Monday, April 29, 2013

Cover Reveal from Query Kombat Host!!!!!!!!

 I am so, so happy to present to you this beautiful cover from the even more beautiful, Michelle Huak, who also is co-hosting the Query Kombat contest with me.

Here is the cover!

The story behind the cover: We all got to pick it! Click this link to find out how. The link also shows the evolution from draft to final copy of the cover. It was really fun, seeing all the possibilities, and I have to say, I love the final cover the best.

The blurby blurb. READ IT. NAO. (Sound out 'nao' with your mouth to know what it means. Took me a while to get it too, don't worry.)
Princess Kindar of Anost dreams of playing the hero and succeeding to her mother’s throne. But dreams are for fools. Reality involves two healthy sisters and a wasting disease of suffocating cough that’s killing her by inches. When her elder sister is murdered, the blame falls on Kindar, putting her head on the chopping block.

No one who survives eighteen years of choke lung lacks determination. A novice wizard, Maladonis Bin, approaches with a vision—a cure in a barren land of volcanic fumes. As choices go, a charming bootlicker that trips over his own feet isn’t the best option, but beggars can’t be choosers. Kindar escapes with Mal and several longtime attendants only to have her eyes opened that her country faces dark times.

Her mother’s decision to close the prosperous mines spurs poverty and joblessness, inciting rebellion and opening Anost to foreign invasion. As Mal urges her toward a cure that will prove his visions, suddenly, an ally turns traitor, delivering Kindar to a rebel army, who have their own plans for a sickly princess.

With the killer poised to strike again, the rebels bearing down, and the country falling apart, she must weigh her personal hunt for a cure against saving her people.

Okay. That sounds incredible.

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Two papillons help balance out the teenage drama. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.

Her YA epic fantasy, Kindar's Cure, is to be published by Divertir Publishing in May 2013. Her short story, Frost and Fog, was picked up by The Elephant's Bookshelf Press for their summer 2013 anthology.

ANNDDDD, she forgot to mention that she was one of the runner-ups for the "Become an Agent Contest!" with her amazing hamster query! Hmmph. It's okay, I forgive you. (Actually, no, I don't. You just gave me an eternal grudge.)

Check out her Twitter, Blog, and Facebook, and add Kindar's Cure on Goodreads!!!!

Yay, Michelle!!!!

How do you like the cover? The blurb?

Stay tuned for Friday! We are revealing the judges for the Query Kombat contest and also the winners for the Manuscript Nickname Mini-Contest! What would you nickname your manuscript?

See you soon!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Agent Reveal & Mini-Contest is OPEN!!

Query Kombat is less than a month away!!!! I KNOW! (Click this link if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

Today, we are revealing quite a bit: Here's the itinerary for the tournament:

May 13th-17th: Call for submissions
Top 64 revealed: May 24th
Round 1: May 28th-June 3rd, Voting window closes at 8PM
Winners announced: June 4
Round 2: June 5th-9th, Voting window closes at 8PM
Winners announced: June 10th
Email mentors assigned entries: June 10th
Revamped query emailed back: June 12th (by 8PM)
Round 3: June 14th-18th, Voting window closes at 8PM
Winners announced: June 19th
Round 4: June 20th-23rd, Voting window closes at 8PM
Winners announced: June 24th
Agents browse and make requests: June 24th-June 25th
Round 5: June 26th-27th
Winners announced: June 28th
Final Round: June 29th
Winner announced: June 29th
Wrap up: July 1st

One week after the close of the tournament, we will invite agents back again to make requests on the top sixteen queries. Agents, did you say? HERE THEY ARE!!

The Agents (10 of them!):

Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency
Jennifer Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary
Jessica Sinsheimer of Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency
Jennifer Mishler of Literary Counsel
Jordy Albert of The Booker Albert Literary Agency
Julia Bannon of L. Perkins Agency
Rebecca Scherer of Jane Rotrosen Agency
Juliet Mushens of The Agency Group
Jamie Bodnar Drowley of Inkling Literary Agency
Claire Anderson-Wheeler of Anderson Literary Management

And we're expecting more!!! Every age category in the contest (MG, YA, NA, and Adult), is represented by one of these agents! An incredibly diverse list (if you don't count the number of agents whose names start with J's).


This Mini-Contest is now OVER! My winner is Jodi's "Princess and the Pee-Stick." There were so many AWESOME nicknames, though. But I just really want to know more about this princess :D Congrats, Jodi! Check the other blogs to see who they picked to win!

Want to win a FREE PASS into Query Kombat?

