Sunday, May 31, 2015

Query Kombat Round 1 Match-Ups

The big reveal was yesterday as to who was on our Query Kombat teams - now it's time to find out who the Kombatants will be going up against in the first round! The first round will start on Monday and the match-ups will span all our blogs.

The Four Month Plan v. Zip
The Wonderette v. A Thousand Miles Astray
Guilt by Association v. Heartland of Alberta
The Impressionistic Cow v. Lila’s Smiling Quest
Brain Gourmet v. A Pirate’s Life for Me
Broadway Baby v. Fun Friday My Ass
Teenagers Make Poor James Bond v. Over a Beryl
A Spoonful of Testosterone v. Musical Mirror Mayhem
Father vs Friend v. Grandma Guardians
My Life as a Teenage Pirate Queen v. Tiara Thief
Polar Rush v. Twin for the Win

Orphan Red v. Rustic Roots Burn Holes
My Future is My Past v. Greek Gods are the Best Kind of Trouble
Eavesdropping Monkey v. Super Flynn’s Super Fun
Sand Dollar v. Change the Alphabet
Dolyn Pierce’s Headphones v. My Monster Twin is Rotting
Queen of Drones v. My Name is Poison on Your Lips
Life Sucks—I’m stuck in Podunk v. Learning to Love Tofu
Paper Girl in the Land of Yesterday v. Who Will Be Winter
Librarians, Curses, and Mysteries v. A Spicy Caper
Princess Charming & the Beast v. Guinness
A Quest for Crumbs v. Elephants Never Forget

If You Give a Girl a Redo v. Baby Blues Ruse
Forget You, Stalin v. Fighting the South
The Pied Piper v. Paranormal Fear
I Kissed a Ghoul v. Skins of the Father
No Such Thing as Coincidence v. Best(iary) Western
Texting Buddies at 8% v. Fed to the Crocodiles
Death By Dozier v. A Girl and Her Serial Killer
A Sparkling Wildflower v. Middle Grade Leverage
TRIAC Girl v. Stellar Twins Kicking it Cosmic Style
Fake Heirs Do it Better v. The One About Temples, Tyrants, and Twins

Remember the rules that we talked about yesterday! The most important: 1) wait to comment on the match-ups until we hosts have come around and made the first comment on our posts for the judges. 2) no cheerleading 3) no commenting on your own match-ups, without exception, until the last day of judging. Make sure to read the whole post yesterday, though, to get all the juicy details!

I'M SO EXCITED!! This looks amazing :D Get ready for tomorrow!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Team #Writerbees for Query Kombat 2015!

The time is finally here! Time to release the Kombatants onto the unsuspecting public!

I know you're going to skip this and scroll down to see if you made it in.

So go do it - but pretty please, come back here and read this! Promise? Regardless if you make it on my team or not, please return to read this.

The choice was hard. Of course it was, if you followed us on #QKSlush you know how agonizing it was to decide. And when I said that I for sure passed over entries I would love to read/request/thought-were-amazing, I meant it.

You see, it might never make sense or settle with you until you come on our side of the screen. I submitted to contests. I did the same thing you did - and I got rejected every time. All the things the hosts said ("It was such a hard decision! You'll still succeed! Yay!") didn't register with me. Something was wrong with my query/250, etc. And yes, something was wrong with my submission. It sucked. But the hosts' rejection of me was not personal. It wasn't a critique of me as a writer. And I understand it even more now that I'm doing the hosting - I pass over bad entries, but I also pass over amazing entries because we only have room for a certain amount. 

That's why I'm trying to reconfigure how we think of online blog writing contests. It's just like querying. If you get a query rejection, it hurts less than getting a contest rejection - but why? It's the same thing. The true worth of a contest comes from the online community that builds up around it, from the hashtags (#QueryKombat and #QKSlush), and the friends we all make. It's something remarkable and life-changing. Contests are fun! Winning is fun, getting requests is fun. But there's so much more to it. 

I follow what Michelle says in her announcement post: if you're feeling down, tweet me. There's an army of writers waiting to catch you as you fall. Thank you so much for submitting! CONTESTS ARE SO FUN! (I was rejected from every one (except the randomized ones) so I don't know why I loved them so much, but I do!)

