Friday, May 31, 2013

Query Kombat Update & Comments

Things are going AMAZINGLY.

It's all smooth, it's all working well, and, above all, people are leaving AMAZING critiques and comments. You guys are awesome! Kudos to you!

Some things to be aware of:

One comment had to be deleted due to blatant bashing. Don't be that person. Be a happy and constructive person instead! List what you like as well as what you didn't like. It's important for the writer to know what's working as well as what isn't.

We're also, maybe, might, be working on something else, maybe, might, possibly, and well, we can't give anything away yet (it might not happen, after all!) but stay tuned!

Big question for you:

How are you liking Query Kombat? (Going on at Michelle's blog right now, and after June 3rd, the next round will be on MY blog! YAY!!) How do you like it?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Commenting Guidelines/Rules of Conduct for Round 1!!!

Guys, Query Kombat has OFFICIALLY BEGUN!!! WOOO!!!!! Round 1 has begun!!

64 queries (two each in 32 total match-ups) are currently in a face-off on Michelle's blog.

Check out this bracket to see who is facing off in Round 1:

Click to View Larger


Some things to remember if you are IN the contest

1. This contest is BRUTAL. First of all, only 64 out of about 210 entries were chosen. That means they are among the best. And, in round 1, half of that number is going to be decimated. Only 32 will remain standing. So please, don't be discouraged if you lose! Take this as a growing opportunity and a chance to meet awesome people.

2. Be kind. This is self-explanatory. Don't be horrid to other writers (or people, in general). Keep this contest clean and fun.

Commenting guidelines

Only for the entrants

1. It is required that you critique six other match-ups. Don't worry, it doesn't have to be crazily in depth :) (But don't make it just cheerleading, either.)

For the entrants and the audience

2. Keep your critiques to the encouraging, positive side. Say what you love about each entry, at the minimum, and then go on to say what they can improve on (it'll be a great source for them to call upon if they make it into Round 3 and get to revamp their entry with their mentors). And you can vote, too, as to what entry you think should win! Just don't be obnoxious about it. (And don't vote 'yes' because the writer is your friend. That's not cool.)

3. Do not make the first comment. The first comment will be "This comment is reserved for the judges' votes" and will, well, be reserved for the judges' votes. The judges will reply to that comment and cast their votes. It makes it easier for us to count up the votes. One of us three hosts will go around and post that comment once the match-ups are published, but it might take a while so be patient  until we make our rounds :D

4. No cheerleading. Some people have more of an online presence than others, and thus, more chances of being 'cheered'. Keep it fair and keep it fun for everyone :) Back up your cheerleading with constructive criticism, and don't be afraid to cheer on strangers! (People like that. Really. They do.)


Back when I did the "Become an Agent" contest, I loved seeing the audience participate. It really was incredibly amazing and heart-warming. You don't even have to give a critique at all if you are an audience member. Go on Twitter under the hashtag #QueryKombat and cheer everyone on! But even if you don't want to comment or cheer, don't worry. The entries are still fantastic and it's really just fun to watch and see how the votes are playing out for your favorite entries :D

And if you are in the contest, GO AHEAD. Cry out over Twitter, Facebook, whatever, which entry you are! It'll be fun :D (And shoot me a Tweet over here.)

So head over to Michelle's blog and see the awesomeness that is occurring!

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Thrill (and Necessity) of Letting Go

A little break from Query Kombat stuff to get back into what I enjoy about blogging. Stories! And sharing them.

First off, HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY. (Wendy, if you're reading this, just know that your post about Boston made an impact on me. I'm going to talk about stuff like this instead of ignoring it.)

This is not just a day to relax, have a picnic, and take a day off of work. This is a day to remember those that lost their lives to protect us. Families were shattered, children were orphaned, and so much more, all due to the brave sacrifices of millions of veterans (and I'm not only talking about America, although, technically, today is only America's Memorial Day-- it's high time we stop being so insular. We need to realize every country in the world has had its brave citizens. Maybe we can make a global memorial day! That'd be pretty fantastic).

We are forever indebted to the millions we don't know, who fought for people they didn't know either. You guys rock.

I saw a sign in a gas station store which said, "Land of the Free: Because of the Brave." That quote is awesome and so, so true. You guys are seriously awesome!

#

My Writerly Shenanigans

I just passed writing 10k words on my work-in-progress after what seemed like FOREVER. I mean I wrote 50k (longhand!) of that same WIP in a notebook before I called it quits due to a crazy amount of plot holes. I mean, it was crazy. I don't think I'm ever going to pants my way through the American health care system again! That was a real pain. Hahaha. Pain. Hahah. Punny.

I am currently 10k into my rewrite of that plot-holey book. And I'm loving it. I really am.

This new WIP is so much more my voice and my style of writing. I'm actually enjoying crafting the sentences, making them sound as lyric-y as possible. I'm having fun with words.

Isn't that what writing is all about?

For about three years, I was writing one book. Then rewriting it. Then again, rewriting it. (No, this is not the plot-holey book.) I loved (and still do love) that world, those characters, so, so much. 

But I stopped that last rewrite about midway in order to work on this new project.

Because after two rewrites, even though I still have a LOT of hope for that project, I just needed something new. I needed to flex my writing muscles instead of doing the same thing over and over and over again. I was stagnating. I was about to hit my plateau.

Just like 'muscle confusion,' writing this new book (in a TOTALLY different genre: from YA Epic Fantasy to Adult Contemporary with a Literary Bend (!)) made me energized and stronger. Everything I learned about the craft from the YA Fantasy is now in this book, and I don't regret writing the YA (although I almost wish I hadn't spent so much time on it).

I know it's scary, letting go of your first book. It's incredibly scary.

