Apr 26, 2013

Itinerary, Agents, and Free Passes, oh my!

Query Kombat is coming up really fast...at least it is for us. We can't wait to see all the awesome entries and the unique nicknames you come up with. I've been gearing up for the tough choices ahead. Push-ups, sit-ups, squats, I've done about six of them. EACH. Yeah, I know. Beach body, here I come.

But enough about my six pack of (fl)abs. Here's the itinerary for the tournament:

May 13th-17th: Call for submissions
Top 64 revealed: May 24th
Round 1: May 28th-June 3rd, Voting window closes at 8PM EDT
Winners announced: June 4
Round 2: June 5th-9th, Voting window closes at 8PM EDT
Winners announced: June 10th
Email mentors assigned entries: June 10th
Revamped query emailed back: June 12th by 8PM EDT 
Round 3: June 14th-18th, Voting window closes at 8PM EDT
Winners announced: June 19th
Round 4: June 20th-23rd, Voting window closes at 8PM EDT
Winners announced: June 24th
Agents browse and make requests: June 24th-June 25th
Round 5: June 26th-27th
Winners announced: June 28th
Final Round: June 29th
Winner announced: June 29th
Wrap up: July 1st

One week after the close of the tournament, we will invite agents back to make requests on the top eight...okay, okay fine...the top sixteen queries. Now, since we're talking about agents, why don't we introduce them.

The Agents:

Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency
Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary
Jessica Sinsheimer of Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency
Jennifer Mishler of Literary Counsel
Jordy Albert of The Booker Albert Literary Agency
Rebecca Scherer of Jane Rotrosen Agency
Juliet Mushens of The Agency Group
Jamie Bodnar Drowley of Inkling Literary Agency
Claire Anderson-Wheeler of Anderson Literary Management
Julia Bannon of L. Perkins Agency

And we're expecting more!!!

Want to win a FREE PASS into Query Kombat?

You have to do this...

Or you can follow these two simple steps (your choice):

1. Follow my blog. If you don't have a blog...*le sigh*...move on to  step-o numero deuce-o 
2. Comment your Query Kombat entry nickname (the creative name your entry will be called during the tournament) below. I'll announce the winner on Thursday. 

Yep, that's all ya gotta do.

And, of course, you'll improve your chances to win astronomically if you briefly explain the reason behind your name. I have to pick the most creative nickname, and I don't know what is creative and what is not if I don't know the meaning behind the name."

Now, you'll have three chances to win if you subscribe and comment on each blog. You may even have a fourth chance to win if you use the QueryKombat hashtag. 'Cause if you think about it, 60 is nicely divisible by three...61 is not. Hmmm...

Links to the other host blogs can be found at the top right-hand corner of my blog. Right above my pic and bio. On the right...no...no, your other right...yeah, now up....up a little more...okay, now down. Yep, right there. :)

Can't wait to see what you come up with. Oh, and remember, they have to be short, related to your story in some way, and you can only submit ONCE. And by short, I mean fifteen characters or less.

PS. Got into an accident the other day, car is totaled. It may take me a little while to answer any questions posted.

Later days.

Apr 13, 2013

Query Kombat Tournament

Bloggers SC, Michelle, and I are teaming up to bring you the first ever Query Kombat Tournament.

Query Kombat will host 64 kombatants in a single-elimination, tournament style query-off. There will be a total of six rounds in Query Kombat. First opponents will be grouped by target audience (ie. YA, NA, Adult, and MG). After that, a bracket-style grid will dictate future opponents. If you secure a spot in the tournaments, your query and the first 250 words (to the end of a complete sentence) will be pitted against another query and first 250 words. Judges will read each match-up and vote 'Victory' on the best entry (Remember, this is subjective). The entry with the most ‘victories’ will advance to the next round until only one champion remains. A growing list of agents (as of now we have EIGHT! update: NINE) They will be revealed soon) will browse the semifinal round to make requests on at least one of the final four queries. Details below.

Sound fun? That's 'cause it is. But that's not all we have up our sleeve...

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If you make it into the third round, you will be paired with an agent writer who will act as a trainer to shine up your query and first 250 words. Edits are due back three days after teams are announced.

Before the start of the semifinals (round 5), agents will be invited to the blog to make requests and choose one query they think will become tournament champion. Agent(s) who guess correctly will receive a full or partial (their choice) of the selected manuscript one week before the other agents who requested material. To clarify, agents can make as MANY requests as they want, but can only bet on one query to win. One week after the contest closes, we will be posting the final eight queries and invite agents back to make more requests.

Here are the tournament brackets

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

The submission window will open at 11AM EDT on Monday, May 13th and close at 11AM Friday, May 17th OR WHEN WE RECEIVE 225 ENTRIES. You may submit entries for two manuscripts (in the same email) but we will only consider the second entry on the last day of the submission window. Kontestants will be revealed May 24th and the tournament will kick off on May 28th.

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 be assigned a group of queries and pick the best of their group. We will also select a few alternates. Sixty-four queries will enter into the tournament.

Entries will be sent to QueryKombat (at) yahoo (dot) com

Formatting guidelines:

Font: Times New Roman, 12pt font, single-spaced with spaces between each paragraph.

