Monday, May 30, 2016

QK2016 Round One Matchups

The big reveal is done as to who was on our Query Kombat teams - now it's time to find out who the Kombatants will be going up against in the first round! The first round will start on Wednesday at 8:00 am and the match-ups will span all our blogs.

Blood and Baguettes vs Croissants Kill
Cuddles and Coups vs Insert Shakespeare Joke Here
Black Holes vs. Water Unicorns and Armadillos
Sugar and Blood vs. Human Kind is Basically Screwed
Samba and Surrender vs. Definitely Not About Donald Drumpf
Seventh Grade Strikeout vs. One-Handed Wonder
Kids + Monsters FTW vs. Ice Cream Rebel Rousers
Greek Out With Me vs. Escape the Fate
The FBI Ruined my Life vs. Like Atlantis, Only Totally Creepy
My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery vs. Mochi Monster
Southern Gothic Secrets vs. Tittyknope & Troubles

What's Luck Got to Do with It vs. T-Blocked
Three Keep Secret vs. And I Feel Fine
Play Chess Not Checkers vs. The British Are Coming
Jello Poems vs. Dear Mr. President
The Order of Black vs The Sticky Note Ghost
Where's Will Smith When We Need Him vs. Cement Gargling 101
Ticket to Ride vs. Love (Tri)angle
These Little Earthquakes vs. I Forgot to Close the Door
Truth & Consequences v. You Had Me at Salty Fries
A Dark Charade vs. Meet Me at Lake Nevaeh

Ivy League Sex Scandal vs. Chocolate, Wine, and Salsa
Madam Butterfly vs. Sit, Stay, Heal
If The Shrew Fits vs. Irish in America
The Bat is One of You vs. Hot Sauce is Bad for Wound Care
The Ghost and Ms Clair vs The Origin of a Fixer
The Memory Baker vs. Mustache Head
Humanimals vs. Battle Royale
Partners-in-Magic vs. An Irritating Bacterium
Don't Eat Me! vs. Berserk Zombie
To Be A Man vs. Stolen By Time
A Seer in King Arthur's Court vs. Cryptopolis

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

Now that the rules are out of the way, meet and greet your friendly competition over at #QueryKombat. Most likely you write in the same genre and have a lot in common. Good friendships have come from matchups. Have fun and get ready to battle! 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Query Kombatants 2016

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 340 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 340 entries, you made it into the top 64. You bit, you clawed, you bled, and you MADE IT!  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.

The matchups of who you will face will be coming shortly. Watch the blogs.

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


Insert Shakespeare Joke Here

Blood & Baguettes
What's Luck Got to Do with It
Water Unicorns and Armadillos
Definitely Not About Donald Drumpf 
Sugar and Blood


And I Feel Fine

Young Adult:

FBI Ruined my Love Life

Meet Me at Lake Nevaeh
I Forgot to Close the Door
My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery
Escape the Fate
Love(Tri) Angle
Truth & consequences
Southern Gothic Secrets
Cement Gargling 101

Middle Grade:
Jello Poems
The British are Coming
One-Handed Wonder
Kids + Monsters FTW
The Sticky Note Ghost

Important Information for Kombatants:

The first round will start on Wednesday, 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 two 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. (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. 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. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Want a chance to win a query critique?

Of course you do!

Here’s how:

From May 27th to June 1st (8am EST to 9pm EST), some judges of Query Kombat 2016 will scour the hash tag #QKCrit looking to make critique requests. If you want to get in on the action, all you have to do is tweet a 140 character pitch including your age category/genre under the hashtag #QKCrit. Judges will visit the hashtag and favorite entries they find interesting enough to critique. If your entry is favorited, touch base with the judge to find out how to submit your query, first page, or both! Judges may critique as many entries as they like. It is completely up to them to decided how many critiques they'll take on.

A few rules:

1. QK Entrants and spectators, please avoid favoriting entries so there’s no confusion.

2. The #QKCrit critique opportunity is ONLY open to QK2016 entrants who DON'T make it into the first round.

3. Participants, please limit your pitching to two per hour per manuscript (max of 2 mss)

4. Please don’t tweet directly to judges.

5. Oh, and if you snag a critique, be considerate and give other people a chance and take a break from the feed.

6. Have FUN!!!

We know it can be disappointing not to be picked for a contest, so we've come up with this pick me up to try to help even more writers.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Query Kombat 2016 Submission

The submission window is NOW CLOSED. 

If you don't receive email confirmation within an hour of submitting your entry, contact us via Twitter and let us know. Kontestants will be revealed on May 27th, and the tournament will kick off on June 1st.

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

So none of this!

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

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

Entries should be sent to:  QueryKombat (at) gmail (dot) com.

We're asking for a $5 - $10 donation with each entry so we don't have to start charging everyone a fee. Neither giving a donation nor the amount increases your chances of being picked. 10% of all funds raised will go to Donations may be sent by clicking the Query Kombat icon in the sidebar.

