Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Queries and Queens

Q-day in the A to Z Challenge and today, the theme is Queries and Queens.

Yesterday I mentioned the complexities of human behavior and emotions, how motivation is different for different people, how different people cope with similar situations, how novelists strive to write engaging—saleable—books. Today I share how one woman helped me cope when I finished my first novel and started to query.

A query is a letter, a business letter, in which the author pitches his/her work to an editor/agent in hopes of garnering enough interest to prompt a request for a look at part, or all, of the novel. Simple, right?


Not really.

It's an odd paradox, but often the same author that writes 400 pages of compelling, heart-warming or pulse-pounding storyline, is paralyzed by the thought of tapping out a 400-word, one-page letter that condenses not only the entire novel to a one or two-sentence prevue, but promotes the author's credentials. Say what?

For the multi-published photo-journalist who's authored a novel featuring a photo-journalist caught up in international intrigue, or the criminal defense attorney whose main character is a defense attorney framed for murder, well, selling the creds is not as big a stretch as for, say, the stay-at-home mom whose novel shares the trials and tribulations of a Regency-era heroine forced to marry her nemesis in order to prevent him bankrupting her father. Or is it?

In truth, the only credentials a fiction author needs are good grammar, great characters, proficient execution, distinct style, persistence, and most importantly, positive attitude, belief in one's self, good friends, and thick skin. Without the latter qualities, the former are moot.

If writing a novel is hard, and crafting query letters daunting, receiving rejections to said query letters is absolutely demoralizing. That is where the positive attitude, belief in one's self, good friends, and thick skin comes in.

For the most part, I have a positive attitude. I believe in myself, and my writing. And I'm developing a hide a rhinoceros would envy, in part, because of a good friend who anointed me Queen, Rejection Queen.

To ease the unease and torment of sending query letters and receiving rejections, a friend and fellow writer in the the throes of querying challenged me to a contest, the Rejection Queen contest.

Rejection letters were no longer symbols of failure, but evidence of success—we were putting ourselves out there, tallying up the proof that we were serious about, and dedicated to, our craft. And that simple twist turned what could have been a traumatic venture, into an extraordinary adventure.

That friend, kc dyer went on to publication, and I to the paid workforce where I temporarily—okay, for ten years—abandoned my publication quest. But as I haul out my novels, finished and conceived, and prepare to resume my quest, I find I am better armored, with experience, and the strength of good friends, one who would name me Queen.

The elusive, estimable, and intrepid kc dyer. Photo by Deborah


The emotions are not always subject to reason...but they are always subject to action. When thoughts do not neutralize an undesirable emotion, action will. ~William James


Lara said...

kc told this story at the 2011 SiWC--how am I just now finding out you were the Rejection Queen?! :)

Deborah said...

LOL. I, um, put the crown in storage for a few...long...years. :)