Mar 16, 2018

Query Kombat 2018

Bloggers Kara, Michael, and Michelle are back again to bring you the sixth annual Query Kombat tournament, and second year of the QK Forum

Some of you might be scratching your heads. Kara? Who's Kara, you ask yourself. Check out this link for the 411.

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: (updated from previous years. Read carefully.)

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 they are eliminated from the tournament.

On the plus side, winners of the first round will be able to update their entry prior to the agent round. So any feedback the judges give can be implemented before the agents see your work.

We have 21 agents on board so far. We're hoping to double that number before the Agent Round kicks off in June so get your entries ready!

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 major contest within the last four months, you are not eligible to participate in Query Kombat. Please don’t try to sneak in. The QK team includes about a hundred industry professionals, and a few hundred spectators. Someone will notice and inform us. If you're unsure if a contest qualifies as major, contact us through Twitter before submission.

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.


The submission window will open on May 16th at 9:00 AM Eastern time and close on May 18th 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 25th, and the tournament will kick off on June 1st.

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

In the event that we receive more than the available 64 spots (this is highly expected), Michelle, Kara, 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: (Please follow strictly)

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)

**If you do not have a Twitter handle, please consider getting one. We rely on it heavily for announcements, special events/prizes, and general/emergency kombatant communications. #QueryKombat is also a great source for up-to-date information.

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: @RavenousRushing

Title: Eunuchs and Politics
Entry Nickname: I Fell in Love with a Ken Dahl
Word count: 75K
Genre: Adult Erotica (If Ownvoices please list here)

Barbara B. Doll seems like a woman who has it all. From the perfect body to a hundred-million social media followers, success seemed all but assured for her. And after being elected into the U.S. Senate while on a spacewalk on Mars, the sky wasn't even the limit.

However, despite her immense successes, something seemed to be missing from her life. She could never quite pin down what it was, until she met Ken Dahl.

Ken is funny, good-looking, and may have ties to the Illuminati--all the qualities Barb looks for in a man. She is intensely drawn to his shiny hair, chiseled body, and mysterious ways. When he offers to teach her snorkling, they hit it off instantly. Everything in their relationship was perfect until Ken confesses he lost his genitalia in a freak clogging accident ten years ago. When Barb sees his techie replacement parts, she is stricken with a fearful curiosity. Ken soon introduces her the plethora of pleasures to be had with his collection of cybernetic attachment, winning her heart from the fear of uncharted sexual territory.

But then the video of Ken's clogging accident surfaces on the web and goes viral. Memes flood the internet, instantly making Ken Dahl famous. Shaken by the anticipated political fallout of being outed as his girlfriend, Barbara is face with the choice of walking away from everything she spent her life trying to achieve, or from the one thing she always felt her life was missing.

EUNUCHS AND POLITICS is adult techno-erotic romance, complete at 75,000 words. It is also not a real book. Yet.

***THIS is NOT a PITCH but your FULL QUERY. You may include greeting and closing. Comp titles may be included. No bios!!

First 250:

Words, words, and more words.


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

If the 250th word puts you in the middle of a sentence, you may go up to 258 (absolute max limit) to finish that sentence. To clarify: 258 words is the max first page word count allowed by a kontestant. 250 words are to only be exceeded if the 250th word divides a sentence.

Both Pages and Google Docs will return incorrect word counts if you use hyphens, em-dashes, or 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: If you must, count by hand. Hint: 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 Kara's blogs (Twitter is cool, too). All three blogs will host the first round and agent round. The second round will be hosted by Kara and Michelle. The third round will be hosted by Michael. The fourth round will be hosted by Michelle. The fifth round will be hosted by Michael. The final round will be hosted by Kara.

Have no fear, each blog will have links to all rounds so you will not get lost.

Agents and judges will be revealed soon.

Questions can be left in the comments or asked via Twitter and we'll answer them as quickly as possible.


For the last five years, the QK Crew has donated thousands of hours to the sole purpose of bring the writing community together every June for a query kontest like no other. Every year since our first, our family of agents, judges, mentors, and kontestants has grown, as has our love and hopes for the tournament's legacy and family we've built. 

Please help support the QK Crew, who dedicate so many work and family hours to helping others achieve their dreams, and to bringing our beloved industry a little closer together.

