Sunday, April 30, 2017

Quick Writing Advice from Twitter

The other night I got inspired to tweet some writing advice tips. I thought I'd expand on those a little here.

Do unto other writers the good you wish they would do unto you. Even when no one is watching. Help each other after published too.

This goes beyond retweeting for each other and congratulations at their successes. You can also be moral support when someone is having a tough time. Enter your fellow writer's giveaways. Most writers are also readers. Consider purchasing their books if they interest you and leaving reviews. Give back by doing critiques or joining contests as judges and mentors. Do all the good you can for each other.

If your first chapter doesn't accomplish mutiple goals and foreshadow, rewrite it until it does. #writingtips Foreshadow can be added after.

First chapters have to be big workhorses. You need them to accomplish several goals: character introduction and development, plot introduction or foreshadowing, world building, establishing conflict, and so on. It should also create some way for the reader to connect with the opening of the story maybe by making the reader curious about what comes next or through building sympathy with the characters. Foreshadowing can be added after the first draft is done and edited in. 

By foreshadowing I mean things like showing your MC is afraid of heights and then having that fear be a part of the finale chapters. Or in Grudging, the characters play a trick on the enemy in the first chapter and the ending revolves around another sort of trick. But your foreshadowing can be as simple as hinting at the conflict/antagonist that hasn't been revealed yet.  

Description can show the setting. Even better if it also shows something about your character's personality or sets the mood. #writingtips

When describing the setting try and make sure the words create the proper mood in the reader. A huge bonus is if you can use something from the setting to help show parts of your character's personality or their emotions. This can be done with actions or with introspective. 

Vary your sentence length and structure unless you want to put your reader to sleep. #writingtips

This can take practice but make sure to vary the length of your sentences--some long, more medium, and short--and incorporate various sentence structures in each paragraph. If all the sentences syntax is similar, it creates a singsong rhythm in your reader's head and becomes really boring. Watch out and avoid it.

Celebrate small successes when querying or you won't get through the rejection. #writingtips Don't second guess yourself.

My family used to get ice cream at the Dairy Queen down the street whenever I got a full or partial request back when I was querying. I helped get me through all the rejection. We did somewhat the same when I had books out on submission. Rejection can be crushing to the spirit, so treat yourself when you have a positive accomplishment.

Don't waste time with thinking "oh I should have done this" or "I should have done that." Whatever it was is done. Spend your energy on deciding how to proceed in the now.

Avoid a mushy middle section by always have goals for each chapter to accomplish. #writingtips

This works for me and I hope it will for you. Have an established goal in mind when writing each chapter in the middle sections of your manuscript. Have each scene advance the plot, or advance the understanding of the characters, or advance the conflict, or advance the world building information for example. Even better if you do several of these in the same scene.

Check how much character introspective or reflection there is in your favorite books. Probably more than you expect. #writingtips

You're likely to be surprised at how much character thought/introspection or reflection there is in each page, let alone each chapter. Your character needs to think about themselves, other characters, the situation, their feelings and a huge variety of subjects. This helps draw the reader closer to the character, builds a relationship between reader and character. I think a lot of more beginning writers try to limit this use of inner thought because they think it's telling. Sometimes it is. And you have to learn when it's needed and when it's too much. That comes with practice. But you can learn a lot about when to use it from your favorite books.

Trust your writing instinct. If you have writers block, there's probably something wrong with the direction of your story. #writingtips

This is another one that is often true for me. Whenever I get stuck in my writing, it's usually because the story is headed in the wrong direction. It isn't necessarily always a big problem that needs fixed; sometimes it can just be the trend of one conversation being slightly off. Just be aware of what your instincts are telling you.

If you feel like the story is too flat, it may be time to add more conflict. If you feel readers will be bored than you are likely right. Perhaps you have some chapters that aren't achieving any goals and could be cut. 

This can be true when you're querying also. Listen to your inner voice because it could be leading you in the right direction.

Don't expect your first writings to be masterpieces. There is a learning curve to everything and writing has rules just like any other job.

