Friday, May 25, 2018

Kara's Kombatants: Announcing My Query Kombat Team!

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

Guys, narrowing down so many entries to only 21 was so hard. I've helped Laura with her team for two years, and I still wasn't prepared for how hard it was to choose. For every spot on the team I agonized over multiple entries, trying to decide which was the best. Or which would add balance to my team. Or which might appeal to the specific agents of the contest. It is a responsibility I did not take lightly.

There were many (SO. MANY.) entries that had a cool premise, or an on-point query letter, or a moving first page that didn't end up on my team. Some had all three, and still didn't make it. Unlike an agent choosing whom to represent, I had a limit on how many entries I could take. So if you weren't chosen, please don't take it personally (it wasn't personal) or despair that you'll never be published.

If you weren't chosen, I hope you'll keep querying. You have over 350 potential critique partners that also weren't chosen for the contest. I hope you'll make connections through our Query Kombat forum or on Twitter. If I could name one thing that upped my writing game when I was starting out, it would be finding good critique partners.

I said it on Twitter, and I'll say it again: I got my agent through cold querying. It works. Contests are super fun because of the spotlight and the camaraderie, but they are not the only way to get an agent.

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. 

Now, 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 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. Kombatants, don't miss the rules on judging and commenting included at the bottom of this post (It's long. Sorry!).

To see Mike's and Michelle's picks, check out their blogs. 

Kara's Kombatants 2018

Why Are You So Obsessed With Me?
O Sister, Where Art Thou?
No Heroes Here
Neurotic Aliens in Manhattan
Found Wanting
Mississippi Amnesia
Unnaturally Dyed Boutonniere
GG: Found Family
Bite Me, PTSD
Hell In a Handbasket
This Wasn't In the Job Contract
Swimming With the Amoebas
Peace Pays What War Wins
My Babysitter is a Skeleton
Short Girls Pack More Sass
Got Me a Daddy Map
Shiver Me Timbers
Einstein Stinks
Trapped in My Worst Day Ever
The Principal is One of Them

Welcome to the team! I'll be sending you an email later this weekend to say hello and offer some suggestions for surviving the kontest.

Important Information for All 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,  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 smaller 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 (hopefully because they have an offer of representation!) there will be two possibilities. If they drop out before the first round begins, they will be replaced with an alternate Kombatant chosen by the hosts. (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. 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 (No voting or commenting. This is a showcase.)

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: The most important part of your comment is the vote. To keep things clear, please write it as "VICTORY to (Kombatant nickname)." You may give more information as to why you voted that way. How much feedback you give is completely up to you. 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 with 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. You may be asked to recast your vote in the proper spot, just to keep things easy to find.

Comment moderation is on. Your comment will not appear until approved by the blog host.

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…

Try to 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 pages 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! Kombatants who are eliminated are welcome to 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.

Friday, May 18, 2018

When it's not just a salad

I found myself crying into a bowl of lettuce at eight o'clock this evening. Not because I hate salads or anything, I like them just fine, but my reason for making this particular salad is that my friend Kristy is dead.

I'm a Mormon woman in my thirties, so it goes without saying that I have made a lot of food for funerals. Many times, in fact, for people I don't even know. But this time, this salad, is for the family of a good friend, taken too soon by cancer. Making sure her family doesn't have to worry about what to eat before burying her is something concrete her friends can do with their grief. So I make a salad.

Kristy and I served together in a church assignment when I first moved to Laramie six years ago. There are few things that forge connections like serving together, and Kristy and I were in two different Primary presidencies together for three years. We got to spend a few hours together every week, serving the children at our church, and because of that we became close friends. It didn't matter that we were in different stages of life (her youngest child is ten years older than my oldest). We enjoyed each other's company and respected and appreciated each other's devotion to the children and families at our church.