Meaning, you don't have to worry about making past our cuts for the top 64 submissions?

Here's whatcha gotta do:

1. Follow this blog.
2. Comment your Query Kombat entry nickname below. Make it related to the manuscript you are submitting to this contest.

I'll announce the winner on the following Friday :DD So you have until Thursday, 9:00 pm EST to submit your entries to this blog.

What do I mean by Query Kombat entry nickname?

I mean the name you will be called during the contest. Your 'team name'. (This is all like March Madness and stuff, after all).

That's all you have to do!

And, of course, you'll improve your chances to win astronomically if you briefly explain the reason behind your name. I have to pick the most creative nickname, and I won't know what is creative and what is not if I don't know the meaning behind the names.

Now, you'll have three chances to win if you subscribe and comment on each of our three host blogs. (Michelle and Writer's Outworld). You will get a fourth entry every time you use the #QueryKombat hashtag on Twitter. So get Tweeting! I am here on Twitter.

Nicknames have to be short and related to your story in some way. And by short, I mean fifteen characters or less.

So go go go!!!!!! Get them free passes, or you'll have a tougher time trying to beat out hundreds of other submissions during the actual submission window!

Good luck, guys! And have fun thinking up those nicknames!

Even if you are not participating in this contest, what would be YOUR manuscript's nickname?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mini-Contest & Twitter Secrets

First of all, an update on the Query Kombat contest <-- click linky if you don't know what I'm talking about :D 

This Friday, we are going to post the agent list! We have an INCREDIBLE diversity of (as of now, ten!) agents ready to request during the last few rounds of Query Kombat -- I'm talking Adult, YA, MG, even NA agents. And, if all goes well with the numbers, we'll have separate brackets for the age-categories. So all the different categories will get recognition and a chance at requests.

There is SO much going on at Twitter under #QueryKombat. A bunch of information too, especially about a special contest going on this Friday in conjunction with our Agent Reveal.

We'll be giving out free spots into the contest for those that come up with the best nickname for the manuscript they enter into the contest. This contest is like March Madness, so you'll need a "team name". Get thinking! The mini-contest starts Friday.

Speaking of Twitter, let's talk about something I came across which was truly and amazingly wonderful. I'm talking about this (that's a link, so click it!).

It's like finding the 'advanced search' option on Google all over again.

You can search for exact phrases, search for Tweets sent TO a person, search for Tweets that have a certain phrase and were sent within, say, 15 miles of New York City, search for Tweets with only links in them, AND EVEN SEARCH FOR TWEETS WITH A "positive attitude". And more!



I mean, if you enter a smiley [ :) ] or a frowny [ :( ] in the search box in conjunction with a phrase, you'll get Tweets consisting that phrase that have a 'positive' or 'negative' attitude! I mean, how crazy is that? How do they even know if there is a positive or negative attitude? Technology, I'll tell ya!

I, for one, won't remember all of these awesome tips, and will probably be Googling for the link many times. I should bookmark it, but I'm too lazy to do so. Ugh. Fine. I'll do it. There. I did it. (I'm not joking.)

This is not an advertising thing. I don't work for Twitter. Hm. Does anyone? How can you 'work' for Twitter? Interesting.... That'd be a fun job. Probably not. Computers are not my thing. They frustrate me (but once I understand the coding/Excel formulas/gadgets, I love them!). I just thought this would be something you guys would like knowing.

So use this in Twitter from now on, guys! And make sure to find me on Twitter here and #QueryKombat as well :) I bet this searching information can be really useful. (And I also bet I'll rarely use it. Sigh.)

Did you know this about Twitter? Any other fun things you would like to share?

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Most Important Post on This Blog

If you don't read the rest of my blog, read THIS.

Sustaining and fixing the environment is without a doubt the number one cause I am in support of. Why? Because in a hundred years (yes, the oil reserves are depleting QUICKLY), the world will become much, much more troublesome if we don't do something RIGHT NOW.

There won't be only poverty or rape, war or crime to worry about; everything will come down full force and even worse once our climate takes a turn. Just what do you imagine will happen when the oil reserves deplete? Do you honestly believe we will avoid war? Unless we find some alternate energy, we won't be able to avoid the mad dash that will ensue for the remaining sources of energy. It's simple logic. And we aren't nearly as close as we should be in our search for efficient alternate energy. It's a matter of numbers, and we're looking bleak right now.

I truly believe most people take this information as white noise. As something that won't affect them. I'm sorry, but it will. In our lifetimes. And if not, then the next, and I am so, so scared of what will happen then.

