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Anne Stephenson
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Avid reader, writer of comtemporary romance, mysteries for young readers & anything else that catches my fancy! www.annestephensonwriter.com
Avid reader, writer of comtemporary romance, mysteries for young readers & anything else that catches my fancy! www.annestephensonwriter.com

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High Noon at Camp Etobicokee!

"The Parent Trap, the movie that had every girl desperately wanting to be an identical twin, had opened in Toronto two weeks earlier..."

For some inexplicable reason, hostilities were declared the moment Susan and I first laid eyes on each other. I blame Hayley Mills!

http://www.annestephensonwriter.com/2018/07/08/high-noon-at-camp-etobicokee/
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Susan Brown & I not only co-author romances together as Stephanie Browning, we also write for kids, too! (And did I mention mysteries for aadults?) The covers below are all by Heather McIntyre at Cover&Layout.

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The Nottingham Connection...between my real-life copper and crimewriter John Harvey's fictional one!

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How to write a "pitch-perfect" query letter...

I once had a creative writing student with a marketable manuscript who was absolutely convinced that no one would ever look at her work. She had no writing experience, no publishing history, and no connections. But she did have a PhD in Microbiology, a penchant for pigs in tights, and an adoring audience of preschoolers. Now I don’t know about you, but that combination alone would pique my curiosity.

And that’s what you want in a query letter.

It's a one-shot, one-page opportunity to grab an editor’s attention and convince them that you, and your work, are worth looking at. Given the huge numbers of writers out there these days, you’re competing for a very small piece of the pie.

So make sure you are directing your query, be it email or online submission, to the appropriate editor; that the magazine and/or publishing house is the right one for you, and that your market information is up-to-date.

Pretty basic stuff, but after a year – or two – writing, editing and polishing your manuscript, even a simple mistake can lower the odds.  Nobody knows your story as well as you do, but you have to be able to describe it in one or two paragraphs and hit all the right notes:  concept, conflict and characters.

And should you have already met the editor you're approaching at a conference or a workshop, do mention it. It never hurts to have a connection no matter how small it is.  Failing which, find an angle which makes you and what you have to offer unique.

Be brief, be professional, include all your contact information and other details, like word count and series potential, list any publishing credits you may have, then close with a hook -- and wait.

If you haven't heard back after a reasonable amount of time (opinions vary on what constitutes a “reasonable amount of time" from six weeks to six months), find a way to remind the editor who you are and what your project is.

Case in point: I had written a query letter to a major publisher and received a request to submit a synopsis and the first three chapters of my novel. Which I did. I was also keen to establish a relationship and keep the process moving so I followed up with an email about six weeks later.

Here’s my opening paragraph:

“While I realize it’s a bit soon for a response to the first three chapters of Remember This, I thought I should let you know (were you to request the complete manuscript) that I’ll be in the U.K. until early April, visiting family and walking in the footsteps of my latest main character, thirty-year-old silver expert Gillian Maxwell.”

I went on to “pitch” my new story in the second and third paragraphs with a reference back to the book currently under review. I didn’t sell that original submission, but this second letter prompted another reply and another request.

And as soon as I finish that manuscript, I'll be on to the next.

Good luck with yours!
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Writing 101: The Reboot
By Anne Stephenson

Other than a naively romantic notion that being a foreign correspondent would be cool, I had no plans to be a writer. But when it came time to choose a university, typical teenager that I was, I went for the one furthest from home.
Journalism has served me well – or at least, kept me semi-employed for years while I dabbled in fiction, raised a family, and worked freelance.
And then, silly me, I retired. Chucked it all in, moved to the country, and daydreamed about writing the great Canadian novel while my husband and I refurbished our 1860’s farmhouse.
But the muse does nag. With impeccable timing. In the interim, self-publishing had become legitimate, and there I was with a couple of manuscripts in the drawer and a backlist of traditionally-published short stories, feature articles and mysteries for kids. I had “skin in the game.”
And one hell of a lot to learn.
Unfortunately, everything from social media and website design, to author branding and securing my publishing rights, kept me from what I really wanted to do! So I put it all to one side, delved into the “archives,” and came up with the first draft of a short mystery I’d written a few years back.
I’d called it Bitter End. A 3,000-word tale of revenge (my favourite motive) involving best friends and an errant husband with questionable…assets. My guy loved it. Buoyed by his support, I sent it to Mystery Weekly Magazine and they bought it.
It felt good.
But here’s the really interesting bit. In early August, I received an email from an E. Michael Helms. A bit of a detective is Michael. He’d found a copy of Bitter End in his inbox (I swear it wasn’t me!), enjoyed it, noted the spelling as being either Canadian or British, and tracked me down via my website, and asked me to guest post.
Sounds like http://MotiveMeansOpportunity.wordpress.com is in good hands!

