Friday, September 22, 2017

Announcing Nightmare on Query Street 2017

We're back with twenty agents and even more mentors!

It's Nightmare Time!

Don’t have a scary manuscript, DON'T WORRY. Just read on.

A brand new year, and unimaginable horrors to come.

This contest, as it runs in the Halloween time, is all about FEAR.

The Details:

The submission window opens at 4:00 pm (EST) on Friday, October 13th. Don't send too soon or your entry will be deleted. There will be email confirmation. Please don't resend an entry unless you check with us. Sometimes the confirmation process gets overwhelmed. The window will close when we receive 250 entries or in two hours, whichever is first.

Michelle and Mike and Laura will make thirteen picks each, and those picks will go up on our blogs from October 30th through the 31st. Before the agent round, there will be a mentor round to whip your entries into shape. We've already got amazing mentors lined up, so know that your entries will be polished for the agents.

We are accepting all age categories and genres, excluding picture books and erotica. But be sure to check our list of agents when it goes live to see if they represent your book's genre, or if you've queried them already. We ask that if you find that you've already queried a majority of participating agents for your potential submission, please refrain from participating in the contest.

If you plan on participating in the contest, you have to be following all our blogs (Michelle, Mike, Laura). If you can't get the blog follow to work, just follow on twitter. You'll want to be on twitter for the party anyway.


It's pretty simple, actually.

But there's a catch.

Along with your query and 250, you must write a SHORT paragraph (no more than 100 words) about your main character. This is the question you must answer:

Your protagonist and antagonist bump into each other at a Halloween Party, only to discover their costumes are similarly themed. What/who are they dressed as?

The Format:

Send all your submission to nightmareonquerystreet (at) yahoo (dot) com. Only one submission per email address AND person is allowed.

Here's how it should be formatted (yes, include the bolded and everything!). Please use Times New Roman (or equivalent), 12 pt font, and put spaces between paragraphs. No indents or tabs are needed.

Subject Line: NoQS: TITLE, Age Category + Genre
(example: NoQS: GRUDGING, Adult Epic Fantasy)


Name: Michelle Hauck
Twitter Handle: @Michelle4Laughs (optional)
Title: GRUDGING (yes, caps!)
Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy (Age category and genre. You may list ownvoices here.)
Word Count: XX,XXX

My MC and MP (main protagonist?) are dressed as:

Remember, keep this around 100 words.


Here is my fantastic query! DO NOT INCLUDE BIO OR COMPS PARAGRAPH. Try to stay in the 250-300 word range. Please put spaces between paragraphs and don't indent.

This is not a pitch! THIS IS YOUR FULL QUERY. You may include greeting and closing but you don't have to.  

First 250 words:

Here are the first 250 words of my manuscript, and I will not end in the middle of a sentence, even if I hit 255 words. Do not abuse and send 256. Keep it fair for all. Use Open Office/Word to determine your official word count.

Entries will be disqualified at our discretion for rule violation.

And that's it! Send in that email during the submission window and you're ready to go. There will be a confirmation email.

We're Tweeting under the hashtag #NoQS. As before, we'll have a twitter party once submission starts. Mentor and agent posts will follow before October 13th.

Good luck! And sweet nightmares!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Nightmare on Query Street

One...Two...We are coming for you.
Three...Four...There will be a slush war.
Five...Six...Get your query fixed.
Seven...Eight...Make your first page great.
Nine...Ten...Yes, we're at it again.

Nightmare on Query Street

The agents are ready.... Are you?

Face your Fear October, Friday the 13, 2017

And forgive this self-promotion, but FAITHFUL is on sale for a limited time at $.99. If you can help out and pick up a copy I'd appreciate it. ;-)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Pitchwars Feedback Opportunity

I'm going to open up to give Pitchwars feedback on twitter on Wednesday, August 30th, starting at 3:00 pm Eastern time. (@Michelle4Laughs) I'll leave the opportunity open until 7:00 pm Eastern. You must have subbed to me. You must ask first and include your manuscript title to me on twitter so I can find your entry. 

Please no emails, DMs, or Facebook messages.

I'll answer back with a few words of feedback based on the tags I put on each entry while reading my slush. Tags include things like word count problems, can't get close to characters, lacks emotion, generic stakes and plot and so forth.  

