May 28, 2013

Let the Kombat Begin

Guys, Query Kombat has OFFICIALLY BEGUN!!! WOOO!!!!! Round 1 has begun!!

64 queries (two each in 32 total match-ups) are currently in a face-off on Michelle's blog.

Check out this bracket to see who is facing off in Round 1:

Click to View Larger

Some things to remember if you are IN the contest

1. This contest is BRUTAL. First of all, only 64 out of about 210 entries were chosen. That means they are among the best. And, in round 1, half of that number is going to be decimated. Only 32 will remain standing. So please, don't be discouraged if you lose! Take this as a growing opportunity and a chance to meet awesome people.

2. Be kind. This is self-explanatory. Don't be horrid to other writers (or people, in general). Keep this contest clean and fun.

Commenting guidelines

Only for the entrants

1. It is required that you critique six other match-ups. Don't worry, it doesn't have to be crazily in depth :) (But don't make it just cheerleading, either.)

For the entrants and the audience

2. Keep your critiques to the encouraging, positive side. Say what you love about each entry, at the minimum, and then go on to say what they can improve on (it'll be a great source for them to call upon if they make it into Round 3 and get to revamp their entry with their mentor). And you can vote, too! Just don't be obnoxious about it.

3. Do not make the first comment. The first comment will be "This comment is reserved for the judges' votes" and will, well, be reserved for the judges' votes. The judges will reply to that comment and cast their votes. It makes it easier for us to count up the votes. One of us three hosts will go around and post that comment once the match-ups are published, but it might take a while so be patient to cheer until we make our rounds :D

4. No cheerleading. Some people have more of an online presence than others, and thus, more chances of being 'cheered'. Keep it fair and keep it fun for everyone :) Back up your cheerleading with constructive criticism, and don't be afraid to cheer on strangers! (People like that. Really. They do.)

You don't even have to give a critique at all if you are an audience member. Go on Twitter under the hashtag #QueryKombat and cheer everyone on! But even if you don't want to comment or cheer, don't worry. The entries are still fantastic and it's really just fun to watch and see how the votes are playing out for your favorite entries :D

So head over to Michelle's blog and see the awesomeness that is occurring!

May 25, 2013

QK First Round Match-Ups

Once again, congrats and good luck to everyone who made it into the first round. Below you will find the tournament bracket with first round match-ups. Honestly, I have no idea who will make it into the next round. There are just so many exceptional entries!

Though entries are going head to head, this is a friendly competition. We don't mind banter but please keep it lighthearted. We don't want hurt feelings or bruised pride.

As you all know, the first round begins on May 28 on Michelle's blog. Please refrain from leaving comments until all match-ups (32 total) and the judging comments are posted.

Feel free to shout out your entry name on twitter and look for your competition. Who knows, maybe you'll become best of writerly buddies :D

Or mortal enemies...

and then writerly Romeo and Juliet...sorta

Anyway, here you are!

Click to Enlarge

A Quick Guide for Creating Complex Characters

Creating complex/multidimensional/3D characters isn't as tough as it sounds. All you have to do is give birth to someone with a past, traits, relationships, quirks, and a name. Add about three tablespoons of personality, a hint of mystery, and a little time in the over (bake or broil, it's your choice) and you have yourself a damn good character.

And here's the recipe...Well, less of a recipe and more of a guide.

Creating a 3D character is actually really simple as long as you know the answer to three simple questions:

1. How does your story begin and end.

To elaborate, knowing where your character starts out and ends up is key to creating a 3D character. More importantly, keep in mind that just because your character's life changes at a certain point doesn't mean your story starts there. You should start as far after that point as possible. Why? To give that event time to change your character thoroughly. Let's use Batman (Nolan's version) as an example:

Bruce's story starts when his parents are killed when he's roughly 11 years old. He doesn't become Batman until at least a decade later. Bruce needed time to learn and grow. He needed time for his rage to seep into his heart and mind and dictate the course of his life. He needed time to make sure that the rage driving his life wasn't going to lose steam. I think we all can relate to seemingly important events inspiring us to change...yet after a while that inspiration dissipates and all we're left with is 'Dang, I was going to ???. What happened?'

