Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Query Kombat 1st Round Matchups

Our 64 kombatants have been revealed. Now, it's time to find out who you'll be going against in Round 1. Use the #QueryKombat hashtag to find your opponent on Twitter. Trash-talk is okay, just keep it friendly!

Quick reminder: The first round one kicks off at 8am on June 1st. It'll be hosted across all three blogs! Visit this post for commenting guidelines.

Winners and host saves will be allowed to revise before the agent round. We suggest you get an early start on the changes you want to make because you won't have much time. 

Capes and Clorox vs Pollyanna Saves the World
Planet Panic vs Robot Hacker Girl
Feminist Rumpelstiltskin Reimagining vs You Octopi My Heart
A Boy Named Pez vs Not Missing. On the Moon
Carrion My Wayward Son vs The Kids Aren't Alright
Eradicated vs Canary Girl
Cowboys vs Zombie Pirates vs Dream a Little Bigger, Darling
#SexEd vs Fate Doesn't Care About Your Plans
Fire, Magma, & Metal vs God's Dead, Now What?
Punk Rock Waitress Rules vs Absalom, Absalom! 

Raspberry Moon vs The Principal is One of Them
Sister Witches Who Kick Butt vs Hell in a Handbasket
GG: Found Family vs Cake N' Books
Don't Mess with an Assassin Mom vs Found Wanting
Tequila Mockingbird vs O Sister, Where Art Thou?
I Wish I Was White vs Bite Me, PTSD
Short Girls Pack More Sass vs I Found a Magic Stone in Paris
I Can Keep a Secret vs Shiver Me Timbers
Dr. Wannabe Ballerina vs Got Me a Daddy Map
Swimming with the Amoebas vs I Kidnapped the Prom Queen
Why Are You So Obsessed w/ Me? vs Cherry and Ben Camp and Kiss
Lady CEOs Are Sexy Too vs Mississippi Amnesia

Unnaturally Dyed Boutonniere vs How Not to Be a Nazi
Peace Pays What War Wins vs War and Redemption
My Babysitter is a Skeleton vs A Deep Choice
#HackTheVoid vs The Jo and Empty Show
Fake Invisibility T-Shirt vs Einstein Stinks
This Wasn't in the Job Contract vs Never-Beings
Trapped in My Worst Day Ever vs Love in the Time of Prosciutto
Hungry Ocean Gods vs Farmer Jack is Trapped in a Carrot
Neurotic Aliens in Manhattan vs I'll Stand Bayou
No Heroes Here vs Twisted Red Riding Hood


Thanks to Kara for creating a picture of the bracket:

Friday, May 25, 2018

2018 Kombatants Announced!

So many genres. So many possibilities. So much excellence.  

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 400+ 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 400+ 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 Michelle's Magnificent Misfits. Mike and Kara's picks will be up when they are ready. To see Mike's and Kara's picks, check out their blogs. 

Kombatants don't miss the rules on judging and commenting included at the bottom of this post. If you're on this list you must comment on six matchups in round one. 

Note these are nicknames and not titles.


Fire, Magma, and Metal
Cherry and Ben Camp and Kiss
Don't Mess with an Assassin Mom
Lady CEOs are Sexy Too
Punk Rock Waitress Rules
Tequila Mockingbird

Young Adult:

Sister Witches Who Kick Butt
Cake N' Books
You Mustn't Be Afraid to Dream a Little Bigger, Darling
I Found a Magic Stone in Paris
The Kids Aren't Alright
I Wish I Was White
I Kidnapped the Prom Queen 4 Spring Break

Middle Grade:

Feminist Rumpelstiltskin Reimagining
I Can Keep A Secret
Dr. Wanna Be Ballerina
A Boy Named Pez
Raspberry Moon
Planet Panic

If you are on this list, please check in with me on twitter or by email so I know you saw your nickname. 

Important Information for Kombatants:

The first round will start on Friday, 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 one free pass winner) 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 MG 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 1st until June 4th at 8:00 pm EST. The winners of the first round will be announced on June 5th. Dates for all the rounds are below:

June 1st - 4th - QK Round 1
June 7th -11th - QK Agent Round
June 13th - 16th - QK Round 2
June 19th - 21st - QK Round 3
June 24rd - 25th - QK Round 4
June 27th - 28th - QK Round 5
June 30th - July 1st - QK Round 6
July 2nd - QK Wrap Up/Awards

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. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Query Kombat Sub Day 2018!

The submission window is OPEN FROM 9:00 AM TODAY until May 18 at noon EDT. There is no cap on entries.

If you don't receive email confirmation within an hour of submitting your entry, check spam, and then contact us via Twitter and let us know. Kontestants will be revealed on May 25, and the tournament will kick off on June 1.

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…  Or if you get an offer from an agent. Please notify us if you do. 

