Blogs 2015

October 3, 2015

Loving this crisp Fall air! This is my kind of weather - not too hot, not too cold - just right.

After receiving a fortune cookie with no fortune inside, I decided it means my future is up to me. I must decide what I want and then do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal. I know what I want - to be an established author, with several books in the market and more in production. This is what I've been working towards my whole life.

Yesterday I went through my list of agents seeking YA mysteries. I studied their websites, and narrowed my choice to 5 agents and one publisher who asked for a revise and resubmit. I then sent out queries, following the submission guidelines for each agent. Some asked for 3 chapters, others the first ten pages. One, I just sent the Synopsis. The publisher got the full manuscript.

A query sent at 9:32 AM netted a response 5 hours and 37 minutes later. I was surprised when I read the email, as the website stated to expect a response in 6-8 weeks. The agent's assistant asked for the full manuscript. I sent it immediately.

I find this exciting as this is a dream agency and a top agent. I would love to work with this agent and would do whatever necessary to ensure my novel is worthy.

This news couldn't wait. I had to post it now. My fingers are crossed and my hopes are high as I wait for a response from this agency. Hope the next time I post, I have good news.

Keep on writing! 


October 1, 2015

Crisp air, cool breezes, falling leaves, it must be fall. Time flies!

I haven't posted for awhile. I've been busy with the Kidlit Summer School, following the blogs each day, doing the 30 minute dares, watching the webinars, learning new ideas and brushing up on old ones. 

I was excited to learn I won a prize, the book Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie by Julie Sternberg. Corresponding with Julie, receiving the autographed book in the mail, what a thrill! After reading Julie's adorable story about a child missing her babysitter, I passed the book onto my great-neice, Mikayla.

September 1st I sent my story HEART OF STONE to Rate Your Story and received a 4 rating. This is the story that won first place in the Litchfield Student Educational Foundation writing contest in June. Ummm.

I pitched on PitMad the 10th of September and received two favorites, one for The London Incident and on for The Fairies Search for the Leprechauns' Gold. It's always nice to get a fave. By evening, both stories were sent. Fingers crossed.

September 21st I left for Collinsville, Texas to visit my niece, Tasha, and her family. I needed a break from the computer, a time to step away and regroup. The drive itself was long, 11 1/2 hours the first day, but mainly because the bridge I was supposed to cross into Missouri was closed and I had to drive 50 miles out of my way to cross the river. The next day I was rewarded for my troubles by winning $228.00 at a casino in Oklahoma. I was an hour from my niece's place of work, and stopped for a short session on the slot machines. I told my niece if I won, I was buying her lunch. I was able to buy several lunches on my winnings. One lunch actually cost me $44.00 for just myself and my great-nephew, Austin, who's 16. Let me just say this, the boy was hungry. LOL.

One night we went to the movies, The Scorch Trials. I didn't see the first in this series, The Maze Runners, but was still able to follow the plot of this suspenseful, thrilling, hold on to the edge of your seat type of movie. I want to write stories like that!

Dallas is 60 miles from my niece's home, and Saturday, we all went to the State Fair in Dallas. Thankfully, Tasha's husband Mike drove. Parking was $15.00. Entry was $18.00. The fair was huge, but I didn't find it any larger than the one in Illinois. Plenty of walking at both. What surprised me was the fact that The Cotton Bowl Statium was inside the fairgrounds. I sat outside at one of the umbrella tables and listened to the game as Tasha and Mike and the kids traveled into the midway. I also tried a fried cheesecake. Umm Good! And I know I burned off the calories walking.

The next day I left for home, this time losing $40 at the casino. Oh, well. I had a great time, loved seeing the family, but there's still no place like home.

Even on the trip, I didn't neglect my writing. I pitched my YA on the 25th to Curtis Brown on twitter, #PitchCB. Every fourth Friday one can send one pitch to them on twitter. Also, my niece took a photo of me and helped me update my profile pictures on my two facebook accounts, twitter and on

Today is free submission day to Rate Your Story, so I sent Chloe's Chocolate Cake. I also submitted my YA The London Incident to Belzar + Bray/Harper Collins. Until December 1st, a SCBWI member can submit to them at - putting Balzer + Bray/SCBWI submissions in the subject line of the email.

While in Texas my niece took me to a Japanese restaurant, not my favorite type of food, but I did have chicken. When the fortune cookies arrived, my niece handed one to her mother, her daughter and me. As everyone read their fortune, I opened my cookie and a funny feeling swept through my body. I had no fortune. "Does this mean I have no future?" I asked, and this question bothered me.

Later I decided to look at the situation differently. By not receiving a fortune, I considered myself lucky. This meant my future is whatever I make of it. It's up to me to decide my future. I know what I want. I want to be an established writer with several best sellers. I want my stories to be made into movies. It's up to me to make this happen. AND I WILL!

Happy writing!

July 21, 2015

I am going to summer school. It's not what you think. This summer school is for writers, an online course where everyday there's a blog by other writers with suggestions and advice about writing, mainly writing plotlines. It is called Kidlit Summer School - The Plot Thickens.

Monday, July 20th, was the first day. Janice Hardy blog was about goals, conflicts and stakes. She wrote about 2 types of goals, story goals and plot goals. Story goals describe the character's growth.

Plot goals are what the character does to achieve the story goals. Goals keep the plot moving, but the novel wouldn't be interesting if there weren't conflicts, problems the protagonist has to solve to meet her goal.

Janice stated there are also two types of conflict, internal and external. Internal conflicts are issues the main character faces on the inside, either on a mental or emotional level.

External conflicts are the physical things that stand in a protagonist's way. These require action to be overcome. Janice said novels need both kinds of conflicts and goals to keep the plot moving.

For a reader to care about these things, there has to be a cost for failure. Stakes are the reason the protagonist is doing what she is doing. They motivate her to act. Stakes are the consequences if she fails.

There are 2 types of stakes, personal stakes and story stakes. Personal stakes are the consequences the main character does not want to happen because it will hurt her personally. These stakes affect her and those close to her. They make the reader care about the outcome.

Story stakes are the consequences that will happen on a grand scale if the protagonist fails.

Stakes work best if they escalate as the story unforlds. They hold the goals and conflicts together. 

