Red Lettering

Stories will not be written easily. A story without a heart is dead, and the only place it will get a heart is from the author.

Archive for the tag “Querying”

Guest Post by R. J. Larson

Happy Wednesday, readers! ‘Tis the last Wednesday of November and the series of Guest Posts is drawing to an end. As the final guest poster, it is my pleasure to present the author of  The Books of the Infinite, Dawnlight, Seasons of a Woman’s Heart, and more. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a round of applause for R. J. Larson!

Athelas, thank you for inviting me to guest-post on Red Lettering. Fair warning, one day, Athelas, you might open an R. J. Larson book and realize that I’ve named a character after you. Whenever I see your name, I’m convinced that an Athelas protagonist would blend right in with the Infinite series characters!

However, if I allow myself to contemplate a Protagonist Athelas, I’ll stray down a novel-sized bunny trail and this post won’t be finished for six months, so…onward!

Readers and Writers, Athelas asked me to consider writing a post about getting published. A basic how-to-get-started article. Yes, I can do that! The first step, of course, is to write. Finish your manuscript, and then revise, revise, r-e-v-i-s-e. If you can’t afford to pay a professional editor or at least a proof-reader, then you MUST study up on editing basics and do the work yourself. Be sure you’ve studied up on punctuation usage. Even if you intend to publish through CreateSpace or Amazon, you must edit your work and cleanse it of imperfections, or readers will let you and the entire world know that you’ve made mistakes.

Therefore, practice your prose and polish the personalities populating your work. But what then?

I can give you all the standard advice as you prepare to present your work to agents and publishers. Create a presentation package: Prepare a one-page synopsis and then add a few marketing paragraphs comparing your work to similar books already available in the market. Tell your future agent or publisher why your book will stand out. If you have marketing plans, offer them in writing within this presentation package. Add three polished chapters (preferably chapters 1, 2, and 3) and proof read everything repeatedly. Better yet, have someone else proof-read! Once you’ve finished your presentation package, (if you haven’t done so already) make contacts. Go to conferences. Enter contests. Join local writing groups, if you find one that suits your style. Get noticed—in a good way.

Truly standard advice. But let’s talk about the non-standard advice.

As you write, have you evaluated your goals? Your purpose in writing?

Any traditionally published author will tell you what the general public believes: Authors are rich. Once you’re published, you can retire. You will be famous! The world is your oyster!

Reality check.

Most authors have ordinary day jobs, or a VERY supportive family. Even bestselling authors need regular income, which doesn’t happen often if you’re a writer, so other income is essential. Plan for it.

But here’s the secret: Writing’s not about the money.

Never let it be about the money. Let writing be your passion!

Yes, checks in the mail are wonderful, and if you’re successful, writing does help with bills that the day job doesn’t cover. However, writing doesn’t earn my living; it fills my soul.

If writing is your passion, you will write no matter what the future brings.

Wait. Are you wondering about the rewards?

Yes, there are rewards. Through the written word, I pursue my Creator and share my worship of Him with readers. Through Biblically-inspired fantasy adventures, I offer my spiritual witness to others, even as my stories minister and offer entertainment and food for thought.

My rewards are my readers—even the readers I haven’t met—and writing for my readers IS joy.

Blessings, as you pursue and perfect your craft!

R . J. Larson


R. J. Larson is the author of numerous devotionals featured in publications such as The Women’s Devotional Bible, and Seasons of a Woman’s Heart. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband and their two sons, and is suspected of eating chocolate and potato chips at her desk while writing. The Books of the Infinite series marks her debut in the fantasy genre.
R. J. is also known as Kacy Barnett-Gramckow!
Visit Kacy’s site here:
You can connect with R. J. Larson here:

The Worst Thing They Can Do Is Say No

The Worst They Can Do Is Say No

At some point or other, we all suffer from the bane of a writer’s existence: nerves.

We question whether or not we’re good enough, whether or not our writing is good enough, and whether or not we’ll ever make it to publication. While I haven’t yet started querrying agents or publishers, I’ve submitted my work to various different places, from contests to critique groups, and found that nerves tend to act up whenever we need them to be silent. “They shan’t like it…” Our nerves whisper to us; sometimes they even go as far as to say, “They’ll hate it… Don’t even submit it… It’s terrible…” 

Perhaps it is terrible; I don’t know. Some of my pieces have certainly been cringe-worthy over the past several years, but that’s not the point of this article.

At one time in the life of a dedicated writer,  he or she reaches the point where they’re ready for publication. Whether this writer decides to find an agent and then a publisher, or decides to find a publisher that doesn’t require an agent, the writer at one point must decide that he or she is either going to let their skill, the skill they’ve worked so hard on, go to waste; or he or she must decide to start pursuing publication.

If they decide they want to go with the second option, that’s when they start to get nervous.

Yet, hopefully, this writer will continue on, for they know the reason behind the work that they’re doing. They want to be published. They want to have their work released to the public, and they’re willing to work toward that goal. Right now, their work is unpublished, but they hope and dream that someday, it will be published.

But… They’re nervous. To the point where their hands shake and they re-read the email they’re going to send to the potential agent or publisher eighty times, at least. At last, though, they send the email.

And when the writer receives the reply, it is with regrets that the recipient of their email cannot, at this moment, publish their work.

Undaunted—well, maybe a little bit daunted, but not too much—they do it again.

And the reply is the same.

By this point, the writer is starting to be discouraged. And as he or she receives more rejections, the nerves turn into doubts: “Why bother sending it? They won’t want to publish me.” 

Dear discouraged author, do not allow yourself to be weighted down with past rejections. The very reason you’re querying these people is because you want to be published. You are unpublished now; these people, these agents and publishers, can do two things. They can publish you, or you can remain unpublished.

They can’t take anything away from you. If they send you a rejection, you are no less published than you were before;  in fact, you now have one less agent or publisher to worry about querying, so you have gained something.

The worst thing that they can do is say no. 

They cannot take away anything. You have lost nothing, and they cannot do anything worse than not give you something. You are no worse off than you were before, so when rejections come, you can dust off your hands and start again. You have nothing to lose. You do have something to gain.

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