Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Getting the Call with Fiona McLaren


It’s so nice to be invited to the blog to do a guest post. I’ve long been an admirer, and love how this blog weaves the writing community together. Today, I’d love to talk you through my agent call (because as everyone knows it equals freaking out, excitement, and hope!).
Right, let’s get to it:

First up – this is actually my third (and final!) agent! I’d also received more than 1 offer, but when I got The Call from my new agent, the stars just clicked into the right alignment. Here’s how it happened…

I’ll be honest: The email letting me know I had the call coming scared the living bejessus out of me. Especially because the word “unfortunately” was in it. *cue heart attack* Look: “Unfortunately, the week got away from me….” At that point, I had to stop and breathe, because this was one of my top pick agents. I was really anxious it would be a no. In fact, I did that thing where you just kind of stare at the screen, heart making a hurty-kind of thump, thinking “oh no”.

Then I opened the email again and read on. She said she thought I was talented and she’d love to talk the next day. As any writer worth their salt does, I instantly jumped to “It’s going to be an R&R, it won’t be an offer, it’ll be an R&R”. Even though I had the original offer on the table already, I still did that. Because that’s just what we do. Doubt is a squirmy little thing.

We scheduled a time, and I decided I was going to prepare, relax, be collected. I sat on the sofa in my bedroom, my owl cushion and lucky dog cushion propped up behind me, feet up. Calm. I was home alone, and I promise I didn’t count the time down by the minute (who am I lying to? Lol). I’d been through this before. It would be fine…

The phone rang. *cue me instantly on my feet pacing up and down the entire house* Thank god my fiancé wasn’t home, as that drives him nuts. I don’t think I could have walked quicker if I tried! If I’d had a carpet, a path would be etched in it by the end of the call!

There were things about this agent (revealed at the end for those who don’t know who it is!) that struck me immediately: it wasn’t just flattery I was hearing. It was business and genuine enthusiasm for what I could achieve, and complete honesty. We discussed not only the book, potential edits, how rights work, etc. We talked about the market and how to pitch my book properly due to the nature of the particular genre (it wasn’t a case of we can sell this for millions, it was, “I really love this, and have a plan on how we can find the best way to sell it”). Sparkles, stars, and shiny things don’t impress me a whole deal (though they are wonderful things to hear). Maybe because this is my third agent (and definitely last!), I find it’s much more important to see through the “I love its”. This is exactly what I got (though I did get some great sparkles in there, too!).

We talked for a long time. I talk a lot. Annoyingly so at times. The agent managed to deal with this admirably (and if someone can put up with me waffling away, then this is always a great sign). The agent didn’t pressure me, answered everything honestly, gave me questions to answer, and we even had a bit of a laugh over some things. It was the perfect mix.
To be honest, I knew before I got off the call that I adored her as an agent. However, I also knew enough that keeping a cool head, examining all of your options, and taking the time to make a clear-headed decision is super important. So that’s what I did (with great difficulty), as this isn’t just a mutual fan club situation I wanted to get into. It’s a long-term business partnership. I spoke to clients, ex-clients, fellow writers, looked up industry sales, writer reviews, etc. I did my homework. A lot. Of course, I’d researched before I submitted, but now I went even deeper. Like tunneling for gold deeper.

The funny thing? The second I’d come off the phone with this agent, my fiancé turned around and said “that’s different from how you were on the last call”. Later, after I made my decision, he then expounded upon that to say, “yeah, she was always the one”.
He was right. My agent is the amazing Maura Kye-Casella of Don Congdon Associates. I have never been prouder. Oh, and as an aside, I think I burned my fiancé’s ear off telling him how excited I was (for hours. I told you I was a talker!). Wish me luck! And I wish you luck for when your agent call comes!!! Let me know how it goes!


Fiona McLaren is a displaced Scot living on the sunny island of Cyprus. She's an author, scriptwriter, and editor. She works alongside Cornerstones Literary Consultancy U.S., and also takes on freelance editorial work. The most important things in her life are her boys, her family, and her partner...and lots and lots of books! She's represented by the wonderful literary agent Maura Kye-Casella at Don Congdon Associates.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Query Kombat Round 1 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 Friday at 8:00 am and the match-ups will span all our blogs.

