Friday, April 26, 2013

Query Kombat Agents and A Free Pass Opportunity

I know you are all salivating to hear what agents are participating in Query Kombat, but first up is the itinerary. This is an usually long contest and it moves like lightening once it starts. It is hard to keep track of all the activities without a calendar. So here you go, ink this in:

May 13th-17th: Call for submissions
Top 64 revealed: May 24th

Round 1: May 28th-June 3rd, Voting window closes at 8PM
32 Winners announced: June 4

Round 2: June 5th-9th, Voting window closes at 8PM
Sweet 16 Winners announced: June 10th

Email mentors assigned entries: June 10th
Revamped query emailed back: June 12th (by 10PM)

Round 3: June 14th-18th, Voting window closes at 8PM
Elite 8 Winners announced: June 19th

Round 4: June 20th-23rd, Voting window closes at 8PM
Final 4 Winners announced: June 24th
Agents browse and make requests: June 24th-June 25th

Round 5: June 26th-27th
2 Big Winners announced: June 28th

Final Round: June 29th
Grand Champion announced: June 29th

Wrap up: July 1st

One week after the close of the tournament, we will invite agents back to make requests on the top eight...okay, okay fine...the top sixteen queries. Now, since we're talking about agents, why don't we introduce them. I think you'll be happy with the variety of genres they represent. (And no, we didn't invite only agents that start with J. Funny how things turn out.)  

The 10 Query Kombat Agents:

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

Want to win a FREE PASS into Query Kombat?

The Free Pass Contest is closed!

Okay! Here's whatcha gotta do:

1. Follow my blog.  
2. Comment your Query Kombat entry nickname below. (One nickname only. No bombarding the comments with numerous versions. But you may explain why you choose it.) I'll pick my favorite and announce my winner next Friday, May 3rd, when we show off the mentors and judges.

Some nickname examples from my own queries (They're up above in the tab sections.) might be: The Fighting Hamsters, Extra-Crispy Rabbit Gal, Coughing Princess with Attitude, Have Wizard Will Travel. Yeah, okay, those were really off the top of my head. 

Anyway, that's all ya gotta do. 

Now, you'll have three chances to win if you subscribe and comment on each blog (SCWrite, Writer's Outworld). You even have a fourth chance to win if you use the QueryKombat hashtag to shout about your nickname. 'Cause if you think about it, 60 is nicely divisible by three...61 is not.

Before I go, I want to thank SC for inviting me to help host this contest. And I want to really give Mike all the credit for coming up with the idea and doing most of the busy work. He got all these great agents! And a super big thanks to the agents for participating!

So good luck! And show me those cute, humorous, scary, fun nicknames!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Free Pass Teaser

On Friday we are releasing the details about the wonderful agents who will be viewing your Query Kombat submissions! There is a real variety in the 'wants lists' in this group of ten. (Yipee! Ten!) We'll be able to accept adult, YA, MG, and NA entries. I'll hint that they might like to see adult commercial, adult and YA science fiction and fantasy, romance, woman's fiction, and many more genres. Lots of these agents aren't the usual contest participants so prepare to be surprised. And the amazing Mike (the genius behind the contest) is working on coaxing a few more agents into the fold.

To celebrate, we'll also be giving away three Free Passes starting Friday. A Free Pass will allow the winner to skip the screening process, pass Go, and head directly to a spot among the 64 Query Kombat entries. The Free Pass involves sharing a clever or amusing nickname. Just like in the NCAA basketball tournament, all our entries will have "school" nicknames by which they will be identified in the brackets.

(And tweeting those nicknames using the #QueryKombat tag might earn you another surprise.)

So stay tuned for Friday and work on those nicknames.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Goldmine of Information: AQC

With so many new friends stopping by the blog to check out the Query Kombat contest, I want to give a plug to a wonderful writer’s site, AQC. I was surprised the other day when someone questioned me on twitter about AQC. I thought every writer knew of about this vast mine of writing information. Apparently I was wrong.