Lucky for Bruce (his character, anyway), that rage never dwindled.

Poor Bruce :(

His story ends with him shedding his alter-ego and vacationing with Catwoman...which is a complete win if you ask me. Catwoman is a fox.


How a character gets from point A to point Z is completely up to you, but it needs to make sense. Your character needs to either resolve or fall victim to the inciting incident. Which brings me question 2:

2. What kind of character do you want to create?

There are three types of characters: ascending, descending, and flat. Ascending characters are those we usually read about. They are people who overcome obstacles to become the hero of a story. Descending characters do the opposite. They fall victim to those obstacles. They become the villain, much like Magneto from X-MEN.

Poor kid

Flat characters are those that don't change despite the obstacles they face. They are pretty much space fillers. These are characters every writer need to avoid, even when creating a secondary character or characters you meet only one time. If something traumatic happens to a character we only meet once, the reader should be left curious as to how that rest of that person's life is changed.

Note: I think the best characters are ascending and descending, simultaneously. Once again, Batman is a great example of that.

3. What does you character want, and how far are they willing to go for it?

Every character must have a goal. If they don't, they will be swept around as your story deems fit. Not only does your character need to have a goal, your character needs to actively take steps to achieving that goal. They must be active. If something is constantly happening to your character (and they never do the happening themselves) you have a weak character.

Limits are also important for every character considering a good conflict pushes your character further than he or she has ever been pushed (though not necessarily to their limit). You need to figure out your character's breaking point (because EVERYONE has one) and decide how your character will respond when pushed to that limit, and whether or not you will push them that far.

As you create your character, you'll come to realize that they soon take on  a life of their own. Your story becomes less about you (the writer) dictating how your character will respond and more about your character responding to a situation because of who they are. Not all characters are strong enough to withstand being pushed to their breaking point. Not all characters will survive it. Hell, breaking your character may transform them from an ascending character to a descending one. Another Batman example:

Harvey Dent AKA Two-Face

Ultimately, knowing where you want to go with your story will definitely help mold stronger characters. To pantsers, that doesn't mean you're hopeless. What it does mean is that your story will play out based upon how your character forms. You may suddenly think of a spectacular ending for your story, but if your character's personality doesn't match your new idea, you're kinda screwed.

Have any other tips for creating strong 3D characters? Share them in the comments below.

May 22, 2013

Query Kombat Tournament Line-Up


Let me know if you don't know why your entry disappeared. Email us at querykombat at yahoo dot com ASAP.

New picks added.

First off, I want to give a HUGE thanks to everyone who entered the tournament. Never did it cross our minds that Query Kombat would become as successful as it has. Thank you.

With over 210 entries in our inbox, we had a very tough time choosing who would advance into the tournament. For some, as little as a comma was grounds for elimination. We even had to pass up on some exceptional entries for no reason at all. Just because you didn't make it into the tournament doesn't mean your query or first page isn't good. And just because your query and first page ARE good/great/excellent doesn't mean you shouldn't strive to make them even better and help your fellow writer advance to the next level.

That being said, we hope help some of you (who didn't make it in the tournament) with your queries. Post your twitter name and entry nickname in the comments of ONE of our blogs. We will critique as many entries as we can over twitter. They will be general critiques, nothing in-depth. I have no idea how many crits we will be able to do. That all depends on how much time we have left over after formatting everything for the tournament. Be patient with us.

Now, to get to what you've all been waiting for: the Query Kombat kontestants...

Adult Kontestants:

Dangerous Politics: Adult Thriller
To Die For: Adult Thriller
Tall Ships and Magic: Adult Historical Fantasy
Mississippi CrazyPants: Women's Fiction
WytchCraft: Adult Urban Fantasy
Nostalgic Dreamer: Adult Contemp. Romance
Like-Minded Individuals: Adult Thriller
History Hound: Adult Historical Fiction (2nd Entry)
McTavish Academy: Adult Urban Fantasy
Penny Lane Grows up: Women's Fiction
Dr. Thermo: Adult Science Fiction
Sway Me Buble: Women's Fiction
The Decapitator: Adult Urban Fantasy
Meryl-and-I: Women's Fiction
The Fisherman: Adult Literary Suspense
Aztecs in Space: Adult Science Fiction
Zone Tripper: Adult Science Fiction
BeelzebubBasher: Adult Historical Fiction
The Swimmer: Adult Social Science Fiction
Champagne and Hotdogs: Women's Fiction
Knights in Shining Armani: Adult Contemp. Romance (new)

