Thursday, February 18, 2010

Language Immersion For Kids: Query Speak

In an attempt to convince myself that I'm not neglecting my children, I've been making an effort to be funny. I flew my Jojo around on my back this morning and tossed him (merrily) on the couch until he was laughing (hysterically). Then we had tickle time and I read him a book that ended up being about a grandparent dying, not how to count to a thousand (book name- What Comes After a Thousand?) but he'd lost interest a few pages earlier and was playing with cars on the couch next to me while I finished. Misleading title, book folks.

Here's my play buddy.
Don't let his sweet boy face fool you. He has a LOT of angst.

Stay with me for two lines. This is going somewhere, I promise. When he was done playing with toys (read: covering the living room floor with toys) we ate lunch and had some chocolate wafer straws for dessert, then naps and carpool. 

I'd spent a few hours yesterday revising my query, trying different combinations, attempting to figure out what angle would grab people. And I knew I didn't have it. I posted my query in Nathan Bransford's forums and gave my advice on a few queries and blahblahblah. The point is, I really have queries on my mind and the peculiar lengthy sentence structures and qualifier-heavy phrasing.

So when I woke up Jojo this afternoon, I said something like, "Jonas Bryson, the youngest of four children, is about to make a decision that could change his life and shape the destiny of his world. After his mother, neurotic writer and chocolate addict, puts on his socks, she realizes that, tragically, his shoes are still soaking wet from playing in the melted snow the day before. Will he exercise his God-given right and demand that  the shoes be placed on his feet regardless of how much water they contain, or will he allow his mother to carry him, as if he were a little baby instead of the Big Boy that he so clearly is?" I said this all in my Movie-Trailer voice and he did not tantrum.
Besides the behavioral benefits, it made me realize that Query Speak is its own language. (C'mon. Eubonics? Creole? It's at least that good, and it has it's own set of rules, clearly.) I'm thinking that if I start immersing the children in query-speak now, that if any of them ever decide to become writers in the future that they will have a much easier time of it than I.

I could work on our Query Speak proficiency while doing a lot of daily tasks.

Laundry- A lone sock teeters on the edge of despair, knowing that unless his soul-mate (get it?) is discovered, his life will lose all meaning. His only hope for survival is to telepathically influence the children to make sock puppets. But can he accept such a degraded lifestyle? Or will it buy him enough time to find his other, button-eye-free half?

Dinner-The pantry is a big place, full of possibility and pasta, creativity and croutons. But there are dangers as well. Candied yams lurk in the shadows, flanked by saurkraut and ominous artichokes. When a lost onion is found in the back, sprouted and mushy, even the cook considers surrender. PIZZA NIGHT is novella about the travails of cooking. 

One more?

What's that? You want to hear about potty training? *shocked* But this is my professional blog.  You can't be serious. But I did an actual blurb for Jonas while he sat on the potty, so I guess it's only fair.

Kicking and screaming, young master Bryson is brought to the proving grounds of toddlerhood. His honor and his family's budget depend on him mastering the art of disrobing from the waist down and climbing atop his greatest fear and his greatest hope, the potty. (And he went!) 

And because you needed to know, Jonas is right now having a tantrum because Eli touched his tricycle and Jonas started screaming and I put the tricycle on the back porch in time out. Not a happy ending.

Got any Query Speak in you?


  1. Good post, Kelly! You're right too, writing the query is so different than writing the novel, you have to completely re-gear your thinking (and writing style).

    You tell Jonas: "I'm not touching you . . . I'm NOT tooouuuucccchhhhhiiiinnnngggg yoooouuuu . . ."

    Okay, don't tell him that. One tantrum is one tantrum too many. Now you take time out and get to work!

    That's where I'm headed, because my query is done, but I have miles to go before I sleep. ;-)

  2. I've since realized he has an ear infection. So the crying was totally justified. Oops.

  3. That sock query has got me hooked - will the soul mates find each other?????! Send me the manuscript NOW!

  4. It's on the way, Steph. That poor sock. His life unravels, and then he gets cold feet.

  5. Love the queries! Pizza Night is my favorite. Wonder if I can talk hubby into that for dinner tonight...Mind if I borrow it?
    Happy weekend,

  6. Hi Karen. Thanks for following. Feel free to borrow- anything to help a sister get out of making dinner;) -Kelly