May 31, 2015

Query Kombat 1st Round Matchups

The big reveal was yesterday. Today, it's time to find out who you're going up against. This give kombatants a chance to get to know their opponent and engage in some friendly trash talk. The first round will start on Monday and the match-ups will span all our blogs.

The Four Month Plan v. Zip
The Wonderette v. A Thousand Miles Astray
Guilt by Association v. Heartland of Alberta
The Impressionistic Cow v. Lila’s Smiling Quest
Brain Gourmet v. A Pirate’s Life for Me
Broadway Baby v. Fun Friday My Ass
Teenagers Make Poor James Bond v. Over a Beryl
A Spoonful of Testosterone v. Musical Mirror Mayhem
Father vs Friend v. Grandma Guardians
My Life as a Teenage Pirate Queen v. Tiara Thief
Polar Rush v. Super Flynn’s Super Fun

Orphan Red v. Rustic Roots Burn Holes
My Future is My Past v. Greek Gods are the Best Kind of Trouble
Gender Bender v. Twin for the Win
Sand Dollar v. Change the Alphabet
Dolyn Pierce’s Headphones v. My Monster Twin is Rotting
Queen of Drones v. My Name is Poison on Your Lips
Life Sucks—I’m stuck in Podunk v. Learning to Love Tofu
Paper Girl in the Land of Yesterday v. Who Will Be Winter
Librarians, Curses, and Mysteries v. A Spicy Caper
Prince Charming & the Beast v. Guinness
A Quest for Crumbs v. Elephants Never Forget

If You Give a Girl a Redo v. Baby Blues Ruse
Forget You, Stalin v. Fighting the South
The Pied Piper v. Paranormal Fear
I Kissed a Ghoul v. Skins of the Father
No Such Thing as Coincidence v. Best(iary) Western
Texting Buddies at 8% v. Fed to the Crocodiles
Death By Dozier v. A Girl and Her Serial Killer
A Sparkling Wildflower v. Middle Grade Leverage
TRIAC Girl v. Stellar Twins Kicking it Cosmic Style
Fake Heirs Do it Better v. The One About Temples, Tyrants, and Twins

Please revisit old posts to get reacquainted with the rules. The most important: 1) wait to comment on the match-ups until we hosts have come around and made the first comment on our posts for the judges. 2) no cheerleading. Constructive comments only. 3) no commenting on your own match-ups, without exception, until the last day of judging. Make sure to revisit the rules so that Query Kombat can run smoothly.

May 30, 2015

Team Platypus-Query Kombat 2015

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

The choice was hard. Each of the hosts agonized, weighing this query against that 250. There were so many great entries. Of course, making it into a contest is no indication of the quality of your query. Many people who don't make it into contests find agents the tried-and-true way, by querying. 

Thanks to everyone who entered and everyone who made the Twitter party so fun!

To those who didn't make it into the tournament, you donned your armor and dared to dreamed of victory. You boldly walked into an arena filled with 245 gladiators, and you didn't so much as flinch or break a sweat. There are none braver than those who try, fail, and try again. I'm begging you to be brave, because all you need is talent and drive. Luck and success will follow. Don't give up. Don't doubt yourself. And...if you do, tweet me. I'll find an army to come and lift your spirits if I have to.

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

To those who made it--CONGRATULATIONS! Out of 245 entries, you made it into the top 64. You bit, you clawed, you bled, and you MADE IT! I want you to take to Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Wikipedia, don't care. Celebrate! And do it loud. And in the midst of your celebration, I want you to help me lift the spirits of those who didn't make it. Use the QueryKombat hashtag to connect with and celebrate your fellow slushies. Tweet your sagest query advice, or that quote that kept you going when you were down and out, or your grandmother's secret tapioca pudding recipe ('cause everyone love tapioca!). We're more than a community; we're a family. So spread the love.

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

Now for my picks for the tournament. To see Michelle and SC's picks, check out their blogs. Kombatants don't miss the rules on judging and commenting included at the bottom of this post.

Please @ me with your entry name so I can follow you on Twitter.