It will be public and it won't be that detailed, but I can't do much more when I got over 200 entries. So if you want to know what I thought, ask on twitter and don't forget to include your title.

Remember my thoughts are subjective. Just one person's impression.    

Friday, August 11, 2017

Excerpt for Sweet Reality

Release Date: September 5, 2017



Jen Reid's life after walking off a reality show has been great--she's gone from being a broke twenty-four-year-old Seattleite with no love life and no job to the twenty-five-year-old who got the guy, moved to Miami, and is starting a bakery with her best friend. She thinks her showmance love might be about to propose. And with mouthwatering goodies based on everyone's favorite shows, her business, Sweet Reality, is destined for success.

That is, until a killer competitor opens right across the street. If she's going to save Sweet Reality, Jen has to come up with a secret ingredient--like the recipe that won Totally 80s Bake-Off. Jen can get it--if she steps back into the spotlight. Soon she and her boyfriend are out to sea on a cruise ship full of reality stars, including her nemesis, Ariana; her lying, cheating ex; and some wicked producers looking to bring the drama. Separate cabins, "surprises" from her past, and scenarios tailor-made to spark fights are just the beginning. But with her self-respect, her business, and her future on the line, the fallout from this made-for-TV plotline will be all too real . . .



Sarah kissed both our cheeks before pulling away and handed me a small, clear plastic container. “You’re the best, both of you. I gotta go before they tow my car. Love you all, I’ll see you next Sunday. Bring me alcohol, and try not to get into any trouble. Especially you, Ed.”

He winked at her, and Justin pulled her aside, supposedly to talk about their mother for a minute before dropping our suitcases with the porter. I suspected he had another reason for this conversation, which made me grin far more than I should at the prospect of having my luggage checked.

This excitement would not be contained. Nearly two years ago, I’d been so sure my ex-boyfriend planned to propose right before I found out he was married. I’d been excited then, but the thought of spending my life with him never sounded as perfect as marrying Justin. He was my other half, the absolute best partner for me.

Sarah winked at me over his shoulder, her way of telling me she’d slipped him the ring. I shifted my weight from one foot to the other, wishing I could share my excitement with someone, but got distracted by the massive ocean liner casting shadows over the dock. More specifically, by the lifeboats.

Eyeing the orange rubber vessels lining the sides, I turned to Ed. “Do you think they brought enough lifeboats?”

“Yes. Also, this isn’t the Titanic. We’re not gonna sink. We have communications devices to call for help. And you, Jen, have your very own hunky stud in Justin to save you if anything goes wrong. 

Relax. Take your Dramamine.”

I rooted around in my carry-on for a moment before giving up. “My Dramamine must be in my big suitcase . . . which I probably shouldn’t have given to him to check. At least not without putting this Tupperware in first. The carry-on is about to burst.”

Ed gestured at the container Sarah handed me before leaving. “What’s that for?”

“So I can bring her one of Tammy Rae’s cupcakes. They’re doing a tasting after the bake-off tomorrow, remember?”

One of the onboard events pitted reality stars against each other in a baking competition, which Ed apparently forgot to sign up for. Hopefully, he wasn’t going to wing it. My friend created excellent meals for everyone while we were in the Fishbowl, but his laissez-faire attitude to cooking wouldn’t produce the same delicious results in baked goods.

Instead of competing against Ed, I signed up to judge with Justin. Partially as a way of getting on Tammy Rae’s good side, and partially because rumors said everyone involved got to sample her winning cupcakes after the event. I needed to be in the right place to snag one. Well, two. One for me, one for Sarah. Then I could verify whether these things tasted as good as the inter-webs claimed and butter Tammy Rae up by raving about what a baking genius she was before begging for a favor.

Where was Tammy Rae? Hopefully she hadn’t changed her mind and canceled at the last minute. According to E-Entertainment News Online, she’d mysteriously pulled out of Celebrity Poker Match a few years back, despite being a favorite to win. I scanned the docks, looking for her.