New Adult Kontestants:

O Captain, My Captain: NA Contemporary
Kicking Ash: NA Fantasy
Avenging Angels: NA Urban Fantasy

Young Adult Kontestants:

HeadScarfJazz: YA Contemporary
Lies and Lovers: YA Contemp. (in verse)
Repo Girl: YA Contemporary
TheSpaceMafia: YA Science Fiction
Minna Gray: YA Futuristic Fantasy
Not Odette: YA Fantasy
Burrito Thief: YA Fantasy
Elementary Girl: Alt Historical Mystery
DAMNED: YA Dark Fantasy
DreamPirate: YA Crime
Alien Prep School Confidential: YA Science Fiction
Denali: YA Science Fiction
Multitude of Death Stars: YA Science Fiction
Spirit Slayer: YA Southern Gothic
Misfit Apocalypse: YA Science Fiction
Broken Jar: YA Contemporary
The Little Red Head: YA Fantasy
BourneMW: YA Science Fiction
SharkyMalarkey:  YA Contemporary
Supergeeker: YA Fantasy
Colorblind: YA Science Fiction
Villainous Wizard: YA Contemporary Fantasy
FistsofFury: YA Thriller
Revenant: YA Urban Fantasy
SugarTales: YA Contemporary
Sillius: YA Contemporary
RedDryad: YA Paranormal Fiction
Tricks aren't for Kids: YA Contemporary
Bridget Meets Georgia in Homage to Jane: YA Romance


JungleVendetta: MG Science Fiction
Troglin Snot: MG Fantasy
Too Many Legs to Play Baseball: MG Fantasy
Wishwell: MG Contemporary
Zombie Barbers: MG Comedy
Strongarm Odyssey: MG Fantasy
One-Eyed Cat: MG Mystery
Eye Above You: MG Contemporary 
Interstellar Pez: MG Science Fiction (new)

May 19, 2013



We’re taking a break from our behind the scenes madness to bring you a few rules about how the actual Query Kombat tournament will work. 

But first, some dates: The post to announce the Kombatants will go live on Friday, May 24 unless we have it ready sooner. (It’s looking likely so I won’t bother mentioning a time. We are narrowing down the spots quickly so watch twitter for updates.) Nicknames will be used instead of names or book titles so I hope everyone remembers theirs. If you don’t, we’ll laugh at you. 

No names will be used in the matchup rounds either, only nicknames.

Regardless of how soon we announce the Kombatants, the first round will start on Tuesday, May 28, right after Memorial Day. Michelle4Laughs will try to post all the match ups by 8:00 am EDT, but please don’t rush to comment for reasons spelled out in the judging section of this post.

64 Kombatants (this includes the Free Pass winners) will be paired into 32 posts for the first round. Yes, we will try to match age categories together, though not genres. (A YA Contemporary may be pitted against a YA Fantasy.) This will totally depend on numbers. As you can imagine, we received fewer NA entries and more YA entries. We’ll do the best we can to make the matchups as fair as possible, but we are not limiting our picks by requiring a certain amount for each age group. 

We are picking what we think are the best entries. Remember we are victims of subjective tastes as much as the next person. Great entries will be left out. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the game. 

The matchups (except for age category) will be chosen randomly. We will set the matchups entirely by who the Kombatants are next to in the winning picks file. This means it will probably sort out by the date and time you entered. 

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 QK 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.

After the first round, entry matchups will be determined by the brackets. Kombatants will be randomly assigned to a bracket based on their age category. Again it will come down to your order in our winning picks file.


Our fantastic judges will cast their votes under aliases in order to vote honestly and freely. (Go here to see the nicknames they have chosen.) Voting for the first round will take place from 8am Tuesday, May 28th to 8pm Monday, June 3rd  EDT.  (For more information on the dates of other rounds, go here.) The winners of the first round will be announced on June 4th.