Important Notices:
1. Disqualifications - The QK Crew reserves the right to disqualify any entrant, at any time, for any reason. That being said, the only time we will consider this option is if a kombatant does or says something to blemish the spirit of the Query Kombat Tournament, its community, or its affiliates.

 ***Agent requests for a disqualified entry will remain unreleased and be deleted.

2. Drop-outs - If an entrant drops out before the agent round, an alternate from the same team will fill the open slot. If an entrant is disqualified after the agent round, the opposing entry will automatically advance to the next round. No alternates will be substituted following the agent round.

3. Donations - Donating is strictly voluntary; it does not increase or decrease a kontestant's chances of being selected. Donating will not affect the judge's votes or agent requests. Donors will remain anonymous unless self-identified. Individuals unable or unwilling to donate will not be impacted in any way. 

Best of luck in the tournament!

Mar 9, 2018

A New Crew Member!

A letter from Laura:

After two wonderful years, I'm sorry to say that I'm not going to be able to participate in Query Kombat 2018. I adore the kontest and will be helping out behind the scenes as much as I can. Alas, my husband and I are expecting a baby! We're incredibly excited, but unfortunately, our little bundle of joy is planning to arrive about halfway between the reading period and when Round 1 starts. There's just no way for me to host this year in any way that would be remotely fair to Mike and Michelle, the judges, or you, the kontestants. I will, however, be reading and cheering you all on from the sidelines. But never fear! We have found someone ABSOLUTELY AWESOME to take my place! Mike, Michelle, and I are very excited to announce the new host for Query Kombat 2018. It's no fun to just tell you who it is, though, so we've made a game instead. 
Make sure to follow Mike (@ravenousrushing), Michelle (@michelle4laughs) and the new host so you don't miss any kontest news and announcements. You should follow Laura, too, so she doesn't get lonely (@lh_writes). She'll be tweeting as much as she can. Happy searching, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Feb 10, 2018

A Query Kombat Success!

Sorry I'm a little late posting this, Rick. Tenacity is definitely the word that comes to mind when reading your story. It is your realization that one only fails when one quits or refuses to get better that got you to this point; and it will get you further still. Congrats, mate! May this success be the first of many.
My Long and Slow Journey to Signing with My Agent
In February 2016, I watched a television show called My Strange Inheritance, where a man inherited letters between his deceased uncle’s mother and JFK. After her son, a navy seaman under JFK’s command during WWII, died during the attack on their PT boat, then Lieutenant John Kennedy wrote a letter of condolences. The woman wrote back and the two corresponded even after JFK became President of the United States. JFK helped the woman receive her Social Security payments at one point. I thought this would make a great novel, but I wrote middle grade fiction so I needed to alter the concept. It inspired me to write it from the prospective of a child whose father died in the war. The first draft was finished in two weeks and then I revised it to what I thought was query ready (boy was I wrong).  

In May 2016, I entered my manuscript into Query Kombat and was thrilled when my manuscript appeared as a selected entry into the contest on May 26, 2016. I was on Laura’s team. In the first round, my query and first 250 words was pitted against an entry that dripped with voice. I lost the first round in a landslide. That was the end. So I thought.

A few days later, while out to lunch during my day job, I received an email from Laura asking if I would like to be a host save because one of her entries received an offer. I jumped at the chance. It meant I would be included in the agent round, but I would not be competing in any further rounds. The benefit of being the host save is that the agent requests would be available for me to see and respond to while the other rounds were still ongoing. I was blown away to receive 11 requests from Query Kombat, one of the requests being from Caitlen from LKG. That was it. I would surely get at least one agent offer from one of the 11 requests. So I thought. I was so wrong.

Over time, my requests came back as rejections. I entered my manuscript into Pitch Wars 2016, and was not picked, but two great things came out of it. First, one of the mentors, I knew from a Facebook group, agreed to be an unofficial mentor to me. Secondly, the mentor and her partner suggested that two other writers and I explore becoming critique partners. The three of us connected by email and hit it off. I was so lucky to gain two critique partners who wrote such beautiful prose; especially since my writing was more like cave drawings than their poetry. After working with the Pitch Wars mentor and my critique partners, I was ready to query again. I received a fair amount of full requests from agents, but they all passed. One agent who passed took the time to give me valuable feedback. I revised again, taking my manuscript from 34,000 words to over 50,000 words, adding prose chapters to my epistolary novel.

