Query Kombat Contest

May is full of contests for writers! And Query Kombat is another great one. This contest is hosted by Michelle Hauck, Michael Anthony, and SC Author.

Query Kombat Logo

The submission window will open on May 22, 2015 (tomorrow) and be open for only ONE HOUR! And like every contest, there are rules people…so follow them (here)! Now hold on to your hats…there are TWENTY FIVE agents/editors in total participating this year! Whoa! Because there are so many, the hosts had to divide the list on their blogs:

Michelle Hauck (Agent link)

Michael Anthony (Agent link)

SC Write (Agent link)

This is HUGE! Great job to the hosts. They’ve truly outdone themselves this year! Now, get outta here and polish those submissions!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction

The Writer’s Voice Contest

Yes, this is another fabulous contest for a chance to have a literary agent request material. Submissions begin on May 20th, 2015 from 9:00am thru 9:00pm EDT. Remember, this is for completed manuscripts only!


For those who aren’t familiar with “The Writer’s Voice,” it’s a multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by Brenda Drake, Mónica Bustamante Wagner, Elizabeth Briggs, and Krista Van Dolzer. They’re basing it on NBC’s singing reality show The Voice, so the four hosts will serve as coaches and select projects for their teams based on queries and first pages.

The fabulous agents that will be participating are:

Caitie Flum of Liza Dawson Associates

Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary + Media

Erin Harris of Folio Literary Management

Lauren MacLeod of The Strothman Agency

Sara Megibow and Renee Nyen ofkt literary

Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary Agency

Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency

Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, Inc.

Courtney Stevenson of Pippin Properties

Caryn Wiseman of Andrea Brown Literary Agency

So get those submissions ready because the window will only be open for 12 hours. For all the guidelines and dates, go here.

As always, good luck!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and Blogger of MG/YA fiction

Secret Agent Contest via @AuthoressAnon

Just a quick reminder that @AuthoressAnon is hosting her Secret Agent Contest tomorrow, May 18th, 2015.


So, get your first 250 words polished! You can find the entire information for submission guidelines on her website Miss Snark’s First Victim. And remember, this is for completed manuscripts only!

As always, good luck!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA ficiton

Whiskey, Wine, & Writing Tonight!

Reminding everyone Whiskey, Wine, & Writing is tonight at 8pm EST, hosted by Natasha Raulerson & special guest host E.L. Wicker. This is “a place for authors to relax, connect, and learn how to be even more kick ass writers”.


Their guest tonight is Emily Bleeker. Discussions will be her debut novel WRECKAGE and the genre of women’s fiction.  You can watch live on YouTube and join them on Twitter or Google Hangouts for a chance to have your questions answered.

See you there.

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction


If you thought writing the novel was hard, try summarizing your book-baby into a couple paragraphs. OY! But it has to be done if you plan to query agents. There are three main parts the query should contain:

1. The hook.
2. A mini synopsis
3. Brief BIO

I discuss more about the structure here, but be aware when I discussed the word count and genre, it can also be contained in the BIO paragraph. Sometimes agents prefer it that way. Also, I want to remind authors to make sure you mention the stakes. I’ve critiqued several lately that have been very vague. Let the agent know what your MC risks losing.

With that said, many writers are aware of the infamous Query Shark blog. (If not, head over there NOW! There are a gazillion queries torn to shreds by the lovely Query Shark. Reading others mishaps can help you write better.Trust me.) But recently, I learned BookEnds Literary Agency is joining the query-shredding team, per se. SQUEE! Another chance to have the guts ripped from your words. Call me crazy (and you probably do), this is good people, GOOD-GOOD! BookEnds announced on April 6th, they now offer critiques by the QUERY QUEEN! If you are getting rejections, submit for a chance to learn what’s not working in your query letter before you send to another round of agents.

As always, good luck!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction


Yay! Another contest where authors can possibly win a chance to find their dream agent! NestPitch submission window is Wednesday, April 1, 2015.


There are some awesome participating agents. Check out the Agency websites by clicking links below:

Valerie Noble: Associate Agent at Donaghy Literary Group

Saba Sulamain: Junior Agent at Talcott Notch Literary Services

Uwe Stender: President at TriadaUS Literary Agency

Jordy Albert: Agent at The Booker Albert Literary Agency

Paticia Nelson: Agent at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

Cate Hart: Junior Agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency

Dawn Michelle Frederick: Literary Agent & Owner, Red Sofa Literary

Mollie Glick: Agent at Foundry Literary + Media

Maria Vicente: Associate Agent at P.S. Literary Agency

Camilla Wray: Agent at The Darley Anderson Literary

Christina Heschke: Agent at McIntosh & Otis, Inc

Jessica Schmeidler: Agent/Founder at Golden Wheat Literary

And don’t forget, this is for finished manuscripts only! Scroll the Nestpitch website to see submission guidelines and the teams that will be mentoring the winners. As always, good luck!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction

Joanna Swainson, Literary Agent (Plus First Page Critique)

Joanna Swainson has worked for a number of different London based literary agencies, including Darley Anderson Literary, Film and TV Agency, and Christopher Little Literary Agency, where she met Caroline Hardman. They set up Hardman & Swainson in June 2012, with eighteen authors. In September 2014 they were joined by agent Hannah Ferguson. Hardman & Swainson now represent 60 authors across a range of genres of fiction and non-fiction. More info at www.hardmanswainson.com


1. Does the rumor that agents get extremely excited over plucking a gem from the slush really exist?

It’s very exciting to find a gem in our submission. The excitement comes in different shades: there’s a quiet excitement when you read something and can’t stop and feel you’ve got something special. That excitement strengthens as you begin to think about editors that would like to read it too. Once you know it’s something you want to represent there’s the thrill of signing the author. Then there’s nervous excitement when you come to submit to publishers. I think the funnt gif shows the out and out happy excitement of when an offer comes in from a publisher. But that’s strictly between the four walls of the office! Generally speaking, finding a gem in submissions leads to much excitement in many different guises.

Excited GIF

2. Are you a hands-on agent with your authors, editing-wise?

Working editorially with authors and helping to knock a manuscript into shape is one of the most interesting and rewarding parts of this job. Working out what works and why, where a manuscript falls short, which aspects need strengthening etc – it’s endlessly fascinating. The job of editing can take many forms from a few simple suggestions to quite a full on rewrite. It depends on the state of the manuscript. It’s not my job to edit it to death, but to take it to the point where I feel it’s ready for submission – hopefully an editor will then have a vision for it and want to buy it!

3. You keep an open mind about the types of submissions you’d like to receive because you never know what will excite you—which is totally awesome! But, is there something that you’d like to see in your inbox that you haven’t seen yet?

I feel like I’ve seen everything! But our submissions inbox never fails to amaze me. It’s incredible how many people are writing works of fiction and non-fiction, and what they come up with. The key thing is whether what we see is good enough. As you say, I’m open to most things, but it has to be a real sparkler, brilliant of its kind. It’s a very tough market so we have to feel confident about what we’re taking on.

4. The agency website suggests that authors in the US might be better served with an agent in the US, unless there’s a compelling reason for a UK agent. So, would you say that you aren’t totally against receiving submissions from a US author, but they should include a reason as to why they believe they need a UK agent to represent them?

We’ve put this note on our agency website because we were getting a lot of submissions where it simply didn’t make sense to have a UK-based agent. So if, for example, the novel is about baseball – which isn’t a big thing in the UK – or has a particularly American theme, it doesn’t make sense for us to take on this novel unless we’re confident it will straddle the two markets (often very difficult to predict). Our aim is always to sell in the UK and, where appropriate, in the US (and indeed worldwide) but we’re usually thinking about our own market in the first instance. But never say never – we just think US authors should think carefully why their novel or piece of non-fiction would work better, or equally well, with a UK agent. If the author can articulate that, I suppose this also wards off the idea that sometimes creeps into the back of your mind as you’re reading – that all US agents have been exhausted, so that’s why they’ve submitted in the UK.

5. Personalization in a query is often debated. Do you prefer someone to tell you upfront why they are querying you, or get straight to the story their submitting? Has personalization ever made you feel an author was stalking you?

It depends what you mean by personalisation. I think with query letters it’s just good to keep it fairly short and sweet, professional and to the point. Obviously if I met you at a writers conference or some other do, then absolutely jog my memory. I’ll likely be thrilled to hear from you. The only time I’ve ever felt stalked is when we were left some creepy packages on the doorstep over a period of a few weeks. I think it was meant to build up excitement to the arrival of the manuscript in the final package, but all it did was have me double locking the door and quaking with fear.

6. There are authors who spit a MS out based on what’s trending, and others that simply write what they want to read. Any advice/feelings on either route chosen?

Don’t follow trends. What makes most sense to me is write what you’d like to read. Publishing isn’t exactly known for its speed so if you follow a trend, by the time it gets to the agents / editors, the chances are it’ll be done and dusted by that point and everyone will be sick of seeing the same old, same old.

Thank you, Joanna, for taking time to answer my questions. Joanna has been kind to offer a first page critique, even with her busy schedule! (Yay!) This is open to everyone (English written) and Joanna reserves the right to ask for more material if she’s interested in your project. The contest will be open for one week, ending at midnight on March 30, 2015. The winner will be announced on an update to this post. Good luck!


Congratulations to CATHERINE MILLER, winner of the First Page Critique!