Judges will vote as follows: VICTORY: Kombatant’s nickname. They may or may not leave a detail reason regarding their choice. However 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 matchups containing a friend, CP, or Beta. Due to the length of this contest, certain judges may sit out a round as needed due to Kombat fatigue.

In the event of a matchup vote tie, the round host will cast the tie-breaker vote. In the first round that will be Michelle4Laughs and so on.

Now here comes the unique and important part!  We would like the judges’ votes to be easily located. Therefore, we are asking them to place their votes as a reply to the first comment in each matchup post. As soon as all the matchup posts are live, one of the hosts will go through and make 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.

In order for this to work, people cannot rush to comment. The round host has to have time to get the first comment up on all 32 posts of the first 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 comments posted before the judges’ section will be deleted. 

We understand 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 head-to-head competitions, commenting is a delicate subject. We don’t want feelings hurt and we don’t want people leaving 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. Since we want every entry to get as much feedback as possible, we will allow open commenting.

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, tell them 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 pages felt flat because…, the concept is unique because…

Please, no ‘cheerleading’ comments in the first or second round. (Friendly cheerleading will be allowed in the final rounds.) In the early rounds, if you want to cheer on your friends or CPs, do it on twitter. Try and give equal time to both Kombatants in a matchup. Don’t let someone remain left out. If you see a matchup 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 having fun or winning. We want all the entries to receive helpful advice to make their query and page stronger. Please remember this and be kind and thoughtful. Writers are amazing people; they go out of their way to help. We’re 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 matchups. 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 matchup, 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’re sure there will be ‘no hard feelings’ comments. If there are, they will be deleted. We warned you you’d need thick skin for the tournament. We don’t want a trend of people apologizing before they give feedback. That just takes up more time and space. Give constructive (not destructive) feedback and apologies are unnecessary.

Getting knocked out of the tournament or not getting picked to be in the tournament is no indication of a story’s quality. We received roughly 215 entries to fill 61 spots. ONE missing comma could have taken you out of the running. To those in the tournament, the decisions we have to make are going to be unimaginably difficult. But remember, of 215 entries, YOU were chosen to be in the tournament. Whether you’re out in the first round or the fifth, that means something.

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. 

Now back to making picks.   

May 13, 2013

Query Kombat Kickoff


BUT DO NOT SEND IT UNTIL 11AM EDT today! Read below for more details.

For full details (how it'll work, what it is, and more), go here and here.  To see the agents involved, go here. And to see the judges and mentors, go here.

The submission window opens today, Monday, May 13 at 11AM and closes on Friday, May 17th at 11AM 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 if less than 64 entries are received. (64 is the number of entries that will actually get into the contest.) Kontestants will be revealed May 24th and the tournament will kick off on May 28th.

We HOPE to set up so that each bracket is a different age group, but that all depends on the genre and audience of the entries we receive. Fingers crossed!

The tournament email address is querykombat @ yahoo dot com

Put on your thick skin and get those submissions—Ready! Set! Go! GO GO GO!!

May 10, 2013

It's the Query Kombat Danger Zone

Wahooo! Query Kombat will start at 11am EDT on Monday, May 13th and that’s just a few days away! Below is a refresher of the submissions guidelines. 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. Knowing how writers worry, confirmation emails will be sent to ensure we got your submission and it didn’t end up in Siberia. If you don't receive an auto-response, drop me a line on my contact me page and I will investigate...which reminds me of a joke...

Lol, that's a knee slapper.

Anyway, you should know that Michelle, SC, and I have very different tastes so that should insure a large variety in what makes the contest cut. (I personally focus more on the first page than the query.)

Now, on to the fun stuff.

Who can resist a groovy koala?
"My milkshake bring all the koala's to the yard..."

If you are chosen for Query Kombat there will be up to eleven judges going through each matchup. The very same cool judges we boasted about last week.

Since the kontestants get to invent amazing nicknames, naturally the judges want one, too! Hey! You can't hog all the fun. To recognize our wonderful judges and know the vote is legit, here is a list of the nicknames they’ve chosen:


Yep, we sound like a cuckoo version of the Justice League.

