Saturday, May 31, 2014

Query Kombat 2014 First Round Match-Ups

Mike, SC, and I thought the Kombatants would like a chance to find their opponents on twitter and do a meet and greet today. You know, before the bloodshed starts... Some friendly trash talk and well wishes all around.

Here they are in no particular order and without reference to where you'll find them tomorrow. Match-ups will be spread on all three blogs for round 1. 

Best of luck to everyone tomorrow. May the feedback provide insight and the friends you make lift you through the kicks to the gut. Battle on!

Make a Baby w/ Socks On vs. Michigan Yankee
Palm Beach vs. She Wears Bruises Like Trophies
Waltz #2 vs. Reality Star
Attempting Average vs. Cold War Grunge
His Little Human vs. Beauty and the Crazy Kidnapper
Remember Me vs. Leave it to Fate
A Bit of Code vs. Love is Hell
Can’t Keep a Bad Girl Down vs. Memento Mori
Burning Down the House vs. The Connecting Thread
The Past is Back vs. E=MC[squared]
Lavender Marriage vs.#Droolworthy Landry
Dead Princesses Don’t Kiss vs. A Cozy for Geeks
Mechano Cat vs. Making Boys Cry
Have Sword Will Travel vs. Strange Fruit
Licks the Dandruff vs. RV Arya
Patience Fell vs. Guerrilla Geek
One Spotted Girl vs. World on a String
Who Cut the Cheese vs. Trailer Trap
Nobody’s Sidekick vs. Girl Destroys World
Star Light, Star Bright vs. Axual’s Leprechauns
Deadly Nightshade vs. Tag, You’re Dead
Sunnyside Up vs. Lowlife Extraordinaire
Amnesiac vs. An Endangered Species
I Babysit My Mom vs. A Burning Dilemma
Caprice No. 13 vs. Fireflies Live
Shalom Sasquatch vs. Search for Eden
In the Black Room, with White Shadows vs. Mini Mutants
WEEL vs. Lumanatti
Maidens, Monks, & Murder vs. Loving Logic
Oh Sweetcrabmeat vs. A Few Quick Hellos
Skateboarding Sherlock vs. Split Sisters
Secrets in Green vs. BingBamBoomBFF

Friday, May 30, 2014

Query Kombat Kombatants 2014

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

The choice was hard. Each of the hosts agonized, weighing this query against that 250. There were so many great entries. Of course, making it into a contest is no indication of the quality of your query. Many people who don't make it into contests find agents the tried-and-true way, by querying. (Ahem, me.) Thanks to everyone who entered and everyone who made the Twitter party so fun!

To those who didn't make it into the tournament, you donned your armor and dared to dreamed of victory. You boldly walked into an arena filled with 230 gladiators, and you didn't so much as flinch or break a sweat. There are none braver than those who try, fail, and try again. I'm begging you to be brave, because all you need is talent and drive. Luck and success will follow. Don't give up. Don't doubt yourself.  And...if you do, tweet me. I'll find an army to come and lift your spirits if I have to.

You will succeed. All you have to do is believe in yourself. 

To those who made it--CONGRATULATIONS! Out of 230 entries, you made it into the top 64. You bit, you clawed, you bled, and you MADE IT! I want you to take to Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Wikipedia, don't care. Celebrate! And do it loud. And in the midst of your celebration, I want you to help me lift the spirits of those who didn't make it. Use the QueryKombat hashtag to connect with and celebrate your fellow slushies. 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. Just another surprise in the list of surprises.

(Yes, we have surprises up our sleeves having to do with the agents! And we have more surprises for the agent round itself! That's three surprises, if you're keeping count.)

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


His Little Human
She Wears Bruises Like Trophies
Reality Star
Remember Me
E=MC squared
Leave It to Fate
Attempting Average

Young Adult:

A Few Quick Hellos
Maidens, Monks, & Murder
I Babysit My Mom
Lowlife Extraordinaire
Mini Mutants
SunnySide Up

New Adult:

Have Sword Will Travel
#Droolworthy Landry

Middle Grade:

Trailer Trap
Star Light, Star Bright
Girl Destroys World
One Spotted Girl
Patience Fell

Important Information for Kombatants:

The first round will start on Sunday, 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 (including four automatic Free Pass winners) 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 chosen by Mike. (Alternate Kombatants will not be announced beforehand. We don’t want people hoping someone drops out. We may announce them after the contest ends.) If a Kombatant drops out after the contest has started, their opponent automatically advances to the next round. Any Kombatant that receives an offer of representation will please notify us so we may withdraw them. Receiving a full request or partial is not grounds for withdrawal.