I was ready to query again. Still I received more full requests, which ended in rejections but I did receive an R&R from an agent. I revised again and sent it back. She liked the changes but I missed the mark so she gave me further feedback, which led me to revise yet again.
On October 31, 2017, I decided to query Lauren Galit from LKG Agency. Even though Caitlen from LKG Agency requested and passed on my manuscript from Query Kombat, I reasoned it was practically a completely different manuscript (which it was) and there was nothing saying they were a one and done agency—that you cannot query another agent from the same agency after a pass.
I watched the data explorer on Query Tracker for Lauren and noticed that she responded quickly when she requested more of a manuscript. A few queries that were sent after mine received full requests after just one day while the date of my query slipped further and further away. That was it; it had to be a pass. So I thought.

On November 29, 2017, Lauren requested the full manuscript, which I sent the same day. On December 14, 2017, I received an email from Lauren requesting a telephone call. I was thrilled. After all this time, this was it. So I thought.

On December 15, 2017, after a night with almost no sleep due to nerves, I took a call from Lauren. She said Caitlen remembered my manuscript from when I submitted it during Query Kombat and noticed how much different it was. Lauren was such a pleasant person and had such great things to say about my manuscript but also pointed out its flaws. I agreed with all the changes that Lauren suggested. Her comments and advice were well thought out and resonated with me, so when she asked for an R&R for one chapter to see how I handled the revision, I jumped on the opportunity, hoping the R&R was not a slow no.

I worked over the weekend revising two chapters and writing a completely new scene that Lauren suggested. On December 18, 2017, I sent the revision to Lauren. On December 20, 2017, Lauren sent a second email saying she liked the revision and wanted to set up another call. This was it; it had to be an offer, right? Or so I thought. This time my thought was correct, because on December 21, 2017, I took my second call from Lauren and it was an offer of representation. Since it was close to the holidays, Lauren gave me two weeks to hear back from the three agents that still had my manuscript. On January 2, 2018, I emailed Lauren and accepted her offer.   

It was a long, slow journey,  in which I tried to give up on my manuscript several times, but due to encouragement from my critique partners and constructive feedback from rejecting agents at just the right time, I did not give up and have a terrific agent as a result. I could not have done it without Laura, Michelle, and Michael from Query Kombat who started the journey with me and for all the help from friends along the way.  


Rick Wheeler lives in Northern California in a multigenerational household. When he is not writing middle grade fiction, he works with at risk youth as a Deputy Probation Officer. He enjoys listening to classic rock, hanging out with his dog, and having tea parties with his granddaughters, not necessarily in that order.  
Follow Rick on Twitter @eswheeler1992.

Nov 1, 2017

Nightmare on Query Street 2017 Wrap-up

HUGE thanks to the agents, mentors, entrants who helped make Nightmare on Query Street a success. With 19 requests for the Monsters, 31 for the Legions, and 39 for the Minions.

For those who want stats, here's a blog breakdown:




Total: 19 requests



Total: 39



Total: 31

Once again, thanks for such an awesome year. If you're working on a new project, don't forget about Query Kombat in June 2017 and Nightmare on Query Street next year! Hope you had a safe and happy Halloween!

Oct 30, 2017

NoQS Agent Round Begins!


For the next two days, you can...

SCREAM for a full request.
SHRIEK for a 50 page request.
SHIVER for a 10 page request.

You can make as many requests as you'd like. Go wild! We have some awesome talent for you to peruse.

Entries are splint into three competing teams, and they can be found in groups of fourteen on each host’s blog.

Michelle’s Minions
Mike’s Monsters
Laura's Legions

If you have any questions, tweet us @RavenousRushing, @Michelle4Laughs, or @LH_Writes

**IMPORTANT NOTE: Opera and Safari Browsers may NOT allow you to comment. Using another browser is HIGHLY recommended.**

NoQS Agent Round: Homegrown

Genre: Adult Thriller with YA crossover potential
Word Count: 82,000

NoQS Agent Round: Fear Factory

Genre: Adult Science Fiction / Thriller
Word Count: 110,000 words

NoQS Agent Round: Into the Dark

Genre: Adult science fiction with psychological thriller elements
Word Count: 107,000