I try not to be too sarcastic on the internet, as you can't always determine tone in a tweet and no one's created a sarcasm font yet. But in real life, I just can't help it. I'm snarky, impatient, and a little judgy. That side of me came out a lot in our presidency meetings, especially when we had to deal with an adult assigned to teach children who consistently refused to show up or even let us know she was not going to make it. That's hard on kids, and that made it hard on us. I had to be polite to that person at church, but in the privacy of our meetings? I aired my true feelings.

Here's what I will always remember about Kristy: During those meetings where I railed against people who were being worse than useless (and disappointing kids in the process), she always acknowledged my frustrations. I never felt like she was frowning upon me for any of the things I said. And yet, at the same time, she never joined in with my ranting. She never (literally, never) said anything unkind about anyone else. She had the ability to see a person's faults but not hold those faults against them. (I do not have this ability.) She extended that gift to everyone she knew, including me. I was blessed because of it.

How do you choose a lettuce to honor a person like that? I'm sure the young couple chasing their toddler around the produce section wondered why I was standing in front of the lettuces, sniffling. I stared at the rows of greens at Safeway for five minutes, unable to decide between Romaine and green leaf. Both looked limp, to be honest, so I went with the red leaf.

Little cherry tomatoes, or chopped-up heirloom tomatoes for the person who remembered to send you a birthday card when she was dying of cancer? Red onions or no? They're so tasty, but they make your breath smell so bad. But who cares? No one's going to be kissing anyone else, it's a funeral. And that makes me think of her husband, not kissing anyone for a long time because his wife is gone and he'll be so sad, and it's so ridiculously unfair that Kristy's not here and I hate this, I hate making this salad because it's not just a salad.

It's the last thing I will do for my friend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Query Kombat 2018 Entry Window is Open!

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. If selected, please notify us if you receive an offer from an agent during the kontest.

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. 

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 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) 

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: 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.)

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

Friday, May 11, 2018

Query Kombat 2018 Judge Nicknames

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 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.


Friday, May 4, 2018

Meet the Query Kombat 2018 Agents!

Announcing... the amazing agents of Query Kombat 2018! The agent round of Query Kombat is held between rounds 1 and 2, from June 7-11. 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 they are eliminated from the tournament. The further you make it in the tournament, the more pages you send the requesting agents.
The other agents participating can be found on Mike's and Michelle's blogs. Be sure to check them out as well!

Don't miss the submission window from May 16 - May 18, 2018!! We’re giving you three days to get your entries in!

We hope to see you at our chat with the judges and hosts on May 14th at 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm EST and also on May 19th at 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm EST. We'll be discussing contests, queries, editing, and writing at #QKChat.

And don't forget to visit our Query Kombat forum to get some feedback on your entry before the contest!

Carlisle Webber
Fuse Literary

Carlisle Webber refused to major in English in college because she didn’t think there was anything fun to read on the required lists. No Stephen King? No R.L. Stine? No thanks! After college, she took her love of commercial, YA, and middle grade fiction to the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences, where she earned a Master of Library and Information Sciences. She worked as a public librarian for years before deciding to move to the business side of publishing. She attended the Columbia Publishing Course, interned at Writers House, and worked at the Jane Rotrosen Agency in New York City.

She considers herself to be an editorial agent and holds a Professional Certificate in Editing from University of California, Berkeley. She belongs to the American Copy Editors Society and Bay Area Editors’ Forum. When editing, she aims to make a book the best possible version of itself, shaping it in a way so it can best use its unique voice to appeal to a wide audience. Carlisle is looking for high-concept commercial fiction in middle grade, young adult, and adult. If your book is fresh and exciting, tackles difficult topics, reads like a Shonda Rhimes show, or makes readers stay up late turning pages, she’s the agent for you.

Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
LKG Agency

I joined the LKG Agency in 2008, thereby disproving the theory that no English major ever does anything with their degree. Before that I worked at another literary agency, Don Congdon Associates, where I had the behind-the-scenes thrill of seeing Kathryn Stockett’s The Help first come in (and getting one of the first reads). And before that I was getting my Masters in English and Publishing from Rosemont College. I have enjoyed my apprenticeship under Lauren Galit very much, and I am now actively looking to build my own list, which includes (after a surprisingly minimal amount of begging and pleading on my part), securing Lauren’s agreement to open the agency to considering middle grade and young adult fiction.