With luck, the recipe would be in my hand and I’d be lounging by the pool before the ship arrived in our first port. But one thing at a time. First, Justin and I needed to thoroughly explore and “enjoy” our cabin. Our glorious private cabin where we wouldn’t have to worry about my boyfriend’s sister or his somewhat creepy roommate hearing us through the paper-thin walls of our respective apartments. Or well, at least we wouldn’t know the people on the other side of our walls, so it wouldn’t matter what they heard.

Ed’s voice called me away from those thoughts, back to our conversation.

“What?” I asked.

“I said, calm down. Justin will be back soon, Tammy Rae will arrive before the ship leaves, and your suitcase, with Dramamine, will be delivered to your cabin sooner rather than later.”

“Why didn’t I take seasick pills before leaving home?” I moaned. “Why am I doing this?”

“You mean, freaking out over nothing? I couldn’t tell you.” Ed hugged me. “Really, Jen, you’ll be fine. I’ve cruised before. You won’t feel a thing.”

Finally, Justin walked toward us, sans luggage. I found myself relaxing as he put an arm around my waist and squeezed. I kissed him.

“Ugh. Lovebirds!” Ed moaned. “Get a room!”

“Hey, Ed, isn’t your boyfriend around here?” Justin asked good-naturedly. “Why don’t you go find him?”

Ed met his boyfriend Connor, formerly known to me only as Curly Beard, while filming The Fishbowl. Although the Network strictly prohibited staff from socializing with the contestants, they still found a way to make a connection. More importantly, they’d managed to keep it going ever since. The Network promoted Connor from production assistant to camera operator, and Ed recently moved from Boston to Los Angeles to be with him while pursuing a stand-up comedy career. I couldn’t have been happier for them.

“He’s doing some pre-boarding filming. I’m not allowed,” he said to Justin. “Besides, someone had to keep your belle here from having a panic attack. Did you know she gets seasick?”

Justin tilted his head at me the way he did when he didn’t want to say he thought I wasn’t being one hundred percent truthful. “You never mentioned that. You do?”

“I don’t know. When I was in high school, I threw up on the swan boats at the local fair.”

“Wasn’t that right after you bought tacos out of some guy’s van? Because I’m not sure that was the boat’s fault.”

This was the problem with dating someone long enough for them to hear all your stories. “Maybe…”

“You’ll be fine!” Ed said. “Now, let’s go before they take off without us.”

“Depart,” I said. “Or set sail.”

“Whatever.” Ed took off for the ship, luggage in tow.

“What’s really wrong?” Justin asked.

He gazed into my eyes until I realized I’d been freaking out over nothing. “I don’t know. I’ve been on edge all week. Partially it’s the bakery. What if Sarah can’t come up with new recipes? What if Tammy Rae hates me?”

“You are a resourceful, brilliant woman. You can be very persuasive. Plus, Sarah’s a genius in the kitchen. Even if Tammy Rae says no, the two of you will come up with something.”

I sighed. “You’re right, I’m sorry. I’m being stupid. I don’t know why I’m so jittery.”

Behind me, someone walked by wearing a t-shirt showing a woman with long, dark hair, pouting out from the inside of a clear fishbowl. And suddenly, I realized exactly why I felt so on edge: Ariana. The one person who could always make me act like my brain took a vacation without my body. No one confirmed whether she’d be onboard. I couldn’t relax until we set sail without her.


$20 Amazon Gift Card

About the Author

Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers get married, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the Northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Cover Reveal for Steadfast

It all starts, of course, with getting hit with the writing bug. You have an idea for a story. You bravely sit down and write it. You learn that you don't know how to write quite yet and you begin to gather experience plucked from other writers farther down the road. 

A manuscript or four later your craft has improved enough to land an agent. Your brilliant story goes out to the scary land of editors and may or may not sell. But you persist. You write other stories if the first one fails. And eventually you make your first sale for, say, three books.

Now you are faced with the scary fact that you need to write your first sequel and carry on a story line. You get the wonderful news that the characters you adore will live on. At the same time, you are full of anxiety that a sequel is a daunting thing and you've never tried one before. Bravely you forge forward and write a sequel that meets your editor's approval. 

A new first appears now that you conquered the other challenge. You now have to write the ending book of a series. You have to take all the characters and all the obstacles you created and bring them to, not just an end, but a highly exciting end. Once again you doubt your talent and ability. You plunge forward nonetheless. And you succeed.

