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An Interview with Janet Rundquist upon receiving an offer of representation.

03/23/2014

Janet Rundquist (ProfeJMarie on QT) has signed with agent Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
AS THOUGH YOU WERE MINE (current title): Julie donated her eggs to help her brother and sister-in-law conceive via IVF. A car accident now makes her unplanned guardian of their - her - kids.

I liked the idea of showing how a family can come back together after a death instead of falling apart. Julie’s character came to me first, then her relationship to her brother.

How long have you been working on this book?
This book took me about a year to write.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
I was still a far cry from getting to the point of wanting to give up entirely. I had queried a novel before this and set it aside, and I debated at least pausing for a bit on this one before starting up the process again with more agents (not the same ones, of course) while I worked on another project.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Absolutely! It’s imperative to have a critical eye on my writing. I had a broad beta reading group for my first novel, and from there I learned who my key readers would be for the second. I’ve recently joined with a critique writing group and am very excited to have that support team, too for future works.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
I sent out 59 queries for my first novel and 35 for this second, current novel. I started querying for this novel late September 2013 and accepted representation mid-February, 2014.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
For the ones I could, I did. Seriously, it’s like applying for a job, isn’t it? Lots of work. I think it made a difference, sometimes, in the response, even if it was a rejection. It’s never a bad thing to forge even the briefest of relationships. For others, well, there were agents that seemed to be a good fit, but unless I could honestly give more than a “because you represent…” statement, I often skipped the personalization and just jumped right into the query. I don’t like to sound false.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
If you are reading this, then I’m betting you’ve already read all the advice and suggestions out there. Most of it’s valid. Above all else, be patient and courteous. If this is what you really want, be thorough in your research about the process and keep on truckin’. Don’t compare yourself to others. To quote a Brendan James song, “Nobody started from the place that you started from…. None of them are you.” Everyone’s path is different. Which is totally a pain, I know.cI liked the idea of showing how a family can come back together after a death instead of falling apart. Julie’s character came to me first, then her relationship to her brother.

Also, if you happen to accept representation while you still have queries out, send out that email that indicates you are withdrawing it for consideration (and of course with those who have any part of your manuscript, I hope that is a given). I received more replies (and fast) with that courtesy than I would have guessed. To me, this meant that agents appreciated that foresight and respect for their time.

Would you be willing to share your query with us?

Julie Mercer donated her eggs to help her brother and sister-in-law conceive via in-vitro fertilization, never expecting that a few years later, she would have to take full responsibility for those children after they lose their parents in a car accident.

Julie has never even wanted children, and now she must make room in her small apartment for the four-year-old twins, Lucy and Mikey, whom she has only ever even met once. Her sister doubts Julie is up for the task, her father wants her to contest her brother’s will, her boss threatens to fire her if she can’t make her new situation work, and something feels off with the new daycare she’s found for the kids. Meanwhile, Lucy and Mikey present their own challenges with one throwing intense tantrums and the other not talking at all.

Then Grant, the twins’ uncle – and also their biological father – shows up at her door, saying he wants to help. The timing of his arrival troubles Julie as she tries to determine if his intentions are sincere or if he has a hidden agenda to fight for custody. Struggling with her own role as aunt or mother, she must determine if her brother and sister-in-law really did make the best decision with entrusting their kids to her.

Instant Rice [now titled As Though You Were Mine], women’s fiction, is complete at 117,000 words.