Friday, May 22, 2015

Query Kombat Submissions Open TODAY!

The submission window will open on May 22nd at 5:30 PM Eastern time and close in ONE hour. Repeat: YOU HAVE ONE HOUR TO ENTER ONLY. The window closes at 6:30PM.

We will have email confirmation. If you don't receive it within an hour of submitting your entry, contact us via twitter and let us know. Kontestants will be revealed on May 31th, and the tournament will kick off on June 1st.

ONE ENTRY PER PERSON ONLY. No cheating and using other email addresses.

IMPORTANT: The Query Kombat team reserves the right to disqualify any entrant at any time for any reason. If an entrant is disqualified before the agent round, an alternate will take its place. If an entrant is disqualified after the agent round, the opposing entry will automatically advance to the next round. The only time we will ever disqualify an applicant is if you say or do something to blemish the spirit of query contests. Query Kombat is supposed to be fun…

So none of this!

In order to enter the contest you MUST follow formatting guidelines, and submit during the contest window. All entries that follow said guidelines will be considered.

In the event that we receive more than the available 64 spots (this is highly expected), Michelle, Mike, and I will savagely attack the slush pile in attempts to build the best team. We will pick (and announce) three alternates in case a submission is disqualified.

Entries should be sent to: QueryKombat (at) gmail (dot) com. The email address has changed from last year. Be mindful of that.

Formatting guidelines:

Font: Times New Roman (or an equivalent), 12pt font, single-spaced with spaces between each paragraph. No (I repeat: NO!) indentations.

Subject line of the Email: A short, unique nickname for your entry [colon] your genre (audience included). Do not skip this step or your entry will be deleted. (ex. I Fell in Love with a Ken Doll: Adult Erotica)

For the nickname, make it as unique as possible so that there are no duplicates. These will be the names used in the tournament (or an abbreviated version if it's too long) so keep it PG-13 and try to have it relate to your story in some way.

In the body of the email (with examples):

Name: Michael Anthony
Email address: myboyfriendwasbittenbyashark (at) gmail (dot) com.

Entry Nickname: I Fell in Love with a Ken Doll
Title: Eunuchs and Politics
Word count: 68K
Genre: Adult Erotica


Your query letter here. Do not include your contact information. Do Not include your bio or comps. But include all the other paragraphs.

I FELL IN LOVE WITH A KEN DOLL tells the harrowing story of Barbra B. Doll, a US senator who goes against country, family, and the Illumaniti to be with an amateur surfer with no genitalia.

First 250 words:

Don't include the chapter title, and please, don't stop in the middle of a sentence. DO put spaces between paragraphs.

For PB follow these directions but send only 50 words, including art instruction.

All queries submitted are FINAL. We will not edit them in any way, shape, or form. Please read, reread, and rereread your submission before you hit send.

Because the immense amount of work ahead of us, the tournament will be hosted on three separate blogs. In order to enter the contest, you MUST following Michael's and Michelle's blogs, and have signed up for SC's monthly newsletter concerning the 'Write Inclusively' campaign.

Good luck and may the odds ever be in your favor!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Find Out if You Can Submit to Query Kombat 2015!

Query Kombat 2015 is rolling in this weekend (ahh!!) and we thought it'd be a great time to go over the essentials.

Can you submit to Query Kombat 2015? If you pass these three criteria, you can!

  1. Your submission must be PB (50-word limit), MG, YA, NA, or Adult (so, basically, any age category) and must be complete and polished.
  2. You must be following Mike's blog, Michelle's blog, and you must be subscribed to my #WriteInclusively monthly newsletter.
  3. Your submission cannot have been in the agent round of any contest within the last year, except if you were in Secret Agent or were an alternate for Pitch Wars.
  4. You can submit to the Writer's Voice as well!
That's it! We know there has been some back-and-forth on Twitter, but this is the final decision. If we decide on any changes (which is pretty unlikely, but hey, you never know) come back to this post for any updates.

Also, this contest, although VERY FUN, is a big huge time commitment. Please consider supporting the contests and Michelle's blog! (She doesn't like to brag about how much work she does but she does a LOT - she's taken off work for some contests.)

That's it! Have any questions? Comment below. But biggest question: ARE YOU EXCITED?!?!

Monday, May 18, 2015


**It's time to hang out and have fun!**
There will be topics and things to talk about starting May 21 and during the wait time until the chosen entries are released on May 31st. We’ll start with naming your category/genre to help those who may not be so sure to finalize their answers.

Just tweet your answers under the hashtag #QueryKombat and have some fun meeting and talking with other Kombatants, judges, and your hosts!!!

May 21st: Before the big days arrives tweet your category and genre. Ask questions about genre if you’re unsure where your manuscript fits.

May 22: After 5:30 pm tweet when you’ve submitted your entry to our QK email. Nerves and jitters can be calmed by sharing with others. All day long tweet out what your entry Nickname is and why you choose it.

May 23rd: Submission is over and you made it. Judges get fun secret names. Entrants get to create nicknames. Your poor hosts are left out. Create nicknames for SC, Michael and Michelle! (Keep it clean. We blush easily.) And tweet your favorite comp title.

May 24th: Tweet your main character’s name and a special tidbit about them. See what sorts of names are popular and if anyone else shares MC’s names with you.

May 25th: Tweet what you find the hardest about writing. Is it keeping out telling? Writing action scenes? What’s hard for you?

May 26th: Tweet your favorite book title. See if you can pick just one. If not, tweet them all!

May 27th: Tweet something about how you write. Do you use music or prefer silence? Morning or late at night? We celebrate our differences.

May 28th:  Tweet us your villain’s name and something evil about them.

May 29th: If you’re looking for some beta readers or CP, now is the time to tweet about it.

May 30th: Tweet the title of a soothing song that is helping you get through the day before the picks are revealed. Hold hands and sing Kumbaya lyrics like the band of friends you’ve become. (We’ll be running around like crazy gerbils getting everything ready.)

The hosts will post reminders for you in the #QueryKombat feed. It’s all about “Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you” and having fun!

Also here is a schedule of dates for Query Kombat so that you don't miss a moment:

QK Submissions                                                                      May 22nd at 5:30 EST

Kombatants Announced                                                         May 30th All three blogs.

