Jul 17, 2017

A NoQS Success: Ash Otterloo

My favorite type of success story--one that came from our contests! Let this bit of inspiration follow you into Pitchwars and the fall contests. Here's the story from Ash.
I put the finishing touches on my MG fantasy manuscript CATTYWAMPUS in late May of 2016, spent July-Sept in rounds of revisions with notes from my beta readers and critique partners. Right before I started my first round of queries, on a whim, I noticed a blog schedule for #NoQS and entered the story. Having entered contests a few times before, I knew it would be a fun experience and hoped to snag helpful feedback before I leapt into the query trenches.

When my name popped up on Mike’s team list, I promptly exploded with excitement. My second stroke of luck was being paired with the clever Kate Foster as my mentor, who I’d received a bit of constructive feedback from in a past contest with a shorter project. (A good reminder to us all to receive constructive criticism gracefully, even in rejection!) We polished my query and pages, and it got a significant amount of requests.

By the end of October, I found myself on the phone chatting with the incomparable Lauren Spieller. I’ll admit it: I had instant agent-crush. Besides being fun to chat with, she asked all the clarity-bringing questions about plot development, was enthusiastic and straightforward (swoon), and asked for an R&R, along with suggestions for sensitivity reads. Why, hello, sweaty palms. Obviously, I was eager to give it a whack.

I worked hard on revisions, found some amazing sensitivity readers, and resubmitted in March. Another R&R. And y’all. I am so grateful for last round of revisions, too, because that’s where I truly found my protagonists (and discovered an underground bunker of feelings to pour into the manuscript.) I re-submitted and got a phone call. THE phone call. (Dun, dun, dunnnnn!)

When I answered my cellphone, Lauren offered me representation with Triada Us. Only barely did I manage to refrain from shrieking directly into the receiver. As before, Lauren was supportive and excited about the story, and had great thoughts for final revision notes. After recovering from a round of omygodomygodomygod, I was eager to accept. I’d researched agencies and MG agents thoroughly, and this was indeed my dream representation. A couple of days later, I officially accepted the offer and went out with my family to celebrate with pizza.

My final thoughts: Writing can be lonely, sometimes. There are moments (months) when you have to be the one who believes in your work, even though part of you worries you might be wasting your time. And when the opportunity to make a helpful connection comes, even in the form of a constructive “no”, tackle it and suck every bit of wisdom from it. Learn, and be kind to yourself. And don’t give up.

Ash Van Otterloo lives just outside of Chattanooga with her long time best friend and four wild forest-children. She's regarded fondly by her two cats, and, like a cat, she enjoys people who offer her good food regularly. Whether or not she's a witch is a topic for gossip among her neighbors. The ones, at least, that she's not yet turned into newts.

Jul 10, 2017

QK Grand Champion: Erin King

Query Kombat Grand Champion
Erin King

Erin King hails from the deserts of Las Vegas, where she was a serious high school choir nerd (no, really, we won a Grammy), turned songwriter, turned novelist. These days, she lives in Manhattan with her designer husband, where they pretend “creatives” can afford the city. She writes Young Adult fiction while her three native New Yorkers attend elementary school, and takes her life in her hands every time she goes for a run in Central Park. She’s anaphylactically allergic to exercise. Yes, it’s a thing. However, she hopes to survive to write many more fantastical tales about fictional teenagers.

Erin lives on Twitter @erinkingwrites, or online at erinkingwrites.com.

QK Adult Champion: Maxym Martineau

Query Kombat Adult Champion

Maxym Martineau

Maxym Martineau is a staff writer and copy editor by day and a fantasy romance writer by night. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Arizona State University and a borderline unhealthy addiction to Dr. Pepper and coffee. When she's not reading or writing, she can be found playing with her dogs or binge-watching TV shows with her husband. She also appreciates a well-made margarita.

Twitter: @maxymmckay
Website: www.maxymmagazine.com

QK Young Adult Champion: Tracy C. Gold

Query Kombat Young Adult Champion

Tracy C. Gold

Every day I strive to help people learn, spark conversations, think about “what’s next,” and play with cute animals.

I spend most of my time teaching, editing, and writing. I cofounded Sounding Sea Writers’ Workshop, which holds writing classes and provides writing tutoring. I teach composition at the University of Baltimore, and I write short stories and novels. I also intern for literary agent Carrie Pestritto.

When I’m not working, I’m devouring a novel, riding my ex-racehorse L.J., running, biking, or at least pining for the trail.

 If you’re a Terp or a Tar Heel, you may want to skip this part, because I’m a proud alum of Duke University. I earned my Masters of Fine Arts in Fiction at the University of Baltimore.

P.S., if you’re wondering why the middle initial is everywhere, it’s because I have no relationship with Tracy Gold, the actress in Growing Pains. I was actually named after a dog, which is cool by me.

Twitter: @TracyCGold

QK Mid Grade Champion: Jess and Britney Gulbrandsen

Query Kombat Mid Grade Champion

Jess and Britney Gulbrandsen

Jess and Britney Gulbrandsen are a husband and wife writing team who spend their romantic date nights discussing plot points and hunting for Big Foot. When they aren’t writing, Jess and Britney like to read aloud first lines of novels and create dialogue for their children and dog. In his spare time, Jess enjoys fishing, arm wrestling, and extremely low-budget monster movies. Britney spends most of her days making lists, reading, and trying to keep the little ones from burning down the house. She also talks about books and writing on her

website: www.britneygulbrandsen.com
Instagram: @gulbrandsenbooks
Twitter: @britgulbrandsen

Jul 5, 2017

QK Awards Delay

It's unofficially over!

The Query Kombat Awards Ceremony usually marks the close of our brutal, month-long tournament. Praising the top performing entries in each age category as well as the Grand Champion is a something we can't do without!

That being said, the ceremony will be delayed for about a week or so due to an unforeseeable (but totally awesome!) circumstance. We're hoping to present our winners with their badges early next week, so hang tight.

I hope my fellow Americans had a grand Independence Day!