Saturday, May 31, 2014

Query Kombat Round 1 Match Ups!

Important for Judges and Entrants: Blogger will not let you see all the entries.

Go to the list on the right, click on 'June', and look at ALL the entries that way.

Clicking 'Older Posts' will NOT help (you might have clicked that and are now seeing this)!

Mike, Michelle, and I thought the Kombatants would like a chance to find their opponents on twitter and do a meet and greet today. You know, before the bloodshed starts... Some friendly trash talk (mostly about team SC (officially the #Writerbees!) winning) and well wishes all around.

Here they are in no particular order and without reference to where you'll find them tomorrow. Match-ups will be spread on all three blogs for round 1.

Best of luck to everyone tomorrow. May the feedback provide insight and the friends you make lift you through the kicks to the gut. Battle on!

Make a Baby w/ Socks On vs. Michigan Yankee
Palm Beach vs. She Wears Bruises Like Trophies
Waltz #2 vs. Reality Star
Attempting Average vs. Cold War Grunge
His Little Human vs. Beauty and the Crazy Kidnapper
Remember Me vs. Leave it to Fate
A Bit of Code vs. Love is Hell
Can’t Keep a Bad Girl Down vs. Memento Mori
Burning Down the House vs. The Connecting Thread
The Past is Back vs. E=MC[squared]
Lavender Marriage vs.#Droolworthy Landry
Dead Princesses Don’t Kiss vs. A Cozy for Geeks
Mechano Cat vs. Making Boys Cry
Have Sword Will Travel vs. Strange Fruit
Licks the Dandruff vs. RV Arya
Patience Fell vs. Guerrilla Geek
One Spotted Girl vs. World on a String
Who Cut the Cheese vs. Trailer Trap
Nobody’s Sidekick vs. Girl Destroys World
Star Light, Star Bright vs. Axual’s Leprechauns
Deadly Nightshade vs. Tag, You’re Dead
Sunnyside Up vs. Lowlife Extraordinaire
Amnesiac vs. An Endangered Species
I Babysit My Mom vs. A Burning Dilemma
Caprice No. 13 vs. Fireflies Live
Shalom Sasquatch vs. Searching for Eden
In the Black Room, with White Shadows vs. Mini Mutants
WEEL vs. Lumanatti
Maidens, Monks, & Murder vs. Loving Logic
Oh Sweetcrabmeat vs. A Few Quick Hellos
Skateboarding Sherlock vs. Split Sisters
Secrets in Green vs. BingBamBoomBFF

Friday, May 30, 2014

My Picks for Query Kombat 2014!!!! Also: Commenting and Judging Guidelines

The time is finally here! Time to release the Kombatants onto the unsuspecting public!

I'll give you time to scroll down to check if you made it in or not, BUT COME BACK HERE AND READ THIS ONCE YOU DO!!!

Okay, good?

The choice was hard. Each of the hosts agonized, weighing this query against that 250. There were so many great entries. Of course, making it into a contest is no indication of the quality of your query. Many people who don't make it into contests find agents the tried-and-true way, by querying. (Ahem, Michelle.) Thanks to everyone who entered and everyone who made the Twitter party so fun! Those who followed #KombatSlush KNEW how agonizing our jobs were to pick our teams. The decisions came down to a misplaced comma, guys. And even more so: subjectivity. I found two entries from Michelle's no pile.

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 230 gladiators, and you didn't so much as flinch or break a sweat. There are none braver than those who try, fail, and try again. I'm begging you to be brave, because all you need is talent and drive. Luck and success will follow. Don't give up. Don't doubt yourself. And...if you do, tweet me. I'll find an army to come and lift your spirits if I have to.

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

To those who made it--CONGRATULATIONS! Out of 230 entries, you made it into the top 64. You bit, you clawed, you bled, and you MADE IT! I want you to take to Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Wikipedia, don't care. Celebrate! And do it loud. And in the midst of your celebration, I want you to help me lift the spirits of those who didn't make it. Use the QueryKombat hashtag to connect with and celebrate your fellow slushies. Tweet your sagest query advice, or that quote that kept you going when you were down and out, or your grandmother's secret tapioca pudding recipe ('cause everyone love tapioca!). We're more than a community; we're a family. So spread the love.

We don't have any fancy brackets to showcase the match-ups. In fact, the match-ups for Sunday aren't really finished yet. Kombatants must wait for Sunday to find out who they will face. Just another surprise in the list of surprises.

(Yes, we have surprises up our sleeves having to do with the agents! And we have more surprises for the agent round itself! That's three surprises, if you're keeping count.)
Now for  my picks for the contest. To see Mike's and Michelle's picks, check out their blogs. Kombatants don't miss the rules on judging and commenting included at the bottom of this post.


Beauty and the Crazy Kidnapper
Cold War Grunge
Michigan Yankee
The Past is Back
The Connecting Thread
Waltz #2
Palm Beach
Strange Fruit

Young Adult:

Deadly Nightshade
A Burning Dilemma
Split Sisters
Loving Logic
In the Black Room, with White Shadows
An Endangered Species
Caprice No. 13
Secrets in Green

New Adult:

A Cozy for Geeks

Middle Grade:

World on a String
RV Arya
Guerrilla Geek
Axual's Leprechauns

Important Information for Kombatants:

The first round will start on Sunday, 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 four automatic 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 chosen by Mike. (Alternate Kombatants will not be announced beforehand. We don’t want people hoping someone drops out. We may announce them after the contest ends.) If a Kombatant drops out after the contest has started, their opponent automatically advances to the next round. Any Kombatant that receives an offer of representation will please notify us so we may withdraw them. Receiving a full request or partial is not  grounds for withdrawal.

Our fantastic judges will give their votes under their assumed nicknames in order to be able to vote honestly and freely. Go here to see the nicknames they have chosen. The voting for the first round will take place from June 1st until June 4rd at 8:00 pm EST. (For more information on the dates of the other rounds go here.) The winners of the first round will be announced on June 4th.

Judges will vote as follows: VICTORY to Kombatant nickname Then they may give more information as to why they voted that way. How much feedback they give is completely up to that judge. There are a lot of entries to read and a lot of rounds to go through. This is a long contest. But we’re sure the judges will do a fantastic job of sharing their thoughts.

To prevent favoritism, the judges have agreed not to vote on match-ups where they are close friends to a Kombatant or where they have beta read or critique partnered. Due to the length of this contest, judges have been assigned to rounds and may decide not to vote in all the rounds.

In the event of a matchup vote tie, we'll call for more judges, then the round host will cast the tie-breaker vote if necessary.

