Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Query Kombat Free Pass Giveaway!


Query Kombat begins soon! Each year, I raffle off one entry into the first round. The free pass winner is guaranteed to be featured on my blog for Round 1 only, and to get feedback from about a dozen judges (possibly more).* Winning a free pass does not guarantee entry into the agent round.

I've been thinking a lot about the tragic death of Julie Lonewolf and what I can do to help marginalized writers. Nothing I can do can undo what happened, but I'd like to give a chance to someone whose work might have been overlooked. This year, my free pass is open to marginalized writers only. The contest itself remains open to all writers. 

For this giveaway, I'm using a definition borrowed from DV Pit

This includes (but is not limited to): Native peoples and people of color; people living and/or born/raised in underrepresented cultures and countries; disabled persons (including neurodiverse); people living with illness; people on marginalized ends of the socioeconomic, cultural and/or religious spectrum; people identifying within LGBTQIA+; and more.

To enter, leave a blog comment. Share your story. Tell how the lack of diversity in books has affected you. Or tell a story about growing up a member of a marginalized group. Name a diverse book that has touched your life. Again, this is your story. I'm not going to put rules on what you say. You do not need to use your real name. You do not need to state how you've been marginalized (but please do not enter if you do not fit the above definition). Your comment can be as long or as short as it needs to be. If you have a lot to say, PLEASE draft in another program so you can break into multiple comments if it's too long. Then, use the Rafflecopter below. The rafflecopter will pick the winner, so you must submit your entries after leaving a comment.

The Rafflecopter will remain active through May 15. The winner will be announced on my blog on May 16. You have plenty of time to prepare your comments and still get into the giveaway. If you do not want me to announce your name if you win, please email me at laura (at) pitchslamcontest (dot) com. This will not affect your chances. I'll check it after drawing a winner. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Inappropriate, racist, homophobic, bigoted, or otherwise offensive comments will be deleted and anyone leaving such comments will be disqualified from the kompetition.

If you have any questions, please feel free to tweet me. I tend to be online less over the weekends, but will get back to you as soon as I can. 

* I reserve the right, in my sole discretion, to disqualify racist, offensive, or inappropriate entries, entries in genres we're not accepting (i.e., picture books), or entries with words counts that are significantly outside genre standards (like if you send me a 20,000 word adult fantasy. Or a 200,000 word adult fantasy).

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Query Kombat 2017: Fight For Your Dreams

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 submitIf 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.


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. 

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)
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)


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 erotica, complete at 72,000 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.

Don't include the chapter title and please. 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 256 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: 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 FINALWe 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!

Every year, I raffle off one free pass into the contest to help spread the word and give a chance to an entry I might not otherwise have noticed. The free pass giveaway for this year will start on Thursday, April 20. Check back for more details! 

Monday, April 17, 2017

DADDY'S BEST FRIEND cover reveal!

I've always been a huge fan of Brighton Walsh. Today, I'm excited to be able to help reveal the smokin' hot new cover for the first book Brighton is putting out with Ellis Leigh as London Hale. This book looks awesome, and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

She’s temptation personified 

Nathan had always been more than just my dad’s friend. I never thought he’d see me as an adult, especially not after avoiding me for so long. But one hug, one moment feeling every inch of him against me, shattered that illusion. Consequences no longer mattered—I was eighteen, and I was willing to risk everything for my shot with him. 

He’s not going to resist anymore 
I never should’ve seen Eve as more than my best friend’s daughter. As a cop, I knew it was wrong. It was my job to protect her from guys like me. Chasing her could cost me my career—not to mention the only family I’d ever known—but I couldn’t hold back another second. One taste, and I wanted her. To hell with the fallout. 

And now, check out this awesome cover!

Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

About London 
London Hale is the combined pen name of writing besties Ellis Leigh and Brighton Walsh. Between them, they’ve published more than thirty books in the contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense genres. Ellis is a USA Today bestselling author who loves coffee, thinks green Skittles are the best, and prefers to stay in every weekend. Brighton is multi-published with Berkley, St. Martin’s Press, and Carina Press. She hates coffee, thinks green Skittles are the work of the devil, and has never heard of a party she didn’t want to attend. Don’t ask how they became such good friends or work so well together—they still haven’t figured it out themselves. 

Facebook Page: 
Reader Group: 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A #PitchWars Guide to Interacting with Mentors, Part 1

Pitchwars is one of the most exciting contests of the year, both for mentors and prospective mentees. It’s a huge contest, and everyone wants to be a part of it. In this three part blog series, I’m going to take a look at ways that you can benefit from the contest through your interactions with mentors, whether you’re chosen or not. A lot of the same principals apply to interacting with mentors, hosts, and judges of other contests, so if you're planning to enter TeenPit or QueryKombat, read on.

