My Shiny New Query Letter is a Blogfest Finalist!

Thanks again to everyone who helped me tweak my query letter during Week Three of Deana Barnhart's "Gearing Up to Get an Agent" Blogfest. I just learned my letter is a Top Ten Finalist (!!), and I will find out tomorrow if I win a free query/first five page critique from Lora Rivera, writer of literary adult and children's fiction, freelance book editor and Life Book writer for Aviva Children's Services. (Read the other finalists' amazing query letters here: GUTGAA Query Winners Picked Today.)

Here's my shiny new query letter:

Dear Agent:

An arctic mermaid is the last thing seventeen year-old Kai Murphy expects to glimpse when she joins a beluga whale research team in Alaska.

An aspiring scientist, Kai dismisses Anchorage's mermaid myths until the late-night sighting of a silvery, speckled tail threatens her convictions. Teamed up with flirtatious twin deckhands Noah and Aidan Fischer, she decides to investigate.

Turns out a mermaid sighting isn't her research team's only mystery. There are also secret closets filled with hunting rifles, blood-filled plastic bins and shadowy poachers haunting the inlet's icy waters.

As Kai searches for answers and begins falling for Noah, she realizes even he isn't above suspicion. The fate of the research team, her beloved belugas and the mysterious creature in the inlet just may rest in her hands.

THE MERMAID GENE is a YA urban fantasy novel, complete at 98,000 words. I have worked as a zookeeper and educator at many facilities, including the Alaska Zoo of Anchorage, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums published my article "The Dangers of Human Interactions with Marine Mammals" in its 2007 Ocean Literacy and Marine Mammals: An Easy Reference Guide. This experience sets THE MERMAID GENE apart and allows me to take readers behind-the-scenes into the thrilling and often-misunderstood world of beluga whale research.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


The most amazing news is that this query letter has already received some great positive reinforcement.  I fired off a query to an agent in NYC at 11:30pm MT Tuesday night and received a full manuscript request by 5:45am MT Wednesday morning. Not a bad thing to see in your inbox first thing in the morning!

Thanks again to everyone for your help. Even if I don't win that free critique, I already feel like a winner!

My Four-Month Mark

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Well, it's official. My first full manuscript request has been under review for four months today. My other three full requests have all passed the one month mark, and I am absolutely freaking out in anticipation.

Four months! I have felt every single moment pass, and most have crept by with a nauseating, slow tightness and a sense of unbalance--one that settled in my stomach in early February and hasn't budged since.

I am NOT a patient person, I HATE surprises and I DON'T take unrealistic risks. I still can't believe I embarked on this journey, and I simultaneously want to pat myself on the back and punch myself in the face for this. (I have also obsessively convinced myself that my submission to this first agent must have gotten lost in cyberspace. She's a lightning fast responder, and four months seems like twelve lifetimes for her.)

My question is this... For those of you currently in the midst of this process--or those of you who have already graduated to the next stage of submissions (i.e., the dreaded publisher hunt)--how in the world do you stay sane??

Everyone says I should distract myself, go on vacation or start my next project. And although I've piddled down about 25 pages of my next project, I'm so amped up and unbalanced that my creativity has dried up like Colorado soil after a rainstorm.

A perfect case in point. "Colorado soil after a rainstorm?" Really?? That's the best simile I can come up with? ... Did I just end a sentence with a preposition? Did I even spell "preposition" correctly? ... Am I actually too lazy to check? Yep, looks like I am...