Apr 18, 2017

Query Kombat 2017 Is Nearly Here!





Bloggers Laura, Michael, and Michelle are back again to bring you the fifth annual Query Kombat tournament.

Contest Mission: To showcase the work of diverse and talented novelists, while providing a learning environment that unites the writing community through knowledge, kindness, and a little friendly kompetition.

The Basics


Query Kombat will host 64 kombatants in a single-elimination, tournament style query-off. Entries will go head to head (one on one) with one another until only ONE entry remains. There will be a total of six rounds in Query Kombat. 64 entries in round one, 32 in round two, 16 in round three, 8 in round four, 4 in round five, and 2 in round six.

Unlike traditional tournaments, we won't be using tournament brackets. Entries will be matched up based on target audience and genre. We'll continue grouping that way until it's no longer possible.

If you secure a spot in the tournament, your query and the first 250 words of your manuscript (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. Considering last year, votes may come down to personal tastes.

The entry with the most ‘victories’ at the end of the round will advance to the next round until only one champion remains. 

The agent round will be held after the first round. That mean the top 32 entries will make it to the agent round.

Of course, there's a twist!

The agent round will be conducted in secret. And by secret, we mean TOP SECRET. Entrants won't know who requested what—or how much—until that entrant has been eliminated from the contest.
On the plus side, winners of the first round will be able to submit and updated entry prior to the agent round. So, any feedback the judges give can be implemented before the agents see your work.

Who’s Invited to Submit:


The Query Kombat tournament is open only to unagented writers seeking representation. Your manuscript must be complete, polished, and ready to submit. If your manuscript has been in the agent round of another contest within the last six months, you are not eligible to participate in Query Kombat. Please don’t try to sneak in. The QK team includes about fifty people and a few hundreds of spectators. Someone will notice and inform us. Submissions for MG, YA, NA, and Adult works will be accepted (Sorry we aren't accepting Picture books or Chapter Books this year.). Only one entry per person. Do not attempt to submit more than one entry by using different email accounts. Again, the QK family is huge. Someone will notice.

Submissions


The submission window will open on May 17th at 9:00 AM Eastern time and close on May 19th at Noon.

We will have email confirmation. If you don't receive it within an hour of submitting your entry, contact us via twitter and let us know. Kontestants will be revealed on May 26th, and the tournament will kick off on June 2nd.

IMPORTANT: The Query Kombat team reserves the right to disqualify any entrant, at any time, for any reason. If an entrant is disqualified/drops out before the agent round, an alternate from the same host will take its place. If an entrant is disqualified/drops out after the agent round, the opposing entry will automatically advance to the next round. If an entrant is disqualified/drops out after the agent round but before new match-ups are assigned, match-ups will be assigned by random number generator with one random entry moving forward without a match. The only time we will ever disqualify an applicant is if you say or do something to blemish the spirit of query contests. Query Kombat is supposed to be fun…

So no fighting!

In order to enter the contest you MUST follow formatting guidelines, and submit during the contest window. All entries that follow said guidelines will be considered. 

In the event that we receive more than the available 64 spots (this is highly expected), Michelle, Laura, and I will savagely attack the slush pile in attempts to build the best team. We will pick (and announce) three alternates in case a submission is disqualified.

Entries should be sent to:  QueryKombat (at) gmail (dot) com.

Formatting Guidelines:

Font: Times New Roman (or an equivalent), 12pt font, single-spaced with spaces between each paragraph. No (I repeat: 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. (ex. I Fell in Love with a Ken Doll: Adult Erotica)

For the nickname, make it as unique as possible so that there are no duplicates. These will be the names used in the tournament (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: Michael Anthony
Email address: myboyfriendwasbittenbyashark (at) gmail (dot) com.
Twitter Handle: @BarbforSenate36

Title: Eunuchs and Politics
Entry Nickname: I Fell in Love with a Ken Doll
Word count: 72K
Genre: Adult Erotica (If Ownvoices please list here)

Query: 

Barbara B. Doll seemed like a woman who had it all, from the perfect body to her own dream house, McDonald's and a variety of vehicles. She even managed to become a U.S. Senator and go to the moon! However, something seemed missing. She didn't have any idea what it was until she met Ken.

Ken Dahl is funny, good-looking, and may have ties to the Illuminati. Barbara is immediately drawn to his shiny, perfect hair and teeth. When he offers to teach her surfing, they hit it off instantly. Everything seems to be going perfectly until Barbara discovers Ken has no genitalia. She must search within herself to determine whether love can overcome plastic, non-removable underwear.

EUNUCHS AND POLITICS is adult romance, complete at 75,000 words.

***THIS is NOT a PITCH but your FULL query. You may include greeting and closing. Do not include a bio or comp title.

First 250:

Words, words, and more words.

___

Do not include the chapter title.
Do not include a bio or comp title.

If the 250th word puts you in the middle of a sentence, you may go up to 258 to finish that sentence. Do not abuse and send 258 words or more. Both Pages and Google Docs will return incorrect word counts if you have hyphens, em-dashes, and ellipses. Microsoft Word counts correctly.

