts. I can’t say it’s a lot, but I get a few.

            What I see most is that when I post an article or an update to my website, I also post it to all the writing group sites I’m involved in on Facebook. I get plenty more visits to my website than actual engagements. At least people are responding to my posts.

            I don’t get much direct feedback, I have to admit. However, when I do, I’m honored to be able to respond. Getting a reaction from a post is the best, good or bad.

            Lately it’s been one guy who corrected a grammar point on my initial Facebook post. Then there was the guy who wanted my money to publicize my books.

            Once in a while I get a comment or question which I love to answer.

            Once in a while I get positive responses in some indirect way.


            The thing is that without the fans, you wouldn’t be here. Keep in mind that I use the term “fans” loosely to show all categories of engagement. Many of them aren’t actual readers of your books, but just people on line who engage. In my case, it’s quite often other aspiring or established writers.

            If you ever want to get anywhere, you need to be gracious and nice to these people. Some of them may come off as abrupt, rude, and even nasty at times. How do you handle that? Ignore the negative or respond in a positive way. Never get in a negative back and forth with someone.

            Negativity is not a good look.


            For most, it doesn’t take much to be nice. Okay, there are some of you that maybe have a hard time engaging. If you can’t do it in a positive way, I suggest just keeping quiet. It’s better to have no engagement than all negative. That’s a great way to drive away fans.

            I appreciate each and every one of you, fan, reader, or just stopping by.

            Happy writing!


March 22, 2023

            Since a lot if not most of you write on a computer (especially if you’re reading this, they go hand-in-hand), I know it’s tempting to just click on that latest computer game instead. After all, you want to do the fun stuff, right?

            Isn’t writing fun?

            Okay, writing is fun, but it can also be a lot more work than a game, depending on which game it is.


            Now that we know many of you are guilty of this, why take the easy route?

            It’s not that you don’t want to get your story done, but the temptation of battling monsters, racing cars, chasing bad guys without having to create it yourself can be a huge temptation.

            Does this mean you don’t really like to write?

            If you’re here, I’m pretty sure the answer to that question is no.


            Very few of us are just work work work types. Okay, some of you are, but I tend to think a good many of you can get distracted. Or, maybe you just don’t have anything to say that day. Maybe your creativity is stifled by external factors.

            You sit down to write, but there it is, that icon for your latest favorite game. Which do you click?

            You had a bad day and have had the creativity sucked right out of you.

            You’re having a lazy spell and don’t want to put the extra effort into thinking about the plot, structure, progress from the last session.

            Maybe, you’re just taking your time because you have no real deadline.


            What if it isn’t just games?

            Check your e-mail, shop online, check the news, go on social media?

            When you have a computer screen full of icons, it’s tempting to click on so many distractions from that Word (or other software) file.

            Then again, there are many addicting games designed just that way. It can be hard to have the intent to write but that old mouse pointer just drifts over the game icon instead of your story file.

            Call it procrastination, lazy, lack of inspiration, or whatever you want.


            Once in a while these distractions (games is just a general term) can be a help.

            Maybe you get an inspiration from playing your game, checking e-mail, shopping?

            Maybe somewhere in there, an idea sparks and turns into a flame.

            Yeah, sure…okay it can happen, but I bet most of the time you end up doing whatever it is and run out of time.

            There sits your lonely project file untouched.

            Then again, maybe that “whatever” gives you that golden idea for your next scene.


            The electronic device you use to write is full of all kinds of goodies, good and bad.

            Every icon is a temptation to distract you from your writing.

            How do you get anything done?


            While the majority are doing just fine with your writing, it’s hard to pick that best piece of candy from the crowded bowl.

            Don’t let those distractions keep you from getting anything done.

            Happy writing!


March 15, 2023


            I’ve decided to move on, having said enough about pitch letters for now. If any of you want more on them, just ask, and I’ll throw in some more at a later date.

            The synopsis is a breakdown of your story. It’s another form of an outline, but in complete sentences, no bullets. The purpose of the synopsis is to tell your complete story to the agent or publisher. Specifically, you need to outline the main character, the main conflict, and the resolution. Yes, you must tell the ending. The synopsis tells the complete story, from beginning to end, in abbreviated form. The key is the length. For a pitch letter at a conference, and for some queries to agents, it should be one page. For some agent queries, it might be two to three pages. From there, where a full manuscript is requested, it could be three to ten pages, depending on the individual requirements of the agency. The key is to follow their instructions explicitly. As a general rule, stick to one page unless told otherwise. One good thing about sticking to these rigid requirements is that it keeps your writing tight.


            A synopsis can be extremely hard to write properly. However, the synopsis can also be a very good way to reveal how well your story has been put together. It is a good way to spot any red flags in flow and plot. When you break down your story into a few paragraphs, just to get the key plot elements, you’re going to see right away if it all holds together. If, at the end of your synopsis, you notice that the story doesn’t hold water, you may need to go back and do some rewriting!


