Sep 28, 2016

A QK Success: Teresa Richards

 
Hard work and a little struggle pays off in the end. Don't believe me, ask Teresa Richards, our latest QK success!
Hi everyone! I'm thrilled to announce that I've signed with agent Mallory Brown from TriadaUS, as a result of a request made during Query Kombat this year. My entry was for a manuscript called Windfall, nicknamed My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery, and made it to Round 4 of the competition. I received eight requests during the agent round.
One of the requesting agents was Uwe Stender, founder of Triada. After I got knocked out of the competition, I sent the requested material to him, along with the other agents. Then I waited. 
I worked on another writing project. I enjoyed the summer. I went on vacation with my family. I sent out more queries. I got my kids started back at school. 
By mid-August, I'd heard back from a couple of the other requesting agents with either rejections or requests for more material, but hadn't heard back from Uwe. Since Triada is well-known for its quick response times (their query guidelines state that if you haven't heard back in two weeks, then they didn't receive your query), I decided to follow up to make sure he'd received the material I'd sent him. He responded right away that it must have slipped through the cracks and that he'd take a look soon. I am *so* glad I followed up!
Two weeks later, he emailed and said that he'd passed it along to one of his agent assistants, Mallory Brown, who wanted to see the whole thing. Five days after that, Mallory emailed me with an offer of representation! She listed all the things she loved about Windfall and all the ways she'd connected to the story! After talking with her on the phone and hearing her enthusiasm, I was convinced she was the right agent for me and the perfect person to pitch my book to editors. 
And now it's official. I've joined #TeamTriada and am now rep'd by Mallory Brown!
*Commence freaking-awesome mildly embarrassing happy-dancing*
Of course, news this big requires a celebration. Since I did things a little backward and already have a book out with Evernight Teen, I'm going to celebrate with a giveaway! Up for grabs is an Emerald Bound prize pack, including a signed copy of the book, a metal Shepherd's-hook bookmark with emerald charm, and a custom-made Emerald Bound key chain. The giveaway will be live on my blog, http://teresarichardswrites.blogspot.com/ until October 4. Emerald Bound is a YA fantasy, so it's a different genre than Windfall. It's a dark retelling of The Princess and the Pea, in which the pea is an enchanted, life-sucking emerald. 
For those who are interested, here are my query stats for Windfall:
Queries sent out: 79
Partial requests: 10
Full requests: 4
Rejections: 46
No response: 33
The bulk of those 79 queries were sent out before Query Kombat. I had a much higher request rate on the queries I sent after incorporating feedback from the competition. If you ever have the chance to enter Query Kombat, or even just stalk the entries and read through the feedback they're getting, DO IT! 
Thanks again to Michelle, Laura and Michael for running this awesome competition and for the gobs and gobs of amazing judges and writers who took the time to read my entry and provide feedback. This success belongs to all of you and I am profoundly grateful! 
And now, if you'll excuse me, I must go finish my happy dance. 
_________________________________________________________________
Teresa Richards writes YA, but loves anything that can be given a unique twist. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has a degree in Speech-Language Pathology with a minor in piano performance. When Teresa’s not writing, she can be found either chasing after one of her five kids, or hiding someplace in the house with a treat her children overlooked. Her debut, Emerald Bound, was released in 2015 by Evernight Teen.
Links: 

Sep 26, 2016

Nightmare on Query Street 2016 Details

We're back with 25 agents and even more mentors!
 
It's Nightmare Time!

Don’t have a scary manuscript, DON'T WORRY. Just read on.
 

A brand new year, a brand new evil.
This contest, as it runs in the Halloween time, is all about FEAR.

The Details:

 
The submission window opens at 4:00 pm (EST) on October 14th. Don't send too soon or your entry will be deleted. There will be email confirmation. Please don't resend an entry unless you check with us. Sometimes the confirmation process gets overwhelmed. The window will close when we receive 250 entries or in two hours, whichever is first. 


Michelle and Mike and Laura will make thirteen picks each, and those picks will go up on our blogs from October 29th through the 30th. Before this, there will be a mentor round to whip that entry into shape. We've already got amazing mentors lined up, so know that your entries will be polished for the agents. 


We are accepting all age categories and genres, excluding picture books and erotica. But be sure to check our list of agents when it goes live to see if they represent your book's genre.

If you plan on participating in the contest, you have to be following all our blogs (MichelleMike, Laura). If you can't get the blog follow to work, just follow on twitter. You'll want to be on twitter for the party anyway. 


ONLY ONE ENTRY PER PERSON. DO NOT TRY USING MULTIPLE EMAIL ADDRESSES. THIS DOES NOT MEAN ONE PER WRITING PEN NAME. ONE AND ONE ONLY. 


It's pretty simple, actually.
But there's a catch. 


Along with your query and 250, you must write a SHORT paragraph (no more than 100 words) about your main character. This is the question you must answer: 


What is your main character's most stressful relationship? Who really makes them sweat? 


The Format:

 
Send all your submission to nightmareonquerystreet (at) yahoo (dot) com. Only one submission per email address AND person is allowed. 

Here's how it should be formatted (yes, include the bolded and everything!). Please use Times New Roman (or equivalent), 12 pt font, and put spaces between paragraphs. No indents or tabs are needed. 