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. And a BIG shout out to all the agents involved. We could offer so much diversity if it weren't for them.

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 if less than 64 entries are received. Kontestants will be revealed May 24th and the tournament will kick off on May 28th on Michelle’s blog.

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 total queries will enter into the tournament.

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: A short, unique nickname for your entry [colon] your genre (audience included). Do not skip this step or your entry will be deleted. Example:

Magigeddon: YA Fantasy

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 and 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're shorter.

***The four Free Pass winners should include “Free Pass” before their nickname in the subject line to ensure their spot.

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

Name: Mike Anthony
Email address:

Entry Nickname: Magigeddon

Title: Dot Reaper
Word count: 80,000
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.

(mine is really really short)

Only include the meat of your query. No bio. Queries may be up to 350 words, but 250 is strongly preferred. Names and emails 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 into the third round, you will not have another 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—Ready! Set! Go on May 13!

May 2, 2013

Query Kombat Judges and Mentors

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

But before I get to the judges and mentors, I have a free pass winner to announce! Drumroll please!

HeadscarfJazz is my pick!!!!

Even with just the nickname and the blurb, I find myself constantly thinking about the premise of the work. I feel like the nickname truly encompasses the story, and I find myself really really REALLY wanting to read it. The premise resonates with me on a deeper level than I can really put in words, like the book and I are connected...I don't know, it's weird. Maybe I was a Muslim woman in a previous life o_0

Check out SC and Michelle's blog (links in the top right-hand corner) for their pick.

Free pass winners: during the submission window, please put FREEPASS in the subject line of your submission email. Subject line formatting guidelines should also be followed.

Now, to introduce...

our fabulous judges:

Terri Bruce is not able to join us for the tournament as anticipated. But we've brought two more judges into our fabulous ensemble. Please welcome Darci Cole and Jennifer Malone. (Cue applause)

Brenda Drake
Brenda writes young adult and middle grade novels. She runs contests and holds workshops on her blog .Look for her debut young adult novel, LIBRARY JUMPERS, coming February 2014 and its sequels February 2015 and February 2016 from Month9Books.
Check out her site
Find her on Facebook

Rhiann Wynn-Nolett
Rhiann writes YA/NA fiction and is thrilled to be represented by Stefanie Lieberman of Janklow & Nesbit.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter
Find her on Facebook

Angie Sandro
For Angie Sandro, writing is as necessary as breathing. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary, LLC.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter
Find her on Facebook
Mindy McGinnis
Also participating as a mentor
Mindy McGinnis is the author of NOT A DROP TO DRINK, coming 9/24/13 from Katherine Tegen / Harper Collins. She is also a YA librarian and overactive blogger at Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire.
Here's her site
Find her on Facebook

Lizzy Charles
Lizzy Charles, represented by Jamie Bodnar Drowley, is a YA contemp romance author who loves characters brave enough to face themselves, adventure stories, and anything with a thread of romance. Look for her debut novel, PRIMER, Fall 2013 from Swoon Romance of Month9Books.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter

Mike Anthony
Mike Anthony loves writing about the tough stuff.  Whether it's YA, NA, or adult,  he enjoys dragging his characters through hell to toughen 'em up a bit. He's interested in reading anything with quirky characters, or that teaches a hard lesson. And if you can make him laugh, you've won his heart.
Follow his blog

He is a YA and adult writer currently working hard(er) on a YA Fantasy about a teenage girl living with all the pressure and currents of an underwater world. In terms of authors, he is a HUGE JK Rowling and Victor Hugo fan. And he's a guy. Look at his icon. It's so hard to make that clear when you go by "SC"
Check out his blog
Follow him on Twitter
See what he's reading on GoodReads

Phoenix Sullivan
In the corporate world, Phoenix was a professional writer and editor for 23 years. Before that, she was a registered veterinary technician, working with small animal clinics and wildlife rehab centers. Today, she lives on a small farm in North Texas where she writes thrillers and fantasies. She also serves as the general manager of Steel Magnolia Press, an author consortium anchored by New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors Jennifer Blake and Christina Skye.
Check out her blog
Steel Magnolia Press
Summer Heacock

