Welcome to the Bookshelf Detective, a site packed with tricks and tips for readers and writers of children's literature. Thank you for visiting!
Kim Tomsic

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Two 2013 Scholarships Available: One for Children's Book Writer and One for Children's Book Illustrator

Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Can Receive a Free Opportunity:
Attention children’s book writers and illustrators—would you like a free chance to attend a conference and meet agents, editors and Newbery Award winning authors? Only two weeks remain to apply for the VICKIE FERGUSON MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP. Scholarship recipients will receive fully paid tuition to the 2013 RMC SCBWI Letters and Lines Fall Conference, plus a manuscript or portfolio review (as indicated on the free application). The scholarship will be awarded to one writer as well as one illustrator—please apply if you’re actively committed to your craft.  Application deadline is June 22, 2013. 
To apply, please click link for application: [2013VF_ScholarshipApplication.pdf]

More about the conference: The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is excited to host the annual Letters and Lines Conference at a new location; this year we will be at the Denver Marriott West in Golden, Colorado on September 28 and September 29. This weekend conference will include two unforgettable days packed with valuable learning and networking opportunities.  Attendees will find many opportunities to connect on a personal level with our speakers during break-out sessions, intensives, individual critiques, pitch sessions, query workshops, first page readings, and more. If some of these terms are foreign to you, it’s all the more reason to attend. You’ll not only learn how to elevate your work, but you’ll also learn the business side of your craft.  This year’s lists of distinguished speakers include:
Linda Sue Park
  • Newbery Award winner Linda Sue Park
  • Arianne Lewin, executive editor, G. P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Young Readers Group)
  • Kelly Barrales-Saylor, editorial director, Albert Whitman & Company
  • Wendy Loggia, executive editor, Delacorte/Random House
  • Brianne Johnson, agent, Writers House
  • Terrie Wolf, agent, AKA Literary Management
  • Bitsy Kemper, author and PR Queen!
  • Illustrator Michael Garland
Take a look at last year’s scholarship recipient: click here
You must be a member of the SCBWI in order to apply for the scholarship. Members get a gazillion benefits (a.k.a. a bunch). JOIN NOW.

Thank you Vickie Ferguson. The Vickie Ferguson Memorial Scholarship honors the memory of Vickie Ferguson, long-time member of RMC-SCBWI, who passed away in May 2005. Vickie was dedicated to her writing. This scholarship seeks to support those writers and illustrators who are committed to their craft and are actively writing and/or illustrating.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Fresh Perspective on How to Write a Query Letter

I’ve seen a lot of “Query Letter” posts, but none like the one Chuck from Writer's Digest features on his blog at Writers Unboxed. His article focuses specifically on writing that last paragraph—the bio section—of the query letter, and he gives a fresh perspective on the “do’s and don’ts”. It’s definitely worth a read:


There are many many many…many blog posts on how to write a query (I’ve listed several links at the bottom of this post) But if you’re craving a quick rundown, here we go:

I.                    Firstly, personalize your letter—Dear, Jen. NOT Dear, Agent.

II.                 Secondly, limit your query to one page. Have white space so it looks reader-friendly; and break it down to three simple paragraphs—the hook, the book, and the cook.

A.     Paragraph One (the hook):
Your first line can tell the agent why you queried them: Thank you for speaking at Big Sur in the Rockies. I blah blah blah w/you. Or: I enjoyed your interview on such-and-such blog and …
The next line is where you include your hook, title, genre and the word count of your book.  Please consider my 70,000 word count YA novel THE UNACCOUNTED. It's teenage Jason Bourne meets The Prisoner of Zenda.
(In addition to saying if your book is YA or Middle Grade, include if it is fantasy, magical realism, paranormal, science fiction etc. as relevant).

B.     Paragraph Two (the book):
Write a paragraph about your manuscript that reads like jacket flap copy (present an exciting glimpse of the story without giving up the ending). A jacket flap describes the story in such a gripping way that book store browsers slap down some cash to buy the book. Agents may use this copy to help present your book to a publishing house, so create a compelling and tight paragraph.

A.     Paragraph Three (the cook):
This is your biography, and nobody explains the “how’s” better than Chuck, so please visit his blog.

III.              Thirdly, be professional, know the business, be courteous, and close with your name and contact information. 

Good Luck!!! 
Bonus info:
The above “hook” was an actual pitch by David Lipsky and Darin Strauss's for THE UNACCOUNTED and this title will be available in bookstores winter 2013. 
More on "high concept" hooks, please visit my link about high concept hooks and pitches. 

 More discussion on queries can be found:

How to write a query links:
Query Shark (this is a great blog where writers can receive feedback)

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