NoQS Agent Round: Stone Soldiers

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Word Count: 93,000

NoQS Agent Round: Rumi and the Cats of Istanbul

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Word Count: 59,000

NoQS Agent Round: Fearless

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Word Count: 73,000

NoQS Agent Round: Home Baby

Genre: Adult Thriller
Word Count: 90,000

NoQS Agent Round: Bloodsucking Lawyer

Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 99,000

NoQS Agent Round: Mend

Title: MEND
Genre: Magical Realism
Word Count: 72,000

NoQS Agent Round: Fighting Clichés

Genre: Middle Grade Comedic Fantasy
Word Count: 60,000

NoQS Agent Round: Just Jo

Title: JUST JO
Genre: YA Contemporary with speculative elements
Word Count: 77,000

NoQS Agent Round: Autonomy

Genre: YA Speculative
Word Count: 87,000

NoQS Agent Round: Infinity Line

Genre: Adult Upmarket with speculative elements
Word Count: 80,000

NoQS Agent Round: In the Shadow of Necropolis

Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 84,000

Oct 20, 2017

Mike's Monsters of NoQS 2017

There were so many great entries this year. It was tough narrowing it down to 13 14! Check out the list below to find out if you made the all-star Monster squad.

The Monster of Nightmare on Query Street 2017!

Infinity Line
Just Jo
Fighting Cliches
Bloodsucking Lawyer
Home Baby
In the Shadow of Necropolis
Into the Dark
Rumi and the Cats of Istanbul
Fear Factory
Stone Soldiers

Keep an eye on your inbox. Mentors will be contacting you through the email you used to enter the contest. If that's not your actual email because a friend mailed yours in, you'd better let us know quickly. Each entry will get one mentor assigned to them. 

Please return your revised entry using the same format to the contest email by midnight on October 26th. We need that time to swat down unruly formatting and create the posts before the agent round. Please do not be late. We will go live without you.

Come back on October 30th to see the agents Shriek, Scream and Shiver! 

Oct 13, 2017

NoQS 2017 Submission Window Begins Today!

The submission window opens at 4:00 pm (EST) on October 13th. Don't send too soon or your entry will be deleted. You may resend when the window opens. There will be email confirmation. After the window opens, please don't resend an entry unless you check with us. Sometimes the confirmation process gets overwhelmed. The window will close when we receive 250 entries or in two hours, whichever is first.

Michelle and Mike and Laura will make thirteen picks each, and those picks will go up on our blogs on October 31. Before this, there will be a mentor round to whip that entry into shape. We've already got amazing mentors lined up, so know that your entries will be polished for the agents. We are accepting all age categories and genres, excluding picture books and erotica. The story does not have to be scary. But be sure to check our list of agents when it goes live to see if they represent your book's genre. If you plan on participating in the contest, you have to be following all our blogs (Michelle, Mike, Laura). If you can't get the blog follow to work, just follow on twitter. You'll want to be on twitter for the party anyway.

Send your submission to nightmareonquerystreet (at) yahoo (dot) com. Only one submission per email address AND person is allowed. Here's how it should be formatted (yes, include the bolded and everything!). Please use Times New Roman (or equivalent), 12 pt font, and put spaces between paragraphs. No indents or tabs - they mess up our formatting.  

Subject Line: NoQS: TITLE, Age Category + Genre (example: NoQS: GRUDGING, Adult Epic Fantasy) 


Name: Laura Heffernan
Twitter Handle: @LH_Writes
Genre: Adult Romantic Comedy [OwnVoices] (Age category and genre. YA/MG is not a genre.) 
Word Count: XX,XXX 

My MC and MP (main protagonist?) are dressed as:
Jen's dressed as a great pun, something like Ruth Vader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court justice with a light saber. She'll make the entire thing herself. Ariana's looking to get noticed, so she'll dress to impress: Sexy Supreme Court justice, anyone?


Here is my fantastic query! 

DO NOT INCLUDE BIO OR COMPS PARAGRAPH. Try to stay in the 250-300 word range. Please put spaces between paragraphs and don't indent. Please remember this is a query letter and NOT a pitch. Don't send pitches. 

First 250: Here are the first 250 words of my manuscript, and I will not end in the middle of a sentence, even if I hit 255 words. Do not abuse and send 256. Keep it fair for all. Use Open Office/Word to determine your official word count.