You may believe global warming does not exist but you can't deny climate change, acid raid, incredible, devastating pollution, and so much more, occur due to human causes. You can't deny that there is so much more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than there was just two hundred years ago -- and you can't deny that most of it came from factories, not from 'normal transitional patterns of nature'. Just read the first paragraph of this National Geographic article.

It's hilarious to think that humans have devastated the planet. No. In a few centuries, it will be nature that will devastate us. We're dealing and messing with a force that we arrogantly believe we can control, a force which contains the mountains and the wind itself. Almost all of us will die if we don't change our ways. Drastic, but true.

But I am not in support of Earth Day because I am afraid of what will come. I'm in support of it because I feel we are doing a grave, grave wrong. I support it because it bothers me to such an incredible degree that we think we are above nature. That we can do such cruel and horrible things to such amazing beauties. That we can tamper with such majestic things.

It tortures me to see videos such as this:

Yes, the video is from PETA. No, I do not support their more impassioned methods. Yes, I do believe their raw, actual videos are something all people -- not only Americans -- should see.

We need to open our eyes.

Did you see the live skinning of the dog in that video? Did you see its lidless black irises, its bleeding muscles, and bleeding eyes? And did you see it MOVE ITS HEAD WHEN IT WAS TOSSED IN A PILE OF OTHER SKINNED DOGS?

That's in China. We can't do much for it. But you know what we can do? Stop wearing anything with fur. They live off of our demand. Give them no demand, and they'll stop. We can do something.

Go back to Pocahontas and watch this song once again. It's truly one of the most genius Disney songs, and something that everyone should understand.

The news of a bulldozed forest saddens me. Seeing cities grow in places such as the majestic Smoky Mountains depresses me. Seeing the purity of nature, such purity, fall victim to human hands saddens me. Some things shouldn't be tampered with.

Call me a tree-hugger. I'll love it. But I love what humans have done as well. Love it so, so much. It's all about balance, guys, and right now, nature is losing. Bring it back to a balance. Please.

So this Earth Day, turn off the lights in your home when you leave the room. Cut down your shower by five minutes. Turn the faucet off while you brush.

Plant a tree. Buy some florescent bulbs. Turn your thermostat up two degrees in the summer, and down two degrees in the winter. This will save an enormous amount of energy. The amazing thing is, much of the energy-saving tips actually save you an incredible amount of money as well. It's a win-win.

Recycle. For heaven's sake, recycle. We have a two-trashcan system set up in our home. One for recyclables, one for trash. The recyclables usually fill up faster. And recycle those soda cans! One recycled soda can can power a TV for three hours.

And, even if you don't do any of that, do this:
  • Walk through a forest.
  • Look at the night sky and imagine all the stars you can no longer see.
  • Take a trip to Arizona, Montana, Wyoming -- anywhere where nature takes over.
  • Breathe in fresh air.
Then tell me that you don't want to do something to save all this from destruction. Tell me you don't feel an incredible, overwhelming rush at seeing this all.

Please. Do something. If not for yourself, then do it for the lives of the yet unborn billions. Lives that depend on how we will act today. Today.

This is one of the most important messages I'll ever share. I hope you got something out of it. Not only that, I hope it motivated you to act. Even if you don't believe the climate will change drastically, do it for the love of nature and all that is pure.

I was supposed to post some stuff about Twitter and the Query Kombat contest today, but I felt this was by far more important. Follow my blog to keep up with the contest and other posts :)

How do you guys feel about this? Happy Earth Day, guys!

Oh wow. It's 1:10 am as I write this. I need to sleep! Night guys!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Meteor Shower Tonight! (April 21)

I know I'm posting at around 11.30 pm Central Time on a Sunday, BUT THIS IS IMPORTANT!

A meteor shower is peaking TONIGHT and will be best visible around 4-4.30 am tomorrow morning, before sunrise. The moon will take a good chunk out of the meteors (it is too bright right now) but if you live far from the city, you should get a good number of meteors!

It should be coming from the East.

I live near Chicago, so I hope I see some :(

If you get the chance, go look at nature's beauty!

Look at this website for more info.

Go go go! (And I hope it'll be a good spectacle.)

Oh, and Happy Earth Day, guys :) I still have a half an hour before 12 AM, but still :D Isn't this an amazing gift on Earth Day? It's like nature knows!

ETA: The Internet fooled me. This shower is not rare; it happens yearly. Sigh. Sorry guys. And it as faint when I went out so I probably fooled myself into seeing a few. Sigh. This sucks. But if you're away from the city, you'll have an awesome time!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Query Kombat CONTEST!!!! Details

Bloggers  Michelle4Laughs, Writer's Outworld, and I are teaming up to bring you the first ever Query Kombat Tournament!!!! AHHHH!!! Yes, it's okay to be super excited!!!!!!