To those who made it--CONGRATULATIONS! Out of 245 entries, you made it into the top 64. You bit, you clawed, you bled, and you MADE IT! AND WE LOVE YOU. Celebrate, celebrate! Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, anything :D Scream and shout. We writers love to celebrate other's victories and also wallow with other's pains. (Who said writers were sane?) #QueryKombat on Twitter is going to be great around this time, so throw out a Tweet and dive in.

Tweet your sagest query advice, or that quote that kept you going when you were down and out, or your grandmother's secret tapioca pudding recipe ('cause everyone love tapioca!). We're more than a community; we're a family. So spread the love.

We don't have any fancy brackets to showcase the match-ups. In fact, the match-ups for Sunday aren't really finished yet. Kombatants must wait for Sunday to find out who they will face.

Now for my picks for the contest. To see Mike's and Michelle's picks, check out their blogs. Kombatants don't miss the rules on judging and commenting included at the bottom of this post.

This is team #Writerbees. (We have alumni! They'll say hi on Twitter :D)


The Pied Piper
Baby Blues Ruse

Young Adult:

Princess Charming and the Beast
My Name is Poison on Your Lips
The One About Temples, Tyrants, and Twins
The Quest for Crumbs
Fun Friday My Ass
Texting Buddies at 8%
Over a Beryl
Dolyn Pierce's Headphones
Fighting the South
Queen of Drones vs Bunker Babe 
A Pirate's Life for Me
Learning to Love Tofu
Death By Dozier

Middle Grade:

Grandma Guardians
A Spoonful of Testosterone
Who Will Be Winter?


Sand Dollar
The Impressionistic Cow
Eavesdropping Monkey

Welcome to the #Writerbees!!!! I love all of you. THIS IS OUR YEAR. Tweet me on Twitter so I can follow you!!! I'm so so so excited :D


(one more)


Now some details and info and not-as-fun but still important stuff :(

Important Information for Kombatants:

The first round will start on Monday, June 1st on all three blogs. We will try to post all the match-ups by 8:00 am EST, but please don’t rush to comment for reasons we will spell out under the judging section.

There will be 64 Kombatants and these will be paired into 32 posts for the first round. Yes, we will try to match age categories and genres together. This will totally depend on numbers. As you can imagine, we received a much lesser number of NA entries and a much greater number of YA entries. We’ll do the best we can to make the match-ups fair, but we are not limiting our Kombatant picks by requiring so many numbers of each age group. We are picking what we think are the best entries. 

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 Kombatant contestant. (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.


Our fantastic judges will give their votes under their assumed nicknames in order to be able to vote honestly and freely. Go here to see the nicknames they have chosen. The voting for the first round will take place from June 1st until June 4rd at 8:00 pm EST. (For more information on the dates of the other rounds go here.) The winners of the first round will be announced on June 4th.

Judges will vote as follows: VICTORY to Kombatant nickname Then they may give more information as to why they voted that way. How 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 match-ups where they are close friends to a Kombatant or where they have beta read or critique partnered. Due to the length of this contest, judges have been assigned to rounds and may decide not to vote in all the rounds.

In the event of a matchup vote tie, we'll call for more judges, then the round host will cast the tie-breaker vote if necessary.

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 match-up post. As soon as all the match-up posts are live, the round host will go through and made 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 hosts have to have time to get the first comment up on all 10 or 11 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 other first comments but the hosts’ 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.


Due to the nature of the head-to-head competition, commenting is a delicate subject. We don’t want feelings hurt. We don’t want people to go away 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. Because not everyone will be seen by an agent, we do want to allow commenting as that may be the only feedback a query and first 250 entry will get.

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 like a fangirl/guy. Tell us 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 page felt flat because…, the concept was unique because…

Please no cheerleading comments in the first round or second round. (Friendly cheerleading will be allowed in the final rounds.) In the early rounds, if you want to cheer on your friends and CPs, do it on twitter. Try and give equal time to both Kombatants in a match-up. Don’t let someone be left out. If you see a match-up 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 fun and agents. We want all the entries to get 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 are 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 match-ups.
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 match-up, 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 until the 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 are counting on there being no hard feeling comments. If there are, they will be deleted. We warned you’ll need a thick skin and it’s true. But we believe this can be done in a friendly manner.