  • DO read the bios carefully. Even if you’ve applied before, things change. A lot of us will fine tune our wishlists based on current trends, what we’re writing, or even just realizing that we worded something badly in a previous year. (Not that I’d do that…) It also really helps to get mentors' books from the library when you can, or download the sample pages from Amazon to get a sense of our writing styles. You've got a lot of time to decide who to sub. Use it wisely.
  • DON’T tweet about how much contests suck, or the mentors suck, or about how you’re sure you won’t get in. Being positive is contagious.
  • DO your research. Mentors are happy to answer questions, but some of us get a little frustrated about answering the same question over and over. 
    • We’re not Google. There are a lot of resources out there besides us. I know people say it only takes about 10 seconds to answer a question, and that’s true. Now multiply ten seconds times the 2,500 or so people who intend to enter. Even if you cut it down to the 100 or so who’ll be subbing an individual mentor – that’s a lot of time. We don’t get paid for this. 
    • There are a ton of entries on my blog with writing tips, including how to polish a query and/or contest entry. I tweet about them before and during the submission period. So when I get a submission where the only verb used in the first chapter is “was,” that tells me one of two things: either you didn’t care enough about my opinion to read all those blogs, or you decided you know better than me what works and what doesn’t. Neither of those things makes me want to work with you.
  • DON’T be afraid of us. We don’t bite, seriously. (Well, some of the romance mentors might, but only if you ask nicely.) We love interacting with potential mentees. It helps us get a sense of you just like it helps you get a sense of us. Ask questions if you’re not sure about subbing to someone! We want to help you find the best fit for your work. If I’m not it, I’m happy to point you to someone who is. But…
  • DO be polite, always. Both to mentors and other mentees. Someone was disqualified last year for being a dick on the hashtag. That shouldn’t be you.
  • DON’T pre-pitch every single mentor with the same tweet. In fact, don’t pre-pitch at all, it’s against the rules. General questions are fine, explaining your specific plot is not.
  • DO be respectful of our time. The twitter feed gets crazy. Some of us (especially the hosts) get inundated with tweets. It can take time to respond. Every minute spent doing Pitchwars stuff is time away from our day jobs, our spouses and children, cleaning our house, our hobbies, our workouts, and our own writing. We’re happy to do it, but let us decide how much time we’re willing to give. If you want to tweet a mentor at 10:00 pm on a Friday, don’t be surprised if you don’t get an answer until Monday. Also, don't DM/email a mentor or host unless they've specifically said it's OK or you have a pre-existing relationship with them that includes private messages or emails.
  • DON’T leave reviews trashing the mentors’ work. I mean, sure, that’s your prerogative, but if I see Wendy Writer called my book a “steaming dumpster of tripe,” do you think that’ll make me want to help her out?
    At the end of the day, we’re doing our mentees a favor. I generally prefer not to do favors for people who tell everyone they think I suck. (Positive reviews are lovely, assuming you've read the book, but won't affect your chances.)
  • DO take full advantage of the hashtag to find new friends. Follow other writers, connect. The blog hop is also great for this purpose. Only about 1% of applicants typically get chosen. But 100% of you can find friends and critique partners through the contest if you make the effort. Trust me, it’s worth it. Some of my closest friends and critique partners are people I’ve met through other contests. I'd be lost without them.

A couple of days before the blog hop begins, I'll post the next part of this series: HOW TO INTERACT WITH MENTORS DURING THE SELECTION PERIOD. Until then, focus on the one thing you can control: polishing your manuscript until it's your best possible work.

Hope to see you in TeenPit, QueryKombat, and PitchWars!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Today I have the pleasure of hosting the cover reveal for KD Proctor's MEET ME UNDER THE STARS, to be released by BookFish Books on July 19, 2017. I was extremely fortunate to have met KD last year while mentoring Sun vs. Snow. I got a sneak peek at the opening of this book, and it's fantastic. I can't wait to get to read the rest!

Look at this pretty...

Author: KD Proctor
Genre: NA Romance
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: BookFish Books (
Cover Designer: Anita B. Carroll, Race-Point US (

Cover Blurb

ratings for her popular DIY show start to circle the drain after the sudden
death of her sister, Charlotte “Charlie” Conti has only one mission—to plan a
comeback. But her sister had other plans. As part of the will, Charlie must
work with *him*  to create a memorial scholarship in her sister’s memory. The same *him* Charlie fell in love with three years ago while working at a summer camp.

The same *him* she dumped to protect his heart.
British player, Nate Walsh, has sixty days to find a new job or he’ll be
deported back to England where he’s no longer welcome. He doesn’t have time to work on a memorial scholarship with *her*. The same *her*  who shattered his heart without explanation or warning.
The same *her* he’s never gotten over.
Unable to agree on a benefactor for the scholarship, Nate and Charlie challenge each other to a winner-takes-all competition. They both know the only way to win is to turn up the heat and tease one another with the one thing they both want: each other. But as sparks fly, their true feelings resurface. Nate and Charlie must decide if their love is worth the effort or if they'll allow their
disastrous past mistakes to destroy their chance at forever.

A Little about KD...

KD Proctor loved college so much that when it came time to graduate, she didn’t
want to leave.  Trading in her textbooks for student handbooks and policy manuals, she began a career in College Student Personnel and she fulfilled her wish to stay on a college campus forever.  She always joked that one day she’d write a book about college students, never expecting that to come true!

KD lives in West Central, Minnesota with her husband and fur-kids.  She likes to write fun twists on the usual tropes that we all
love. Her characters are smart, funny, and always swoony.  And yes. They
always get their happily ever after.

Before being accepted for publication, MEET ME UNDER THE STARS
(formerly titled IF YOU'RE EVER IN TOWN) was the 2016 YARWA winner for the New Adult category

link- Two $15 Amazon Gift Cards are up for grabs!
Click HERE for Rafflecopter Giveaway! 

Find KD