Now here comes the unique and important part! We would like the judges’ votes to be easily located. Therefore, we are asking the judges to place their votes as a reply to the first comment in each match-up post. As soon as all the match-up posts are live, the round host will go through and made a first comment. Something like: This comment is reserved for judges’ votes. Please do not reply to this comment unless you are a judge. Then the judges can do their thing and leave their votes as replies to that comment.

BUT in order for this to work, people cannot rush to comment. The hosts have to have time to get the first comment up on all 10 or 11 posts of the first round and subsequent rounds. No matter how excited you are to share your feedback, please give the host time to get the first comment done before you comment. Any other first comments but the hosts’ will be deleted.

We understand that everyone is human and votes may not end up in the proper spot. All judges’ votes will count no matter where they end up.


Due to the nature of the head-to-head competition, commenting is a delicate subject. We don’t want feelings hurt. We don’t want people to go away angry. 32 people will be knocked out in the first round. That is brutal. And like any contest of this nature, the results will be subjective. Wonderful entries will be eliminated. Because not everyone will be seen by an agent, we do want to allow commenting as that may be the only feedback a query and first 250 entry will get.

Therefore, especially in the first round, we want a ton of comments. And we want those comments to be super constructive and helpful. In other words, be specific. Don’t just rave about a Kombatant’s entry like a fangirl/guy. Tell us why you liked it. Mention things like the query set out the mc’s motivation and stakes clearly, the query had a super voice, the query was confusing because…, the pages really showed the mc’s personality because…, the page felt flat because…, the concept was unique because…

Please no cheerleading comments in the first round or second round. (Friendly cheerleading will be allowed in the final rounds.) In the early rounds, if you want to cheer on your friends and CPs, do it on twitter. Try and give equal time to both Kombatants in a match-up. Don’t let someone be left out. If you see a match-up that isn’t getting many comments, we ask that you jump in and do your stuff.

We don’t want this contest to only be about fun and agents. We want all the entries to get helpful advice to make their queries and page stronger. Please remember this and be kind and thoughtful. Writers are amazing people. They go out of their way to help. We are sure we can count on you.

Enough preaching. Here are some more commenting rules:

We would like each Kombatant to give feedback on at least 6 match-ups. You’re on your honor system here, we won’t be monitoring this. We’ve got enough to do. (lol!) 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.

AGAIN, 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 and we could only pick 64 out of 230 entries. All the hosts are very excited for Query Kombat to start, and we hope you are too. Feel free to leave us questions in the comments or just shout out your excitement. Follow us on twitter for more updates.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Caitlin Sinead - NoQS SUCCESS STORY!!!

YES, YES, ANOTHER SUCCESS STORY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Success stories always make me very excited. This one is from Caitlin Sinead who took part in Nightmare on Query Street in October 2013. I just read it and I love it, so you'll want to read. Take it away, Caitlin! 

How Nightmare on Query Street Helped Me

In order to share how great Nightmare on Query Street was for me, I need to back up a smidge.

I got a revision request on my first full manuscript (which was also a contender in Query Kombat, btw!), and while it ended in a rejection, the agent said he was open to seeing my next project. He really liked my voice and he really seemed to “get” my writing.

So I had a “request” before I even finished my next book! I was very excited about this. Knowing that at least one agent would take a look at it, and an agent who already appreciated my writing, motivated and drove me.

I eagerly sent it to him in mid-October and also started sending out queries. He asked me questions about comp titles and we had a back and forth dialogue on genres, which, of course, got me even more excited. This is it, I thought. This really is it. It’s happening.

But, a few days later, he got back to me and told me it just wasn’t for him. In fact, he didn’t even read that much of it. This was the same agent who read my other project twice! And he didn’t think this one was worth even delving into.

Don’t get me wrong, he was incredibly gracious and generous with his time and thoughts, so I am not bitter or anything, but it was a hard blow. In fact, it was the hardest blow I have had yet in my publishing process.

I thought if this agent didn’t like it, no one would.

I stopped querying.

I wanted to hide and lick my wounds and feel sorry for myself and sip red wine dramatically and stare out the window while looking morose.

…But this was two days before NMQS (Nightmare on Query Street was another contest I co-hosted, for those that don't know).

While I was still excited and grateful to be part of the contest, I was no longer optimistic about the project. But NMQS forced me to rejoin the twitterverse and chat with writers. It forced me to get excited about my project once again and to realize there are other agents out there, other agents that maybe would like the project! It forced me to read other queries, which helped remind me that I’m part of a community and that everyone has ups and downs and we’re all in this together! (Or at least it feels that way sometimes J)

So even though NMQS didn’t directly result in my getting an agent, it lifted my spirits at a time when my spirits really needed some lifting.

And, a couple of weeks later, when an agent told me she wanted to talk, I was able to enter that conversation with a much more open mind than I might have otherwise. I was able to believe her when she gushed about my writing and my book and I was able to whole heartedly do happy dances when I got the offer.

So, yes, I am very thankful to Michele, Mike, and SC for putting together such fun contests that help connect and support writers and lift us up when we’re down.

And that project I decided no one would like? It will be published next year. J

Caitlin Sinead’s debut novel will be published by Carina Press in 2015. Her writing has also appeared (or is forthcoming) in The Alarmist, The Binnacle, Jersey Devil Press, and Northern Virginia Magazine, among other publications. She earned a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University. She tweets at @CaitlinSineadJ.

I seriously loved that story. The thing is, I read these stories as I'm formatting them into my blog post - so I write down my reaction as soon as I finish reading.

So, AHHHHH!!!!!!

It feels so good knowing that one of our contests helped lift a writer's spirits. Never give up guys, and CRAZY AMOUNTS OF CONGRATS, CAITLIN!!!!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Stephanie Wahlstrom - Query Kombat Success Story Part 2!!!

Very very excited to present to you guys this Query Kombat success story from Stephanie Wahlstrom!!!! We already have one success story from her (how she got her agent and book deal). NOW, it's her success as an ACTUAL PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!!

 It's even more exciting because as you entrants are wondering about if you made it into the contest or not, you can have this great story to satiate yourselves :)

I'm a few days late in posting this story - we have another one coming to you guys tomorrow!

Happy Memorial Day!


When I started writing my book almost 3 years ago, I never thought I'd see it in print. Writing a book is one of the hardest things I've ever done, especially when you are still starting out because there isn't a publisher there to say, hey we loved the first book so much, here is more money and a deadline to write the second. There is no motivation to keep doing it and sooo much motivation to quit. So for me, anyone who has written 80k ish words in a row that mostly make sense is a hero and a success because I know how hard that is. Snap cups all around.

Once my book was 'finished' I started to query with no success because it really needed editing. I stopped querying, did an edit overhaul and then started querying again. But the whole thing felt overwhelming. I was scared they would all tell me what I was already telling myself in my head: this is a terrible book.