Agent Query Connect is a huge forum with all kinds of threads. You can find discussions there ranging from the newest agents, to genre questions, to blogging. There is always someone ready to read your fledgling query letter and give you feedback. If you get a request and aren’t sure what to do: post your questions. Even the dreaded bore of the writing world, the synopsis, has a forum. There is a whole section devoted to self-publishing help. An area close to my heart that lists the upcoming contests and conferences. (Hmm, you might see something there about Query Kombat.) And for those who have a success story, there’s the Good News “Boast” Bar. That is just a small part of what is available. It would take weeks to discover it all.

But best of all, if you look down toward the bottom, there is the Member Moderated Groups by Genre. Here is the place to relax with other writers that have the same interests as you. It’s a place where you fit in, and if you spend enough time there, they’ll become your writing family. Nobody understands the ups and downs of this crazy industry like your writing family. They commiserate when your full is rejected. They cheer you when you get an offer. I'd be lost without the Speculative Fiction group for fantasy and science fiction geeks like me.

I honestly admit that I would still be the stupid newbie if not for AQC. So if you drop by, don’t be afraid to create a profile and launch a post in the Guppie Pond. I’ve never met kinder or friendlier writers. I promise they won’t bite. Be sure to give me a shout and invite me to be your first friend. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Announcing the Query Kombat Contest and Tournament!

Bloggers SC Write, Writer's Outworld and I are teaming up to bring you the first ever Query Kombat Tournament.  (If you are here for Terri Bruce's cover contest go here.) Now with 10 agents. 

Query Kombat will host 64 kombatants in a single-elimination, tournament style query-off. There will be a total of six rounds in Query Kombat. First opponents will be grouped by target audience (ie. YA, NA, Adult, and MG). After that, a bracket-style grid will dictate future opponents. If you secure a spot in the tournaments, your query and the first 250 words (to the end of a complete sentence) will be pitted against another query and first 250 words. Judges will read each match-up and vote 'Victory' on the best entry (Remember, this is subjective). The entry with the most ‘victories’ will advance to the next round until only one champion remains. A growing list of agents (which will be revealed at a later date) will browse the semifinal round to make requests on at least one of the final four queries. Details below.

Sound fun? That's 'cause it is. But that's not all we have up our sleeve...

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

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

Here are the tournament brackets

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

The submission window will open at 11AM EST on Monday, May 13th and close at 11AM Friday, May 17th OR WHEN WE RECEIVE 225 ENTRIES. You may submit entries for two manuscripts (in the same email) but we will only consider the second entry on the last day of the submission window. Kontestants will be revealed May 24th and the tournament will kick off on May 28th.

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

Entries will be sent to: QueryKombat (at) yahoo (dot) com

Formatting guidelines:

Font: Times New Roman, 12pt font, single-spaced with spaces between each paragraph.

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. Magigeddon: YA Fantasy)

For the nickname, make it as unique as possible so that there are no duplicates. These will be the names used in the tournament brackets (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):
Entry Nickname: Magigeddon
Name: Mike Anthony
Email address: QueryKombat (at) yahoo (dot) com

Word count: 81K
Genre: YA Fantasy


Fifteen-year-old Maxine Protega became a god and a demon overnight. Prophesied to abolish magic by one faction of her people and protect it by another, she’s cast into the middle of a campaign that’s ripping her world and her family apart. 

As it turns out, the prophecy is of the self-fulfilling persuasion, and Max finds herself on the fringes of a worldchanging choice: eradicate her race by destroying magic, or risk the slaughter of her family by protecting it.

(Only include the meat of your query. No bio. It doesn't have to be as short as mine, I just wanted to give you a quick example. Queries may be up to 350 words, but 250 is preferred.)

First 250 words:

First 250 words. Don't include the chapter title and please, don't stop in the middle of a sentence.

Also, no indentations.

Simple, huh?

All queries submitted are FINAL. We will not edit them in any way, shape, or form. Please read, reread, and rereread your submission before you hit send. Unless you make it into the third round, you will not have another opportunity to edit your query or first 250 words. You have several weeks to polish your work. Take advantage of it. Competition will be fierce.

Because the immense amount of work ahead of us, the tournament will be hosted on three separate blogs (following each of us would be a great way of saying thank you...just saying): Michelle4Laughs will host round 1 and 4. SCWrite will host round 2 and 5. Writer's Outworld will host round 3 and 6. Each blog will have links to all rounds so fear not. You will not get lost.

