Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Query Contest Winner!

I just finished judging a query contest over at As part of the prize, I offered to post an article about the contest as well as the winning query. Have a look!

By Gina Welborn

“Hey, babe, why don’t you and me make like trees and leave?
“I lost my phone number. Can I have yours?”
“If you were a new hamburger at McDonald’s, you’d be a McSexy!”

Did you think your days of pick-up lines were over? Girlfriend, if you want to be published, then they’ve just begun. Time to pick up your ink-filled pole. Writing a great pick-up query is a matter of using the right bait so you can catch the right fish at the right spot in the right pond.

Over at (divas and diva-dudes both welcome), we love sharing bait and tips of where the biting is best. While RWA chapters offer some fantastic contests, many of our members have never entered any. Thus began our series of WE ALL WIN contests, where no gill plucking is allowed. It’s all about learning what entering a contest is like.

Entries are normally limited to five per member and are posted “anonymously” by the contest coordinator. Over a two week period, divas can judge their fellow members work. Some judges just score; some do a lineXline crit. The five top scoring entrants are then allowed a day to revise their entries before they are forwarded to our final round judge. I’d like to give a shout out to author Deborah Hale and Deidre Knight for sliding into our Diva Judge stilettos. And a special thanks to Deidre for inviting us to post our results after her final round query judging.

Free feedback on our writing is great, yet I can’t help but love the prizes. For our Short Synopsis winner, a copy of FICTION FIRST AID by Raymond Obstfeld. For our Query Winner, a Moroccan bracelet. Yes, the lure of the prize is leading me down the path of the dark side of contest obsession. Who know what our divalicious K-mart (Kristen Painter) will tempt us with next.

Later this fall, in preparation for the Golden Heart, we’ll begin another round of free-to-enter contests. The world is your oyster so...okay, that’s not the right saying. We’re all in this boat together so we might as well take turns rowing. Eh, a little better. Wait, I know.

“More big fish have been caught with words than with hook, line, and sinker.” ~Anonymous

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to fishing I go…

But first, I just gotta announce our Query Contest winner.

Babe King
123 Divalicious Lane
Divaville, RD
May 23, 2005

Deidre Knight
The Knight Literary Agency
PO Box 550648Atlanta, GA 30355

Dear Ms. Knight,

If love is blind, Sebastian Jansky and Tess Talbot have an advantage.

Pulling up the Blind, my second full-length manuscript, aims at the heart and the funny bone. This completed, single title, 100,000 word, contemporary romantic romp is set in the land where kangaroos race Land Rovers and everyone’s your mate. Everyone except Sebastian.
His beastly self-loathing and reclusive social habits render him more blind than the genetic defect which has stolen his sight, his fiancée, and his self-esteem. He’s fighting to prove he’s still a powerful man by strictly controlling his considerable wealth and image, but that control is about to be challenged by a baby and his mom.

Blind from birth, Tess sees beauty as independent inner strength. She's overcome her childhood "poor blind girl" title, and gained professional peer respect, also managing to provide a warm, safe life for her infant son. Sebastian hires her company to build his conservatory, and she can't resist tweaking the tail of the beast, challenging his attitudes, to wake up the heart he's anaesthetized. When her son and business are threatened by her ex-boyfriend, Sebastian sees his priorities changing away from protecting his image, for love uses a different kind of sight.

I have published numerous shorts and non-fiction articles, the most recent being in "A Cup of Comfort" coming out in XXXX. I have a degree in creative arts, with English literature as a second major. I belong to RWA, several online romance writing and critique groups, including the award-winning Romance Divas where I am a moderator. I am looking to build a career in romance writing and seek representation for future books as well.

Pulling Up the Blind—let a little sunshine in.
I look forward to your response. Thank you for your time and consideration.Yours sincerely,
Babe King


Blogger Kristen Painter said...

I want to publicly thank Deidre for giving us a chunk of her time to serve as final judge for this contest. Not only were the members thrilled but it's a great example of how willing she is to give back to the writing community. Deidre, I don't know how you find so many hours in a day to accomplish all you do but your generosity is greatly appreciated. Thanks from all of us at Romance Divas.