I have been following Janice's blog for some time. She has solid, concrete advice about writing, from every aspect. I even submitted the first page of my novel to her for an online critique. Ouch! She was very gracious, but helped me see what was working and what wasn't.

Day 2 of Summer School, today, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen touched on the same subjects as Janice, using a cooking anology. She called her blog a Recipe for a Nerdy Chick Plot Pie. She asked these questions concerning the ingredients to a plot.

Goal. What does your character want?

Motivation. Why does he want it?

Stakes. What happens if he doesn't get what he wants?

Obstacles. What stands in your character's way?

Fears. What does he have to overcome to be able to go after what he wants?

Rewards. How does he triumph if he does get what he wants?

Sudipta says there must be a balance in the goals against the obstacles, in the motivations against the character's fears and in the stakes against the reward.

Two days of summer school, and so much wisdom shared already! I can't wait to see what other lessons are ahead!

Tonight was #30mdare on twitter. Everyone in summer school is challenged to write for 30 minutes without stopping. I decided to devote my 30 minutes to this blog, touching on the lessons for the first two days of class.

It is my understanding 800 writers signed up for this course. That means in the  months ahead there are going to be some truly fantastic stories being submitted to agents and publishing houses. I hope mine will be among them.

And it looks like my 30 minutes are up.

Happy writing!

July 9, 2015

This has been the wettest summer of my life! The rain doesn't stop. In just one night my area received 4.7 inches! My ditch is filled with water, gushing out of the ground like a geysor, and the end of my driveway had to be rocked twice because the rain is washing away my rock. The ground is so soft my car sinks when I drive on it. UGGG!

The rain is a good thing for writers. It keeps us inside and on the keyboard. Mostly I've been doing revising. I've also taken a few webinar classes. My revision class with Harold Underdown ended on the tenth of June, and then the 28th was the final questions and answers session. The PB I used for this class was Wack-A-Doodle Doo! I renamed it Colin Can't Crow and made several changes to it. Thank you, Harold!

Agent Jodell Sadler and Editor Allison Moore offered a PB webinar via Writer's Digest University. I had a Skyped session with Jodell last year with my writers group. Her presentation was fantastic and she also did a critique of one of my stories. I decided I'd like to see what else she had to teach. I waited until the day before the webinar to sign up because I was worried about the crazy weather, rains and thunder storms. My intuition was telling me something. The day of the class I was psyched for the webinar to begin. Ten minutes before it was to start, my Internet went out. I knew this was going to happen! That's why I hesitated signing up for the course. I did receive a recorded version, but not until ten days later. Because I paid for this class, I was entitled to a critique by either Jill or Allison. I sent Mr. Stuffamuffin's Rainy Day Adventure, but haven't heard anything yet.

Twitter pitches are the craze anymore. There are so many! I participated in #PBPitch on June 24th, and #pg70Pit on July 1st for my MG novel, The Dragon's Ring. July 2nd I pitched the 70th page of my YA novel, The London Incident. There were 78 entries for the MG, and 237 for YA. Neither of mine were chosen as one of the top 7. I'm proud to say a member of my writers group, Juli Caveny, entered her MG, and though it didn't make the top 7 cut, Carissa Taylor judged it good enough to be one of the top 14. It's posted on Carissa's blog and I'm hoping an agent will ask to see more. Needless to say, Juli is over the moon excited. Go, Juli!!!

June 30th I received exciting news. My children's story, Heart of Stone, was chosen as the winner of the Litchfield Student Educational Foundation writing contest. The prize is $100.00.

July 1st I sent my PB Grandma Can't Hear to Rate Your Story and yesterday received my rating. It was a 9. A 9 rating means the story is best saved for reading to the family. I went from a high for winning the Litchfield contest to a low. My nephew, five-year-old Colton loves the story. I thought it was funny, but apparently, it's mean. After reading the judge's comments, I had to agree. I am embarrassed to say I had been sending it out to agents. No wonder it kept getting rejected.

Rate Your Story is a wonderful gift for writers. The judges are honest with their critiques, and each one I have received from them has been helpful and constructive. My past ratings have been a 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 1. Yes, I did have one story that was perfect and ready to submit.

I've encouraged the ladies in my writers group to take advantage of Rate Your Story's free submission days, and they are loving it, too.

Kidlit Summer School - The Plot Thickens - is starting July 20th. You can find the badge for it in my photo gallery. I'm looking forward to the blogs and lessons on writing. This is my first year doing this so I don't know yet what to expect, but I do know I will learn from it and from the other writers who participate.

There is a webinar tonight for Kidlit Summer School. My understanding is over 700 writers have signed up for it, but the webinar can only take 200 participants. I decided to wait for the recording instead of watching tonight, giving room to someone else to view it live.

More twitter feeds coming this month. July 15th is #Pit2Pub, any genre, from 8 AM to 8 PM. When pitching on twitter, only 2 pitches an hour per manuscript. It's the polite thing to do.

Another exciting twitter day is July 29th. It's #MSWL day. (Manuscript Wish List) Only agents and publishes are supposed to pitch using that hasthag on that day. Writers can view their pitches, and then submit to them if they feel their story fits their criteria.

I am anxious to query The London Incident. Sharon Mayhew is editing it at this moment. I've checked with her and she reported she was on page 50 and was enjoying it. I've never had any of my work professionally edited, so I don't know how long it takes. I can't wait to see what Sharon has done and get to work. I had one publishing house request a revise and submit on this novel. I'm hopeful.

It looks like the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds. I'm signing off for now to get a few minutes of rays.

Happy Writing!

June 6, 2015

It's been awhile since I've blogged. I can't believe I missed all of May. I have a good excuse. I have been concentrating on my writing. The  London Incident has taken much of my time. After umpteenth revisions, I sent it to Sharon Mayhew for line edit. She helped me in the past and I wanted to use her talent again, but had to wait until she returned home from her overseas vacation. It's in her hands now. Once I have her comments and edits, I'll polish my YA and send it to the publisher who asked for a revise and resubmit. I'm getting excited.

All of May and into June I have been taking Harold Underdown's writing course, Revising and Re-Imagining Your Picture Book. Eileen Robinson is working along with Harold and Aaron Brown is the moderator. The course started April 29th, and will end next Wednesday, June 10th.

I thought I knew how to write a picture book. I've written tons. One February I wrote one a day, 28 total! I thought it was write a picture book a day month. I later learned it was think of a picture book idea a day month- PiBoIdMo.