Please use this site to give you an accurate word count if you are concerned about your standard word counter: https://wordcounter.net/. If you must, count by hand. A properly hyphenated word is one word. Words separated by an em-dash or ellipse are two words.

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. You have several weeks to polish your work. Take advantage of it. Competition will be fierce.

Host Blogs

Because the immense amount of work ahead of us, the tournament will be hosted on three separate blogs. In order to enter the contest, you MUST follow Michael, Michelle, and Laura's blogs (Twitter is cool too). All three blogs will host the first round and agent round. The second round will be hosted by Michael and Michelle. The third round will be hosted by Laura. The fourth round will be hosted by Michael. The fifth round will be hosted by Michelle. The final round will be hosted by Laura. Have no fear, each blog will have links to all rounds so you will not get lost.

Agents and judges will be revealed soon. (As of now we have 30 agents and 27 judges!)
Questions can be left in the comments and I'll answer them as quickly as possible.


One last thing: 

Contests are very time-consuming, and in order to continue hosting each year, we’re asking contestants to give a $5-$10 donation when making their entries. Asking for donations is one way to ensure we’re able to give you the time needed to carefully consider every entry. Chosen Kontestants receive feedback from up to 27 agented/published writers on their query and first page, plus the ability to query agents they otherwise may not have connected with. Some agents even read requested contest entries before the rest of the slush pile! All Kontestants, chosen are not, receive free slush tips from the hosts and the camaraderie that develops from entering contests together. Many writers find lifelong critique partners and good friends from these contests (I did).

Donating this year is strictly voluntary. Giving a donation
does not increase your chances of being picked. Giving less than $5 or more than $10 will also have no impact on your chances. Donating will not affect how many rounds a person makes it through if chosen. People who are not able to donate will not be disqualified. 

Thanks for your understanding and your donations!



Best of luck in the tournament!







Apr 11, 2017

Query Kombat: June 2017



It's coming....



The Battle Begins

Can your query survive?
 

Query Kombat Tournament Calendar:
 
Submission Window: May 17th - 19th
First round revealed: May 26th
 
Round 1: June 2nd - 5th
Agent round: June 7th -10th
Round 2: June 14th - 16th
Round 3: June 20st - 22nd
Round 4: June 24th - 25th
Round 5: June 27th -28th
Round 6: June 30th -July 1st

Contest Mission: To showcase the work of diverse and talented novelists, while providing a learning environment that unites the writing community through knowledge, kindness, and a little friendly kompetition.

Feb 2, 2017

Award Nominee: Tag You're Dead

J.C. Lane’s TAG, YOU’RE DEAD, the 2014 Query Kombat Grand Prize Runner-Up and YA Champion, has been nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Children’s/YA mystery! The Agatha Award is presented by the annual Malice Domestic conference, which celebrates mysteries. This is the second Agatha nomination for J.C. Lane, who also writes mysteries for adults as Judy Clemens and was nominated for the Agatha for Best First Novel for TILL THE COWS COME HOME in 2004.


Tag, You're Dead Cover



Six young people play a dangerous Game of Tag in public, chasing through the crowds, streets, and buildings of Chicago. This secret, one-of-a-kind, wildly expensive Game offers a macabre twist to the childhood version…if you get Tagged, you get Dead.

Three "Its" have their reasons for buying a place in the Game. Surgically enhanced Brandy is obsessed with destroying a naturally beautiful girl. Untalented Robert covets his target's position as superstar of the basketball team. Brainiac Charles craves a battle against an intellectual equal. Given their elite social status, they reject any possible downside to the contest. Each expects the satisfaction of killing their prey, then walking away.

Hand-picked innocents play as “Runners,” under threat to their loved ones should they refuse to participate: lovely, small-town Laura; celebrated athlete Tyrese; and Amanda, gamer extraordinaire. Alone, hunted by their adversary, each feels a single hope…to survive. 

Technological wizardry controls the Game. As soon as Runners receive the “Go” signal on smartwatches locked to their wrists, the Game rockets them through the city, from the El to Michigan Avenue to the Lincoln Park Zoo. There is no time to rest. Every thirty minutes the Runner’s location is transmitted to the It, which steadily diminishes the Runner’s chance of ever reaching Home Base alive.


The Game will not end until someone is Tagged, so the Runners must choose how to play. Will they accept death? Murder their Its? Or find a way to use individual strengths to stop the Game before anyone dies?

Order your copy of TAG, YOU'RE DEAD from Amazon or wherever books are sold.




J.C. Lane is the author of Tag, You're Dead, a thriller for YA and adults. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children, where she spends her time shuttling her kids to events, baking and cooking, and binge-watching Netflix. She is a past president of Sisters in Crime and also writes mysteries under the name Judy Clemens. Those books include the Anthony and Agatha-nominated Stella Crown mysteries, the Grim Reaper series, and the stand-alone LOST SONS. She loves collecting Santa Claus figurines, Van Briggle pottery, and fun bookmarks. Connect with her at www.Jclanebooks.com.