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. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Release Day for The Book of Bart

More proof that contests can make a difference and that there are many routes to publication! Congrats, Ryan!

Only one thing is so powerful, so dangerous that Heaven and Hell must work together to find it: the Shard of Gabriel.

With a mysterious Black Cloud of Death hot on the shard’s trail, a desperate Heaven enlists the help of Bart, a demon who knows more about the shard than almost anyone. Six years ago, he had it in his hands. If only he’d used it before his coup to overthrow the devil failed. Now, he’s been sprung from his eternal punishment to help Samantha, an angel in training, recover the shard before the Black Cloud of Death finds it.

If Bartholomew wants to succeed, he’ll have to fight the temptation to betray Samantha and the allure of the shard. After an existence full of evil, the only way Bart can get right with Hell is to be good.

How it all came to be:

Everybody’s path to getting published is different. After writing non-stop for a few years, I began to get a little frustrated. People liked what I wrote, but not enough to take it on as a project. But I kept moving forward, and it landed me a deal for my first novel, THE BOOK OF BART. I remember entering BART in several online contests, like Pitch Madness and Baker’s Dozen. On almost all of them, the book would either make it to, or barely miss, the final round. I also queried every agent I found who I thought would be interested. Most everyone who read the book really enjoyed it, but it just couldn’t get over the hump. Everything started to feel a little like BART would always just be a bridesmaid.

On a whim, I entered the PitchMAS in July contest. I received some interest from Alison Heller, who worked with Curiosity Quills. She read BART, and liked it, but had a few notes. I took those notes, made the requested changes, and voila! Curiosity Quills offered me a contract to publish THE BOOK OF BART.

Curiosity Quills has been fantastic to work with. They even agreed to publish another novel I’d written, a zombie book called DEAD NEW WORLD. Things have been moving along smoothly with Curiosity Quills, as I help promote BART, edit DEAD NEW WORLD, and put the finishing touches on another novel before submitting it. And in case you’re wondering, yes. Seeing your book published feels every bit as good as you’d imagine.

Twitter: @J_Ryan

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Getting the Call: Dan Koboldt

Querying is a difficult process. You never know what the day will bring. Dan Koboldt found out how necessary it is to be prepared and that got him a great agent! Now he's going a step farther by taking his love of speculative fiction and helping others. 

Dan is hosting a twitter pitch party for those who write fantasy or science fiction on June 11th. Here are all the details. You know I'll be there to retweet for my fellow speculative fiction writers.

Thank you, Michelle, for inviting me to share my story about finding representation. Most authors make (at least) one classic mistake when querying agents. I thought that if I studied the process intensely, I'd avoid every single pitfall. I was wrong. 

Last October I was revising my NaNoWriMo novel from 2012. It was about a large corporation that had discovered a portal to a pristine medieval world. This wasn't my first attempt at a novel -- it was my third or fourth, actually -- but it was clearly my best. Good enough, perhaps, that I could send it some agents. 

I began studying the query process, and I found it enthralling. A one-page letter to pitch your book didn't sound so onerous. It actually sounded kind of fun. And though my book wasn't quite finished, I thought, what the hell, I'm going to send a few out. Everything I'd read suggested that querying usually takes a long time, 1-2 months, so I'd easily be able to finish writing it. And that was my blunder.

I queried too soon. It would be another couple of months (December) until my manuscript was done, and truly ready, for an agent to see it. I squeezed some queries in before the deluge that all agencies see right after January 1st. Then I promised myself I wouldn't query in January, because Anne Mini says that you really shouldn't. 

Right as I was gearing up for some serious querying, I got a partial request from Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary Agency. She'd read my letter and wanted to see three chapters, which I sent right away. Within a couple of hours, she wrote again: "I read the first chapter. You wowed me! Please send the full."