Entries will be disqualified at our discretion for rule violation. And that's it! Send in that email during the submission window and you're ready to go. There will be a confirmation email.

Topics for the twitter party are as follows:

October 13: All day, shout out the genre and age category you're sending. After 4:00 shout out if you got in.

October 14: Share a scary line from your manuscript. It can be from any chapter.

October 15: What costume would your MC character wear for Halloween?

October 16: What's the most fearsome thing about querying?

October 17: What's your favorite candy to gorge while writing and what kind would you toss back to give out to the neighborhood kids?

October 18: What's your favorite scary, or not so scary, Halloween movie?

October 19: What's your main character's greatest fear?

October 20: Picks released. Tell us how you deal with stress as a writer. What helps while you wait on query letters? 

Best of luck to everyone submitting today. Competition will be fierce.

Oct 9, 2017

Agents of NoQS 2017 (partial list)

We have 24 agents and counting joining us this year! Some are new. Some are established. All are looking to make requests. Good luck to everyone entering this year. Slush is going to be INSANE.

 If you need a refresher on the submission guidelines, click here.

Agents of Nightmare on Query Street 2017

Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
I joined the LKG Agency in 2008, thereby disproving the theory that no English major ever does anything with their degree.  Before that I worked at another literary agency, Don Congdon Associates, where I had the behind-the-scenes thrill of seeing Kathryn Stockett’s The Help first come in (and getting one of the first reads). And before that I was getting my Masters in English and Publishing from Rosemont College. I have enjoyed my apprenticeship under Lauren very much, and I am now actively looking to build my own list, which includes (after a surprisingly minimal amount of begging and pleading on my part), securing Lauren’s agreement to open the agency to considering middle grade and young adult fiction.

In my spare time, I am an author in my own right (or is that write?).  My first book, Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, which I co-wrote with my mother, was released by Crown in 2009.  We also contributed to Jane Austen Made Me Do It, published by Ballantine in 2011.  My first middle grade novel, Ordinary Magic, was published by Bloomsbury Children’s in 2012.

Read more about LKG here.


Clelia Gore
It was when Clelia first read Charlotte’s Web in the first grade that she got hooked by the magic of books. Her love of children’s books carried through adulthood and she is delighted to dedicate her life to bringing quality books and stories to young (and whimsical adult!) readers.

Clelia is originally from the suburbs of New York City. She has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Boston College. She received her J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law and practiced law as a corporate litigator in New York City.

In 2011, she decided to dedicate her career to books and reentered graduate school at Emerson College, where she received a master’s degree in Publishing and Writing. While she was studying publishing and taking creative writing courses at Emerson, Clelia gained firsthand experience in the publishing industry working in the children’s book division at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and in academic books at Oxford University Press.  She also taught academic writing and research courses to freshman students as a graduate student faculty member at Emerson College.

Clelia attends writing and publishing conferences. She also sits on the board of directors for Poetry Northwest magazine.

Clelia acquires picture book, middle grade and young adult books. She is particularly interested in developing her nonfiction clientele. With apologies, Clelia is no longer accepting new adult fiction queries at this time.

Read more about Clelia Gore here and her agency here.


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. Since that time he has ranked as high as #1 in Agents on in Overall Deals and other individual categories.

Read more about Trident here.


Lisa Abellera
Lisa Abellera joined Kimberley Cameron and Associates in 2013 with a background in management, marketing, and finance. She has studied creative writing, design and business, earning her B.A. in Strategic Management from Dominican University of CA and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from University of San Francisco.

Lisa had a successful career in the corporate world before joining the world of publishing. After editorial internships with an independent press and Kimberley Cameron & Associates, she now follows her true passion for books and writing. She leverages her business and marketing expertise to help authors navigate the complexities of publishing. She is excited to develop talented authors and help advance their careers. She is looking to form long-term, collaborative relationships with writers who are committed to putting forth their best work.

Lisa responds to well-crafted prose with strong hooks and high personal stakes, to idiosyncratic, sympathetic characters, to a tangible sense of place, to multicultural aspects and international settings, to page-turning twists, and to emotionally immersive fiction that explores the human condition, especially within family and close relationships.