Harold's course has taught me there are several ways to write and revise a PB, or any story. Change the setting, change the voice are two examples. It's been a learning process, well worth the money spent. The story I used is the one about the young rooster who can't crow. I've seen my story improve over time. I've made major changes to it, but still keeping the essence. Using charts has helped show me where dialogue was needed and where it could be eliminated. I found I used the word can't over and over. I'm now working on ways to not overdo that word.

During the course, Harold used examples from award winning picture books, The Snowy Day, Where the Wild Things Are, The Right Word. We've studied Planet Kindergarten, When the Relatives Came, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, A Chair for My Mother, The Gardener. All these books are great mentor text books for PB authors.

Another book used and talked about a great deal during Harold's course is Ann Whitford Paul's Writing Picture Books. I already owned this book and have read it, but it's worth reading again and again and again.

Besides taking this course, I've done some submitting. I also entered a local library's writing contest. The theme was heart, and "heart" had to be used in the story and in the title. I waited until almost the last day before sitting down and writing my story, A Heart Made of Stone. It has to do with Random Acts of Kindness Day. I work well under pressure. I wrote the story one day, mailed it the next.

Twitter's #PitMad, sponsored by Brenda Drake, was June 4th. I almost didn't pitch, but on that day decided I would. I pitched my picture books most of the day with no favs. As a last thought, I pitched one of my MG stories about a princess who is the unknown heroine. She recues her knight from a witch and a dragon and helps him in his quest for a unicorn, without him knowing it's her. This is the one that received a fav. Lisa Abellera of Kimberley Cameron Associates asked for 50 pages and a synopsis.

I set this story aside awhile back. The story, The Dragon's Ring, had been revised several times by me and then edited by a writer friend. It was ready, but the formatting was off. #PitMad was Thursday. Friday I spent 1/2 the day fixing the format, double checking the spelling, revising my synopsis. Finally, it was ready to send. 5 minutes after I hit "send," my  power went off. I laughed. I had worked on the story all morning in my nightgown, not bothering to shower or dress. It's a good thing. Had I taken the time to primp myself, I might not have been able to get my story sent. I would have hated to wait over the weekend. I believe when an agent asks for something, it should be sent by the next day while the pitch is still fresh in their mind, before they lose interest and move on.

Harold Underdown's course last Wednesday featured a wordle. It's a mix-up of words used in one's story, with the bigger words being the ones used most often. I went to the website and made a few wordles of my picture books. What fun! If you check out my photo gallery, you'll find some of the wordles I created. This site is found at 

Tomorrow my writers group, Springfield Scribes, are meeting at Panera Bread for lunch and then we're driving about 15 miles west of Springfield to a winery for a fun get-together. We do this every year in June in lieu of a meeting. Everyone is welcome to still bring pages for critiques, but it's not a working meeting, just a fun day. I hope the weather holds out. Rain is predicted for the late afternoon, plus it's going to be humid.

My Simon Says interactive PB/game received a 3 rating from Rate Your Story in May. I was pleased, and have been polishing it as suggested.

My brother's nephew's son, Colton, is 5. He likes to come and visit me when he's at his Papa and Nana's house. My brother lives in the house behind mine. I read to him, and am so happy that he likes books. He even "read' a book to me the other day, just by lookiing at the pictures. Colton knows I write and asks to hear some of my stories when he visits. His favorite is Grandma Can't Hear, probably because, like Grandma, both his Papa and I have trouble hearing at times. One day he had me print out some super hero pictures and he dictated to me what to write on each page. He colored the pictures and stapled the pages together, calling it Colton's Book. I recently bought some colored pencils and a notebook for him, and today when he visited, he practiced writing his name. I then drew a penguin and one of the ninja turtles and he colored them. He was pleased with his work, and told me he was going to be an artist. Who knows? Maybe I'm grooming the next Picasso!

On that final note, I'm signing off. Happy writing!

April 20, 2015

I can't believe it's been over a month since I've blogged! In a way, this is good. I've been spending the last month and a half honing my writing. I've entered contests and have gotten some wonderful feedback. I've revised, polished and submitted, and have gotten promising rejection letters. I say promising because the agents didn't send a form letter, but gave individual comments.

I've watched Harold Underdown's webinar and signed up for his online classes beginning April 29th. I submitted a PB to Rate Your Story, entered PitchSlam and NestPitch, and listened to Laura Whitaker's webinar on the Anatomy of a Picture Book. I wrote a new PB, had it critiqued at my writers meeting, and sent it to Laura.

Also, I've viewed 3 other webinars, and found the one about revisions most informative. I received a rejection letter from a publisher with the invitation to revise and resubmit. Very promising, and so what I learned about revisions have been helpful.

For the last two weeks I attacked my novel, The London Incident, and turned it into a better story. The publisher suggested getting rid of the omniscient narrator. That meant wiping out almost the entire first chapter. I did, and found my story's pacing improved. I ended up taking out over 4,000 words total.

I revised my POVs, keeping it to two, the protagonists only. I am so excited about the new version of my manuscript. It's now in the hands of my Beta readers. The publisher told me I had plenty of time to resubmit; they cared more about the quality than a quick fix.

Looking back I am pleased at how much work I've accomplished. I just didn't realize it until now as I'm writing it all down.

Today I listened to Katie Davis' video about platform. I have writer friends on Facebook, almost 400 followers on twitter, started a pinterest account, but know I need to do more work to build up my platform. With Katie's helpful videos, I hope to accomplish that.

I love writing, and the writing community are the friendliest and most helpful group of people I have ever met. Everyone is so encouraging. I hope to be able to reciprocate.

This blog is my writing journal, and I hope my struggles and small sucesses are helping others as they read this. Everyone reaches the point where they wonder if they should give up. My advice to myself and others is to not give up. If the rejections keep coming, then re-examine your work. Read books about writing, join a writers group, watch webinars, take a class, just DON"T GIVE UP! When your success does happen, you will say these hardships were worth it because they took you to where you want to be.

Keep writing!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March is here! Spring has to be on its way.

I'm on a contest roll. I entered Operation Awesome's  mystery agent contest and was one of the 25 to be chosen. A mystery agent will read each of the 25  and sometimes in March prizes will be awarded. I mentioned the contest to a fellow writer, Ilana, and she said, "I don't write mysteries."  We had a good laugh and then she went on to enter and was also chosen. 18 of the 25 elected to have their first 250 words posted on the blogsite for comments and critiques. I'm entry #4 if you want to check it out.

