Friday, May 16, 2014

Query Kombat Judges Reveal and Winner of Free Pass!!!

We have a HUGE lineup of awesome judges for the Query Kombat tournament this year. Our goal was to bring you the most diverse group of opinions, talents, and specialties. Needless to say, I think we succeeded.

Of course, I have to give out my free pass into Query Kombat!! For those that don't know, I had a mini-contest where people answered "Why do we need diverse books?" and the best 25-words-or-less response I got would get the free pass. Just read all the comments on the post and tell me that I didn't have a hard time deciding. Because I did. And it all came down to subjectivity so don't even try coming up with a reason as to why you didn't get the free pass!

But before that, the judges:

Query Kombat would not be possible without the wonderful people who donate their time to help others. In this month-long contest, we have managed to gather nearly thirty industry professionals to judge and critique entries. Each and every one of these judges are participating out of the kindness of their hearts, so please join the QK Crew in thanking them for volunteering.


Now, without further ado, we'd like to introduce the judges for Query Kombat 2014.\

Angie Sandro writes NA/YA/MG. Her debut New Adult Southern Gothic, DARK PARADISE, releases July 1, 2014, from Grand Central Forever Yours. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall, of Marsal Lyon Literary, LLC.

sunglasses picture

Lauren Spieller is a graduate of University of Illinois and University of Notre Dame. She writes Young Adult and Middle Grade novels, as well as short stories for adults. When she’s not writing, Lauren interns for a literary agent. She also offers query, pitch, manuscript, and synopsis critiques. Click here to see her services.

Lauren is represented by Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich Literary ManagementFollow her on twitter @laurenspieller.


L. L. McKinney is a freelance writer, a published poet, and board member of the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. Her first love is fantasy, particularly urban fantasy. While she enjoys imagining the impossible happening right here at home, strong writing and a distinct voice will always win her over, no matter the genre. She's participated in dozens of contests over the years as an entrant, slush reader, and host. She lives the single life in Kansas, surrounded by more nieces and nephews than she knows what to do with.

Amanda Heger is a writer, attorney, and bookworm. She lives in St. Louis with three unruly rescue dogs and a husband who encourages her delusions of grandeur. Her work is represented by Jessica Watterson of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. 

Raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Vicki L. Weavil turned her early obsession with reading into a career as a librarian. After obtaining a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Virginia, she continued her education by receiving a Masters in Library Science and a M.A. in Liberal Studies. She is currently the Library Director for a performing and visual arts university.

Vicki is represented by Jennifer Mishler of Literary Counsel. Her debut novel, CROWN OF ICE – a dark YA retelling of H. C. Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” -- will be published by Month9Books in December of 2014. An avid reader who appreciates good writing in all genres, Vicki has been known to read seven books in as many days. When not writing or reading, she likes to spend her time watching films, listening to music, gardening, or traveling.

Wendy Nikel lives in Michigan where she enjoys writing speculative fiction, playing video games with her husband, and building epic Lego creations with her sons. She is represented by Natalie Lakosil of the Bradford Literary Agency, and you can read some of her short stories at

Ingrid Seymour is the author of Ignite The Shadows (Harper Voyager, February 2015). When she’s not writing books, she spends her time working as a software engineer, cooking exotic recipes, hanging out with her family and working out. She writes young adult and new adult fiction in a variety of genres, including Sci-Fi, urban fantasy, romance, paranormal and horror.

Her favorite outings involve a trip to the library or bookstore where she immediately gravitates toward the YA section. She’s an avid reader and fangirl of many amazing books. She is a dreamer and a fighter who believes perseverance and hard work can make dreams come true.
She lives in Birmingham, AL with her husband, two kids and a cat named Mimi. She is represented by Beth Phelan of The Bent Agency.

Dragons, unicorns, genies…oh my! NA/YA author, coffee-lover, olive-hater, tea-drinker, music-listener. Random becomes Karen Bynum. Easily distrac— Rep'd by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary.
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As a freshman at the University of Colorado, N.K. Traver decided to pursue Information Technology because classmates said “no one could make a living” with an English degree. It wasn’t too many years later she realized it didn’t matter what the job paid—nothing would ever be as fulfilling as writing. Her debut, DUPLICITY, a YA cyberthriller pitched as BREAKING BAD meets THE MATRIX, will release from Macmillan Entertainment in March 2015.