Query Kombat will host 64 kombatants in a single-elimination, tournament style query-off. There will be a total of six rounds in Query Kombat. First opponents will be grouped by target audience (ie. YA, NA, Adult, and MG) so those who write for the same age-group will be 'battling' each other. After that, a bracket-style grid will dictate future opponents.

If you secure a spot in the tournaments, your query and the first 250 words (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 (this is subjective, so don't take losing too harshly :D). The entry with the most ‘victories’ will advance to the next round until one champion remains.

A growing list of agents (eight, as of now! I KNOW!) will browse the semifinal round to make requests on at least one of the final four queries. Details below.

BUT THERE IS MORE UP OUR SLEEVES. (And not just this cat.)

 photo 1278666406_cats-playing_zps80d930eb.gif
I do not own this, all rights to creator

If you make it into the third round, you will be paired with an agented writer who will act as a trainer to shine up your query and first 250 words. Edits are due back three days after pairings are announced.

We have eight FANTASTIC mentors ready to serve the sixteen writers who go into round three.

Before the start of the semifinals (round 5), agents will be invited to the blog to make requests and choose one query they think will become tournament champion. Agent(s) who guess correctly will receive a full or partial (their choice) of the selected manuscript one week before the other agents who requested material. To clarify, agents can make as MANY requests as they want, but can only bet on one query to win. One week after the contest closes, we will be posting the final eight queries and invite agents back to make more requests.
Yes! We have eight agents already involved!

Here are the tournament brackets

We (Mike) actually do own this! Huh. Nice to post a picture and not
have to be all "please don't sue me" under it. Feels weird. AHH. Please don't
sue me Mike! There.

The tournament is open only to unagented writers seeking representation. Your manuscript must be complete, polished, and ready to submit. Submissions for MG, YA, NA, and Adult works will be accepted. No picture books or non-fiction.

The submission window will open at 11 am EST on Monday, May 13th and close at 12 pm Friday, May 17th or when we receive 225 entries. You may submit entries for two manuscripts (in the same email) but we will only consider the second entry on the last day of the submission window (if we don't reach 225 entries). So put your favorite query first! Send in your

Kontestants will be revealed May 24th and the tournament will kick off on May 28th. Woo!!!

In order to enter the contest you MUST follow formatting guidelines, and submit during the contest window. All entries that follow these guidelines will be considered. In the event that we receive more than the available spots, the three hosts will be assigned a group of queries and pick the best of their group. We will also select a few alternates in case some of the entrants have to retract their queries.

Note: You can only retract your query before Round 3! If you get paired up with a mentor, you can no longer retract your query from the contest

Sixty-four queries will enter into the tournament.

Formatting guidelines:

Font: Times New Roman, 12pt font, single-spaced with spaces between each paragraph. No tabs!

Subject line of the Email: A short, unique nickname for your entry [colon] your genre (audience included). (ex. Magigeddon: YA Fantasy).

The nickname is so this feels more like March Madness with teams and all that :D For the nickname, make it as unique as possible so that there are no duplicates. Make it you. These will be the names used in the tournament brackets (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 (and send your emails to QueryKombat(at)yahoo(dot)com), must look just like this!:

Neither your Name nor your Email will be published in the posts. It's just for our ease :D
Name: SC Author
Email: QueryKombat(at)yahoo(dot)com
Word count: 90K
Genre: YA Fantasy


Blah Blah Blah Awesome Contest Blah Blah Blah Agents! Blah Blah Blah Mentors! Blah Blah Blah Queries and first 250 words!

Blah Blah Blah This will be the awesomest thing ever Blah Blah Blah.

(Only include the meat of your query. No bio, no "Dear ___", no personalization, and no, "My manuscript, QUERY KOMBAT, is a 90K YA Fantasy in the vein of ____" unless you believe the market comparison is truly incredibly important. For example, it is in this query (the winner of the "Become an Agent" contest))

First 250 words:

First 250 words. Don't include the chapter title. Feel free to go over a few words if your 250 ends in the middle of a sentence. It's not too much fun to stop in the middle of

Also, no indentations. Line breaks (spaces) to separate paragraphs.