So, I started entering competitions. I felt more comfortable with it because I didn't feel like I was bugging an agent or wasting their time. If they liked it, they could request it and they were there looking for books.

Pitch Madness helped me find the heart of the story which then helped me get into Query Kombat. That's where the value of comments came in. The only people who had read the book up to that point were my friends and nobody would tell me anything but, Oh, I love it! I loved them too, but what I needed was real feedback and I got that in Query Kombat. My mentor helped me hone my first 250 words and the query letter (which really needed help). Another turning point was one particular comment that mentioned the character felt younger than 25, the age I made her because I stupidly read somewhere that books with characters between 18-25 didn't sell. Spoiler alert, they do and are called New Adult.

I changed my MS, cried through a further bazillion rejections from agents and then entered one final comp before I was going to quit. That comp was PitchMas and in the end I ended up with 4 requests from PUBLISHERS.

Even though in the end I had 3 offers to deal with, I still had further rejections from agents, which was still pretty depressing. But the yes I got from my agent Stephanie Thwaites at Curtis Brown (and subsequently Tina Wexler at ICM as a co-agent) was the right one and I figured that's why I had so many nos. Just like signing with Swoon Romance was the right decision for North America. You need people around you and the book that love it because the actual being published road is a bumpy one. It was late nights writing my second book (THE ACCIDENTAL NEW YORKER - out later this year) and guest blog posts, edits for the first book, my bio and all that extra stuff that didn't even cross my mind when I was writing THE ACCIDENTAL SOCIALITE alone at 2 am. But it was all worth it because I was going to see my dream come true.

Stephanie, the super agent she is, also got me a UK (incl Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India) deal with Piatkus Entice (a division of Little Brown).

IT WAS ALL HAPPENING! The launch date was pushed back from February to do a global release and on April 15th 2014 I woke up a published author. I had a book launch party where I had a cake with the book on it and got to wear my sparkly Jimmy Choos I'd been saving for the occasion. I still can't believe it all happened. When I walk by my bookshelf and see my book next to Margret Atwood and Helen Fielding I tear up a little.

Things keep going and I'm now prepping for more PR and the release of THE ACCIDENTAL NEW YORKER. I've also written a short story being included in a summer beach reads anthology called SUNLOUNGER 2 along side some mayjah writers. If someone had told me this would be my life in one short year from the day I entered Query Kombat, I wouldn't have believe them! Keep going because dreams do come true!

Heck yea they do!!! Congrats Stephanie!!!

Growing up in Edmonton, Canada, a significant amount of Stephanie’s time was spent making up and acting out stories. She graduated from the University of Alberta with an English and Sociology degree and she also has a Bachelor of Motion Picture Arts from Red Deer College. She moved to New York on a whim after University and has written a variety of TV shows including an environmentally friendly lifestyle series and a tween magazine style show about celebrities. Stephanie moved to London in 2008 and aside from being obsessed with Eggs Benedict, shoes, Fruit Roll Ups and traveling, she also works in children’s television. THE ACCIDENTAL SOCIALITE is her first novel starring Paige and Lucinda and is out now. The follow up, THE ACCIDENTAL NEW YORKER is due out later this year. 

Quirky and clumsy twenty-two-year-old Paige Crawford arrives in London on a cold Saturday in January. Just when Paige starts to think that moving thousands of miles away from home with no real plan was a bad idea, Jason Frost appears. Confident and classy, Jason is the complete opposite of Paige and just what she needs in her life, or so she thinks.

But before their romance has time to blossom, Paige trips and falls into the arms of a mysterious man on a drunken night out. She’s snapped by paparazzi, and newspaper headlines the next day suggest that she’s having an affair with a married footballer.

Paige finds herself instantly elevated to tabloid celebrity status which isn’t exactly a picnic, particularly when trying to juggle her new job at Fashionista magazine, a catalog of dating disasters and a nagging doubt that she maybe she can’t conquer London after all.

When a trip back to Canada for Christmas reminds Paige why she left her old life behind, she returns to London with renewed vigor realizing that while jobs, flats and men may come and go, friends in London are forever.

Now, go add The Accidental Socialite on Goodreads, or even better, BUY IT.

And a reminder to EVERYONE who participated in a contest hosted on this blog: SEND ME YOUR SUCCESS STORIES! I love em. They're fantastic and I (as well as others) love reading them.

Congrats again Stephanie!! 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Query Kombat Submission Window Opens TODAY!!!!!!!

But first, make sure you follow the directions:

The Query Kombat submission window will open at noon EDT on Thursday, May 22nd. If this doesn't fit in your time zone, use to schedule the email. Below is a refresher of the submissions guidelines. Please, please follow them.

Entries sent before the submission window opens will be deleted unopened. Entries that don’t follow the guidelines will also be deleted (though we might be nice and let you know you need to resubmit). Knowing how writers worry, confirmation emails will be sent to ensure we got your submission and it didn’t end up in Mordor. If you don't receive an auto-response within one hour of sending, tweet me @SC_Author and I will investigate.

Still love that joke.

You should know that Michelle, Mike, and I have very different tastes, so that should insure a large variety of entries make it in the tournament.

Now, on to the fun stuff.


Listen close, because things have changed from last year. To minimize the workload for the judges, we will use only eighteen of our twenty-seven judges for the first round. Each blog (there are three) will have six designated judges commenting and voting on each match-up hosted on that blog. That being said, any of the other judges can swing by to cast votes and leave comments. It's completely up to them.

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

Girl w/t Golden Pen 
Allusion Assassin 
Tiny Tornado 
Glen Coco 
River Tam 
Luna Lovegood 
MRS N, the Query Queen 
Princess Primrose 
The Hybrid 
Chelsea Morning 
Sally Draper 
Captain Yawp 
Mrs. Malcolm Reynolds 
Book Boyfriend Connoisseur 
Jessie Spano 
Gundam Girl 
Pen Dreamer 
Short Stack

And for the second year in a row, we sound like a cuckoo version of the Justice League--only bigger.

The tournament is open only to unagented writers seeking representation for complete and polished novels. Submissions for MG, YA, NA, and Adult works will be accepted. No picture books or non-fiction. 

The submission window will open at Noon EDT on Thrusday, May 22nd and close at 11:59:59 PM on Friday, May 23rd, OR WHEN WE RECEIVE 225 ENTRIES. Kontestants will be revealed May 30th and the tournament will kick off on June 1st. 

The first round and agent round will be held on all three blogs (Mike, SC, Michelle). The second round will be hosted by Michael and Michelle. The third round will be hosted by me. The fourth round will be hosted by Michael. The fifth round will be hosted by Michelle. The final round will be hosted by me. Have no fear, each blog will have links to all rounds so you will not get lost.