Now, let me say congratulations to Babe! Not only is she a friend and a CP but she's one of the warmest, brightest, most genuine people you could ever hope to know. Babe, you do your country proud! (Babe's one of our Aussie divas.)

And finally, thanks to Gina Welborn for running and organizing these in-house contests. It's a labor of love and we're grateful for the hours she puts into making them successful in addition to providing us with a bi-monthly article at Romance Divas. Gina, you rock!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 11:35:00 AM EDT  
Blogger DD Blackman said...

Wow, that's great. Congratulations Babe. I love it. Here's to a great writing career ahead of you.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 11:59:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jax Cassidy said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Kristen! Couldn't have said it better myself... except a big THANK YOU to Deidre for judging.

We at Romance Divas will now bequeath Ms. Knight with the honorary title of "Divalicious Agent". :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 11:59:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, K-friend. I'm just doing my part to help my fellow writers.

About a month ago, Deidre did a Q&A session on Romance Writer's Community (Charlotte Dillon's RWC), and after reading her answers, I thought, "Wow, she sounds like a fun agent." Even if I never work professionally with Deidre, between her chat on RWC and her generosity with our RomanceDivas query contest, I realize that agents aren't the scary creatures I pictured them as.

And some are quite divalicious.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 12:01:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Night Diva Maria said...

I just want to say Thanks to Diedre for her time in helping the writers in cyberspace. I enjoyed the Q&A in Charlotte Dillion's RWC as well. Thanks for judging the We All Win contest for Romance Divas! I'm learning so much from these writing communities.

Babe, we are all so proud of you and enjoy your punny ways in Diva-land. Congrats on the win! You've worked hard and most certainly deserve it! :-)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 12:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Deidre Knight said...

Aw, you guys are good for the ole agent ego. :) I was happy to help! And it was fun.

Let's talk about Babe's query. What do you guys like about it? What strike you as qualities that make it a successful pitch for an agent?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 12:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Kristen Painter said...

Well, for one thing - a blind hero and heroine? I'd request it just to see how she handled the descriptions without using the sense of sight.

It's a really fresh idea and just plain brave to undertake something like that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 12:22:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Ellen said...

Wow, that's good. Her humorous voice comes through loud and clear, doesn't it?

It's probably dumb to admit this in public on an agent's blog *g*, but I loathe writing query letters. I'm just terrible at it. So thanks for posting this-- good examples are always helpful!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 12:24:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jax Cassidy said...

It's very catching from the first line-- what's not to like about it. The characters pop out, it's humorous, an interesting concept... very witty and made me want to read the manuscript. Great query pick!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 12:49:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Deidre for judging the entries and providing invaluable feedback. I have a much clearer idea of what agents are looking for in a query now.

I think one of the things that makes Babe's query so awesome is how her voice just shines through in the letter. You really get a sense of her personality/writing in just the few short paragraphs.

Way to go, Babe!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 1:05:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Babe!
And a little plug for Romance Divas. This type of networking, along with the opportunity to learn the craft of writing, is what makes it such a great site for aspiring writers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 1:17:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Ellen said...

Upon rereading, I noticed this line with interest: "I am looking to build a career in romance writing and seek representation for future books as well."

I've never added something like this to my queries because I've always figured it was obvious, but perhaps it's not. Does an agent want to be assured that the author is in the business for the long haul, not just a hobbyist? Is this generally a good comment to make in a query letter?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 2:09:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diana Peterfreund said...

I like how she clearly and succinctly she presents the assets of her story and herself. Just from a quick scan of the query you get: 1) blind lovers, 2)playful voice 3)exotic setting 4) beauty and the beast plot with a contemp twist 5) experienced writer. You don't have to go digging through a bunch of overwrought prose about themes and fate to discover the heart of the story.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 2:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Deidre Knight said...