Cover reveals. Release days. Publishers Marketplace announcements. All those days are great days, but they are blips on the actual journey. The true test is the challenge you meet everyday to go out and do what scares you because you might fail-- and see yourself instead succeed. 

So a cover reveal is not so much a celebration of art as it is a celebration of spirit. Another test passed. Another doubt proved groundless. A forging forward on the journey of you, whether you are a writer or something else. 

Proof I climb this mountain in the form of a third cover for my Birth of Saints series. Thank you for being a witness and may you climb your mountains. 

 Do what scares you my friends and face those challenges.  

Against an angry god whose only desire is to wipe out all life, what hope is there to survive?

The army from the north has left a trail of burned and captured cities. In trying to stop them, Claire and Ramiro unleashed the northern god, Dal, but now they face two monstrosities and no amount of honor or hope can stop the killing as Dal grows in power.

Searching for a miracle, Claire finds the elders of the Women of the Song, who might teach her a thing or two about using her voice magic to fight back—if they can put aside their own problems first—while Ramiro searches for truth in his dreams, leading him to the northern priestess Santabe, the only one who could share her knowledge of Dal and the mysterious magical Diviners. 

Claire must unite the Women of the Song in the face of utter destruction, and Ramiro must decide how far he will go to get the answers he needs to defeat the rampaging god.

It will take nothing less than a saint to rise and face the leviathan before they all become martyrs. (unofficial blurb)

Steadfast releases December 5, 2017

Enter Giveaways to Win Signed Copies of Grudging and Faithful:

A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.

On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.

The Women of the Song.

But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.

A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.

Following Grudging--and with a mix of Terry Goodkind and Bernard Cornwall--religion, witchcraft, and chivalry war in Faithful, the exciting next chapter in Michelle Hauck's Birth of Saints series!

A world of Fear and death…and those trying to save it.

Colina Hermosa has burned to the ground. The Northern invaders continue their assault on the ciudades-estados. Terror has taken hold, and those that should be allies betray each other in hopes of their own survival. As the realities of this devastating and unprovoked war settles in, what can they do to fight back?

On a mission of hope, an unlikely group sets out to find a teacher for Claire, and a new weapon to use against the Northerners and their swelling army.

What they find instead is an old woman.

But she’s not a random crone—she’s Claire’s grandmother. She’s also a Woman of the Song, and her music is both strong and horrible. And while Claire has already seen the power of her own Song, she is scared of her inability to control it, having seen how her magic has brought evil to the world, killing without reason or remorse. To preserve a life of honor and light, Ramiro and Claire will need to convince the old woman to teach them a way so that the power of the Song can be used for good. Otherwise, they’ll just be destroyers themselves, no better than the Northerners and their false god, Dal. With the annihilation their enemy has planned, though, they may not have a choice.

A tale of fear and tragedy, hope and redemption, Faithful is the harrowing second entry in the Birth of Saints trilogy.

About the Author:

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two college-going kids. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, Picture Book Party, and Sun versus Snow. Her Birth of Saints trilogy, starting with Grudging (November 17, 2015) and Faithful (November 15, 2016) and Steadfast (December 2017)  is published by Harper Voyager. Another epic fantasy, Kindar's Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing.

Find her on twitter at @Michelle4Laughs or at her blog.

Friday, July 21, 2017

I Need You for Signups for Steadfast Cover Reveal

Signups have begun for a cover reveal for the last book of my Birth of Saints series, Steadfast. If you have a blog, a tumblr, instagram or facebook, I'd love your help with a cover reveal blitz on July 31st.

A bit about Steadfast:

Against an angry god whose only desire is to wipe out all life, what hope is there to survive?

The army from the north has left a trail of burned and captured cities. In trying to stop them, Claire and Ramiro unleashed the northern god, Dal, but now they face two monstrosities and no amount of honor or hope can stop the killing as Dal grows in power.

Searching for a miracle, Claire finds the elders of the Women of the Song, who might teach her a thing or two about using her voice magic to fight back—if they can put aside their own problems first—while Ramiro searches for truth in his dreams, leading him to the northern priestess Santabe, the only one who could share her knowledge of Dal and the mysterious magical Diviners. 