Agents, judges, and trainers will be revealed soon. (As of now we have 8 agents!)

Questions can be left in the comments and I'll answer them as quickly as possible. (Afraid I'm at work so it won't be right away.) So, yeah. That's it! I think this calls for celebration, don't you?

Hit it Pikachu!

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

You Made the Call: Cover Art for Kindar's Cure

I want to thank everyone who came by and left their opinion on the cover art for Kindar's Cure! You guys were awesome! Masako M. is the winner of the autographed copy. Congrats to her! I'll get that out to her as soon as I have the first paperbacks.

(If you are looking for Terri Bruce's cover reveal contest scroll down to the next post or go here.

I wanted the contest to give an idea of which cover looked the best to the most people and the response was huge, but also unexpected.

The vote was so overwhelmingly one-sided that I didn't have to actually count. You guys really made your desire known. The general consensus was for the white cover which was choice number 4. 

Now while I did love how well the white off-set the green of the photo, it didn't exactly shout epic fantasy. The cloud effect is a little on the romance side. And while there is romance in Kindar's Cure, I wanted the cover to fit as much as possible into the right genre. 

So my wonderful publisher came up with a compromise that I hope satisfies all sides. It keeps the white which everyone loved. And on a happy note, the new font and color actually stands out better in a thumbnail size than the original concept. To me it is has all the elements. The perfect model of my main character while looking clean, clear and modern.

So here it is: The Final Cover!!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Thereafter Cover Reveal and Contest!

I'm very excited to be a part of the cover reveal contest for Terri Bruce and Thereafter! It's seems like it has been forever since I read and enjoyed Terri's terrific first book, Hereafter. I can't wait to get my hands on Thereafter. And don't you think the cover model is fantastic? It's exactly how I picture Irene.

Author Terri Bruce is celebrating the upcoming release of Thereafter, the second book in the Afterlife Series, with a scavenger hunt/giveaway! One Grand Prize winner will receive a set of 20” x 30” unframed cover art posters (1 each for Hereafter and Thereafter), signed by the author, and an eARC of Thereafter! Five first place winners will receive eARCs of Thereafter. Contest is open internationally. As a special bonus, everyone who enters the contest will receive, via email, a special sneak-peak excerpt of Thereafter, featuring Terri’s favorite scene!

Nothing life is free. Turns out, nothing in the afterlife is, either.

When recently-deceased Irene Dunphy decided to “follow the light,” she thought she’d end up in Heaven or Hell and her journey would be over.

Boy, was she wrong.

She soon finds that “the other side” isn’t a final destination but a kind of purgatory where billions of spirits are stuck, with no way to move forward or back. Even worse, deranged phantoms known as “Hungry Ghosts” stalk the dead, intent on destroying them. The only way out is for Irene to forget her life on earth—including the boy who risked everything to help her cross over—which she’s not about to do.

As Irene desperately searches for an alternative, help unexpectedly comes in the unlikeliest of forms: a twelfth-century Spanish knight and a nineteenth-century American cowboy. Even more surprising, one offers a chance for redemption; the other, love. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to have either if she can’t find a way to escape the hellish limbo where they’re all trapped.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Favorite Feature

The fantastic author, Terri Bruce, has mentioned this blog in her post celebrating bloggers! She loves my Getting the Call series as "Cinderella stories" that will "recharge your positive thinking." Thank you for the lovely shout-out, Terri. (And come see Terri's cover tour reveal for her second novel,Thereafter, starting on Monday on this very blog.)

I'm always on open to new Getting the Call stories where writers can share how they got their agent, publisher, or decided to self-publish. If you have a story to share, please get in touch. I run the feature once a week or whenever I have a willing victim author.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Confess Your Easter Eggs!

I've seen Easter Eggs hidden in favorite DVD's like the Lord of the Rings. My kids often show me things they find in their video games. I've come across a few myself when playing Zelda back in the day. But does anyone put Easter Eggs into their novels?

You get the picture that we're not talking delicious candy treats or the product of chickens. These Easters Eggs are little hidden treats. To find them you have to follow a special procedure or sequence of steps, unless, of course, you stumble upon them by accident. They can be funny scenes, an unexpected reward or piece of equipment, maybe a whole hidden level. Often times they are inside jokes that a game or video creator has stashed away for only the industrious to find. 