Jan 16, 2017

NoQS Success - Valerie Bodden

Success Success Success! It's something we're all searching for, and though it's tough to find it in this industry, it's not impossible. With every success story we publish, we inspire hundreds more to try to beat the odds. I hope Valerie's journey to success will invigorate and inspire you. Who knows, maybe your story will be the next one we post!
____


You know how there are always things you want to do someday? For me, that was writing a novel. I got my start in publishing in 2006 when I landed my dream job as an editor for a school and library publisher. The next year, my first child was born, and I transitioned to a freelance role as an author for the school and library market. For the past decade or so, my day job (ha! try the job I squeeze in during naptime, bedtime, sports practice time) has been as an author of children’s nonfiction.

And though I love nonfiction, I knew something was missing. I’d started out writing stories in fourth grade (for the record, my first book was called “Enemies Are Friends,” and I still have it—thanks, mom, for keeping everything!), and I wanted to get back to that. But between raising four children and writing 200+ books, I was a little short on time.

I figured I’d get back to fiction someday—someday when I had more time (still waiting for that one), someday when my youngest was in school full time (she isn’t yet), someday when the stars aligned and the words came pouring out of me with no effort (that’s how it’s supposed to happen, isn’t it?). Fortunately, someday came out of nowhere and smacked me on the head.

I don’t even know how or why it happened, really, but one day in 2013, when my youngest was only a year old, the stories in my head and in my heart couldn’t wait a moment longer. So I started writing them down. I didn’t really think much about it at first, just opened a file and started throwing words onto the page. Though my first story ultimately stalled out and so did the next couple, they were a start, and I couldn’t go back to waiting for someday.

So when in 2014, I heard of this little thing called NaNoWriMo, I thought, I can do that. 50,000 words in a month is totally doable. No sweat. I may have been slightly delusional. Turns out it was a lot of sweat, but I did it. And when the month ended, I kept working on that story and revising it until in early 2016, I felt ready to query. I sent out a small batch of queries and then promptly got swallowed by nonfiction deadlines. By the time I emerged in the summer of 2016, I realized the novel needed another revision, so I set to it.

In the fall, I was ready to query again. I entered a few contests with agent rounds but didn’t get chosen. I debated entering Nightmare on Query Street because I felt a little contested-out, but I decided I didn’t have anything to lose by going for it. If I wasn’t chosen, I could still cold query, and if I was, I’d have the best of both worlds: a chance to be mentored by an experienced author and a chance to get in front of agents.

So I sent in my entry and didn’t forget about it, exactly, but the mentees were announced on my son’s birthday, so by the time I got done wishing him happy birthday and shipping the kids off to school, the results had already been up for a couple of hours. After going through the first two lists, I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I hadn’t made it into the contest. Then I flipped to the list for Mike’s Monsters. I had to read it three times—but every time, my manuscript, DROWNING IN AIR, appeared there. There was no one home to celebrate with. Except the dog. Fortunately, she’s a party animal.

I was paired with C.B. Catalano as my mentor. Guys, she was awesome. She really pushed me to laser-focus the stakes in my query and to end my 250 in a way that would make agents cry for more. Finally, we were both happy with my entry, and I submitted it, then settled in to wait for the agent round. This time, I didn’t forget. There may have been a lot of refreshing of my browser involved. Ultimately, I ended up with one NoQS request. But I also knew I had ended up with a much stronger query and a team of cheerleaders behind me. With Cassandra’s encouragement, I began to send out more cold queries. Then things got real.

My NoQS-perfected query led to several full requests. One that came in very quickly was from Jane Dystel of Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret. I sent the full manuscript off and settled in for the long wait. But within a few days, I received another email—Jane’s partner had loved it, and Jane was reading it. When I received an email from Jane two days later, I thought, That can’t be a good sign. She must have given up on it. But it turns out she had flown through the manuscript and wanted to call to discuss representation.

We spoke on the phone the next day, and she was so enthusiastic about representing the book and my career. The next few days were a flurry of emailing agents who still had queries and fielding more full requests and agent responses. A week later, I called Jane to accept her offer. It still hardly seems real, and I can’t wait for the next stages.

So, I guess the moral of the story is, if you’re passionate about writing (or any other pursuit), don’t wait until someday. Make today your someday.

Oh, and moral number two: the writing community is the best place in the world to be. Do you know how many people out there are pulling for you? Writers like NoQS hosts Michelle Hauck, Laura Heffernan, and Michael Anthony, along with C.B. and all the mentors, have their own lives and their own deadlines, but they freely give their time because they want to see other writers succeed—that means you. So my huge thanks to them, and my encouragement to you: if you’re considering entering a contest like this, do it!

 ******

Valerie Bodden is a YA writer and the author of more than 200 children’s nonfiction books. Her books have received critical acclaim from Booklist, Children’s Literature, Foreword Magazine, Horn Book Guide, VOYA, and School Library Journal. Valerie lives in Wisconsin with her husband, four children, one dog, two cats, a growing collection of fish, and miscellaneous bugs that her children have “rescued” from the outdoors. She spends most of her time writing or wrangling children and animals. Valerie is represented by Jane Dystel of Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.

Find her online: www.valeriebodden.com
Twitter: @ValBodden (enter to win a query and 10-page critique)

Instagram: @ValBoddenBooks