And don’t forget to check Joanna out at Hardman & Swainson or follow her on Twitter for bookish tweets. There is also an official Hardman & Swainson Twitter here. Have a fantastic day!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction


Tomorrow is another fantastic pitch event hosted by Brenda Drake for your completed and polished manuscript. You will need a 140 character pitch that includes the #PitMad hashtag. But create several varied pitches so Twitter doesn’t think you’re spam. Also, if you can squeeze in the category and age group, it will be a plus. Such as:

  • #YA=Young adult
  • #MG=Middle Grade
  • #A=Adult (I don’t suggest spelling adult out unless you want a bunch of porn spam!)
  • #NA=New Adult
  • #F=Fantasy
  • #PR=Paranormal Romance
  • #R=Romance
  • #SF=Sci-Fi

If you work during #Pitmad, you can always use TweetDeck or Hootesuite to schedule your tweets so you won’t miss out on the opportunity. Of course, you will go bonkers trying to find a moment to peak at the twitter feed, but you’re on your own with that one.

There are more hints you can find on Brenda’s website. And don’t forget, although there are legitimate agents that have committed to stopping by, any one can troll the feed. So, DO YOUR RESEARCH before sending your manuscript or signing a contract.

As always, good luck!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction


Oh my goodness, YES! This was my reaction when I first saw the cover of ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD. (Covers are extremely important people, to evoke emotions and desire to pick the book up off the shelf!) And the blurb didn’t disappoint. I read that the main character, Cas Lowood, killed the dead. Then I wondered how he could kill someone that was, well, already dead. Which was exactly why I had to read the book!


Cas travels around the country with his “kitchen-witch mother” while killing misbehaving ghosts. His weapon of choice is a wicked anthame he inherited from his father—who was murdered by a ghost he’d attempted to kill. Cas explains he doesn’t completely understand the power of his anthame, but he believes it will only work for him. He strikes his targets down with an artistic slashing confidence as ghosts disappear so that they will never murder another living victim.

Then Cas gets a tip about Anna Korlov, a ghost murdered at the age of sixteen. She’d been on her way to a dance when someone nearly cut her head off, causing her beautiful white dress to be drenched in blood. She had been murdering anyone that stepped foot in her home since 1958. But when Cas finds himself lying helpless on her living room floor after a jerk acquaintance bashed his head with a broken board, Anna spares Cas and murders the jerk by splitting him in two gruesome parts.

For once, Cas has trouble using his anthame on a ghost, although he knows he should. He knows she’ll keep killing others, even if she won’t kill him. But let me assure you, his fascination about why she spared him does not lead to a typical love story with mushy-mushy crap. No. He still attempts to do his inherited duty and kill her, and strangely, she wants him to kill her. So, you see, I had to keep reading!

The author does a great job of describing how Cas understands he has to have a life of solitude and that he feels out of place with the living. So when he winds up with a couple of unexpected friends who help him along his journey, I was surprised. Kendare describes Cas’ life and the ghosts surrounding him with exquisite creepiness. But I won’t tell you if he murders Anna, nor will I tell you if he crosses paths with his father’s murderer. (What, you weren’t wondering about that? Riiiight.)

I recommend this book to all those who love spooky and won’t be disappointed if there’s not a lot of kissy junk. You can buy this awesome book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Have fun reading!
P.D. Pabst




I’m fortunate that I have a wonderful friend who had a sister that once thought about writing. This sister handed over her enormous “How To Write” book collection to my friend (since years ago she became a lawyer instead). Now guess who got all those wonderful books? That’s right, Me! Among these books are some duplicates and I thought that I’d share them with a few lucky winners over the next few months. First up is THE ART OF FICTION: NOTES ON CRAFT FOR YOUNG WRITERS by John Gardner, author of GRENDEL.

The Art of Fiction

The book is a Vintage Books Edition, June 1991, a division of Random House. On the cover: “A necessary handbook, a stern judge, and encouraging friend.” –John L’Heureux, The New York Times Book Review. The window for entries will be open until March 6th when the winner will be announced in an update on this blog page.

Since WordPress won’t allow Rafflecopter on free sites, I’ve had to create an author page on Facebook with a tab for GIVEAWAYS. There, I was able to download the Rafflecopter for everyone to enter. Just click here to access the entry form. Pass the word along, and retweet so your writerly friends will have a chance to win. Good luck!

Update: Thanks to everyone who retweeted or posted on Facebook. However, no winner will be announced because there weren’t any entrants. Thanks to everyone who let me know the entry form wasn’t working or the link wasn’t functioning. This was my first time using Rafflecopter, so I will work on getting the kinks out for the next giveaway. Keep an eye out for the upcoming query critique offered by Literary Agent Joanna Swainson!