In my spare time, I am an author in my own right (or is that write?). My first book, Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, which I co-wrote with my mother, was released by Crown in 2009. We also contributed to Jane Austen Made Me Do It, published by Ballantine in 2011. My first middle grade novel, Ordinary Magic, was published by Bloomsbury Children’s in 2012.

Lauren Spieller
TriadaUS Literary Agency

Associate Literary Agent Lauren Spieller comes to TriadaUS with a background in literary scouting and editorial consulting. She has a sharp editorial eye, and is passionate about author advocacy. Lauren is seeking Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, as well as select Adult fiction and non-fiction. Whatever the age category or genre, Lauren is passionate about finding diverse and underrepresented voices.

Andrea Somberg
Harvey Klinger, Inc.

A literary agent for over fifteen years, Andrea Somberg represents a wide range of fiction and nonfiction, including projects for adult, young adult and middle grade audiences. Her clients’ books have been NYTimes and USABestsellers, as well as nominated for The Governor General’s Award, the Lambda Award, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and have been chosen for ABA’s Indies Introduce Program. Andrea is a guest instructor for MediaBistro and Writers Digest.

Alec Shane
Writers House

I began my career at Writers House as an intern in September of 2008 and simply refused to leave, so I was given the wonderful job of Assistant to Jodi Reamer. I am now also in the process of actively building my own list and currently represent a fairly eclectic mix of Children's and Adult fiction and nonfiction. I'm eagerly looking for both.

Lisa Abellera
Kimberley Cameron & Associates

Lisa Abellera joined Kimberley Cameron in 2013 with a background in management, marketing, and finance. She has studied creative writing, design and business, earning her B.A. in Strategic Management from Dominican University of CA and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from University of San Francisco.

Lisa responds to well-crafted prose with strong hooks and high personal stakes, idiosyncratic and sympathetic characters, a tangible sense of place and lush world-building, multicultural aspects and international settings, page-turning twists, and emotionally-immersive fiction that explores the human condition, especially within family and close relationships.

Natascha Morris
BookEnds Literary Agency

Natascha Morris spent most of her childhood in a leather chair with her nose in a book. Formerly an editorial assistant at Simon & Schuster, her passion for books across genres and her desire to finding amazing talent drove her to make the transition from editorial to literary agent.

Her editorial philosophy stems from the idea that all books should be well written and entertaining. Some of her favorite authors include Molly Idle, Sherwood Smith, Ann Rinaldi, Sabaa Tahir, and Meg Cabot.

A Texas native, Natascha can often be found hunting for the best Tex-Mex in New York. Outside of reading, she is interested in urban farming and cooking.

Lesley Sabga
The Seymour Agency

Since graduating from The University of Kentucky (Go Cats!) and obtaining her Editorial Certification from The University of Chicago, Lesley Sabga has worked as an editorial intern and freelancer for multiple publishing houses. She's also been working for The Seymour Agency since 2014. Starting out as an eager intern, she worked her way up to a Literary Assistant, and in the fall of 2017, Lesley became an Associate Agent with The Seymour Agency. 

Lesley loves intricate and vivid world-building and character driven plots. She is actively acquiring MG, YA, and Adult fantasy/science fiction and she is always down to read a dark and twisty suspense or thriller featuring strong, female protagonists. It may be the newlywed in her, but she also loves a classic happily-ever-after romance. As for nonfiction, she has her eye out for unique and fresh “How-To-Do” guides, coffee table or “gift” books, and provoking memoirs.

When she is not rescuing animals or searching for her next debut author, Lesley is a constant occupant at local bookstores in Louisville and is a self-proclaimed coffee aficionado. She is also an active member of the Louisville Literary Arts.