QK Round 1                                                                            June 1 – 4th All three blogs.

QK Agent Round                                                                    June 8th – 11th All three blogs.

QK Round 2                                                                            June 15 – 17th Mike and SC’s blog

QK Round 3                                                                            June 21 – 23rd Michelle’s blog.

QK Round 4                                                                            June 25 – 26th SC’s blog.

QK Round 5 (final 4)                                                              June 28 – 29th Mike’s blog.

QK Round 6 (championship)                                                  July 1 – 2nd Michelle’s blog.

WOOO!!! I'M SO EXCITED!!! Can't wait to read the entries :DD

Friday, May 15, 2015

Query Kombat AGENT/EDITOR REVEAL Part Two!

You know how much we've been teasing you about how amazing the Query Kombat 2015 agent line-up is without revealing the agents?

Well, that time is up. The agents are being revealed.

I've am am so incredibly and genuinely excited about this agent line-up; we have INCREDIBLE agents participating in this contest!! And over twenty-five of them!

Check out Mike's blog for the first third of the agents, and check out Michelle's for the last third.

Below is my third. I'm shivering in excitement.

WITHOUT FURTHER ADO (and yes, the word is ado! I thought it was 'adieu' but apparently not):

One Third of the Amazing Agents

Beth Miller

Beth Miller has worked with Robin Rue at Writers House since 2007, where she’s had the pleasure of working with many talented and bestselling authors in a variety of genres.  As a Junior Agent, she is building her list, working primarily with authors of romance, women’s fiction, new adult, and young adult. She would also love to find a dark fantasy in the vein of Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series.

On the personal side, Beth has a long-standing love for the sea, as well as a fascination for all things Scottish (including, but not limited to, men in kilts). She is looking forward to her next road trip.

Monica Odom joined Bradford Literary Agency in 2015. Prior to joining Team Bradford, she worked for five years managing finance, subrights and social media at Liza Dawson Associates, and became an associate agent there in 2013. Monica earned her Masters in Publishing: Digital & Print Media from New York University in 2014, and has a B.A. in English from Montclair State University.

Monica is seeking: Nonfiction by authors with demonstrable platforms in the areas of: pop culture, illustrated/graphic design, food and cooking, humor, history and social issues. She is also looking for narrative nonfiction in these areas, and some memoir. She loves to see a personal project turn into something original and surprising.

Fiction in the areas of: literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, compelling speculative fiction and magic realism, historical fiction, alternative histories, dark and edgy fiction, literary psychological thrillers, and illustrated/picture books.

Monica is most actively seeking adult projects, but is open to all levels of children’s projects and holds the same criteria no matter the age group: original storytelling, incredible voice, compelling characters, and vivid, detailed setting. She also likes to see a strong sense of narrative tension.

Monica is serious about the fact that We Need Diverse Books and is looking for authentic representation of all characters, diverse or otherwise. She enjoys working closely with her clients on the editorial and developmental level to fine-tune manuscripts and proposals, and loves the process of managing a writer or artist’s career.

Monica is not looking for genre romance, erotica, military, poetry, or inspirational/spiritual works.

In her free time, Monica can most often be found with her nose in a book (or handheld screen), out on a bicycle ride, or catering to the various and extensive needs of her spoiled-rotten cats, Sam and Luna.

Click here to see a more detailed list of her interests!

Jordy Albert is a Literary Agent and co-founder of The Booker Albert Literary Agency. She holds a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University, and a M.A. from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She has worked with Marisa Corvisiero during her time at the L. Perkins Agency and the Corvisiero Literary Agency. She enjoys studying languages (French/Japanese), spends time teaching herself how to knit, is a HUGE fan of Doctor Who, Sherlock and Supernatural (#Superwholock)!!! And loves dogs. 

She is looking for stories that sink their teeth in, leave the reader wanting more, and gives her all the feels. She loves books that make her laugh out loud or tear up (or in some cases wanting to throw the book). She is interested in Middle Grade contemporary or action/adventure (think awesome 80s movies). In YA and New Adult, she is looking for sci-fi/fantasy (romance), contemporary romance. She’s also always looking for characters with strong, authentic/realistic voices. Jordy loves an awesome kick butt hero/heroine, especially when they have to work their way out of a tight spot. While it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, she tends to shy away from novels with trigger topics, such as suicide and any type of abuse. As for adult works, Jordy is looking for smart, sexy contemporary romances that leave her breathless, and where the chemistry between the characters sizzles right off the pages. She is also looking for Historical Romances (she definitely has a soft spot for a fantastic Regency). Like Brittany, Jordy is a sucker for a HEA (please, no sad endings)! 

Caitlin joined Sterling Lord Literistic in 2011 and has worked closely with both George Nicholson in children's and young adult, and Celeste Fine in nonfiction. Caitlin represents a select list of fiction and nonfiction clients. She is looking for adult and young adult genre fiction, primarily fantasy and science-fiction with a smart edge. In nonfiction, she is interested in food, fashion, pop culture, journalism and narrative nonfiction, particularly in the areas of anthropology and psychology, science, travel, feminist theory and women's issues, and internet culture and general geek-related works. Caitlin grew up overseas and has a BA in Creative Writing from Columbia University.

Serving as a Literary Assistant for the past two years at the Seymour Agency, Lane Heymont has led the marketing efforts for their authors and enjoyed connecting clients with readers. As a lover of literature since childhood, he decided to pursue his passion as a literary agent to bring more well written books to the masses. 

With a bachelor's degree in Psychology, business and literature, Lane continued his education in Creative Writing and English, attending Harvard. 

Lane is hungry for well-written science fiction and fantasy novels. Exceptional world building is a must. In the non-fiction, he is looking for the inspiring, intriguing, and mysterious. 

Lane is a member of HWA, ITW, and AAR. He believes what John Gregory Dunne said: “Writing is manual labor of the mind.”

Sarah Negovetich is fully aware that no one knows how to pronounce her last name, and she's okay with that. Her favorite writing is YA, because at seventeen the world is your oyster. Only oysters are slimy and more than a little salty, it's accurate if not exactly motivational. 