Subject Line: NoQS: TITLE, Age Category + Genre (example: NoQS: GRUDGING, Adult Epic Fantasy)

INSIDE THE EMAIL:

 
Name: Michelle Hauck
Twitter Handle: @Michelle4Laughs (optional) 
Title: GRUDGING (yes, caps!)  
Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy (Age category and genre. YA/MG is not a genre.)  
Word Count: XX,XXX 

My Main Character's Most Stressful Relationship is:
 
My MC's most stressful relationship is with the potato supplier. With prices skyrocketing, the mc can't stop eating those suckers--fried, mashed, frenched--gotta have them. But everyone is trying to undercut our mc's purchase potential. (Please, spend some time on this! We will be looking at this to make up for gaps in the query and 250. It gives us a chance to know your characters better. It doesn't have to be horror-scary. It can be more subtle. Remember 100 words or less.)
 

Query:
 
Here is my fantastic query! DO NOT INCLUDE BIO OR COMPS PARAGRAPH. Try to stay in the 250-300 word range. Please put spaces between paragraphs and don't indent.
 

First 250 words:
 

Here are the first 250 words of my manuscript, and I will not end in the middle of a sentence, even if I hit 255 words. Do not abuse and send 256. Keep it fair for all. Use Open Office/Word to determine your official word count. 

Entries will be disqualified at our discretion for rule violation.
And that's it! Send in that email during the submission window and you're ready to go. There will be a confirmation email.
 

We're Tweeting under the hashtag #NoQS. As before, we'll have a twitter party once submission starts. Mentor and agent posts will follow before October 14th.
 

Good luck! And sweet nightmares!

Sep 1, 2016

Nightmare on Query Street



One...Two...We are coming for you.
Three...Four...There will be a slush war.
Five...Six...Get your query fixed.
Seven...Eight...Make your first page great.
Nine...Ten...Yes, we're at it again.

Nightmare on Query Street

The agents are ready.... are you? Face your Fear October 14, 2016

Aug 24, 2016

A Query Kombat Success: Jim O'Donnell!

Congratulations to this year's Query Kombat YA Champion Jim O'Donnell on signing with his agent! More than one host had their eye on HOT SAUCE IS BAD FOR WOUND CARE, and we're absolutely thrilled to share this success story.
Stats time! Everyone loves the stats (God, I know I do). It’s so encouraging when you see those meticulously kept stats on how many queries were sent out, how many rejections were received, how many offers came in… if a writer could quantify their journey seeking representation in number of bowl movements from first draft to agency signing, I’d be here for it!
So now it is my turn to list all the fun stats and… I don’t have any.
Sorry. I just didn’t keep any. Well, there are a few. I wrote four full manuscripts and queried three. And I got plenty of rejections. Hundreds. Thousands, if it makes you feel better. But probably more like a hundred.
Yay for stats!
I do have one more group of numbers that is important. Not just to me, but to a querying writer as well. That number is: Forty-two. No I’m kidding, but wouldn’t that be cool? The real number is six. Over the course of my querying career, I entered six different contests a total of seven times.
Contest 1: Pitch Slam

I entered Pitch Slam twice with two different manuscripts, first in 2014, then again in 2015, and was selected each time. From my tenure as a Pitch Slam contestant, I received a total of five agent requests and made friends I still rely on. I love this contest so much, I currently help the hosts out as a slush reader.

Contests 2, 3, and 4 were all contests I did not get into. These contests are obviously all wonderful or I wouldn’t have tried to enter. However, not getting in took its toll each time. Getting rejected by agents is one thing, getting rejected by contests is a whole other.

If you are actively querying, the rejections come in so regularly, it gets to a point where you feel lonely when you haven’t gotten one in a week or two. They are a part of the scenery in a writer’s world; like a fern. When’s the last time you read a book where the author focused on, or even mentioned, the ferns? They’re there, they have to be, but dwelling on them is a waste of words. Contest rejections are different. First, there aren’t enough of them to ever be a fern. They are trees, and people write about trees often. Second, they come from fellow writers, and somehow, that makes them hurt so much more. Like I said, these contests are all great, but they are unnamed simply because they hurt the most and I don’t want any of the creators to feel bad about that. The time and energy these people put into the contests for no return other than a couple extra followers and the good feeling that comes from seeing their friends and peers succeed goes above and beyond. Because of this, I really want to say something positive here like, “These rejections gave me the motivation to do better,” or some other inspirational bs like that, but it’d be a lie. The truth is, getting rejected can be crushing, and there doesn’t have to be anything positive that comes from it. Sometimes it just sucks, and that’s all. How you proceed, when you proceed, if you proceed is entirely up to you.

Contest 5: Pitch Wars

The big one! This contest is so big, I actually had an agent send me a DM on Twitter letting me know I got in. At the time the names were announced, people were refreshing the webpage so much it nearly crashed the system, making it difficult to load. It broke the internet. Pitch Wars is Kim Kardashian's ass. In a good way. This agent, however, was so interested in who was getting in (like many other agents), they kept at it, refreshing until the names loaded, and ended up knowing I got in before I did.
And it’s no wonder Pitch Wars is so popular. Agents are willing to scroll through and read the hundred plus entries each year because they know these manuscripts were the best out of the thousands that entered. Not only were they the best of a huge group, but after being picked, they spent months working with their mentors to make those already good manuscripts great. And the results speak for themselves. Exactly a year after PW15 started out, nearly half of us have agents, and new book deals roll in each month. One of those deals was so big, Donald Trump just asked the writer for a loan. Which given the number of bankruptcies he’s filed, isn’t as impressive as it sounds.

