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Michelle4Laughs: It's in the Details


Who Do You Write For from Bishop O'Connell

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 12 July 2016 · 75 views

As writers we often have one eye on our intended audience as we write, even if it isn’t conscious. Like a lot of art, if you ask a writer about his book, either you or he will compare it to something else: “It’s Harry Potter meets A Tale of Two Cities.” Inadvertently, or perhaps quite intentionally, this book’s audience has been identified. It is the very small but dedicated group of readers who enjoy books about child wizards during the turmoil of the French Revolution. Most of us don’t intend such comparisons to define our intended audience, but it happens and permeates what we write. No matter your genre—including literary fiction—odds are you have a set of preconceived notions that go with your selection of an audience.


Almost a year after their wedding, and two since their daughter Fiona was rescued from a kidnapping by dark faeries, life has finally settled down for Caitlin and Edward. They maintain a facade of normalcy, but a family being watched over by the fae’s Rogue Court is far from ordinary. Still, it seems the perfect time to go on their long-awaited honeymoon, so they head to New Orleans.

Little do they know, New Orleans is at the center of a territory their Rogue Court guardians hold no sway in, so the Court sends in Wraith, a teenage spell slinger, to watch over them. It’s not long before they discover an otherworldly force is overtaking the city, raising the dead, and they’re drawn into a web of dark magic. At the same time, a secret government agency tasked with protecting the mortal world against the supernatural begins their own investigation of the case. But the culprit may not be the villain everyone expects. Can Wraith, Caitlin, and Edward stop whoever is bringing the vengeful dead back to life before another massacre, and before an innocent is punished for crimes beyond her control?


As a fantasy writer, I tend to take for granted that my readers will know that elves have pointed ears, dwarves are short and bearded, magic spells are cast by wizards, and countless other small things. I’m assuming those readers will have enjoyed other fantasy novels, particularly what is considered the canon (Tolkien especially) and thus have some context. But, our assumptions can cut both ways. Experienced fans of our genre might read in a mystical explanation to something completely mundane. Conversely, the uninitiated might be completely mystified by something that is a given to most fantasy readers. How do we as writers prevent this?

For me, the answer is simple: assume your reader has never picked up a fantasy novel before. That’s right, nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. This has two benefits. The first is that you prevent any confusion or frustration on the part of your reader. The second is that you’ve just opened your book up to countless readers outside your genre. That’s not to imply this is an easy feat. What is easy is to be so proud of the complex world you’ve created that you can’t wait to show your reader and you inundate her with information. In my post, Too Much Information! Knowing What to Reveal and When I went over the “how” of exposition. What I will delve into, is the “why.”

Let’s ignore the obvious: you don’t want your reader to be bored by a dissertation before getting to the story. That’s important, of course, but what I want to discuss here is the second reason. I take Ms. Rowling’s lead and assume ignorance on the part of reader and that opens my books up to a broader audience. Really, in the end, don’t we as writers want our stories to be read, and enjoyed, by as many people as possible? I certainly do. I’m sure there are those who think of themselves as purists and unless you know the arcane details you’re not “worthy” of reading the story, but that’s not for me. I want my tales to be enjoyed by anyone who picks it up, even if their usual preference is romance, mystery, biographies, printer manuals, math books, cereal boxes, newspapers, well, you get the idea. I believe if you strip out the supernatural aspects out of my novels and replace them with mundane aspects, the plot and characters still hold together. At least, that’s what I strive for. That, and no readers left scratching their heads when they’re done.

This is something all of us should strive for. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a book about faeries, or the Founding Fathers of the United States. After all, your readers might not be American or aware of American history. See? There I just assumed the readers of this piece were mostly American. I could’ve deleted that line, but I think it serves to show all of us that we have to strive, constantly, against those sorts of assumptions. Don’t limit yourself, or your work, by not inviting someone in to enjoy it. Be a good host and make your party as inclusive as possible, and ensure each guest is as welcome as possible. I hope if you’ve read my books, you found them so welcoming, and if you haven’t, consider this an open invitation.