Sarah's background is in Marketing. FYI, your high school algebra teacher was right when they told you every job uses math. She uses her experience to assist Corvisiero authors with platform building and book promotion.

Sarah is only accepting MG and YA fiction manuscripts. She is open to any genre within those age groups, but prefers speculative fiction. Contemporary is not her favorite, but she will look at it. She is not interested in seeing poetry, novels in verse, short stories/novellas or anything focused on saving the environment (she's all for recycling, but doesn't want to represent it).

Caitie Flum joined Liza Dawson Associates in July 2014 as assistant and audio rights manager. She graduated from Hofstra University in 2009 with a BA in English with a concentration in publishing studies. Caitie interned at Hachette Book Group and Writers House. She was an Editorial Assistant then Coordinator for Bookspan, where she worked on several clubs including the Book-of-the-Month Club, The Good Cook, and the Children's Book-of-the-Month Club.

Caitie grew up in Ohio where she developed her love of reading everything she could get her hands on.

Caitie is looking for commercial and upmarket fiction with great characters and superb writing, especially historical fiction, mysteries/thrillers of all kinds, magical realism, and book club fiction.

Caitie is also looking for Young Adult and New Adult projects, particularly romance, historical fiction, mysteries and thrillers, and contemporary books with diverse characters.

In nonfiction, she is looking for memoirs that make people look at the world differently, narrative nonfiction that's impossible to put down, books on pop culture, theater, current events, women's issues, and humor.

Jennifer Johnson-Blalock

Jennifer Johnson-Blalock joined Liza Dawson Associates as an associate agent in 2015, having previously interned at LDA in 2013 before working as an agent's assistant at Trident Media Group. Jennifer graduated with honors from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in English and earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Before interning at LDA, she practiced entertainment law and taught high school English and debate.

Jennifer is focusing on nonfiction. She is looking for seasoned writers with strong platforms and is excited by narrative nonfiction and memoirs that use a unique story to explore a larger issue. Particular areas of interest include current events, social sciences, women's issues, law, business, history, the arts and pop culture, lifestyle, sports, and food, including cookbooks and health/wellness.

Jennifer is also seeking upmarket commercial fiction, especially thrillers, and is pleased to work with clients who write both fiction and nonfiction.

While she'd be happy to receive queries for works in any of those broad areas, Jennifer would jump out of her seat for the following: (click here to see the entire list!)

Alisa’s family immigrated to the US from Uzbekistan in 1992, fleeing the fallout from the collapse of the Soviet Union. Just like she had in her birthplace, Alisa threw herself headfirst into education, graduating High School at 16 years old, and becoming a university alumni not long thereafter. Alisa’s true passion has been and remains, quite simply, books. Consuming varied works of literature at a breakneck pace, it wasn’t long before Alisa tried her hand at writing her own. 

Years later, with millions of unpublishable words under her belt, Alisa joined forces with husband Eugene to launch Curiosity Quills, a blogging project dedicated to promoting their writing efforts and silly opinions. It was only a matter of time before the process of editing, promoting, and collaborating on her most serious writing projects to date snowballed into Curiosity Quills Press - a fully fledged publishing house with over 100 authors today and growing.

Alisa’s favorite book is The Book of Joby, by Mark Ferrari.

Again, make sure to see the rest of the agents  on Mike's blog and Michelle's.

I'm gunna go sit down and relax. I need to recover from all this amazingness.

What do you think about this line-up?!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Nest Pitch Agent Round!!

YES YES YES YES!!!! The time we all have been waiting for!!!

We've been honing our team's pitches and further. To the agents reading this, know that we took a look at the first ten pages of our entries before choosing them, so the entries are beautiful even past the first 300 words.

One basket to rule them all. Put all your requests in our basket, don't worry, they will be safe.
* * *

Obviously we're the best team. BUT AGENTS: THERE ARE A LOT MORE TEAM! Make sure to look at all of them:









Some more details:

Only agents will be able to comment on the entries. It'll be a secret agent round so the comments will be moderated - they won't be published right away :D

The agent round will begin 8.30 am EST (USA) and go on for 24 hours.

The requests will be made according to the following list (forgive me for the horrible formatting, Internet is not my strongest ability):

Choc. egg basket w/ ribbon                  Full
Choc. egg basket                    Query + 150 pages + 1 page Synopsis
3 Boxes Caramel eggs                   Query + 100 pages
2 Boxes Caramel eggs                   Query + 75 pages + 1 page Synopsis
1 Box Caramel eggs                    Query + 50 pages
1 doz. nougat filled Choc. eggs                   Query + 25 pages + 1 page Synopsis
½ doz. nougat filled Choc. eggs                   Query + 20 pages
1x nougat filled Choc. egg                   Query + 15 pages + 1 page Synopsis
1 doz. hollow Choc eggs                   Query + 10 pages
½ doz. hollow Choc eggs                   Query + 5 pages + 1 page Synopsis
1x hollow Choc egg                   Query + 5 pages

Be SURE to look at the main Nest Pitch blog which has all the information you'll ever need about what's happening.

A HUGE HUGE HUGE shout-out to my amazing co-team members, Laura Heffernan and Heather Murphy Capps. Seriously, I owe them so much. They've worked harder than I have and are simply incredible. I'm so thankful for them.

You better follow her and Tweet Laura your thanks *angry glares*
And you best do the same for Heather *more angry glares* 

(If there is an error in your entry, let me know ASAP through Twitter or email me at SC_Author (at) yahoo (dot) com!)

SC#1 - YA Contemporary (Christian) WOUNDS HEAL, SCARS REMAIN

Genre: YA Contemporary (Christian)
Word Count: 88,000 words


Seventeen-year-old Allison had plans: graduate and go to college on a track scholarship. After she’s raped, there’s a new plan: survive school, testify, and learn to live with PTSD before it consumes her.

If your MC was an Easter Egg, what flavour would they be?: 

Allie would be a chocolate kinder egg with an unknown surprise inside.

First 300:

Shoving my books and clothes into my gym bag, I check my phone before tossing it in too. My
brother, Tim, is supposed to pick me up in exactly one minute and drive me to Carter’s house to
celebrate the team win. There isn’t time to change out of my Salas High uniform. I wrap my
sweaty towel around my neck and hug my new track spikes even though they smell like feet.