Writing is a profession, and with any profession there is a learning curve. There are rules to writing and techniques and skill involved. It will take more than one or two manuscripts to learn them all or to become skilled at using them. Be patient with yourself and just be aware that you will probably grow as a writer. It's an acquired skill and we are all learning.

This is true about writing query letters and synopsis also. They get better over time.

Best way to become a better writer is to read a lot of books in your genre. #writingtips #amwriting

My favorite advice. Read. Read in your genre. You'll pick up so much. Timing, pacing, the amounts of description, introspective and characterization to add. When to throw in a twist. When to change the direction of the story. The list of things to notice in successful books is never ending. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Query Kombat 2017 Free Pass

Free Pass! Free Pass!

I really love doing these! It's like a random act of kindness. It allows one person who might not have made it into the contest to have a shot at the agents. The free pass winner will skip the slush and become one of my final picks for #QueryKombat! 

You'll only have to survive the round one battle to go to the agent round!

And you are guaranteed constructive comments from the judges! 

The Free Pass is the great equalizer!

That's the way to hit it out of the ballpark!

Did I mention that we have 30 agents already? 30 agents! 

So here we go:

1. Leave a blog comment below about what you believe is the BEST thing about online writing contests. No judging here. Just what aspect gives you the most benefit.

2. You also need to use the rafflecopter to record that you left a comment. The rafflecopter will pick the winner. There will be additional options to score more entries and raise your chances. They are options having to do with my books and that's why they are optional, but I appreciate your support!

There is also an extra option to give addition entries to marginalized writers. Use this option (definition taken from DV Pit) if you are

This includes (but is not limited to): Native peoples and people of color; people living and/or born/raised in underrepresented cultures and countries; disabled persons (including neurodiverse); people living with illness; people on marginalized ends of the socioeconomic, cultural and/or religious spectrum; people identifying within LGBTQIA+; and more.

This free pass will stay open until May 15th. That gives you three and a half weeks. What are you waiting for--get to entering!


And good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Query Kombat 2017 Announcement

Bloggers Laura, Michael, and Michelle are back again to bring you the fifth annual Query Kombat tournament.

Contest Mission: To showcase the work of diverse and talented novelists, while providing a learning environment that unites the writing community through knowledge, kindness, and a little friendly kompetition.

The Basics

Query Kombat will host 64 kombatants in a single-elimination, tournament style query-off. Entries will go head to head (one on one) with one another until only ONE entry remains. There will be a total of six rounds in Query Kombat. 64 entries in round one, 32 in round two,16 in round three, 8 in round four, 4 in round five, and 2 in round six.

Unlike traditional tournaments, we won't be using tournament brackets. Entries will be matched up based on target audience and genre. We'll continue grouping that way until it's no longer possible.

If you secure a spot in the tournament, your query and the first 250 words of your manuscript (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. Considering last year, votes may come down to personal tastes.

The entry with the most ‘victories’ at the end of the round will advance to the next round until only one champion remains.

The agent round will be held after the first round. That mean the top 32 entries will make it to the agent round.

Of course, there's a twist!

The agent round will be conducted in secret. And by secret, we mean TOP SECRET. Entrants won't know who requested what—or how much—until that entrant has been eliminated from the contest.

On the plus side, winners of the first round will be able to submit and updated entry prior to the agent round. So, any feedback the judges give can be implemented before the agents see your work.

Who’s Invited to Submit:

The Query Kombat tournament is open only to unagented writers seeking representation. Your manuscript must be complete, polished, and ready to submit.

If your manuscript has been in the agent round of another contest within the last six months, you are not eligible to participate in Query Kombat. Please don’t try to sneak in. The QK team includes about fifty people and a few hundreds of spectators. Someone will notice and inform us.

Submissions for MG, YA, NA, and Adult works will be accepted (Sorry we aren't accepting Picture books or Chapter Books this year.). Only one entry per person. Do not attempt to submit more than one entry by using different email accounts. Again, the QK family is huge. Someone will notice.


The submission window will open on May 17th at 9:00 AM Eastern time and close on May 19th at Noon.

We will have email confirmation. If you don't receive it within an hour of submitting your
entry, contact us via twitter and let us know. Kontestants will be revealed on May 26th, and the tournament will kick off on June 2nd.

