Quality Query 101: Resumé for Readership | Publishing

A Quality Query Gets You a Job:
Write a Query That Says, “You Want to Hire Me”

You write a query letter to introduce a piece of your writing, hoping a publisher will produce and sell it. You may send a query directly to an editor who acts as a representative of his/her publishing house or to an agent. On your end, an agent is an employment specialist charged with getting you a job. For an editor, an agent is like a scout who lightens the editor’s load by bringing them “the best.” If we assume you want to publish your book and you can “sell” your book to an agent, the agent can sell your book and you to an editor. So, you will want to create the best query you can, one that will be among the best of the queries an agent receives.

An agent cannot guarantee a publisher will accept your work, but may streamline your effort. A good agent has a basic understanding of contract law, quality writing, and trends in readers’ tastes. More importantly, a good agent has built strong relationships with editors by referring writers to them that meet the desires and expectations of each one’s respective publishing house. If you want your work published, you want a good agent, a successful agent. Agents who want to succeed naturally want to work with writers who will succeed. If you don’t show an agent a quality query, they won’t want to work with you. However, if your query comes off as a good resumé, an agent will want to work with you because they see you have good potential for being “hired.”

A Quality Query Sustains Your Employment:
Write a Query That Says, “I’m Worth Checking Out”

To develop your skill at writing the best queries, begin by evaluating a query you have already written. You can measure a query’s quality within various frameworks. I prefer two, in particular. One of these methods for evaluating your query requires recognizing that an agent looks upon the query as a potential reader. To maximize the benefits of that recognition, you must understand that all communication, even that for entertainment, informs. Therefore, every author is a professor and every reader is a student. Every book is a course and every encounter builds the relationship between professor and student, author and reader. Your query introduces you as the professor and your book as the course.

Have you ever read a course catalog for continuing or community education? They are selling the school or community. They want your money. They want you to sign up for more than one course. They want you to think they are desirable and cool and they will help you be the same. Descriptions for courses, especially, are like reading vacation brochures. Your query is your course description. After all, those professors are not on salary. Neither are you. They usually get paid per course. Usually a school or whoever is sponsoring the course will cancel it if the course’s enrollment does not meet a pre-determined smallest class size. Furthermore, the “employer” often uses the number of students who actually show up for the course as part of their equation to calculate how much to pay the professor. So, guess what? You are not getting paid unless you convince people with your query that if they enroll in your “book,” you will lead them to a life-enriching destination.

Are you confused and wondering if you must set your story in Aruba or Jamaica? You think about some great books you’ve read and realize I must not mean that because I have no reason to lie to you. So, just what do I mean by “a life-enriching destination”? Every student who willfully approaches a course like this, one not required and for which she’s paying, wants to feel confident of growing; she wants to learn and enjoy herself doing it. Your students want your book to intrigue them, yet not reach too far past what they are capable of understanding. They want a sense of realism, a means to measure their progress, and reassurance they’ll be able to apply what they learn. Does your query convince your agent you offer these. Your students need to feel confident you will teach them and they aren’t spending their money on a course they are going to fail. Your agent as prospective reader is wondering these same things.

A Quality Query Assures You Get Paid:
Write a Query That Says, “I’m Worth Paying to Hear”

Your agent asks herself, consciously or not, a pivotal question when she reads your query. That important question is the one which decides if a prospective reader buys your book. So, the question is this, “if this topic interests me, is the author of this book who I want to pay to tell me more about it?” Many writers would like their work published, if for no other reason than, through their writing, to meet their own human need to connect with others. When we connect, we enrich our lives. We learn our experience is unique, but one to which others can relate. We also learn that our story is worth being heard. You are unique, worthwhile, important, and special. I know that because you have journeyed through this article with me. So go write a query that convinces others of the same, that convinces your agent people will pay to hear your story. The best way to get paid is to pay it forward.

Responsibility in the Blogosphere | Ethics

www.snopes.com

http://www.snopes.com (Photo credit: biggraham)

Recently, I came across a blog that quoted and commented on an article that has been widely circulated, mostly in email, but is full of misinformation.  I know bloggers aren’t professional journalists and do not belong to any ethical society.  However, discovering that a blogger may not realize the power of their words available online disappointed me.  That at least one reader questioned the report’s validity pleased me, though.  In my comment, I provided a link to the Snopes article referring to the report.