Bishop O'Connell is the author of the American Faerie Tale series, a consultant, writer, blogger, and lover of kilts and beer, as well as a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Born in Naples Italy while his father was stationed in Sardinia, Bishop grew up in San Diego, CA where he fell in love with the ocean and fish tacos. After wandering the country for work and school (absolutely not because he was in hiding from mind controlling bunnies), he settled Richmond VA, where he writes, collects swords, revels in his immortality as a critically acclaimed "visionary" of the urban fantasy genre, and is regularly chastised for making up things for his bio. He can also be found online at A Quiet Pint (aquietpint.com), where he muses philosophical on life, the universe, and everything, as well as various aspects of writing and the road to getting published.

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Picture Book Party Submissions 2016 and Twitter Party

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 08 July 2016 · 35 views

Submission is closed. 

The agent round will be July 20 - 22nd. See the list of agents here

The Rules:

Please be a follower of this blog or sign up for my newsletter. You can click the "Join this Site" button in the right sidebar. Please follow @Michelle4Laughs on twitter. I imagine I will be tweeting hints as well as partying!

You may send two entries for different manuscripts. That's two and only two, whether you have multiple pen names or multiple email addresses. They should be in different emails. Please be honest and not send more. Only one entry will be chosen per person. If you send two, still only one will be picked. Any attempt to cheat will result in entries thrown out (and sadly it has happened in the past.) 

Please send your entry to SunversusSnow at yahoo dot com

You should receive a confirmation email. If you do not, please contact me on twitter before resending. The window will stay open until we get 250 entries. However long that takes. It could be minutes or it could be days. I'm really not sure on this one.

This contest is only for finished and polished picture book or chapter book manuscripts. It has to be ready to go out to agents.

The Format:

Subject Line of your Email: PBParty: Title

Example:  PBParty: Hot Tub Santa

Inside the email please bold where bolded in my example. Single space with spaces between paragraphs. Use Times New Roman or equivalent font and the size should be 12. 

(Here's a trick to keep your paragraph spacing: copy and paste your entry into your email and then put in the line spaces. They seem to get lost when you copy and paste. It may look right but sending scrambles the spacing.)

Name: Sharon Chriscoe
Twitter Handle: @extracleansanta (optional)
Genre: (Here please tell us what type of picture book this is) Example: Board Book, Bedtime Rhyme, Nonfiction, Biography, etc. or List Chapter Book
Word Count: xxx (round to nearest ten, hundred for chapter books)


Your entire query letter here. Include your comps, bio, greeting, closing. (You may use whatever you want for a greeting. Dear Agent. Dear Michelle and Sharon.) 

Here is your chance to make your entry shine and make the agent fall in love with your words. 

First 50 Words:

Include your first 50 words for a picture book, 100 words for chapter books. Do not stop in the middle of a sentence. You may go over by one or two words to finish a sentence but not more than five. Single space and put spaces in between paragraphs. You may center or tab if appropriate.

For short picture books, less than 50 words may be submitted. Any count under 50 is allowed.

Also I will delete parts of entries after the contest ends, if requested. For those writers uncomfortable with their work being out there for all to see.

Bonus: You may attach one illustration to your email to show an example of your artwork. If you don't have artwork, don't worry. 

Now for the twitter party fun! Visit daily under the hashtag #PBParty to meet and greet and scout out slush hints.

Sunday, July 10th         Tell us what genre you write and when you entered.

Monday, July 11th        What is your favorite place to write? Share your writing quirks.

Tuesday, July 12th    What is your favorite picture/chapter book?

Wednesday, July 13th       Animal, vegetable, mineral. Tell us if your MC is human or something else.

Thursday, July 14th           What picture/chapter book author would you like to meet, living or dead?

Friday, July 15th        What picture book character would you like to be?

Saturday, July 16th            What's your best writing advice?

Sunday, July 17th          Look for CP partners and make more friends.

Sharon and I are not sure when the picks will be announced, but it should be around Friday. We are so excited for the fun to start. As you've probably noticed we have a great group of agents and editors.

Good luck everyone!  



Query Kombat 2016 Grand Champion!

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 07 July 2016 · 30 views

Jason Beymer              

A permanent fixture at his local coffeehouse, Jason Beymer hunches over his laptop in a caffeine-induced frenzy, jowls slick with muse. He writes fantasy and horror laced with inappropriate humor. Jason worships at the feet of Ray Bradbury, and blogs at TomesandTV.com, where books and TV come together to make sweet, sweet love.