In order to enter the contest, you MUST follow formatting guidelines, and submit during the contest window. All entries that follow those guidelines will be considered. In the event that we receive more than the available spots, hosts will savagely raid the slush pile and attempt to snatch up all the best entries. No worries, we're more civil than we make ourselves out to be... barely. Sixty-four total queries will enter into the tournament. We will also select three or four alternates.

Note: If you make it past the first round, you may submit a revised entry. Revised entries MUST be submitted before 11:59:59 PM on June 5th. We will not accept late entries under any circumstance. When submitting a revised entry, please follow the original submission guideline.

Send entries to: QueryKombat (at) yahoo (dot) com

Formatting guidelines:

Times New Roman (or default font for gmail users), 12pt font, single-spaced with ONE space between each paragraph. No indentations.

Subject line of the Email: Your name [colon] a short, unique nickname for your entry [colon] your genre (audience included). Do not skip this step or your entry will be deleted. Example:

Michael Anthony: Death isn't so Bad: YA Magical Realism

For the nickname, make it as unique as possible so that there are no duplicates. These will be the names used in the tournament post headings, so keep it PG-13 and try to have it relate to your story in some way. Nicknames are limited to 25 characters! But it would be awesome if they are shorter.

***The four Free Pass winners should include “Free Pass” after their genrein the subject line to ensure their spot.

In the body of the email (bold where bold):

Name: Michael Anthony
Email address:
Entry Nickname:
Death isn't so Bad

Title: My Best Friend Death
Word count: 67,000
Genre: Magical Realism


Damien Crown devotes his life to being his brother's superman. Like all heroes, he's locked in a deadly war with a formidable foe—his brother's depression. Instead of perishing in a climactic battle as comics suggests, he dies at the screech of tires and the blare of a car horn. But in those last precious moments, he regrets not taking off the cape and living his own life.

But those regrets don't last long when Death volunteers to be his life-coach.
Given a new body and one more year to live, Damien seizes the opportunity to reinvent himself. Forbidden by Death from making contact with his old family, he knows the trek will be hard, but he's happy to leave behind the pressures of his old life.
Until his brother attempts suicide.
The only way to save his brother is to break Death's rules, and Damien finds himself stuck between who he was, and who he wants to be. With a life any kid would kill for, he has an impossible choice before him—don his cape and die for his brother, or hang it up and finally live for himself.

Only include the meat of your query. No bio. Queries may be up to 350 words, but 250 is strongly preferred. Names and email address of Kontestants will not be posted.

First 250 words:

(Don't include the chapter title and please, don't stop in the middle of a sentence.)

Simple, huh?

warning gif photo: Green Warning a_trennlinie_gruen17.gif

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. Unless you make it past the first round, you will not have an opportunity to edit your query or first 250 words. You have several days to polish your work. Take advantage of it. Competition will be fierce.

Put on your thick skin and get those submissions, make sure you are following all of our blogs—Ready! Set! Go (at noon!)!

And remember: this will be INSANELY SUBJECTIVE AND COMPETITIVE! Not getting into this contest is not a big deal, seriously. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Twitter Party for Query Kombat! Also: Overview of Schedule

The whole day today, for 12 hours, I'm going on an amazing hiking and rock-climbing trip. All nature, all's going to be amazing. I feel it bubbling inside and I'm going to LOVE it. So I won't be on my phone or the Internet until late at night because I just don't want it with me on a trip like this. 

SO I'LL SEE YOU TONIGHT AT THE TWITTER PARTY!!  I might even Tweet pics of the trip :) 


It's time to hang out and have fun!

There will be topics and things to talk about starting today, May 21, and during the wait time until the chosen entries are released on May 30th. We’ll start with naming your category/genre to help those who may not be so sure to finalize their answers.

Just tweet your answers under the hashtag #QueryKombat and have some fun meeting and talking with other Kombatants, judges, and your hosts.

May 21st Tweet your category and genre. Ask questions about genre if you’re unsure where your manuscript fits.

May 22-23rd Tweet what time you submitted your entry to our QK email. Nerves and jitters can be calmed by sharing with others. Also tweet out what you find the hardest about writing. Is it keeping out telling? Writing action scenes? What’s hard for you?

May 24th
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 25th Tweet your entry Nickname and why you choose it.

May 26th Tweet out those first lines.

May 27th
Tweet the very last lines of your manuscript.

May 28th Tweet us your villain’s name and something evil about them.

May 29th Tweet the title of a soothing song that is helping you get through the day before the picks are revealed. Hold hands and sing Kumbaya lyrics like the band of friends you’ve become. (We’ll be running around like crazy gerbils getting everything ready.)

The hosts will post reminders for you in the #QueryKombat feed. It’s all about “Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you” and having fun!

Also here is a schedule of dates for Query Kombat so that you don't miss a moment:

QK Submissions                                May 22nd at noon EST until May 23rd at 11:59 pm EST
QK Kombatants Announced              May 30th All three blogs.
QK Round 1                                     June 1 – 4th All three blogs.
QK Agent Round                              June 8th – 11th All three blogs.
QK Round 2                                     June 15 – 17th Mike and Michelle’s blog
QK Round 3                                     June 21 – 23rd SC’s blog.
QK Round 4                                     June 25 – 26th Mike’s blog.
QK Round 5 (final 4)                        June 28 – 29th Michelle’s blog.
QK Round 6 (championship)             July 1 – 2nd SC’s blog.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Agent Reveal for Query Kombat 2014!!

The big reveal is HERE.

Want to know what agents we have for Query Kombat? WE HAVE FIFTEEN, AND COUNTING!! And what is equally exciting is that both well-established agents and new agents that are actively seeking clients are on our list!! This is going to be an AMAZING Kontest.

 Here's our star-studded cast:

Cate Hart

Cate is all about guilty pleasures. She loves salted caramel mochas, Justin Timberlake, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, and Steampunk. As a native Nashvillian, Cate’s biggest guilty pleasure is watching Nashville.

When she’s reading, Cate looks for character-driven stories, a distinguished voice, and intriguing plots.She loves characters that surprise her, like the pirate with a heart of gold, and plots that keep her guessing until the very last page.

When she’s not reading queries, Cate works with clients to build their platform, works on PR projects to help promote clients’ books, and reads manuscripts with an editorial eye.

For her full bio and list of genres, click here. She is also on Twitter.


Jordy Albert

Jordy Albert is a Literary Agent and co-founder of The Booker Albert Literary Agency. She holds a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University, and a M.A. from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She has worked with Marisa Corvisiero during her time at the L. Perkins Agency and the Corvisiero Literary Agency. Jordy also works as a freelance editor/PR Director. She enjoys studying languages (French/Japanese), spends time teaching herself how to knit, is a HUGE fan of Doctor Who, and loves dogs. 