Too bad the college recruiter wasn’t here today. I’ve never seen the score that close, but my last jump sure wiped the haughty smile off Brandy’s face. If she hadn’t faulted on her final attempt, the Red Jerseys would’ve won.

Hefting my bag, I head out the back door. Outside, there’s no sign of Tim yet. A gentle breeze carries a hint of eucalyptus and mint, Carter’s signature scent. I drop my bag by the block wall and look around for my boyfriend. Instead, I see a red jersey. “Brandy?” My heart pounds. I grip
my track spikes tighter. “What are you doing here?”

Brandy has that haughty smile back on her face. Carter’s scent gets stronger. Someone grabs my arm hard. I scream.


It’s today. Today I go back. I’ll walk past the sidewalk where everything changed. My heart races when I think about the smell of wilted flowers and the dark stain that was blood twelve days ago. I sink in my cool bathwater, my breath coming in short gasps. A scream bubbles up from my stomach. I wrestle it, caging the noise in my throat. It feigns a retreat, returning with reinforcements. The battle ends with me out of the tub, bent over the toilet, the scream victorious.

I close my eyes and focus on something small. My name is Allison Stone. My body hurts.


Genre: MG Fantasy
Word Count: 44,000


12-year-old Wick is a boy and a fairy godmother. He’s got a wand and a mission: foil a plot to turn his friends into Stepford kids and save their happily ever afters.

If your MC was an Easter Egg, what flavour would they be?:

Vanilla on the outside, but buried deep inside would be strawberry pop rocks.

First 300:


Before we start, I want to make a few things clear.

1. I’m a boy. 

2. I’m only twelve.

3. I never had and never will have wings.

4. Did I mention I’m a boy?

5. I’m not actually a terrible a person.

6. Still a boy.

7. I’m technically a fairy godmother.

What’s that? You thought fairy godmothers were gray-haired old women sporting dainty wings and way too much glitter? Don’t feel bad. So did I. That was, until I met one. But that’s getting ahead of myself. We probably should start back when I didn’t believe in fairies at all. By “back when,” of course, I mean three days ago at soccer practice. 

Chapter 1

Three obstacles stood between me and glory. Okay, maybe glory is a bit much. Three obstacles stood between me and a fourth goal at Friday’s soccer practice. I’d be breaking records. No one else had shot four. The only impediments to my eternal fame: the midfielder, the defender and the goalkeeper. Foes I’d vanquished before and knew I could vanquish again.

The midfielder mirrored my moves as I dribbled towards him. Keeping my eyes glued to his, I tapped the ball once, twice, three times, and kicked it between his legs. The defender lumbered toward me. I knocked the ball away. He changed direction about as well as a steaming locomotive, so I sprinted past him.

All that remained was the goalie. I planted my left foot, pulled back my right, and let the ball fly. It sailed toward the goal. The goalie reached for it, the tips of his fingers grazing the bottom of the ball, but he couldn’t stop it. Nothing stood between me and the fame I so richly deserved. Nothing that is, but physics.


Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 84,000


When sixteen-year-old Rumilla accidentally spins straw into gold, her friend steals the credit to impress Prince Casmir. He’ll kill for more, but the magic of spinning gold will destroy Rumilla – one skein at a time.

If your MC was an Easter Egg, what flavour would they be?:

I haven’t had sweets in so long, but sometimes I dream of chocolate and raspberry filled eggs.

First 300:

My spinning wheel gives up on me with one final crack. A strand of soft wool slips through my fingers, snapping in two, tangling in the bobbins and the spokes. The wheel tilts and I fly forward, scraping the floor. With a tremor, I relight my oil lamp. The light skitters across the room, my hand unsteady.

The crack slices through the wheel’s support beam, breaking it in two. All of its parts—crank, flyer, and treadle—list precariously. The merino wool my brother Braun traded for tangles into a mess. At best, I will need to re-card it.

The wheel must be fixable. I lay it down, and wish for a miracle. I’ve patched it before, held it together with beeswax, tar, and prayers. My fixes were crude but they worked. This time, to keep the rot from spreading, the beam will need to be replaced.

My heart sinks, and I almost hear Braun sighing. “Oh Rumilla, another expense?”

Another piece of ill-luck, in two years overflowing with ill-luck.

Wiping the grime off my skirt, I pick up a wrench from the toolbox. I’ll take in the part, instead of dwelling on my empty stomach and the five coppers lost alongside the wheel. Unhooking the bobbin, I twist what remains into a skein, the finest yarn I’ve worked in months.

With a twist the broken part detaches from the frame. I pack it in butcher paper, while wrapping the yarn in a delicate shawl; a gift from my mother. The shawl’s silken gold threads weave into geometric motifs. She lives on in the lingering scent of roses and the soft weft of the fabric. Closing myself to those memories, I bundle the wool and mother-of-all together. Snuffing the oil lamp, the room returns to darkness.

SC#4 - YA Psych Thriller/Horror THE NEW GIRL

Genre: YA psychological thriller/horror
Word Count: 59,000


When seventeen-year-old Jenny befriends the new girl, she never dreams it'll ruin her life. Taylor's beautiful, wealthy, and smart…but she’s also a murderous psychopath. Jenny must end Taylor’s dangerous games before her dearest friend dies.

If your MC was an Easter Egg, what flavour would they be?: 

I'd be one of those Sour Patch Kids eggs, because I seem sour until you get to know me. Then I'm all kinds of awesome.

First 300:

A shadow fell across the page I was reading.

“I love your hair.”

Drawing a hand against my forehead to shield my eyes, I squinted at the girl who stood over me. With the sun behind her, it was difficult to see her face, but I could see enough to know the newcomer was making fun of me. Her hair was long blonde curled perfection. I rubbed my hand through my own crop. Thinking of a few choice phrases, I decided to ignore her instead.

“Did you do the color yourself? It’s awesome.”

I turned shoulders slightly so the light would fall on the page again, hoping the girl would get the hint. There was no way this Malibu Barbie liked my look, and I’d taken enough ribbing over it today.

