Jenny Garden


The Last Days

December 9, 2016

Tags: lovelyholidays

Many writers are having their say, but I find myself at a loss for words these days. Maybe I just used all of them up finishing a bit over 50,000 before the end of November and the NaNoWriMo. But it was hard to find those words after the results came in from the November 8 election, and I can't find any now. Well, maybe one. HELP!

But we must go on, even if it is only to bear witness to the slow-motion suicide of our democracy. Not, I hope of our beautiful country.

I wish you all the happiness of the lovely holidays ahead. I hope the love and joy and goodwill of the season will blot out for a time the frightening ugliness of the days just past and those we will have to face in the coming year. And keep on writing from your heart!


November 3, 2016

Tags: Cubs, NaNoWriMo

It really is too much in one week, let alone one month. In the middle of a very upsetting and weird election that will culminate on November 8, we have a nail-biting World Series, and to top it all off, the National Novel Writing Month (better known as NaNoWriMo) for which to tap out 50,000 words by November 30. And two important family birthdays for me, besides.

So when is there time to write? Hint: (more…)

Hello, hello?

October 7, 2016

Tags: contests, literaryfiction

An entire year of monthly blog posts! And not one comment? Where is everybody?

Maybe you've all been doing what you're supposed to be doing: writing. And so have I. Those short story collections I wrote about in my last post? There were three altogether, plus a ghost story contest and an "It has to be told" short story contest that I couldn't resist.

Enter any contest, and you are already a winner. And here's why: (more…)

Earth to Jenny

September 4, 2016

Tags: shortstorycontests, rewriterules

I've been away so long I had trouble finding my way back. I learned that many agents take vacations in August, so I did, too, and pursued something entirely different.

Interest seems to be in the upswing for short story collections and contests. If you have several short stories, this is the time to gather them together and polish them to a fine glow. And that's how I spent my August.

Here are six rules I discovered to pass along:



June 28, 2016

Tags: queryguidelines/literaryagencies

Did you know that it takes almost as much creativity to craft a great query letter as to write a book? And there are tricks that I'd never heard of until I found former agent Mark Malatesta's website, Unlike many other such websites that post teasers and then charge for their information and/or advice, his is solid and free, and you can even ask questions that he will answer. He does offer coaching for a fee, but that's it.

I'd been sending out queries with no luck. Following his queryguidelines, I dove in headfirst to query a top agent and guess what? I got a two-day response and a request for my first ten pages. How is that for a recommendation?


May 25, 2016

Tags: conferencereport, HOCM, WIWC

Did you miss me? During the past month I attended the Windsor International Writers Conference (WIWC) in Canada; visited family far from my Seattle home; made a side trip to Ann Arbor's Hands On Children's Museum (HOCM)—an incredible place for grown-ups, too; began unraveling after all that traveling; was forced by warm weather to switch from winter to summer clothes—no small project in cramped quarters; and believe it or not, I'm still working on the novel that I thought was finished 20,000 words ago. Whew! Of course, what you're looking for is the conference report, so here we go. (more…)


April 28, 2016

Tags: WindsorInternationalWritersConference

Yes, I know. It's been a while. Again. But I've been trying to finish—really finish—my novel before taking off for the Windsor writer's conference. If you are one of those fortunate geniuses who never needs to rewrite ("Are you still working on that same book?" asked a friend), a chronology of this novel might cast some light on the process.

In 2011: 51,000 words for NaNoWriMo
2012-2013: Left it sleeping on my Mac
2013: Began rewriting
2014-2015: Beta readers (all my family) and beta readers (eight acquaintances) and a professional beta reader. Rewriting, rewriting rewriting.
2016: Professional edit. Rewriting. Another edit. More rewriting.
Now: 83,500 words and counting


March 24, 2016

Tags: WIWC, writingcontests

It's been a while since I've written, but this time I have a really good excuse: I have been preparing for the WIWC. What's that? The Windsor International Writers Conference that will be taking place May 5 through 8 in Windsor, Canada—so you still have time to register (go to This one is jam-packed with good stuff, including (more…)


March 7, 2016

Tags: yourownediting

I don't have much that's original to say about doing your own editing. After the fifth time, it becomes a pain, but a pain that must be endured. It was Jonathan Swift who wrote: Blot out, correct, insert, refine/ Enlarge, diminish, interline/ Be mindful, when invention fails/ To scratch your head, and bite your nails.

I'll bet you didn't know there was a committee formed to make editing suggestions to the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson refused to submit his work. (more…)


February 23, 2016

Tags: homewriting, SinclairLewis

It's worth repeating—the story that Sinclair Lewis was to lecture about the craft of writing to a college class of aspiring writers. He began by asking: "How many of you are really serious about being writers?" All hands shot up. "Well, why the hell aren't you all home writing?" And he walked out.

Other versions say he sat down. Whatever he did, that was the end of the lecture.

While you're writing at home or elsewhere, please comment to let me know what you'd like to see on my blog. Has it been useful so far?

Selected Works

Practical suggestions to help the reader avoid the pitfalls of a divorce lawsuit.
A lighthearted but thorough explanation of the holiday in a picture book for young children.