"Gosh, I had so much hope for it." "Gosh, what if something happens to me and I didn't publish that book?" "Gosh, what if it could have been the next Harry Potter and I gave up on it? Let me just do one more rewrite...." "Gosh, I just love it so much and I know so much about it. This new book and new idea.... It's so new. Let me stick to what I know. Let me just improve it."

It's tempting to stay in that box. And it's also tempting to think you are one of the exceptions to the rule that few "first books" ever get published. It's the second, the third, the fourth, even the twentieth, that might get you published. And it's taken me a long time to realize this.

It's so hard to take that plunge, and it's not like I've forgotten about my old book at all. But writing something new--it's a rushing and scary feeling. But gosh darn it, it's worth it. And it feels so good.

When to let go is up to you. I know it sounds crazily corny, but you'll know when your passion for that one book crosses over from true hope and belief, and into denial and fear.

I finally broke the 10k word count barrier and I'm hoping to shoot for 1k every night (hopefully, more!). Wish me luck!

Have you guys ever had to let go of something in order to grow? How was that experience? Tough, liberating, both?

(Sorry about not getting around to everyone's blogs. Query Kombat has been crazy, but I'm going to make time to get around everywhere--starting today!)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Query Kombat Bracket!!!

Though entries are going head to head, this is a friendly competition. We don't mind banter but please keep it lighthearted. We don't want hurt feelings or bruised pride.

EXCEPT MY PICKS ARE TOTALLY GOING TO WIN THIS COMPETITION!! (Can't tell you which ones they are, but still. They'll win.)

The first round begins on May 28 on Michelle's blog. Please refrain from leaving comments until all match-ups (32 total) are up and the 1st comment ("Is comment is reserved for judges") is posted.

Twitter is an AWESOME place to share in #QueryKombat fun! So share your nickname there. Who knows, you might find tons of writerly buddies :D

Anyway, here you are!

Click for Large Image

GOOD LUCK, EVERYBODY!!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Query Kombat Preliminary Winners! (& Crit Opportunity)

UPDATED winners' list in bold! Check to make sure your entry is still in. If not, email us.

THE WINNERS! (Or, people who got into the first round. The real winner will be the best query of the bunch!)

(Forgive me for any grammar mistakes, this post had to be rushed out for your viewing pleasure :D)




But guys, DO NOT think that if you did not get in, you were somehow inferior to them. As much as we tried to be unbiased, subconscious bias is undeniable. And, LET ME TELL YOU:


(I'll give you time to scroll down, look if you won, and come back here.)


If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know how incredibly, incredibly hard it was for me to make my 22 picks. I spent HOURS trying to make my picks. Out of about 210ish entries, we had to pick 64. And since all of you already are so involved with the writerly world, almost EVERY one of those 210 entries were request-worthy entries.

But we had the brutal task of cutting 75% of you all. And it SUCKED. Because so many of you were so tremendously awesome! One entry, especially, I felt horrible about cutting because it was sooo amazing but the word count was too low. Yes. It came down to stuff like word count, simple grammar mistakes/typos (we couldn't post that on our blogs), and other things like that. It got very nit-picky in the end.

Just because you didn't get in, doesn't mean you suck. It means you are awesome, actually, for posting in this contest.

Literally, yesterday night, I stayed up and had almost a depressed/sadness attack at thinking about all of you guys that were cut out. I know (and have talked to via Twitter and email and AQC) so many of you. And you are such talented writers. So I felt like crap.

And Mike proposed a critique to help you out, and I AGREE. This idea made me feel tons better, so if you guys didn't get in the contest, there is a chance for you to find out WHY you did not get in!

Post your twitter name and entry nickname in the comments of ONE of our blogs. We will critique as many entries as we can over twitter. I'm probably going to do it over Direct Messaging on Twitter. But trust us when we say: we will not belittle your entries. If we have crits we think might be slightly harmful, we'll DM them to you. But rest assured: they will be helpful and encouraging and positive!

They will also be general critiques, nothing in-depth. I have no idea how many crits we will be able to do. That all depends on how much time we have left over after formatting everything for the tournament. Please be patient with us :DD
Now, to get to what you've all been waiting for: the Query Kombat kontestants....

THE WINNERS (of the entry round)!!

Adult Kontestants:

Dangerous Politics: Adult Thriller
To Die For: Adult Thriller
Tall Ships and Magic: Adult Historical Fantasy
Mississippi CrazyPants: Women's Fiction
WytchCraft: Adult Urban Fantasy
Knight in Shining Armani: Adult Contemporary Romance
Nostalgic Dreamer: Adult Contemp. Romance
Like-Minded Individuals: Adult Thriller
History Hound: Adult Historical Fiction (2nd Entry)
McTavish Academy: Adult Urban Fantasy
Penny Lane Grows up: Women's Fiction 
Dr. Thermo: Adult Science Fiction
Sway Me Buble: Women's Fiction
The Decapitator: Adult Urban Fantasy
Meryl-and-I: Women's Fiction
The Fisherman: Adult Literary Suspense
Aztecs in Space: Adult Science Fiction
Zone Tripper: Adult Science Fiction
BeelzebubBasher: Adult Historical Fiction
The Swimmer: Adult Social Science Fiction
Champagne and Hotdogs: Women's Fiction


Young Adult Kontestants:

HeadScarfJazz: YA Contemporary
Lies and Lovers: YA Contemp. (in verse)
Repo Girl: YA Contemporary
BLINDED PASSIONS: Edgy YA Contemp.
TheSpaceMafia: YA Science Fiction
Minna Gray: YA Futuristic Fantasy
Not Odette: YA Fantasy
Burrito Thief: YA Fantasy
Elementary Girl: Alt Historical Mystery
DAMNED: YA Dark Fantasy
DreamPirate: YA Crime
Alien Prep School Confidential: YA Science Fiction
Denali: YA Science Fiction
Multitude of Death Stars: YA Science Fiction
Spirit Slayer: YA Southern Gothic
Misfit Apocalypse: YA Science Fiction
Broken Jar: YA Contemporary
The Little Red Head: YA Fantasy
BourneMW: YA Science Fiction
SharkyMalarkey:  YA Contemporary
Supergeeker: YA Fantasy
Colorblind: YA Science Fiction
Villainous Wizard: YA Contemporary Fantasy
FistsofFury: YA Thriller
Revenant: YA Urban Fantasy
SugarTales: YA Contemporary
Sillius: YA Contemporary
RedDryad: YA Paranormal Fiction
Tricks aren't for Kids: YA Contemporary
Bridget Meets Georgia in Homage to Jane: YA Romance


New Adult Kontestants:

Avenging Angels: NA Urban Fantasy
O Captain, My Captain: NA Contemporary
Kicking Ash: NA Fantasy

Mid-Grade:

JungleVendetta: MG Science Fiction
Troglin Snot: MG Fantasy
WHISPERING WILLOWS: MG Fantasy
Too Many Legs to Play Baseball: MG Fantasy
Wishwell: MG Contemporary
Interstellar Pez: MG Science Fiction
Zombie Barbers: MG Comedy
Strongarm Odyssey: MG Fantasy
One-Eyed Cat: MG Mystery
Eye Above You: MG Contemporary 

That's all, folks, for Round 1! Thanks for an AWESOME AWESOME journey. I've met so many awesome people on Twitter from the #QueryKombat and #QueryKombatSlush hashtags, and that alone has made this contest worthwhile :D I love the writer's community.

If you got in, congrats!!!!! You will find yourself in the first round on May 28th, on Michelle's blog. If not, and if you want a brief critique as to why you did not get in, then comment below with your Twitter username and entry nickname, and we'll shoot you a Tweet as soon as we can!
THANK YOU SO MUCH GUYS! I LOVE YOU ALL.
(And wait until you see these entries. They are so awesomely fantastic. I picked about half of the YA ones, and some of the Adult! Woot Woot!)

Monday, May 20, 2013

And Your Favorite Books Are...?

I've been searching my bookshelves for something to read, and I've realized I want to read something like the books I love.

I mean I just want to experience the same thing I did when I read those books. I want to fall in love with a new book and obsess over it and think about it all the time.

(Maybe if there was an epic fantasy version of Avatar: The Last Airbender, I'd fall in love with that like I did over the episodes. I watched all three seasons in about five days. Yea. It was crazy. CRAZY AWESOME.)

Basically, I want to experience the thrill of opening a book, reading it, and realizing, "Oh gosh, this might be my new favorite novel."

Here are my favorite books (not really in order, I don't think):

  • Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (I LOVE THIS BOOK!! HE IS SUCH A GENIUS!!!! Read my review --> linky link.)
  • The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (I can read the last few pages of this book a great many times. I just love it. It's truly amazing, everything that a contemporary should be, and here's my --> review.)
  • Harry Potter by JK Rowling. Need I say more? Almost a must-read for those looking for INCREDIBLE characterization, plot, and world-building.
  • The Catcher in the Rye (The more I think about it, the more this book becomes my most favorite novel of all time. Salinger did things with fiction that had never been done before (and I doubt will ever be done to the same level). HE IS A COMPLETE GENIUS. I think, even more than Hugo! His realism, characterization, voice, prose.... How did he do what he did? And it's all masked by the slightly 'unprofessional' stigma of YA literature. But Salinger...holy crap. He's awesome. And apparently, he has a lot more manuscripts left unpublished, and now that he has passed, they might be published (in accordance with his wishes)!!! I AM SO EXCITED FOR THAT DAY!
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I mean, yes, I love this book. If I read something to its equal, I'd love it a lot. But it's not really on my favorite favorite list. The others on this list, I love more.
How about you guys? What are your favorite novels of all time? Share! I might read some of your suggestions and find a new favorite novel!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Query Kombat Judging and Commenting Info!!!