The shadow moved on and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was about to glance over my shoulder to make sure the coast was clear when she knelt in front of me.

“I tried Kool-Aid once. It turned my hair bright blue. I looked like Cookie Monster. My mom freaked.”

I couldn’t help but grin. My mother hadn’t been thrilled with my back-to-school look, either. I couldn’t imagine this girl with blue hair. “Manic Panic.”

“You did a great job. That purple is sweet.”

“Thanks.” Even my best friend had been unsure about my ultraviolet brush cut, but who cared what people thought? In the end, they were all sheep anyway.

The girl’s eyes widened and I realized she was gaping at the cover of my book. “Is that a real book of spells?”

I shook my head. “Fiction.”

She seemed disappointed. She plopped down on the grass with no thought to her cream-colored skirt, making herself comfortable.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Query Kombat 2015 Judges Section 2!


As you all should be very well aware (*glares if you are not*) Query Kombat 2015 is coming in just about two weeks.



Take a look at the rules and details if you haven't already.

As always, we have an incredibly amazing FANTASTIC group of judges that will help and vote on the match-ups in the Kombat. Once we three hosts pick our teams, the judges have the task to vote on the match-ups that will ensue (when we pit our writers against each other in a brutal Kombat fashion). These people are amazing and they are selflessly donating their time and energy while asking for nothing in return. So thank you thank you thank you.

Entrants: you have an incentive to look at all the judges, because there's a fun surprise at the end of this post! So scroll scroll scroll.

We have about thirty judges, so we split up the judges between our three blogs  (Michelle's, Mike's, and mine). Take a look at their blogs to see the first third of the judges and the last third (in no particular order).

Kendra Young

Kendra lives with her awesome family in Tennessee where she teaches seventh grade by day and writes twisted middle grade and young adult tales in the wee hours. If it goes bump in the night or leads to fantastical journeys, she adores it. She’s a member of SCBWI and a proud part of the newly-formed KickButt KidLit blog. Kendra is represented by Taylor Haggerty of Waxman Leavell Literary Agency.

Blog | Twitter | KickButt KidLit

Margaret Fortune

Margaret Fortune wrote her first story at the age of six, and has been writing ever since. Her short fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Nth Zine, Neo-Opsis Science Fiction Magazine, and Space and Time. She has a BA in psychology from the University of Minnesota - Morris. NOVA, the first book in a 5-book science fiction series, is releasing from DAW Books June 2, 2015.

Jessica Kapp

Jessica Kapp is obsessed with the “What ifs” of life and writes Young Adult novels to create twisted answers to her own questions. Her SpecFic stories are grounded in the real world and are represented by Whitley Abell with Inklings Literary. Jessica lives on the side of Washington that sees little rain (truly, it exists). She spends her time alternating between the library and the soccer field.

Connect with her on Twitter or her blog.

Dan Koboldt

Dan Koboldt works as a genetics researcher at Washington University, where he and his colleagues use next-generation DNA sequencing technologies to uncover the genetic basis of inherited diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. He's also a bowhunter and avid outdoorsman. 

Dan writes science fiction and fantasy. His short SF story "Going Viral" appeared in the spring 2015 anthology from Third Flatiron Publishing. He's represented by Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary Agency. He runs the #SFFpit Twitter pitching event and the Science in Sci-fi, Fact in Fantasy blog series. Follow him on Twitter.

Heather Van Fleet

Heather Van Fleet lives in a small town on the Iowa/Illinois border. She's been married to her high school sweetheart for thirteen years and together they have three beautiful daughters. 

When she's not torturing her fictional book characters, burning dinner, or running around chasing her crazy kiddos, you can usually find her with her head stuck in the Kindle, obsessing over every book boyfriend imaginable. 

Heather is a published author through Swoon Romance and Sunshine Press, an intern through BookFish Books, and is represented by Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary.

Judy Clemens

Judy Clemens is the author of the Stella Crown mysteries, the Grim Reaper series, and the stand-alone LOST SONS. She writes in her home office in Ohio, where she divides the rest of her time between working part-time, shuttling her kids to events, baking and cooking, and eating chocolate. She is a past president of Sisters in Crime, and has been nominated for both the Anthony and Agatha awards. She has recently delved into the YA/MG writing world and is represented by Uwe Stender of TriadaUS. Her entry TAG, YOU’RE DEAD, was the YA winner of Query Kombat in 2014.

Amanda Heger

Amanda Heger is a writer, attorney, and bookworm. She lives in the Midwest with three unruly rescue dogs and a husband who encourages her delusions of grandeur.

The first book in her New Adult romance series, Without Borders, is forthcoming from Diversion Books on April 19, 2016. The story was inspired by the summer Amanda spent in rural Nicaragua, eating gallo pinto, speaking mangled Spanish, and showing high school students how to slide condoms onto over-sized plantains.

Her stories are represented by Jessica Watterson of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Calie Dietrich

Cale Dietrich hails from a small picturesque town in Australia, and now lives in the coastal city of Brisbane. His hobbies include reading any YA books he can get his hands on, binge-watching TV, and spending way too much time on Tumblr. Seriously, if he didn't have a Tumblr he probably would've written like fifty books by now. He can be found on twitter at@caledietrich.

Wade Albert White

Wade hails from Nova Scotia, Canada, land of wild blueberries and Duck Tolling Retrievers. He teaches ancient Hebrew, dabbles in animation, and spends the rest of his time as a stay-at-home dad. It is also possible he has set a new record as the slowest 10K runner. Ever. He owns one pretend cat and one real one, and they get along fabulously. He has been writing speculative fiction for many years and is now represented by the Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency.

If he could only bring three series to read on deserted island, it would be the three Hs: Harry Potter, Hellboy, and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Oh, and just for the record, Firefly should have had a seven season run. No question.

Marty Mayberry

Marty Mayberry writes anything from young adult sci-fi to adult historical fantasy. When she’s not dreaming up ways to mess with her character’s lives, she works as an RN/Clinical Documentation Specialist. She has a BA in International Affairs in German and an Associate’s Degree in Nursing. She lives in New England with her husband and grown children, as well as three neurotic cats and a geriatric chocolate lab. Give her long walks on a powdery beach, ancient ruins to explore, or a good book, and her life’s complete. She’s represented by Jessica Watterson of the Sandra Dijkstra Agency.

