Remembering the Query Daze – a Writer Looks Back with Gratitude

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Lately, I’ve been thinking back to the “query daze.” How hard it was to put my work in front of strangers who were experts and ask them what they thought. At that time, I received some pretty tough feedback. The first query/writing sample I’d ever sent out (for a book entitled Kicking the Beehive) came back with a written response—I was thrilled, believing that a hand-written comment on a rejection means you’re on the cusp of success! The note read, “I love your title. However, you never need send me anything again.”

Ouch, right?

Thing is…I knew the book wasn’t ready. That I wasn’t ready. I sent it as a Hail Mary. A hope and a wish. My head thought I had a chance. My heart knew better.

So, I began another book. The voice popped. I believed in it. Yet, there was this other voice, too. Not demanding to be written but relentlessly tugging at me. So, I began to write that one instead. It was entitled, One for the Murphys, and was later published with Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin in 2012. The book I’d left in order to write Murphys is now under contract and due out in Fall, 2016.

Dreams come true, folks! Believe me; they do.

So, I’ve been thinking about my fellow writers in the pre-agent days. I wrote a love letter to SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators) after receiving an ARC of One for the Murphys because SCBWI was so crucial in getting published.

I’ve been replaying those times with friends and critique group members I met through SCBWI who both encouraged me and kicked me in the butt–depending on what was called for that day. We were a tribe. We still are. And I am grateful to benefit from their caring, honesty, and wisdom.

And, oddly enough, I am grateful for that time of querying and waiting for the phone to ring. Knowing that 212 was the area code for New York city where many agents and publishers would call from. And hoping. Hoping that when the phone rang, it would be a 212 call. These were the days of high hopes laced with days of wondering if I should just work on something easier. Like pulling a tire through a keyhole.

However, that time taught me about grit and determination and the business of publishing. I learned what I wanted and how very much I wanted it. It was a time of feeling both alone and part of something bigger all at the same time.

My second novel, FISH IN A TREE, (avail for pre-order now ~ release is Feb 5, 2015) has many themes that remind me of my early author journey:                                                                Copy (3) of FISH IN A TREE COVER high res

  • Grit and resilience
  • Having the courage to accept help
  • Don’t play the comparison game. Recognize both your strengths and short-comings not in terms of being better or worse but in being human with your one-of-a-kind voice.
  • Let your strengths shine in the first try (draft). Work on your short-comings later (in revision).
  • Being vulnerable to your audience can be hard–but it often deepens connections with others (Here is an old post on the vulnerability of being a writer )
  • Sometimes the things that make you feel like there’s something wrong with you are actually your strengths (i.e. – never being able to follow an outline like other writers)
  • Having others on the journey with you makes for a richer ride and a happier person.
  • Yup–we’re all in this together. And we have to support each other. That’s what it’s all about. Not just writing but the whole being human thing.

So, since I am making these connections between my early writing career and FISH IN A TREE…

and bubbling over with all of this gratitude for my tribe…

and looking for a way to celebrate the release of this book…

AND knowing how much I was/am helped by others…

I’d like to try to help other writers who are longing to break into children’s publishing. So…

I am offering a giveaway where two children’s writers will be randomly chosen. The winners will be contacted with instructions re: sending me the first ten pages of their book (12 pt, double-spaced) and I will give a balanced critique and speak with the writer on the phone for 30-minutes about his/her writing sample.

To enter, you must:

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1) Be an adult who has been actively writing fiction for children

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2) NOT be published in any genre (as I am trying to help those who have not broken in YET)

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To earn entries, you may:

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~~Make a comment below. Please enter your email address OR twitter name so I can contact you if you win

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~~Share this giveaway link to FB (which you must tell me about in the comments)

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~~Tweeting or Retweeting with the hashtag,  #WritingAllies  (This will help me find your tweets in order to enter you in the drawing. You may also tag me @Lynmullalyhunt )

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The winners will be chosen at 11:59 PM on December 10th. Winners will be notified by the following morning and also announced here. Due to travel plans, I must receive your ten pages via e-mail within 2 days of winning and I will schedule the phone conversation within a few days after that.