IMPORTANT: The Query Kombat team reserves the right to disqualify any entrant, at any time, for any reason. If an entrant is disqualified/drops out before the agent round, an alternate from the same host will take its place. If an entrant is disqualified/drops out
after the agent round, the opposing entry will automatically advance to the next round. If an entrant is disqualified/drops out after the agent round but before new match-ups are assigned, match-ups will be assigned by random number generator with one random entry moving forward without a match.

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 no fighting!

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.

Formatting Guidelines:

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

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

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

In the body of the email (with examples):

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

Twitter Handle: @BarbforSenate36

Title: Eunuchs and Politics
Entry Nickname: I Fell in Love with a Ken Doll
Word count: 72K
Genre: Adult Erotica (If Ownvoices please list here)


Barbara B. Doll seemed like a woman who had it all, from the perfect body to her own dream house, McDonald's and a variety of vehicles. She even managed to become a U.S. Senator and go to the moon! However, something seemed missing. She didn't have any idea what it was until she met Ken.

Ken Dahl is funny, good-looking, and may have ties to the Illuminati. Barbara is immediately drawn to his shiny, perfect hair and teeth. When he offers to teach her surfing, they hit it off instantly. Everything seems to be going perfectly until Barbara discovers Ken has no
genitalia. She must search within herself to determine whether love can
overcome plastic, non-removable underwear.

Eunuchs and Politics is adult romance, complete at 72,000 words.

***THIS is NOT a PITCH but your FULL query. You may include greeting and closing. Do not include a bio or comp title.

First 250:

Words, words, and more words. Don't indent. Do put spaces between paragraphs.

Don't include the chapter title and please if the 250th word puts you in the middle of a sentence, you may go up to 258 to finish the sentence. Do not start a new sentence after the 250th word. Please use Microsoft Word to count. Both Pages and Google Docs will return incorrect word counts if you have hyphens, em-dashes, and ellipses. 

Please use this site to give you an accurate word count if you are concerned about your standard word counter: you must, count by hand.  A properly hyphenated word is one word. Words separated by an em-dash or ellipse are two words.

All queries submitted are FINALWe will not edit them in any way, shape, or form. Please read, reread, and rereread your submission before you hit send. You have several weeks to polishyour work. Take advantage of it. Competition will be fierce.

Host Blogs

Because the immense amount of work ahead of us, the tournament will be hosted on three separate blogs. In order to enter the contest, you MUST follow Michael, Michelle, and Laura's blogs (Twitter is cool too). All three blogs will host the first round and agent round. The second round will be hosted by Michael and Michelle.The third round will be hosted by Laura. The fourth round will be hosted by Michael. The fifth round will be hosted by Michelle. The final round will be hosted by Laura. Have no fear, each blog will have links to all rounds so you will not get lost.

Agents and judges will be revealed soon. (As of now we have 30 agents and 27 judges!)
Questions can be left in the comments and I'll answer them as quickly as possible.

One last thing:

Contests are very time-consuming, and in order to continue hosting each year, we’re asking contestants to give a $5-$10 donation when making their entries. Asking for donations is one way to ensure we’re able to give you the time needed to carefully consider every entry. Chosen Kontestants receive feedback from up to 27 agented/published writers on their query and first page, plus the ability to query agents they otherwise may not have connected with. Some agents even read requested contest entries before the rest of the slush pile! All Kontestants, chosen are not, receive free slush tips from the hosts and the camaraderie that develops from entering contests together. Many writers find lifelong critique partners and good friends from these contests (I did).

Donating this year is strictly voluntary. Giving a donation
does not increase your chances of being picked. Giving less than $5 or more than $10 will also have no impact on your chances. Donating will not affect how many rounds a person makes it through if chosen. People who are not able to donate will not be disqualified.

Thanks for your understanding and your donations!

Best of luck in the tournament!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Release Day for The Island Deception

It's here! It's here! It's finally here! After leaving us all hanging at the end of THE ROGUE RETRIEVAL, Dan Kobolt's second novel in the Gateways to Alissia series, THE ISLAND DECEPTION is now available for your SFF reading pleasure. Here's all the info and buy links on Dan's newest book baby! 