From Pitch Wars, I received eleven agent requests and a group of friends who I’d trade those eleven requests for any day. Mostly because none of the requests led to an offer, but still the community is great.

Contest 6: Query Kombat

Query Kombat is by far the most stressful contest I’ve been in. It’s also the one that got me my agent. In all contests, you are competing with other writers. In the submission rounds, you’re competing for a limited number of spots. In the agent rounds, you typically aren’t competing for the highest number of agent requests, but you are competing for each agent’s attention. This is true for all contests. Query Kombat takes it to the next level, says, this level is boring, then bumps it up six levels higher. Not only are you competing in the same anonymous, hardly competitive way as in the other contests, you’re also competing in the one-on-one, nerve-wracking, back and forth, anything-could-change-in-a-second way that I can confidently blame for the decreased volume of hair on my head. I went to a convention while Query Kombat was going on and spent the entire time refreshing the screen on my iPhone. I honestly don’t remember anything from the con other than a friend warning I was missing the entire convention. She was right.

As stressful as it was, it worked. My query was a hundred times better from start to finish, and I walked away with eleven agent/editor requests. Then something weird happened. Requests turned into offers. Offers. With an s. As in more than one. I was (still am) in shock.

In the end, I accepted representation from an agent who requested during Query Kombat, but made her decision to offer based on my work as a whole. This agent’s enthusiasm and willingness to work on all the other projects I'm obsessing over was what won me over.

So, after three years of writing and querying and entering contests, last week, I signed with Victoria Selvaggio of Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency.

I have a lot of people to thank for reaching this milestone, but right now, the ones most on my mind are the hosts of all the contests I’ve entered. Of course this includes the fabulous hosts of Query Kombat and the other contests I was accepted in, but also the ones I did not make it in. Because after about six hundred words worth of thinking, I’ve come up with something positive to say. In every single contest I’ve entered, I’ve made friends. Friends who have critiqued and edited sentences, paragraphs, pages, entire manuscripts. Friends who have inspired me with their own success and set aside their celebrations to make sure the rest of us don’t feel too bad. Friends who have promised me I’d get to this point even when I knew they were lying. And friends who have said nothing at times because they knew silence was what I needed. Thanks to all of these contests, I found the community that got me here. So thanks, hosts, you all rock!


 
Jim O'Donnell is a father of three (the oldest being three), husband, attorney, and a soon-to-be-retired police lieutenant. If you're wondering why he'll be retired so young, it's because Will Smith is just that good of an actor. When he's not playing with his kids or trying to convince his work that Will Smith is actually an actor and not a doctor, he writes about teenagers doing bad things. And then his wife threatens to divorce him for spending every second of his free time writing, and after he writes about teenagers doing really bad things. Like murder. 

You can find Jim on Twitter @JD_ODonnell. He's also on Facebook at Facebook.com/voteODonnell. Yeah, that's right, he once ran for Congress. No one ever said he was the smartest guy in the world.

Jul 7, 2016

Query Kombat 2016 Grand Champion: Jason Beymer

Jason Beymer
 
A permanent fixture at his local coffeehouse, Jason Beymer hunches over his laptop in a caffeine-induced frenzy, jowls slick with muse. He writes fantasy and horror laced with inappropriate humor. Jason worships at the feet of Ray Bradbury, and blogs at TomesandTV.com, where books and TV come together to make sweet, sweet love.
 
Contact Jason at twitter or his website.

Title: The Siren Episode
Entry Nickname: Cement Gargling 101
Word Count: 82,000
Genre: YA Fantasy
Query:  
Arlen’s parents kill monsters—sirens, gorgons, and even leprechauns—then broadcast the murders on their TV show, Myth Slayers. And killing is a family business.
Ever since mythological creatures destroyed San Francisco twelve years ago, Myth Slayers has been number one in the ratings. Now the show’s stars want to retire and force the reins upon their son. But at seventeen, Arlen doesn’t want to slaughter monsters on primetime TV—he just wants to survive high school, where a quirk in his Myth Slayer blood makes life unbearable. 
Arlen’s blood gives him power, but repels members of the opposite sex. He can’t even approach girls without making them physically ill. So when he finds a girl who’s not getting sick, he finally sees a chance at a normal life. Problem is, Lenora’s a siren. Worse, she’s a murderer. And Lenora hides a secret: the location of a safe filled with evidence that Arlen’s parents destroyed San Francisco, not the monsters. If opened, the safe’s contents could ruin his family, leaving humans unprotected against nightmarish creatures. Arlen’s parents want the siren dead, and Arlen faces an impossible choice: kill Lenora to bury the secret, or trust the siren and expose the truth. 
First 250 words:
Arlen Boggs hopped his neighbor’s fence and slipped past the protestors. They’d camped in front of his house again, picket signs raised. He tried to keep his footsteps light, but the rain puddles didn’t help his cause.
Two blocks, he thought. You can do two blocks without getting recognized.
The morning air chilled his neck, and he buttoned his father’s trench coat, too big for his lanky frame. Arlen wore the coat, baseball cap, and sunglasses to keep himself hidden. He hoped it would work this time. 
Head down, he hurried along the narrow sidewalk. Trees rustled on either side of the street, and he glanced up at the sycamores. Nothing but windblown leaves.
A woman’s voice came from behind him: “There he is.”
Arlen turned to look at the protestors, five houses back. “Great,” he muttered.
Two of their poster boards read, “GO AWAY, MYTH SLAYERS!” and “MYTHS HAVE RIGHTS, TOO!” Despite the wet September morning, the crazy zealots surged onto the road and shouted at him.
A few months shy of his eighteenth birthday, Arlen still didn't have his driver's license. His parents never had time to teach him, always out filming their TV show. Otherwise, he would have driven himself to school and avoided the daily hate-fest.
Another tree rustled and a branch snapped. 
Could be a monster.
The protestors sped up, chasing after him with their hand-painted signs. 
Arlen broke into a jog. Monsters in the trees, protestors on his tail. Why were mornings so complicated?

Query Kombat Adult Champion: Ann M. Miller

Ann M. Miller
Ann M. Miller writes adult and young adult fiction, and enjoys a wide range of genres including romance, mystery, and Sci-Fi. Born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she now lives in windy (but beautiful) St. John’s, NL with her husband and son. She can usually be found glued to her laptop writing or revising, with her two lazy dogs for company. She has an unhealthy obsession with Han Solo, an addiction to Belgian chocolate, and is a sucker for Sinatra tunes. The first draft of The Absence of Butterflies was written during National Novel Writing Month.   

Connect with her on Twitter and visit her website.






Title: The Absence of Butterflies
Entry Nickname: Madam Butterfly
Word count: 80,000
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Query:

Will Kavanagh is the only one who knows the truth about the drug overdose that killed Christy Talbot. Not that he’s telling. The world famous actress may have starred in the film adaption of his novel, but that doesn’t mean he wants to go to jail for giving her illegal drugs. Troubled by a mounting sense of self-loathing and guilt, Will returns to the only place he has ever felt something other than lost: home. Not that everyone in town is rolling out the red carpet for Cherrington’s prodigal son—especially not his former fiancĂ©e, Jessica Locke.

Following the unexpected death of her father, Jessica needs something—anything—to keep herself busy, and fixing up a property for Will’s mother sounds like just the ticket. The only hitch is her ego-fueled ex-fiancĂ© is back—the one who left her in the rear-view mirror on his way to literary fame in NYC. Will is the last person Jessica wants to talk about, let alone see. The trouble is, she never could resist those piercing blue eyes and tortured writer’s soul. It isn’t long before things heat up between them once again.

Each dealing with death in very different ways, Jessica and Will navigate conflicting emotions and their undeniable attraction to find something worth saving. Too bad Will, haunted by the knowledge of how Christy died, isn’t exactly relationship-ready. Neither is Jessica. She knows Will is hiding something and she’s determined to find out what.

Then Will realizes that unless he’s willing to reveal his secret to Jessica, fast, he could lose her trust—and her love—all over again. Because, as it turns out, Will isn't the only one who knows the truth behind Christy’s death.

First 250:

When Will Kavanagh stepped out of the coffee shop, his eyes were drawn to the bookstore window like a magnet.

Just get back in the damn car, he commanded himself.

But his legs seemed to move of their own volition, taking him over to the book display. He would have recognized those red and gold splashed covers anywhere. Bold black letters at the top of each one proclaimed Now a Major Motion Picture. Underneath was a snapshot of the two main stars. The one on the right gazed back at Will, her full lips curved in a wide smile. His gut twisted into knots of guilt.

As he stood transfixed on the sidewalk, the world around him faded away. He didn’t see Christy Talbot with her arm around her leading man. Instead his mind burned with the image of the actress as she lay sprawled on the floor next to an upended pill bottle, her eyes empty. Those eyes had haunted him every day for the last two months.

“Excuse me.”

The voice made him snap back to the present. A man stood beside him, holding out the bag that contained Will’s bagel. “You dropped this.”

“Thanks,” he mumbled.

“Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere?”

Will stiffened. “No.”

He strode back to his BMW. With a tightness in his chest, he drove past the downtown stores, this time making damn sure his eyes faced forward. He needed another reminder of Christy like he needed a hole in the head.

Query Kombat 2016 Young Adult Champion: Jim O'Donnell

Jim O'Donnell  

 
Jim O'Donnell is a father of three (the oldest being three), husband, attorney, and a soon-to-be-retired police lieutenant. If you're wondering why he'll be retired so young, it's because Will Smith is just that good of an actor. When he's not playing with his kids or trying to convince his work that Will Smith is actually an actor and not a doctor, he writes about teenagers doing bad things. And then his wife threatens to divorce him for spending every second of his free time writing, and after he writes about teenagers doing really bad things. Like murder. You can find Jim on Twitter @JD_ODonnell. He's also on Facebook at Facebook.com/voteODonnell. Yeah, that's right, he once ran for Congress. No one ever said he was the smartest guy in the world. (And yes, that is real hot sauce, and yes it is a real 3rd degree burn on his arm. And YES, he did get the hot sauce in the burn while taking this picture. The photographer, his wife, thought it was the best thing that's ever happened.)

