Don’t Give Up the Search

books on writingIf you are a writer who’s serious about getting your next article or book published, then you no doubt have endured some rejections. Ow. That’s a harsh word. Let’s call them “declines” or “no thank you’s.” Or, how about you comment with clever names for the letters and emails we get when an agent, editor or publisher doesn’t want our work.

You’ve probably also grown accustomed to waiting, waiting, waiting for a response. Fortunately, many  agents are more lenient now and accept queries that have been sent simultaneously to other agents, making our wait for one to respond less of a time waster.

And boy can time be wasted. I sent a query December 2015 and received a reply July 27, 2016. Here it is:

Dear Author,

On behalf of the agents here at Lowenstein Associates, thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your work. I apologize for the form letter, but the volume of query letters we receive means we cannot send every writer a personal response. Please know that we do give each and every query serious attention.

Unfortunately, we do not feel strongly enough about your project to pursue it further. Agenting is very subjective, however, and even though we could not take on your project, another agent might feel differently. 

Please accept our best wishes for success in your writing career.

Assistant to Barbara Lowenstein and Mary South
Lowenstein Associates
I’m not giving up. I know my query is written well and my novel has a readership waiting for it.
How about you? Do you know you are sending your best work out? Will you give up?




Tell Me a Story – Free online class

From Demi Smith about free online picture book class for authors. (sign up

“Tell me a story…”

That beautiful child looks up into your eyes and snuggles close, ready for a journey only you can lead. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could pull out your own picture book from the shelf… point to its glossy cover, read the title, and say, “This is the book I wrote for you.
For the last three years I’ve had the joy and privilege to work with hundreds of authors in my live Year of the Book classes. Now I’m thrilled to announce I’ve taken the best of the best of the best of what we’ve learned and turned it into a course you can access online, regardless where you live.

I’d love to help you get started right away with a free class that will help you write and publish your children’s picture book. We’ll go through all the steps you need to get from conception to labor and delivery of your bouncing baby book.

Can you imagine how thrilling it will be to share your professionally printed and bound story with your loved ones?

I’ve seen the joy—over and over through my students’ and clients’ eyes—and experienced it personally through the birth of my own two children’s picture books: Write Away! and Roger, Roger. It’s like disbelief combined with intense personal satisfaction. And it’s waiting for you just a short way up the path.

Or maybe your dream is bigger. Perhaps you’d like to see your work available for sale in stores and online. It’s all within your reach and I can show you how. I help people achieve this dream every day and I’d love for you to be next.

Online seating is limited to just 50 attendees, so reserve your space today. (sign up

Visit Demi at


Article shared by the author of Ken’s WarWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide.


 ken's war cover

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.




What do Chopsticks Have to do with Tips for Writers?

Beth Fowler headshot

Hear an excerpt from the beloved YA novel, Ken’s War, read by the author. She then provides tips for authors and insights into writing and chopsticks (!).

Go to





 ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.




Oops! Avoid Career-Killing Writing Mistakes

error-101409_150  You’ve seen those inset boxes in publications that say, “Correction” or “Retraction” or “Oops, we goofed!” And you wonder, “How can I avoid a slipup like that?”

Correction notices diminish an author’s credibility and future job prospects.

While even the best writers occasionally misreport information, novice writers are more vulnerable to making unintentional mistakes. Sidestepping booby traps requires knowing where they’re hidden and doing the homework.

 The Becoming-a-Mouthpiece Trap

Example: A journalist writing a feature about a new medicine contacts the company that patented the drug. The company’s public relations weenie Fed Ex’s glossy brochures and factsheets sprinkled with Latin terms and charts highlighting the drug’s development and its manifold benefits to humankind. The journalist writes his article incorporating info from those documents.

Homework: Research multiple sources. The journalist must uncover facts the PR rep doesn’t want divulged to the public. (Every closet contains a skeleton or three, otherwise there’s no story.) In journalism this is “balance.”

Our journalist needs to check out Who has something at stake? (Stockholders, the drug company’s competition.) Whose experience or perspective might be different? (Lab employees, people who trialed the drug, natural therapy advocates.) Who has info, but wasn’t asked for it? (Medical writers, pharmacists, doctors, peer reviewers, government agencies.) Who parroted “party line” responses and can be probed with deeper questions? (The PR rep, the CEO.) Researching information from adversaries, skeptics, watchdogs, regulatory agencies and nitpickers leads to balance. Click for “How to Research Medical Literature.”