I wasn't discouraged when my entry in the PitchPlus 1 contest didn't move to the next round. It's all subjective and 25 out of the 50 had to be cut. At leasst I made the first 50 out of a 100.

I also entered Brenda Drake's Pit Madness contest. I was one of 916 who entered. Whew! Only 60 were chosen to continue. I didn't make the cut.

March is the month to submit for the SCBWI Work in Progess Grant. I sent my entry in on the second. It's my PB Wack-a-Doodle-Doo! I have been submitting this story to agents and received two rejections that were personal, not a form letter. One agent liked the concept, but already had a similar story about barnyard animals. I think she might have accepted it, if she hadn't already had one like it.

A rejection I received for The London Incident left me feeling good all over. Though the agent decided not to add me to her client list, she wrote that I should keep quering and she can't wait to see where it lands.

Friday was my day to send out submissions. I concentrated on my rooster story and The Ghost of Edinburgh Castle. I found some agents that I would enjoy working with, and sent out my query letters. #MSWL helped. This is a twitter site where agents post what they are looking for. I had notes from twitter, but also used the website If an agent was seeking something in my genre, I checked their website for more information.

There is another contest coming up on the 16th for picture book writers. Michelle Hauck and Sharon Chriscoe are hosting a PB Party. They have six agents who will judge the entries. An author can submit 2 different stories. Here's the catch. It starts at 3:00 P.M. central time and only the first 111 entries will be accepted. I found out about this contest through Michelle's News Letter, Michelle4Laughs. If interested, check her site for the rules.

The big news this week is Samantha Fountain's brain child, It was launched on Monday around 4:00 P.M. Everyone who was part of #AgentMatch was excited as many of the writers from this contest were to be included on the launch's first day. I won a spot and so did my writer friend, Juli Caveny. This website features authors and their pitches for their stories, as well as photos and bio. Also, the first 250 words are available to agents who visit the site. The first day I counted 98 authors on the pages, but the site has grown. Each day we receive a question and our answer is posted on the site. Today's question was about developing our characters. Yesterday's was about our favorite place to write.  Here's the link to this site.  If you're an author, I highly recommend you register and put yourself out there. I feel honored to have been a part of this from the beginning and Samantha Fountain deserves so much credit and applause for all her hard word in making this possible.

I've made some changes to my Interanational Intrigue series. In my mind it is still International Intrigue and then each book in the series has a title, but now when I submit, I am keeping the title short. Instead of International Intrigue - The London Incident, it will be The London Incident. Same is true for Peril in Paris, Danger in Rome and The Ghost of Edinburgh Castle. Also, since these stories are for young adult with some sexual references, I am using just my initials as author, D.M. Daugherty. For my picture books and middle grade stories, I will use Debra Daugherty. I hope these changes will make a difference in getting published. I've decided to promote The Ghost of E.C. It can stand alone even though it does refer to the original 3 stories in some of the background descriptions. If this one is published first, then the readers will want to go back to the beginning and discover how Dru met Darcy and the first 9 days of their romance. The Ghost of E.C. will help the first 3 stories (trilogy) with an established fan-based readership.

ReFoReMo has started. This is Reading for Research Month and is being run by Carrie Charley Brown. Each day a guest writer or illustrator posts about picture books and how they are used for mentor texts, how we can use picture books for our own research in writing. A lady in my writers group, Suzi Leopold, is working with Carrie on this. She's a fantastic illustrator and writer and is doing a tremendous job on ReFoReMo. What excites me are all the books I am reading and how much I'm learning from other authors.

I've written so much today. It's time to sign off. 

Happy Writing! 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

I didn't post last week because my Sun Vs Snow pitch and first 250 words were listed here for critiques. It's still here, scroll down. If anyone wants to read it and send me their comments, please do.

I'm tickled to say two agents requested to read pages from my manuscript, International Intrigue - The London Incident, from my #AgentMatch entry. I sent them off the same day of request. Now all I can do is hope, pray and wait.

Samantha Fountain, head of the Agent Match contest, is working on a LAUNCH for authors, a place where agents can visit to read about authors and their work without waiting for query letters. She held a contest twice each day on twitter, and the first 3 to email her their profile were winners. The winning profiles would be shown at the start of the launch. After several days of trying and missing out, I made it! I'm not crazy about my photo, it's a selfie, but it's the best I have of me right now. I don't like having my picture taken.

Another contest was held on the 12th. Only the first 100 entries were to be accepted for PitchPlus1. I was one. The manuscript I submitted was the 4th in the International Intrigue series, The Ghost of Edinburgh Castle. Though it's part of a series, it can stand alone. In fact it could even be published before the other three. The 100 entries were narrowed down to the Top 50 on the 19th. I was pleasantly shocked to discover I had gone on to the next round. I polished my pitch and resubmitted to the contest. It is presently online at the Adventures in YA Publishing (AYAP)website. Here's the link: 

The top 48 entries, (2 authors must not have made the deadline to resubmit), are online, so anyone who wants, can read them and offer comments and helpful suggestions, critiques. Six people have commented so far on my entry, and they have brought up questions I haven't thought about. So yesterday I spent 7 hours reading my entire manuscript and making a few changes. I'm glad I did. It gave me a chance to fall in love with my characters all over again.

I thought my revisions were complete, but while in bed last night, more thoughts and ideas came to me. The first thing I did this morning was add to what I had done yesterday. I love it. I only hope an agent and publisher will, too.

It seems like all I am doing this month is entering contests, but I believe they help me hone my talent. I'm able to connect with other authors on twitter and after reading their entries, I find myself wanting to improve on mine.

Friday Brenda Drake's PitchMadness started. I submitted a 35 word pitch and the first 250 words. This entry was The London Incident. It had a new beginning. One comment I had received on it through the Sun Vs. Snow contest was I needed to write more about Dru from the start, so the reader would know her and like her. I did one idea, but then changed my mind and rewrote that. Dru and her friend Andy have some lines now at the beginning. Before I started just with action, showing Dru's surprised expression as the BMW raced towards her. The readers now know Dru and Andy are best friends, they walk to their high school instead of riding the bus, they're 16 but neither have a car, and Andy has a boyfriend, but Dru doesn't. Dru's temper is shown, too, as well as her independent spirit.