This time, I was prepared. I had the full manuscript polished and ready to go. I had a separate document, a secret weapon of sorts, that I sent along with it. I sent it to her and tried not to dwell on it too much. I began sending out other queries, too. Another agent requested the full. 

Then something interesting happened: the agent said she'd finished my book and enjoyed it. Since it was clearly meant to be part of a series, had I written anything down for the other books? I sent my series synopsis (3 books). Five days later, she wrote and said she'd like to set up a phone call.

Importantly, this wasn't an offer. At Red Sofa Literary, the first call is an interview. It gives the agent and the author a chance to get to know one another better. And it lets the agent ensure that the author is not a crazy person, which is quite possible. These things can be hard to do over e-mail. 

We talked for about 40 minutes, and it went well. I had a number of questions I wanted to ask, but I tried to let her drive the conversation. The things she said about my book had me feeling very warm and fuzzy. Yet this was still not an offer of representation. She wanted to see a few revisions. Another test, if you will. I liked her suggestions, and agreed to do all of them. I had them back to her within a day or two. She replied with a note that she'd get back to me soon.

That note was the last thing I'd hear for weeks. I knew these things take time. I knew I should be patient. But waiting is hard, particularly when you feel like you're close. It seemed disingenuous to send out more queries, so I kept busy in other ways. I made some new author friends. I entered a different novel, my YA fantasy, into the fantastic #PitchMadness pitching contest. 

Finally, 3 weeks and 1 day after the R&R, the good news came. Jennie wrote to make an offer of representation, and I was thrilled! It was a Friday afternoon. That weekend there was much celebration at the Koboldt household. 

If Michelle put a gun to my head and demanded that I offer some advice to other authors (which she did not; she's far too nice), I'd make two suggestions. 
  1. Do your research. Study the query process, the do's and don'ts, and the agents that you want to query. You should know their history, the kind of books they like, their recent sales, how long they've been at the agency, etc. 
  2. Be professional. It's not easy to handle the waiting and the rejection that comes with querying. But maintaining a professional face, in your e-mails, on your blog, and on social media, can only help demonstrate that you're the kind of person an agent would like to represent. 

Keep at it, my aspiring author friends. The next "Getting the Call" post on Michelle's blog could easily be yours!


Dan Koboldt has worked as a genetics researcher for over ten years. He writes fantasy and science fiction, and is represented by Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary Agency. He's also an avid hunter and outdoorsman. Every fall, he disappears into Missouri’s dense hardwood forests to pursue whitetail deer and turkey with bow and arrow. He lives with his wife and three children in St. Louis, where the deer take their revenge by eating all of the landscaping in his backyard. 

He will host #SFFpit, a Twitter pitching event for authors of science fiction and fantasy, on June 11th. You can find him on Twitter as @DanKoboldt or at his website,

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Getting the Call: Caitlin Sinead

This is a week of inspiration. I love how Caitlin used a contest to build her motivation and get her back on track with her query journey.

How Nightmare on Query Street Helped Me
Caitlin Sinead

In order to share how great Nightmare on Query Street was for me, I need to back up a smidge.

I got a revision request on my first full manuscript (which was also a contender in Query Kombat, btw!), and while it ended in a rejection, the agent said he was open to seeing my next project. He really liked my voice and he really seemed to “get” my writing.

So I had a “request” before I even finished my next book! I was very excited about this. Knowing that at least one agent would take a look at it, and an agent who already appreciated my writing, motivated and drove me.

I eagerly sent it to him in mid-October and also started sending out queries. He asked me questions about comp titles and we had a back and forth dialogue on genres, which, of course, got me even more excited. This is it, I thought. This really is it. It’s happening.

But, a few days later, he got back to me and told me it just wasn’t for him. In fact, he didn’t even read that much of it. This was the same agent who read my other project twice! And he didn’t think this one was worth even delving into.

Don’t get me wrong, he was incredibly gracious and generous with his time and thoughts, so I am not bitter or anything, but it was a hard blow. In fact, it was the hardest blow I have had yet in my publishing process.