DATES and ANNOUCEMENT INFO:
We’re taking a break from our behind the scenes madness to bring you a few rules and suggestions on how the actual Query Kombat contest will work. But first, some dates. The post to announce the Kombatants will go live on Friday, May 24 unless we have it ready sooner. (It’s looking likely so I won’t bother mentioning a time. We are narrowing down the spots quickly so watch twitter for updates.) Nicknames will be used instead of names or book titles so I hope everyone remembers theirs. If you don’t, we’ll laugh at you. No names will be used in the matchup rounds either, only nicknames.
Regardless of how soon we announce the Kombatants, the first round will start onTuesday, May 28, right after Memorial Day. They will be posts on Michelle's blog! Michelle4Laughs will try to post all the match ups by 8:00 am EDT, but please don’t rush to comment for reasons spelled out under the judging section.
64 Kombatants (this includes the Free Pass winners) will be paired into 32 posts for the first round. Yes, we will try to match age categories together, though not genres. (A YA Contemporary may be pitted against a YA Fantasy.) We will try to put all adult entries into one bracket and so forth. This will totally depend on numbers. As you can imagine, we received fewer NA entries and more YA entries. We’ll do the best we can to make the matchups fair, but we are not limiting our Kombatant picks by requiring so many of each age group. We are picking what we think are the best entries. Remember we are victims of subjective tastes as much as the next person. Great entries will be left out. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the game.
And I seriously mean that. If you follow me on Twitter you'll see how torn up I am about saying no to so many AWESOME entries. If I were an agent, I'd request, but I've had to say no due to small typos and the like because, well, we can only let in 1/4 of the entries we received.
The matchups (except for age category) will be chosen randomly. We will set the matchups entirely by who the Kombatants are next to in the winning picks file. This means it will probably sort out by the date and time you entered.
In the event a Kombatant has to drop out of Query Kombat there will be two possibilities. If they drop out before the first round begins, they will be replaced with an alternate QK contestant chosen by Mike. (Alternate Kombatants will not be announced beforehand. We don’t want people hoping someone drops out. We may announce them after the contest ends.) If a Kombatant drops out after the contest has started, their opponent automatically advances to the next round. Any Kombatant that receives an offer of representation will please notify us so we may withdraw them. Receiving a full request or partial is not grounds for withdrawal.
If you get into Round 3 and are paired up with a mentor, YOU CANNOT FOR ANY REASON DROP OUT for the rest of the contest! The mentor will have helped you for nothing, and you'll have stolen a spot from someone else who would have benefitted for, it.
   After the first round, entry matchups will be determined by the brackets. Kombatants will be randomly assigned to a bracket based on their age category. Again it will come down to your order in our winning picks file.
JUDGING:
Our fantastic judges will cast their votes under assumed nicknames in order to vote honestly and freely. (Go here to see the nicknames they have chosen.) Voting for the first round will take place from 8am Tuesday, May 28th to 8pm Monday, June 3rd  EDT.  (For more information on the dates of other rounds, go here.) The winners of the first round will be announced on June 4th.

Judges will vote as follows: VICTORY: Kombatant’s nickname  They may or may not leave a detail reason regarding their choice. However much feedback they give is completely up to that judge. There are a lot of entries to read and a lot of rounds to go through. This is a long contest. But we’re sure the judges will do a fantastic job of sharing their thoughts.
To prevent favoritism, the judges have agreed not to vote on matchups containing a friend, CP, or Beta. Due to the length of this contest, certain judges may sit out a round as needed due to Kombat fatigue.
In the event of a matchup vote tie, the round host will cast the tie-breaker vote. In the first round that will be Michelle4Laughs and so on.
Now here comes the unique and important part!  We would like the judges’ votes to be easily located. Therefore, we are asking the judges to place their votes as a reply to the first comment in each matchup post. As soon as all the matchup posts are live, one of the hosts will go through and make a first comment. Something like: This comment is reserved for judges’ votes. Please do not reply to this comment unless you are a judge. Then the judges can do their thing and leave their votes as replies to that comment.
BUT in order for this to work, people cannot rush to comment. The round host has to have time to get the first comment up on all 32 posts of the first round and subsequent rounds. No matter how excited you are to share your feedback, please give the host time to get the first comment done before you comment. Any comments posted before the judges’ section will be deleted.
We understand that everyone is human and votes may not end up in the proper spot. All judges’ votes will count no matter where they end up.
COMMENTING:
Due to the nature of head-to-head competitions, commenting is a delicate subject. We don’t want feelings hurt and we don’t want people leaving angry. 32 people will be knocked out in the first round. That is brutal. And like any contest of this nature, the results will be subjective. Wonderful entries WILL be eliminated. We want every entry to get as much feedback as possible, so we will allow open commenting.
Therefore, especially in the first round, we want a ton of comments. And we want those comments to be super constructive and helpful. In other words, be specific. Don’t just rave about a Kombatant’s entry, tell them why you liked it. Mention things like the query set out the mc’s motivation and stakes clearly, the query had a super voice, the query was confusing because…, the pages really showed the mc’s personality because…, the pages felt flat because…, the concept is unique because…

Please no ‘cheerleading’ comments in the first or second round. (Friendly cheerleading will be allowed in the final rounds.) In the early rounds, if you want to cheer on your friends or CPs, do it on twitter. Try and give equal time to both Kombatants in a matchup. Don’t let someone remain left out. If you see a matchup that isn’t getting many comments, we ask that you jump in and do your stuff.
We don’t want this contest to only be about having fun or winning. We want all the entries to receive helpful advice to make their queries and page stronger. Please remember this and be kind and thoughtful. Writers are amazing people; they go out of their way to help. We’re sure we can count on you.
Enough preaching. Here are some more commenting rules:
We would like each Kombatant to give feedback on at least 6 matchups. You’re on your honor system here, we won’t be monitoring this. We’ve got enough to do. (lol!)  We’d also like each person who entered Query Kombat to leave at least one comment on a matchup, but feel free to do many more! And please we ask that Kombatants who are eliminated, come back and leave comments on the next round. We still want to hear what you think.  We need you to make this contest a success!
Kombatants, please don’t comment on your own entry, whether that is to thank people or to explain/rationalize your entry. There will be so many comments, that we ask you to wait untilthe last day of voting to offer thanks or congratulate someone, or leave any other type of comment on your own entry. If you want to thank people before the last day of voting, twitter is the place.
We’re sure there will be ‘no hard feelings’ comments. If there are, they will be deleted. We warned you you’d need a thick skin. We don’t want a trend of people apologizing before they give feedback. That just takes up more time and space. Give constructive (not destructive) feedback and apologies are unnecessary.
Getting knocked out of the tournament or not getting picked to be in the tournament is no indication of a story’s quality. We received roughly 215 entries to fill 61 spots. ONE missing comma could have taken you out of the running. Really. This did happen a few times (more like typos and grammar mistakes). To those in the tournament, the decisions we have to make are going to be unimaginably difficult. But remember, of 215 entries, YOU were chosen to be in the tournament. Whether you’re out in the first round or the fifth, that means something.
All the hosts are very excited for Query Kombat to start, and we hope you are too. Feel free to leave us questions in the comments or just shout out your excitement. Follow us on twitter for more updates. Now back to making picks.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Query Kombat is OPEN!!! Submission Guidelines!