I'm checking my calendar to see what's planned in the upcoming week. Brenda Drake's PitchMadness entry deadline is 10:59 central time on Monday.  Sub It Club is giving away a critique and Tuesday is the day to enter. NaNoWriMo is offering a free webinar either at noon or 1:00PM central time on the 26th. The publishing editor for JK Rowling is the guest speaker. And Friday, the 27th, the Top 25 for the the AYAP contest is announced. There are so many fabulous entries. I don't know if I'll be chosen to go on to this round. Hopeful.

Since I've revised the 1st and 4th novels in my series, I am going to start on the 2nd and 3rd. It's amazing how each time I reread my words, I find ways to change them, to make them better. I've also discovered on the last two I revised, that there weren't a lot that did need to be done.

I read something on facebook that said, in two words what would you tell your younger self if you could. My answer was KEEP WRITING.

Thank you for following me on my writing journey.

And Keep writing!

Sun Vs Snow authors - please send comments to my e-mail address:

Thank you in advance for all your helpful comments, suggestions and advice!

For Sun Vs Snow Critiques - Sample Query Letter & first 250 words.

  • Title: International Intrigue - The London Incident
  • Genre: YA/romantic thriller
  • Word Count 58,000

February 13, 2015

Literary Agency

ATTN: Agent's Name

Dear Ms. Agent's Name:

I am seeking representation for my 58,000 words YA romantic thriller, International Intrigue - The London Incident. Sixteen-year-old Dru's London vacation is not going as planned. She's stalked by a man dressed like a cowboy, witnesses a murder on the London Eye, is held hostage by the killer, and becomes involved in espionage. She also falls for Darcy. Think Nancy Drew meets Dan Brown's Robert Langdon.

I am a member of SCBWI. Writing credits include PB Calamity Cat, MeeGenius, 2013; and two magazine stories for Guardian Angel Kids.

The London Incident is the first novel in my International Intrigue series. To date I have four completed manuscripts featuring Dru and Darcy and their adventures. Peril in Paris and Danger in Rome thrust the teens into more harrowing situations involving stolen art and smuggled jewels. Six months later while on vacation in Scotland, they encounter another mystery in The Ghost of Edinburgh Castle. Each novel can stand alone; but the first three work best as a trilogy.

Thank you, Ms. Agent's Name, for your time and consideration.


  • Debra Daugherty
  • 1612 McQueen Rd.
  • Pleasant Plains, IL  62677
  • (217) 488-3626




Dru heard the BMW before she saw it. She peered down the slope leading into the underground garage and noticed the black vehicle racing towards her and her friend Andy. Her green eyes widened with fear. The driver wasn't going to stop!


An hour earlier...

The bell above the side door of The International Computer Software Company jingled as a man wearing a tan overcoat and a red silk scarf walked inside. The scarf hid most of his face, and his black felt hat dipped strategically over his eyes. His piercing black eyes peered out
from behind dark rimmed glasses as he took a quick glance around the room. When he saw everyone was busy working, he smiled.

He started down the long hallway, casting his eyes downward at the worn beige carpet. His heavy footsteps could barely be heard above the din of the office. Phones were ringing, the fax machine was running, and the copier was humming as it spit out paper. The clicking noise of fingernails rapping on the keyboards filled the room.

Not a word passed his lips as he strolled down the long corridor to the office at the end of the hall.

"Good morning, Mr. Appleton," The ladies busily typing at their desks called out to the man as he walked past their cubicles.

"You're early today. I thought you had a dentist appointment," one of the ladies added.

The man's only answer was a grunt and a nod of his head.


This is the end of my Sun vs Snow submission for critiques. Sorry about the format. When I copied and pasted, it didn't fit my page and put in spaces I didn't want. Thank you for your advice, suggestions and help!  Debra Daugherty

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The last two weeks have flown by! I was lucky enough to be in two writing contests, sun vs snow, brain child of Michelle Heuck and Amy Trueblood, and Agent Match, headed by Samantha Fountain. These ladies have done a fantastic job getting authors excited about their work and finding agents to perue their submissions.

My sun vs snow entry didn't make it to the agent round, but tweeting with all the writers have been a wonderful experience. The same is true with Agent Match. I have never tweeted so much in my life! I have at least 100 new followers!

What I loved about Agent Match were the live chats with agents. For 30 mins. everyone could ask questions about query letters, submissions, agent's wish list, what the agent likes and dislike, etc. I think my clock is broke as I never knew 30 mins. could pass so quickly.

Today everyone's agent match entry is posted on Samantha Fountain's website. She has them divided into NA, YA, MG and PB. I'm #59 in YA. So far I haven't had any requests, but am still hopeful. I did note that five of the twenty-five agents have already gotten queries from me on this story in the past. That elimates 1/5 of the agents.

Besides the contests, I submitted to Harper Collin's Wednesday Post. I found out two weeks ago I had to submit on Tuesday, not my Wednesday, as the company is based in Australia. My Wednesday is their Thursday.

My writers group met on Monday, February 1st. Ten attended, including a new member. Poor guy. He's the only male in the group. He is an award winning illustrator who wants to write PBs.

I was to have given a talk about Rate Your Story in January, but the weather kept that meeting from taking place, so I did it at this meeting. I had the pages of my ratings from last year with the helpful suggestions and hints from the judges. Thanks to one suggestion last year, I submitted my story to a magazine and it was published. My ratings numbered 4, 5, 6, 7 and 1. One other member in our group has submitted to them; but now I believe more will in the future.

Everyone at the meeting separated into two groups, five each, and we critiqued our stories. I had two short ones and they both were well received. Everyone's praise gave me confidence to submit them. Susan Hawk was one of the agents who did a live chat for Agent Match. I submitted one to her last week and have sent out to three other agents, as well. Fingers and toes crossed.

Today Sub It Club is offering a free critique with Agent Patricia Nelson. One just has to say he/she wants to win in the comment section, tell what they write and include an e-mail address. Of course I entered!

Tonight Rate Your Story is hosting a live chat about querying an agent on their Facebook page. It starts at 7:00 PM central time, and I don't want to miss that.