 
Title: The Gray Hole
Entry Nickname: Hot Sauce is Bad for Wound Care
Word count: 63K
Genre: Magic Realism/Suspense

Query:

Six students at Mayville High will be dead by Saturday night. Again. And again, they will begin the week over just before Tuesday's first period class. Doomed to repeat the same week until seventeen-year-old Grayson Dell decides to stop killing, the group must work through two problems: First, Grayson has no idea the groundhog week from hell is happening; Second, the victims are all jerks.

As Grayson debates whether or not to kill, some of his victims begin to see the cycle as a blessing instead of a curse, and in order to ensure it continues, they increase their cruelty to outrageous levels. It isn’t until Grayson’s once-most-brutal tormentor and member of that group treats him as a fellow human that signs of a possible end to the cycle begin to appear. Now with the help of his old adversary, Grayson must steer clear of his other victims and all their evil plans in order to find the therapy, medications, and friendships he needs. Otherwise, he will be forced to endure the week before prom forever, corsages, limos, improvised-explosives, and all.

Although the manuscript is narrated by a second-person voice in Grayson’s head, his is not the only story being told. Since Grayson is unaware of the temporal loop, so is the voice, leaving the reader to only feel the presence of the loop through Grayson’s interactions with the group of students he kills. While Grayson’s outlook resets with each chapter, the group members’ memories continue across the length of the manuscript, allowing their individual outlooks and attitudes to evolve, or in some cases, devolve. These secondary arcs are as seen by the voice in Grayson's head who keeps saying "you" when any rational, reliable narrator would clearly just say "I."
 
First 250 words:

TUESDAY 7:59 A.M.

You tell yourself today will be different. Maybe it will. The lockers are the same sick, pale blue as yesterday, the linoleum floors still shine with same pungent cleaners that have been disintegrating nose hairs and SEAL-Team-Sixing brain cells for all four years you’ve spent in this school. And your classmates – if they’ve changed anything other than the color of their hair, it’d be tantamount to Chris Hemsworth intentionally eating a carb.

But still.

That pale blue used to be your favorite color before your wardrobe and your attitude took an about-face to the dark side. The chemical glint and nauseating smell from the floor is fading with each sneaker’s squeaking step. And those people – the juniors, sophomores, freshman, even your classmates – they all could –

Your head snaps against a locker so hard it’s unclear whether the high pitched hum ringing in your ears is just a sudden bout of tinnitus or if the blue painted metal is actually screaming back at you. You try to pull away and see if the locker’s door was repainted red, but the hand that put you there doubles the pressure from its sweaty palms, digging the blunted and jagged ends of chewed away nails into the back of your head and your left cheek.

You stop struggling before you start. Today will be no different. Why would it be? Embarrassment is the baseline of high school, and pain is just a reminder you haven’t left yet.

Yet.

Query Kombat 2016 Mid-Grade Champion: Chad Morris

Chad Morris            
                     
Chad Morris is the author of the futuristic Cragbridge Hall series: The Inventor’s Secret, The Avatar Battle, and The Impossible Race. Chad grew up wanting to become a professional basketball player or a rock star. (Inspired by Animal from The Muppets, he has been banging on drums since he was eight years old). Though neither of those plans quite panned out, he has worked as a teacher, curriculum writer, comedian, and author. You can learn more about him and his books at www.cragbridgehall.com or www.chadmorrisauthor.com.

Follow Chad on twitter.






Title: The Henchmen Company
Entry Nickname: Jello Poems
Word Count: 37,500
Genre: MG Humor

Query:

Nobody would dare call Gordo Vanderhough a baboon-faced dorkisaur.

Towering over even the adults at Taft Elementary and the only 6th grader with a 5 o’clock shadow, Gordo is known for toppling kids in the lunch line like dominoes (Ga-pow!) and stealing entire trays ofJello (because he only loves two things in life: Jello and poetry). But nobody ever calls him a dorkisaur because nobody really talks to him at all.

One day a man not only talks to Gordo, but actually compliments him and invites him to join the Henchman Company. Gordo, though the youngest henchman, is a natural at all of it: giving evil glares, maniacal laughter, trash talking, throwing large kitchen appliances, and not thinking too much. He’s thrilled about his first job until he figures out that his boss is an evil mastermind trying to hook the internet up to his own brain. If successful he will be able to control a secret government robot army and a flying spaceship the size of a city. This creepoid is going to bully his way to world domination. Suddenly, Gordo questions his career path.

When the other henchmen get wind of his change of heart, Gordo finds out what it feels like to be the one being bullied. With total human annihilation on the line (and the fate of all gelatin desserts), Gordo decides to use his size and skills for good. This villain is about to get Gordoed.

First 250:

Gordo Vanderhough lumbered into the cafeteria past dozens of other hungry kids. He headed straight for the front of the line but no one called out, “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” No one chided, “You can’t do that.” And nobody even thought of saying, “Get to the back of line, you baboon-faced dorkisaur or I’ll kick you in the teeth.”

They didn’t say the last line for several reasons. One reason was that no one at Taft Elementary could kick high enough to reach Gordo’s teeth. It would require an amazing jump, a ladder, or a trampoline. Maybe even all three. But the most important reason was that no one dared say anything remotely threatening to Gordo Vanderhough.