Contact Jason at twitter or his website.

Title: The Siren Episode
Entry Nickname: Cement Gargling 101
Word Count: 82,000
Genre: YA Fantasy


Arlen’s parents kill monsters—sirens, gorgons, and even leprechauns—then broadcast the murders on their TV show, Myth Slayers. And killing is a family business.

Ever since mythological creatures destroyed San Francisco twelve years ago, Myth Slayers has been number one in the ratings. Now the show’s stars want to retire and force the reins upon their son. But at seventeen, Arlen doesn’t want to slaughter monsters on primetime TV—he just wants to survive high school, where a quirk in his Myth Slayer blood makes life unbearable. 

Arlen’s blood gives him power, but repels members of the opposite sex. He can’t even approach girls without making them physically ill. So when he finds a girl who’s not getting sick, he finally sees a chance at a normal life. Problem is, Lenora’s a siren. Worse, she’s a murderer. And Lenora hides a secret: the location of a safe filled with evidence that Arlen’s parents destroyed San Francisco, not the monsters. If opened, the safe’s contents could ruin his family, leaving humans unprotected against nightmarish creatures. Arlen’s parents want the siren dead, and Arlen faces an impossible choice: kill Lenora to bury the secret, or trust the siren and expose the truth. 

First 250 words:

Arlen Boggs hopped his neighbor’s fence and slipped past the protestors. They’d camped in front of his house again, picket signs raised. He tried to keep his footsteps light, but the rain puddles didn’t help his cause.

Two blocks, he thought. You can do two blocks without getting recognized.

The morning air chilled his neck, and he buttoned his father’s trench coat, too big for his lanky frame. Arlen wore the coat, baseball cap, and sunglasses to keep himself hidden. He hoped it would work this time. 

Head down, he hurried along the narrow sidewalk. Trees rustled on either side of the street, and he glanced up at the sycamores. Nothing but windblown leaves.

A woman’s voice came from behind him: “There he is.”

Arlen turned to look at the protestors, five houses back. “Great,” he muttered.

Two of their poster boards read, “GO AWAY, MYTH SLAYERS!” and “MYTHS HAVE RIGHTS, TOO!” Despite the wet September morning, the crazy zealots surged onto the road and shouted at him.

A few months shy of his eighteenth birthday, Arlen still didn't have his driver's license. His parents never had time to teach him, always out filming their TV show. Otherwise, he would have driven himself to school and avoided the daily hate-fest.

Another tree rustled and a branch snapped. 

Could be a monster.

The protestors sped up, chasing after him with their hand-painted signs. 

Arlen broke into a jog. Monsters in the trees, protestors on his tail. Why were mornings so complicated?



Query Kombat 2016 MG Champion!

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 07 July 2016 · 26 views

Chad Morris            

Chad Morris is the author of the futuristic Cragbridge Hall series: The Inventor’s Secret, The Avatar Battle, and The Impossible Race. Chad grew up wanting to become a professional basketball player or a rock star. (Inspired by Animal from The Muppets, he has been banging on drums since he was eight years old). Though neither of those plans quite panned out, he has worked as a teacher, curriculum writer, comedian, and author. You can learn more about him and his books at www.cragbridgehall.com or www.chadmorrisauthor.com.

Follow Chad on twitter

Title: The Henchmen Company
Entry Nickname: Jello Poems
Word Count: 37,500
Genre: MG Humor


Nobody would dare call Gordo Vanderhough a baboon-faced dorkisaur.

Towering over even the adults at Taft Elementary and the only 6th grader with a 5 o’clock shadow, Gordo is known for toppling kids in the lunch line like dominoes (Ga-pow!) and stealing entire trays ofJello (because he only loves two things in life: Jello and poetry). But nobody ever calls him a dorkisaur because nobody really talks to him at all.

One day a man not only talks to Gordo, but actually compliments him and invites him to join the Henchman Company. Gordo, though the youngest henchman, is a natural at all of it: giving evil glares, maniacal laughter, trash talking, throwing large kitchen appliances, and not thinking too much. He’s thrilled about his first job until he figures out that his boss is an evil mastermind trying to hook the internet up to his own brain. If successful he will be able to control a secret government robot army and a flying spaceship the size of a city. This creepoid is going to bully his way to world domination. Suddenly, Gordo questions his career path.

When the other henchmen get wind of his change of heart, Gordo finds out what it feels like to be the one being bullied. With total human annihilation
 on the line (and the fate of all gelatin desserts), Gordo decides to use his size and skills for good. This villain is about to get Gordoed.

First 250:

Gordo Vanderhough lumbered into the cafeteria past dozens of other hungry kids. He headed straight for the front of the line but no one called out, “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” No one chided, “You can’t do that.” And nobody even thought of saying, “Get to the back of line, you baboon-faced dorkisaur or I’ll kick you in the teeth.” 

They didn’t say the last line for several reasons. One reason was that no one at Taft Elementary could kick high enough to reach Gordo’s teeth. It would require an amazing jump, a ladder, or a trampoline. Maybe even all three. But the most important reason was that no one dared say anything remotely threatening to Gordo Vanderhough.

Gordo was officially the hugest kid at Taft Elementary. In fact, he was the largest person—period. Though he was a sixth grader, he towered over the teachers. He was also as wide as a buffalo—the big kind with burly shoulders and a mop of dirty fur on its head. Plus, if you looked really close, Gordo’s chin had the stubbly beginnings of a beard. His nanny told him to shave every other day, but she only spoke Polish so he couldn’t understand a word she said. To him, it sounded like she was telling him to sing songs about shampooing zebras. And that didn’t make any sense. Needless to say, Gordo didn’t shave, or sing songs, or shampoo zebras.



Query Kombat 2016 YA Champion!

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 07 July 2016 · 22 views

Jim O'Donnell

Jim O'Donnell is a father of three (the oldest being three), husband, attorney, and a soon-to-be-retired police lieutenant. If you're wondering why he'll be retired so young, it's because Will Smith is just that good of an actor.

When he's not playing with his kids or trying to convince his work that Will Smith is actually an actor and not a doctor, he writes about teenagers doing bad things. And then his wife threatens to divorce him for spending every second of his free time writing, and after he writes about teenagers doing really bad things. Like murder.

You can find Jim on Twitter @JD_ODonnell. He's also on Facebook at Facebook.com/voteODonnell. Yeah, that's right, he once ran for Congress. No one ever said he was the smartest guy in the world. (And yes, that is real hot sauce, and yes it is a real 3rd degree burn on his arm. And YES, he did get the hot sauce in the burn while taking this picture. The photographer, his wife, thought it was the best thing that's ever happened.)

Title: The Gray Hole
Entry Nickname: Hot Sauce is Bad for Wound Care
Word count: 63K
Genre: Magic Realism/Suspense


Six students at Mayville High will be dead by Saturday night. Again. And again, they will begin the week over just before Tuesday's first period class. Doomed to repeat the same week until seventeen-year-old Grayson Dell decides to stop killing, the group must work through two problems: First, Grayson has no idea the groundhog week from hell is happening; Second, the victims are all jerks.

As Grayson debates whether or not to kill, some of his victims begin to see the cycle as a blessing instead of a curse, and in order to ensure it continues, they increase their cruelty to outrageous levels. It isn’t until Grayson’s once-most-brutal tormentor and member of that group treats him as a fellow human that signs of a possible end to the cycle begin to appear. Now with the help of his old adversary, Grayson must steer clear of his other victims and all their evil plans in order to find the therapy, medications, and friendships he needs. Otherwise, he will be forced to endure the week before prom forever, corsages, limos, improvised-explosives, and all.

Although the manuscript is narrated by a second-person voice in Grayson’s head, his is not the only story being told. Since Grayson is unaware of the temporal loop, so is the voice, leaving the reader to only feel the presence of the loop through Grayson’s interactions with the group of students he kills. While Grayson’s outlook resets with each chapter, the group members’ memories continue across the length of the manuscript, allowing their individual outlooks and attitudes to evolve, or in some cases, devolve. These secondary arcs are as seen by the voice in Grayson's head who keeps saying "you" when any rational, reliable narrator would clearly just say "I." 