Snopes is one of a few online resources known to research without bias whether a reported fact is indeed the truth.   Most often, such services focus on the distribution of emails and the online publication of materials that are distributed en mass and have the ability to significantly sway person’s opinions and therefore behavior.  Sadly, when it comes to some very important matters such as the interpretation of research statistics, language, and literary work, the complexity of the necessary investigation and of the detail needed to accurately present results is far too involved for a service like Snopes to undertake.   In fact, often times, such is the topic of countless volumes and only the most dedicated and discerning reader can come close to an accurate assessment of the truth in what s/he is examining.

I respected the blog reader’s willingness to read what others write with a spirit of discernment.  Hopefully she does the same with what she hears.  If we are to be seekers, ministers and bearers of Truth, one important ingredient is doubt.  We are not to doubt the Truth, but rather what is presented to us as Truth until we can discern validity to the best of our ability through careful consideration of the motives of majority opinion, well-rounded study, dialogue with experts in their field, reasoned argument, and earnest prayer. God gave us brains and the Spirit to guide us for a reason.  Even well-intentioned persons are capable of great folly, whether by accident, lack of discipline in spiritual stewardship, or the misguided ignorance of spiritual immaturity.  We all have room to grow and we can best do so by exercising the “muscle” of our brain and practicing virtues for the development of our souls.

Aside from personal responsibility in such situations, I’ve been wondering as blogging becomes more popular, what if any measures should be in place to encourage accuracy in the report of “facts”?  How can we do so without infringing upon free speech?  Who would be responsible for regulating such?  I think we can all recognize the difference between slant versus lie.  Even if one source says, “General Smith strode to the mic,” another says, “walked to”, and a third says, “ambled up to,” they all agree on the fact that the General moved towards (apparently on his feet) and arrived at a specific microphone.  Mass dissemination of misinformation has the potential to create or prevent change in ways that have significant negative impact.  What responsibility do I have to help prevent such?

If you enjoyed this article, consider reading the following related post on this blog,  On Blind Faith.  Your comments on one or both are greatly appreciated.

Letting Go – poem by Joe Pfeffer

An adult seagull (Larus michahellis)

Image via Wikipedia

I’d like to introduce you to the poetry of Joe Pfeffer, a new friend I made at a poetry reading at Hartford Coffee Company in Saint Louis, MO.  I will be featuring more of Joe’s work in the days ahead while I continue on a break.

. . .

Letting Go

When it was
Over, she told him not to care
Because he’d seen it all before.

He’d heard her voice,
He’d seen her cry when she was sure
No one would look.

He said they all can
See the way you take that flute and
Make it into fire,

The way you hold the moon
In both your hands then
Let it float away as though

You never knew the terror in the
Seagull’s yawp of triumph.
Go now, she said, and do not

Think of me, but of your
Heart no longer empty,
And your soul no longer free.

                     ~ Joseph Pfeffer (copyright 2011)

Recovery Part 2: Pain, Pain Another Day; Misery Go Away – photo illustrated

God Cried for Me And Promised Relief

It WILL get better...

Sometimes I feel like I can’t stop crying and other times I feel like I feel so much that I just stop feeling altogether. I discovered a forum last night for chronic back pain. I’ve struggled with it for years, the cause never diagnosed. Although, I have to say, it’s taken a back seat to some of my other conditions, like Bipolar Depression, for one. I’m hurting emotionally a lot worse than physically right now. Last night, I was crying for both reasons.

A couple weekends ago, I wasn’t trusting myself to remain safe, realizing that the irrational obsessive thoughts of death running through my mind were increasing and were disproportionate to my current circumstances (well, suicidal thoughts are always disproportionate, but…you know.) I checked myself into an inpatient psych unit, but left before I really felt ready because the crappy beds intensified my back pain SO, SO MUCH. I didn’t expect to go there and suddenly feel better, but I couldn’t handle feeling worse. There and since, I haven’t been able to sleep more than a few hours a night despite a combo of two medications for pain and one for sleep.

Anyway, I discovered in the forum a man who I think experiences much more physical pain on a daily basis than I ever have. I read through a lot of what he’d written. He acknowledged his emotional struggle with horrible thoughts (like my own, I imagine) but the mention was minor in the midst of his recounting of the wildlife around him. I found myself uplifted by his vivid descriptions. I felt transported. His experiences came to life in my mind.