Formatting Guidelines:

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

Subject line of the Email: A short, unique nickname for your entry [colon] your genre (audience included). Do not skip this step or your entry will be deleted. (ex. I Fell in Love with a Ken Doll: Adult Erotica). Nicknames should be 25 characters or less. Make it as unique as possible so there are no duplicates. These will be the names used in the tournament, so keep it PG-13 and make it relate to your story.

In the body of the email (with examples):

Name: Michelle Hauck
Email address:
Twitter Handle: @Michelle4Laughs (Optional)

Title: Dodge the Sun
Entry Nickname: I Hare You
Word count: 81,000
Genre: YA Fantasy


Dear Best Contest Hosts Ever, (Greeting is optional.)

Seventeen-year-old Little Bit hates the magical anklet fastened on her by so-called friend, Garrett. It keeps her on the farm—keeps her from knowing why cows outnumber humans. Nothing gets out. Not even birds can flee Garrett’s enchanted prison. With no idea of the outside world, Little Bit wants freedom from the chains trapping her and answers about her past. Unfortunately, Garrett is about as forthcoming as the gold around her ankle.

Confused by her feelings of exasperation and affection for Garrett, Little Bit escapes when he’s knocked unconscious. Outside is a world devastated by a supernova, which made the sun lethal and awakened long dormant magic. Traveling by night, she seeks answers about herself, but finds mutated beetles and mega-sized possums. Worse, a nursery-rhyming cannibal skulks in the shadows as Little Bit follows rumors of a human colony in New Chicago.

But she’s learned only half the story—she’s not human. A lonely Garrett transformed her from his pet rabbit into a girl. Now only the renewal of Garrett’s spell keeps her on two legs instead of four. She’ll have to accept Garrett’s chains or lose her humanity forever, unless the sun’s deadly rays awakens magic within her.

Thanks for your consideration. (Closing is optional.)

(No bio or comps.)

First 250:

Words, words, and more words.

Don't include the chapter title and please, don't stop in the middle of a sentence. You may go over 250 by a few words (few means three) to finish a sentence.

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. 

Best of luck in the tournament!


Contests need to be fun. To help keep you from worrying as the hosts read through the emails, we're having a party! These are the daily topics, but feel free to start your own as well.

May 15th Before the big day arrives tweet your category and genre. Ask questions about genre if you’re unsure where your manuscript fits.

May 16th After 8:30AM tweet when you’ve submitted your entry to our QK email. Nerves and jitters can be calmed by sharing with others. All day long tweet out what your entry Nickname is and why you chose it.

May 17th Day 2 of submissions! Judges get fun secret names. Entrants get to create nicknames. Your poor hosts are left out. Create nicknames for Laura, Michael and Michelle! (Keep it clean. We blush easily.) And tweet your favorite comp title.

May 18th Submission Hump Day! Tweet your main character’s name and a special tidbit about them. See what sorts of names are popular and if anyone else shares MC’s names with you.

May 19th Tweet what you find the hardest about writing. Is it keeping out telling? Writing action scenes? What’s hard for you? Anyone have tips for making them easier?

May 20th Last day to submit! Say hi to an entrant you’ve never talked to. Wish them luck in the slush round. If you need to let out some nerves, see if your new friend will lend an ear.

May 21st Tweet something about how you write. Do you use music or prefer silence? Morning or late at night? We celebrate our differences.

May 22nd Tweet us your villain’s name and something evil about them.

May 23rd If you’re looking for some beta readers or CP, now is the time to tweet about it.

May 24th Tweet us your favorite line from your novel. If you read any you like, favorite it. Have any favorite lines from a novel that’s not yours? Tweet those too!

May 25th Tweet your thanks to the agents, editors, and judges of Query Kombat 2016. They’re dedicating a lot of time to help out. The least we can do is take a day to celebrate them!

May 26th The big reveal is tomorrow! Tweet the title of a soothing song that is helping you get through the day before the picks are revealed. Hold hands and sing Kumbaya lyrics like the band of friends you’ve become. (We’ll be running around like crazy gerbils getting everything ready.)

Saturday, May 14, 2016


So I'm a little bored waiting for Query Kombat submissions to roll in on Monday and I thought why not try a game. I haven't done any promotion for my books in a while, why not get on that? I have this tweet pinned to my twitter profile about Grudging.

Warrior/Soldier Dreamer Politician Philosopher Conscience Which will live to become Saint?

Each of the labels in the tweet describe one of the characters from Grudging. I wondered if anyone could match the correct character name to the label. This will be very tricky because, first, you have to have read Grudging and, second, some things don't become 100 percent apparent until the next book, Faithful (which nobody has read but me and my CP). I mean a few of the labels don't go in the obvious directions you'd expect, but some of them do. If no one gets the answer by Monday, I'll give a hint to help.  

Just comment with who you think goes with the labels and the first correct guess will win a prize. You can have a query critique from me, a signed copy of Grudging, or you can be a Query Kombat slush reader. Your choice. 

Hint: In Grudging there are only four point of view characters. In Faithful another woman gets added. Teresa is the philosopher.

Good luck!