Kortney Price
Corvisiero Literary Agency

Kortney Price was (and still is) that person in the bookstore who recommends books to strangers based on what they're buying. When she realized that she could make a career out of helping authors and getting excited over books, she decided to pursue a career in agenting. So, after graduating with a B.A. in English from Greenville University in 2014, she started out with her first agency internship. Since then she has interned with Andrea Hurst & Associates, Amphorae Publishing Group, and Inklings Literary Agency. She was an associate agent at Holloway Literary before finding her home with Corvisiero Literary Agency. 

Outside of her world of books and publishing, Kortney can typically be found attending musicals, meandering through art museums, watching an absurd amount of movies, pretending she understands and can teach sports at her aunt's special needs nonprofit, exploring the city, catering to her diva dog's every whim, and trying to rein in her new puppy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Announcing the 2018 Query Kombat forum!

The QK Forum has returned for a second year!

With an estimated 300+ people joining in on the fun this year, we figured we needed a place to bring together our agents, editors, industry professionals, and kombatants. Not only that, but we wanted a place for entrants who don't make it into the tournament to find advice, friends, and support.

So, if you plan on entering the tournament or just rooting for your favorite entry, join us in our new forum. There's also a place to get feedback on your query and first 250! And who knows who might reply to your post!

***Remember: Forums are open to the public, Agents, contest hosts, editors, and mentors may make appearances. Please give other posters the same respect and consideration you’d want them to give you***

Final note: Sincerest apologies for the lack of non-typical gender options when creating a profile in our forum. Proboards hasn't quite gotten with the times. After creating your profile, to hide the gender from your posts, go to Profile -> Edit Profile -> Privacy -> Gender Visibility. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Meet the Query Kombat 2018 Judges!

Introducing... the judges of Query Kombat 2018! They are tasked with the difficult job of deciding which entries move forward each round. It's a heartrending decision, but someone's gotta do it, and I'm glad it isn't me! We're so grateful to all the writers who are donating their time and energy to Query Kombat. Remember, the best way to thank them for their work is to buy their books! Michelle has made a Goodreads list of all the judges' books to make it easy for you to check them out.

The rest of the judges can be found on Mike's and Michelle's blogs.

On Monday, May 14th, we'll be hosting a Twitter party where writers can reach out to the judges and ask questions about their entries, writing, querying, etc. Join us at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. EST. The hashtag will be #QKChat.

We'll have another round of chats to calm raw nerves on Saturday, May 19th at 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm EST.

Without further ado... here are your Query Kombat 2018 Judges!

Dan Koboldt is a fantasy/science fiction writer and the author of the Gateways to Alissia series with Harper Voyager and Putting the Science in Fiction (forthcoming from Writer's Digest). As a genetics researcher, he has co-authored more than 70 publications in Nature, Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, and other scientific journals. His Science in Sci-fi, Fact in Fantasy blog series tackles scientific, technical, and historical elements of SF/F with input from experts in the field.

Dan is also an avid deer hunter and outdoorsman. He lives with his wife and children in Ohio, where the deer take their revenge by eating the flowers in his backyard. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.

Buy: Amazon or B&N

E. G. Moore has been telling stories since childhood, one of which her mom caught on cassette. She's an award-winning poet and children book author, freelance writer, and ghostwriter. She leads her local chapter of the Idaho Writers League. Her essay WEARING TERESA’S BOOTS is featured in Hope Paige’s Anthology on loss BREAKING SAD. When she’s not telling “Mommy Made stories” to her two daughters or nagging her husband to edit her latest middle grade or young adult manuscript, she can be found off-roading on her ATV, baking something scrumptious, or in a long, plot-refreshing bubble bath. She’s represented by Jessica Schmeidler of Golden Wheat Literary. E.G. Moore tweets and follows hashtags on Twitter, hangs out in writer groups on Facebook and Goodreads, and blogs on her website.

Ian Barnes is a writer of bad jokes and various flavors of fantasy. A former computer engineer-turned-technical writer-turned-purveyor of puns, he lives outside Boston with his wife amid an ever-expanding fort of books. He’s a lover of video games and whiskey, and will happily talk your ear off about either. When he was four, a ghost said hi to him. He is represented by Matt Bialer of Sanford J Greenburger Associates.

