Monthly Archives: June 2011

Sea no evil, here no evil

A writers group in Las Vegas invited me to speak on the Ps and Qs of Publishing, to help them navigate through the very confusing world of getting a manuscript published. In addition to explaining the plethora of options now available, I discussed the query letter, the synopsis,  common submission guidelines, and most important, the major reasons a manuscript is accepted or rejected.

Surprisingly, one of the top contenders for rejection is not the genre, the page or word count, or even the writing style. Manuscripts get turned down more often than not because the query (or cover) letter and/or synopsis have spelling and typographical errors! Why in the world would an agent or publisher believe a submission is the next great American novel when the author’s letter for submission isn’t edited or proofread? Such a simple task – yet so frequently overlooked.

According to spell-check, my title is “right,” but it is so wrong. So PLEASE, I beg you, don’t monkey around. Don’t rely on spell-check, and DO get an editor!

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I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Sometimes I feel like I am talking to the wall … writers who believe their manuscript is ready for submission after writing it, using spell-check, and showing it to a friend (or Mom). PLEASE read what another editor has to say!


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A book that fell into my lap

‘Girl Who Fell From the Sky’ a beautiful debut novel
Posted by Jami Carpenter, Las Vegas Review-Journal guest reviewer
Wednesday, Jun. 01, 2011 at 05:00 AM

It’s difficult to imagine enjoying a story about family violence, especially involving the deaths of small children, and at the hands of their own mother. It’s even more disturbing to discover the story is based on a true event.

Yet in “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky,” first-time author Heidi Durrow has managed to write a compelling, sensitive novel, treating the subject of domestic abuse and both perpetrator and victims with grace and respect.

Rachel is the only survivor of a terrible tragedy played out on the rooftop of the apartment building where she lived with her mother and younger siblings. Durrow tells the story of her survival and the years following through Rachel’s own eyes, as well as through a neighbor boy who witnesses the family’s final moments.

Back and forth, from past to present, from young girl to young boy, Durrow paints a picture of a mother’s anxiety living in a world she can’t control or even comprehend.

As the child of a blond-haired blue-eyed Danish mother and black father, Rachel’s mulatto status is a thread that runs throughout the story. She struggles to find her identity, exploring the parallel worlds of black and white societies, reflecting much of Durrow’s own issues as a biracial child. As Rachel uncovers the truth about the tragedy, of which she has no memory, she comes to understand and accept her past.

“The Girl Who Fell From the Sky” is a story of violence told with tenderness, of love told with honesty, and ultimately, of forgiveness.

Jami Carpenter is a freelance editor for Stephens Press, former host of Vegas PBS Book Club talk show, and co-author of “Education in the Neon Shadow.”

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