Gordo was officially the hugest kid at Taft Elementary. In fact, he was the largest person—period. Though he was a sixth grader, he towered over the teachers. He was also as wide as a buffalo—the big kind with burly shoulders and a mop of dirty fur on its head. Plus, if you looked really close, Gordo’s chin had the stubbly beginnings of a beard. His nanny told him to shave every other day, but she only spoke Polish so he couldn’t understand a word she said. To him, it sounded like she was telling him to sing songs about shampooing zebras. And that didn’t make any sense. Needless to say, Gordo didn’t shave, or sing songs, or shampoo zebras.


Jul 1, 2016

QK Championship Round Begins!




Championship Round!



Now before we begin:

 
Read this post again to remind yourselves of the rules and guidelines of 

commenting and judging. Below I've reposted the main ideas:

Reminders for the Entrants:

 
You may comment on your own entries ON the last day of the round to offer thanks or congrats. If there is a problem with your entry, shout out to us on twitter as soon as you can. (@RavenousRushing) If you don't have a Twitter, you may comment on your entry telling us the mistake. Also, we tried our hardest to make the match-ups as fair as possible and against as similar stories as possible. But, obviously, this is impossible to do perfectly and some match-ups may seen very random. We apologize for this but it's an evil of the system.
Kombatants should comment on 6 other match-ups to help share the love around! But Kombatants do not cast votes. 

Reminders for the Judges:

 
Wait until after one of us hosts comments on each entry first and reply to that comment to cast your votes. Try making your votes objective instead of subjective (but if you really love an entry subjectively, don't even feel bad about saying it was a subjective vote - subjectivity rules!). Be sure to point out the good as well as what needs work. Post under your nicknames! If you forget, just delete and repost. And judges: seriously, thank you for doing this. It's a very tough job and isn't for the faint-hearted.

Reminders for Everyone:


Try not to comment until after one of us hosts have made the first comment, then go ahead and offer your feedback. We ask everyone who entered Query Kombat to leave at least one comment. 

NOW THE FUN BEGINS!!! GO GO GO!!! We'll be Tweeting under #QueryKombat!


 

Query Kombat Championship Round: Cement Gargling 101 vs Jello Poems

Title: The Siren Episode
Entry Nickname: Cement Gargling 101
Word Count: 82,000
Genre: YA Fantasy

Query:  

Arlen’s parents kill monsters—sirens, gorgons, and even leprechauns—then broadcast the murders on their TV show, Myth Slayers. And killing is a family business.

Ever since mythological creatures destroyed San Francisco twelve years ago, Myth Slayers has been number one in the ratings. Now the show’s stars want to retire and force the reins upon their son. But at seventeen, Arlen doesn’t want to slaughter monsters on primetime TV—he just wants to survive high school, where a quirk in his Myth Slayer blood makes life unbearable.

Arlen’s blood gives him power, but repels members of the opposite sex. He can’t even approach girls without making them physically ill. So when he finds a girl who’s not getting sick, he finally sees a chance at a normal life. Problem is, Lenora’s a siren. Worse, she’s a murderer. And Lenora hides a secret: the location of a safe filled with evidence that Arlen’s parents destroyed San Francisco, not the monsters. If opened, the safe’s contents could ruin his family, leaving humans unprotected against nightmarish creatures. Arlen’s parents want the siren dead, and Arlen faces an impossible choice: kill Lenora to bury the secret, or trust the siren and expose the truth.

First 250:

Arlen Boggs hopped his neighbor’s fence and slipped past the protestors. They’d camped in front of his house again, picket signs raised. He tried to keep his footsteps light, but the rain puddles didn’t help his cause.

Two blocks, he thought. You can do two blocks without getting recognized.

The morning air chilled his neck, and he buttoned his father’s trench coat, too big for his lanky frame. Arlen wore the coat, baseball cap, and sunglasses to keep himself hidden. He hoped it would work this time.

Head down, he hurried along the narrow sidewalk. Trees rustled on either side of the street, and he glanced up at the sycamores. Nothing but windblown leaves.

A woman’s voice came from behind him: “There he is.”

Arlen turned to look at the protestors, five houses back. “Great,” he muttered.

Two of their poster boards read, “GO AWAY, MYTH SLAYERS!” and “MYTHS HAVE RIGHTS, TOO!” Despite the wet September morning, the crazy zealots surged onto the road and shouted at him.

A few months shy of his eighteenth birthday, Arlen still didn't have his driver's license. His parents never had time to teach him, always out filming their TV show. Otherwise, he would have driven himself to school and avoided the daily hate-fest.

Another tree rustled and a branch snapped.

Could be a monster.

The protestors sped up, chasing after him with their hand-painted signs.

Arlen broke into a jog. Monsters in the trees, protestors on his tail. Why were mornings so complicated?


VS


Title: The Henchmen Company
Entry Nickname: Jello Poems
Word Count: 37,500
Genre: MG Humor

Query:

Nobody would dare call Gordo Vanderhough a baboon-faced dorkisaur.

Towering over even the adults at Taft Elementary and the only 6th grader with a 5 o’clock shadow, Gordo is known for toppling kids in the lunch line like dominoes (Ga-pow!) and stealing entire trays ofJello (because he only loves two things in life: Jello and poetry). But nobody ever calls him a dorkisaur because nobody really talks to him at all.