The Wonderette v. The Real World
Polar Rush
The Past is My Future
If You Give a Girl a Redo
Rustic Roots Burn Holes
Forget You, Stalin, We're Outta Here
Paranormal Fear, An Exorcist's Murder Trial
Heartland of Alberta

Young Adult:

Fed to the Crocodiles
Life Sucks--I'm Stuck in Podunk
Fake Heirs Do It Better
A Girl and Her Serial Killer
Skins of the Father
My Monster Twin is Rotting
My Life as a Teenage Pirate Queen

New Adult:

No NA picks

Middle Grade:

Paper Girl in the Land of Yesterday
Middle Grade Leverage


Change the Alphabet, Please

Important Information for Kombatants:

The first round will start on Monday, June 1st on all three blogs. We will try to post all the match-ups by 8:00 am EST, but please don’t rush to comment for reasons we will spell out under the judging section.

There will be 64 Kombatants and these will be paired into 32 posts for the first round. Yes, we will try to match age categories and genres together. This will totally depend on numbers. As you can imagine, we received a much lesser number of NA entries and a much greater number of YA entries. We’ll do the best we can to make the match-ups fair, but we are not limiting our Kombatant picks by requiring so many numbers of each age group. We are picking what we think are the best entries.

In the event a Kombatant has to drop out of Query Kombat there will be two possibilities. If they drop out before the first round begins, they will be replaced with an alternate Kombatant contestant. (Alternate Kombatants will not be announced beforehand. We don’t want people hoping someone drops out. We may announce them after the contest ends.) If a Kombatant drops out after the contest has started, their opponent automatically advances to the next round. Any Kombatant that receives an offer of representation will please notify us so we may withdraw them. Receiving a full request or partial is not grounds for withdrawal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Enough preaching. Here are some more commenting rules:

We would like each Kombatant to give feedback on at least 6 match-ups.You’re on your honor system here, we won’t be monitoring this. We’ve got enough to do. (lol!) We’d also like each person who entered Query Kombat to leave at least one comment on a match-up, but feel free to do many more! And please we ask that Kombatants who are eliminated, come back and leave comments on the next round. We still want to hear what you think. We need you to make this contest a success!

Kombatants, please don’t comment on your own entry, whether that is to thank people or to explain/rationalize your entry. There will be so many comments that we ask you to wait until the last day of voting to offer thanks or congratulate someone, or leave any other type of comment on your own entry. If you want to thank people before the last day of voting, twitter is the place.

We are counting on there being no hard feeling comments. If there are, they will be deleted. We warned you’ll need a thick skin and it’s true. But we believe this can be done in a friendly manner.

Getting knocked out of the contest or not getting picked is no indication of a story’s quality. After all, we only have snapshots to go upon. All the hosts are very excited for Query Kombat to start, and we hope you are too. Feel free to leave us questions in the comments or just shout out your excitement. Follow us on twitter for more updates.

May 29, 2015

Query Kombat Judges' Secret Identity

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

Library Junkie
Ice Ice Outpost
Jamie Blythe
Dire Wolf
Romilda Vane
Jackie Jormp-Jomp
The Trickster
Judge Valkyrie
Mrs. Pollifax
Scott Pilgrim
Princess of Llamas
Regina Phalan
Sally Sparrow
Felicity Porter
Hot Lunch
Sir Coffeeton
Princess Buttercup
Bookalicious Mama
Mallory Pike
Mid-size Car
The Praetorian
Dr. T.J. Eckleburg

May 15, 2015

The Agents of Query Kombat 2015!

For a more complete list of Query Kombat agents, please visit Michelle and SC's blog.

Before we dive into the list, I'd like to remind you of the Query Kombat submission info. It can all be found here. Read, reread, and rereread that post before you hit send on your submission. There are NO take-backsies!

--Agents of Query Kombat--


Mark Gottlieb


Mark Gottlieb’s focus on publishing began at Emerson College, where he was a founding member of the Publishing Club, later its President, overseeing its first publication and establishing the Wilde Press.

After graduating with a degree in writing, literature and publishing, Mark began his career with the Vice President of Berkley Books (Penguin), working with leading editors.

His first position at the Trident Media Group literary agency was in foreign rights, selling the books of clients around the world. Mark later worked as Executive Assistant to Robert Gottlieb, Chairman of Trident, with responsibility for organizing/managing diverse authors and their complex business transactions. He next assumed the position of audio rights agent. Since Mark has managed the audio rights business, the annual sales volume has more than doubled. Mark showed great initiative and insight in identifying talented writers.

In passing the Audio Department's torch, Mark is building his own client list of writers. He is excited to work directly with authors, helping to manage and grow their careers with all of the unique resources that are available to Trident.

Read more about Mark and Trident Media Group here.