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. Unless you make it into the third round, you will not have another opportunity to edit your query or first 250 words. You have several weeks to polish your work. Take advantage of it. Competition will be fierce. I mean, you are going up against 63 other amazing writers :D

Because the immense amount of work ahead of us, the tournament will be hosted on three separate blogs (Awesomely fantastic blogs that we would love for you to follow! Because that'd be awesome :D): Michelle4Laughs will host round 1 and 4. SC Write (me!!) will host round 2 and 5. Writer's Outworld will host round 3 and 6. Each blog will have links to all rounds so fear not. Stay with one blog, and you'll get plenty of guidance as to where to do :D You will not get lost.

Agents, judges, and trainers will be revealed soon. THAT'S GOING TO BE SO AWESOME!!!!! Really, we have awesome people lined up for you!!!!

A lot is going on in Twitter under the hashtag #QueryKombat so don't forget to look there! I am here on Twitter (@SC_Author)! We've been teasing a lot about this contest for the past week over Twitter :D
So, yeah. That's it!

WHO IS EXCITED?!?!?!?!?!

Ask any and all questions in the comments below!

I AM SO PUMPED!!!! But it's nighttime. So can't scream/laugh/cheer. Crud.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Boston Memorial & "Lincoln" Movie Reaction

Wendy made me realize that it is important to express grief at this kind of stuff; to not pretend it didn't happen , and to acknowledge it. Thank you so much for that.

I've been watching the news for the past two nights. I barely ever watch the news -- and definitely not two nights in a row. All I can say is that what happened at the Boston Marathon was horrific, and what happened after was divine.

As I posted on Twitter, when the actions of a few people make you think goodness is dead, the prayers and help of a million others desperately show it isn't.

We'll find those who are responsible and bring them to justice. But in the meantime, we'll keep our heads steady, hold each other, and help those who lost loved ones. Together.

Makes it feel small, what we're doing. Blogging, having fun, doing what we love, living -- when there are others facing such graver events. Humbling, and almost depressing.

Rest in peace.

Now, on that happy note, on to the movie. Lincoln. I know I said this post would be posted on Friday, but instead, the Query Kombat Tournament details are going to be posted then!

Talk about an emotional movie. It shouldn't have been emotional. I mean, logically, it wasn't. But I feel it was so emotional.

Talk about a tragic life. I feel so much for Lincoln and his wife too. I've never been so into the mind of a president before and it's just shocking how painfully humane it all is. We think of the President as almost a robotic figure, smiling and waving all the time -- yet they yell, cry, have fights with their wives, with their sons, everything. I don't envy Lincoln at all. Being the President must be such a burden.

(Still unsure of when to capitalize the word "president" and when not to. Sigh.)

Daniel Day Lewis did an amazing job playing the President. I thought he was just an overly-hyped actor. Now that I saw this movie, I know he deserved that Oscar. Very...nuanced. I can't think of a better word for it.

Sally Field -- if Anne Hathaway hadn't been in the running, she would have won that Oscar. Very emotional.

I almost don't know what to say about this movie because there is so much -- and so little -- to say. It was an excellent movie for reasons I can't explain.

I think it was the performances that made the movie great. Everyone was so real, so humorous at times, even. And so powerful.

Simply a great movie due to stunning and moving performances. Visual effects were great, but not flashy -- and they didn't need to be. (Although, it'd be so, so awesome to be able to run up to the White House and meet the President any time I wished with no regard for security :D)

*Slight Spoiler Below! Don't read if you don't want to know how the movie portrays Lincoln's death.*

That was a letdown, let me tell you. You don't even see Lincoln being shot. And you barely see one second of Mary Todd Lincoln's grief at Lincoln's deathbed. That's it.

I wanted to see that scene so badly because I wanted to see Sally Field's reaction to the shooting. That would have been so, so utterly amazing. I bet she would have done a great job and now that opportunity is lost. I wanted to feel that raw emotion -- and we only saw one second of it. Not nearly enough.

That was definitely the biggest letdown for me. Sigh.

*Spoiler over!*

It was a quiet film, but powerful. I came into it thinking it would be boring and I wasn't bored. I can't say I was enthralled or on the edge of my seat, either. There is barely a plot. Almost none, and a very slow one at that, with no "twists" or "turns" or anything of that kind. This is history we're talking about, after all. But it wasn't boring, per say.

I enjoyed it. The performances were moving and the film just keeps you thinking about it for a long time. So sad, tragic, and devastating. Great movie. Sigh.

Have you watched Lincoln? What'd you think of it?

Monday, April 15, 2013

One Year of Blogging! & C-Contest?

YAYY!!!! This month is my one year anniversary of blogging!