She is looking for stories that capture her attention and keep her turning the page. She is looking for a strong voice, and stories that have the ability to surprise her. She loves intelligent characters with a great sense of humor. She would love to see fresh, well-developed plots featuring travel, competitions/tournaments, or time travel. You can find her on Twitter.


Claire Anderson-Wheeler

Claire Anderson-Wheeler joined Regal Literary in 2013. Claire started her career in Christine Green Authors' Agency in London in 2008, before crossing the pond to New York, where she took a position as Foreign Rights Manager at Anderson Literary Management. Claire graduated with a Law degree from Trinity College, Dublin, and subsequently from the University of East Anglia with a Masters in Creative Writing - and as far back as she can remember, has always been reading. As an Irishwoman born in DC and raised in Switzerland and Belgium, Claire considers herself a European Amerophile and very lucky to have a foot in both camps. She's glad to consider submissions across a range of genres, the common thread throughout being a meaty narrative and a confident voice. In non-fiction, she is chiefly looking for topical memoir, popular science and pop psychology with a solid research background; in fiction, her primary interests are literary fiction, Young Adult fiction and upper-end middle grade, and commercial women's fiction with strong contemporary themes. (Though certainly open to narratives that play with the traditional concept of reality, this unfortunately does not extend to supernatural thrillers or epic fantasy.)

Sandy Lu

Sandy is seeking submissions that draw her in with a unique voice and a good yarn that will make her miss her subway stop and keep her up at night. 

In fiction, she is looking for dark literary and commercial fiction, mystery, thriller, psychological horror, paranormal/urban fantasy, historical fiction, and YA. In particular, she is looking for historical thrillers or mysteries set in Victorian times.

In non-fiction, she is looking for narrative non-fiction, history, biography, pop science, pop psychology, pop culture (music/theatre/film), humor, and food writing. 

She is also actively searching for espionage fiction and non-fiction set in China between the two World Wars. No romance, high fantasy, children’s picture books, how-to/self-help, parenting, religion/spirituality, and sports.

Pooja Menon

Pooja Menon

Pooja Menon joined Kimberley Cameron & Associates as an intern in the fall of 2011, with the aim of immersing herself in the elusive world of books and publishing. She soon realized that being an agent was what she was most drawn to as the job was varied and challenging. She represents both fiction and non-fiction for Adult and YA markets.

Her passion for reading inspired her to acquire a BA in Literature and Media from England. Her love for writing then took her to Los Angeles where she pursued an M.F.A in Fiction from the Otis School of Art and Design.

As a new agent, Pooja is looking to build her client list and is eager for submissions by debut novelists and veteran writers. She's looking for writing that has an easy flow and a timely pacing, along with a unique perspective and a strong voice.

In fiction, she is interested in literary, historical, commercial, and high-end women's fiction. However, she's most drawn to stories with an international flavor, vibrant characters, multi-cultural themes, and lush settings. In fantasy, she's looking for original, layered plots with worlds as real and alive as the ones that were created by J.K Rowling and Tolkien. In non-fiction, she's looking for adventure & travel memoirs, journalism & human-interest stories, and self-help books addressing relationships and the human psychology from a fresh perspective. In YA, she's looking for stories that deal with the prevalent issues that face teenagers today. She is also interested in fantasy, magical-realism, and historical fiction. You can find her on Twitter.


Rebecca Scherer

Rebecca Scherer’s time at JRA began as a part-time internship during her junior year at the Macaulay Honors Program at Hunter College. She was working toward a degree in Political Science and Literature as she busily debated which law schools to apply to when the time came. As Rebecca fell for the agency’s charm, she took on more responsibilities and quickly realized that she enjoyed novels more than legal briefs and plots more than torts. When she expressed her reservations to Jane Berkey, the response was simple: “Well then you’re going to come work for me for real now, right?” And with that, Rebecca happily accepted the siren call to join the fabulous Rotrosen team full-time after graduation. She now works for Meg and Andrea as an associate in the editorial department, enjoying all aspects of the job, from queries to contracts to the whimsical wallpaper throughout the office. Rebecca’s favorite genres include women’s fiction, thrillers, and literary fiction, with a particular interest in historical and geopolitical events. You can find her on Twitter.


Pam van Hylckama Vlieg

Pam van Hylckama Vlieg started her literary career as assistant to Laurie McLean in early 2012. By April Pam was promoted to Associate Agent at Larsen Pomada. In January of 2013 after selling twenty-one books in her first year of agenting Pam was promoted to agent. When Laurie McLean mentioned creating Foreword, Pam jumped at the chance to follow her mentor and create a new agency together.

Pam grew up on a sleepy little Podunk town in Virginia. She’s lived in the UK, several US states, and now resides in the Bay Area of California. She has two kids, three dogs, a cat bent on world domination, and five hedgehogs, she has only one husband. You can find her on Twitter.

Victoria Lowes

I was born and raised in Queens, New York and graduated from the City University of New York, Queens College. Before joining the Bent Agency, I completed internships at Serendipity Literary and the Carol Mann Agency. In my spare time I can be found teaching dance classes for young students or watching re-runs of The Office.

I love books that teach me something, whether it be about a culture I don’t know, event in history or about the dynamics of a tumultuous young romance. I want to root for your characters -- connect with them and the problems they face. I'm looking for characters as complex and interesting as those I meet in real life.

You can find her on Twitter.


Chelsea Lindman

Chelsea Lindman is a literary agent at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Her primary interests include playful literary fiction, upmarket crime fiction, and forward thinking or boundary-pushing non-fiction. She is especially fond of writing that takes advantage of setting and location, so that a story’s place can almost be seen as another character. Chelsea also represents a select list of children’s book authors whose stories have an emphasis on voice-driven narratives. Most importantly, Chelsea is interested in working with clients that are looking to build a lasting relationship.