A freelance writer and journalist, Anne Stephenson’s first crime fiction appeared in Cold Blood IV, a long-running anthology edited by Peter Sellers. Her other credits include reviewing crime and mystery novels for The Ottawa Citizen, writing books for nine-to-12 year olds, and the odd bit of scriptwriting.
Anne’s most recent releases are: Paper Treasure, originally published by General Paperbacks; and Something’s Fishy at Ash Lake, written with long-time friend and co-author Susan Brown. Both titles are available on Amazon
In the meantime, the reboot continues at: annestephensonwriter.com




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The Story Behind Paper Treasure
 
I’d been dawdling over the morning paper, sipping a cup of coffee and reading the business section — anything to avoid the blank page waiting for me upstairs — when suddenly I struck “story gold!”

A newly-formed Canadian company had its eye on an abandoned mine and, with the price of gold at an all-time high, was trying to find the original shareholders. The trouble was the old mine had been closed for so long, most of them didn’t even remember where their certificates were, let alone what they were worth…and without a majority ownership, the new company would be out of business before they even started.

This was exactly the story nugget I’d been looking for to jumpstart my latest mystery for middle readers. I had my main characters, 13-year-old Charlie Bradford, his annoyingly cute younger brother Joey, and Lisa Kirby, the girl next door.

Charlie’s grandfather had died six weeks earlier, and the book opens with the Bradfords coming back to Colville for the summer to pack up Malcolm Rossitor’s belongings and put the house on the market.

But for Charlie, selling the house is like selling memories….

          When he was little, he used to spin his grandfather’s globe with his eyes closed. Then he’d stop it with his finger and try to guess which continent he was touching before he opened his eyes.

            Once he’d had his finger on France, and his grandfather had told him all about World War Two and how he and five other Canadian soldiers had hidden in a barn in France for two days surrounded by enemy troops.

            “Weren’t you scared?” Charlie had asked him.

            “Aye,” said his grandfather, “but when you’re with your friends even the worst times don’t seen so bad.”

Especially when one of those friends has a secret.  The week before he was shipped overseas, Archie Spencer had been  prospecting for gold in northern Ontario.  He’d found it, but it was too late to register his claim.  There was nothing he could do but keep his mouth shut.

Until now.  The six men made a pact.  Whoever made it home would give Archie the stake he needed to make his claim.  They’d all be equal partners in The Treasure Creek Gold Mine.

Ten years later, the gold had petered out.

It hadn’t, of course, but the cost of getting it out of the ground had gone up faster than the value of the gold!  And not just for my fictional shareholders.

It took years, but when mining became profitable again, those old share certificates became Paper Treasure, and I had my story.  Complete with dividends.

All Charlie had to do was track down his grandfather’s old partners before they were tricked into selling their shares, save his brother from a thief who will stop at nothing to get his hands on The Treasure Creek Gold Mine, and hope that Lisa will still go to the movies with him when it’s all over!

Piece of cake.
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The Story Behind Paper Treasure
 
I’d been dawdling over the morning paper, sipping a cup of coffee and reading the business section — anything to avoid the blank page waiting for me upstairs — when suddenly I struck “story gold!”

A newly-formed Canadian company had its eye on an abandoned mine and, with the price of gold at an all-time high, was trying to find the original shareholders. The trouble was the old mine had been closed for so long, most of them didn’t even remember where their certificates were, let alone what they were worth…and without a majority ownership, the new company would be out of business before they even started.

This was exactly the story nugget I’d been looking for to jumpstart my latest mystery for middle readers. I had my main characters, 13-year-old Charlie Bradford, his annoyingly cute younger brother Joey, and Lisa Kirby, the girl next door.

Charlie’s grandfather had died six weeks earlier, and the book opens with the Bradfords coming back to Colville for the summer to pack up Malcolm Rossitor’s belongings and put the house on the market.

But for Charlie, selling the house is like selling memories….

          When he was little, he used to spin his grandfather’s globe with his eyes closed. Then he’d stop it with his finger and try to guess which continent he was touching before he opened his eyes.

            Once he’d had his finger on France, and his grandfather had told him all about World War Two and how he and five other Canadian soldiers had hidden in a barn in France for two days surrounded by enemy troops.

            “Weren’t you scared?” Charlie had asked him.

            “Aye,” said his grandfather, “but when you’re with your friends even the worst times don’t seen so bad.”

Especially when one of those friends has a secret.  The week before he was shipped overseas, Archie Spencer had been  prospecting for gold in northern Ontario.  He’d found it, but it was too late to register his claim.  There was nothing he could do but keep his mouth shut.

Until now.  The six men made a pact.  Whoever made it home would give Archie the stake he needed to make his claim.  They’d all be equal partners in The Treasure Creek Gold Mine.

Ten years later, the gold had petered out.

It hadn’t, of course, but the cost of getting it out of the ground had gone up faster than the value of the gold!  And not just for my fictional shareholders.

It took years, but when mining became profitable again, those old share certificates became Paper Treasure, and I had my story.  Complete with dividends.

All Charlie had to do was track down his grandfather’s old partners before they were tricked into selling their shares, save his brother from a thief who will stop at nothing to get his hands on The Treasure Creek Gold Mine, and hope that Lisa will still go to the movies with him when it’s all over!

Piece of cake.
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Two writers, two countries & three hours apart...!

For a light-hearted look back at how longtime friends & co-authors Susan Brown & Anne Stephenson work together, click on the link below!
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