Friday, September 21, 2012

40 WEEKS OF ME- Week 8, #GUTGAA 1st Round Judge

As many of you are aware, I participated in GEARING UP TO GET AN AGENT as a first round judge this week. I admit this is something that would typically be outside my comfort zone, but in the spirit of breaking free of my shell, I jumped in feet first. Notice I didn't say I dived in?

I didn't know what to expect. So I dipped my toes in the water before fully immersing myself in the GUTGAA experience. I've met some really amazing people. Deana Barnhart, I don't know how you managed to organize this opportunity. Thank you for being such an inspiration. You are truly one of a kind.

I also want to give a shout to my fellow judges and blog hosts for donating their time. To the contestants, thank you for having the courage to participate. I wish you all the best of luck as you query widely and confidently knowing that your query rocks! And if it doesn't quite yet, well, keep revising. 

You can never have too many books. Yeah, right.
Some of you may be wondering how I made my choices. Let me tell hard. Since I was voting for Adult, I had a variety of genres: Dystopian, Women's Fiction, Steam Punk, Paranormal Romance, Mainstream, Mystery, Fantasy, Thriller, Memoir, Historical and Science Fiction.

Luckily, I read all these genres. Don't believe me? Check out my overflowing, needs to be organized bookshelf.

Initially, I read through the 43 entries without looking at any comments. I don't like to be influenced by other people's opinions. I documented my initial impression. Was the query tight/polished? Did it hold my attention? Did I finish reading and want more or was I confused? Then I moved to the first 150, and asked the same questions.

I labeled each entry with a rating of 1-5. By the end, I had 1 (F'ing Awesome 5+++), 6 (5's) and 11 (4's). These were all books I would buy if I read the blurb in the bookstore and had a fat gift card with enough money to indulge myself.

Since I have never bought 18 books at one time (five at the most, maybe one a week if I'm feeling splurgey) I went with my rating system. All the 5's were automatic entries. Then I had to choose three 4's. Since they they were all equal in awesomeness in my eyes, I went with genre as the deciding factor.

I had 4's and 5's in every genre, except two which were 3's. So I made sure my last three picks did not come from genres already represented by my 5's, because I wanted to make sure as many of the genres I enjoy reading would be represented next week. Only 6 of my first pick choices will be going forward, but all of the winning entries fell within my 4's and 5's. I have faith all of these books will be on my overflowing bookshelf someday so I can finally read them And I want to read them so bad, drool.

Well, there you go. Apple's convoluted query picking system. 

Since this is a 40 Weeks post, I still have to share something personal about myself. Given all the contestants were brave enough to share their query babies, I thought I would share one of mine. You've seen the query letter for JUJU'S CHILD which landed my agent. But, nobody except the agents I had the temerity to query saw and rejected my very first horrible query letter (602 words).

Look, laugh, learn what NOT to do.

Dear Agent,
I am seeking representation for my paranormal romance novel, Psychic Journey.  I have 103,000 words completed from an estimated 120-150,000.    
Consulting Archeologist Jurnee Fontaine is a woman dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge to the sublimation of her interpersonal relationships.  She values logic and the crispness of the science inherent to her work.  Because Jurnee tends to avoid engaging in displays of emotional weakness, she finds she is routinely confounded by her fairy loving, tarot card reading mother, who constantly encourages her to cultivate her innate psychic ability. 
Jurnee’s stance on the matter is that foreknowledge never provided her with the ability to alter the future she saw in her visions and trying just left her with a blinding headache, and another aching hole in her heart. 
Despite her efforts to focus her attention on her current contract to excavate the site of a ranch built by Steven Durant, in the hills outside of Folsom, CA. in 1868, Jurnee develops an illogical obsession over the suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths of Durant’s wife and young son.  But it is with the discovery of Willa Durant’s diary and subsequent frenetic drive home from the dig site that Jurnee’s life takes an unexpected turn from the norm.   
It begins with torrential rain, a bedraggled woman with her daughter standing in the middle of the road, and Jurnee so distracted she fails to see them.  Instead of running them over, Jurnee swerves her truck into an embankment.  The woman’s heartbreaking story of fleeing her abusive husband, added to the guilt of almost pulverizing them, causes Jurnee to take on the responsibility of protecting this woman and child from the danger she senses threatening them. 
This triggers a series of uncharacteristic actions by the normally level-headed Jurnee.   She breaks up with her fiancé, falls in lust with a dead man, and is accidently transported by… gasp, magic into the past.  She wakes in the year 1878, tied to the bed of sexy Stephen Durant, who incidentally thinks she’s stark raving mad and hates her with a passion, to discover to her horror that her consciousness has switched bodies with that of his doomed wife, walking Barbie doll, Willa Durant. 
Now Jurnee, who despises all things mystical; must figure out a way to survive an unexpected pregnancy by thwarting the bruja trying to steal Willa’s husband, Stephen by murdering her, keep from falling in love with the same husband and return to her own time, all the while, hoping that Willa doesn’t ruin her own life in the future.
I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology, specializing in Native American Studies from California State University, Sacramento.  I realized my dream of working for a consulting archeologist after college. 
The site I helped excavate was the inspiration for this novel.  I also discovered that due to seasonal allergies, I would not be the next female Indiana Jones. The stories I write are in the genres that I enjoy reading such as, paranormal romance, fantasy and tend to have a supernatural element.  
My favorite authors are Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, Rachel Caine, Kim Harrison, David Eddings, Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen King, and so many others that my bookshelves are overflowing. 
Thank you for your consideration of this proposal.  I look forward to hearing from you. 



  1. I like your method for judging the entries. There are so many talented writers out there. I can't wait for the agent round.

    As for your query, wow. There's definitely a lot going on there. I did read your query for JUJU'S CHILD and it was wonderful. :D

    1. Thank you, Tracey :) Yeah, that query is what lead me to If I hadn't found that site and learned how to write a query letter, I wouldn've been in worse trouble. IMO, the Juju query could be better. It's a bit longer than 250 words. Thankfully, it did it's job.

  2. Ah, that query letter's not so bad! I'm sure agents have seen far, far worse. It was polite and reasonable - just a little on the long side!


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