Chelsea was previously with the agency as the Director of Foreign Rights for The Nicholas Ellison Agency, a division within Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, where she worked with international publishers to nurture and develop audiences abroad for the agency’s bestselling authors such as Nelson DeMille, Sarah Dunn, Jeff Lindsay, Christopher Moore, and Alan Weisman, as well as several debut authors. Chelsea began her publishing career as an editor at Europa Editions. She is a graduate of University of California, Santa Barbara, and is a California native. You can find her on Twitter.
Christa Heschke

Christa Heschke graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children's Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively looking for picture books, middle grade, young adult and new adult projects and is currently building her list. She is a fan of new adult and young adult novels with a romantic angle, and strong, quirky protagonists. In young and new adult, Christa is especially interested in contemporary fiction, horror and thrillers/mysteries. She’d also like to see any steampunk and fantasy (urban and high), that pushes the boundaries of what's currently on the shelves, perhaps a new take on these genres that has yet to be seen. As for middle grade, Christa enjoys humorous contemporary, adventure and magical realism for boys and girls. For picture books, she’s drawn to cute, character driven stories. You can find her on Twitter.
Whitley Abell

Whitley Abell joined Inklings Literary Agency in 2013. Before joining Inklings, she completed successful internships with Carol Mann Agency and P.S. Literary Agency. She is based in St. Louis, MO, where she daylights as a production manager for several medical and S & T journals. She graduated in 2011 BA in English and Creative Writing, and again in 2012 with a MAT in Secondary English Education, which basically means she can tell you anything there is to know about feminist literary theory and the Common Core Standards.

Whitley is primarily interested in Young Adult, Middle Grade, and select Upmarket Women's fiction. She likes characters who are relatable yet flawed, hooks that offer new points of view and exciting adventures, vibrant settings that become active characters in their own right, and a story that sticks with the reader long after turning the last page, be it contemporary or historical, realistic or supernatural, tragic or quirky.

She loves mythology and literary re-imaginings, heartbreaking contemporary novels, historical suspense, and craving cute romantic comedies for YA through adult (ex: Sophie Kinsella, Lauren Morrill, Stephanie Perkins).

She is not interested in vampires, werewolves, angels, zombies, dystopian societies, steampunk, or epic fantasy. Please no paranormal / fantasy for adults. You can find her on Twitter.

Lana Popovic

Lana holds a B.A. with honors from Yale University, a J.D. from the Boston University School of Law, and an M.A. with highest honors from the Emerson College Publishing and Writing program. She joined Zachary Shuster Harmsworth in 2012, after interning at the Perseus Book Group foreign rights department and the Kneerim & Williams Literary Agency.

At ZSH, Lana works closely with authors on a wide range of both fiction and nonfiction projects, and is committed to providing extensive editorial guidance. She is particularly interested in edgy Young Adult and New Adult works, running the gamut from from realistic, gritty novels and exquisitely beautiful, powerful teen voices to contemporary fantasy, crime, and horror. She is also keen to represent literary thrillers, and well-crafted projects for adults in the areas of fantasy, horror, mystery, and dark, unconventional romance. In terms of nonfiction, Lana is looking for fresh perspectives on popular culture and science from bloggers, academics, and journalists. You can find her on Twitter here.
Sarah Negovetich
Sarah Negovetich

Sarah Negovetich is fully aware that no one knows how to pronounce her last name, and she's okay with that.

Her favorite writing is YA, because at seventeen the world is your oyster. Only oysters are slimy and more than a little salty, it's accurate if not exactly motivational.

Sarah's background is in Marketing. FYI, your high school algebra teacher was right when they told you every job uses math. She uses her experience to assist Corvisiero authors with platform building and book promotion. You can find her on Twitter.

Clelia Gore

It was when Clelia first read Charlotte's Web in the first grade that she got hooked by the magic of books. Her love of children's books carried through adulthood and she is delighted to dedicate her life to bringing quality books and stories to young (and whimsical adult!) readers.

Clelia is originally from New Jersey. She currently divides her time between Seattle and New York. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Boston College. She received her J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law and practiced law as a corporate litigator in New York City.

In 2011, she decided to dedicate her career to books and reentered graduate school at Emerson College. In 2013, she received her master's degree in Publishing and Writing. While she was studying publishing and taking creative writing courses at Emerson, Clelia worked as a managing editorial intern in the children's book division at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Clelia also honed her editorial skills as an editorial intern at Oxford University Press. She also taught academic writing and research courses to freshman students at Emerson College.

In addition to reading YA and children's books, Clelia also likes to blog about them! You can read her musings and ruminations on rereading the books of her 90's youth

To see her full bio, go here.

Maria Vicente

Maria Vicente

Maria Vicente began her publishing career as an intern with Bree Ogden at D4EO Literary Agency. She was an intern at PSLA before joining the Agency as an associate agent. Maria has a B.A. in English Literature from Carleton University and a B.Ed. from The University of Western Ontario. Her reading preferences vary across categories and she is interested in writers with unique and creative concepts. Maria is actively looking for Literary and Commercial Fiction, LGBT, New Adult, high-concept Young Adult, Middle Grade, high-concept Picture Books, and nonfiction in the Pop Culture, Pop Psychology, Design, and Lifestyle categories. She does not represent poetry or screenplays. If you would like to send a query to Maria, please click or tap here to review our Submission Guidelines. You can follow her on Twitter here.

That's an amazing line-up of agents - awesome agents from awesome agencies. 


Thank you to all the agents who are participating!!! It means a ton - you're the reason this contest goes on.


Monday, May 19, 2014

What's Your Story Behind Your Book's Theme?

Book have themes. It's the human aspect of the writer peeking through the words. Writers are, after all, human - and humans have messages to send when they write.

But themes vary throughout every single novel. General themes are constant, of course, because they're, well, general. Yet even they clash.

Some themes are to stay strong in your beliefs and morals (such as for Luke in Star Wars when his father begged him to come to the Dark Side). Other themes are to be flexible in your beliefs and be open to change that is for your betterment (Crime and Punishment).

I did a research paper on something like this a while back where, basically, I had to trace how the author and his/her life influenced the character he/she created and why the character was created. Not surprisingly, the author's life had a big influence on the themes that pervaded the characters and the novel.

What I want to know is this: why have you picked your specific theme?

Of course, this is going to get personal, so I'll share first:

I just (re)added the "My Books" link to my blog so you can read the pitch for my book there, get a gist of what it's about.

The specific theme? The idea that those living on welfare are not loafers. The overarching theme? The fact that too few people seem to show empathy (empathy, not sympathy) for those who live grueling lives. That the general population operates on a 'just-world phenomenon', that the world is fair and those who live harsh lives somehow deserve it? That people who are born in poverty can just 'work harder' and succeed? Let me tell you for a fact that it is not the case at all. It makes me sick.

Yea, yea, I feel myself getting upset. But that's good. Because that's what talking about the theme of your novel should make you do. You want this message heard. Why?

For me, it's because I live in a very diverse community and while I have many well-to-do friends, I also have many poor friends. And they're all people I love and I can't understand how others could say such horrible stuff about them. I almost live in this bubble that keeps getting popped when I see how most of the world is outside of my town, their attitudes towards people that aren't as lucky as them.

And I did say I live in a diverse area. Some of these people that say such horrible things are my best friends. I still love them to death but I can't ever change them or convince them that spending some of their tax money towards welfare, education, and the community is more important than spending most of it for the military.