Melissa Jeglinski

A graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in English with a writing concentration, Melissa began her career as an editor with Harlequin Enterprises. Looking to work with a variety of authors and genres, she joined The Knight Agency in 2008. With over two decades experience in the publishing industry, Melissa has fostered her clients to National prominence including a recent Newbery Honor. She is a member of RWA and AAR. Melissa is currently seeking projects in the following areas: Romance (contemporary, category, historical, inspirational) Young Adult, Middle Grade, Women’s Fiction and Mystery.

Read more about Melissa and The Knight Agency here.


Victoria Lowes


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

I’m looking for both commercial and literary fiction as well as young adult titles. My favorite genres are historical fiction, suspense, mysteries, upmarket women’s fiction, and romance.

Read more about Victoria & The Bent Agency here.


Laura Zats

Laura Zats graduated from Grinnell College with degrees in English and anthropology. While completing her studies, she took advantage of her love of Young Adult (YA) literature and wrote a thesis on identity formation in YA. She’s been working as an editor since 2011 and has held positions at companies in both the US and the UK. In 2013, Laura joined Team Red Sofa as an intern but quickly became more of an apprentice, leveling up to Associate Agent in the same year.

Even though she loved YA books first, titles that are Middle Grade, romance, and Sci-fi/Fantasy have been slowly taking hold. Picking a favorite genre now would be like choosing between puppies and kittens. In her free time, Laura likes to craft, swing dance, bake, and binge on Netflix marathons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who.

Read more about Laura and Red Sofa Literary here.


Michelle Richter


Michelle Richter is an Associate Agent at Fuse Literary. She came to Fuse after eight years at St. Martin’s Press, where she edited Melissa Joan Hart’s MELISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL, among others, and worked on a variety of fiction and nonfiction. She has a Masters of Science in Publishing from Pace University.

Michelle is seeking fiction including book club reads, literary fiction, magical realism, well-crafted women’s commercial fiction, thrillers, and mysteries (particularly amateur sleuth, traditional, and police procedurals). In nonfiction, she’s seeking pop culture, fashion, film, television, science, medicine, sociology/social trends, and economics. She has a soft spot for stories set in Boston, Ireland, and Russia.

Read more about Michelle and Fuse Literary here.


Sara Sciuto

Sara Sciuto is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego, and also completed literature coursework at NYU. Her first industry experience was working on film and foreign rights with Taryn Fagerness Agency. From there she joined Full Circle Literary where she specialized in children’s literature and was there for over threeyears before joining Fuse Literary. 

Sara is actively building her list with a focus on middle grade and young adult fiction; in particular, contemporary, historical, gothic/thriller/horror, sci-fi, mystery/suspense, fantasy and other speculative fiction. For YA she’s especially drawn to literary voices with commercial appeal (i.e. no chick-lit, please). For MG, her tastes are broader and she seeks everything from provoking historical to fun/silly adventure projects. She has a particular soft spot for gritty narratives, anything with international or regional locales, period settings, and anything with artistic themes.

Sara is also looking for standout picture books, especially those with a quirky or humorous narrative; and welcomes author/illustrators, as well as conceptual or art-driven projects. She’s also considering select adult nonfiction in the areas of craft, design, how-to, lifestyle, and pop culture. For children’s nonfiction, she’s open to a wider range of both narrative and prescriptive projects. Currently, she is NOT considering any adult fiction (all genres).

Read more about Sara and Fuse Literary here.


Clelia Gore

Clelia Gore runs the kid lit division of the Seattle-based agency, Martin Literary Management. Clelia acquires just about everything under the children's book umbrella -- picture books, middle grade and YA, with a particular interest in nonfiction across all genres. Clelia's most recently published client is teen scientist Jack Andraka, author of the YA memoir BREAKTHROUGH: HOW ONE TEEN INNOVATOR IS CHANGING THE WORLD (HarperCollins).

Read more about Clelia and Martin Literary Management here.


 Amy Jameson


Amy began her career in New York with esteemed literary agency Janklow & Nesbit Associates, where she launched Shannon Hale’s career. She currently represents New York Times bestselling author Jessica Day George and a select crop of new authors. Amy loves children’s literature, and is actively seeking Middle Grade and Young Adult projects.

Read more about Amy and A+B Works here.


May 8, 2015

Judges for Query Kombat 2015 (partial list)

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

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


For a completely list of Query Kombat Judges, visit Michelle and SC's blog as well!

