Query Kombat 2016 Meet My Slush Reader and Enter to Win a Free Pass!

Query Kombat is back! 

First things first: You are all so very talented, you make picking extremely difficult for me. And since there’s no cap on entries this year, I decided to enlist the help of a very talented writer (and excellent critique partner) to sift through everything for me. Meet Kara!

Kara Reynolds is a stay-at-home mom of three who likes to spend her nearly-non-existent free time writing novels. Her weaknesses include James T. Kirk, lightsabers, and anything TARDIS-blue. She writes contemporary and light speculative YA novels. She is clearly a gigantic nerd, and if she could go back in time, she would tell her teenage self to embrace her inner geekiness. While Kara lives in Wyoming, she is not of Wyoming. But it’s growing on her.

Kara writes for Operation Awesome, providing ideas and inspiration for getting over writer’s block. She also critiques query letters and Twitter pitches those days, so if you need a fresh set of eyes on your week, be sure to comment on her Tuesday Museday posts! To connect with Kara, you can also visit her blog or find her on Twitter.

This year, I’m offering each of you a chance to bypass the slush and go straight into the contest where you will receive judge feedback and an opportunity to make the agent round. You’ll still have to knock out your competitor in Round 1, though, so make sure your first page and query (and the entire manuscript) are as polished as you can get them before you submit. 

To create some excitement and spread the word about the contest, I’m following Michelle’s lead and raffling off one of the spots on my team. 

My Free Pass contest will be open until May 5. On May 6, I’ll draw one lucky winner at random, and post the results on this blog.

To enter the contest, answer the following question in the blog comments, using 50 words or less: What weapon/skill does your main character use to fight for his or her dreams? Please include your Twitter handle so I can notify you if you win.

Make sure you use the Rafflecopter and don’t just leave a comment. The Rafflecopter is choosing the winner, so you must get your name in it. For bonus entries, follow me and Kara on Twitter or visit my Facebook author page.

To learn more about Query Kombat go here. The judges and agents will be posted soon. There will be a Twitter party starting just before the submission date of May 21nd. Watch my blog for more details.

Good luck with the free pass! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  1. My main character has been learning Kungfu and Thaichi since she was little. That's what she uses to fight for her dreams.

  2. Thanks for doing this! My MC is a dream spy, so she uses her ability to tap into people's dreams to decipher their true desires and beliefs in a court filled with intrigue, lies, and mysticism to learn who she can trust. And who she can't.


  3. When things get tough, to get her through, my main character has three fabricated personas that she utilizes to garner strength and bravery. Relying on them gives her an invisible edge of armor….until controlling them becomes harder and harder the more she uses them.

  4. Dreams foreshadow Taylor's future, yet she'd never fight against them, for it is only in her dreams that she can travel back 150 years, to be with the one man whose love echoes across time.

  5. My mc injects himself with untested nanobots that he steals from his cousin’s lab. They’ll boost his senses and give him an edge so he can find out who killed his sister. They don’t give him super smarts, so he also captures a sentient AI to help him.

  6. My MC uses her impressive skills of manipulation (since she's a seer and cursed to never be believed). And also YouTube/Vine.


  7. My MC is a Redcap, a creature that must kill and steal its victims blood and magic to survive. It grants her speed and strength, but it's also corrupting her soul. If she can learn to channel her power into light magic, she can free herself of her curse and save her kingdom.

  8. As Merlin's apprentice, Vael uses his magical powers to fight for his dreams, but he prefers using swords, namely Excalibur.

  9. @JLenniDorner on Twitter
    (Does this blog have GFC, Bloglovin, Networked, or Linky for following? I can't seem to find any of those.)
    To fight for his dreams, Xavier wields his power over liquid, especially water, as his favored tool. Wend doesn't know about such powers, so she uses only determination in the flight that is her fight for her dreams.

  10. Masha's wanted to become a video game designer since she noticed her characters jumped when she pressed the space bar. So she's honed her mad programming skills–which are also useful when hacking her Mom's Facebook account to delete all the awkward baby pictures.

    @amelia_creed on Twitter

  11. Lia is a black belt, and excellent marksman and a P.I., but she wasn't any of those things two years ago. Being on the run has a funny way of forcing a girl to learn new skill sets. Even with all that training, her go-to weapon is her throwing knife, which she keeps neatly tucked into her battered, hand-me-down, red, cowboy boots. Covert is key to staying under the radar.

  12. Allie wouldn't know how to hold a sword and has no intention of finding out. She manages with a combinaiton of intelligence and experience. Not fool proof because everythig is new and experience takes time and lots of mistakes.

  13. My MC only wants her life to go back to normal and be a family with her no-account brother again, so I suppose her greatest skill here is forgiving him over and over and over again.


  14. After nearly destroying himself with addiction, my MC walks away from Hollywood. On his journey to sobriety he discovers the man he truly is inside; his greatest weapon is that man, a wounded soul who dreams of a completely different life, who has the courage to love and be loved.

  15. My MC is trying to simultaneously save her job from Hollywood producers AND get the guy of her dreams. Until she learns to actually stand up for herself, she uses her super power: passive-aggression. Don't worry — she gets better at adulting later on 😉 Twitter for me is @wrekehavoc

  16. My MC is a gifted orator; she's logical and has integrity. She uses these skills to persuade people to follow her.

  17. Parker's a girl with big dreams and the confidence to match. Being an empath means she's got serious emotional mojo when she needs it, but she also uses her ample charm and strategic thinking to get what she wants.

  18. Marina is still figuring out where she wants her life to go, but her grit and determination help her push through when circumstances scream at her to give up.

  19. My MC is a talented artist and she's focused and determined to get into art school, defying the odds and breaking the chains of a dreadful label.

  20. Sabine poets when things get hard… no, she doesn't write poetry. She riffs on Emily Dickinson when she's creeped out or nervous, which is getting to be a regular thing now that she's living in a tiny town where poodle topiaries are ubiquitous and that hot guy who moved her family in sits next to her in French.

  21. One of my main characters has the dream of becoming a mother, even though life hasn't worked out that way so far. Her weapon of choice in the fight of her life? Assistive Reproductive Technology, baby!

  22. After her initial escape from the Tower, K-1 always thought that her Fire powers would save her. But it turns out those powers are super weak, and she has another secret ability that no one can teach her to use – the ability to transfer life energy between different vessels. And no, she has no idea what that means either, but she'll have to figure it out if she's going to save the planet!

  23. Magic bound to Disa in the form of 113 souls trapped in her body over decades of torture provide her with incredible power. Without her friends, however, she'd never had found the strength to use the power. So, friendship to the max.

  24. Ooh, this is a fun question. My FourBorn girls have different weapons and skills:

    Evadne has a harp-bow – part musical instrument, part crossbow. For a sensitive and affectionate person who doesn't harm others (she's even vegan), she's got a deadly aim with it. She's also telepathic and can sense her enemy's intent.

    Kaia has a CEL – a Concentrated Energy Lance. It's an energy sword used for live-action gaming on her world. Normally, it's non-lethal and only stings opponents, but Kaia is an inventive genius and she's managed to not only bump up the energy concentration to a deadly level, but it now radiates up to 13 different types of hand-held weapons.

    Oriana wields a war hammer named Pyrost. Pyrost is made from the thigh bone of her people's last dragon. It's flat on one side and spiked/serrated on the other. It's unbreakable and too heavy for most people to use in battle, but as Oriana is freakishly strong (thanks to the dragon blood that lives through her genes) she can swing it endlessly without tiring.

    Isaura is a pacifist, so she doesn't wield a weapon of her own. However, Oriana has given her a poison pellet gun to help defend herself. The pellet gun – a child's training weapon on Oriana's world – contains neurotoxin pellets that stun an opponent without long-term harm. Isaura wields it clumsily at first, but begins to master it.

  25. Hi Laura! I tweeted about the freepass, and I'm pretty sure I did it the way I was supposed to, but every time I come to your site, it shows me as not having completed that part of the entry and I'm not entered for those chances. Any ideas what's happening?


    • Hi Emmy,

      Did you paste the link for the tweet into the box above? That's the only reason I could think it wouldn't be showing up.

  26. Reed's secret power is his friends. His sister Wren and a misfit bunch of loners gather to help him solve his problem. In the end they all have a bit of a coming of age.

    Hope I did this right – couldn't seem to get the rafflecopter to work for me.

  27. His tenacity. He never, ever gives up searching for the truth, even if that means having to make a string of life changing sacrifices. His integrity also acts like a magnet, which draws other characters to him and flushes out their loyalty. Together, they have a chance of uncovering humanity's most ancient secret…(and it's not the recipe for Coca Cola)

  28. My main character's strongest weapons are her compassion and ability to see the potential in people. She's a lover, not a fighter. 🙂

  29. Annie imagines using The Craft to stop the cat from following her everywhere, or maybe just to tidy her bedroom with one swish of her wand.