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**Thank you and good luck. I’ll leave you with a favorite quote about being a writer:

The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Categories: author, courage, Fish in a Tree, Giveaway, Grit, SCBWI, writing | 65 Comments

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65 thoughts on “Remembering the Query Daze – a Writer Looks Back with Gratitude

  1. John Scovill

    I love this Lynda! I want to be entered and will share with Facebook to have two entries (right?)? : )

  2. Stephanie Salkin

    I’d like to throw my hat in the ring. And I will click on the Facebook icon, in order to share.
    Thanks for the opportunity!

  3. Nikki Loftin sent me here. She’s an old SCBWI friend. I wish my health allowed me to attend meetings. I’ll do a tweet with your hashtag and cross my fingers.

    • Welcome Laura–and thank you! I love Nikki 🙂

    • Thank you for your generosity. Question? If I am a published journalist does that qualify as “published in any genre”?

      I will “share” and tweet (@dfennell21) regardless; but also interested as to whether I qualify to enter.

      Thank you!

  4. Linda M.

    You are a hero! Thank you for doing this! I am sharing on fb, twitter and pinterest!

  5. Thanks so much for this amazing post and words of encouragement. I was feeling a little down lately and your post was just what I needed. I want to share your article because I think more ppl need to hear this. I will share on my fb and Twitter page. Thanks again for teaching us to never give up.

  6. Jane

    Thanks so much for doing this. I’m tweeting (@jasmall2) and posting on FB.

  7. As someone who will officially enter her own “query daze” early in 2015, I appreciate your post, Lynda and am happy to tweet about your giveaway and new book. Thank you!

  8. Lynda,
    What a fine thing to do. I loved reading One For The Murphys. I know I would benefit from your critiquing my work. Thanks for all you do for all of us!

  9. Janis Leird

    I loved your first book for being honest and real. I can’t wait to read your second. Yes, it’s tough to be a new writer. You have made this journey easier with your generousity and support.Thanks!

  10. Rebecca fleishman

    Giving back… Tis the season
    Thank you for putting yourself out there and also thinking of the newbies!

  11. Lynda, you always say the most perfect things! You are an inspiration! Thank you for these words. Posting on FaceBook….

  12. So lovely of you to give back to pre-published writers. Good luck with your new release.

  13. Jennifer Ray

    This is such a nice thing to do! And the timing is perfect for me as I’m hoping to begin querying my middle grade MS in January. I will share on Facebook and Twitter as well.
    P.S. I adored One for the Murphys and am so looking forward to reading Fish in a Tree. 🙂

    • Thank you, Jennifer–I appreciate your kind words re: my books. And GOOD for you in beginning the querying process. 🙂 Good luck!!!

      • Jennifer Ray

        Thank YOU for the well wishes and for giving back. I hope I can do the same for someone else someday. The road to publication is a long one and sometimes it’s just nice to know you’re not alone.
        P.S. My sister-in-law (Michelle Ray) is one of your agency mates. 🙂

  14. Daka

    Thank you so much for this. I’m tweeting! (@dakadh)

  15. Greetings,
    I would ❤️ a critique! I liked post, shared on FB & Twitter!

    Thank You!

  16. Greetings!
    I would love a critique! I liked post & shared on FB & Twitter!
    Thanks!

  17. Susan E. Harris

    As always, Lynda, you’re a generous soul. Thanks for that and for this opportunity. I now work at a bookstore so I’m looking forwarding to selling your latest (as well as reading it!). Congratulations on another book.

  18. Tweeted & posted on Facebook… What a great opportunity & you’re so generous to offer at this crazy time of year! I’m so eternally grateful for the support the writing community offers to us newbies! (ktrail@alumni.rice.edu)

  19. Susan garrett

    Thank you so much for generously sharing your early experiences with rejection and persistence! I shared this on FB as well.