Child and Family Services vs Stands By Until He Doesn't
The Nose Knows vs. The Lake of Haunted Memories
Bounty and the Beast vs. The Marizpan Pizza
Men Aren't Dying vs. Super Powers and Problems
Mother of All Custody Battles vs. Muslim Girl to the Rescue
Boy Band Ninja Assassins vs. Girl Takes Back the White House
There is Stardust in My Eyes vs. Hero By Default
Girls Can Be Princes, Too vs. Kaza
When Bugbots Attack vs. Alabama Witch Hunters
Fibs Taste Cruddy vs. Super Space Nerd

TB Ruined My Day vs. The Barringer Museum
The Half-Orphan's Handbook vs. Quaker Rain Forest
She's Fast, He's Furious vs. Beards
Cheshire 💜s Alice vs. I Kissed My Step-Nephew
Ooh, Crown Molding vs. Alternative Facts
This Selkie Can't Swim vs. She's Better than 4:20
We Kinda Destroyed Paris vs. Feeling Fictional
Bust the Bubble Wrap vs. Putt-Putt Pro
Books Boys Gone Wild vs. Mars Bars and Snickers
Dogs and Chicken and Dragons, Oh My! vs. Wolf in Witch Clothing
Perfectly Imperfect Princess vs. Monsters are Real

Boomerang vs. Three Men and an Actuary
Moving On Is Never Easy vs. I Fell For a Convicted Felon
Pitt Bull Seeks Custody vs. From Gutters to Galleries
Switcher vs. Grocery Store Zombies
Aliens, Catapults, Car Chases vs. Asteroid Snacks
Talking Sword FTW vs Life as a Dumpster Fire
My Dad Bought Me This Tattoo vs. Nowhere Land
Rye'd or Pie vs Estella + Ayron
Worth vs. Delicious Vicious Cycles
Evil Spirit Goes AWOL vs. Girl of Your Nightmares
Golden Geezers vs. Be Grateful for Cookies

Friday, May 26, 2017

2017 Kombatants Announced

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. (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 360+ 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.

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

To those who made it--CONGRATULATIONS! Out of 360+ 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. 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.


The Marzipan Pizza
She's Fast, He's Furious
Stands By Until He Doesn't
Men Aren't Dying
TB Ruined My Day
The Nose Knows

Young Adult:

Hero By Default
Book Boys Gone Wild
We Kinda Destroyed Paris
Ooh, Crown Molding?!
Muslim Girl to the Rescue
Girls Can Be Princes Too
Boy Band Ninja Assassins
She's Better Than 4:20
I Kissed My Step-Nephew
Quaker Rain Forest

Middle Grade:

Fibs Taste Cruddy
Putt-Putt Pro
Perfectly Imperfect Princess
Dogs and Chickens and Dragons. Oh My!
Alabama Witch Hunters

Important Information for Kombatants:

The first round will start on Friday, June 2nd 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 who 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 2nd until June 5th 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 5th.

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. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Getting the Call with Elizabeth Roderick

I’m so happy to come back as a Query Kombat judge this year! It’s really difficult to choose between all the awesome entries, but it’s worth it. I learn so much from the entrants and the other judges. I’m really excited about our new forum, too!

Our spectacular host and accomplished author Michelle Hauck has invited judges to share our publication stories. Even now I’m published, I still love reading these stories: they’re tales of hope and happiness. Reading them helped me even more when I was slogging through the query trenches, getting rejected over and over, and wallowing in self-doubt. So, I’ll share mine, in the hope it might bring you some hope and happiness if you’re feeling bleak. Don’t feel like publication will never happen for you: it will, if you don’t give up.

I’m in the mood for reminiscence, and it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, so I’ll turn this into a bit of an epic. I’ll tell the whole story of how I began writing, and how that convoluted mess eventually led to publication.

As some of you know, I’m neurodivergent. I have PTSD, I’m bipolar and, as it turns out, maybe autistic as well. This is a lot more fun than it may sound to some people—at least some of the time. Other times, it can make stuff harder. My publication story arises out of one of these difficult times.

It was the fall of 2013. My husband, tween daughter, and I had just moved to the south-central coast of California for my husband’s new job. I’d left my friends, my bands (I’m a musician) and my family behind. I was unemployed for the first time since my daughter was born, and my daughter was nine, so my days were no longer filled up with chasing her around, playing princess, and changing her diaper. Add this to the fact that we had to live in a trashy hotel for months since there were difficulties in closing on our house, and I was left ungrounded. It sent me manic in a huge way.

I’d always written, but now I started writing sixteen, seventeen, eighteen hours a day. I was so involved in my YA fantasy epic I couldn’t sleep. I never talked about anything besides my books. This annoyed my husband a lot and he got pretty insulting about it, so I started avoiding him, hauling Kid (who was homeschooled at the time) on road trips to visit the sites in the Desert Southwest where my novels largely took place.

I wrote all seven books in that series in a year. By then, we were in a house, but my marriage was deteriorating. This situation brought up a lot of old feelings and fears, so I started writing a new series, this one dealing with some of the heavy stuff I’d experienced, like addiction, abuse, and psychosis.

