Monday, January 31, 2005



Ummm....Don't do what I just did. Send a requested manuscript to a publisher without putting "Requested Material" on the outside of the envelope. My poor baby may be headed for the slush piles. Then again, maybe not. Dana Corbit, a wonderful author and encourager who I met on the Steeple Hill Message Boards, told me the editors usually log the packets in when they arrive, so hopefully, they'll read my cover letter and see that it is a requested ms.


ms-Initials for "Manuscript."
mss- Initials for "Manuscripts."
Slush Pile-Stack of unsolicited ms in a publishing house. Unsolicited means the person sent the ms without asking for permission to do so. While some houses do accept unsolicited ms, definitely know the guidelines of the house you're targeting. You wouldn't want to make a bad impression right off the bat with an editor by sending in a full or parital ms when their guidelines clearly say, "No unsolicited ms." Most of them prefer a one page query letter and partial Synopsis. To follow guidelines shows professionalism.


My husband is a talker. That's fine as long as I'm not in a hurry. We were getting ready to leave a restaurant a couple days ago. The room lights were low and I forgot to wear my glasses and I don't see well without them. As we were leaving, I sensed my husband stop behind me (we can't go anywhere that he doesn't see someone he knows) so, without turning around, I swing my arm in an arch behind me to "tap" his shoulder with the back of my hand and say, "C'mon, we need to get goin'." Okay, so it was more than a little tap. As I "tapped" him, I also clutched his shirt with my know, to tug him along toward the door. He follows me, so it's all good, right?


About ten steps later, I see my husband ALREADY AT THE DOOR waiting for me and he has a very strange look on his face. So it took all of 1.5 seconds for me to let go of whoever it was I had ahold of. I cut a glance up and sure enough....I had the wrong husband. Once in the car, my husband teased me relentlessly about how I have the tendency to bring home strays and how he'd overlook the animals, but he'd have to draw the line there.

Went to a wedding last evening. CONGRATS REBECCA and Joshua! It was lovely. Greg, the minister, was talking about the marriage relationship being likened to the relationship between sheep and their shepperd. How the shepperd(husband) needs to protect the marriage and watch over it with diligence. The analogy really impacted me. He also read a letter from the mother of the groom, which was written to the couple and she talked about how there is an enemy who would like to tear their marriage apart. Though that may seem like she used strong words, it's the truth and we have to be on guard to preseve and protect our marriages. Greg went on to say to the couple, "The reason the enemy doesn't want you to be together is because God wants you to be." That's such a simple truth, but it affected me profoundly.

If you are reading this, you know someone who has been affected by the devastation of divorce. It may even be you. If you've suffered through that, I'm sorry. Did you know the Bible says that God is very near to the broken hearted? (Psalms 34:18) I pray you take comfort in that.

I watched the couples, many of them from our church, dancing with one another at the wedding and it made me grateful to have a church family. I know a good one is hard to find for some of you. But I encourage you not to give up, though. We all need each other. There is a wonderful couple, Larry and Carol, pillars of our church really, who are like spiritual parents to many of the college students who are away from their parents. They are such a blessing. I know it's hard on them when their "kids" and "grandkids" end up moving away, but I know God will bless them a thousand fold for all the love they've lavished on us.

That's all for today.

PS: Even if you don't have a relationship with God, or if you read secular fiction, I want you to know you are welcome here. Just come exactly as you are. I'm really glad you stopped by. Comments are welcome.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Here's another prompt!!!

Write a scene involving an airline pilot, a female Air Marshall Officer, and a *situation* on the plane that requires an emergency landing.

Did you notice the Air Marshall is female? Today's tip is this:
Find an unusual twist to make your story *different* than all the others. You could even try writing a story about a male Air Marshall and make the pilot female! Female pilots are unusual. So go for it. It's hard to come up with something fresh and as they say, "There's nothing new under the sun." But at least you can put your special touches on it and make it your own. Good luck! I'd like to see what everyone wrote so don't be shy. My emal is

Don't forget, the contest is happening. Don't miss your chance to write a scene about Kaylee and her endangered bagel. Scroll down for details.

Have a great day!

Father, I commit this day to You. May I be in tune with what You're doing in the lives of the people I meet today. Help me be a blessing to someone who desperately needs a touch from You. Make Yourself real to someone through me today. Thank You.

Uh.....well, that would have to be all my typos in the last few posts. *Blush* *Blush* *Blush* I really DO know it should have been heal and not heel. Tee hee. So the tip for the day: Proofread by paper. Some of us have a hard time seeing our mistakes on computer for some reason.

Bye for now.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I mailed it!

EEEEEEK! I mailed my ms to a publisher today. I also have a proposal with an agent. That's what's new with me. How are all of you?