She is seeking to represent upmarket fiction, women's fiction, historical fiction, mystery/suspense/thrillers (especially if it has a dose of science or the supernatural), science fiction, fantasy, most speculative fiction except for paranormal fantasy (no demons, angels, vampires, zombies, werewolves, etc.), romance if it's an element or part of another genre, NA, YA and middle grade.

Read more about Kimberley Cameron here.


Alec Shane
I began my career at Writers House as an intern in September of 2008 and simply refused to leave, so I was given the wonderful job of Assistant to Jodi Reamer. I am now also in the process of actively building my own list and currently represent a fairly eclectic mix of Children's and Adult fiction and nonfiction. I'm eagerly looking for both.

On the fiction side, I love mysteries, thrillers (although I'm experiencing a bit of terrorist fatigue at the moment), bad-ass protagonists with a chip on their shoulders, beautifully told historical fiction (The Vietnam War, the Maccabees, and The American Revolution fascinate me in particular),well-researched adventure stories, and great horror - I haven't been scared to turn off the light in far too long and something needs to be done about it. In terms of children's books, getting boys to read again is especially important to me, and thus I'm particularly on the lookout for a fun middle-grade adventure series, ghost story, or anything else geared toward younger male readers.

On the nonfiction side, I'm attracted to odd, quirky histories, military history, biographies of people I didn't even know existed (but definitely should have), "guy" reads, humor, narrative nonfiction that sheds light on under-the-radar events and lifestyles, and all things sports. I'm also currently up in the air as to whether or not I believe in ghosts, hauntings, and the supernatural, so if you have something that can convince me one way or the other, I'd love to see it.

Read more about Writers House here


Jaida Temperly
Jaida’s primary focus is adult fiction, with a special affinity for literary fiction, magical realism, historical fiction, upmarket fiction, horror, and speculative. She also loves stories that shed light on marginalized experiences and question the “status-quo”, as well as titles that include #OwnVoices themes, international settings, political commentary, conspiracy theories, and alternate histories. Some of her all-time favorite adult fiction titles include: THE VEGETARIAN by Han Kang, THE SELLOUT by Paul Beatty, THE DINNER by Herman Koch, JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL by Susanna Clarke, and A THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon.

Jaida is also interested in select prescriptive nonfiction with a commercial edge, such as YOU ARE A BADASS by Jen Sincero and THE POWER OF HABIT by Charles Duhigg, and forgotten/untold stories like HIDDEN FIGURES by Margot Lee Shetterly and the film LAND OF MINE. She enjoys narrative nonfiction titles that explore the darker corners of the human experience, such as STIFF by Mary Roach and SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES by Caitlin Doughty.

Finally, Jaida is on the lookout for outstanding YA and MG titles. Similar to her adult taste, she loves magical realism, literary fiction, fantasy, historical, and speculative titles, as well as those that push the boundaries between YA/adult. Some of her all-time favorite children’s titles include: CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber, THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas, THE GREENGLASS HOUSE by Kate Milford, THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY by Trenton Lee Stewart, and NIGHTBIRD by Alice Hoffman.

Prior to joining New Leaf Literary, Jaida studied biology at The University of Wisconsin-Madison, and briefly attended medical school before moving to NYC to intern at Writers House. She loves art history, traveling, logic puzzles, secret societies, antiques, and numerous other topics that come in handy for Trivia Night and crossword puzzles.

Read more about New Leaf here.


Amanda Jain

Amanda Jain has loved books for as long as she can remember. When she was a kid, Amanda always had her head in a book. In her room, in the car, in the bathtub, wherever. She probably would have brought a book to the dinner table every evening if that was allowed.

After earning a BA in English, she worked in the trade department at W. W. Norton for seven years before leaving to pursue graduate studies. She graduated in 2011 with a MA in the history of decorative arts. Amanda then joined Inklings in 2014, first as an intern and then as Michelle’s assistant.

Amanda is primarily interested in adult fiction in the following categories: historical fiction (in all genres), women’s / book club / upmarket fiction, romance (particularly historical, suspenseful, or with a comedic bent), mysteries (particularly historical or cozy, or historical cozies), and narrative nonfiction in the areas of social history, archaeology, art history, material culture, etc. She is also interested in select YA and MG projects with unique hooks and a strong voice.