The Ignoring-the-Moneybags Trap

Example: Researching material for an article about bread, I found this assertion, “Dr. Graeme McIntosh says, ‘We ought to be eating wholemeal or high-fiber breads with every meal, about four to five slices a day, besides our breakfast cereal.’ “Sound the alarms. Who funded Doc’s studies?

Homework: Further research revealed that the Grains Research and Development Corporation—surprise, surprise—provided dough for the studies. Published in Australia’s New Vegetarian and Natural Health Magazine, my “Bread: The Staff of Life?” quoted Dr. McIntosh, named his funding source and included support for opposing opinions that Western diets contain too much bread. Follow the money. Be wary of biased bucks.

The Repeating-What-Everybody-Knows Trap

Example: Everybody knows that Linda Eastman-McCartney was heiress to the Eastman-Kodak fortune just like everybody knows that the Great Wall of China is visible from outer space. Right?

Not quite. Rigorous checking reveals that Linda’s family isn’t related to the camera entrepreneur and images of The Great Wall of China were acquired by the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) onboard the space shuttle Endeavor. That’s not peering out the spaceship porthole and seeing a wall down there. Visit for cock-and-bull stories caught parading in truth’s clothing.

Homework: “Errors are repeated in newspaper articles for months and years; cuttings are such a convenient source of information and deadlines can make checking less rigorous,” cautions Brendan Hennessy in Writing Feature Articles. Sidestep error hazards by researching info from the original source or as near to the horse’s mouth as you can get.

The Playing-Loose-with-Numbers Trap

Example: “Youth want William as next king,” declared a Reuters headline from London. The lead said, “Britain’s youth believe that dashing young Prince William should be the next king, a survey published yesterday showed.”

In the third paragraph, readers learn that 46 percent of the surveyed population thinks William should be next monarch. Hmm. Forty-six per cent is not a majority. The headline could’ve easily and more accurately declared, “Youth don’t want William as next king.”

Homework: Get the original data on which someone’s interpretations have been based. In the case of the future king, diligent researchers would find out how the survey questions were phrased, how many youths were surveyed and what ages constitute “youth.” For technical writing, find out how long trials were run, if double-blind controls were run, if previous trials were proved correct or false and other factors important to validating data. Even when numbers are correct, check for other facts and figures that put the numbers in context and might influence interpretation.

Check it One More Time


Check your final draft critically. Does researched info support the manuscript’s purpose? (Some awesome, hard-won facts mightn’t illuminate theme.) Do facts and data flow naturally within narrative? Did typos creep in? Did facts and data change between researching and finishing the piece? Did you avoid emotionally laden words?

Materials that organizations, agencies and institutes pass out can contain misspellings, grammatical errors and other bloopers. Verify. Correct.

List resources at the end of non-fiction work, and if appropriate, of fiction. Editors might want to re-check facts and you might need the same sources for other projects.

Make sure copyrights aren’t infringed upon. (Read up on copyright fair use at Generally, ideas and facts (like those in encyclopedias, dictionaries and reference books) aren’t copyrighted. Give sources for figures. Acknowledge sources from which you’ve borrowed heavily.

Check your homework. Gain credibility. Make sales.

And may you never be responsible for an “Oops!”


ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.




“Frugal Book Promotion” tips

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, instructor for nearly a decade at the renowned UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and author of the award-winning series of How To Do It Frugally books, shares tips straight out of her book, The Frugal Book Promoter ( :

  • Send a chatty note about your book or its review to the people in the groups or forums you frequent.
  • Do the same with all the people on your personal e-mail contact list.
  • How about your list of media contacts–especially the ones who edit blogs and Web sites. They are always in need of material.
  • Write up a release and place it on a news disseminator like or You’ll find a list of these disseminators on my site at Click on the Resources for Writers page and scroll down. Take your time learning to do this. It will be well worth it. For more, step by step information on writing and disseminating media releases go to your e-copy or hardcopy of The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t.
  • Do you put out a newsletter or e-zine? You probably should! Tell your subscribers about this success.
  • Put a link to your book and its reviews up on your Web site. This makes you look credible to your readers.
  • Of course, you’ll want to tweet and blog about it.
  • You can even include the news and a link in your Christmas letter!

Also check out the Resources for Writers pages at

Carolyn adds, “There’s tons of good information on getting reviews and hundreds of other promotion ideas in my The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t.”


ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.




Trash for Teens?

man-258449_150What are your kids reading? What you don’t know may shock you. Book publishers trying to keep young people’s attention are taking cues from the sex-charged playbook of today’s media-saturated society.