First 250 words:


You tell yourself today will be different. Maybe it will. The lockers are the same sick, pale blue as yesterday, the linoleum floors still shine with same pungent cleaners that have been disintegrating nose hairs and SEAL-Team-Sixing brain cells for all four years you’ve spent in this school. And your classmates – if they’ve changed anything other than the color of their hair, it’d be tantamount to Chris Hemsworth intentionally eating a carb.

But still.

That pale blue used to be your favorite color before your wardrobe and your attitude took an about-face to the dark side. The chemical glint and nauseating smell from the floor is fading with each sneaker’s squeaking step. And those people – the juniors, sophomores, freshman, even your classmates – they all could –

Your head snaps against a locker so hard it’s unclear whether the high pitched hum ringing in your ears is just a sudden bout of tinnitus or if the blue painted metal is actually screaming back at you. You try to pull away and see if the locker’s door was repainted red, but the hand that put you there doubles the pressure from its sweaty palms, digging the blunted and jagged ends of chewed away nails into the back of your head and your left cheek.

You stop struggling before you start. Today will be no different. Why would it be? Embarrassment is the baseline of high school, and pain is just a reminder you haven’t left yet.




Query Kombat 2016 Adult Champion!

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 07 July 2016 · 19 views

Ann M. Miller

Ann M. Miller writes adult and young adult fiction, and enjoys a wide range of genres including romance, mystery, and Sci-Fi. Born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she now lives in windy (but beautiful) St. John’s, NL with her husband and son. She can usually be found glued to her laptop writing or revising, with her two lazy dogs for company. She has an unhealthy obsession with Han Solo, an addiction to Belgian chocolate, and is a sucker for Sinatra tunes. The first draft of The Absence of Butterflies was written during National Novel Writing Month.

Connect with her on Twitter and visit her website.

Title: The Absence of Butterflies
Entry Nickname: Madam Butterfly
Word count: 80,000
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance


Will Kavanagh is the only one who knows the truth about the drug overdose that killed Christy Talbot. Not that he’s telling. The world famous actress may have starred in the film adaption of his novel, but that doesn’t mean he wants to go to jail for giving her illegal drugs. Troubled by a mounting sense of self-loathing and guilt, Will returns to the only place he has ever felt something other than lost: home. Not that everyone in town is rolling out the red carpet for Cherrington’s prodigal son—especially not his former fiancée, Jessica Locke.

Following the unexpected death of her father, Jessica needs something—anything—to keep herself busy, and fixing up a property for Will’s mother sounds like just the ticket. The only hitch is her ego-fueled ex-fiancé is back—the one who left her in the rear-view mirror on his way to literary fame in NYC. Will is the last person Jessica wants to talk about, let alone see. The trouble is, she never could resist those piercing blue eyes and tortured writer’s soul. It isn’t long before things heat up between them once again.

Each dealing with death in very different ways, Jessica and Will navigate conflicting emotions and their undeniable attraction to find something worth saving. Too bad Will, haunted by the knowledge of how Christy died, isn’t exactly relationship-ready. Neither is Jessica. She knows Will is hiding something and she’s determined to find out what.

Then Will realizes that unless he’s willing to reveal his secret to Jessica, fast, he could lose her trust—and her love—all over again. Because, as it turns out, Will isn't the only one who knows the truth behind Christy’s death.

First 250:

When Will Kavanagh stepped out of the coffee shop, his eyes were drawn to the bookstore window like a magnet.

Just get back in the damn car, he commanded himself.

But his legs seemed to move of their own volition, taking him over to the book display. He would have recognized those red and gold splashed covers anywhere. Bold black letters at the top of each one proclaimed Now a Major Motion Picture. Underneath was a snapshot of the two main stars. The one on the right gazed back at Will, her full lips curved in a wide smile. His gut twisted into knots of guilt.

As he stood transfixed on the sidewalk, the world around him faded away. He didn’t see Christy Talbot with her arm around her leading man. Instead his mind burned with the image of the actress as she lay sprawled on the floor next to an upended pill bottle, her eyes empty. Those eyes had haunted him every day for the last two months.

“Excuse me.”