CONTEST IS NOW OVER! We got over 200 entries; thank you so much guys! We might make is an annual thing!

IT OPENS TODAY IT OPENS TODAY!



WINDOW IS NOW OPEN!! Read below for more details. BUT GUYS, GO. We have had 53 submissions in less than 30 minutes! Get yours in before we reach the max of 225 entries!

For full details on the whole point of this contest, how it'll work, what it is, and more, click here. For a list of the agents participating, click here. For a list of the judges and mentors, click here.

The submission window will open at 11AM EST on Monday, May 13th (that's today!) and close at 11AM 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 if less than 64 entries are received. (64 is the number of entries that will actually get into the contest.) Kontestants will be revealed May 24th and the tournament will kick off on May 28th on Michelle’s blog.

In order to enter the contest you MUST follow formatting guidelines, follow our blogs, and submit during the contest window. All entries that follow those guidelines will be considered. In the event that we receive more than the available spots, hosts (that's Mike, Michelle, and I!) will be assigned a group of queries and pick the best of their group. We will also select a few alternates. Sixty-four queries will enter into the tournament.

Send entries to: QueryKombat (at) yahoo (dot) com

Formatting guidelines:

Times New Roman, 12pt font, single-spaced with spaces between each paragraph. No indents or tabs. PLEASE.

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.

Example: Dumbledore Fan: YA Fantasy

For the nickname, make it as unique as possible so that there are no duplicates. These will be the names used in the tournament brackets and post headings so keep it PG-13 and try to have it relate to your story in some way. Nicknames are limited to 25 characters!

***The four Free Pass winners should include “Free Pass” before their nickname in the subject line to ensure their spot.

In the body of the email (bold where bold):
(YES. Include the words 'Name,' 'Email address,' 'Entry Nickname,' etc., put a colon after them, and BOLD THEM. We want to just copy and paste from the email address with as little hassel as possible :)

Name: SC Author
Email address: SCAuthor@xxx.com

(Neither of the above will be posted -- it is just for us admins to use.)

Entry Nickname: Dumbledore Fan
Title: Dumbledore to the Rescue!
Word count: 77,000
Genre: YA Fantasy

Query:
Dumbledore rocks. He really does. So when he uses the Resurrection Stone to talk to Victor Hugo, Dumbledore didn't expect what was coming next.

Jean Valjean was a wizard! He was the previous owner of the Elder Wand, and in order to find out why his wand is malfunctioning, Dumbledore must use the Time-Turner to go back in time and find out just what happened to the wand when Jean Valjean was its owner.

But there's a catch: on the Time-Turner. Since it's a necklace-type thing. So it has a catch. And Dumbledore must open the catch before he can wear the Time-Turner and save the day.

(Only include the meat of your query. No bio. Queries may be up to 350 words, but 250 is strongly preferred. Names and emails address of Kontestants will not be posted. NO tabs or anything. Just a simple line break :D)

First 250 words:(Don't include the chapter title and please, don't stop in the middle of a sentence. You can go over/under a few words to make it end at a sentence, but don't abuse this power. Also, no paragraph breaks or tabs. Just line breaks.)

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 days to polish your work. Take advantage of it.

Competition will be fierce. You are going up against the best in your age group! (We're trying to get the brackets set up so each bracket is a different age group, but that all depends on the numbers of entries and stuff. Fingers crossed!)

Put on your thick skin and get those submissions—Ready! Set! Go! GO GO GO!!

And we are #QueryKombat on Twitter, I'm  SC_Author over there, so drop by and tweet us!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Query Kombat is ALMOST HERE! (Also, Judging Details)

Submissions for Query Kombat will start on Monday, May 13th and that’s, like, no time at all! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

But you guys will need a refresher of the submissions guidelines and format and stuff. So read below!!!

Entries sent before the submission window  opens (read on for more details) will be deleted unopened. Entries that don’t follow the guidelines will also be deleted.

Confirmation emails will be sent to ensure we got your submission and it didn’t end up in Hogwarts (although how awesome would that be).

The three judges, Mike, Michelle, and I have very different tastes so we'll get an awesome diversity of selections into the contest :DD REMEMBER! We have agents participating in this contest (10 of them!) that represent all of the age categories except PB (MG, YA, NA, and Adult), so we'll have an awesome rainbow of a contest :)


Fun prize-winning stuff!

If your query and first 250 words are chosen, by us, for the Query Kombat contest, there will be up to eleven judges going through the rounds. (The very same cool judges we boasted about last week.) As the contest is a March Madness type deal, the judges will vote "Yes" or "No" for your query to advance into the next round (your query will be pitted up, randomly, against another query in your age group).

Kontestants get to invent amazing nicknames, so naturally the judges want one, too! So our judges will be commenting and voting as their dual-personality self. To recognize our wonderful judges and know the vote is legit here is a list of the names they’ve chosen:

Ultraviolet
SavageBlue
Goldilocks
Pepper
Storm
Hedgehog
Flame
Sacredbis
X-Man(uscript)
Dragonfire
Interrobang
LittleMynx

Who is who? That would be telling, but perhaps you can figure them out. Yes. We are teases.

Commenting on the entries is allowed and encouraged! Cheer everyone on! The first comment in each post, however, will be by either Michelle, Mike, or I, and it will be the comment to which the judges will reply and cast their votes (it'll make it easier for us to count up votes). Non-judges cannot reply to this comment XD

Now, onward to the fine and gory details:

The below is just another overview of the contest for those who missed the details before.