Getting knocked out of the contest or not getting picked is no indication of a story’s quality. After all, we only have snapshots to go upon. 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.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Rihanna Solution: Navigating Cultural Appropriation & Avoiding Tokenization in Writing

A few weeks ago was the Met Gala, an annual dinner/celebration/whatever-is-the-fancy-word-for-party hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute.

This year's theme was revealed in this prompt: "China: Through the Looking Glass will primarily examine how Eastward-looking Westerners have understood and misunderstood Chinese culture in an exchange that [curator Andrew] Bolton likens to a complicated game of telephone."

And to the Gala, Rihanna wore this:

Source: Charles Sykes/AP and here.

Putting my love for Rihanna aside for a moment (ARGH, IT'S SO HARD!), this was the boldest statement from the Met Gala, and her message is something that we writers can use when we Write Inclusively. Let me explain.

The "We Need Diverse Books" campaign has been large, encompassing, and necessary. Agents and publishers are actively searching for diversity in their books. But as writers, that may be hard for us. I am of Indian decent: how can I have a main character that is East Asian, African American, a woman, because I don't *really* know how to portray them truthfully? (The funny thing is, we writers of color frequently write white main characters and don't realize the hypocrisy. White people are seen as individuals, while people of color are seen as representatives of their races - they must speak for the entire race, while white characters don't have to do that, making us scared to write characters of color even from our own race.)

But that doesn't mean we should automatically make our characters white, straight, able-bodied, cis-male, etc. That also doesn't mean that we have the same exact character we would have written, but we simply change their skin color. I wish it was that easy, but the Asian, African American, Native, Hispanic, etc. experience is different than the white experience, just as life is different for men, women, transmen, transwomen, and genderqueer people. This is why a simple 'Find and Replace' on skin color won't work.

If we want to Write Inclusively, if we are serious about "We Need Diverse Books," we cannot simply 'Find and Replace' because that erases the unique experiences of underrepresented peoples. The purpose of these campaigns is to represent unheard experiences and reveal them to a larger audience. That can't happen with 'Find and Replace'.

So how do we do this? Well, that's where The Rihanna Solution comes into play.

I'm going to copy-and-paste a whole section from this incredible article because it says everything I need to say. Please please read the full article!

(What's in brackets is what I've added.)

"How to honor a culture that's not yours: The first fundamental of correctly borrowing from another culture [Writing about a different experience than yours -SC] involves admitting your inspiration comes from somewhere else (something missing in the many cornrows incidents). But beyond that, the key is to either take minimal inspiration [...] rather than don a head-to-toe costume. [This happens when writers make their secondary characters people of color, queer people, people w/ disabilities, etc. and not their main characters. It borders on tokenization, but isn't the same. - SC]

Or, better yet, go straight to the source. [Emphasis, mine - SC]

"I found it online," Rihanna told Vanity Fair on Monday's red carpet. "I was researching Chinese couture on the Internet and I found it." 

Explaining the dress' provenance to the reporters, she added, "It's Chinese couture and it's made by Guo Pei. It's handmade by one Chinese woman and it took her two years to make." Pei, in fact, has two dresses displayed in the Costume Institute exhibit. Based in Beijing, Pei has been designing for over a quarter-century, dressing Chinese stars like Li Bingbing and Zhang Ziyi, according to Vanity Fair online.

In other words, Rihanna honored China by actually wearing a dress by a Chinese designer based in Beijing. 

As Native American fashion researcher and blogger Jessica R. Metcalfe previously discussed with Mic, the best way to honor a culture [or write about a different experience - SC] is working with designers of that culture [reading and researching articles, books, art, opinions, systems of oppression, etc. faced by those people and written by those people - for example, if you are writing about African Americans, do NOT rely on a book about Martin Luther King Jr. written by a non-black person - SC] . Buy from them, or if you're inclined to make your own look, collaborate with them.

And when in doubt, do as Rihanna did and go straight to the source: Google it."

The reason Rihanna's dress was such a big deal was because she was one of the only stars to wear a dress created by a Chinese designer to a Chinese-themed party. Some of the other clothing missed the mark completely: Sarah Jessica Parker, Justin Bieber, Chloe Sevigny. Most of the other celebrities chose to not wear anything Chinese or something minimally Chinese due to the same fears we writers have: we do not want to fall into cultural appropriation. We don't want to misrepresent a culture, and we are scared of the backlash we'd get of our honest intentions. (Read this article as well - it's great.)