Some books for young people are full of not-so-innocent material while making their way on to bestsellers lists and into your child’s hands.

Several books in the Gossip Girls series hit number one on the New York Times children’s book list. Intended for young girls, the series has been likened to “Sex and the City” for the younger generation. It details teen characters’ exploits in sex, money, drugs, alcohol, and other dramas of high society teenage living. Young readers are eating it up.

Another book, Rainbow Party, made waves among critics when it debuted earlier this year. The plot deals with the subject of oral sex and how a group of girls’ plans to host an oral sex party. Paul Ruditis, the writer of the book, states, “We just wanted to present an issue kids are dealing with.”

Read the rest of the article here:

Readers, from pre-teens through adults, also desire books depicting normalcy, dealing with matters we all face, especially as young adults. Readers want books that entertain while exploring life’s important questions.

My hope is that Ken’s War does that.


When teen hormones and culture shock collide. Get your copy here Ken’s War A new YA novel

ken's war coverNancy Springer, ( an award winning writer, wrote: “KEN’S WAR by Beth Fowler: Vibrant with authority as it depicts Japanese culture, American military life, and the angst of an Army brat, Beth Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion, mirroring the messiness of real life. Ken’s psyche includes a plethora of contradictory impulses, including an awakening sexual awareness handled with delicacy and tact by this gifted author.”


How to Impress Editors and Get Published: Part 3


During my short stint as an editor, I developed sympathy for editors who’d rejected my work in the past. (Contact me for your free copy of Travelers’ Tales, the anthology I edited.)

While wielding the red pen, I learned what pleases and annoys editors. I’ve also gathered advice to writers from other editors. Here’s the final part of this 3-part blog.


After an editor is hooked on a writer’s work, she weighs its commercial potential. A Tor Books acquisitions editor put it this way: “We’re commercial. If your manuscript is your baby, if you won’t be willing to change it, then this type of writing isn’t for you.”

“Be willing to work with me on changes if the piece is almost right, but not quite there,” is an associate editor’s advice to writers targeting Tales from a Small Planet.

An executive editor at Simon & Schuster values “…a writer’s willingness to take constructive criticism and apply it to his or her work.”

Editors ask for revisions that will topple barriers to good communication between writer and readers and enhance the value and credibility of the work by fixing errors and smoothing out rough spots. “Don’t get upset when we reject or wish to change your article,” the editor of a global magazine said. “For the most part, we know our audience better than you do. We do this for a living, so take our word for it.” Thin-skinned, egotistic writers are a pain in the asterisk. Believe it or not, Jack Kerouac was a pain.

Kerouac dropped a manuscript off to his editor at Harcourt Brace. In spite of having published Kerouac’s first novel, Robert Giroux refused to read the uncorrected, original draft of On the Road. Kerouac declared that the Holy Ghost had touched his book. Giroux countered, “After you have been inspired by the Holy Ghost, you have to sit down and read your manuscript.” The novel needed revisions, in Giroux’ opinion. Kerouac refused to change a single word, denounced his editor and left in a rage. Who knows how far that power struggle set back Kerouac’s career?

“As two professionals,” said an editor at Houghton Mifflin, “you should be having a cooperative, constructive, ongoing relationship.”


Successful writers build good relationships with editors from the outset. Editors have lost my work, asked me to re-write articles only to reject them, introduced errors into my articles, and forgotten to pay me. Through it all, I kept in mind that editors are my customers and I’m their supplier. Hoping to work with those same editors in the future, I wrote courteous follow-up letters.

An editor at a major publishing house said this about the author/editor relationship: “Look at the editor as somebody who is going to be your most important critic. There has to be an extraordinary amount of trust between editor and author, which is fostered by a great deal of respect for each other.”

“Show respect for my time,” said Pat Samples. “I’ll be likely to show more interest in you and your work, and give you more of my time.”

John Wood, a magazine senior editor, described numerous ways to build and maintain good relationships with editors in his How to Write Attention-Grabbing Query & Cover Letters. He pointed out that writing prompt, specific thank you notes to editors after works have been published can “bond a relationship.”


Chemists talk about valences and isotopes; mechanics about torque and viscosity. As writers, we should be fluent in the technical and specialized vocabulary of our field. If you don’t know ARC from FNASR, don’t bug the editor. Look it up or ask another writer.

Editors working under deadlines and mountains of mail decide, “Does this piece fit our publication? Is this writing better than good? Is this writer a professional?”

Impress the editor and he’ll say, “Yes, yes and yes!”


When teen hormones and culture shock collide: Ken’s War

ken's war cover