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.

For full details, click here.

The submission window will open at 11AM EST on Monday, May 13th and close at 11AM 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 if less than 64 entries are received. (64 is the number of entries that will actually get into the contest.) Kontestants will be revealed May 24th and the tournament will kick off on May 28th on Michelle’s blog.


In order to enter the contest you MUST follow formatting guidelines, and submit during the contest window. All entries that follow those guidelines will be considered. In the event that we receive more than the available spots, hosts (that's Mike, Michelle, and I!) will be assigned a group of queries and pick the best of their group. We will also select a few alternates. Sixty-four queries will enter into the tournament.


Send entries to: QueryKombat (at) yahoo (dot) com


Formatting guidelines:


Times New Roman, 12pt font, single-spaced with spaces between each paragraph. No indents or tabs. PLEASE.

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. Example:

Dumbledore Fan: YA Fantasy

For the nickname, make it as unique as possible so that there are no duplicates. These will be the names used in the tournament brackets and post headings so keep it PG-13 and try to have it relate to your story in some way. Nicknames are limited to 25
characters!

***The four Free Pass winners should include “Free Pass” before their nickname in the subject line to ensure their spot.

In the body of the email (bold where bold):

Name: SC Author
Email address: SCAuthor@xxx.com
(Neither of the above will be posted -- it is just for us admins to use.)

Entry Nickname: Dumbledore FanTitle: Dumbledore to the Rescue!
Word count: 77,000
Genre: YA Fantasy

Query:

Dumbledore rocks. He really does. So when he uses the Resurrection Stone to talk to Victor Hugo, Dumbledore didn't expect what was coming next.

Jean Valjean was a wizard! He was the previous owner of the Elder Wand, and in order to find out why his wand is malfunctioning, Dumbledore must use the Time-Turner to go back in time and find out just what happened to the wand when Jean Valjean was its owner.

 
But there's a catch: on the Time-Turner. Since it's a necklace-type thing. So it has a catch. And Dumbledore must open the catch before he can wear the Time-Turner and save the day.

(Would you believe it, I just cranked that query out! I like it better than my actual query, to be honest....)

(Only include the meat of your query. No bio. Queries may be up to 350 words, but 250 is strongly preferred. Names and emails address of Kontestants will not be posted.)

First 250 words:

(Don't include the chapter title and please, don't stop in the middle of a sentence. You can go over/under a few words to make it end at a sentence, but don't abuse this power.)


Simple, huh?
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 days to polish your work. Take advantage of it.

Competition will be fierce. You are going up against the best in your age group! (We're trying to get the brackets set up so each bracket is a different age group, but that all depends on the numbers of entries and stuff. Fingers crossed!)

Put on your thick skin and get those submissions—Ready! Set! Go on Monday, May 13!


AND. YOU GUYS. This contest has knocked this post (Why 50 Shades of Grey is a Bestseller) out from the top slot on my 'Popular Posts' widget over on the right of this blog. That post has been number one for almost a year now. That's kind of insane!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Updated (REAL!) Judges List for Query Kombat!


UPDATE:
Terri Bruce is not able to join us for the tournament as anticipated. But we've brought two more judges into our fabulous ensemble. Please welcome Darci Cole and Jennifer Malone. (Cue applause!)

Brenda Drake
Brenda writes young adult and middle grade novels. She runs contests and holds workshops on her blog .Look for her debut young adult novel, LIBRARY JUMPERS, coming February 2014 and its sequels February 2015 and February 2016 from Month9Books.
Check out her site
Find her on Facebook

Rhiann Wynn-Nolett
Rhiann writes YA/NA fiction and is thrilled to be represented by Stefanie Lieberman of Janklow & Nesbit.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter
Find her on Facebook

Angie Sandro
For Angie Sandro, writing is as necessary as breathing. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary, LLC.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter
Find her on Facebook
Mindy McGinnis
Also participating as a mentor
Mindy McGinnis is the author of NOT A DROP TO DRINK, coming 9/24/13 from Katherine Tegen / Harper Collins. She is also a YA librarian and overactive blogger at Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire.
Here's her site
Find her on Facebook

Lizzy Charles
Lizzy Charles, represented by Jamie Bodnar Drowley, is a YA contemp romance author who loves characters brave enough to face themselves, adventure stories, and anything with a thread of romance. Look for her debut novel, PRIMER, Fall 2013 from Swoon Romance of Month9Books.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter


Mike Anthony
Mike Anthony loves writing about the tough stuff.  Whether it's YA, NA, or adult,  he enjoys dragging his characters through hell to toughen 'em up a bit. He's interested in reading anything with quirky characters, or that teaches a hard lesson. And if you can make him laugh, you've won his heart.
Follow his blog


SC
He is a YA and adult writer currently working hard(er) on a YA Fantasy about a teenage girl living with all the pressure and currents of an underwater world. In terms of authors, he is a HUGE JK Rowling and Victor Hugo fan. And he's a guy. Look at his icon. It's so hard to make that clear when you go by "SC"
Check out his blog
Follow him on Twitter
See what he's reading on GoodReads


Phoenix Sullivan
In the corporate world, Phoenix was a professional writer and editor for 23 years. Before that, she was a registered veterinary technician, working with small animal clinics and wildlife rehab centers. Today, she lives on a small farm in North Texas where she writes thrillers and fantasies. She also serves as the general manager of Steel Magnolia Press, an author consortium anchored by New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors Jennifer Blake and Christina Skye.
Check out her blog
Steel Magnolia Press
Summer Heacock