Claire must unite the Women of the Song in the face of utter destruction, and Ramiro must decide how far he will go to get the answers he needs to defeat the rampaging god.

It will take nothing less than a saint to rise and face the leviathan before they all become martyrs.

Query Questions with Sarah Landis

Writers have copious amounts of imagination. It's what makes their stories so fantastic. But there's a darker side to so much out of the box thinking. When a writer is in the query trenches, their worries go into overdrive. They start pulling out their hair and imagine every possible disaster.

Here to relieve some of that endless worrying is a series called Query Questions. I'll ask the questions which prey on every writer's mind, and hopefully take some of the pain out of querying. These are questions that I've seen tossed around on twitter and writing sites like Agent Query Connect. They are the type of questions that you need answers from the real expert--agents!

Query Questions is back with a fresh set of questions and more agents. The people have spoken and let me know which questions should stay and which could go. We've got a few brand new situations that writers would like clarified.

I'm happy to bring you a very new agent, Sarah Landis of Sterling Lord Literistic with her answers to your questions about querying and information about her wishlist. 

Is there a better or worse time of year to query?
Most agencies are closed the last week in August and the last week in December. I find the notorious “sleepy months” (July/August and January) in publishing are great times to reach out!

Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong?
I always dip into the pages because some great authors write terrible pitches (and vice versa!). But a well-written pitch with good comps will catch my eye and take top-priority.

How open are you to writers who have never been published?
Very! I love working with debut authors. And as a former book editor at large NY publishing houses, I can advise on all stages of publication, from first draft to marketing & publicity at a house.

The dreaded rhetorical question in a query. Are they as taboo as the rumors say?
Not always. They can be done in a clever way… but they can also get annoying fast.

How important are comp titles? Is it something you want to see in a query? Are movie/tv reference okay as comp titles?
Very important. It shows me that the author has done his/her research and knows what genre they are writing in. Movie/tv comps are good too. Anything that makes the pitch seem relevant.

Do you prefer a little personalized chit-chat in a query letter or would you rather hear about the manuscript?
I don’t think so. But fun/funny personal details in a bio are never a bad idea.

How many queries do you receive in a week? How many requests might you make out of those?
I’m brand-new so BRING ON the queries! I’m looking at everything and getting back to people quickly.

How do you feel about writers nudging on full/partial requests? At what point is it appropriate? 
I think it’s fine if writers follow-up after 3 weeks. 1 week is too soon!

When a writer nudges with an offer, what length of time is helpful to give you enough time to consider? A week? Two weeks?
Two weeks is best, but I understand if things are moving faster than that.

Many agents say they don't care if writers are active online. Could a twitter account or blog presence by a writer tip the scales in getting a request or offer? And do you require writers you sign to start one?
I think an active social media presence is a bonus but not something that is going to sway me either way. I mostly work on fiction, and while a platform is lovely, it’s not always realistic. But I would always advise writers to start connecting with other authors on line. Twitter may not be their thing, but it’s so helpful to be active in their writerly community.

If a writer makes changes to their manuscript due to feedback should they resend the query or only if material was requested? Does it make a difference if the changes are from an R&R with another agent?
I think only if material was requested.

What themes are you sick of seeing?
Issue books that are preachy. Copycats of blockbusters (cough Hunger Games). But I don’t want to close the door to any theme (even Vampires!). If it’s well-done it can rise above.

Do you look at trends or editor wishlists when deciding to sign a manuscript?
I try not to. If I feel passionate about a manuscript, I’m confident others will too!

Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent? Does a manuscript have to be sub-ready or will you sign stories that need work?
Absolutely! I was an editor for over 15 years on the adult and children’s side of the business. I love nothing more than working with an author on the page and brain-storming story ideas.

What is your biggest query pet peeve? Is there anything that automatically sinks a query for you?
 I don’t think I have one yet. I’m too new!