I thought if this agent didn’t like it, no one would.

I stopped querying.

I wanted to hide and lick my wounds and feel sorry for myself and sip red wine dramatically and stare out the window while looking morose.

…But this was two days before NMQS.

While I was still excited and grateful to be part of the contest, I was no longer optimistic about the project. But NMQS forced me to rejoin the twitterverse and chat with writers. It forced me to get excited about my project once again and to realize there are other agents out there, other agents that maybe would like the project! It forced me to read other queries, which helped remind me that I’m part of a community and that everyone has ups and downs and we’re all in this together! (Or at least it feels that way sometimes J)

So even though NMQS didn’t directly result in my getting an agent, it lifted my spirits at a time when my spirits really needed some lifting.

And, a couple of weeks later, when an agent told me she wanted to talk, I was able to enter that conversation with a much more open mind than I might have otherwise. I was able to believe her when she gushed about my writing and my book and I was able to whole heartedly do happy dances when I got the offer.

So, yes, I am very thankful to Michele, Mike, and SC for putting together such fun contests that help connect and support writers and lift us up when we’re down.

And that project I decided no one would like? It will be published next year. J


Caitlin Sinead’s debut novel will be published by Carina Press in 2015. Her writing has also appeared (or is forthcoming) in The AlarmistThe Binnacle, Jersey Devil Press, and Northern Virginia Magazine, among other publications. She earned a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University. She tweets at @CaitlinSineadJ.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Editing Services for the Summer

Memorial Day is here, the official start of summer! Summer gives me free time galore, but with the kids older, I need to fill it. My husband suggests a job would be a great way to do that. Three teens in the house and some humongous grocery bills agree.
I'm looking for editing jobs to keep me busy and enable me to stay home, where I can continue to run fun contests. Over the past year, I've done sporadic editing jobs with my friend Jennifer Troemner. We haven't bothered with advertising, but now it's time to get serious. 
I've done years of editing for friends, critique groups, and in the Speculative Fiction Summer Marathon. Samples of my query critiques are available on this blog under Spring, Fall, and Summer Query Extravaganzas. I'm particularly talented with plot holes and the big picture side of things. (Testimonials from clients are available upon request.)
With the idea of creating a customer base, we're keeping the prices low as we establish ourselves. Services are billed through PayPal at time of completion. Our services fall into two categories: The Forest and The Trees
The Forest is the overarching stuff: character arc and characterization, plot and the holes they tend to develop, imagery, etc.
The Trees are more nitpicky things: spelling and grammar, formatting, awkward phrasing, and the small-scale issues that need to be conquered to make your writing flow smoothly.
We’ll cover either category for 60 cents per page or both for $1.20 per page. We are open to partial or full manuscripts and will give a first chapter edit for free as an example of our services.
We also offer query letter editing for the current sale price of $25. It includes two revisions.
(Note: Because format can dramatically change page count, a page is defined as Size 12, Times New Roman or Calibri, double spaced, with no additional spacing between paragraphs.)
Please contact me though the newsletter form on this blog or by email at Michelle9Hauck(at)aol(dot)com.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Accidental Socialite- a QK success story

This time last year, Stephanie Wahstrom was a Kontestant in Query Kombat. (See her entry Champagne and Hot Dogs here.) Now she has a two book deal and an agent! Her book, The Accidental Socialite, was recently released. I can't tell you how happy I am that Query Kombat had a small part in her success!

Quirky and clumsy twenty-two-year-old Paige Crawford arrives in London on a cold Saturday in January. Just when Paige starts to think that moving thousands of miles away from home with no real plan was a bad idea, Jason Frost appears. Confident and classy, Jason is the complete opposite of Paige and just what she needs in her life, or so she thinks. 

But before their romance has time to blossom, Paige trips and falls into the arms of a mysterious man on a drunken night out. She’s snapped by paparazzi, and newspaper headlines the next day suggest that she’s having an affair with a married footballer. 

Paige finds herself instantly elevated to tabloid celebrity status which isn’t exactly a picnic, particularly when trying to juggle her new job at Fashionista magazine, a catalog of dating disasters and a nagging doubt that she maybe she can’t conquer London after all. 