Summer is a writer of Women's Fiction and whatever else pops into her head, but a reader of anything she can get her hands onto. She exists as a mommy, wife, writer, geekling, and is repped by the fabulous Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter


Darci Cole
Darci Cole is a stay-at-home-mom of two perfect little boys and wife to the best husband in the world. Her home is *always* spotless and lovely, ready for visitors day or night. She loves Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Marvel movies, Mythbusters, and being Mormon. She is an Editorial Intern for Entangled Publishing, and spends her massive amounts of free time writing YA Fantasy, prowling Twitter, and reading for her incredible critique partners.
Michelle Hauck
Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Her epic fantasy, Kindar's Cure, is being published by Divertir Publishing in May 2013. Her short story, Frost and Fog, was chosen by The Elephant's Bookshelf Press for their summer 2013 anthology. Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter
Find her on Facebook
See what she's reading on GoodReads


My Photo

Jennifer Malone
I'm a contemporary middle grade and YA writer with a love of juvenile pop culture (if it was an ABC Family Movie, I probably can quote it). I also teach in the Film program at Boston University, drawing on my experiences as former New England Head of Publicity and Promotions for 20th Century Fox and Miramax Films.
Check out her blog.
Follow her on twitter.




Monday, May 6, 2013

Query Kombat Progress Report

Well, I was going to make some changes to my blog design as, in a previous post, I asked if I should. I wanted to make the posts' backgrounds a bit white/cream colored to break up all the blue, but I tried and it looked completely horrible (like a construction-paper box stuck over my blog). So that's not happening. Sorry guys :(

ANYWAY.

Query Kombat Progress!

The judges have gotten all of their nicknames and I picked mine too, after a bunch of thinking and tossed-out ideas. I was GOING to go with Humbledore (Victor Hugo + Dumbledore) but I felt that would be too obvious, so now I've got a very secretive name that I like. The judges will be voting "Yes" or "No" for one query on each Query Kombat post, and we decided to keep the judges' voting identities a secret so you won't hate them for the rest of your lives.

The email account has been set up for a while now (QueryKombat (at) yahoo (dot) com) and we've got folders and stuff so Michelle, Mike, and I can split up the pile into three and pick the queries we want in the tournament. A BUNCH of planning has already happened.

There are a good number of announcements over Twitter under the hashtag #QueryKombat. Nothing too big (you'll see the big announcements on our blogs) but small progress reports.

A lot is happening behind the scenes, guys! I cannot thank Mike and Michelle enough. They have done SO MUCH and this contest wouldn't be possible without them. It's way too much work for one person, and we three make an awesome team. You should see our email stream. It's like teamwork gold right there.

But this contest is all about you.

We want to see your queries. We want to see your first 250 words. I'll do a "What I Like and Don't Like from the Submissions" type thing over Twitter so you won't be out of the loop and you'll see what I think works and doesn't work. But it all comes down to you guys!

Submission window starts one week from now, Monday the 13th! I KNOW. IT'S CRAZY!

Are you guys excited? I AM.

Get your manuscripts ready, and hone those query and first 250 words to perfection!

And remember. Voice voice voice. That'll be the secret to getting in the contest. I could tell, from the beginning, which entries would get a large number of votes in my "Become an Agent" contest just by the voice. If you are debating whether to revolve your query around plot or voice, make it more about the voice (but do keep the main plot elements in there--it's all about a balance). A bland play-by-play rarely entices anyone.

Go go go guys!

OH! It was Adele's 25th birthday yesterday (May 5th)! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You are an awesome person and singer.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Query Kombat Judges, Mentors, and Winners REVEALED!

Due to some idiotic miscommunication on my part, I DIDN'T POST THIS POST WHEN I SHOULD HAVE! So here's me, trying to catch up :DD

We have a HUGE lineup of awesome judges and mentors for the Query Kombat tournament. We wanted to bring you the most diverse group of opinions, talents, and specialties to fit all the age groups our contest covers (MG, YA, NA, and Adult). And we got it.


But here's the Free Pass winner from this Mini-Contest!

My winner is Jodi Thompson. Her manuscript's nickname is "Princess and the Pee-stick." Just let that sink in for a little bit. And then laugh. BECAUSE IT IS HILARIOUS.

But there are so many other amazing nicknames in the comment section of that post, manuscripts I am really interested in seeing more of. So please, submit to the contest!!! Because I had a lot of fun reading your comments and nicknames :D

Head over to the other two blogs (Michelle's and Mike's) to see if they picked you as a winner, and head over to Twitter-land to see if you won over there as well (those that tweeted with the hashtag #QueryKombat got a shot at ANOTHER free pass!).

All winners of the Free Passes, make sure you put "Free Pass" in the subject line of your submission (when you submit) so we can immediately pull it out of the pile :D

And HEREEEEE ARE OUR JUDGES!

UPDATE! There are some changes in the judges (most notably, two additions and one withdrawal) so check out this link for the updated info! 