I keep checking the Agent Match posts to see if I have a match yet. It's also open tomorrow. Even if I don't get a request from an agent, I've had fun, and have learned so much from the other authors.

My next blog is going to be a query letter and the first 250 words of my manuscript for a critique by the sun vs snow authors. Each of us will get 10 critiques. Amy and Michelle are setting this up. It's another way to learn and improve my craft.

To end on a happy note, last night nine young deer were in my backyard, nibbling apples. Deer in one's yard is supposed to be a good omen. Let's hope it means I find an agent soon.

Happy writing!

UPDATE: Two agents for the #AgentMatch contest requested my manuscript. Christa Heschke and Whitley Abell. Sent them out the same day. Yea!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The weatherman predicted snow and we got it! A wet, slushy snow that thankfully is melting. Ground hog day is tomorrow, but this snow is a reminder that no matter what the ground hog does, if he hides when he sees his shadow or not, we're still going to have six more weeks of winter. Despite the dates on a calendar, I've seen our worst snowstorms come even in late March.

I entered three contests last week, starting with agent match on the 25th. Samantha Fountain is sponsoring it. She only accepted the first 150 entries, and I made the cut. I had to write a one sentence hook, and a mini synopsis/blurb. Hopefully, my submission will find a match with an agent. Will find out on Feb. 10th.

The next day, Monday, the 26th, I entered Michelle Hauck's and Amy Trueblood's contest, sun versus snow. On twitter it's #sunvssnow. They were very specific in their submission guidelines, asking for a Query and the first 250 words. The contest opened at 3:00 PM central time and only 200 entries would be accepted. At 3:00 exactly I hit send and was one of the lucky ones to receive a confirmation e-mail. They reached their quota in only 6 minutes!

All week I've been visiting twitter, #sunvssnow and #AgentMatch, meeting the other contestants. Michelle and Amy at sunvssnow had suggestions for the writers about what to tweet each day. Tues. was giving our best editing tip, Wed., what would our MC do if pushed in the pool or hit with a snowball?, and so on. It's been fun reading everyone's tweet, and I've picked up several new followers.

Samantha has several agents lined up for this coming week for live twitter chats. For 30 minutes we can ask questions and immediately get a reply. Monday three agents are participating, Carlie Webber, Lydia Blyfield and Michelle Richter. Tuesday Samantha has three more lined up, with one for each of the following days.

On my writer's Facebook page, (I have a separate one for family), I learned about Harper Collins Wednesday Post. One can submit online to them on Wednesdays only. I had a story ready to send, and on Wednesday morning I sat at the computer at 7:00 AM to do just that. I was surprised to learn I had missed the deadline. The submission was to go to the Australian office and my Wednesday was already their Thursday. So next Tuesday I will submit so it gets to them on the right day. I never thought about time difference when submitting.

I have still been revising and tweaking two of my picture books, Mr. Stuffamuffin's Rainy Day Adventure and Wack-a-Doodle Doo! On Thursday I decided Wack-a-Doodle Doo! was polished enough to submit and I sent it to three agents.

The third contest I entered last week was agent Janet Reid's fiction contest. It was open for one day only, and five words had to be used in the context  of the 100 word story. These words were: death, red, show, me, state. In five minutes I wrote a who dunnit and submitted it. This is what I wrote:

     I've seen death before, but nothing had prepared me for this. The body was twisted like a pretzel covered in red dye; but it wasn't dye. It was blood.

"Show me the weapon," I told the lieutenant.

"I'm sorry," he stated. "None were found."

I frowned as I eyed the corpse. "The killer had to have left a clue."

Something caught my eye. A piece of paper was lying on the floor near the dead woman's shoe. I picked it up. It was a receipt from the pizza parlor across the street.

"I know who the killer is!" I shouted.

Corny, right? But it was fun to write. Although I stated I knew who the killer was in the story, I really didn't. While in bed last night I decided who it would be.

The dead girl was Elsa, a waitress from the pizza parlor. She was in love with Antonio, the owner's son. He loved her, too, but was engaged to the daughter of the head of the mob. Antonio's father, Niko, wanted his son to marry the mob boss's daughter as he hoped someday his son would take over the "family business."

Elsa wrote a note on the back of a pizza receipt for Antonio to meet her in the alley across the street at nine that evening. She placed the note in Antonio's jacket pocket, but Antonio never saw the note. His father was looking for the delivery truck keys and found the note. He decided to meet Elsa instead.

When the appointed time arrived, Niko left the restaurant carrying a bucket of pig blood. He prided himself on making his own sausage. He told his help he was dumping the blood in the garbage.

When he found Elsa, he tried to bribe her to leave his son. Elsa told him she loved Antonio and they were planning on running away to be married.

This angered Niki and he killed Elsa. He had been a strongman in the circus in Italy before coming to America, and in his act he would twist a hundred pound barbell into a pretzel. He did that with Elsa's body. When he finished, he dumped the blood on her and then hurried back to the restaurant, not realizing he had dropped the note.

The detective knew of the arranged marriage, and when he read the note, he knew Antonio's father had committed the murder. He remembered seeing a poster of Niko in his strongman costume holding up a twisted barbell hanging in the pizza parlor.

It's funny that I cared so much about the storyline that I spent an hour of my bedtime thinking up this plot. Maybe someday I'll decide to actually write this story.

Today is February 1st and open submission day for Rate Your Story. I sent Wack-a-Doodle Doo! I hesitated sending it. I received a 1 rating on the last story I submitted. What if this one doesn't measure up? After getting a 1, it will be hard to accept any other number.

The winner of the Laura Crawford Mentorship was announced early today, and it wasn't me. 76 writers entered, and 75 were disappointed.  Congratulations to the winner, Amy Alznauer, who publishes non-fiction using the name Amy Andrews.

This week promises to be a busy one, with agents twittering on #AgentMatch each day. Sub It Club is having a pitch event on Tuesday, and I plan to join in on that, too, submitting the first 100 words of my YA manuscript on their blog. Also, I must remember this Tuesday to submit my YA to Harper Collins for their Wednesday Post.

I'm excited because my writers group meets tomorrow, Monday night. Last month our meeting was cancelled because of the weather. I hope the snow doesn't get any worse so that it has to be cancelled again. I have two stories for critiques, if we have time.

Wow! I never expected to write so much today! This blog is becoming more and more like a writer's journal for me to showcase my achievements and my failures. I am determined to suceed and will keep trying.