I'm Divalicious Agent?? Very cool! If I eat chocolate, I get to be Godivalicious Agent. :)

I'm silly today, don't mind me. YEA to Babe. The woman can WRITE too, as I can personally attest having peeked at her chapters during lunch.

You guys nailed it on the reasons why the letter caught my eye. First of all, I love stories with blind heroes or heroines--that's a personal choice thing. And of course what is our biggest lesson on this blog? That publishing is a subjective business. I just find those stories intriguing and always have. But it's hard to find a fresh take. *Two* blind characters, both hero and heroine, plus the exotic setting and the warmth of her humor, all of this instantly attracted me.

Ellen, the answer on that tag line about why she was looking for an agent is that it's not a big deal. I sometimes think a nice touch is to add what YOU in particular are looking for in an agent, since different writers have different reasons for seeking an agent. This is a minor point though. DK

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 4:32:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Ellen said...

Thanks, Deidre. I wondered if that was an essential point... I already have a hard time keeping my queries short enough, and don't want to add things unnecessarily!

It IS a great query, though. I have query envy:-).

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 4:56:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Babe's query because it looks easy to write. My favorite part is how she segued the setting into her blurb.

"...contemporary romantic romp is set in the land where kangaroos race Land Rovers and everyone’s your mate. Everyone except Sebastian."

I had to read on. And maybe that's the key to a great query: each line luring the reader to the next sentence.

Another reason I think her query does the job is because when I finished reading it, I was smiling. I want to read books that make me smile, that make me cry, that make me tell my kids that they have to fend dinner for themselves because Momma has to know what happens next in the story. Oh no, there went my Mother of the Year award. :-)


Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 4:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jax Cassidy said...

I'll have to admit I didn't know Babe's manuscript involved blind characters. In fact, my current WIP is about a blind hero as well. When I thought up the idea over ten years ago, I feared that a storyline of that nature would not be appealing and only picked this idea back up for my contemporary. Now I worry that you'll get an onslaught of stories about blind characters... but I'm going to write it anyway darnit! :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 6:11:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Congrats Babe. You did a great job writing the query.

Part of WE ALL WIN is looking at what wins and why. That was easy with this one. We all want to read the book!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 6:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Sheri said...

First, thank you Deidre and congratulations Babe! Babe's query was definately eye catching and had me intriqued as well.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 8:43:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Regina Avalos said...

Thank you Deidre for judging the entries, and congrats to Babe for winning. Here's to seeing the story published somewhere in the near future!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 9:01:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing that catches me is the ease of the writing. She's got a very fluid, easy-to-follow voice that keeps me, the reader, entertained without being boring. I've no interest in Australia or blind heroes/heroines, but the voice of the query would have made me request more. :) She knows her story, she loves it, and it shows.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 10:24:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very flattered and overawed by all of your responses. Thank you for your kind words. Romance Divas is all about support, growth and fun, and if you haven’t already been there, come and hang out with us. You won’t ever want to leave.
I am astounded that the very things I thought would go against my MS, two blind characters and the Australian setting, have made my story stand out in a good way. I guess that proves that if you write the story of your heart, with time, effort and patience, the rest will come. Romance Divas has always supported and encouraged me, and this contest is just one more expression of the nurturing that makes that site a wonderful place to be. Thank you Kristen and Jax for creating it, and thank you Gina for the enormous amount of work you put into these We All Win contests. Thank you Deidre for your encouragement and your support of Divas. You are most generous and worthy of chocolate.

Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 5:34:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Deidre Knight said...

And being the curious sort that I am, I had to take an advance peek at her chapters and can now also say that Babe's STORY rocks too. Babe, you should have gotten some comments from me. :)

Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 8:39:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations Babe :)

Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 9:16:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Deidre Knight said...

That wouldn't disqualify your manuscript, even from consideration here. In fact, my series with NAL has a blind character. Everyone's take is different on a character or a quality. :) D

Saturday, May 28, 2005 at 9:44:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

Way to go BABE!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 at 12:29:00 PM EDT  

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