  30. Crysta possesses an Elemental affinity for green and growing things and can channel that power to fight her battles, transfiguring plants into very pointy weapons. She also favors a broad sword which her brother taught her to use.

  31. If Stubby has a superpower, it is his nose! As a dog smuggled over to France to fight in the war along side of his human, he used his nose to sniff and warn of gas bombs, find wounded soldiers, and of course to make a beeline to anyone who had bacon to share!

  32. Pawly must fight for her lover's life with the very thing that scares her most–her Affliction, the werecat bloodlust that killed her father years before. She relies on fangs, claws, enhanced senses and superhuman agility after a failed Navy combat mission drives her underground to protect him. @mj_engels

  33. Mostly Tara relies on her intelligence, cunning and determination, but whenever things are getting really desperate, she's not above making use of potions, poisons and psychic powers. Just don't ask her to use her non-existent strength and athleticism.

  34. My MC, Mecca has elemental power, however her dream is to fall in love, so the tool she really needs is simply her heart. Once she learns how to use it, the boy of her dreams just may stop fighting her and love her back.

  35. Jennifer uses her strengthening fortitude, nonexistent early in the story, to overcome her broken psyche after suffering bullying at school and emotional abuse at home, and heal from many years of emotional devastation. @juliewalters16

  36. Her brains! And the gadget on her wrist that may look like an old bulky watch, but it's really a super computer! @NinanTanster

  37. My MC is a swimmer training to get on the elite team. Her special weapon: the 200 butterfly. When she drops time in a 'fly race, even her usually severe coach gives her a smile and thumbs-up.

  38. Finn would use his intelligence to fight for his dream. He's let people push him around for too long and he would choose to use his brain rather than braun or outside resources to make a change in his life.

  39. My character's weapon of choice in any fight is her stubbornness. Verbally, she spars with wit and deliberation. And in the heat of a physical battle, she will never relent. An unstoppable force. That and her blade 🙂

  40. My MC is much smaller than his enemies, but uses his size to sneak into tight places and hear secrets he is not supposed to hear which help him defeat them.


  41. Isla started learning the fiddle when she was a teenager and fighting with her twin brother. It was an escape and an outlet during her last years at school, provided her with a focus outside of the island and fuelled her dreams of making it somewhere else. After her brother died she moved to the mainland to study music and joined a band. Ten years later she's a successful musician. Her fiddle made her dreams come true but at the start of the novel the world she has built up around music and life away from the island has come crashing down. Now she must embrace the power she has been denying if she has any hope of making new dreams- the power to save boats lost at sea. @lcoastrhand

  42. My MC has the unique ability to shift to a vampire when her emotions are heightened (like a paranormal HULK), so this is her most powerful weapon. Unfortunately, she's not able to control it, but it does come in handy most times she needs it.

  43. Payton Trapp, my MC uses her bright and sometimes cunning mind to fight for her dreams and everyone else. Thank you for doing this – my twitter handle is @mflatdog

  44. Beatrice is a wiz at the clever comeback, but words fail her as she faces the blank screen of her college application essay. However, her witty and quick repartee keeps Ben at arms-length, which is what she wants–maybe. @EvaPolites

  45. All Deniz wants is to be free – from the jihadists flooding the streets of her hometown, and from her abusive husband. She'll use her AK-47 on the first, and it remains to be seen what she'll use on the latter.

  46. All Deniz wants is to be free – from the jihadists flooding the streets of her hometown, and from her abusive husband. She'll use her AK-47 on the first, and it remains to be seen what she'll use on the latter.

  47. Joanna's weapon of choice is her perseverance. She never lets go, and whether that is with Jack or her gut instincts, she's constantly holding on and fighting for what she wants. I feel a bit kindred to her.

  48. 12-year-old Sam thinks she is hallucinating when she accidentally resurrects her pet cat. But her cat's body stitching itself back together again is no hallucination. She has the power to heal any injury with her bare hands. @itsjennylbrown

  49. Well, my sparkling wit, obviously. And my Sneaky Girl skills. It doesn't hurt that I can see the fae-born hiding among us. That should be a big advantage in my quest to become their princess. @John_Berkowitz

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