Natasha Raulerson

Natasha grew up as a tomboy hanging with the guys, getting skinned knees, and swimming in the South Florida sun. Though she’s more inclined to wear dresses now, she still prefers a good pair of chucks and comfy pair of jeans. Tattoos, Jack Daniels, and hanging at the pool are three of her favorite things. By day she writes about the characters driving her imagination wild. By night she enjoys a good book, hanging with her hubs, and getting snuggle attacks from her two spoiled pups. 

Thank you thank you SO MUCH judges.

The surprise I mentioned before is this: today, so that the judges and you all can celebrate a little bit more, we're having a Twitter party under the hashtag #QKJudges. Judges, entrants, we hosts, other writers, etc. will be chatting it up at that hashtag, so join in and be sure to thank the judges!!! You can thank them even more by following their pages, visiting their websites, and supporting them any way you can.

Head on over to Michelle's blog for the first third of the judges and Mike's for the final third!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Humanizing Power of Writing Inclusively

I've been talking a lot about my #WriteInclusively campaign recently but I realized I never really showed why it's so necessary, on a factual basis at least.

SO, SCIENCE!! *confetti*

Here's an article that discusses various studies about the link between reading and being 'more human'. Honestly, not a fan of the article. Kinda long. Kinda boring.

Honestly, to all of us who read and write, building empathy is kind of a given. Being a good writer means understanding our character, and usually the character we are writing has different identities than we do. That means we strive to understand, empathize, and realize very different experiences than we have.

If that sounds exhausting, it's because it is. We writers constantly think and over-think every action of characters take. And in that process, we understand the humanity of these people.

That is why #WriteInclusively is so important. When we write inclusively, when we include characters of different colors, different sexual and gender identities, different abilities, when we write about these characters who are too often ignored, we are putting ourselves through the task of empathizing and humanizing these people.

It's vitally important that we keep writing about underrepresented identities. I'm deeply against the idea that writers cannot responsibly write from the perspective of characters who identify differently than the writer. After all, authors of color have been writing about white characters for such a long time.

And it's hard. Very hard. I have a deep fear that, even though I edit voraciously, research a ton, and get a lot of beta readers, I am misrepresenting the characters I write about. It's a constant battle to decolonize our thinking and break free of social constructions. It's a battle to elevate and trust the truth spoken from those we are writing about, and to block out what others tell us. We will fail, a lot. And we will have to correct ourselves. But we have to do it.

It is not a political statement to have a LGBTQ, person of color, or person of different ability as our main character. Since when did humanity become political? Honestly, I'm fed up with politics being brought into everything. We're humans, not political parties - we can do things without them being political!

Our readers will read our books and empathize with the characters we create. If we do our jobs right, we will humanize our characters. It is something that we crucially need in the world we live in. The more I think about it, the more every social injustice stems from not realizing the humanity of the victims.

If we recognized everyone's humanity, this world would be a much, much better place. We as authors have the ability to make this world better - our books have the scientific ability to make people empathize with identities they'll never experience (isn't that incredible?!).

We have the power to make the world better, one child, one reader, and one writer at a time (because we can't forget about self-improvement!). We can make this a great world for all people. 

That's why #WriteInclusively is so important. And, if you wish, I urge you to write inclusively!

How do you think writing can help the world? What do you feel is the power of writing and reading?

Friday, April 24, 2015

ANNOUNCING Query Kombat 2015!

Bloggers Michael, Michelle and I are back again to bring you the third annual Query Kombat tournament.


The Basics

Query Kombat will host 64 kombatants in a single-elimination, tournament style query-off. Entries will go head to head (one on one) with one another until only ONE entry remains. There will be a total of six rounds in Query Kombat. 64 entries in round one, 32 in round two, 16 in round three, 8 in round four, 4 in round five, and 2 in round six.

As we said, some things have changed. We’re doing away with tournament brackets this year. Instead, entries will be matched up based on target audience and genre. We'll continue grouping that way until it's no longer possible.

If you secure a spot in the tournament, your query and the first 250 words of your manuscript (to the end of a complete sentence) will be pitted against another query and first 250 words. Judges will read each match-up and vote 'Victory' on the best entry. Remember, this is subjective. Considering last year, votes may come down to personal tastes.

The entry with the most ‘victories’ at the end of the round will advance to the next round until only one champion remains. 

This year the agent round will be held after the first round. That mean 32 entries will make it into the agent round. 32!

Of course, there's a twist!

The agent round will be conducted in secret. And by secret, we mean TOP SECRET. Entrants won't know who requested what—or how much—until that entrant has been eliminated from the contest.
On the plus side, winners of the first round will be able to resubmit their entry prior to the agent round. So, any feedback the judges give can be implemented before the agents see your work.

Who’s invited to submit:

The Query Kombat tournament is open only to unagented writers seeking representation. Your manuscript must be complete, polished, and ready to submit. If your manuscript has already been in the agent round of another contest, you are not eligible to participate in Query Kombat. You can only submit one entry per person. Please don’t try to sneak in or use other emails. The QK team includes about fifty people and a few hundreds of spectators. Someone will notice and inform us. Submissions for Picture Books, MG, YA, NA, and Adult works will be accepted.

The submission window will open on May 22nd at 5:30 EST and close at 6:30 EST. You have one hour and one hour only to send in your submission! We will have email confirmation. If you don't receive it within an hour of submitting your entry, contact us via twitter and let us know.  Kontestants will be revealed on May 30th, and the tournament will kick off on June 1st.

IMPORTANT: The Query Kombat team reserves the right to disqualify any entrant at any time for any reason. If an entrant is disqualified before the agent round, an alternate will take its place. If an entrant is disqualified after the agent round, the opposing entry will automatically advance to the next round. The only time we will ever disqualify an applicant is if you say or do something to blemish the spirit of query contests. Query Kombat is supposed to be fun…
So none of this!

In order to enter the contest you MUST follow formatting guidelines, and submit during the contest window. All entries that follow said guidelines will be considered. 

In the event that we receive more than the available 64 spots (this is highly expected), Michelle, Mike, and I will savagely attack the slush pile in attempts to build the best team. We will pick (and announce) three alternates in case a submission is disqualified.

Entries should be sent to:  QueryKombat (at) gmail (dot) com. The email address has changed from last year. Be mindful of that.

Formatting guidelines:

Font: Times New Roman (or an equivalent), 12pt font, single-spaced with spaces between each paragraph. No (I repeat: NO!) indentations.
Subject line of the Email: A short, unique nickname for your entry [colon] your genre (audience included). Do not skip this step or your entry will be deleted. (ex. I Fell in Love with a Ken Doll: Adult Erotica)

For the nickname, make it as unique as possible so that there are no duplicates. These will be the names used in the tournament (or an abbreviated version if it's too long) so keep it PG-13 and try to have it relate to your story in some way.

In the body of the email (with examples):

Entry Nickname: I Fell in Love with a Ken Doll
Name: Michael Anthony
Email address: myboyfriendwasbittenbyashark (at) gmail (dot) com.
Title: Eunuchs and Politics
Word count: 68K
Genre: Adult Erotica


I FELL IN LOVE WITH A KEN DOLL tells the harrowing story of Barbra B. Doll, a US senator who goes against country, family, and the Illumaniti to be with an amateur surfer with no genitalia. 

First 250 words:

Don't include the chapter title and please, don't stop in the middle of a sentence.

All queries submitted are FINAL. We will not edit them in any way, shape, or form. Please read, reread, and rereread your submission before you hit send. You have several weeks to polish your work. Take advantage of it. Competition will be fierce.

Because the immense amount of work ahead of us, the tournament will be hosted on three separate blogs. In order to enter the contest, you MUST following Michael's and Michelle's blogs, and have signed up for my monthly newsletter concerning the 'Write Inclusively' campaign.'All three blogs will host the first round and agent round. The second round will be hosted by Michael and SC. The third round will be hosted by Michelle. The fourth round will be hosted by SC. The fifth round will be hosted by Michael. The final round will be hosted by Michelle. Have no fear, each blog will have links to all rounds so you will not get lost.

Agents and judges will be revealed soon. (As of now we have 15ish agents and 30 judges!)
Questions can be left in the comments and I'll answer them as quickly as possible. As always, Query Kombat announcement calls for celebration. SO JOIN US ON TWITTER! We will have Twitter parties (stay tuned - last time, we got #QueryKombat to trend on Twitter!).

THIS IS EXCITING. And will be a LOT of fun as always. Good luck, and HAVE FUN!!

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Are you watching closely?

Yes, that’s right – Round 3 for Nestpitch2015 is here!

Over the coming days and weeks all Teams will be working with their authors to help them polish their submissions, but I can’t tell you too much; oh to hell with it, I don’t think Nikola Vukoja is watching, here are my Submission Picks!


Drum roll...


Wounds Heal, Scars Remain
Straw Salt Gold
Fairy God-Mother Boy
New Girl

CONGRATS CONGRATS CONGRATS! You all know all about keeping on even if you're not picked. Contests are subjective. We passed over so many entries, even entries we loved. Don't worry if you're not picked.

On May 11th I will be posting each author’s entire Pitch but for now, it’s all hush-hush

You can find the first clues to the other pitches here (remove your blog from the list):

And you can also go to the Nestpitch Blog where you find a link to all the blogs as well as a complete Title, Category/Genre & Author list.

So; here we go, cone of silence may need to be enforced here! Oh wait! Before I go, come back before May 11th because that clever Nik is running Unmask the Agent again this year & I promise to update you on the details *there’s a $20Amazon Voucher up for grabs and you don’t need have submitted to Nestpitch, all you need is a bit of a detective spirit and to know your (our) agents!

COME ON OVER TO #TEAMONEBASKET!!! We're Twitter fun. Really. And thank you EVERYONE for submitting to Nest Pitch. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Walter Scott, Eric Garner, Michael Brown - We are Looking at Volcanoes

Yesterday, on Tuesday, April 7th, officer Michael T. Slager was charged with the murder of Walter Scott, a middle-aged black man.

After being stopped by Officer Slager for a broken taillight, Mr. Scott ran away. Officer Slager chased him and shot him with a Taser which did not render Mr. Scott immobile. According to Officer Slager, Officer Slager shot and killed Mr. Scott after Mr. Scott took the Taser. A civilian video, however, shows the two in a struggle, after which Officer Slager shoots eight rounds at Mr. Scott who was running away. Officer Slager picks up an object that was tossed aside in the struggle and places it next to Mr. Scott's body. The full story can be read here.

Officer Slager was charged with murder. Case closed! Problem solved.

Except it's not. Of course it's not.

The problem with these individual narratives is they get individual solutions. All we're doing is looking at volcanoes. Every time one erupts, we get furious. We run around with stoppers and plug up the volcanoes, wipe our hands, and then become surprised and furious again when another volcano erupts somewhere else. We grab another stopper and repeat the process endlessly without confronting the truth: the lava is deep, ingrained, and universal, but hiding under our feet.

Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, the Oklahoma SAE fraternity, comments on Zendaya's hair. These actions were not the cause of rouge racist individuals. We're all prejudiced to some degree, but racism is power to enforce these prejudices.

Racism is the country-wide tendency to infantalize and dismiss Black concerns as 'annoying', the overarching tendency to grow tired of hearing about 'Black issues' and refuse to see them as American issues. The tendency to tell Black people to 'deal with it by yourself' and scrutinize them at the same time, the tendency to demonize  Blackness, Black self-love, and Black culture while lavishing awards upon white artists who appropriate Black culture.

The media is a large cause of this. The media loves headlines. This Canadian-based article about the 'inhumane exploitation in the United States,' a possible new form of American slavery, won't be making headlines. Race, even beyond income, is the single most powerful predictor for the location of toxic waste sites; yet this isn't headline material. The fact that the Oklahoma SAE frat members would have become CEOs, politicians, or in other positions of power had they not been caught will not be discussed.

Institutional racism does not make headlines. Events make headlines, because they are easy to sensationalize.