Dear Lord, I commit my works to you. Let your perfect will be done in every aspect of my life. My times are in Your hands and I trust You with everything that is in me. Bless You Father no matter what happens. Rejection or acceptance. You never change and You never forget your promises. Help me know my part. I love you. Help me love you more. I believe. Help me believe You more. I trust. Help me trust you more. In Jesus' name.

In Mark chapter nine, verse 24 A father has just asked Jesus to heal his son from an evil spirit. The man says, "Jesus, If you can, please heel him." Jesus says, "If I CAN?" I bet Jesus was smiling gently at the man. Jesus then said, "Everything is possible for him who believes." Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do beleive, help me overcome my unbelief!"

What an honest, heartfelt prayer. I love to "borrow" prayers, such as that one, from the Bible.

PS: The boy was set free after Jesus prayed for him. Don't you just love happy endings? Me too.

A few posts back, I have a writing prompt and I'm offering a prize to the winner. Don't miss your chance to win a gift certificate to Lifeway Christan Stores. If you are chosen as the winner and do not have one of those near where you live, I will give you the option of choosing a book.

To my friends Dave and Debbie Roberts. David just got a book contract! WOOO HOOO!

Post them here or send them to me privately at and I'll intercede for you or the situation.

Proposal: A partial submission vs a full one. Usually entails something like a synopsis(Summary of your story or article) and sample chapters.

If you can afford it, buy the Writer's Market Guide. They have tips as well as contact info for agents, editors and publishers you've probably never even heard of before.

Did you know if you decide to change something major in your ms (like a character's name) that you can go in (for word) and click on find replace, type in the old name under find, type in the new name under replace, hit replace all, and it will change it throughout your document in about three seconds. I also found out you can use this function if you need to delete the extra space at the end of sentences if the publisher you're targeting prefers one space after sentences instead of two. You just type a period and hit space bar twice into the find box then under replace, you type in a period and hit space bar once then click Replace All and it does the entire document. You'll have to repeat this process again for question marks and exclamation marks with the quotations marks for dialogue.

I put my sweater on in the dark this morning and ran to answer the doorbell. The UPS guy kept looking at me strangely. After I took the package, shut the door and looked down....and not only was my sweater on backwards....tag hanging under my chin and was inside out....with all the strings hanging everywhere. How embarrassing.

Thanks for stopping by. That's all for now.


Monday, January 24, 2005

Happy Monday!

Hey friends!

Hope you're all doing fine on a Monday.

I had a critique with a multi-published author at a writer's conference in September and one of her comments were that I had introduced too many characters at once. Halfway through the critique she said, "I like what you've done to display Diane's personality here,"
I gently interrupted her by placing my hand on her arm and said, "Um, actually, my heroined name is not Diane. It's Selena."
She blinked exactly four times, put her hand on my arm and said, "Precisely."
I said, "Huh?"
She said, "Hon, you have so many characters in here--you can't even keep up with them, AND YOU"RE THE AUTHOR! How do you expect readers to keep up with them all?"
(She was referring to a secondary character that I had forgotten I had even put in there!) LOL!
She knew my story better than I did! And yes, I got rid of some characters.

When trying to learn how to write blurbs, or sentence/paragraph pitches, study movie guides in the paper and in TV Guide. They can condense a two hour movie into one or two sentences.

Blurb: A short (and I mean very short) summary of your story line.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

OOOOPS! I forgot!!!

How come you didn't remind me?

I forgot today's writing prompt!'s a contest!!!!

Write a romantic comedy scene, using this sentence as the first line. You have a one month deadline. I'd like it to be between 100-500 words but if it's 50 or 600 I'm not giong to disqualify you this time.

Here's the prompt.

"Take your hands off that bagel, Sir. It's spoken for," Kaylee said.

I'd like to see what everyone wrote. My email addy is if you want to email me your scene. I'll pick the funniest one and send the winner a $5.00 certificate to Lifeway Christian stores. So go for funny with this one, guys.

Writing term definitions:
manuscript-a written or typed book or article, usually referred to as such before publication

prompt -a challenge, something to get your creative juices flowing. Can be a scene, word, situation, dialogue, question, etc. that you can use as a springboard to write a scene.

That's all for now......promise!

To Send or not to send...that is the question...

Hello folks.

What's new with you?

Here's what's new with me:

I am about 130 pages into my new WIP. YEEEEEEEEEEEE! I started it in December but have been hammering on it this month. Now, of course we're talking rough draft here. I write fast but the editing takes a little longer. I try to proofread for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors as I go, but for craft mistakes, I comb the tangles out (my term for self-editing) in layers.

Speaking of editing, I just found out the girl (Hi Jessica!!!, Squirrel waves frantically) who does childcare for the prayer group that meets in my home is not only an awesome babysitter, she's also a copy editor for the biggest newspaper in our area. YEEEEE!