Meanwhile, I was querying the first novel in my YA series…with very little success. It was my first book, and even I knew that I was probably querying it too early, but I don’t regret it even now. I entered a lot of contests, joined a lot of critique groups, and learned so much about writing and the querying process. Some of us learn best by doing, and that involves making a “fool” of ourselves sometimes. But those who are afraid to be foolish don’t accomplish as much, in my experience.

Anyway, I began to slide out of my mania while writing my new series. As I was engulfed by depression, I clung even tighter to my stories, living as much as I could in that fantasy world. This put further stress on my marriage.

Then, when I was writing The Other Place (which is told from the point of view of a young schizophrenic man) I made good friends with a schizophrenic guy in town. I became a bit obsessed with him. He not only made me feel like I wasn’t alone, he helped me to see that my psychosis and other mental illnesses were nothing to be afraid of. There was a beauty in our shared world when we were together that was a powerful medicine for my depression.

However, hanging out with him didn’t help my marriage, either. My husband began kicking me out of the house regularly, during which times I’d live in my car with the schizophrenic guy. I always went back to my husband when he calmed down, though. I knew even then that this was partly because of my abuse syndrome, but I didn’t have the spoons at that point to get myself together. My only hope—the hope I clung to with all I had—was that I could get published, and that would lead to other opportunities to make money doing what I loved, like editing.

I started querying The Other Place. I got a lot more requests than I did with my first book, but they all turned into rejections. “I love your concept, and the writing is good, but I can’t identify with your character.” I hated that one—basically they were saying, “We love the concept of mental illness, but we can’t identify with the mentally ill.” I also had agents and editors say the plot was too nontraditional (in other words, too neurodivergent), and a couple that said “Love this, but we already have a book about mental illness.”

I started to drink. Heavily. Even my daughter was begging me to leave my husband at that point. But I was afraid to, for a lot of reasons. I was having psychotic breaks, and serious thoughts of suicide. I didn’t feel able to support myself or take care of my kid alone. I needed an out. I needed some faith in myself. I also needed help, but I wasn’t really aware of that yet.

So, I started writing a book that wasn’t so “crazy”. It was a romantic suspense called Love or Money, which had a more traditional plot and characters. I didn’t send that book to agents—I only pitched it on #PitMad. I got two full requests from publishers, which pretty quickly turned into two offers.

When I got those emails, it was like the heavens had opened and said, You can do this. You’re worth it, and your life is worth living.

Finally, I took my daughter and got the hell out of that house. My parents convinced me to come home. I half built, half renovated a tiny home on the ten-acre farm that has been in our family for generations, and I’m living there happily, writing; editing; and raising fruit, vegetables, egg chickens, and bees.

I got the psychiatric help I needed, and I’m more stable than I’ve ever been. I’ve since gotten my whole Other Place Series published. I’m coming to terms with my neurodivergence, and have become an advocate, speaking up and fighting for civil rights and respect for the mentally ill.

That schizophrenic guy—we’re engaged now.

I know this is a sort of different publication story, but maybe it can give some hope to those who are having a lot of difficulty in the writing trenches. It’s a lot harder, physically and emotionally, than non-writers could ever understand. I also hope it might help those struggling with mental illness. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, and we can live beautiful lives on our own terms if we know our own worth.

Elizabeth is a freelance editor and the author of the LGBT romantic suspense novel, Love or Money, and the Own Voices magical realism The Other Place Series, which deals with abuse, addiction, PTSD, and psychosis. She has written eleven other novels in a wide range of genres, which are in various stages of revision and pitching.

She grew up as a barefoot ruffian on a fruit orchard near Yakima, in the eastern part of Washington State. After weathering the grunge revolution and devolution and migrating up and down the West Coast, she is back in Yakima, where she lives in a (mostly) off-grid tiny house she renovated and built herself, and grows most of her own food.
She earned a bachelor's degree from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and worked for many years as a paralegal and translator. She is a musician and songwriter, and has played in many bands, rocking some instruments she doesn't even know the real names for, but mostly guitar, bass and keyboards.

Elizabeth is a mentally ill advocate, and believes if people get to know those who live on the fringes of society, both in stories and in real life, they'll find them more likeable than they originally thought.

Find her on:  Amazon I Goodreads I Twitter I Facebook I Website  I

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Query Kombat Thoughts from a Kontestant

I was a 2016 contestant in Query Kombat (Go, Team #WriteyMcWriterFace!), and I really only entered for one reason: to improve my query. I was thrilled to get into the contest, and after getting knocked out in Round 3, I was even more thrilled with my query. It was tight, to the point, and I had gotten great feedback from people who knew what they were talking about.