When we look at Martese Johnson and Renisha McBride as events, we are ignoring the lava that runs under the land we stand on. We are ignoring that some groups of people are more listened to by politicians, when blacks (even before Obama) actually vote more than whites when controlled for income and education.

We are looking at volcanoes, and we need to stop. Next time something like this happens (because there will be a next time), view it in the larger context it exists in. Do not focus on it as an 'event'. Direct our anger towards the overall oppression instead of towards an individual, even though individuals are so much more fun to get angry at. A conviction is not what we need! There can be no 'justice' after a life is lost. There are no reparations for a lost life. We need to engage in better discussions, or else all we'll have are surface-level bandages.

Don't get me wrong. Charging Officer Slager for murder is great, but there was a better solution: not killing Walter Scott.

(This discussion was just for anti-Blackness in America. Wait till you hear about other the loads of other underprivileged groups!)

This post is part of the #WriteInclusively campaign created to promote the normalization of diversity in creative fiction. Please please subscribe to the monthly newsletter! I don't spam. 

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Interview with Amanda Jasper - 'Become an Agent' WINNER!

Woot woot woot! 'Become an Agent' just ended and it was very, very fun. I'm constantly impressed and astounded by the writing community, and this Querypalooza made me even more grateful to have such a community. 

There was one special entry that got the most 'Yes' votes on its first round: Entry 6 by Amanda Jasper!!!! Make sure you read it, because it really sounds like an amazing book.

NOW, INTERVIEW TIME! Here's........Amanda!

1. Fun facts about you: name three!

1. Like Rumilla I’m a huge crafter. I knit and crochet, but I don’t actually spin yarn. Or (sadly) turn it into gold.
2. I really love wizards and have gotten into heated discussions with people about my love of wizards. Once I designed a fake book cover called ‘You guys, Wizards are totally real’.
3. I have a huge collection of dresses, and unless I’m running, I never wear pants. My friends say I’m pretty whimsical.
2. Tell us about your writing/publication experience. How did the drafting go? How do you cope in the querying process?
The first draft of this book just poured out of me. I wrote 75k words in 5 weeks in October of 2013. Then I tackled a big revision on an earlier book, so I put SSG aside. Then I got married, so for a few months (March-May) I wasn’t doing much writing or critiquing at all. I finally tackled revisions from June 2014 - January 2015.

This is my third completed book, but the second I am querying. The first one took almost two years to write a first draft and clocked in at 150k words. So I put it aside because it felt like too huge an undertaking to revise. After that experience I worked really hard on maintaining manageable word counts on my projects.
I find querying challenging, but I think we all do on some level. But it’s the only way to move forward, so onward I go.
3. What/Who keeps you going on this quest for publication, especially if you feel like giving up some times?
Honestly, I feel really lucky because I have so many people in my life who are supportive of me. First, my husband who encouraged me to write again after a 10 year battle with writers block. My sister who reads all my books, and pretends to love them. And I have two amazing critique partners who mean the world to me. My friends and coworkers are all behind me too, which is a relief because some days are harder than others so it helps to have a support network. Also I live in Seattle and they sell craft beer at gas stations… (can I say that? is that ok for a YA writer to say? Don’t drink underage kids! but when you do grow up only drink decent beer.)
4. What is your favorite book? Genre? Author? Also, what writer would you most love to be compared to?
This is like picking between hundreds of my own children. I’m a huge reader and I just love books so much. But my favorites are probably (this is really hard!) House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski, A Door into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski, the ‘Wheel of Time’ series by Robert Jordan, and Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn. Those are the books I go back to the most.
My two favorite writers are Ursula K. LeGuin and Joan Slonczewki, they’ve both had such a huge influence on me, they’re my heroes!
In terms of genre, I love Sci-fi and fantasy in any age category. I’m a huge YA reader, and I think YA is amazing as well, especially some of the sci-fi/fantasy stuff that is out now. Honestly, if anyone reading this wants book recommendations, or to talk about books message me, or friend me on Goodreads. :)

5. What are your long-term and short-term goals, writing-wise?
When I first started, my goal was to get published, but in the years since, I've change my focus. Now my goals, long and short term are focused on craft. I have a BFA in Design which really taught me about process and focus, and I’m always trying to apply that to my writing. I’d like to craft deeper characters and learn how to build big and immersive worlds, places that feel real.
My other long term goal is to not stop. I had writers block for ten years and even though I loved my life during those years, I really felt like something was missing. So every day when I sit down to write I feel like I’ve won.

6. How was your experience in Become an Agent? What part of the contest did you find the best, and what part did you find the hardest? Anything to tell the other entrants?
I entered Become an Agent because I honestly thought my husband would divorce me if I made him read draft 300 of my query. I was in need of fresh eyes on my query, and to figure out the weak spots. I’m obsessed with feedback, and I love hearing what absolutely isn’t working. I had four years of incredibly tough critiques when I was in art school, which taught me how to separate myself from criticism of my work. The best part of this contest was all the feedback, especially from people not in the contest, I’m so grateful that they came here and gave their time to critique. The hardest part was saying no to the other amazing entries. There were so many good queries and first pages in this contest, I wanted to read basically everything.

7. What would be a dream review for any of your books? Meaning, what would you LOVE for someone to say about your writing/stories?
The only thing I really want is for someone to say that my book is their favorite book. If I could reach one person with my writing that would be enough for me. Books have had such a huge huge huge impact on my life and I want my stories to live on in the same way. So if even one person (who isn’t my friend Gwyn) reads my book and loves it, I’ll be happy.

 Amanda Jasper has been telling stories since she was old enough to speak. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Amanda currently works as a designer for university, creating ads, web pages and billboards. She lives in Seattle WA, with her husband, one normal sized cat and one extra huge cat. In her spare time Amanda enjoys obsessing over TV shows, playing video games, and forcing everyone around her to read her favorite YA novels.

Please please please, congratulate her on Twitter  and take a look at her Tumblr! CONGRATS AMANDA!!! Can't wait to see what you do.

AND A MESSAGE TO EVERYONE: If you get a success story because of 'Become an Agent', no matter what that success is or how late it comes, I want to hear about it! *glares at everyone* I'm expecting emails.

Congrats again Amanda!