So many people have been willing to help. Another woman from church (Hi Trish!!!!! I'm sending CY, promise!!!) helped proofread and critique my pitch and synopsis plus first page. She write a humor column (reminds me of the late Erma Bombeck, only better) for another small town paper around here and she called my stuff "gritty." (Can you see my cheezy grin right now?) Thanks Trish!!!!

Plus, it helps that my M.I.L. did proofreading for a living in college and has been an elementary school teacher for.....gobs and gobs of years.

Moving on.....

I'm adding some new features to my blog and on behalf of Camy, my sight has a new look.
I've gone from black to.....well...bright pink....LOL.

New features:

I'm going to add a "Writing Tip of the Day" for all you writerly types.
I'm going to add a "Blush and Cringe" section. You'll not want to miss that. I'm going to actually admit something really, really embarrassing about myself each entry. Feel free to send me entries and I'll add yours to the mix for the world to read, too. HA-HA! No?

Chicken. Fine...let's move on...Since God is the love of my life, and the most important thing and the reason I exist, I will be adding a "Borrowed Prayers" paragraph. I'll post a prayer that you can "borrow" and use as your own in case you're going through a dry spot in your relationship with God, or are still seeking.

Verse of the day: Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, plans to give you a future and a hope." NLB The New Open Bible

Did you know when I started writing seriously a year ago (novels) that I didn't even know what the term "manuscript" was? AAAAAND, since this is a new section, I'll post a second embarrassing thing: Another thing I did a year ago was place my periods and commas OUTSIDE of the quotation marks instead of inside. I also ALWAYS used periods instead of commas. Like this: "Hi." Squirrel said. Instead of "Hi," Squirrel said. LOL!!! Thanks to Mae Hanna (another proofreader who had the daunting task of reading through the entire story, first one I ever wrote. Poor Mae, I don't know how she survived it, honestly.)

Writing Tip for beginners:
Do a search and of words that end in "ly" (Nevermind that I've used about twenty of them in my blog today. Grin.)
Those kind of adverbs are generally a No-No in polular fiction today.
This forces you to find stronger verbs.
Example: She leaned lazily in her chair. (Bad)
She slouched. (good)
Get it?

Dear God,
Make Yourself real to me. Show me who You really are. And show me who I am to You.

Squirrel must skitter away now. Until next time....


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I'm baaaaack!

Did ya miss me?

I've been busy writing....actually that's not the truth. I forgot where I put my blog! LOL. Thanks to a friend, who gave me my link...I found my way back to my blog.

I'm 116 words in to my newest WIP. That means Work In Progress in case you're a non-writerly type and have no idea what I'm talking about.

If you are a writerly type, I'm going to be giving prompts each time I post since most of us need a *swift kick* to get us going sometimes.

Today's Prompt: Write a scene involving a bridge, a storm, a lady named Petra and a handsome man from the coast guard crew. Happy writing!!!!!

Today's Inspiration: But seek first God and His kingdom and all these things will be added unto you. Matthew 6:33



Sunday, January 09, 2005


Here we go again....

Ignore me for a moment while I change my settings......



January 9th

Welcome to Squirrel's Treehouse. I started this blog to keep folks updated on my progress as a writer. My goal is to be published in contemporary inspirational romance. I am pre-published right now. I've learned the road to publication is long, hard and paved with rejection. In fact, at times, it feels like I'm crawling on broken glass but I am confident that if God wants me to be published, it will happen one day. My job is to learn the craft and apply it to the best of my ability. To remain teachable with critiques on my work and above all, to seek God for direction in my writing. Usually, they say to send your stuff to different houses, but for some reason, I cannot do that. I don't know if it's stubborness on my part, or if it's really God leading me to the direction of one house in particular. Every time I even think of researching another house, I lose my peace. I'm praying and waiting for God to nudge me the next step, whether that be to enter one or more of my wips (Work In Progress) in contests, or what. I've queried an agent and I am simply praying for God's will to be done there. She is a Christian agent with a close relationship with Jesus, and I know she'll listen to His prompting one way or another. I trust my God whether her answer is yes, I want to represent you and your writing, or no, I'm sorry, I have to pass. It's all in God's will and timing. I'm really kicking myself for not entering the GH. It's one of those things that I procrastinated and prayed about entering and now I regret it that I didn't do it. I know God can still make a way for me, even if I messed up by not entering. For those of you that don't know it, the GH (Golden Heart) is probably the premier contest for unpublished writers.

Okay, gotta go WRITE!

I hope you all are praying for the families of the Tsunami victims. This global tragedy is heartbreaking. I told God I don't understand the enormity of it, but I know He loves those people and the Bible says He is very near to the broken hearted.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,

don't let the penguins trample your garden.....