So what do we do? We make our secondary characters people of color instead of the main character. With secondary characters, we can get away with not diving into their psyche. It's a form of tokenization of people of color, but we're scared to misrepresent them.

This fear shouldn't stop us. If we are serious about "We Need Diverse Books" and Write Inclusively, we have to deal with this fear and find a solution. We can't ignore the fear - misrepresenting a culture is arguably worse (but not by much) than ignoring the culture completely. The thing is: both are horrific.

Rihanna has given us the solution. Just as she donned a Chinese dress to a Chinese-themed party, if we are writing about, for example, queer people, we must 'don' ourselves in the literature, academia, arts, history, and present-day opinions of queer people. As the others stars learned: We cannot invite ourselves to a party for celebrating Chinese clothing, and then not wear Chinese clothing.

We must go straight to the source. Read books written by the people you are writing about. Read books about the topic you are writing about. Maybe the biggest thing: find crit partners that are of the same identity as the characters you are writing about (but make sure to be polite when asking, and don't expect them to be willing to read - these writers aren't there to beta read everyone's diverse manuscripts, hehe!). Be willing to drastically change your book if they tell you that you have fallen into cultural misrepresentation. You must defer to their experiences. Yes, defer! It is their stories you are telling, and they own their stories.

Writing Inclusively is serious work! But it's important work. It is seriously, seriously important work.

Rihanna is the best. I love her forever. Thank you Rihanna for showing us how it's done!

What are your fears about Writing Inclusively? How have you navigated these fears? We need to talk about these fears or else we won't be able to move forward. 

This post is part of the #WriteInclusively campaign. If you'd like to subscribe to a monthly newsletter which will help writers navigate these issues and write more inclusively, please subscribe! I don't spam :D


Judges' Nicknames for Query Kombat 2015!

Since the kontestants get to invent amazing nicknames, naturally the judges want one, too! Plus it lets them vote with more freedome. To recognize our wonderful judges and know the vote is legit, here is a list of the nicknames they have chosen:

Library Junkie
Ice Ice Outpost
Jamie Blythe
Dire Wolf
Romilda Vane
Jackie Jormp-Jomp
The Trickster
Judge Valkyrie
Mrs. Pollifax
Scott Pilgrim
Princess of Llamas
Regina Phalange
Sally Sparrow
Felicity Porter
Hot Lunch
Sir Coffeeton
Princess Buttercup
Bookalicious Mama
Mallory Pike
Mid-size Car
The Praetorian
Dr. T.J. Eckleburg

Friday, May 22, 2015

Query Kombat Submissions Open TODAY!

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

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

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

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

So none of this!

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

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

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

Formatting guidelines:

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

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

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

In the body of the email (with examples):

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

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


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

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

First 250 words:

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Find Out if You Can Submit to Query Kombat 2015!

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 18, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QK Submissions                                                                      May 22nd at 5:30 EST

Kombatants Announced                                                         May 30th All three blogs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 15, 2015

Query Kombat AGENT/EDITOR REVEAL Part Two!

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Third of the Amazing Agents

Beth Miller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer Johnson-Blalock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think about this line-up?!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Nest Pitch Agent Round!!

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

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

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

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









Some more details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

First 300:

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

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

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

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


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

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


Genre: MG Fantasy
Word Count: 44,000


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

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

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

First 300:


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

1. I’m a boy. 

2. I’m only twelve.

3. I never had and never will have wings.

4. Did I mention I’m a boy?

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

6. Still a boy.

7. I’m technically a fairy godmother.

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

Chapter 1

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

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

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


Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 84,000


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

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

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

First 300:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

First 300:

A shadow fell across the page I was reading.

“I love your hair.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I shook my head. “Fiction.”

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

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Query Kombat 2015 Judges Section 2!


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



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

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

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

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

Kendra Young

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

Blog | Twitter | KickButt KidLit

Margaret Fortune

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

Jessica Kapp

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

Connect with her on Twitter or her blog.

Dan Koboldt

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

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

Heather Van Fleet

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

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

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

Judy Clemens

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

Amanda Heger

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

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

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

Calie Dietrich

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

Wade Albert White

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

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

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

Marty Mayberry

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

Natasha Raulerson

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

Thank you thank you SO MUCH judges.

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

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