What three things are at the top of your submission wish list?
Can I only pick three?! Fantasy set in a world I haven’t seen. YA Stephen King (hey, a girl can dream!). Middle grade mystery with lots of heart. Contemporary romance that takes place during a summer. But most of all, narrative risk-takers!
What are some of your favorite movies or books to give us an idea of your tastes?
Favorite childhood books that date me: A Wrinkle in TimeITThe WitchesLittle WomenBridge to Terabithia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe  
Favorite movies: GigiMy Fair LadyWizard of Oz (really, any musical from the 50s and 60s), LaLa Land, Pride & Prejudice   

Before joining Sterling Lord Literistic in 2017, Sarah worked as an editor for fifteen years, holding roles at G.P. Putnam Son’s, Hyperion Books, HarperCollins Children’s Books, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers. Over the course of her career, Sarah has had the pleasure of editing many talented authors including the likes of: Jodi Lynn Anderson, Kasie West, Claudia Gray, Michael Buckley, Eileen Cook, Erin Summerill, and Megan Shepherd. Sarah is looking for middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction across all genres. She is particularly drawn to middle grade fantasy and contemporary with heart, humor, and magic. In the young adult space, she has an affinity for southern voices, high-concept plots, sci-fi/fantasy, historical, mysteries & thrillers, and emotionally compelling contemporary. Sarah graduated with a BA in English from the University of Virginia. Sarah accepts email queries at

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pitchwars Mentor Bio/Wishlist 2017

Photo of myself, wearing goofy hat and made as small as possible. And yes this post is recycled.


And so begins the brag-fest. Let's get this part over:

First, the oh-so-astonishing and exciting bio:

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two college-going kids. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, Picture Book Party, and Sun versus Snow. Her Birth of Saints trilogy, starting with Grudging (November 17, 2015) and Faithful (November 15, 2016) and Steadfast (December 2017)  is published by Harper Voyager. Another epic fantasy, Kindar's Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing.

Find me on twitter at @Michelle4Laughs

25815723.jpg  29242455.jpg  16415686.jpg   18159598.jpg  20957949.jpg   

I'm a fan of all things SFF. I'm into Star Wars, Star Trek, Hunger Games, all the Marvel movies and even the DC movies. I mourned when Agent Carter got cut and laughed my ass off at the first Sharknado. I'm your girl for a Terminator marathon or Firefly or Supernatural. I'm a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan and don't care what it costs to go to the World Series (again). I love football--BEARS!--but turn up my nose at basketball unless my son is there. I'm a bookworm and always have a book going. 

As for music, I'm more on the classic rock or even current rock side rather than pop. I like Styx and Billy Squier, Robert Plant, Theory of a Deadman and yes, even Nickelback.   

Moving on.

I'm not going to fill this post with gifs. I'm not going to shout and boast. Simply put, I know contests. I know agents--lots of agents. I've hooked many writers up with their agents through contests--or helped them on their way so they could do it themselves.

Many of them are now PitchWars mentors. They are very talented writers, and I'm thankful I happened to spot them.

If you don't know, I'm the host of Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, New Agent and Sun versus Snow as well as Picture Book Party. I also post interviews with agents on my blog to help querying writers. I've been running contests for five years.

My contests have resulted in dozens of success stories and many books. Check out this Goodreads list of books that came out of my contests. I've read thousands of entries and know what works to catch an agent's eye in contests. I can spot unique.

All four of my adult mentees from two years of Pitchwars have signed with agents. (They are with New Leaf and The Kimberly Cameron Agency). 

I'm an expert with query letters. I can help you polish it and give it voice that will help you long after the contest is over. Let's face it, adult-age entries don't do so well in contests (that's proven), but that's a different story when it comes to querying after a contest ends. I know what to do if you get an offer and I can help you while you're on submission.

You want the real-deal mentor, then you want me. (Sorry other mentors.)




Enough said. I humbly drop the mic and walk away.

My Editorial Style:

I prefer to work by email or chat. I'm not a fan of talking on the phone. I don't ask for a synopsis, but you will need one for the agents. I always remember that this is your baby and the ultimate decision on changes is yours.

I tend to ask for partials and then a full during submission. This might hurt me, but I won't be giving feedback unless I request addition pages. I just don't have time because of my other contests.

You can probably tell from this post that I'm pretty straightforward. I'll come flat out and tell you what I think needs improvement.

I usually start my final mentees with line edits and big picture notes on the full manuscript as their first task using track changes in Word. We do as many rounds as necessary. Then we move on to working on query letters and pitches as those take less time.

