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Dear Writer:

You are officially invited to my Query Party.

What is a Query Party, you ask?

Well, a Query Party is an opportunity to replace the idea of querying as an onerous task with – yes, you guessed it – a PARTY!

Anybody want to play? Come on, you know you do…

There are several advantages:

1. You get lots of query letters out there. After all, industry advice is to ‘query widely,’ and the more good queries you send, the more likely you are to connect with your special agent.

DISCLAIMER: Before any stray agents come by my house to perform a drive by shooting, let me clarify. Querying widely does not mean sending out blanket queries to every agent you can find. It does not mean sending one email query with 300 agents CC’d, addressed to “Hey You,” or even “Dear Agent.” It does mean researching agents to make sure they are a good potential fit for what you are sending, and making sure you have a professional letter to send.

2. You get to feel virtuous about having done something to promote your work and get it published. And eat lots of candy. Don’t forget that, because it’s important. Buy your favorite snacks. Lay in a supply of good music. This is a fun day. Indulge yourself. (Just save the alcoholic beverages for later. Drunk querying is not recommended.)

3. You beat the post-November onslaught of crazed Nanowrimo completers who will flood agent slush piles in December with ill written queries. We do not want to query stressed and grumpy agents. If we could, we would provide rainbows and bluebirds and perfect chocolate to every agent who is about to read our queries. Some of you may have these magic powers. I do not. In their absence, I will try to query wisely.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not talking about responsible authors getting writing done with Nano. I love Nanowrimo. I’m talking about the idiots who apparently complete the rough draft and throw it in the mail without the re-reading, proofreading, beta reading and editing that are always necessary before moving to submission.


Where: Why, wherever you choose to be. At home, at work, at the library or the coffee shop.

When:   Friday, November 6. Begin at 6 am, and stop at 6 pm.

Stop in here anytime during the day to report progress, ask questions, seek support or share candy.  If you’re on twitter, by all means hang out all day. You’ll find me there as @uppington.  Look for the hashtag #queryparty.

And that’s all folks. I hope you’ll join me. Now it is time to get back to my turtle paced revisions.

It’s official. I am sticking with my resolution to stay out of the Nanowrimo Amusement Park this year.

This saddens me. I feel like a kid on the wrong side of the fence, watching the other kids buying cotton candy and lining up for the roller coaster. But, I am determined to be a responsible writer and stay with my WIP. This is the right decision, I know it is, but it’s a difficult one. I love Swimming North, but it is at the Hard Work Stage. Everything about it is difficult. All of those little plot problems and character inconsistencies about which I waved my hand dismissively with promises to “fix it later,” are now lined up in battle formation, ready to kick my procrastinating ass.

Surrender is tempting.

I imagine waving a white flag and declaring myself beaten:

The story is too big for me. The surreal is too surreal. The writing is inadequate. Nobody will care enough about the characters. Give up. Walk away. Try again with another book and see if you can do better.

But I am not wired for surrender. Too much of Grandpa George, my formidable Norwegian ancestor, flows through my veins. No matter how great the odds – in the face of adversity I cling with claws and teeth to a goal and carry on.

Now that I’ve cleared that piece of over written drama from my brain, let me get back to my original purpose for this blog post.

Anybody else taking a pass on Nanowrimo this year? Misery loves company. Or better yet, let’s have a Non-Nanowrimo Party Month. Declare yourself if you have a goal to complete, or if you just want to hang out while watching the fun go by.

Me? Why yes, I have a goal. I plan to be ready to query this novel by the end of the month. Take that, novel! I have a keyboard, and I mean to use it.

I have very little to say today.

It’s Friday, in case nobody has noticed.  My weekend has started early – at 8:30 this morning, to be precise.  Now don’t be jealous – I’ve earned it. My on call shifts have been – interesting – lately, and I am exhausted.

Still, I have dragged myself to this blog site, (cue cartoon of half dead character crossing a bone littered desert, vultures circling, trying to reach the last Oasis) for the sole purpose of checking in with everybody else and seeing what is going on in your various writing worlds.

Not a lot of writing for me this week, but I’m still chipping away at Swimming North, while continuing the query process with Filling in the Blanks. The WIP has taken some interesting liberties with its own structure and story line, as I mentioned previously. As it turns out, I thoroughly approve of the direction things are headed.  As usual, the writing knew what it was talking about.

Since I really am grasping for words this morning, I’d like to share a couple of other blogs with you.

First, for some hilarious takes on the whole query process, go to Julie Butcher’s website and check out the guest posts on the Seven Stages of Query Grief. (The link should take you to # five, anger.  Make sure to go back and read the others, as they are truly funny and insightful.)

Second, another publishing blog I ran across recently is the often darkly irreverent The Rejecter, subtitled “I don’t hate you. I just hate your query letter.”  Good insights into what might be going through the mind of a Query Reader.

So, now, to the challenge. What are your plans for your WIP? I think it’s about time we shared some specific, time anchored goals for what we’re working on and where we are going.  Unfortunately, as soon as I wrote that sentence, I realized I haven’t got such a goal.

Honestly, my goal for the weekend is to do as little as possible while keeping my head in the creative novel space, editing and formatting the WADMHP newsletter, doing regular household chores, and getting three teenage boys ready for the first day of school on Monday.  Beyond that, I’m not prepared to think.

I hope the rest of you are braver and more organized. Please dive in.  Don’t be shy.  Maybe you’ll inspire me and others in the writing world.

Yesterday morning I had a visitation of the mind monkeys.  You know the ones I mean: they drop in unannounced, stomp on all of your shiny new ideas, tear things up and leave slimy banana peels all over your outlook for the day. The fact that they showed up is not surprising.  They used to live here.

I didn’t realize, until they burst on the scene yesterday morning, that they’d actually been out wreaking havoc elsewhere.  In my writer brain over the last week or so there has been mostly contentment, pleasure in the work at hand, inspiration, excitement, and enthusiasm.  Rather than sulking in corners, my muse has been throwing flowers and candy my way.  Mind you, her aim is bad and she often bops me in the nose with something hard or prickly, but she’s been forthcoming and almost cooperative.

When the mind monkeys reappeared, it was immediately clear that absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder.  I prefer to write without them.  It’s nice to venture through the door to work with plot ideas simmering or the brain running searches for that perfect but elusive word.  Too much energy gets tied up in trying to mitigate the mind monkey damage.

Check this out:

“ Our minds–made up of our thoughts, beliefs, and self-talk–are always “on.” According to scientists, we have about 60,000 thoughts a day. That’s one thought per second during every waking hour. No wonder we’re so tired at the end of the day!
And what’s even more startling is that of those 60,000 thoughts, 95 percent are the same thoughts you had yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. Your mind is like a record player playing the same record over and over again… Talk about being stuck in a rut…
Still, that wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the next statistic: for the average person, 80 percent of those habitual thoughts arenegative. That means that every day most people have more than 45,000 negative thoughts… Dr. Daniel Amen, a world-renowned psychiatrist and brain imaging specialist, calls them automatic negative thoughts, or ANTs.” ~ Marci Shimoff from Happy for No Reason

My goal for this weekend?  Keep out the mind monkeys.  Oh, sure – they can be entertaining – but the writing goes so much better without them.  Somebody, I think it was Joseph Campbell, said “never complete a negative thought.”  I’m trying to create an awareness – catching those thoughts as they are going through my brain and changing them to positive. Optimism and consistent effort, those are the tools for me.

Yes, I’m bound to relapse.  I’m sure I’ll be seen here before too long, whining about this or that rejection, or how the writing isn’t working out.  You have permission to throw banana peels at me.


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