People are people are people. And yet the marginalized are looked at like this big mass of non-people.


I know. I just got very political (but I don't really call it political, more humanitarian, but whatever). And you see, I don't mind if you think in a different way. Hell, my absolute best friends don't think like I do. But it's this inability to accept that other people know best about their own situations that scares me.

Okay, so now I just spilled a whole crap-ton of personal info and whatnot. But I love  you all and I've gotten very comfortable (maybe too comfortable?) in this writerly community that I feel I can saw stuff without having people jump down my throats for it :)

I'm just sharing the story behind my theme. I can't expect you guys to get personal - and I can't convince you that this is a safe place - unless I share personal opinions and stories myself. After all, we're all storytellers. We all want to hear a good story :)


Why do you have your theme in your novel?

Oh, and this is NOT A DEBATE!!!! No debating welfare or whatever in the comments. Cuz that's not what this post is about and if you want to debate go to the comments sections of any Yahoo! article.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Query Kombat Judges Reveal and Winner of Free Pass!!!

We have a HUGE lineup of awesome judges for the Query Kombat tournament this year. Our goal was to bring you the most diverse group of opinions, talents, and specialties. Needless to say, I think we succeeded.

Of course, I have to give out my free pass into Query Kombat!! For those that don't know, I had a mini-contest where people answered "Why do we need diverse books?" and the best 25-words-or-less response I got would get the free pass. Just read all the comments on the post and tell me that I didn't have a hard time deciding. Because I did. And it all came down to subjectivity so don't even try coming up with a reason as to why you didn't get the free pass!

But before that, the judges:

Query Kombat would not be possible without the wonderful people who donate their time to help others. In this month-long contest, we have managed to gather nearly thirty industry professionals to judge and critique entries. Each and every one of these judges are participating out of the kindness of their hearts, so please join the QK Crew in thanking them for volunteering.


Now, without further ado, we'd like to introduce the judges for Query Kombat 2014.\

Angie Sandro writes NA/YA/MG. Her debut New Adult Southern Gothic, DARK PARADISE, releases July 1, 2014, from Grand Central Forever Yours. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall, of Marsal Lyon Literary, LLC.

sunglasses picture

Lauren Spieller is a graduate of University of Illinois and University of Notre Dame. She writes Young Adult and Middle Grade novels, as well as short stories for adults. When she’s not writing, Lauren interns for a literary agent. She also offers query, pitch, manuscript, and synopsis critiques. Click here to see her services.

Lauren is represented by Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich Literary ManagementFollow her on twitter @laurenspieller.


L. L. McKinney is a freelance writer, a published poet, and board member of the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. Her first love is fantasy, particularly urban fantasy. While she enjoys imagining the impossible happening right here at home, strong writing and a distinct voice will always win her over, no matter the genre. She's participated in dozens of contests over the years as an entrant, slush reader, and host. She lives the single life in Kansas, surrounded by more nieces and nephews than she knows what to do with.

Amanda Heger is a writer, attorney, and bookworm. She lives in St. Louis with three unruly rescue dogs and a husband who encourages her delusions of grandeur. Her work is represented by Jessica Watterson of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. 

Raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Vicki L. Weavil turned her early obsession with reading into a career as a librarian. After obtaining a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Virginia, she continued her education by receiving a Masters in Library Science and a M.A. in Liberal Studies. She is currently the Library Director for a performing and visual arts university.

Vicki is represented by Jennifer Mishler of Literary Counsel. Her debut novel, CROWN OF ICE – a dark YA retelling of H. C. Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” -- will be published by Month9Books in December of 2014. An avid reader who appreciates good writing in all genres, Vicki has been known to read seven books in as many days. When not writing or reading, she likes to spend her time watching films, listening to music, gardening, or traveling.

Wendy Nikel lives in Michigan where she enjoys writing speculative fiction, playing video games with her husband, and building epic Lego creations with her sons. She is represented by Natalie Lakosil of the Bradford Literary Agency, and you can read some of her short stories at

Ingrid Seymour is the author of Ignite The Shadows (Harper Voyager, February 2015). When she’s not writing books, she spends her time working as a software engineer, cooking exotic recipes, hanging out with her family and working out. She writes young adult and new adult fiction in a variety of genres, including Sci-Fi, urban fantasy, romance, paranormal and horror.

Her favorite outings involve a trip to the library or bookstore where she immediately gravitates toward the YA section. She’s an avid reader and fangirl of many amazing books. She is a dreamer and a fighter who believes perseverance and hard work can make dreams come true.
She lives in Birmingham, AL with her husband, two kids and a cat named Mimi. She is represented by Beth Phelan of The Bent Agency.

Dragons, unicorns, genies…oh my! NA/YA author, coffee-lover, olive-hater, tea-drinker, music-listener. Random becomes Karen Bynum. Easily distrac— Rep'd by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary.
 photo nat_full_zpsf8139914.png

As a freshman at the University of Colorado, N.K. Traver decided to pursue Information Technology because classmates said “no one could make a living” with an English degree. It wasn’t too many years later she realized it didn’t matter what the job paid—nothing would ever be as fulfilling as writing. Her debut, DUPLICITY, a YA cyberthriller pitched as BREAKING BAD meets THE MATRIX, will release from Macmillan Entertainment in March 2015.

Sarah Glenn Marsh writes young adult novels that blend history with magic, as well as picture books. Her work is represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis Literary. She lives in Virginia with her husband and several rescued greyhounds.

Aimee Hyndman is represented by Laura Zats of Red Sofa Literary. She is a sophomore in college, attempting a triple major in Creative writing, English and Film Studies because she is, arguably, crazy.  

She reads the slushpile as an intern for Kimberley Cameron & Associates and she is also a contributor at Operation Awesome. She has been writing since her toddler fingers first grasped a pencil. Her area of specialty is Fantasy of all sorts but she dabbles in many genres. Whatever she feels compelled to write at the moment.The plot bunnies are never ending but, luckily, so are the words!

Pinterest: Aimee Hyndman

Tatum Flynn once told lies for a living as a professional poker player, and now tells lies for a living as a children's author. Her devilish MG fantasy, BRIMSTONE FOR BREAKFAST, is out April 2015 from Orchard Books/Hachette, with a sequel to follow. She lives by the sea in England with a cat called Friday and too many hats. You can find her on GoodreadsTwitter and her website.

 Naomi Hughes writes quirky middle-grade and young adult novels (most of which involve unicorns) and is agented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency. She is also a freelance editor at She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, daughter, and a hyperactive Border Collie named after a Last Airbender character. You can find out more about her at and follow her on Twitter.