Judges of Query Kombat 2015

Stephanie Scott is a Young Adult writer whose debut ALTERATIONS is set for release in 2016 by Bloomsbury Spark. She is an active member of Romance Writers of America including the YA chapter YARWA. She loves helping other writers, and this year will be her second as a Pitch Wars mentor. Besides writing, she enjoys dance fitness, cat memes, and binging on TV with her tech-of-all-trades husband. She has a life goal to cosplay Hoth Leia from The Empire Strikes Back. A Midwest girl at heart, she lives outside of Chicago.

twitter: @StephScottYA


Annika Sharma was born in New Delhi and brought up in the United States, where she moved with her parents as a baby. A proud alum, she graduated from Penn State University with dual degrees in Biobehavioral Health and Neuro-Psychology, and minors in Biology and Human Development and Family Studies. She received her Master's degree in Early Childhood Special Education before pursuing her dreams of becoming a writer, landing her agent Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group while daylighting as a preschool teacher. The Rearranged Life, her first novel, was written in the month before graduate school.

Annika, a Gryffindor and Scorpio, spends much of her time dreaming of adventure, working on her next book, going on Starbucks runs with family and friends, shopping online and watching superhero movies.

The Rearranged Life will hit shelves on May 15th, 2015, published by Curiosity Quills Press.

Author, The Rearranged Life (Amazon order link)
Find me here: Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads // Website


Carrie DuBois-Shaw is a YA writer and playwright. She recently relocated to San Francisco where she is enjoying the abundance of independent bookstores, sourdough bread, and fog. Carrie and her co-writer, Betsy Aldredge, were named Grand Champions of Query Kombat 2014 for their YA Contemporary Romance, Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things. The entry, nicknamed “Shalom Sasquatch,” led to signing with the wonderful Christa Heschke at McIntosh and Otis.

Twitter: @Carriedubois


Betsy Aldredge is a former magazine editor turned communications professional and YA/NA writer. Betsy and her co-writer, Carrie DuBois-Shaw, were named Grand Champions of Query Kombat 2014 for their YA Contemporary Romance, Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things. The entry, nicknamed “Shalom Sasquatch,” led to signing with the wonderful Christa Heschke at McIntosh and Otis.

Twitter: @betsyaldredge


Melissa Caruso was born on the summer solstice and went to school in an old mansion with a secret door, but despite this auspicious beginning has yet to develop any superpowers. She wrote her first books in crayon at age four and hasn’t stopped telling stories since.

Melissa lives in Massachusetts with her video game designer husband, two superlative daughters, a Labrador, and a pair of cats. She graduated with honors in Creative Writing from Brown University and has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Massachusetts - Amherst. She writes YA fantasy, and is represented by Naomi Davis of Inklings Literary.



Sarah Glenn Marsh is the author of the forthcoming YA historical fantasy novel Fear the Drowning Deep (available September 2016 from Sky Pony Press). An avid fantasy reader from the day her dad handed her a copy of The Hobbit and promised it would change her life, she’s been making up words and worlds ever since. She lives in Virginia with her husband, four rescued greyhounds, and some pretty fish. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found antiquing, painting, or playing board and video games. Come say hi to her at:



Laura Heffernan is a California-born women's fiction writer, represented by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary. One Saturday morning when she was four or five, Laura sat down at the family's Commodore 64 and typed out her first short story. She's written both fiction and non-fiction ever since.

In her spare time, Laura likes travel, baking, board games, and new experiences. She lives in the northeast, with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts. There are rumors that summer may one day arrive in this region, and she’s pretty excited.
Twitter: @LH_Writes


When she's not busy writing about life on other planets, magical places with hidden dangers, or things that go bump in the night, Wendy Nikel enjoys a quiet life with her husband and two very imaginative sons. She is a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) and contributes to the Operation Awesome blog. She loves chai tea, photography, board games, and road trips. You can find a full list of her published short fiction on her website:


Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters. Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and the world’s most rambunctious four-year-old. Christina is represented by Kevan Lyon.



Richard Pearson is the author of THE ROLE a LGBT Coming of Age novel which will be published by Lethe Press in February of 2016. Richard grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. As a child he consistently performed, often without request, for anyone who would listen to him. He eventually found his audience, and spent most of his years in high school rehearsing various plays and musicals. At Rhodes College, Richard 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 Jersey City, New Jersey.

Twitter: @PEART10
Lethe Press: