Publishing Seminar!

Come Join us at Mercer County Community College on

Thursday, August 12th from 7-9 PM for our informative Publishing Seminar!

Three Women, Three Authors, Three Approaches to Publishing

You finally finished “The Great American Novel.” Maybe you’re putting the final touches on that children’s book you’ve been penning. Perhaps you want to publish your memoirs for posterity.
How do you go from typing on your computer to holding the finished book in your hands? Join authors Mary Fran Bontempo, Carmen Ferreiro Esteban and Chrysa Smith in this two-hour seminar as they share their interesting, maddening, but ultimately fulfilling experiences about writing and publishing their books using traditional, print-on-demand, and self-publishing methods.
Tuition and fees: $65

We’d love to share our hard-won knowledge with you!  This seminar will give you essential information to help you to get your work published.

For registration and more information, click on the link below.

How to break into print: Contests and Workshops

Writing a query letter and sending it to agents and editors is one way to get your work read. But it’s not the only way.

Submitting to literary contests, can be another option.

The Guide to Literary Agents ( is running one right now (from May 12 to May 26) for unpublished fantasy/SF adult/YA fiction novels.

To participate you must submit the first 150-200 words or your novel. If you are one of the three winners, the judge, Roseanne Wells (a literary agent at Marianne Strong Literary Agency) will critique the first 10 pages of your work.

Having finished a YA fantasy novel recently, the contest is just perfect for me. Not only because it gave me an excuse to postpone writing that dreary query letter, but because it forced me to polish my first page which I have also sent to the June Meet the Editors workshop (SCBWI Eastern PA chapter).

So don’t be shy and send yours too.

And if you happen to attend the workshop, please come and say hello.

Good luck.
Carmen Ferreiro Esteban

Three Women. Three Authors. Three Different Approaches to Publishing


I met Chrysa Smith at a book signing. We shared space and a blanket as the event was outside and the Pennsylvania weather unseasonably cold. In between talking with readers, we exchanged tips about writing and marketing and also our cards.

Mary Fran Bontempo I met later, a hot summer day at a Craft Fair. Together with Chrysa, we shared a tent and a good laugh or two, and by the end of the day, we were friends.

What we three had in common was a love of writing, and the determination to have our books known.

We had come to have our books in print by three different venues. I published my young adult novel Two Moon Princess through a traditional publisher. Chrysa self published hers, The Adventures of the Poodle Posse, for early readers. And Mary Fran used print on demand for Everyday Adventures a recompilation of her newspapers columns where she humorously ruminates about life.

As we talked with people that stopped by our tent, we came to realize that many would like to know of our experiences in the publishing world and thus the idea for our seminar was born.

Three Women. Three Authors. Three Different Approaches to Publishing is for all of you that have a manuscript finished but don’t know what to do next. It is a step by step guide to get your story into print by whichever venue you choose.

So if you are ready to start on the publishing trail but need a little push, this seminar is for you. Just check our sidebar to find out the one that better fits your schedule, or drop us an e-mail. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

A Book by Any Other Cover

 When I write a book, the characters and the setting of the story become very much alive and real in my mind.

DSC_0308For instance, when I was writing Two Moon Princess I knew Andrea had hazel eyes and brown hair and didn’t care much about clothes. I also knew how the arch she crosses in the forbidden beach to enter our world looked like. Exactly like the arch I had seen in the Cathedral Beach in northern Spain while growing up. 

When Two Moon Princess was bought for publication I imagined a cover that would include these two images: A brown haired girl by the arch. 

Two Moon Princess coverBut the decision was not mine to make. And when my editor sent me a copy of the cover of Two Moon Princess, I realized the artist’s vision and mine were different. The cover was beautiful but totally wrong for my imagining of the book. Two Moon Princess is a coming of age story peppered with adventure and romance, and thus, in my mind, it was a young adult book. The cover, on the other hand, was definitely Middle Grade.


TwoMoon_final_ver4_lowresSo imagine my excitement at the new cover I just received for the paperback edition of Two Moon Princess. In this version, Andrea stands on the beach with the two moons of her world in the background. The arch is still missing, but I think I can live with that.

What do you think?


Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

In Search of The perfect Query. Or How Far Would You Go to Get Published?

Carmen Ferreiro Esteban






Dear Publisher to Be,

Zamparo, this guy I met last night over at the Emporium, asked me to contact you if something bad happened to him. He’s dead now, back at the hotel, so I guess that qualifies as bad, and that’s why I’m sending this e-mail to you.

He said you might remember him as you two met last month at the Writers Workshop in Philadelphia and, I quote, “you were impressed with the first chapter of his manuscript, Publish or Perish.”

I’m attaching the complete manuscript to you now as he instructed me to do. Afterwards I will send a press release stating that you have it.

From then on, its fate and yours will be in your hands. Meaning that once they—the men that killed Zamparo—know, they will try their best to stop you from reading the story that would uncover them was it ever to become public. So, it seems, your best protection would be to publish it as soon as possible.

I would if I were you.

You see, Zamparo’s death will give the book free publicity. And with him being dead and all, you will be making all the profit.  What is there to lose except your life? As it will be at risk if you don’t publish his manuscript.

Besides, Zamparo deserves to be heard. He was a nice guy, and he really wanted his book published even if he had to perish to make that happen.

As for me, don’t worry, I’m nobody, just a messenger that never existed but in your mind, and soon will be

Gone forever,


For those of you who wouldn’t want to go that far to get your book published (dying is after all kind of irreversible), here is a link to the Preditors and Editors’ website where you will find expert advice on what an editor is looking for in a query:

From my own experience:

The perfect query is the one that sells your book, whether it’s perfect or not is a matter of opinion.

Make your query professional, but not boring. 

Make it engaging, original, AND specific to your story. To do this, you may try to:

            Write the query in the voice of your character,

            Start with your first paragraph,

            Or ask the question(s) your book answers (this works best for non fiction).

And when you are absolutely, positively sure that your query is ready, send it to Query Shark ( for a critique.

Good luck and Good Writing

Carmen Ferreiro Esteban

In Search of the Perfect Query

Carmen Ferreiro Esteban





Dear Agent Number Three,

I just finished writing my new novel, All Agents Are Fools and So Are You Too, and was wondering if you’d like to represent me.

I hope you are smarter than the previous two agents I queried as they sent me a standard rejection letter. Obviously, either they didn’t read my novel or they were too stupid to appreciate it.

On the other hand, the members of my Book Club, all seasoned readers, couldn’t put it down and agreed it is a most excellent novel, destined to become a bestseller and/or win the Pulitzer Prize.

All Agents Are Fools and So Are You Too is a complex story that defies summarization. So I will not attempt to do so. Instead I’m sending it to you here as an attachment. I would recommend that you print it (it is only two thousands pages short) and take it home with you so you can appreciate it in full.

I will call you tomorrow at dinner time on your cell phone to see if you have received it.

Looking forward to signing your contract.

Yours truly, 

Best Author Ever


As I promised to Bella Nona, this blog is about queries.

A query is probably the most difficult piece of writing you’d ever attempt. But write it you must, if you want to lure an agent into reading your manuscript.

My first advice about writing a query is that you take your time. If you have already invested one, two, three years writing your novel, what are a few more weeks of waiting while you perfect your query?

After all, you don’t want your query to read like the one above, now, do you?

What is wrong with that query? you wonder.

Well, although there is nothing grammatically incorrect with it, some agents may find it a little too aggressive. Others could take offense at your insulting two of their colleagues. They may even know them personally and that would be embarrassing.

Also agents do like the query letter to include a summary of the book, and most do not accept e-mails with attachments unless they have requested them. And, believe it or not, they don’t like to be bothered while having dinner.

You only have about 250 words to convey the awesomeness of your book. Make every word count and get rid of superfluous ones. Adjectives and adverbs are prime suspects here, and should be ‘mercilessly’ eliminated. For instance, you don’t need to say you finished a ‘new’ novel. If you just finished it, could it be any other thing but new?

So now that we know what not to say in a query, I will proceed to write a perfect one, or at least a ‘perfectly serious’ one, and post it here next week.

 Until then, enjoy your writing.

 Carmen Ferreiro Esteban

And Then There Were None

Thoughts on writing, publishing and other things….

CBR002358 I used to be a newspaper columnist.

I say “used to be” because two weeks ago, the last  of several papers for which I wrote a weekly humor column slipped quietly away, like so many newspapers before it.

When a good thing goes softly into that sweet night, the feelings are many:  sadness, disappointment, frustration, and in this case, a certain resignation.

I’ve known for a long time that the moniker of newspaper columnist was a fleeting one.  Let’s face it–I’m writing to you now on the internet, and if you’re reading, it’s on the internet as well, no ink involved.  But even though I knew it was coming, I find myself mourning the passing of newspapers, not only because of my personal involvement as a writer, but as a reader, too.

There’s something about holding a newspaper in my hands first thing in the morning that grounds me, somehow connects me to the world more directly than reading words on a computer screen.  For some reason, those writing for a newspaper feel closer, seem more real to me than the anonymous authors floating around in cyberspace.

I realize that it’s all about perception, and mourning aside, I will survive, as will those other writers, provided they utilize this amazing tool known as the internet.

Most important, as Chrysa pointed out in the previous post (read it; it’s a good one!), we have to tell our stories.  No matter the venue, we must continue to talk, or write, and communicate.  It’s not only essential to our growth as individuals, it’s essential for the survival of the planet.  And obviously, the internet provides limitless opportunities to be heard which won’t wilt or fall apart in a rain storm.

I’ll miss my newspapers, but I’m more determined than ever to keep writing.  With any luck, I’ll reach more readers and perhaps save a few trees in the process.   And that’s a trade I’m willing to make.

Check out Mary Fran’s website at

A Killer Beginning

Pearl DSC_0015

by Carmen Ferreiro Esteban

A killer beginning doesn’t guarantee publication but may be your only chance to catch the editor’s attention.

With publishers receiving thousands of manuscripts/queries every month, it is a mathematical impossibility that they read them all. If you are lucky, an overworked editor will pick yours and read your first line. In those precious seconds the future of that novel you worked so hard to create hang in the balance. It is that first line that will determine whether he/she will read more or discard your submission to the reject pile together with your dreams.

The importance of the first page is no secret. First Page readings are a part of most Writers conferences and workshops. In them, editors/publishers read different first pages and explain why or why not they would keep reading.

Over the years, I have collected a list of things editors look for on a first page. Among them: memorable, relatable characters, engaging story telling, and a good sense of place. Editors, tell us, want to be tickled, surprised, transported to another place and time. They want to know by the end of the first page to whom, when, where and why this is happening and they want to care enough about your characters that they cannot stop reading.

Also, I almost forgot, they want the piece to have a voice, that elusive element “they recognize when they see it.”

Not bad, for a mere 250 words.

Never to be discouraged, last year I decided to create a perfect first page following all the advice above and send the resulting creation to a local workshop. It worked. They chose my piece and, apart from some minor tinkering the three editors like it well enough.

But my triumph was short lived. My first page was perfect, thank you very much, but I had no idea where to go from there.

So this year I decided to go the traditional way and write the story first. I sent my first page to the same workshop. This time they didn’t choose it. I didn’t mind. Not too much, anyway. I know I am on the right track. The story is strong in my mind, the characters are speaking to me, and the setting is gorgeous. I have even found my voice.

So, for now, I’ll stick to the writing and worry about creating that perfect beginning when I’m done.

In the meantime, I leave you with several killing beginnings taken from published books I and other readers have added to a thread I started some months ago at Goodreads. You can check them at:

You are welcome to add yours there or here as comments.

And don’t forget to keep writing.