Ms. Turtle wasn’t happy I was trying to take her picture. My sister and I had stopped to let her cross the road.

My editing mojo stalled this morning; so, I started looking at my query. I’m thinking it reads too grim. But maybe the book is grim? I don’t know. I wrote it with the idea that wonder is an antidote to grief; yet my query doesn’t reflect that. Should it?

I’d been cruising along on my recent book edits (on p. 339 of 378!!) until I started my summer job. It’s a menial sort of job, mostly I give people directions and take their cash, though it’s interesting to see how people treat you–and make assumptions about you based on the job.

I’ll be teaching this fall at a university. I have a bunch of degrees.* But some people see me in this position and assume I’m spinning on the slower wheel of life. Last summer, I had a woman flash her university ID at me (a different university from where I will be teaching, thankfully) and expect a FREE entrance to the particular park where I work. When I said there wasn’t a teacher discount, she looked at me with clear derision. I could tell she didn’t like this lowlife cashier denying her anything.

It has been many many years since I worked this kind of job, and you forget how difficult and body-taxing these types of jobs are. I know I won’t be in it for long. I’m lucky. But a little appreciation for the workers wouldn’t bother me none, especially after what we’ve seen in this pandemic. (Or the SCAM-DEMIC, if you believe some of the crazier folks who’ve come my way at work.)

But anyway. The query. It’s here. I’ve deleted some references to The New Mexico Library of Wonder, where my main character ends up working. I’m not sure if I’ll add it back. I sort of miss it. But maybe I don’t need to.

Here it is so far:

Cult expert and philosophy professor Sandrine Novak can’t stop seeing visions of her dead brother hanging in her classroom. At night, she wanders the gritty streets of Old Route 66, risking her life to stop the pain. When she finds herself working for an eccentric collector of strange and wondrous objects, life begins to turn around.

But as Sandrine assembles the peculiar exhibits, she discovers her new boss has his own secrets. His fabulous collection has ties to a female-led cult devoted to the feminine divine. When he disappears, she learns that her brother was involved in the same cult just before he committed suicide. As Sandrine untangles what’s going on, she must face her family’s own dark past to understand once and for all what drove her brother to end his own life.

Complete at 100,000 words, WONDER GONE MISSING is Emma Cline’s THE GIRLS meets the documentary film WILD WILD COUNTRY, a mystery set in modern-day Albuquerque and the peatlands of northern Minnesota during the 1990s.




*In case it wasn’t already obvious, I don’t equate degrees with intelligence. University education is often more about privilege than intellect.

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