Happy Writing to all, and Good Luck in all your hopes and dreams!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It's so nice to have my desk computer back! I took it to Staples last week for a PC check and data cleanup. Using the laptop again was okay, but my stories were stored on the desktop. I did make copies on a flashdrive and also emailed the stories to myself as a precaution.

ReviMo is over. It ended January 17th. I spent 4 days revising PBs and 3 days on my YA. I love to write; revisions, not so much.

On Thursday New Leaf Literary had a twitter pitch hour. From 3-4 PM central time.  An author could pitch in 140 characters or less their novel. If favored, author would be asked to submit to the agency. A lot of pitches went out at that time. I didn't get picked.

My pitch that morning to Erin Niunatu at Folio Literary did get picked! So did my friend's, Ilana Oster. I almost forgot to do it. I sent my pitch at 8:59 and within 3 minutes I had a reply. My pitch was: In London 16 yo girl is stalked by a killer, held hostage, becomes involved in espionage and falls in love.

Erin asked for a full synopsis and the first three chapters. By 9:28 that morning, they were on their way to her e-mail adress. Now the waiting game begins.  Ilana sent hers by that afternoon.

I heard about these twitter pitches on Sub It Club's blog. www.SubItClub.WordPress.Com. It's a site worth checking. Upcoming contests are also announced.

My friend Ilana is the one who started me back on track with writing. It had been on my back burner for years, something I was always going to get around to doing, when I had the time. We met on a tour to England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. She was in the same tour group. When I heard from one of the ladies in our group that Ilana wrote and illustrated stories, I sat down with her and her friend, Sarah, for tea in a quaint shop near Dove Cottage in England. She encouraged me to join SCBWI and go from there. I did, and here I am! One PB published and 2 short stories published in children's e-zine since mid 2012. Plus countless PBs written and 4 YA novels written since that time. I need an agent!!!

Dove Cottage in the Lake District in England is where the home of Willam Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy is located. I visited the cottage and wondered how so many great writings and poetry came from such a dark and cramped interior. The outside, however, was beautiful, with a lovely flower garden and walking distance to the lake. Picture of the cottage is in my photo gallery. I think it's fitting that my writing journey began anew at the place where one of England's greatest poets once lived.

I had a small medical issue this week. My right ankle started hurting Tuesday morning. By Friday I could barely walk on it, the pain was so intense. My brother Dan drove me to the doctor's on Friday and I discovered I have a spur. It's painful, but I'm taking Ibuprofen and it does help.

Coming up this Monday, the 26th, is a Sun vs. Snow contest. It starts at 3 PM central time, and to enter one must submit the first 250 words of his/her novel with a Query letter. It's limited by time and number of submissions accepted. The SubItClub site has the specifics.  I plan to enter, just need to decide which manuscript to send.

The Highlights for Children fiction contest ends next Saturday, so get your mystery story in by that date. I entered the story that earned me a 1 rating by RateYourStory, The Mystery of the Missing Stamp. Good luck to all who enter!

Bye for now. Happy writing!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

This week the weather was cold, typical January weather. Thankfully, I was able to stay inside, keep warm and work on my writing.

Meg Miller sponsored ReviMo, revision week for picture books. I spent four days on picture books, and three days revising my YA novel, The Ghost of Edinburgh Castle.

I have missed my main characters, Dru and Darcy, and it was fun getting back into their minds. Four books are finished in this series and I believe I like the last one the best. I sent query letters to four agents on this novel and heard back from two already. Even though the two passed, they both wrote personal notes and encouraged me to continue to submit. Both said the premise of the story was interesting, just not a fit for them.

For ReviMo I took another look at a PB I wrote last year. I started making changes and ended up with an entirely different story. The ending was just about the only part I didn't change. It's about a rooster who couldn't crow. I like this version better and have sent it out to two agents. I also made a few changes on Mr. Stuffamuffin's story. This story has now been critiqued by Jodie Sadler and Sharon K. Mayhew. I followed their advice, but had to keep it true to my voice. I can visualize it as a darling PB for children. I hope the agents I submitted it, can, too.

My five year old nephew, Colton, visited me on Saturday and I read him the rooster story. He liked it and asked, "Did you do that?" He and I get on the computer and I type his stories for him. He tells me what to type. His stories are true, about his friends and school. I have a tool on my home office that when the words are highlighted, they are narrated. He loves to hear his story being told back to hom.

For doing 4 days of revisions on PBs last week, I am a ReviMo winner. I actually revised all seven days, but only four were on PBs.

I want to recommend Sub It Club and KidsLit411 to all writers. I find so much valuable information on both their sites. I also like Rate Your Story. Their advice has helped improve my writing, too.

Critiques at conferences must be going up. At all the conferences I have attended, they have cost $35.00; but one listed on SCBWI-IL's site for this spring is asking $60 for a critique.

Sharon Mayhew does critiques and line edits. I fortunately won mine, but I believe her prices are reasonable. Her website is

I feel lost without my desk computer. It's at Staples getting cleaned so it will run more efficiently. I'm using my laptop today. My stories are on the desktop and though I have saved them on flashdrives, it's so much more convenient to click on the files on the computer. I would like to do some more submitting next week, so I hope my computer will be ready Monday or Tuesday.

The sun's shining brightly and it has warmed up today. I'm going to end now and get some sunshine. My dogs are telling me they want out.

Stay warm and keep writing!

Friday, January 9, 2015

When I checked my e-mail this morning, I discovered one from Rate Your Story. I had submitted The Mystery of the Missing Stamp. It's the one I want to send to Highlights for Children's Fiction Contest. I thought I'd see if it needed any changes before sending it to the contest and I trust Rate Your Story to be truthful and honest with their critique. In the past I've received a 4, 6, 7 and 5 rating. Today I had a 1, the highest rating possible. In the Judge's Comments was written: "Very cute story! It's ready to go! Good luck with this!" smiley face. To see my rating, check out the Photo Galley.

I jumped for joy! It's hard to describe how happy this e-mail made me. I felt like maybe I am doing something right. My submission is going in the mail today.

Wednesday my Query letter to Guardian Angel Kids was featured in Sub It Club's blog. This letter led to my story The Mystery of the Ghostly Thief being published in their December 2014 issue. Heather Ayris Burnell asked if I'd mind sharing the letter that led to a magazine publication, so I did.