Read more about Inklings Literary here

Check out Michelle and Laura's blog for their 3rd of the list

Oct 4, 2017

Nightmare Chat! - October 12th, 2017

Writers like to socialize from the comfort of their homes.  So we're having a twitter chat to get to know the mentors and ask questions and just visit! 

Join us on Thursday, October 12th right before the 
submission window opens for Nightmare on Query Street on the 13th. Bring your questions, writing problems, and curiosity at 3:00 and 8:00 pm Eastern time and mentors will be there. All this happens under the hashtag #NoQSchat.

Time to have a little fun, maybe learn something, and talk to writers with experience in querying, editing, and submissions.  See you there!   

Oct 2, 2017

Mentors of NoQS 2017 (partial list)

Our contests would not be possible without the wonderful people who donate their time and energy. This year we have over 30 industry professionals who have agreed to help whip your queries into shape for our agent round. Take a moment to follow their respective social media profiles and send out thanks for helping. This small gesture truly goes a long way.

At 4pm on Friday, October 13th, the submission window will open for two hours, or until the first 250 entries are received. Please visit this post for all relevant details.

Visit Laura and Michelle's blog for their portion of the list.

Mentors of Nightmare on Query Street

Diana Pinguicha

Born and raised in the sunny land of Portugal, Diana lives in Lisbon, where she works as a game developer and writer. In her free time, she can be found writing (obviously), painting, and devouring extraordinary quantities of books and video games—especially anything on the fantasy spectrum. Keeping her company are two awesome kitties, Sushi and Jubas, and her bearded dragon Norbert!


Kosoko Jackson

Kosoko Jackson is the Digital Media Associate for Rock The Vote and manages social media accounts totaling 270K followers. He also moonlights as a paid sensitivity reader for big 5 publishers. Kosoko has taught elementary kids how to read, educated millennials about the power of voting, and held various communications positions in political organizations. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Public Health with a minor in new media communications. He lives in Washington D.C and is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

Author Website

Sarah Janian

Sarah Janian is an elementary school teacher-turned MG and YA author. She attended Swarthmore College ('05) and earned her master's in literacy education ('09) from Bank Street in NYC. After being selected for Laura Heffernan's Query Kombat team last spring, she signed with Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger for her MG contemporary The Middle Schooler's Guide to Divorce. In between caring for her toddler and newborn, Sarah is revising an MG SF and regularly gives away query critiques through Twitter. She is thrilled to be an MG mentor for this year's NoQS.


Peggy Rothschild

Peggy Rothschild grew up in Los Angeles. Always a mystery-lover, she embraced the tales of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys before graduating to the adult section of the library. An English major in high school, she switched to art -- her other passion in college. Peggy has authored two adult mysteries, CLEMENTINE'S SHADOW and ERASING RAMONA. PUNISHMENT SUMMER is her first young adult book.

Peggy is represented by Melissa Jeglinski of The Knight Agency. She lives in the beach community of Ventura with her husband and their cats. In her spare time, she is learning how to throw a hatchet, loves to garden and work in clay, and practices yoga.

Author Website

Melinda O'Neill

As the owner of a boutique chocolate factory in Atlanta, Melinda O’Neill loves to write murder with a sweet twist, including her debut mystery, THE CORPSE WORE STILETTOS, due out in Summer of 2018 from Red Adept Publishing. When she’s not spinning a sweet yarn or creating delicious confections, she spends time with her husband, Brian, their kids who range in age from 24 to 7, a hyperactive cocker spaniel named Divo (after the band), a princess tabby cat named Twilight (before the book stole her name) and a collection of stray fish. She is represented by Priya Doraswami of Lotus Lane Literary. Check out her blog at and follow on twitter. Or if you’re an author in need of a chocolate fix, claim your author’s discount at


J.B. Rockwell

J.B. Rockwell is a New Englander, which is important to note because it means she's (a) hard headed, (b) frequently stubborn, and (c) prone to fits of snarky sarcasticness. As a kid she subsisted on a steady diet of fairy tales, folklore, mythology augmented by generous helpings of science fiction and fantasy. As a quasi-adult she dreamed of being the next Indiana Jones and even pursued (and earned!) a degree in anthropology. Unfortunately, those dreams of being an archaeologist didn't quite work out. Through a series of twists and turns (involving cats, a marriage, and a SCUBA certification, amongst other things) she ended up working in IT for the U.S. Coast Guard and now writes the types of books she used to read. Not a bad ending for an Indiana Jones wannabe...