My teenage daughter has a very narrow definition. She insists true Easter Eggs are a reference to something not associated with the game you're playing but something that influenced the creator. For instance, in Zelda Skyward Sword you can slingshot your way to a picture of Mario and Luigi, who are obviously not characters in this game. It's a pop culture reference or shout out to the famous and infamous.

But can you put Easter Eggs into books where everything is in perfect view? You can't hide behind words. Or can you?

I admit that I can't resist, though most of mine are in the inside joke category. My favorite word is capricious. Capricious makes into each of my manuscripts exactly one time. And, let me tell you,  it was hard to work that jawbreaker into the middle grade hamster story.  It ain't exactly everyday language.


I've included shout outs to my favorite sports teams. You find banners of the Chicago Cubs and Bears hanging in my YA dystopian. The hamsters worry about being painted blue and gold, a reference to my Fighting Irish. 

Nicknames for my children might be found if a person knew where to search. Also our family's favorite label for all people who act strange or bizarre  (That's right. You know it applies to you, creaper!) My sister's childhood misfortune with a turtle is there in the ending of Kindar's Cure. (Sorry, sis. She bit it, not the other way around.)

Besides inside jokes, I also enjoy planting little seeds in my manuscript that have double meanings. (No, not those type of double meanings, creaper!) Meanings only I know about that actually apply to something in the story. Keep an eye out for blue butterflies when Kindar's Cure is released and in my short story, Frost and Fog, coming from The Elephant's Bookshelf this summer. See if you can figure out the significance.

Edit: I forgot one I planned to share. In the opening of Kindar's Cure, Kindar's mother says she looks like a washed-out rabbit. That's a shout out to my YA dystopian where the mc is an actual rabbit!

So how about you? Any hidden plants to own to in your own writing? Do you have a favorite Easter Egg or maybe one you discovered? 


Friday, April 5, 2013

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Jean Oram

All professions have a learning curve and writing is no exception. Yet in writing more than other professions, you're on your own. It's a solitary job after all, which means important aspects of the task sometimes get missed. These posts will be a chance for writers to mentor other writers through their confessions of lessons they learned. Lessons that might have been as painful as a pencil poke in the eye.

This post is a little bit different this week. Jean Oram, moderator from AQC, is here to share some of what she learned about being an author. The first part of her post is here on my blog. To read the rest of her post which applies more to her self-publishing journey, you'll have to go her blog. The link will be at the bottom. I read her book in less than two days. Fantastically written, the characters kept me guessing until the last moment. A very enjoyable read!

Last month I took the plunge and published one of my favourite manuscripts, Champagne and Lemon Drops, which had been soundly rejected by publishing house editors and literary agents. They liked it, but couldn't sell it. Chick lit was dead. (Although, apparently not if you give it away as a free ebook! Chick lit is still alive and well and still throbbing hearts within the indie circles.)

Michelle asked me to share a few of the lessons I've learned since my book’s launch. I had so many things pop to mind—many of which most authors don’t warn you about—that Michelle and I decided to break my list into two posts. This post, here on Michelle’s blog are all-round tips that can benefit both traditionally and independently (self-published) authors whereas the other half of the tips posted on my blog, The Helpful Writer, are must-read tips for indie authors (even though they can also help the traditional author). Both lists can benefit all authors and we encourage you to read them both.

Hold onto your hats! Here we go.

1. Edits will take at least twice as long as you think they will. And a part of you will always want to do another round—even though edits can be tiring and difficult. Start early on your edits. Always.

2. Pay it forward with other authors out of the goodness of your heart. Look for ways to help others without expectation and you will be stunned by how absolutely amazing and wonderful these people are when your book comes out. Warm and fuzzies!

3. Be kind. Always. Always. Always.

4. Make sure your website and social media profiles are up-to-date well ahead of time. At launch this is the last thing you want to stress about.

5. Have a prominent sign up link on your website’s homepage so readers who come check you out can sign up for new book updates. i.e. an author newsletter. This is a great way to stay connected to your readers so they don’t forget about you between books.