Carla Luna Cullen writes YA fiction and is represented by Erin Niumata of Folio Literary Management. She is a mom to two teenagers, a former archaeologist, a hopeless romantic, and an unabashed lover of show-tunes. Although she reads across all genres, she is drawn to stories with unusual or exotic settings.  

Melinda O'Neill

MJ O'Neill writes lighthearted, romantic mysteries, full of rich characters and family escapades that will leave you dying with laughter. She is thrilled to be represented by Lotus Lane Literary and is currently on submission. Check out her blog at or follow on twitter.

Tracy Jorgensen and her cute hubby design products for a living in beautiful Washington state. Her bucket list includes writing a novel (check!), shaking hands with a president, going to China (nimen hao!), and rock climbing. She loves to draw, ride dirt bikes, and watch nerdy shows like Dr. Who, Firefly, and Star Trek. Oh, and she writes, too. If you ever meet her, ask her about the time she poked a guy in the butt with a fork or how she once cut her hair off with a knife (on purpose even).

Her YA Fantasy THE IMPENDING DEMISE OF THE GIRL WITH BROWN EYES will be released this summer from Immortal Ink Publishing. 


Midwestern native Heather Van Fleet lives in a small town on the Iowa/Illinois border. She’s a wife to her hubby, and high school sweet heart Chris, as well as a mom to her three little girls, Kelsey, Emma and Bella. When she’s not obsessing over her fictional book characters, cooking dinner, or running around chasing her crazy kiddos, you can usually find her with her head stuck in her Kindle, sucking down White Chocolate Mochas like they're water.

Heather is the author of four books, both young and new adult, published through Sunshine Press, with a forthcoming new adult novel releasing this October through Swoon Romance.

Amber Mitchell writes YA fantasy and is drawn to anything with a little bit of magic in it though she loves to read in all YA genres. When she isn't writing, she is a 911 dispatcher in her small Florida town where she hears stories that are too crazy for fiction. She is represented by Nikki Terpilowski of Holloway Literary.

Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter 

Amy Trueblood is a freelance writer who spends most of her time penning press releases for her favorite non-profit. When not “chasing the crazy” dream of being published, you can find her rereading her favorite YA books, running, or gulping down her favorite mango iced tea. Her work has been featured in Liquid Imagination, as well as "The Fall" and "Summer's Edge" short story collections. Check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.

Stacey Trombley lives in Ohio with her husband and the sweetest Rottweiler you’ll ever meet. She writes middle grade and young adult fiction of all kinds. Her debut novel NAKED will be released from Entangled Teen in 2015.

My Photo

Born and raised in Australia, Katie Teller's early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing. After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She now works as a Clerk with a lien company in Arizona to help support her family and her schooling. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Her debut novel, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, has been an Amazon bestseller, reaching #59 of all books. The rest of the Kiya Trilogy is available through Curiosity Quills Press. She has a two book series also contracted with Curiosity Quills, and a standalone novel with Soul Mate Publishing. She also work as an Acquisitions Editor for Curiosity Quills Press.

N.N. Light

I am the author of Princess of the Light, an Urban Fantasy published by Anaiah Press this August. My love for writing goes back to when I first discovered books in my local library when I was five years old.  My imagination grew and soon I was creating new worlds and adventures faster than I could write them down.  In my free time (what is that again?), I love spending time with my husband (MR N) and loves all things chocolate, books, music, movies, art, sports and baking. 

huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, S.K. Falls enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards in Charleston, SC where she lives and imbibes coffee. Her husband and two small children seem not to mind when she hastily scribbles novel lines on stray limbs in the absence of notepads.
S.K. Falls is represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

​ Visit her online at

Always a lover of art and books, it wasn't until she put the two together that Jessika Fleck discovered the magic of storytelling. Growing up with an overactive imagination lent to many a day exploring new worlds and characters. She still has the overactive imagination, but now puts her stories to paper. Jessika lives in the foothills of Colorado with her sweet family, growing collection of vintage typewriters, and bevy of characters who often keep her up at night. She is represented by Jamie Bodnar Drowely of Inkings Literary Agency.


Ami Allen-Vath is a YA Contemporary Author, represented by Victoria Lowes of The Bent Agency. She lives along the shores of New Jersey with her husband, two children, and a dog named Yoda.  
Ami loves books that make her laugh and/or want to “fall” off a bridge. She does not like birds, cilantro, or cartoon character impressions. She can be Internet stalked found on Twitter: @amilouiseallen, Facebook, and her blog: “Ami with an I.”


AJ Pine writes New Adult contemporary romance that will break your heart but mend it with a happily ever after. Her debut novel, IF ONLY, is out now with Entangled Embrace. You can find AJ Pine on  Twitter, Facebook, and her Blog.

Katharyn Blair is a twenty-five year-old perpetual teenager and overall lover of YA. She signed with Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson in February of this year and is currently editing her YA novel, Bloodburner, which is about a cutter with magical blood.

She is a coffee addict, pluviophile (look it up, seriously), and a long-suffering nemesis of the accursed Procrastination and Writer’s Block. She is currently pursuing her MA in Literature and MFA in Screenwriting. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and young daughter. 

You can follow her on twitter or visit her blog.

Richard Taylor Pearson: Richard is a triple threat: actor/author/attorney living in Jersey City, NJ. His first novel “The Role” is a coming of age LGBT romance, that is currently on submission. He is represented by Eric Ruben of the Ruben Agency.

All the contestants: take the time to Tweet/comment on a blog of at least five of these judges, thanking them for what they're doing. Pick the by random or anything, just take the time. They have some of the hardest jobs in the contest!!


...(For those who don't remember, I asked "Why do we need diverse books?")



She wrote: "I need diverse books because it's not good enough for me to only understand myself. I need to understand others."

I think this boils down to the absolute root of why we need diverse books. It's the reason we crucially need diversity in literature - to see through the eyes of others. Almost all the entrants said something along the same lines, so it really came down to subjectivity. I loved Emmy's simple but true way of stating this fact. Many entries were disqualified because of the 25-word limit :(

The runner up is Melissa Caruso with "We need diverse books because reading should open up new worlds, not narrow the existing one." I really loved that one!

I also think Quiana's "We need diverse books because if John Green was black or Gillian Flynn was trans their books wouldn't be championed & on front shelves in bookstores," is incredibly interesting and I actually might do a whole blog post on this subject. I didn't pick this as a winner because I do think that if he was black, the books would still be successful (just my opinion because there are many non-white successful authors of diverse genres). I'm not too sure about the trans issue - there are too few examples in the writerly world to get some sort of idea on this. But I heard in a thread somewhere that if John Green was a woman, The Fault in Our Stars would have been dismissed as a teenage romance.

And that is so, so, SO true.

Congrats Emmy!