I'll stick with you after the contest is over to get you signed with an agent. I can offer advice when you do get that Call. I'm also looking for mentees that become critique partners and help mentor my contests. 

What am I looking for?

This year, like last, I am mentoring in the adult category. 

And I'm being very selective in what I'm looking for: fantasy and a few types of science fiction (light science fiction, dystopian/post apocalypse).

I want adult fantasy and especially adult epic fantasy, though I'll look at all other kinds of fantasy. (And truthfully, only one of my three picks over the lasts two years has been an epic fantasy.) That's urban fantasy, contemporary fantasy, historical fantasy, magical realism, steampunk, gas-light, dark fantasy each and every kind of sub-genre of fantasy. If you have a thriller or mystery with strong speculative fiction elements, I could go for that (and have two years ago).


-I do like some romance, but I'm not your person if your story includes tons of it. If the MC bats her eyes and moons over guys/girls a lot, it's not for me. I don't like romance as the main plot in fantasy. I do enjoy it as a sub-plot. 

-The romance I do like tends to be a will they/won't they attraction. Think Luke and Lorelei in the early seasons of Gilmore Girls. 

-I'm not your person if your word count is over 130,000 or under 70,000.

-I'm probably not your person if you have vampires or werewolves or Fae as the main plot, but you never know. I picked a book about Fae that I loved for a contest and it sold in a Big 5 deal! (Yep shamelessly namedropping.) So I'm not a huge fan of paranormal.

-I prefer no love triangles unless they are done very well, low-key, or have a unique take. I like romance stories but I don't mentor them.

-I'm not a big fan of ghosts or assassins but a small amount of them in a plot can be fun.

-I'm fond of anti-heros and rascal (especially male) characters, but I'm not your person for whiny/bitchy or complaining main characters. Save that for YA.

-I'm not your person if you believe your manuscript is practically perfect as is. You have to be willing to revise--not huge, rewrite-the-whole-thing revisions, but some. That could mean cutting chapters or whole sections.

-If you have graphic sex scenes and aren't willing to tone them down, please try someone else.

-I'm okay with killing off characters. I do that, too. I'm not okay if they are your main (POV) characters.  I quit GOT in the second book because when Ned Stark bit the dust. It is about the characters for me, not the country.

-Extremely dark fantasy is probably not for me. Nor is very intense emphasis on a modern-type military. I prefer my military of the more historical type. 

-I'm probably not going to spend time checking out a mentee bio. I just get too busy for that unless I request a full.


-I do want unique concept and settings. Something that stands out of the crowd. That can mean diversity! (I hope!)

-Some romance is great. As long as it isn't the MC's only focus.

-I keep a special eye out for diversity--any type of diversity and ownvoices. I will be tagging entries with diversity and passing any that aren't for me to other mentors, if this is allowed.

-I will consider dystopian or post apocalypse, but I'm not the best for other types of hard science fiction as I don't read as much of that. I've seen a few space opera that I loved but let other mentors have them.

-I want magic and big worlds. Though my own magic systems are usually subtle.

-Humor will hook me every time. I love characters who joke during the bleak times. (I probably should have put this first.)

-I want characters with secrets they're hiding and lots of backstory that comes out gradually, not in the first chapter. (Also really key for me.)

Some of my favorite authors include: Brandon Sanderson, Kate Elliott, Michael J. Sulllivan, Robert Jordan, Kristen Britain, Jim Butcher and more.

If you have something like the Green Rider series, I want to see it. If you are into WoT (if you know what this means, you're my kind of writer) and The Dresden Series, I want to see it. 

Please make sure you are sending adult fantasy my way. Don't waste a mentor slot sending YA or MG fantasy. Due to the contest structure, I'm restricted to the adult category. I'll just delete any YA or MG or NA.

On a side note, I know it's hard to pick a mentor when you only get to send four or six subs. It will be difficult to pick just one mentee. I'm looking for something I really love as I MUST stick to one mentee this year. (Someone stop me if I try and go for two.) I hope you'll choose me to help you.

If in doubt or you want to know more about my editorial style, ask me on twitter (@Michelle4Laughs) or in the comments. 

Here are the "other" adult mentors:

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