Twitter   Website

Jessica Kapp always thought her penmanship would improve with age. She even wished for it on her eleventh birthday. To improve her legibility and speed, she hijacked her grandma’s typewriter—a really cool one with white correction tape—and started creating fictional worlds. That same grandma took Jessica to her first writers’ group meeting where she shared a story about fairies. The writing sucked, but with time, her craft began to improve. Sadly, her penmanship has not.

Today she writes Contemporary and Speculative Fiction for Young Adults. Story ideas often strike at inopportune times, and she’s been known to text herself reminders from under the covers.

Her debut book, BODY PARTS, is a 2017 RT Reviewers' Choice Award Nominee:

Amazon   B&N   Website   Facebook   Twitter

KD Proctor loved college so much that when it came time to graduate, she didn’t want to leave. Trading in her textbooks for student handbooks and policy manuals, she began a career in College Student Personnel and she fulfilled her wish to stay on a college campus forever. Her mother, however, if glad she's finally using that English degree.

KD lives in West Central, Minnesota with her husband and fur-kids. She likes to write fun twists on the usual tropes that we all love. Her characters are smart, funny, and always swoony. And yes. They always get their happily ever after. Before being accepted for publication, KD's debut novel, MEET ME UNDER THE STARS (formerly titled IF YOU'RE EVER IN TOWN), was the 2016 YARWA winner for the New Adult category.

Goodreads   Website   Twitter   Instagram

Kimberly Ito is an author of adult and YA fiction in a variety of genres. When not creating characters and worlds of her own, she works as a full-time editor and translator. She lives in a suburb of Tokyo with her human family and a very purry cat.

Natasha Raulerson graduated from Florida Atlantic University with her Bachelor’s Degree in English. She works as a professional content writer and web editor during the day. At night, she is a multi-genre novelist, represented by Laura Bradford of the Bradford Literary Agency. Her short story, I, Alphabet received second place in the 2017 Writer’s Digest 86th Annual Writing Competition. She also had an amazing experience as a literary intern under Uwe Stender of Triada US Literary Agency and works as a freelance fiction editor.

Growing up as a tomboy with the guys, her days were often filled with getting skinned knees, and swimming in the South Florida sun. Though she’s more inclined to wear dresses now, she still prefers a good pair of chucks and comfy pair of jeans. Tattoos, Jack Daniels, and hanging at the pool are three of her favorite things. She is a wife, a mother, and mostly, she’s just trying to make it through this wild ride of life, one day at a time.

Website   Twitter   Facebook

Sarah Jamila Stevenson is a writer, artist, editor and graphic designer in Northern California. She is the author of three YA novels: THE LATTE REBELLION (Flux, 2011), UNDERNEATH (Flux, 2013) and THE TRUTH AGAINST THE WORLD (Flux, 2014). Her first novel for young adults, THE LATTE REBELLION, was a Scholastic Book Club pick as well as an IPPY Bronze Medalist in Multicultural Children's Fiction. Her work has been featured on Capital Public Radio's Insight and NPR's Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is also an active blogger: since 2005 she has been posting children's literature reviews and information at Finding Wonderland (, a blog she shares with fellow young adult author Tanita S. Davis, and she is a regular participant in the Cybils Awards. This past year, she worked on a graphic novel script for an educational publisher, forthcoming in late 2018. She is represented by Caryn Wiseman at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Website   Blog   Twitter

Tracy Townsend holds a master's degree in writing and rhetoric from DePaul University and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from DePauw University, a source of regular consternation when proofreading her credentials. She is a past chair of the English Department at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, an elite public boarding school, where she teaches creative writing and science fiction and fantasy literature. She has been a martial arts instructor, a stage combat and accent coach, and a short-order cook for houses full of tired gamers. Now she lives in Bolingbrook, Illinois with two bumptious hounds, two remarkable children, and one very patient husband.