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.

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

If your manuscript has been in the agent round of another major contest within the last four months, you are not eligible to participate in Query Kombat. Please don’t try to sneak in. The QK team includes about a hundred industry professionals, and a few hundreds of spectators. Someone will notice and inform us. If you're unsure if a contest qualifies as major, contact us through Twitter before submission.

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. 

In the event that we receive more than the available 64 spots (this is highly expected), Michelle, Mike, and Kara 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). 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  Tweet your category and genre. Ask questions about genre if you’re unsure where your manuscript fits.

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

May 19th    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 your writing weakness. Everyone should know their weaknesses. For example, I tend to avoid adding conflict. Have to make myself threaten my characters. We won't hold weakness against you because we all have them.

May 21st   Let's talk books. Reading in your genre is important. What are you reading now and what's your favorite book? 

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. Also 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   The big reveal day.  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!  (We'll be running around like crazy gerbils getting everything ready.)

And don't hesitate to start your own topics on #QueryKombat. Get inventive but keep it fun and friendly. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Query Kombat Judge Nicknames 2018

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

Good Janet
Ebony Maw
Discount Wonder Woman
Red Ink Slinger
Mrs. Will Herondale
Love & Squalor
Literary Lady
Wonder Woman
Mabel Pines
Frozen Veal
Rainbow Brite
No One of Consequence
Altered Carbon
Picky Peruser
Thaddeus Spinster
Earthbound Misfit
Piano Ninja
The Queen of Thorns
To the Sword 159
Mrs. Winchester
Jumping Jellybean
The Red Cardigan
Princess Falafel
Lady Acacia
Barn Owl
Sonya Blade

It's fantastically fun to be silly sometimes and our judges had a blast choosing these names. We hope you'll have fun choosing an inventive nickname for your story!

And speaking of fun!

The chance to chat with our judges is Monday, May 14th and Saturday, May 19th!

Join us on the hashtag #QKChat at 3:00 pm EST and 8:00 pm EST on May 14 and 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm EST on May 19th to ask questions about the contest and writing in general. You can ask writers who are further along on their journey what submission is like or how they promo or what they said during their call. Just don't ask them to reveal their secret nickname. :-) 

Remember submission for Query Kombat is just a few days away on Wednesday, May 16th.

We've added a few special judges who are going to help with just the first round. Their nicknames are included up above. Here they are:

Sarah Remy

Sarah Remy writes fantasy for HarperImpulse and NineStar Press. Sarah lives on the dry side of Washington State with three dogs, four chickens, and two horses. Every morning Sarah takes time over coffee to think about the next generation, the challenges they face, and how best to protect them against oppression and adversity. Sarah can be found at sarahremy.com or on Twitter @sarahremywrites.

Ed Ashton

Edward Ashton lives with his adorably mopey dog, his inordinately patient wife, and a steadily diminishing number of daughters in Rochester, New York, where he studies new cancer therapies by day, and writes about the awful things his research may lead to by night. He is the author of the novels Three Days in April and The End of Ordinary, as well as several dozen short stories which have appeared in venues ranging from Fireside Magazine and Escape Pod to the newsletter of an Italian sausage company. Please be nice to him. Odds are, he's had a very long day.

Erin Foster Hartley

Erin Foster Hartley is a YA author whose work explores themes of family and identity in unexpected ways. She was a mentor for Pitch Wars '17 and Teen Pit '18, and she has led teen writing workshops for the Iowa Youth Writing Project. Erin is represented by Melissa Nasson of Rubin Pfeffer Content.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Roundup of Editing Posts

I've done a lot of posts filled with advice. Some of them are rather old. Most were written after I noticed trends from a contest. All are completely buried and hard to find unless you use the editing label. But all are still relevant. 

So I thought I'd repeat this general list of the different blurbs on writing and querying advice. 

I highly recommend the posts on filtering and hyphens. Also the post on punctuation for a tag or beat. Those are problems I see on entries every year. 

I hope these are helpful! 

General Advice:
Quick twitter advice
Reading in your Genre
List of SFF subgenres
Subjectivity of the First 250 Words

Editing/Writing Advice:
Writing in Layers
Be Aware of Creating Reader Expectations
Comma Mistakes
Making Characters Likable
Character Motivation
Tips for Writing a Strong Fantasy
Ellipses and Em Dashes
Compound Adjectives- hyphens
Types of Conflict
Avoid Filtering
Throwing Crutch Words in the Trash
The Difference Between a Tag and a Beat
Qualifiers Weaken Your Sentences
Plugging Plot Holes
Editing Tips for the Big Picture
Weak Writing-Gerunds

Query Advice:
Nix the Rhetorical Questions
Frequent Query Mistakes
Creating a Super Query
Vague Plot in a Query
Building Blocks of a Query Letter