When a trip back to Canada for Christmas reminds Paige why she left her old life behind, she returns to London with renewed vigor realizing that while jobs, flats and men may come and go, friends in London are forever.

My Journey:

When I started writing my book almost 3 years ago, I never thought I'd see it in print.  Writing a book is one of the hardest things I've ever done, especially when you are still starting out because there isn't a publisher there to say, hey we loved the first book so much, here is more money and a deadline to write the second. There is no motivation to keep doing it and sooo much motivation to quit. So for me, anyone who has written 80k ish words in a row that mostly make sense is a hero and a success because I know how hard that is. Snap cups all around.

Once my book was 'finished' I started to query with no success because it really needed editing. I stopped querying, did an edit overhaul and then started querying again. But the whole thing felt overwhelming. I was scared they would all tell me what I was already telling myself in my head: this is a terrible book. 

So, I started entering competitions. I felt more comfortable with it because I didn't feel like I was bugging an agent or wasting their time. If they liked it, they could request it and they were there looking for books. 

Pitch Madness helped me find the heart of the story which then helped me get into Query Kombat. That's where the value of comments came in. The only people who had read the book up to that point were my friends and nobody would tell me anything but, Oh, I love it! I loved them too, but what I needed was real feedback and I got that in Query Kombat. My mentor helped me hone my first 250 words and the query letter (which really needed help). Another turning point was one particular comment that mentioned the character felt younger than 25, the age I made her because I stupidly read somewhere that books with characters between 18-25 didn't sell.  Spoiler alert, they do and are called New Adult.

I changed my MS, cried through a further bazillion rejections from agents and then entered one final comp before I was going to quit. That comp was PitchMas and in the end I ended up with 4 requests from PUBLISHERS.  

Even though in the end I had 3 offers to deal with, I still had further rejections from agents, which was still pretty depressing. But the yes I got from my agent Stephanie Thwaites at Curtis Brown (and subsequently Tina Wexler at ICM as a co-agent) was the right one and I figured that's why I had so many nos.  Just like signing with Swoon Romance was the right decision for North America. You need people around you and the book that love it because the actual being published road is a bumpy one. It was late nights writing my second book (THE ACCIDENTAL NEW YORKER - out later this year) and guest blog posts, edits for the first book, my bio and all that extra stuff that didn't even cross my mind when I was writing THE ACCIDENTAL SOCIALITE alone at 2 am. But it was all worth it because I was going to see my dream come true. 

Stephanie, the super agent she is, also got me a UK (incl Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India) deal with Piatkus Entice (a division of Little Brown). 

IT WAS ALL HAPPENING! The launch date was pushed back from February to do a global release and on April 15th 2014 I woke up a published author. I had a book launch party where I had a cake with the book on it and got to wear my sparkly Jimmy Choos I'd been saving for the occasion. I still can't believe it all happened. When I walk by my bookshelf and see my book next to Margret Atwood and Helen Fielding I tear up a little. 

Things keep going and I'm now prepping for more PR and the release of THE ACCIDENTAL NEW YORKER. I've also written a short story being included in a summer beach reads anthology called SUNLOUNGER 2 along side some mayjah writers. If someone had told me this would be my life in one short year from the day I entered Query Kombat, I wouldn't have believe them! Keep going because dreams do come true!

Growing up in Edmonton, Canada, a significant amount of Stephanie’s time was spent making up and acting out stories. She graduated from the University of Alberta with an English and Sociology degree and she also has a Bachelor of Motion Picture Arts from Red Deer College. She moved to New York on a whim after University and has written a variety of TV shows including an environmentally friendly lifestyle series and a tween magazine style show about celebrities. Stephanie moved to London in 2008 and aside from being obsessed with Eggs Benedict, shoes, Fruit Roll Ups and traveling, she also works in children’s television. THE ACCIDENTAL SOCIALITE is her first novel starring Paige and Lucinda and is out now. The follow up, THE ACCIDENTAL NEW YORKER is due out later this year.

Twitter: @bacon_N_legs

Thursday, May 22, 2014


SUBMISSIONS are CLOSED one day early due to reaching 225!