Twitter   Web

Jason Hine is a #PitchWars class of 2017 alum and the winner of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association's award for best Science-Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal of 2016 with Nightmare Ink. His work has appeared in Fantasy Scroll Magazine.

He lives in Seattle, WA and Las Vegas, NV with his wife--flying back and forth over the weekends. A former mental health counselor and professor of cognitive psychology, he now writes words. Sometimes other people even read them.

Represented by Lauren Spieller at Triada US.

Maxym M. Martineau is a staff writer and editor by day, and a fantasy romance author by night. When she’s not getting heated over broken hearts, she enjoys playing video games, sipping a well-made margarita, binge-watching television shows, competing in just about any sport, and of course, reading.

Following her passion, Maxym earned her bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, co-founder of All The Kissing, a Pitch Wars alum, and the 2017 Query Kombat adult champion. She is represented by Cate Hart of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Twitter   Facebook   Website

Thursday, April 5, 2018

New book!

I am so excited tonight, because I finally finished the first draft of a new book! I've been working on this book since last June, with a three month break to do revisions for RESET. It feels amazing to make progress on something new!

My first drafts are usually horribly messy. This book is no different. It's not ready for anyone else to see yet. Lucky for me, I love editing much more than drafting, so getting a version of this story that's ready for others to read shouldn't take too long.

The new project is called GHOST GIRLS (for now, at least), and is about three girls that team up together to solve what appears to be a haunting in their town. And at least for today, I'm totally in love with it.

All the thanks go to the #AHundredOrDie crew on Twitter, without whom I might not have pushed through to finish. They kept me going, a hundred words at a time. Special thanks go to my husband, Ryan, who took over all the household duties I usually do tonight so I could go to his office and write the last two scenes without being interrupted. I sorely needed it!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Query Kombat 2018: Important Information

Bloggers Kara, Michael, and Michelle are back again to bring you the sixth annual Query Kombat tournament, and second year of the QK Forum!

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: (updated from previous years. Read carefully.)

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 they are eliminated from the tournament.

Winners of the first round will be able to update their entry prior to the agent round. So any feedback the judges give can be implemented before the agents see your work.

We have nearly 20 agents on board so far. We're hoping to double that number before the Agent Round kicks off in June, so get your entries ready!

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 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 hundred 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.


The submission window will open on May 16th at 9:00 AM Eastern time and close on May 18th 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 25th, and the tournament will kick off on June 1st.

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

In the event that we receive more than the available 64 spots (this is highly expected), Michelle, Kara, and Michael 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: (Please follow strictly)

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) com.
Twitter Handle: @RavenousRushing
**If you do not have a Twitter handle, please consider getting one. We rely on it heavily for announcements, special events/prizes, and general/emergency kombatant communications. #QueryKombat is also a great source for up-to-date information.

Title: Eunuchs and Politics
Entry Nickname: I Fell in Love with a Ken Dahl
Word count: 75K
Genre: Adult Erotica (If Ownvoices please list here)


Barbara B. Doll seems like a woman who has it all. From the perfect body to a hundred-million social media followers, success seemed all but assured for her. And after being elected into the U.S. Senate while on a spacewalk on Mars, the sky wasn't even the limit.

However, despite her immense successes, something seemed to be missing from her life. She could never quite pin down what it was, until she met Ken Dahl.

Ken is funny, good-looking, and may have ties to the Illuminati--all the qualities Barb looks for in a man. She is intensely drawn to his shiny hair, chiseled body, and mysterious ways. When he offers to teach her snorkling, they hit it off instantly. Everything in their relationship was perfect until Ken confesses he lost his genitalia in a freak clogging accident ten years ago. When Barb sees his techie replacement parts, she is stricken with a fearful curiosity. Ken soon introduces her the plethora of pleasures to be had with his collection of cybernetic attachment, winning her heart from the fear of uncharted sexual territory.

But then the video of Ken's clogging accident surfaces on the web and goes viral. Memes flood the internet, instantly making Ken Dahl famous. Shaken by the anticipated political fallout of being revealed as his girlfriend, Barbara is face with the choice of walking away from everything she spent her life trying to achieve, or from the one thing she always felt was missing.

