July 20

Birthdays: Cormac McCarthy (1933), Henry L. Dumas (1934), Kenneth Grahame (1859), Martin Provensen (1916), Alistair MacLeod (1936), Erik Axel Karlfeldt (1864), Jess Walter (1965)

Tip: A query letter has to sell your book to an editor or agent in just a couple short paragraphs. Be succinct but include all pertinent information including any publishing experience you have, a short blurb of the book giving the main characters, the conflict, the ending, and any marketing ideas you have.

Thought for the day: “The indulgent 800-page books that were written a hundred years ago are just not going to be written anymore and people need to get used to that. If you think you’re going to write something like The Brothers Karamazov or Moby Dick, go ahead. Nobody will read it. I don’t care how good it is, or how smart the readers are. Their intentions, their brains are different.” – Cormac McCarthy

Jumpstart: On July 20, 1985, Mel Fisher’s crew found the sunken Atocha off the Florida coast. The wreck was loaded with silver, gold, and emeralds. Pretend you’re with them as they bring up the bounty. How do you feel? What do you do with your share of the loot? Or… for a twist, pretend you’re back in time, on the ship. What happened?

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