One day a man not only talks to Gordo, but actually compliments him and invites him to join the Henchman Company. Gordo, though the youngest henchman, is a natural at all of it: giving evil glares, maniacal laughter, trash talking, throwing large kitchen appliances, and not thinking too much. He’s thrilled about his first job until he figures out that his boss is an evil mastermind trying to hook the internet up to his own brain. If successful he will be able to control a secret government robot army and a flying spaceship the size of a city. This creepoid is going to bully his way to world domination. Suddenly, Gordo questions his career path.

When the other henchmen get wind of his change of heart, Gordo finds out what it feels like to be the one being bullied. With total human annihilation on the line (and the fate of all gelatin desserts), Gordo decides to use his size and skills for good. This villain is about to get Gordoed.

First 250:

Gordo Vanderhough lumbered into the cafeteria past dozens of other hungry kids. He headed straight for the front of the line but no one called out, “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” No one chided, “You can’t do that.” And nobody even thought of saying, “Get to the back of line, you baboon-faced dorkisaur or I’ll kick you in the teeth.”

They didn’t say the last line for several reasons. One reason was that no one at Taft Elementary could kick high enough to reach Gordo’s teeth. It would require an amazing jump, a ladder, or a trampoline. Maybe even all three. But the most important reason was that no one dared say anything remotely threatening to Gordo Vanderhough.

Gordo was officially the hugest kid at Taft Elementary. In fact, he was the largest person—period. Though he was a sixth grader, he towered over the teachers. He was also as wide as a buffalo—the big kind with burly shoulders and a mop of dirty fur on its head. Plus, if you looked really close, Gordo’s chin had the stubbly beginnings of a beard. His nanny told him to shave every other day, but she only spoke Polish so he couldn’t understand a word she said. To him, it sounded like she was telling him to sing songs about shampooing zebras. And that didn’t make any sense. Needless to say, Gordo didn’t shave, or sing songs, or shampoo zebras.


Jun 27, 2016

Query Kombat Round 4 Wrap Up

 
THE FINAL FOUR have been crowned! Two from Michelle's team, one each from Laura's and Mike's. These are the top FOUR out of over 340 entries--an amazing accomplishment by these authors. Congrats to the winners of Round 4 who have become our Final Four! The next round takes place on Tuesday and goes for two days before the final round starts on July 1st. A big cheer for the last four standing from sixty-four entries! Among them is our Grand Champion!
 Go Mike and Laura's Team!!!! WHOOOOO
All the action is over on Michelle's blog for the next two days! 

Here are the matchups:
 
Cement Gargling 101 vs Madam Butterfly
Jello Poems vs Hot Sauce is Bad for Wound Care

Good Luck Kombatants!

Jun 24, 2016

Query Kombat Round 3 Wrap Up



Round 3 of Query Kombat has officially come to a close.

Our numbers have been cut in half yet again. The Sweet 16 becomes the Elite 8 fighting for just four spots in the next round. Round 4 promises to be the toughest round thus far. I have no idea how the judges are going to do it. Good luck to all!

Below is the list of round 4 entrants and who they will be matched against. Happy taunting. Rebels Without a Comma are in orange.

Madam Butterfly vs My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery

And I Feel Fine vs Hot Sauce is Bad for Wound Care 

Like Atlantis, Only Totally Creepy vs Cement Gargling 101

Jello Poems vs. One-Handed Wonder


CONGRATS AND GOOD LUCK KOMBATANTS

Jun 21, 2016

Query Kombat Round 3!




Round 3!

This round lasts until June 23rd at 8 pm.


On the last day the hosts will call out for extra judges to come and break ties, or in case of extra close votes to try and get a more decisive margin. In the event a tie remains, the blog host will provide the tie breaker.

The entry with the most votes for Victory moves forward to the fourth round on June 25th!
 
There will not be any more opportunities to revise for the remainder of the tournament. Good luck!


Now before we begin:

 
Read this post again to remind yourselves of the rules and guidelines of 

commenting and judging. Below I've reposted the main ideas:

Reminders for the Entrants:

 
You may comment on your own entries ON the last day of the round to offer thanks or congrats. If there is a problem with your entry, shout out to us on twitter as soon as you can. (@RavenousRushing) If you don't have a Twitter, you may comment on your entry telling us the mistake. Also, we tried our hardest to make the match-ups as fair as possible and against as similar stories as possible. But, obviously, this is impossible to do perfectly and some match-ups may seen very random. We apologize for this but it's an evil of the system.
Kombatants should comment on 6 other match-ups to help share the love around! But Kombatants do not cast votes. 

Reminders for the Judges:

 
Wait until after one of us hosts comments on each entry first and reply to that comment to cast your votes. Try making your votes objective instead of subjective (but if you really love an entry subjectively, don't even feel bad about saying it was a subjective vote - subjectivity rules!). Be sure to point out the good as well as what needs work. Post under your nicknames! If you forget, just delete and repost. And judges: seriously, thank you for doing this. It's a very tough job and isn't for the faint-hearted.

Reminders for Everyone:


Try not to comment until after one of us hosts have made the first comment, then go ahead and offer your feedback. We ask everyone who entered Query Kombat to leave at least one comment. 

NOW THE FUN BEGINS!!! GO GO GO!!! We'll be Tweeting under #QueryKombat!