The voice made him snap back to the present. A man stood beside him, holding out the bag that contained Will’s bagel. “You dropped this.”

“Thanks,” he mumbled.

“Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere?”

Will stiffened. “No.”

He strode back to his BMW. With a tightness in his chest, he drove past the downtown stores, this time making damn sure his eyes faced forward. He needed another reminder of Christy like he needed a hole in the head.



Black River Falls Review

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 04 July 2016 · 22 views

Author: Jeff Hirsch
Pub. Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Cardinal has escaped the virus that ravaged his town, leaving its victims alive but without their memories. He chooses to remain in the quarantined zone, caring for a group of orphaned kids in a mountain camp with the help of the former brutal school bully, now transformed by the virus into his best friend. But then a strong-willed and mysterious young woman appears, and the closed-off world Cardinal has created begins to crumble.

A thrilling, fast-paced work of speculative fiction for teens, from a bestselling author, Black River Falls is an unforgettable story about survival, identity, and family.

When I saw this book available for review from Rockstar Book Tours, I jumped at the chance. It sounded like just the sort of book I enjoy: slightly dystopian, slightly thriller, different. Black River Falls lived up to expectations.

In a quarantine camp of virus victims, Cardinal is one of the few with intact memories, forcing him to wear mask and gloves whenever he's near people. Naturally, he's only survived this long without catching it by distancing himself. He retreats to the woods at the far ends of the camp, but is soon joined by a former bully--who no longer remembers his tough guy ways--and a gaggle of kids the bully has rescued.

Once the book makes you care about Cardinal, the story starts to expand, bringing in a girl who apparently came there to purposely lose herself. With no idea of her family or past, they name her Hannah. And Hannah's arrival changes the dynamic, awakening Cardinal's memories of his family. The story slowly reveals Cardinal's past and the fate of his family, including his famous comic- book-writing father. It also gives us a slow reveal of Cardinal's former relationship with Greer, the bully.

The thriller part comes from the hand-over of the camp from the National Guard to a group of private security forces. The Marvins are the unknown entity, and their designs on the helpless people may be less than altruistic. 

Usually I get frustrated with books that keep secrets, and there are a lot of secrets in this story. But Hirsch knows the value of not withholding too much for too long. The reader gets enough dribbles of information to keep them hanging. This book really had me turning pages, curious to learn more. Despite my busy schedule, I finished Black River Falls in record time.

There is something so genuine but so refreshing about Cardinal (named for his father's super-hero character)--part lost kid, part wise man. He's balancing the crushed part of himself from his own tragedy, trying to keep his distance from infected, and shouldering the load of a bunch of kids. There's so much about him to admire. And Greer, the former bully, turned good guy really gave me something to think about. If the memories of our past disappeared, would our characters stay the same or would be make a new start and be very different people? Food for thought.  

While the main characters are complex and full, my one complaint is that the kids they protect are mere shadows, known by little more than their names. I suppose they were kept blurred and ill-defined in the interests of saving word count, but I felt we got to see more about the two dogs than the group of kids.

At times the thriller part of the story suffers to the pursuit of character arc. Don't expect Black River Falls to be all action. Much of it is given over to the introspective of Cardinal, as is the case of any young adult book that stays in your mind over time. A good solid read with no easy answers, and one that will leave you thinking.   

3 winners will receive a finished copy of BLACK RIVER FALLS, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Jeff Hirsch

I live in an extremely Brazilian section of an extremely Greek neighborhood—Astoria, Queens, which is just to the right of Manhattan. (That's as you face Manhattan. If you were, say, lying on your back in the middle of Central Park with your head in a northerly position, we would be to your left) I live there with my wife who has a blog and our two cats who do not. One day I hope to have a very large dog that I can name Jerry Lee Lewis.

I used to write plays (I actually have an MFA in it, which is currently number 8 on US News and World Report's annual list of the top twenty most useless masters degrees) and now I write books for teens. I've written two. One was about a girl who wanted to be a rock star and could graciously be called a learning experience.

The second, is The Eleventh Plague and it comes out Sept. 1, a fact I still find pretty amazing.