Author Website

Heather Van Fleet

Heather Van Fleet is a stay-at-home-mom turned book boyfriend connoisseur. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, a mom to three girls, and in her spare time you can find her with her head buried in her Kindle, guzzling down copious amounts of coffee.

Heather graduated from Black Hawk College in 2003 and currently writes YA, NA, and Adult contemporary romance. She is published through Sourcebooks Casablanca with her Reckless Hearts series. Along with being an author, Heather also serves as a foreign rights assistant agent through Inklings Literary. She is represented by Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary.

Author Website

Gail Nall

Gail Nall lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her family and more cats than necessary. She once drove a Zamboni, has camped in the snow in June, and almost got trampled in Paris. Gail is the author of the Aladdin/S&S middle grade novels OUT OF TUNE, BREAKING THE ICE, the YOU'RE INVITED series (co-authored with Jen Malone), and BEST.NIGHT.EVER. (co-authored). She is also the author of the young adult novel, EXIT STAGE LEFT (Epic Reads Impulse/HarperCollins).

Author Website

Thanks again, Mentors!

Sep 22, 2017

NoQS 2017 is Near!

We're back with 20 agents and even more mentors!
It's Nightmare Time!

Don’t have a scary manuscript, DON'T WORRY. Just read on.

A brand new year, and unimaginable horrors to come.
This contest, as it runs in the Halloween time, is all about FEAR.

The Details:

The submission window opens at 4:00 pm (EST) on Friday, October 13th. Don't send too soon or your entry will be deleted. There will be email confirmation. Please don't resend an entry unless you check with us. Sometimes the confirmation process gets overwhelmed. The window will close when we receive 250 entries or in two hours, whichever is first. 

Michelle and Mike and Laura will make thirteen picks each, and those picks will go up on our blogs from October 30th through the 31st. Before the agent round, there will be a mentor round to whip your entries into shape. We've already got amazing mentors lined up, so know that your entries will be polished for the agents. 

We are accepting all age categories and genres, excluding picture books and erotica. But be sure to check our list of agents when it goes live to see if they represent your book's genre, or if you've queried them already. We ask that if you find that you've already queried a majority of participating agents for your potential submission, please refrain from participating in the contest.

If you plan on participating in the contest, you have to be following all our blogs (MichelleMike, Laura). If you can't get the blog follow to work, just follow on twitter. You'll want to be on twitter for the party anyway. 


It's pretty simple, actually.
But there's a catch. 

Along with your query and 250, you must write a SHORT paragraph (no more than 100 words) about your main character. This is the question you must answer: 

Your protagonist and antagonist bump into each other at a Halloween Party, only to discover their costumes are similarly themed. What/who are they dressed as?

The Format:

Send all your submission to nightmareonquerystreet (at) yahoo (dot) com. Only one submission per email address AND person is allowed. 

Here's how it should be formatted (yes, include the bolded and everything!). Please use Times New Roman (or equivalent), 12 pt font, and put spaces between paragraphs. No indents or tabs are needed. 

Subject Line: NoQS: TITLE, Age Category + Genre (example: NoQS: GRUDGING, Adult Epic Fantasy)


Name: Michelle Hauck
Twitter Handle: @Michelle4Laughs (optional) 
Title: GRUDGING (yes, caps!)  
Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy (Age category and genre. YA/MG is not a genre.)  
Word Count: XX,XXX 

My MC and MP (main protagonist?) are dressed as:
Remember, keep this around 100 words. 

Here is my fantastic query! DO NOT INCLUDE BIO OR COMPS PARAGRAPH. Try to stay in the 250-300 word range. Please put spaces between paragraphs and don't indent.

First 250 words:

Here are the first 250 words of my manuscript, and I will not end in the middle of a sentence, even if I hit 255 words. Do not abuse and send 256. Keep it fair for all. Use Open Office/Word to determine your official word count. 

Entries will be disqualified at our discretion for rule violation.
And that's it! Send in that email during the submission window and you're ready to go. There will be a confirmation email.

We're Tweeting under the hashtag #NoQS. As before, we'll have a twitter party once submission starts. Mentor and agent posts will follow before October 13th.

Good luck! And sweet nightmares!