But you know what surprised me? A killer query was not the best thing I got out of Query Kombat. Don’t get me wrong, a great query was an amazing benefit. But there were unexpected benefits that I had never imagined, some of which were much more important to my writing career than my query letter.

Number One: It helped me develop a thick skin. I went through three rounds, which meant I got dozens of comments about everything that was wrong with my query and first 250. Most people were encouraging and supportive, but they still told me what I was doing wrong. I needed them to tell me what I was doing wrong. As much as I wanted the feedback, I still had to steel myself up for it every day. Soon I was able to read it, understand it, and apply it. Query Kombat taught me how to embrace critique, and that is an essential part of surviving and thriving in the world of publishing.

Side note (we’ll call it Number One-A): Query Kombat also taught me how to filter critique so I knew what would work for my query and manuscript, and what wouldn’t. Spoiler alert: if you get into Query Kombat, you’re going to get conflicting feedback! Some of it will fit with your vision for your story, and some of it won’t. Sifting through all that feedback and figuring out what resonates (and what doesn’t) is a skill that needs to be practiced. The further you go in the contest, the more practice you’re going to get.

Number Two: The QK Community. If you’re not active on the #QueryKombat hashtag yet, you are missing out. Connecting with a community of writers who are at a similar stage in their careers is truly invaluable. I met some great writing friends just by being active on the hashtag. That’s something you can take advantage of whether you are chosen to be an official Kombatant or not.

This year they’ve made the community even more amazing with the addition of the Query Kombat Forums. You can give and receive feedback on your query and first page, and you can put up ads looking for critique partners and beta readers. If you haven’t taken advantage of the forums yet, you’ll find them here: http://querykombat.boards.net/

Number Three: I learned how to give critique. Every contestant is expected to critique a number of other entries in every round. That meant I analyzed almost two dozen queries and first pages, and I got to see how other people analyzed them as well. I probably learned more about writing a great query from giving critiques than I did from just reading the comments on my own.

Giving critique is another benefit you can take advantage of whether you are an official Kombatant or not. If you don’t get into the contest, don’t disappear. Read the other queries in your genre, analyze them, and analyze the comments on them. This process will help you enormously when it comes time to revise your own work.

Writing contests like Query Kombat are not just about winning a prize at the end. They’re about actively engaging in a community of writers and making each other better. The more you put into the community, the more you’ll get out of it, whether you’re an official contestant or not.

Julia Nobel is a writing coach and middle grade/young adult author. Her childhood obsession with The Babysitters Club turned into a lifelong passion for reading and writing children’s literature. She offers writing masterclasses and courses for writers in all genres, and is a 2017 Pitch Wars Mentor. Her 3-year-old daughter likes to help her write by throwing apple sauce at the keyboard and pressing the escape key. 

Twitter: @nobeljulia

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

It's Submission Time for Query Kombat 2017

The submission window is NOW OPEN until May 19 at noon EDT. There is no cap on entries.

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 26, and the tournament will kick off on June 2.

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, Mike, 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 a fee for the contest. Donations may be sent via 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: Michael Anthony
Email address: myboyfriendwasbittenbyashark (at) gmail (dot) com.
Twitter Handle: @BarbforSenate36

Title: Eunuchs and Politics
Entry Nickname: I Fell in Love with a Ken Doll
Word count: 68K
Genre: Adult Erotica (Note Ownvoices here if applicable only) 


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 erotica, complete at 68,000 words.

First 250:

Words, words, words. 250 of them, in fact.

Don't include the chapter title and please, don't stop in the middle of a middle of a sentence. If the 250th word puts you in the middle of a sentence, you may go up to 258 to finish that sentence. Do not abuse this rule. Both Pages and Google Docs will return incorrect word counts if you have hyphens, em-dashes, and ellipses. Microsoft Word counts correctly. 

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

Do not include a bio or comp title in the query.

All entries 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. Competition will be fierce.

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 16th    Before the big day arrives tweet your category and genre. Ask questions about genre if you’re unsure where your manuscript fits.

May 17th  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 18th   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 19th    Last day to submit. We close at noon. 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 20th    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 21st   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 22nd     Tweet something about how you write. Do you use music or prefer silence? Morning or late at night? We celebrate our differences.

May 23rd     Tweet us your villain’s name and something evil about them.

May 24th      If you’re looking for some beta readers or CP, now is the time to tweet about it.

May 25th     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 26th     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! The big reveal is today! (We'll be running around like crazy gerbils getting everything ready.)