Brenda Drake
Brenda writes young adult and middle grade novels. She runs contests and holds workshops on her blog .Look for her debut young adult novel, LIBRARY JUMPERS, coming February 2014 and its sequels February 2015 and February 2016 from Month9Books.
Check out her site
Find her on Facebook

Rhiann Wynn-Nolett
Rhiann writes YA/NA fiction and is thrilled to be represented by Stefanie Lieberman of Janklow & Nesbit.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter
Find her on Facebook

Angie Sandro
For Angie Sandro, writing is as necessary as breathing. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary, LLC.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter
Find her on Facebook
Mindy McGinnis
Also participating as a mentor
Mindy McGinnis is the author of NOT A DROP TO DRINK, coming 9/24/13 from Katherine Tegen / Harper Collins. She is also a YA librarian and overactive blogger at Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire.
Here's her site
Find her on Facebook

Lizzy Charles
Lizzy Charles, represented by Jamie Bodnar Drowley, is a YA contemp romance author who loves characters brave enough to face themselves, adventure stories, and anything with a thread of romance. Look for her debut novel, PRIMER, Fall 2013 from Swoon Romance of Month9Books.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter


Mike Anthony
Mike Anthony loves writing about the tough stuff.  Whether it's YA, NA, or adult,  he enjoys dragging his characters through hell to toughen 'em up a bit. He's interested in reading anything with quirky characters, or that teaches a hard lesson. And if you can make him laugh, you've won his heart.
Follow his blog


SC (That's ME, guys!!!!)
He is a YA and adult writer currently working on a YA Fantasy about a teenage girl living with all the pressure and currents of an underwater world. But he's secretly working on an Adult Contemporary, one he really likes. Shhhh. In terms of authors, he is a HUGE JK Rowling and Victor Hugo fan. And he's a guy. Look at his icon. It's so hard to make that clear when you go by "SC"
Check out his blog
Follow him on Twitter
See what he's reading on GoodReads
 (I just got realllyy started using Goodreads, have no idea how to use it or add friends, so don't make fun of me!)

Phoenix Sullivan
In the corporate world, Phoenix was a professional writer and editor for 23 years. Before that, she was a registered veterinary technician, working with small animal clinics and wildlife rehab centers. Today, she lives on a small farm in North Texas where she writes thrillers and fantasies. She also serves as the general manager of Steel Magnolia Press, an author consortium anchored by New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors Jennifer Blake and Christina Skye.
Check out her blog
Steel Magnolia Press
Summer Heacock

Summer is a writer of Women's Fiction and whatever else pops into her head, but a reader of anything she can get her hands onto. She exists as a mommy, wife, writer, geekling, and is repped by the fabulous Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter


Michelle Hauck
Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Her epic fantasy, Kindar's Cure, is being published by Divertir Publishing in May 2013. Her short story, Frost and Fog, was chosen by The Elephant's Bookshelf Press for their summer 2013 anthology. Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter
Find her on Facebook
See what she's reading on GoodReads


Terri Bruce
Terri Bruce has been making up adventure stories for as long as she can remember and won her first writing award when she was twelve. Like Anne Shirley, she prefers to make people cry rather than laugh, but is happy if she can do either. She produces fantasy and adventure stories from a haunted house in New England where she lives with her husband and three cats. Her second novel, Thereafter (Afterlife #2), will be released May 15, 2013.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter

The best query trainers in the land (Mentors that will help spice up your query and first 250 words if you make it into Round 3):


Rebecca Yarros
Rebecca is a YA/NA author represented by Jamie Bodnar Drowley of Inklings Literary. She loves strong female characters, worlds she can get lost in, and great romance... oh, and brownies too.
Check out her blog
Check out her website
Follow her on Twitter


Richard Pearson
Richard Pearson grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. At Rhodes College, he took numerous courses in theatre and creative writing (though his major was Sociology) and has never stopped writing or performing since graduating in 2004. Aware that he had to pay the bills somehow, Richard worked as a paralegal for many years, but eventually decided (thanks to some loving coaxing by his husband) to attend law school in 2007. After graduating from Rutgers School of Law in 2010, Richard passed both the New York and New Jersey state bar exams. He currently practices part-time out of his home in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Check out his blog
Follow him on Twitter



Brianna Shrum
Hello all! There will be no third-person here. Because, well, my brain doesn't quite function that way. So, a little about me. I've been writing since I was a wee bairn on my grandpa’s knee. We wrote fantastically silly poetry together. I never even considered, however, that being an author was possible. Once I finally realized that it was, though, that was it.So, now, I’m a writer of books. I love all things dark, twisty, and strange…I have a love for fairy tales and villains and things that go bump in the night. But meet me in real life, and you would have zero idea. I’m rather sunny, and extremely nerdy, and would rather do karaoke in a room full of people than brood in a dark, shadowy corner.I live in Colorado with my husband (who is also my high school sweetheart. Cue the ‘Awww’) and my crazy toddler. We read him lots of stories. We’re story people.
Check out my blog
Follow me on Twitter


Jean Oram
Jean Oram has worked as a freelance editor and was once agented for her nonfiction work. She is a moderator at the fabulous writer's websitewww.agentqueryconnect.com and has had several short stories published. She is currently celebrating her first indie publication, Champagne and Lemon Drops: A Blueberry Spring Chick Lit Contemporary Romance, and is working away on book two.
Check out her blog
Check out her site
Follow her on Twitter
Find her on Facebook



MarcyKate
She's an author of middle grade and young adult novels represented by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media. Her debut middle grade fantasy novel, MONSTROUS, will be out from HarperCollins Children’s Books in 2014
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter



Jennie Bozic
Jennie writes sci fi and fantasy for young adults by night, and blow things up on television during day. She changes her hair color frequently, and she's represented by Steven Axelrod.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter
Vicki Weavil
Vicki Lemp Weavil is the author of the YA Fantasy, CROWN OF ICE, which will be published by Month9Books in the fall of 2014, and has written two other adult scifi novels. She is represented by Jennifer Mishler at The Literary Counsel.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter

And Mindy McGinnis (see the judges list above) is doubling as a mentor as well!

HOW ABOUT THAT LINE-UP?

I am beyond excited about this contest! Please, spread the word and make this contest even more fun! We are #QueryKombat on Twitter, and I am here on Twitter. (I just made my 1000th tweet!)

Congrats, Jodi, and good luck everyone else who will submit soon!

AHHH!!!!!! It's really happening!