Publisher:      Harper Voyager
ISBN:              9780062659095
Release Date: April 11, 2017 

What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. But what happens after you step through a portal to another world, well...

For stage magician Quinn Bradley, he thought his time in Alissia was over. He'd done his job for the mysterious company CASE Global Enterprises, and now his name is finally on the marquee of one of the biggest Vegas casinos. And yet, for all the accolades, he definitely feels something is missing. He can create the most amazing illusions on Earth, but he's also tasted true power. Real magic. 

He misses it.

Luckily--or not--CASE Global is not done with him, and they want him to go back. The first time, he was tasked with finding a missing researcher. Now, though, he has another task:
Help take Richard Holt down.

It's impossible to be in Vegas and not be a gambler. And while Quinn might not like his odds--a wyvern nearly ate him the last time he was in Alissia--if he plays his cards right, he might be able to aid his friends.

He also might learn how to use real magic himself.

Continuing the exciting adventures from The Rogue Retrieval,  The Island Deception blends fun and mystery into a brilliant new fantasy from Dan Koboldt.

Learn More About The Island Deception

Buy It Now:

All  e-book formats also available here

About Dan Koboldt

Dan Koboldt is a genetics researcher and fantasy/science fiction author from the Midwest. He works for the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where he and his colleagues use next-generation DNA sequencing technologies to uncover the genetic basis of pediatric diseases. He has co-authored more than 70 publications in Nature, Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, and other scientific journals.

Dan is also an avid hunter and outdoorsman. Every fall, he disappears into the woods to pursue whitetail deer and turkey with bow and arrow. He lives with his wife and three children in Ohio, where the deer take their revenge by eating all of the plants in his backyard.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Query Kombat 2017

It's coming....

The Battle Begins

Can your query survive?

Query Kombat Tournament Calendar:

Submission Window: May 17th - 19th
First round revealed: May 26th

Round 1: June 2nd - 5th
Agent round: June 7th -10th
Round 2: June 14th - 16th
Round 3: June 20st - 22nd
Round 4: June 24th - 25th
Round 5: June 27th -28th
Round 6: June 30th -July 1st

Contest Mission: To showcase the work of diverse and talented novelists, while providing a learning environment that unites the writing community through knowledge, kindness, and a little friendly kompetition.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

March 2017 PBParty Agent Round

Once again I really enjoyed this contest. As always the entries just blew Sharon and I away. They are beyond adorable, heart touching, hilarious, sweet and informative. And Picture Book authors are by far the kindest and most polite people! I don't know about Sharon, but I felt like I was in the middle of a group love hug on twitter all week. Something we all need in these difficult times.

Commenting on entries is for agents only. If you'd like to cheer or rave about a favorite, please hop over to twitter at the hashtag #PBParty. The party continues there as we celebrate and support our fellow writers.

I tried to squeeze all the entries onto the front of my blog, agents. But you might double check and use the Blog Archive to make sure you don't miss any. They are numbered from one to 27! 

Thanks to everyone who entered. Stay tuned to the blog or sign up for my newsletter for future contests. 

Note: If you want your entry taken down after the agent round, I'll need a reminder. Please email the contest address or ask me on twitter. 


Title: Herbie: A Young Seagull Soars
Genre: Fiction
Word Count: 620

PBParty #2: SHE LOOKED UP, Biography

Genre: PB Biography 
Word Count: 690 (+400 back matter) 

PBParty #3: SUPER OLD, Humorous Chapter Book

Title:  Super Old
Genre:  Humorous Chapter Book
Word Count: 7400

PBParty #4: TULIP'S GARDEN, Character Driven

Genre: Character driven picture book
Word Count: 290


Genre: STEM Fiction Picture Book
Word Count: 590

PBParty #6: MY LOST FRIEND, Immigration Issues

Title: My Lost Friend
Genre: Picture Book Immigration issues
Word Count: 570

PBParty #7: NORA SUPER SPY, Chapter Book

Genre: Chapter Book (Disability)
Word Count: 6,600 words