I also heard from Sharon K. Mayhew. I had won a critique with her and sent her The Rainy Day Scavenger Hunt. She was so helpful. She said the story was cute and she didn't have a lot of suggestions. She thought the title should sound more adventurous and that I should give the bear a name. She said I should consider a series of DJ and (the bear's) story. Also, I had too many illustration notes. She ended by saying, "I like your writing style. You made me smile several times when I was reading it."

I named my toy bear Mr. Stuffamuffin. The title is now Mr. Stuffamuffin's Rainy Day Adventure. I only have three illustration notes, one explaining that the bear comes to life when helping DJ on his scavenger hunt and two near the end when DJ stares at the bear and when the bear smiles at what DJ said.

Sharon Mayhew edits manuscripts and her website is You can read her blogs at  She is nice and does a great job.

Thursday I sent this PB to three agents. Fingers crossed.

Today is a pitch contest on twitter. #SecretShop. Jessica Schmeidler and Marissa Fuller are the hosts. Pitch a ms., any genre, using hashtag secretshop. If an agent or publisher is interested, they will favorite it. I'm doing the bear PB and my YA The London Incident. I may also do my MG, The Dragon's Ring.

Besides writing, I've been bundling up to keep warm. The temp today is in the minus with wind chill. Brrrrrr! It's a good day to stay inside and write.

Stay warm and keep writing!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A belated Happy New Year!

Another year has begun. 2015. Ahead is a blank slate ready to be filled. I've decided that this is MY YEAR. It will be the year I find an agent AND a publisher. My International Intrigue series featuring teen sleuths Dru and Darcy will find a pubishing house. and the first of the four novels I've written so far will be on its way to publication. This will be the year my picture books will shine and my middle grade fantasies about fairies and leprechauns will touch a publisher's heart. I'm ready. I'm resolved.

Julie Hedlund's 12 Days of Christmas Writing has given me confidence. She started her project December 26th of last year. Each day her videos inspired her listeners to put themselves out there, by listing their successes and their failures, by judging their work and deciding what needed to be done to overcome obstacles. Along the way we had fun, too, laughing at her dog Rocky as he taught us some valuable lessons, bringing out the child in us as we used crayons to design a cover for our learnings, and dancing for joy. Today was her final video and she mentioned being surprised by our writing.

My writing surprises me all the time. I sit down to write, sometimes having no idea what to write about, and the words come. In my latest novel for NaNoWriMo a character jumped on the page. I had no idea where he came from, but he turned out to be an important character, even though I did kill him off the next day. Sometimes I start writing with an idea for my ending, and then midway, I go a different route. I love surprises!

Yesterday's assignment was to chose one of Julie's prompts and write a short story or poem. I chose number 6 - One day you are staring at the Mona Lisa. The famous painting starts talking to you, and it tells you that it wants to escape its life in the museum. Now what?

 I also did as Julie suggested, using the first word on page 42 of a red spine book. My word was NEW. This is what I wrote:

New Year's Day. How lucky can one be? Here I am at the Louve Museum in Paris! What a wonderful way to begin the year!

"I can't believe I'm staring at the Mona Lisa, Leonardo DaVinci's most famous work of art," I said aloud.

"You're lucky. At least when you're done looking at me, you can leave this place," a voice whispered.

I whirled around. "Who said that?"

"I did."

I glanced back at the painting and rubbed my eyes. I laughed. "I must have jet lag. I thought the Mona Lisa was speaking to me."

"I am. By the way, I prefer to be called Mona. I know it means lady, but in truth, it's also my name. I told Leo not to use my middle name in the title."

I studied the crowd. No one else had noticed the lips of the painting moving. Why was I the only one?

Mona shrugged as if she had read my thoughts. "I'm so tired of hanging here. All day long people mill around me and take my picture. The latest thing is cell phone selfies. It's monotonous."

My face showed surprise. The painting knows about cell phones and selfies?

Her reply convinced me she could read my thoughts. "I know I was born hundreds of years ago, but with nothing to do but stare out at the visitors to my Galley all day, I've learned about the ways of the world. Of course I know what a cell phone and selfies are! I want to escape from this place, to explore and see everything the world has to offer. I want to experience what's out there beyond these marble floors and art filled walls."

"You can't."

Mona's eyes flashed with disappointment. "Tell me something I don't know."

"Why would you want to leave?" I asked. "Here you are honored and adored by millions. Your picture has been copied and shown all over the world. You're more well-known than all the kings and queens and world leaders. Your image is plastered everywhere."

"Hmmm. I do like hearing that."

"Besides, you've lived your life in your own time. You're not real, you know. You're a painting. You can't just get up and walk away," I further explained.

"I know," she sighed. "It was wishful thinking on my part. I just have to sit here and grin and bear my fate."

"Speaking of grinning, why are you smiling?" I asked, hoping to finally discover what millions of people have wondered over the centuries.

Mona winked and said, "Wouldn't you like to know?"

She resumed her pose and I knew our conversation was over. I did the only thing a first-time tourist to the Louve would do. I held up my cell phone and took a selfie.


Today I was bold in declaring my intentions for the year. It is now up to me to make these resolutions happen.

I began the year by applying for SCBWI-IL's Laura Crawford mentorship. The winner of this will be coached by Esther Hershenhorn, the award winning author and teacher on one of his or her picture books.

On New Year's Day I submitted a short story to Rate Your Story for evaluation. It's one I would like to submit to Highlights for Children's Fiction Contest. I hope to have my rating and suggestions in time to work on the story for the contest. If not, I will still submit my mystery story by the end of this month and hope for the best.

I completed Julie Hedlund's 12 Days of Christmas Writing challenges. Along the way I met so many wonderful and talented authors. They have been so encouraging of my comments and postings. I've also discovered I'm not alone in my disappointments and struggles as a writer. I've decided failures and rejections are life's lessons to make make me stronger and to help me become a better writer.

It's also time to revise my NaNoWriMo novel. I took a lesson from Stephen King and waited 6 weeks. I'm looking forward to revisiting my characters and their adventures. By waiting this long, I hope to have a fresh view and outlook as I tackle revisions.

2015 - I've been waiting a whole year for you. Don't let me down!

Signing off with best wishes for a great year of writing successes to everyone!

Debra Daugherty