  20. Hi, Lynda. What a giving, thoughtful thing to do. I loved your post! My favorite quote: “That’s what it’s all about. Not just writing but the whole being human thing.”

  21. Melissa Hed

    Oh, Lynda, you are so gracious! Of course I want to win this one; however, in the spirit of paying it forward, I shall spread the word. Twitter and Facebook done.

  22. Irene Kistler

    Thank you for sharing your journey. It gives me hope. My goal for 2015 is to get over my fear of sending my writing out to be read by others. I will definitely share this opportunity on Facebook! And I’ll tweet it. Thanks!

    Twitter: @IreneKistler

  23. Kay Inglis

    Lynda,
    Great idea! I am sharing on FB.

  24. Thanks for offering this contest! I really enjoyed your blog post.

  25. Fabulous! I’m sharing on FB and tweeting!

  26. Miriam Giskin

    This is such a generous thing you are doing. You are awesome Lynda!! I have technology challenges so I hope I am entered!!!

  27. Rebecca

    Thanks for offering the critique, Lynda! Best of luck with the book launch!

  28. I remember meeting you at BookPeople in Austin, TX with Erin Murphy a few years ago and you were very kind and encouraging. Thanks for this great giveaway. I posted on Facebook and twitter too!

  29. Mary McClellan

    I learned about your post and kind offer from Meghan Daniels. I look forward to reading “Fish in the Tree.”

  30. Thank you so much for cheering us non-published-yet writers on along our scary path. A bit like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. I find writing to today’s publishing requirements that much harder. But I love the journey into the fire, I guess, too much to pull out in time.

  31. Liz Greenberg

    One For The Murphys was one of my favorite books of last year. It’s so helpful to realize that every author’s first book was published after hours of work, revision, putting oneself out there, rejection, trying again, and so on. A good reminder to hang in there and keep honing one’s craft.

  32. Thank you for sharing so much of your journey with us, and congrats on the publication of your second novel. I can’t wait to read it!

  33. This is a lovely thing to do. I tweeted this link a few days ago. I know you saw it since you retweeted it, but for some reason, my comment didn’t show up here. I’m really looking forward to reading Fish in a Tree. You know how much I loved One for the Murphy’s.

  34. Cam M. Sato

    Thank you for your generosity. And a thank you to Caroline, who shared this awesome opportunity with me. I love being a part of a nurturing writing community.

  35. Ellen Greenlaw

    Thanks for sharing and for offering your help to a lucky someone. I, too, have been been feeling drawn to another voice and another story before finishing my current manuscript, and have been pushing myself to hold off. Your words have given me some inspiration to follow the new voice, for now.

  36. This is a lovely and generous post. One of the thing things I enjoy most about the kidlit community is the way its members cheer and support each other. Even when that support is eating chocolate, throwing pillows or downing pints of ice cream following the inevitable rejection. 🙂

  37. Wow! What a gift. And I love that you’ve shared about your process in other posts, and what you write here: “Sometimes the things that make you feel like there’s something wrong with you are actually your strengths (i.e. – never being able to follow an outline like other writers)”
    Knowing that you and Louise Erdrich do not write your stories linearly gives me GREAT hope and inspiration. I will share on Facebook and Twitter right now.

  38. Jpetroroy

    Lynda, you are amazingly generous. Thank you!

  39. I also retweeted!

  40. This is so wonderfully fun…thank you! I’m excited to participate and will retweet on Twitter. Can’t wait to read A Fish in a Tree!!

  41. Just in time to say, what a way to pass it on. @polly_mccann

  42. That is so awesome.Super generous. Good luck with the launch! @NextSet

  43. This was such an incredibly nice thing to do! I have tweeted this and posted it on Facebook.
    Happy Holidays!

  44. Whoa! Thank you all for entering. There were lots of entries to track down 🙂 The winners are:

    Jamie Palmer and John Scovill. Looking forward to reading your work!

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