But I was even more encouraged by the spirit of this man who noticed and cared for the forest and it’s creatures around him. He reflects on a cute albino raccoon baby. In the midst of a winter storm, he describes putting out hay for the deer, seeing the fear in their eyes. He tells of spending four hours one night making rounds to feed the animals. He reminded me that the only way to push through pain is one moment at a time, being in the moment and looking for the beauty. He reminded me that being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely. Lying in bed, I only see a brick wall out my window. But I’ve seen the beauty of nature in the past and my mind can still be my retreat.

My grandpa and grandma lived out in the boonies next to the Rock River. I’d forgotten, when I’m hurting, I can escape to “The Camp” in my mind. I imagine the man who wrote in the forum about his life in the forest finds the same solace in the nature around him. I remember, too, how connected to everything I felt and how loved I felt there. Sadly, my grandfather shot himself, when I was thirteen, because of pain that doctors hypothesize was from a brain tumor (too much of his brain was gone for them to know). That still is the most profound thing, positive or negative, that has ever happened to me up to this point in my life.

For many years, what I perceived as him “giving up” was an excuse for me to do the same. I never told anyone how much I hurt inside until I was nineteen, ten years after the thought of ending my life first occurred to me. However, I came to realize the experience of my grandfather’s suicide, when combined with a few others later, as something to save me. You see, I never want MY suicide to be anyone’s excuse for giving up. I finally realized God didn’t give up on me; God kept holding onto me when I couldn’t hold on.

I try to explain to people that that’s part of the difference between religion and spirituality to me. Religion to me is the specifics of one’s beliefs and how you live out and cultivate them. Spirituality is the guts of faith, realizing I’m not the be all or end all; it’s about humility and relationship. So I decided I couldn’t give up on the Good Orderly Direction of existence that continued to value me as a part of itself; I couldn’t ever “give up” again if I hadn’t done my part. I have to ask myself in every moment of crisis, “Have I done absolutely everything I can to help myself?” I’ve never since that time been able to answer “yes”, so I survive one day at a time through even my darkest moments. It’s just sometimes I’m only hurting terribly, really sad, and even depressed. But other times, I become downright miserable. I don’t have to be miserable. So, again, just for today, I choose joy over misery.

A Pair of Highway Haiku – poems

country tech
Member “pdokey1365″ on Flickr took the photo above near Bloomington, Illinois . I think it’s a great match for these two Haiku I wrote as a pair while driving north six hours midday through the mostly quiet, flat farm fields of Illinois, on my way to visit family. This is my first real attempt at haiku, so I’d love feedback.

Mine
Flat straight ribbon road
caramel chocolate cream
bordered gold and white

Alone
stretching far ahead
melting, expanding, shrinking
shadows left then right

~ Callisse J. De Terre
copyright 15 December 2010, last revised 6 September 2011

Doing Away with Welfare Rodents – perspective

This article was originally published July 6th of 2011 and is being republished as a foundation for an upcoming article. The illustration is a recent addition, a stock photo image combining photography and clip art to which I added the words then blended the coloring. Enjoy the article. Please share your opinions and be a part of the solution…

Have you heard that term, “welfare rodents”? It’s the most derogatory term I’ve heard to describe those, especially children, reliant on welfare. I heard someone mumble it as I walked with the two foster kids, for whom I help care, to our seats for the fireworks display last night. It implies such people are like rats – dirty, sneaky, robbing food, spreading disease, worthy of nothing more than laboratory experiments. Some express the same sentiment more subtly like 1996 Kansas House guest minister Rev. Joe Wright, who in the prayer to open the session (since referred to as The Prayer of Repentance and actually written by Rev. Bob Russel), stated  “We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.” I do empathize to a degree with the prayer’s sentiment; I agree there are people who abuse the welfare system. However, as stated, his words imply that all on welfare are lazy. This is not a new or infrequently held attitude. In fact, as the numbers on welfare rise due to our recent financial crisis, this espoused opinion reverberates far and wide. The foster kids are of course on welfare, but I won’t discuss them any further here. I, too, currently am on welfare. I can’t be sure whether the person who mumbled the term was referring to any of us, but it has given rise to things I’ve been wanting to say and haven’t yet. I am disabled, but I am not my disability. I am unemployed, but I am not lazy. I have tried repeatedly to work, even since first being on disability, and not only failed, but endangered my health even more by trying to do so. Some are forgiving of the disabled or displaced children on welfare, but reject the notion that others need it. In general, I disagree with this perspective. I could sit back and quietly accept that at least they’re not picking on me, but it’s just not in my nature.