I actually created this blog for "The Writer's Voice" contest in late April. I don't know the exact date that I created the blog (no idea how to figure it out) but it was in April, so I'm counting this as it :)


And yes. You heard right. A contest. Another one. Coming up soon. Shhhhhh..............

It'll be big. Agents. Mentors. Tournaments.

Get your queries and first 250 words in shape. And if your MS is close to being polished, POLISH IT! That's all I'm saying!

If you want a bit more teasing, tweet with the #QueryKombat hashtag on Twitter. Keep an eye on this blog and that hashtag. You won't want to miss this.

Shhh!!! It's a secret!!!!!!!!

I just watched Lincoln last night, so I'm probably (probably) going to do a post on the movie on Friday. Pretty darn good movie, if you ask me!

Contest excitement, anybody? And woo! One year of blogging :D *happiness*

Friday, April 12, 2013

Interview with (Agented) Contest Winner, Sherry Ellis!

SO. I recently ran a "Become an Agent" contest and Sherry Ellis's query won!!!

She emailed me a few days later to tell me that she got representation for BIG HOLE TO CHINA with Owen Burnham (UK) and Anne Charles (USA) of L & C Agency.

SO. OF COURSE. We had to celebrate. How? With an interview, of course!
Here is an interview with Sherry Ellis

(I think I'm going to start making this a 'thing' with the contest winners from now on. Yes! There will be more contests! Stay tuned.)

This is a 7 Question Interview because 7 is Harry Potter's magical number :)

1. Tell us about your writing/publication experience. How did the querying process go? The actual writing? Was it hard?

Let’s just say it has been an extremely long process! Writing the first draft took about three months. It was the revisions that took forever! I revised it about one hundred times before I felt it was ready for submission. That took another year. And then I submitted it. That was a year ago. One agent said he liked the concept, but he felt my protagonists weren’t strong enough. So guess what? I had to go back to the drawing board and rewrite the whole thing, again! (I changed the point of view from third person to first person, and it worked much better.) So we’re talking a three year process just to get the manuscript where it is today. As far as the query process, I was a mad woman sending out query letters. I started in January this year, and sent out 93 queries. I received 36 rejections. (Interestingly, after I had been accepted by the L & C Literary Agency, another agent expressed interest in my manuscript.)

2. What/Who kept you going on this quest for publication, especially if you felt like giving up some times?

Part of it was internal – I have a drive to succeed. And I felt my idea was a good one. The other part has to do with the awesome ladies in my critique group. They helped so much with suggestions to make my manuscript and query letter better. They too, felt I had something good with a lot of marketing potential. I really couldn’t have done it without them!

3. Give us a step-to-step about how 'the call' went. More importantly, how did it feel? :D What was your reaction?

Wow! I was so excited. I could not believe that I had actually gotten a “yes”! I think I’m still in shock. I have written so many manuscripts and received so many rejections. I could probably wallpaper my house with all of the rejection letters! The agent was extremely positive about my manuscript and said it was “compelling and well-written.” He said he wished to represent me. So of course I had to accept!

4. How long did you expect to go on submitting?

Forever. I was really hoping it wouldn’t take that long, though! Seriously, I had planned to submit to every agent and publisher who might be interested in my genre, until I got a “yes.” I figured it would take a few years to get through all of them.

5. What is your favorite book? Genre? Author?

I’m a kid at heart, so I love reading kid lit. I’d have to say my favorite genre is Middle Grade fiction, and my favorite author is Rick Riordan. His book, Throne of Fire, is terrific. My all-time favorite book though, is Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. It’s all about what‘s really important in life. If you read it, make sure you have a box of tissues with you. I pretty much use an entire box when I read it!

6. Harry Potter or Twilight? (Or Hunger Games, Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who...whatever obsession is your greatest :D)

 Harry Potter, hands down! I love the characters and complexity of the plot. I think the books are so well-written. And of course it’s Middle Grade/YA fiction, which I thoroughly enjoy! (Although, I think Dr. Who is kind of fun!)

(Yes! Yes yes yes! Nothing more to add.)

Funnest question (in my opinion):
7. What part of your book did your agent love the most? Basically, what made him want to offer representation? (It's okay, you can gloat here :D)

He liked my main character, six-year-old Bubba. He thought Bubba had a great voice and quite a sense of humor. (I have to admit, it has been a ton of fun writing the way a six-year-old would view the world. The only trouble is, now I have a six-year-old in my head!) He also thought the book would be a great educational tool since it teaches kids about the language, history, and culture of other countries around the world.

Here’s a snippet from my book:
Just then I heard a rumble sound. But it wasn’t from thunder. My tummy did a flip-flop because what happened next was bad. The ground got all shaky. Then it cracked.