Summer is a writer of Women's Fiction and whatever else pops into her head, but a reader of anything she can get her hands onto. She exists as a mommy, wife, writer, geekling, and is repped by the fabulous Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter

Darci Cole
Darci Cole is a stay-at-home-mom of two perfect little boys and wife to the best husband in the world. Her home is *always* spotless and lovely, ready for visitors day or night. She loves Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Marvel movies, Mythbusters, and being Mormon. She is an Editorial Intern for Entangled Publishing, and spends her massive amounts of free time writing YA Fantasy, prowling Twitter, and reading for her incredible critique partners.
Follow her on Twitter
Find her on Facebook
Check out her blog

Michelle Hauck
Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Her epic fantasy, Kindar's Cure, is being published by Divertir Publishing in May 2013. Her short story, Frost and Fog, was chosen by The Elephant's Bookshelf Press for their summer 2013 anthology.
Check out her blog
Follow her on Twitter
Find her on Facebook
See what she's reading on GoodReads

Jennifer Malone
She's a contemporary middle grade and YA writer with a love of juvenile pop culture (if it was an ABC Family Movie, she probably can quote it). She also teaches in the Film program at Boston University, drawing on her experiences as former New England Head of Publicity and Promotions for 20th Century Fox and Miramax Films.
Check out her blog.Follow her on twitter.

The BEST query trainers in the land:

Rebecca Yarros
Rebecca is a YA/NA author represented by Jamie Bodnar Drowley of Inklings Literary. She loves strong female characters, worlds she can get lost in, and great romance... oh, and brownies too.
Check out her blog
Check out her website
Follow her on Twitter

Richard Pearson
Richard Pearson grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. At Rhodes College, he took numerous courses in theatre and creative writing (though his major was Sociology) and has never stopped writing or performing since graduating in 2004. Aware that he had to pay the bills somehow, Richard worked as a paralegal for many years, but eventually decided (thanks to some loving coaxing by his husband) to attend law school in 2007. After graduating from Rutgers School of Law in 2010, Richard passed both the New York and New Jersey state bar exams. He currently practices part-time out of his home in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Check out his blog
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Brianna Shrum
Hello all! There will be no third-person here. Because, well, my brain doesn't quite function that way. So, a little about me. I've been writing since I was a wee bairn on my grandpa’s knee. We wrote fantastically silly poetry together. I never even considered, however, that being an author was possible. Once I finally realized that it was, though, that was it.So, now, I’m a writer of books. I love all things dark, twisty, and strange…I have a love for fairy tales and villains and things that go bump in the night. But meet me in real life, and you would have zero idea. I’m rather sunny, and extremely nerdy, and would rather do karaoke in a room full of people than brood in a dark, shadowy corner.I live in Colorado with my husband (who is also my high school sweetheart. Cue the ‘Awww’) and my crazy toddler. We read him lots of stories. We’re story people.
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Jean Oram
Jean Oram has worked as a freelance editor and was once agented for her nonfiction work. She is a moderator at the fabulous writer's and has had several short stories published. She is currently celebrating her first indie publication, Champagne and Lemon Drops: A Blueberry Spring Chick Lit Contemporary Romance, and is working away on book two.
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She's an author of middle grade and young adult novels represented by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media. Her debut middle grade fantasy novel, MONSTROUS, will be out from HarperCollins Children’s Books in 2014
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Jennie Bozic
Jennie writes sci fi and fantasy for young adults by night, and blow things up on television during day. She changes her hair color frequently, and she's represented by Steven Axelrod.
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Vicki Weavil
Vicki Lemp Weavil is the author of the YA Fantasy, CROWN OF ICE, which is out on submission, as well as two adult scifi novels. She is represented by Jennifer Mishler at The Literary Counsel.
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As you can see, we have an awesome array of talent for this tournament. If you enter, your query will definitely come out better. Remember, just two more weeks until the submission window opens. Good luck to all.

Quick sidenote: I got a new car. The stress of the search is over. Thanks to everyone who shared a kind word. I love our little community. You guys and gals are awesome!