query letters, Writing

The Writer’s Voice

I’m excited to participate in The Writer’s Voice round one. I’m required to post my query and the first 250 words of the manuscript. The kind and generous hosts, Brenda Drake, Krista Van Dolzer, and friends sponsored this contest.

(Readers, you can leave me a comment. I’m always trying to improve my writing).

Query for Strong Women Grow Here:

Dear Ms. Agent,

The journey to the American dream becomes a nightmare when naive 17-year-old Juana Maria Ivanov runs from her abusive husband who falls on a staircase while chasing her one night. When she returns home, he’s dead, and she is sent to prison.

With no family in the U.S and limited English skills, Juana struggles to retain custody of her baby while trying to convince staff she is innocent of her husband’s death. Correctional staff want Juana to take responsibility for her crime or she will receive a lengthier sentence.

The staff and gang rules confuse her as do the young women in the prison, who grew up different from her own experiences. The adjustment to gangs, drugs, and violence, and the memories of her baby and husband cause frustration and depression.

When Juana begins to hear her dead mother’s voice, this not only haunts her but gives her hope and she finds help for her plight in an unlikely place with unlikely people. In the process, she learns empathy, friendship, and self-responsibility. Themes of family, coming of age, and race are explored.

STRONG WOMEN GROW HERE is a YA novel of 69,000 words. I bring professional knowledge to this debut novel with my 28-year career working with the California Department of Corrections where I began as a correctional counselor. A Room of Her Own Foundation (AROHO) has twice accepted me into their writing retreat and I participated in the Association of Writers Program (AWP) mentor-mentee program. I also am a member of SCBWI. Thank you for your consideration.

First 250 words:

     I didn’t run because I killed him. I ran because I didn’t. The police found Alek dead and said I was to blame, but I’m innocent. I would have done anything to change the events which led me to prison.

     We left Centre Juvenile Hall for the San Bueno Correctional Facility before sunrise. The van chugged down the side streets, through the mist, and sped up the freeway ramp. The cold handcuff on my left wrist rattled against the bottom of the passenger window. Two other girls sat in handcuffs, one behind me, and the other across from me. We looked like goats going to market, tied to the corners of a truck bed.

     Blurred white lights and shadows darted by my window. I couldn’t remember the route if I tried. The van swerved and pitched me forward until the metal handcuff yanked me back into my seat. My free hand flew to the neck of my jumpsuit, where my crucifix used to be. I pressed damp fingers against my mouth. Sour saliva flooded my tongue.

    The tattooed girl, next to me, scrunched up her nose while her lips curled against crooked teeth. She shifted her husky body, leaned her shoulder against the window. Blue-black letters at the bottom of her fleshy neck came into view, spelling WF 13. I’d seen those marks before on the buildings from my seat on the L.A. city buses. They were symbols of gangs and their territories, a reminder to be careful. 

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to see the full list of Round 1 winners, click here. 

Encouragement, Inspiration, poetry, query letters, Writers, Writing, Writing classes, writing conferences, Writing groups, writing tips

Four Secrets to Poetic Prose-Part 2



I have to tell you, I want to be a better writer.

I have stories to tell the world, and I’m tired of  my seven member critique group being the only ones to read them.

They may be tired of them too.

For almost six years, I’ve been writing stories which became an Adult Contemporary and two YA manuscripts.

I’ve spent the last year sending out queries, synopsis’, revising, and doing it all again. Still, no agent.

If you’re a writer, you might have a similar scenario to tell.

Until that ‘golden’ e-mail or phone call, I need to keep writing and improve what I’ve written.

I will not quit and neither should you.


That’s why I look for low cost classes. So many of us can’t afford to get an MFA or attend $400-$600 conferences.

But don’t let high prices stop you from improving your writing.


A few days ago, I posted the first two secrets to poetic prose, as described by author and poet, Sonya Sones.

Poetic prose refers to a narrative with some of the technical or literary qualities of poetry such as rhythm, patterned structure, or emotional heightening.

Let’s continue with the last two secrets:


3. The Rhythm of Three:

All sound breaks down into some sort of pattern of sounds. The syllables are either unstressed or stressed, pronounced more strongly, which gives us a beat and type of melody. 

In the children’s book, Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger, the entire book is almost all written with a rhythm of three (there are ‘non-three’ lines between the rhythm of three):

When the day is done, he closes his book, combs his beard and puts on his jacket.

He lifts the strand, takes one pearl from it, and closes the chest again. 

Can you hear the rhythm?


4. The Use of Trochiac:

Low vowel sounds evoke sadness. Use the ooh, o, um, and ah sounds.

Tell me not in mournful numbers  

Words such as  lost, roam, lunatics, olive, watching, rocking are examples of a trochee.

Lost Dog-gettyimages.com
Lost Dog-gettyimages.com

Ms. Sones gave us a prompt: “My dog is gone,” and gave us five minutes to write a few lines using trochee:

My dog is gone, lost, not loaned,
did he roam, lose his way home?
Does he groan somewhere, all alone?
A romp in the grass, and now he’s gone
Is he far from home?
No nuzzles, no cuddles, no paw raised high
Does he wait, watch for me, all alone?


It’s not the best 5 minute poem, but it does sound sad.  Using low vowel sounds is a useful and fairly easy way to express a  mournful or sad scene.

So there it is, four ways to enrich your writing.

Keep looking for courses you can afford, keep reading and happy writing.