“Get out!” Squirt screamed.

I dropped my shovel and climbed. Except I couldn’t get out, because that hole got big. Real big. “Help!” I yelled.

“Bubba!” Squirt reached for me. Then the ground shook. The floor opened and I went down. Down, down, down through the big hole.

^Yea. That is pretty darn fantastic.

Thank you so much for having me as a guest! I wish all aspiring writers out there success in finding an agent or publisher for their work!

Visit (and congratulate) Sherry at her website,  Twitterblog, Facebook, and Amazon Author Page!

Congrats, Sherry! Excellent query and snippet! And thanks for doing this interview and participating in the "Become an Agent" contest!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Too Much to Read & Internet Addiction (SAVE ME!!!)

WAY too much.

Like, a dozen books currently started, but waiting to be finished.

It's kind of crazy, actually. THERE ARE JUST SO MANY GOOD BOOKS OUT THERE! And too little time to read them all. Grrrr.

Since when have I had to plan time in order to read? I plan time in order to write, not read. Reading is not the job -- writing is. Reading is fun. But now it's become all 'scheduled' and stuff, not spontaneous and fun like it should be.

I only get like 10ish pages done a night before I get tired. That means less than a book a month. That SUCKS.

Granted,  I can be reading instead of wasting hours on the Internet and stuff, but wasting time on the Internet is the 'second step' in the long sequence to get me to actually write. I probably write like a half-an-hour in a row, and spend more than an hour before that 'warming up' by wasting time on the Internet.

So all that 'wasting' time... it's required. To get me to write.

Yea. I have no excuse.


Eternal shame.

Do you have a lot to read?

(I'm trying to think of more questions so I can waste more time on the Internet. Sigh. This is getting really bad.)

Oh, oh! What books are on YOUR to-be-read list?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Why This Query Won (& Got an Agent)

YOU GUYS ARE GOOD! Really!!! I'll tell you why after I do the analysis on the query.

For those that don't know, I recently ran a query contest called "Become an Agent" and I posted the winners on Monday.

Below is the query that won, written by Sherry Ellis.

Nobody can actually dig a hole to China, right? That’s what Squirt thinks when little brother, Bubba, tries to tunnel through the Earth with his grandfather’s special shovel. But what starts as a simple hole becomes a vortex that carries Bubba and Squirt to the other side of the world – to Xi’an, China! There they face the ghost of China’s first emperor, Ch’in Shi Haung-ti, who insists they must find his missing burial pendant if they ever want to return home. With the help of some new Chinese friends, Bubba and Squirt learn about China and unravel the mystery of the pendant.

Bubba and Squirt’s story, BIG HOLE TO CHINA, is a 13,000 word chapter book which introduces young readers to the language, history, and culture of China. This book can stand alone, but I envision it as the beginning of a series in which Bubba and Squirt travel through the hole and experience different countries. I have outlined adventures in France, Belize, Italy, Egypt, and Russia. Each book will contain a recipe so that readers can have a “taste” of the country as well.

Awesome, right? Now, I'm going to do a query analysis (not a critique!) on why this query is so awesome. My comments are in bold.

Nobody can actually dig a hole to China, right? Yes, this is a rhetorical question. Yes, it is the 'hook' of the query. Yes, that is a HUGE no-no in query-world. But only one out of twelve commenters mentioned that it might be a problem. This use of a rhetorical question WORKS because it jives with the MG voice and is intriguing enough (and not a cliche) to function as a hook. That’s what Squirt thinks when little brother, Bubba, tries to tunnel through the Earth with his grandfather’s special shovel. Couldn't help but smile at this. Squirt? Bubba? Shovel through a planet with a 'special shovel'? AWESOME. Voice and quirks. Two great things to have in a MG manuscript and two things that should be reflected in the query. But what starts as a simple hole becomes a vortex that carries Bubba and Squirt to the other side of the world – to Xi’an, China! Exclamation point is great as it fits with the MG voice. And the spark to the plot (they went to China) is early on enough in the query to be interesting. There they face the ghost of China’s first emperor, Ch’in Shi Haung-ti, who insists they must find his missing burial pendant if they ever want to return home. Lost children? Of course we want them to return home! Emotional connection right there. With the help of some new Chinese friends, Bubba and Squirt learn about China and unravel the mystery of the pendant.