            One way to develop your synopsis is to start by describing each scene or each chapter (if you have a lot) in one bullet sentence. Compile all of these bullets and look them over for the key patterns. If something looks extraneous, maybe it shouldn’t be there. Once you have that down, turn these bullets into sentences and then organized paragraphs so that they flow together.

            As for me, I have the whole story in my head. In my creative process, I only know where I want to start and where I want to end, the middle is a total surprise. You’ve heard that all before, right? Well, once I get going and write it all down, it becomes locked in my head. As I edit it over and over again, the plot and all the details become locked in so when I sit down to write my synopsis, I already have the big picture going for me. I don’t have to bullet out each chapter. However, I don’t expect all of you out there to write or create the same way I do, so I’m throwing that bullet method out for you.

            The key elements are that you introduce the main character and maybe their adversary by name only. Everyone else remains unnamed. They’re just anonymous characters as far as the synopsis is concerned. The first time you name these one or two characters, you put them in italics. From then on, they’re in regular font. Don’t get bogged down in unnecessary details such as naming a whole bunch of characters, names or places in the story. Don’t list timelines either, especially on a one-page synopsis! Describe the plot, describe what happens, describe what, where, when, why and how the character gets from point a to point b in the story and what happens at the end. Nothing more, nothing less.

            If you’re writing a two, three or more page synopsis, a few sentences per chapter might be appropriate unless you have eighty chapters. Again, if you do this, it should read almost like a short story. It should make sense on its own. If it doesn’t, you need to work on the plot of your book some more before you try pitching it.


            Now, the final element to all of this, before you ever even think of turning it in to an agent or publisher: Get someone or several other people to read it first! There’s nothing like second sets of eyes to see what you can’t!

            Until next time, happy writing.


March 8, 2023


(One That Worked)

            Now I’m going to show you a pitch letter that worked. Below is the letter that I handed to the publisher that gave me the contract for my novel, Meleena’s Adventures – Treasure Of The Umbrunna. Keep in mind that I handed it to her at the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference and pitched to her in person. You can still do this virtually at the Zoom conference. Have it ready to attach to the chat box or e-mail the agent (or mail it), whichever they prefer. As for my in-person pitch, after I sold her on the idea, she had me send it along with the first fifty pages plus a synopsis, which was on the back of the same letter. There’s no reason a virtual meeting will go any different if you succeed in getting a bite.

            I’ve included notes of explanation where appropriate, and left off the headers and dates and a photo, which is something (the photo) you shouldn’t put on a letter you’re mailing out! Also, I modified parts of it so as not to give away the actual plot in case anyone wants to read the book.

Re: Meleena’s Adventures – Treasure Of The Umbrunna

Fantasy – 79,500 words

Pen name: Ray Brooks (I have since dumped this idea and went with my real name).

All she wanted was to get rich, but in the end, will she sacrifice all to help another? If she isn’t careful, people may start to think she’s a decent person. (This is the pitch line, the first thing I said to her after introducing myself.)

Meleena goes through life one picked pocket at a time.  With a wild heart, she spends each night with a different man, and often wakes up in a strange place.  When she goes after a valuable pearl hidden in a lost city called Slab, she figures this is the way to the easy life.  An old magick user named Grel may hold the key to finding this pearl, and he insists she not go alone if she hopes to survive.  Despite second thoughts and an aversion to working with others, she gathers a team and heads for the lost city.  However, she’s not the only one after the pearl, and Meleena enters into a race to get there first. (This is the body of the text. It should be one paragraph, but I broke a rule and made it two short ones (the second one follows). It worked. They were condensed from the original. The whole point was that the entire letter had to fit on one page, letterhead, spacing, signature, credits, all of it. Keep it brief!)

As she fights her way to the lost city, Meleena discovers she’s out of her element in the wilds. Her companions help her survive, and she learns to trust others. After a hazardous journey, she reaches the pearl first, but is betrayed by one of her friends. After escaping, she learns that Grel has been manipulating her all along, and the pearl is not what it seems. Besides the monetary value, it is the only way to provide a cure for the queen of her kingdom, Grel’s former lover. She’s now faced with making a huge profit or helping the queen. This wasn’t the easy life she envisioned.

I’m a member of the Henderson Writer’s Group in Henderson, Nevada.  My short story, The House, appeared in the anthology Between the Pages, 2003.  The Walk Home was published in the story collection Writer’s Bloc 2006, The Basement in Writer’s Bloc 2, 2008, and Fun In The Outland in First Voyage, 2008. (Remember, relevant writing credits, which should include a writer’s group, if you’re in one. Though none of these stories are fantasy, the chances of the publisher checking, or actually finding those books were pretty slim, so I took the chance. Turns out, many of those books were for sale at the conference! Also, the titles could mean anything, and at least they show I’m a prolific and published writer. Just make sure if you do this, you don’t put something down that is obviously not relevant.)

Thank you for your time.


Fred B. Rayworth


There you go. An example, a visual aid, without giving away too much of the actual story, but hopefully, enticing you to read it. This example also gives you an idea of one way to successfully pitch to an agent. Next, I’ll cover the synopsis.

            Happy writing!