I once had a personal care attendant who assisted me for over a year and also relied on welfare to a degree. She was an honest, hard-working, God-loving woman with three very sweet boys, aged 11, 7 and 3. Her first husband abandoned her and her first son, providing no support. Her second husband worked a 36 hour split-shift in Dietary at a hospital. I won’t give you a full run-down of their expenses, but they were not frivolous in their spending. They simply could not make ends meet. She was only able to get 15 hours per week of work at just above minimum wage. She had been able to get more hours before her car broke down. Then, at one point, when she tried to fix a sliding closet door, she accidentally deeply cut and broke her foot. Can you believe she was forced to wait four hours for a couple friends to assist her home because she had no money to pay for crutches and the hospital would not loan them to her. When she informed her welfare case worker by phone that she would be off work by order of the doctor for at least three weeks, her worker’s response was only that she needed to provide a copy of a doctor’s note when she was released to work again and written verification of her wage and hours upon return. Two weeks later, due to receive her foodstamps for her kids, she got a letter that not only had her benefits not been increased (as one might have reasonably expected they would), but all assistance of any kind (including her kids’, one of whom has a heart condition, medical coverage) was cancelled because she had not provided written verification of her change in work status. It took 6 weeks for benefits to be reestablished, during which time she accrued an emergency room bill for her son and one for herself due to diabetic complications from an infection of her wounded foot.

Recently, she made the difficult decision to use money she saved up to go back to school for training in a related field she hopes will require less travel and give her better employment opportunity. However she had to limit the days she was available to work because she couldn’t handle working on the four days she went to school and needed to do homework. Now, her agency has told her they can’t accommodate her restricted time available and she has been without any hours for 3 weeks. She is diabetic but now can’t afford even emergency medication she does not qualify for medical coverage except as related to a pregnancy. After having to move due to her landlord’s failures to address poor living conditions resulted in her home being “condemned”, her kids’ new public schools were “fining” her daily because she couldn’t afford their required uniforms for the last month of school. She is being hounded by the hospital for payment on her bills, washes the family’s clothes in the bathtub, sold her furniture except for her kids’ beds, and is now without any phone line (despite hers nd her son’s medical conditions). She survives on will-power, grace, faith, and a strong commitment to the future of her children. Yes, she’s still alive, but can we call this “living”?

As for myself, even with the assistance of welfare, not all of my medications or medical treatments are covered and after paying shelter costs, I have only $250 per month for all other expenses combined. If I did not have federally and state-funded medical coverage at all, just my medications alone would cost over $2000/month. Unable to afford that, my conditions would deteriorate quickly, bringing me to a pre-mature death, perhaps first briefly forcing me into an institution if such were publicly funded. Is there another way? Sure; if we could all count on each other to support the weakest and most in need members of society without the need for a regulated system, we could indeed do away with welfare. However, we do have this system currently and when I did work, I paid into the system that now supports me and have moved past my initial shame in having to rely upon it. I’m sure I have by now drawn from it more than I put in, but believe me, if I could earn a wage, I would. Even of my meager income, I give charitably. Yet, I wish I could give more. And I contribute to society as best I can, helping to raise foster kids, for example and sharing my experience, strength and hope for the benefit of others. So, I wish people would quit trying to eliminate the system or bash people using it, but instead, listen to the people who know how it works first hand (those who administer it and those using it). We need to address the gaps and barriers in the system for the welfare of individuals and our society as a whole. It is a shame that those most in need of advocacy are often least able for health or financial reasons to advocate for themselves. So, I ask you, my readers who are capable, will you please be someone I can count on to support my wanting to be and do the best I can? Will you please join me in  promoting cooperative efforts and a positive outlook? Will you please quit looking for who or what to blame — or simply looking the other way — and look, instead for solutions?!

@mollyjayne40 – poem

An intro to faceless me...25 Aug 11

@mollyjayne40
dedicated to Twitter

Often ill, away.  Some leave me;
some wait.  Tell me why.

I marvel.  A cosmos in mini
where the faceless love, hate,
live and die.

~ Callisse J. DeTerre

copyright 24 August 2011


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 342 other followers