The Query Kombat submission window will open at noon EDT on Thursday, May 22nd. Below is a refresher of the submissions guidelines. Please, please follow them.

Entries sent before the submission window opens will be deleted unopened. Entries that don’t follow the guidelines will also be deleted (though we might be nice and let you know you need to resubmit). Knowing how writers worry, confirmation emails will be sent to ensure we got your submission and it didn’t end up in Mordor. If you don't receive an auto-response within one hour of sending, tweet me @RavenousRushing and I will investigate

Still love that joke.

You should know that Michelle, SC, and I have very different tastes, so that should insure a large variety of entries make it in the tournament. 

Now, on to the fun stuff.


Listen close, because things have changed from last year. To minimize the workload for the judges, we will use only eighteen of our twenty-seven judges for the first round. Each blog (there are three) will have six designated judges commenting and voting on each match-up hosted on that blog. That being said, any of the other judges can swing by to cast votes and leave comments. It's completely up to them.

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

Girl w/t Golden Pen
Allusion Assassin
Tiny Tornado
Glen Coco
River Tam
Luna Lovegood
MRS N, the Query Queen
Princess Primrose
The Hybrid
Chelsea Morning
Sally Draper
Captain Yawp
Mrs. Malcolm Reynolds
Book Boyfriend Connoisseur
Jessie Spano
Gundam Girl
Pen Dreamer
Short Stack

And for the second year in a row, we sound like a cuckoo version of the Justice League--only bigger.

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

The submission window will open at Noon EDT on Thrusday, May 22nd and close at 11:59:59 PM on Friday, May 23rd, OR WHEN WE RECEIVE 225 ENTRIES. Kontestants will be revealed May 30th and the tournament will kick off on June 1st. 

The first round and agent round will be held on all three blogs (Mike, SC, Michelle). The second round will be hosted by Michael and Michelle. The third round will be hosted by SC. The fourth round will be hosted by Michael. The fifth round will be hosted by Michelle. The final round will be hosted by SC. Have no fear, each blog will have links to all rounds so you will not get lost.

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 savagely raid the slush pile and attempt to snatch up all the best entries. No worries, we're more civil than we make ourselves out to be... barely. Sixty-four total queries will enter into the tournament. We will also select three or four alternates.

Note: If you make it past the first round, you may submit a revised entry. Revised entries MUST be submitted before 11:59:59 PM on June 5th Friday June 6th at noon. We will not accept late entries under any circumstance. When submitting a revised entry, please follow the original submission guideline.

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

Formatting guidelines:

Times New Roman (or default font for gmail users), 12pt font, single-spaced with ONE space between each paragraph. No indentations.

Subject line of the Email: Your name [colon] a short, unique nickname for your entry [colon] your genre (audience included). Do not skip this step or your entry will be deleted. Example:

Michael Anthony: Death Isn't So Bad: YA Magical Realism

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

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

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

Name: Michael Anthony
Email address:

Entry Nickname: Death isn't so Bad

Title: My Best Friend Death
Word count: 67,000
Genre: Magical Realism


Damien Crown devotes his life to being his brother's superman. Like all heroes, he's locked in a deadly war with a formidable foe—his brother's depression. Instead of perishing in a climactic battle as comics suggests, he dies at the screech of tires and the blare of a car horn. But in those last precious moments, he regrets not taking off the cape and living his own life.

But those regrets don't last long when Death volunteers to be his life-coach.
Given a new body and one more year to live, Damien seizes the opportunity to reinvent himself. Forbidden by Death from making contact with his old family, he knows the trek will be hard, but he's happy to leave behind the pressures of his old life.
Until his brother attempts suicide.
The only way to save his brother is to break Death's rules, and Damien finds himself stuck between who he was, and who he wants to be. With a life any kid would kill for, he has an impossible choice before him—don his cape and die for his brother, or hang it up and finally live for himself.

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

First 250 words:

(Don't include the chapter title and please, don't stop in the middle of a sentence.)

Simple, huh?

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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 past the first round, you will not have an opportunity to edit your query or first 250 words. You have several days to polish your work. Take advantage of it. Competition will be fierce.

Put on your thick skin and get those submissions—Ready! Set! Go at noon May 22nd!