6. Join a posse of people who know what they're doing. Support systems rock and it is nice to have people who know the ins and outs of publishing and can help out, answer questions, chat, etc. Publishing can feel like a solitary endeavour, but it doesn't have to. You can also cross-promote and have fun while marketing and holding contests!

7. Visibility. The biggest thing that can go wrong with your book is obscurity. Books need readers. Get out there and get your book out there. There are tons of reading sites that are looking for new release books, books to review, etc. This can be time consuming, but this is why you have #6--your posse. Share your tips and resources with each other. Publishers can't do everything these days.

8. Read up on social media marketing and your form of publishing at least six months in advance. Practice and learn ahead of time while the stakes are low. You don't want to make a bunch of newbie mistakes and blunders and turn off readers or start freaking out because you don’t understand what you are doing right around book launch. (BTW, a great example of knowing the ropes would be learning about promotion on Facebook ahead of time so when you go to promote your book or a giveaway you don't end up in Facebook jail and with your account locked--it's happened to more authors than you may realize! All because they didn't do their research and made (reasonable) assumptions about what would be acceptable terms of use with using Facebook.)

 9. Watch for book pirates! Eek and arrr!

10. Verbal blurb. People--in real life--are going to ask what your book is about. You have your written descriptions and likely a tagline, but in real life you need something simple that will start conversations AND roll off the tongue. It has to feel natural and be easy to remember. (As well as be intriguing.)

11. Write the next book. Always be writing the next book and let your readers know you are working on it. They love the feeling of knowing what an author is up to. It feels personal and they become invested in this new product before it is finished. Plus, more books equal more exposure, more readers, and more hooks out there in the world. It is also your best publicity. Me? I'm about 1/4 of the way through the first draft for book two of the Blueberry Springs series.

How about you? What lessons have you learned on the path to launching a book? (You can include things you’ve learned from watching others.) Let us know in the comment section.

P.S. Don't forget to read part 2 on The Helpful Writer.


You can check out Jean's book, Champagne and Lemon Drops: A Blueberry Springs Chick Lit Contemporary Romance for free on, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords (with more vendors to come).

Champagne and Lemon Drops: A Blueberry Springs Chick Lit Contemporary Romance
One woman. Two men. One meddling small town. Raised by her older sister in the small town of Blueberry Springs, all Beth Wilkinson wants is to create a family so big she’ll never be alone. Things are going great until her accountant fiancĂ©, Oz, throws their life in the air, sending her on a journey of discovery paved with choices--including whether to return to her old life.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Kindar's Cure Cover Reveal Contest!


The day is finally here! This is a contest so you guys can let me know which cover you like the best. And yes, there is a prize, but more on that later. Your vote and opinion matter. I want to hear if you think anything needs tweaked or if you have a clear favorite. Put your pick in the comments. The cover with the most votes wins!
I want to say a special thanks to Ken Tupper at Divertir Publishing for really taking my wishes into account and suggesting this contest. He went out of his way to include Kindar’s sword in the cover and made the image match the description, right down to the blue tint of the blade. After all, a princess is nothing without her sword.

Here is a blurb about the story to help with your decision:

Princess Kindar of Anost dreams of playing the hero and succeeding to her mother’s throne. But dreams are for fools. Reality involves two healthy sisters and a wasting disease of suffocating cough that’s killing her by inches. When her elder sister is murdered, the blame falls on Kindar, putting her head on the chopping block.

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

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

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

Originally, the cover contest was supposed to be a choice of three different cover pictures, but one picture just stood out above the rest. After looking at literally hundreds of photos, one image just fit my story. The model was Kindar and it also fit the mood I wanted to create. Though I gave Ken five possibilities, he insisted we go with the picture I really loved, giving a few adjustments to the basic design.

So here are the choices in both large and small size: 

1. The original cover art without changes.

2. With Line Art outlining the picture to make the small version stand out more.

3. Green fringe to help the title stand out.

4. With white fringe for the same reason.

Now for the prize! I’ll mail an autographed copy of Kindar’s Cure to the winner. You must live in the US or Canada and leave a vote in the comments, plus your email address in the rafflecopter. The prize will arrive around May 1st or as soon as I get my hands on the first copies!

Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

a Rafflecopter giveaway