Sarah Glenn Marsh writes young adult novels that blend history with magic, as well as picture books. Her work is represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis Literary. She lives in Virginia with her husband and several rescued greyhounds.

Aimee Hyndman is represented by Laura Zats of Red Sofa Literary. She is a sophomore in college, attempting a triple major in Creative writing, English and Film Studies because she is, arguably, crazy.  

She reads the slushpile as an intern for Kimberley Cameron & Associates and she is also a contributor at Operation Awesome. She has been writing since her toddler fingers first grasped a pencil. Her area of specialty is Fantasy of all sorts but she dabbles in many genres. Whatever she feels compelled to write at the moment.The plot bunnies are never ending but, luckily, so are the words!

Pinterest: Aimee Hyndman

Tatum Flynn once told lies for a living as a professional poker player, and now tells lies for a living as a children's author. Her devilish MG fantasy, BRIMSTONE FOR BREAKFAST, is out April 2015 from Orchard Books/Hachette, with a sequel to follow. She lives by the sea in England with a cat called Friday and too many hats. You can find her on GoodreadsTwitter and her website.

 Naomi Hughes writes quirky middle-grade and young adult novels (most of which involve unicorns) and is agented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency. She is also a freelance editor at She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, daughter, and a hyperactive Border Collie named after a Last Airbender character. You can find out more about her at and follow her on Twitter.

Carla Luna Cullen writes YA fiction and is represented by Erin Niumata of Folio Literary Management. She is a mom to two teenagers, a former archaeologist, a hopeless romantic, and an unabashed lover of show-tunes. Although she reads across all genres, she is drawn to stories with unusual or exotic settings.  

Melinda O'Neill

MJ O'Neill writes lighthearted, romantic mysteries, full of rich characters and family escapades that will leave you dying with laughter. She is thrilled to be represented by Lotus Lane Literary and is currently on submission. Check out her blog at or follow on twitter.

Tracy Jorgensen and her cute hubby design products for a living in beautiful Washington state. Her bucket list includes writing a novel (check!), shaking hands with a president, going to China (nimen hao!), and rock climbing. She loves to draw, ride dirt bikes, and watch nerdy shows like Dr. Who, Firefly, and Star Trek. Oh, and she writes, too. If you ever meet her, ask her about the time she poked a guy in the butt with a fork or how she once cut her hair off with a knife (on purpose even).

Her YA Fantasy THE IMPENDING DEMISE OF THE GIRL WITH BROWN EYES will be released this summer from Immortal Ink Publishing. 


Midwestern native Heather Van Fleet lives in a small town on the Iowa/Illinois border. She’s a wife to her hubby, and high school sweet heart Chris, as well as a mom to her three little girls, Kelsey, Emma and Bella. When she’s not obsessing over her fictional book characters, cooking dinner, or running around chasing her crazy kiddos, you can usually find her with her head stuck in her Kindle, sucking down White Chocolate Mochas like they're water.

Heather is the author of four books, both young and new adult, published through Sunshine Press, with a forthcoming new adult novel releasing this October through Swoon Romance.

Amber Mitchell writes YA fantasy and is drawn to anything with a little bit of magic in it though she loves to read in all YA genres. When she isn't writing, she is a 911 dispatcher in her small Florida town where she hears stories that are too crazy for fiction. She is represented by Nikki Terpilowski of Holloway Literary.

Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter 

Amy Trueblood is a freelance writer who spends most of her time penning press releases for her favorite non-profit. When not “chasing the crazy” dream of being published, you can find her rereading her favorite YA books, running, or gulping down her favorite mango iced tea. Her work has been featured in Liquid Imagination, as well as "The Fall" and "Summer's Edge" short story collections. Check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.

Stacey Trombley lives in Ohio with her husband and the sweetest Rottweiler you’ll ever meet. She writes middle grade and young adult fiction of all kinds. Her debut novel NAKED will be released from Entangled Teen in 2015.

My Photo

Born and raised in Australia, Katie Teller's early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing. After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She now works as a Clerk with a lien company in Arizona to help support her family and her schooling. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Her debut novel, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, has been an Amazon bestseller, reaching #59 of all books. The rest of the Kiya Trilogy is available through Curiosity Quills Press. She has a two book series also contracted with Curiosity Quills, and a standalone novel with Soul Mate Publishing. She also work as an Acquisitions Editor for Curiosity Quills Press.