EUNUCHS AND POLITICS is adult techno-erotic romance, complete at 75,000 words. It is also not a real book. Yet.

***This is NOT a pitch, but your FULL QUERY. You may include greeting and closing. Comp titles may be included. No bios!!

First 250:

Words, words, and more words.


Do not include the chapter title.

If the 250th word puts you in the middle of a sentence, you may go up to 258 (absolute max limit) to finish that sentence. To clarify: 258 words is the max first page word count allowed by a kontestant. 250 words are to only be exceeded if the 250th word divides a sentence.

Both Pages and Google Docs will return incorrect word counts if you use hyphens, em-dashes, or 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: If you must, count by hand. Hint: A properly hyphenated word is one word. Words separated by an em-dash or ellipse are two words.

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. You have several weeks to polish your 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 Kara's blogs (Twitter is cool, too). All three blogs will host the first round and agent round. The second round will be hosted by Kara and Michelle. The third round will be hosted by Michael. The fourth round will be hosted by Michelle. The fifth round will be hosted by Michael. The final round will be hosted by Kara.

Have no fear, each blog will have links to all rounds so you will not get lost.

Agents and judges will be revealed soon.
Questions can be left in the comments or asked via Twitter and we'll answer them as quickly as possible.


For the last five years, the QK Crew has donated thousands of hours to the sole purpose of bring the writing community together every June for a query kontest like no other. Every year since our first, our family of agents, judges, mentors, and kontestants has grown, as has our love and hopes for the tournament's legacy and family we've built. 

Please help support the QK Crew, who dedicate so many work and family hours to helping others achieve their dreams, and to bringing our beloved industry a little closer together.

Important Notices:
1. Disqualifications - The QK Crew reserves the right to disqualify any entrant, at any time, for any reason. That being said, the only time we will consider this option is if a kombatant does or says something to blemish the spirit of the Query Kombat Tournament, its community, or its affiliates.

 ***Agent requests for a disqualified entry will remain unreleased and be deleted.

2. Drop-outs - If an entrant drops out before the agent round, an alternate from the same team will fill the open slot. If an entrant is disqualified after the agent round, the opposing entry will automatically advance to the next round. No alternates will be substituted following the agent round.

3. Donations - Donating is strictly voluntary; it does not increase or decrease a kontestants chances of being selected. Donating will not affect the judge's votes or agent requests. Donors will remain anonymous unless self-identified. Individuals unable or unwilling to donate will not be impacted in any way.

Best of luck in the tournament!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Query Kombat 2018!

Hello to all you future Query Kombat hopefuls! I'm Kara Reynolds, and for the last two years I've helped QK host Laura Heffernan as a slush reader. This year, Laura has to sit out from QK (for happy reasons!), so I'm filling in for her!

Hi! This is me!

I write Young Adult novels with light speculative elements. My work is represented by Silvia Arienti and Jill Corcoran of Jill Corcoran Literary Agency. I'm part of Operation Awesome, a great group blog with resources for writers at any stage of the publication journey. I'm also a huge proponent of National Novel Writing Month, and have been both a participant and a Municipal Liaison. Writing is what occupies my brain when it's not paying attention to my husband or three kids. I love reading books, thinking about the craft of writing, and oh yeah, doing the actual writing part!

Before signing with my agents, I loved entering writing and querying contests. Now I enjoy working behind-the-scenes to help other writers achieve their dreams! When it comes to building a QK team, my philosophy is to put together a balanced and diverse slate of entries that will appeal to agents and judges alike. I'm looking for entries with a compelling and unique premise, combined with strong writing. I want all the entries that give me a bad case of the grabby hands. But Kara, everyone says that! What's my particular brand of catnip? Ghosts, time travel, settings outside the US, and unreliable narrators. Anything that can be legitimately comped to Ocean's Eleven. Also... I love being surprised by something I never knew I wanted. So polish up those entries and surprise me!