Thank you so very much for your lovely letter about my books. I was very
touched to hear how long you have been reading them and what they have meant
to you. It's a real honor to hear that you find the stories to be so full
of courage and growth, especially after the ups and downs in your own life.
I write them with caring, heart, and a lot of hard work, and I like to think
that my readers read them and enjoy them in the same spirit. I admire your
strength and your spirit of rebuilding a great deal.
However, the question you ask is not easy to answer. I think that the
first thing a writer needs to do is to read voraciously!
It is very difficult to summarize the craft of writing. Try to be totally
honest with yourself as you write, and write in your own words and your own
voice, not one you think you should adopt. Be sure to give attention to
the details of each and the character's lives. When writing your first draft,
don't worry too much about how it sounds or about spelling or leaving a few
gaps in the story, just get the main story down on paper. Then when you go
back to rewrite you can put your critical-editor hat on and give it a good,
Much of it is about persistence. It's about finding characters you care
about and putting them into story situations, and then asking yourself how
they feel and what's going and persisting in working on that until you find
something that seems true to the characters and the situation. It's good if you
can write every day on a disciplined schedule, even if for just a short
time. Even if you end up throwing out most of what you write, it is vital to
get into this habit. Perseverance and discipline, along with the ability to
empathize with others, are probably the most important attributes a writer
can have. Success is a long slow road, and you have to be deeply committed to
writing. Most writers have other jobs for many years before they can make
enough at writing to give up their other jobs.
You might also want to enroll in one of the many writing workshops or
classes available in order to get some sense of how people may react to your
Once your manuscript is ready to send out, all I can advise is to do what
every writer does -- submit it to all the likely agents or publishers you can
find, and hope for the best. Often agents are more receptive to new
writers than publishers are. Sourcebooks such as Literary Market Place or
Writer's Market Yearbook, which are available in libraries and bookstores, will
tell you what kind of work an agent or publisher is looking for and give
procedures for submission. Many agents and publishers also have web sites now
that will tell you about their policy on submitting manuscripts. The web sites www.querytracker.net and litmatch.net can help you in finding an agent.
Thank you again for sharing your good words with me. I appreciate hearing
from a reader and mother like you, and I was honored to hear about your
daughter's middle name. I send you all my warmest wishes.
With best wishes,