Subject line of the email: A short, unique nickname for your entry [colon] your genre (audience included). (ex. Magigeddon: YA Fantasy) Do not skip this step or your entry will be deleted.

For the nickname, make it as unique as possible so that there are no duplicates. These will be the names used in the tournament brackets (or an abbreviated version if it's too long) so keep it PG-13 and try to have it relate to your story in some way.

In the body of the email (with examples):
Name: Mike Anthony
Email address: QueryKombat (at) yahoo (dot) com
(name and email are kept private)

(UPDATE) Entry Nickname: Magigeddon
Word count: 81K
Genre: YA Fantasy


Prophesied to abolish magic by one faction of her people and protect it by another, fifteen-year-old Maxine Protega is cast into the middle of a campaign that’s ripping her world and family apart. As it turns out, the prophecy is of the self-fulfilling persuasion and Max finds herself on the fringes of a worldchanging decision: eradicate her race by destroying magic, or risk the slaughter of misguided family members by fighting to protect it.

Only include the meat of your query. No bio, no Dear__, no personalization, and no "My manuscript, QUERY KOMBAT, is a 90K YA Fantasy in the vein of ____" unless you believe the market comparison is truly incredibly important. For example, it is in this query (the winner of the "Become an Agent" contest).

(It doesn't have to be as short as mine, I just wanted to give you a quick example. Queries may be up to 350 words, but 250 is preferred)
First 250 words:

First 250 words. Don't include the chapter title, and please don't stop in the middle of a

Also, no indentations.

Simple, huh? I know, it's strict, but we have a lot to put together in a short amount of time and the formatting will help us IMMENSELY.

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 into the third round, you will not have another opportunity to edit your query or first 250 words. And if you make it into the third round, your entry cannot be retracted. It would throw the whole tournament out of wack. And you don't want to be responsible for an epidemic do you? Huh? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Because the immense amount of work ahead of us, the tournament will be hosted on three separate blogs (following each of us would be a great way of saying thank you...just saying): Michelle4Laughs will host round 1 and 4. SCWrite will host round 2 and 5. I will host round 3 and 6. Each blog will have links to all rounds so fear not. You will not get lost. Also, you can follow the hashtag 'QueryKombat for second-by-second details and just about anything else to do with the tournament.

Agents, judges, and trainers will be revealed soon. If you have any questions, post them in the comments below.

So, yeah. That's it! I think this calls for celebration, don't you?

Hit it Pikachu!

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Apr 7, 2013

Sticks and Stones and Broken Bones

The true measure of a man is in how he treats someone he isn't expected to treat well. --Unknown

I started a WIP (work-in-progress for all those non-writer folk) a few days ago that pulled me into a world I never expected. I'm a pantser, which means I start a novel with the most basic idea, and I try to make it work. This particular idea pulled me in two direction. The first was horses (which I won't discuss), and the second was autism (which I will discuss on a broader spectrum). Now, watching Hidalgo is about as close as I have ever come to a horse. And I know a famous actor (Toni Braxton?) has an autistic kid. All in all, I was pretty ignorant on both fronts.

So, I did what any sane writer would do to educate themselves...I went on Youtube. And I found this video...

This video kindled one of my saddest memories; one that I've never spoken about...until today.

I was ten, and there was a kid named Timothy that my class had lunch with everyday. Now, Timothy didn't have autism, but he did have some form of cognitive disability. I would take advantage of him at lunch. If we were having something particularly delicious at lunch one day, I would ask him for it. He would respond with one simple request: Will you be my friend? I would always say 'of course' and get what I wanted. But I was never REALLY his friend. I wouldn't so much as glance his way until the next time I wanted something.

To this day, I can hear him asking for me to be his friend. I can see his face, and the hope burning in his eyes. I wish I had been a better, stronger person back then. I wish I stood up to the other kids taking advantage of him. Most of all, I wish I had been a true friend.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is this: Whether it's autism, Tourette syndrome, Down syndrome, or no syndrome at all, we need to be more understanding, more patient. It's so easy to pass judgment on someone we don't know or don't understand. So often we hear of kids getting bullied in school because they think differently, act differently, or love differently. Those same kids go on to commit suicide. My deepest fear is that Timothy is one of those kids. Nothing has led me to believe he has harmed himself, but the question has always lingered...what if?

I remember growing up. I got picked on a lot. I grew to be so self-conscious that it followed me into adulthood. I used to hide behind a sweater and baggy pants, thinking that the less people saw of me the safer I'd be. It wasn't until I turned 18 that I shed that jacket. Five years after that was the first time I wore shorts in as long as I can remember.

The common saying is 'sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.' That couldn't be more untrue. Words cut deeper than sticks and stones. They tear at self-esteem and self-respect, leaving only doubt and sadness in their wake.

Have any of you judge unfairly or unnecessarily? Send out your apologies in the comments below.

To Timothy: I'm sorry I wasn't a better friend to you, but know that you have changed my life for the better. I wish every day that I can take back those days in grade school, but I can't. What I can do, however, is be a better person going forward. Thank you for teaching me a valuable less, and for making me a better person.

Your friend. Your true friend,