N.N. Light

I am the author of Princess of the Light, an Urban Fantasy published by Anaiah Press this August. My love for writing goes back to when I first discovered books in my local library when I was five years old.  My imagination grew and soon I was creating new worlds and adventures faster than I could write them down.  In my free time (what is that again?), I love spending time with my husband (MR N) and loves all things chocolate, books, music, movies, art, sports and baking. 

huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, S.K. Falls enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards in Charleston, SC where she lives and imbibes coffee. Her husband and two small children seem not to mind when she hastily scribbles novel lines on stray limbs in the absence of notepads.
S.K. Falls is represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

​ Visit her online at

Always a lover of art and books, it wasn't until she put the two together that Jessika Fleck discovered the magic of storytelling. Growing up with an overactive imagination lent to many a day exploring new worlds and characters. She still has the overactive imagination, but now puts her stories to paper. Jessika lives in the foothills of Colorado with her sweet family, growing collection of vintage typewriters, and bevy of characters who often keep her up at night. She is represented by Jamie Bodnar Drowely of Inkings Literary Agency.


Ami Allen-Vath is a YA Contemporary Author, represented by Victoria Lowes of The Bent Agency. She lives along the shores of New Jersey with her husband, two children, and a dog named Yoda.  
Ami loves books that make her laugh and/or want to “fall” off a bridge. She does not like birds, cilantro, or cartoon character impressions. She can be Internet stalked found on Twitter: @amilouiseallen, Facebook, and her blog: “Ami with an I.”


AJ Pine writes New Adult contemporary romance that will break your heart but mend it with a happily ever after. Her debut novel, IF ONLY, is out now with Entangled Embrace. You can find AJ Pine on  Twitter, Facebook, and her Blog.

Katharyn Blair is a twenty-five year-old perpetual teenager and overall lover of YA. She signed with Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson in February of this year and is currently editing her YA novel, Bloodburner, which is about a cutter with magical blood.

She is a coffee addict, pluviophile (look it up, seriously), and a long-suffering nemesis of the accursed Procrastination and Writer’s Block. She is currently pursuing her MA in Literature and MFA in Screenwriting. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and young daughter. 

You can follow her on twitter or visit her blog.

Richard Taylor Pearson: Richard is a triple threat: actor/author/attorney living in Jersey City, NJ. His first novel “The Role” is a coming of age LGBT romance, that is currently on submission. He is represented by Eric Ruben of the Ruben Agency.

All the contestants: take the time to Tweet/comment on a blog of at least five of these judges, thanking them for what they're doing. Pick the by random or anything, just take the time. They have some of the hardest jobs in the contest!!


...(For those who don't remember, I asked "Why do we need diverse books?")



She wrote: "I need diverse books because it's not good enough for me to only understand myself. I need to understand others."

I think this boils down to the absolute root of why we need diverse books. It's the reason we crucially need diversity in literature - to see through the eyes of others. Almost all the entrants said something along the same lines, so it really came down to subjectivity. I loved Emmy's simple but true way of stating this fact. Many entries were disqualified because of the 25-word limit :(

The runner up is Melissa Caruso with "We need diverse books because reading should open up new worlds, not narrow the existing one." I really loved that one!

I also think Quiana's "We need diverse books because if John Green was black or Gillian Flynn was trans their books wouldn't be championed & on front shelves in bookstores," is incredibly interesting and I actually might do a whole blog post on this subject. I didn't pick this as a winner because I do think that if he was black, the books would still be successful (just my opinion because there are many non-white successful authors of diverse genres). I'm not too sure about the trans issue - there are too few examples in the writerly world to get some sort of idea on this. But I heard in a thread somewhere that if John Green was a woman, The Fault in Our Stars would have been dismissed as a teenage romance.

And that is so, so, SO true.

Congrats Emmy!


  1. Emmy's is very deep and true. Love it! The others made me nod as well. :)

  2. Eeeep! Thank you so much! What a pleasant surprise to come home to after a couple days in airports. Better go spit shine my entry. ;)

  3. Belated thanks for picking me as a runner up! I love this question, and love all the answers! Thanks for running an awesome contest.

  4. Squeak! Just glad to be mentioned! :D Glad mine is food for thought and congrats to the winner and runner up!!