 

QK Round 3: My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery vs. Ticket to Ride

Title: Windfall
Nickname: My Boyfriend Rigged The Lottery
Word Count: 83K
Genre: YA Contemporary Suspense

Query:

In Marina’s culture, dumplings are thought to bring wealth and good fortune to anyone who eats them. But she’s been eating dumplings her whole life and good fortune remains as elusive as a good boyfriend. She’s a Chinese-American piano prodigy with no say in her future, and the pressure to be perfect is crushing her. 

On her eighteenth birthday, Marina plays Windfall—a new lottery game promising large payouts every day for life. When she wins and her dad inexplicably forbids her from claiming the prize, she feels newly entitled to defy her parents and reject their plans for her life. She accepts the money against their wishes, cutting her family ties in the process. As she lets new friends in, including a sexy guitar player named Sean who represents everything that’s missing from her musical life, her old friends get pushed to the side.

But Marina’s lottery win comes with strings attached. She was hand-picked to win because of her family connections, and because those on top thought she’d be easy to manipulate. If she fails to do her part and the scandal is exposed, she’ll be removed. Since it’s a for-life prize, the company only has to pay out as long as she’s … well, alive. When Marina finds evidence linking her dad to the intrigue, she turns to Sean for help. But Sean’s arrival in her life was suspiciously close to the announcement of her lottery win and there’s a lot she doesn’t know about him, including the fact that he’s the CEO’s nephew. To keep her family and friends out of the crossfire of the scandal, Marina must figure out who to trust and who’s pulling the lottery strings—before her prize becomes a noose.

First 250:

My best friend’s raspberry spritzer sat dangerously close to the edge of the table, a twitch of the elbow away from tumbling to the floor. It was non-alcoholic, of course. The staff at Valer Prep made sure that alcohol was only consumed by parents (preferably ones with fat checkbooks) at the annual fundraising events.

I reached over Darya and slid her drink to a less precarious spot in the center of the table. She didn’t even notice—she just kept staring at the phone in her hands.

Okay, I was staring at it too.

“The draw was at six. Why haven’t they posted the numbers yet?” Darya’s eyes were wide, and her dark hair hung in thick waves down her back. She had the tiniest hint of a Spanish accent, but it only came out when she was stressed or upset. Like now.

“Relax, it’s only been five minutes.” My leg bounced up and down under the table, upsetting the floor-length tablecloth.

The parents in the decked-out ballroom were dressed like they’d gotten lost on their way to the Oscars and ended up at our high school’s silent auction by mistake. They mingled about, bidding on rounds of golf at exclusive country clubs and dinner cruises around the San Francisco Bay. What they really should have been bidding on were self-help courses like: Connecting with Teens For Dummies, or How to Break Your Workout Addiction in Ten Easy Steps.

Despite what I'd said to Darya, I felt anything but relaxed.


VS


Title: BREAKING DOWN GLASS DOORS
Entry Nickname: Ticket to Ride
Word Count: 78K
Genre: YA contemporary

Query:

Seventeen-year-old Jack wants to escape his narrow-minded Appalachian hometown more than anything. His family’s welfare checks pay for little more than food on the table, his mom and her pastor won’t stop lecturing him about his sins, and the rumors about his sexuality floating around school make him feel unsafe at every turn. The only thing worth looking forward to is the full-ride scholarship with his name on it—his one-way ticket to a better life.

But his plans hadn’t involved falling for Casey, the boy from the trailer park down the road who understands him in ways no one else in their town can. With the countdown to college ticking away, there’s only a limited amount of time to make the most out of their relationship. And unfortunately for Jack, using his scholarship means leaving Casey behind.

Then, right before college starts, his mother tries to commit suicide, blaming her attempt on her son’s sexual orientation. Overwhelmed with guilt, Jack finds his mental state heading in the same direction as his mom’s. It doesn’t help that he hasn’t slept since she kicked him out of her room at the psychiatric clinic, or that Casey, without explanation, hasn’t returned any of his calls since the incident. Now, Jack must learn to balance the life he’s been dealt and the life he wants before he can patch up the situation with his mom and win back the guy he loves.

First 250:

Jack snapped his head around. What was different? Had the shower curtain moved?

He swiped a hand over his face to clear away the sudsy water, then examined each corner of the shower stall. Nothing, nothing, and nothing. The only thing within reach was his tiny bottle of shampoo, the one shower product he’d been using to clean himself.

Wait

There, on the bar above the shower curtain, he saw it: No clothes hanging over the bar, no towel, even though they’d been there just moments before.

Shit.

He rotated the lever until the water stopped flowing. Surely this couldn’t be happening. His towel must’ve fallen off the curtain rod. His clothes, too. Because there was no way someone had taken them. Right?

Jack placed a hand on the shower curtain, ready to pull it back. His stomach clenched as the root of the problem hit him: the noise level in the locker room also fell into the “nothing” category. He heard no talking, no footsteps, no lockers slamming. Had he been so focused on his thoughts—what was I thinkin’ about, again?—that he’d missed when the entire gym class left?

With a turn of his wrist, he peeled back the edge of the shower curtain. His gaze landed on the bare floor, the empty bench, and the vacated shower stalls. The only sound prickling his ears was his own breathing.

Everyone was gone. And they’d taken his clothes on their way out.