Bubba and Squirt’s story, BIG HOLE TO CHINA, is a 13,000 word chapter book which introduces young readers to the language, history, and culture of China. This book can stand alone, but I envision it as the beginning of a series in which Bubba and Squirt travel through the hole and experience different countries. I have outlined adventures in France, Belize, Italy, Egypt, and Russia. Each book will contain a recipe so that readers can have a “taste” of the country as well. This alone elevated this query to a whole new level. A series of these books? THAT IS AWESOME. And it can totally work. It gives insight into the breadth and scope of this book/series, and it definitely caught my attention.

For me, what made the query work so well was :
  1. Its voice (#1 thing that makes a query shine, especially in kidlit).
  2. The scope in the second paragraph (I can't get over how awesome that is).
  3. The shortness of the query. The actual 'meat' or plot-explanation part (not the scope part) is a mere 102 words long. Yeah. That is incredible. Learn from this, guys (and me too). Don't try over-explaining your book. That is so easy to do and doesn't work. Short, simple, and enticing. The agent will get to know the rest of the plot once they are enticed by your tantalizing query. You should place voice and quirks on a higher pedestal than plot events that you really really really want (but don't need) in your query.
Learn from these three things (the scope part might not apply to you, however) and perfect your queries! (I need to do it too.)

Now, the big news!

Sherry Ellis, author of this query, has gotten representation for BIG HOLE TO CHINA with Owen Burnham (UK) and Anne Charles (USA) of L & C Agency. YES! This query got her representation! And it's a darn amazing query!

Also, I knew you guys were awesome. You picked an excellent winner. And excellent job, Sherry, for being such a good writer!

An interview with Sherry Ellis will be coming soon! Keep an eye on the blog for more contests, and the interview :D

Congrats, Sherry! And awesome query!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Contest Winners, & I Quit Blogging

Rabbit, rabbit!

About me quitting blogging.

It was a tough decision. Truly. But blogging just takes up way too much time, and although I had a lot of hope for more contests and the like, I don't think I can do all of this anymore.

You guys were amazing. Really. I loved meeting every single one of you and you made me feel like I wasn't alone in this publication hope I have. I don't think I'll ever forget you guys.

This will be my last post, and a happy one at that -- I'm announcing the winners of the "Become an Agent Contest" :) Hopefully, it will lighten my mood. I'm going to shut down my blog tomorrow....


Lol. I'm not quitting blogging. And this won't be my last post (*fingers crossed*). I JUST LOVE ME MY APRIL FOOLS JOKES!!! Everyone around me in my real life: beware. This is my favorite holiday (it really is, not lying). I love the writerly community, guys. I'm not quitting blogging today :)

Now, the contest.

First of all, you guys were AWESOME. Truly. I couldn't believe all the great critiques, comments, and feedback you were giving each other -- and so many of you went above and beyond and critiqued queries you weren't even required to! That is amazing. You guys are truly wonderful. Thank you so much for being such amazing people.

Here are the winners:

First place:

1. Post #16 with 7 Yes's.

Tied for second place:

1. Post #1 with 6 Yes's.
2. Post #11 with 6 Yes's.
3. Michelle Huak (Post #12) with 6 Yes's.

(Comment or email me, all winners, if you are okay with/want me to post your names as well. I was about to, but then I stopped. I think I should ask permission first :D)

It was close, guys, and you all had good queries. You should be so proud of yourselves.

WAIT. There's more.

Shell Flower made a great suggestion in the comments of this post. And I think that idea is great.
  • If you want to post one query revision in the comments of your query submission, go ahead. (Just one revision. If it becomes a query critique forum, it'd be too crazy :D) 
  • Then, others can critique it by replying to that comment. No more limits on Yes's. Just vote Yes or No, and go in depth (like you've been doing :D).
  • If you do critique others' queries, feel free to link or put your post number in that critique so others can find your query.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO THIS. NOT AT ALL! Seriously, I really, really mean it. You guys have done such a great job already. This is for those who want to hone their queries a little more. So if you got a lot of Yes's, don't bother. Seriously. You don't have to do this. You have no obligations whatsoever. None of us (I hope) will mind if you decide not to do more critiques. In the end, it means more work. You don't need to do this. (I'm trying to make it as clear as possible, if you can't tell, hehe.)

If you do revisions, just say so in the comment section of this post, and include your query's post number. That way, others can find your queries faster. And if you get a critique, it'd be great if you returned the favor :)

1st place winner, check your email soon :)

FEEDBACK TIMEEE!!!!!!!! What'd you like to see changed next time? Any other contest idea?

Thank you for making this contest such a success! You all were truly amazing and kind (I smiled/glowed/beamed every time you guys said you enjoyed the contest). You guys are fantastic :)