Query Kombat 2016 Round 5 Sum Up

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 30 June 2016 · 24 views

WE'RE DOWN TO THE FINAL TWO out of 340 entries--an amazing accomplishment by these authors.

Congrats to the winners of Round 5 who have become our Final Two, battling it out for title for Grand Champion! The round takes place on Friday and goes for two days

A big cheer for the last two standing from sixty-four entries! I wonder which will be our grand champion?!?!?!

Go Mike and Laura's Team!!!! WHOOOOO

All the action is over on Mike's Blog starting July 1st

Here are the matchups:

Cement Gargling 101 vs Jello Poems

Good Luck!!!



PB Party July 2016 Agents

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 30 June 2016 · 25 views

Introducing the agents for the July Picture Book Party. They are an impressive bunch! 

To see how to format your entry, check out this post. Submission is Sunday, July 10th at noon! We are only taking the first 250 entries.

Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency

Jessica Sinsheimer has been reading and campaigning for her favorite queries since 2004. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she went east for Sarah Lawrence College and stayed for the opportunity to read soon-to-be books for a living.

“Now an Agent at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, she’s developed a reputation for fighting office members to see incoming manuscripts first—and for drinking far too much tea. Her most recent sale is RIPPER, a paranormal/historical YA novel, about a Victorian girl who takes down Jack the Ripper–and its sequel.

“Always on the lookout for new writers, she is most excited about finding literary, women’s, and Young Adult fiction, and—on the nonfiction side—psychology, parenting, self-help, cookbooks, memoirs, and works that speak to life in the twenty-first century.

Christa Heschke of McIntosh and Otis

CHRISTA HESCHKE graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children's Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively acquiring for all age groups in children’s.

For YA, she is especially interested in contemporary, thriller/mystery, and horror. She looks for a compelling voice and a strong hook that will set a YA novel apart in the flooded market. She is open to all types of middle grade and especially enjoys adventure, mystery, and magical realism. For both YA and MG, she is interested in unique settings and cultural influences, interesting structure, complicated romances, diverse characters, sister or friendship-centric stories, and stories that feature artists of any kind. In picture books she is drawn to cute, funny stories (as opposed to sweet and quiet) that will grab kids as well as the occasional nonfiction biography on a subject whose story has yet to be told.

Christa is not looking for any Adult fiction or non-fiction, paranormal or dystopian at this time.

Michelle Witte of Mansion Street Literary Management

Michelle Witte is an author and literary agent with Mansion Street Literary Management specializing in children’s fiction and nonfiction. As an agent, her tastes vary widely, and she represents authors across the spectrum of children’s literature, from illustrated board and picture books to middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction. Michelle is always on the lookout for fascinating stories that are well told, especially those with a distinct and distinctive voice.
She began her career as a journalist, first reporting and then later copy editing for the Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake City, Utah. From there, she transitioned to a position as associate editor with nonfiction publisher Gibbs Smith, where she edited titles on a variety of topics, including children’s activity, humor, gift, cookbooks, and green living. Her combined experience in the publishing industry is a boon for the authors she represents, as she is able to guide them through each of the stages of publication.

Lara Perkins of Andrea Brown Literary

Lara Perkins represents all categories of children's literature, from picture books to young adult. She has been with the agency since 2010 and is also the agency's Digital Manager.
She is not currently accepting queries. 

Some of Lara's recent picture book and novelty titles include Anne Sibley O'Brien's ABRACADABRA! IT'S SPRING! and a forthcoming companion novelty title about the magic of fall (Abrams Appleseed, sold in a two-book deal); lyrical and multicultural nonfiction picture book titles like Tami Charles's debut picture book FREEDOM SOUP (forthcoming with Candlewick); and hilarious, commercial titles like author/illustrator Ross Burach's THERE'S A GIRAFFE IN MY SOUP and I AM NOT A CHAIR! (HarperCollins, sold in a six-figure, two-book pre-empt), Ross Burach's PINE AND BOOF: THE LUCKY LEAF and a second title in the PINE AND BOOF picture book series (forthcoming with HarperCollins, sold in a six-figure, two-book deal), Ross Burach's illustrations for BILLY BOO STUCK IN GOO by two-time children's television Emmy Award winner Jennifer Hamburg (forthcoming with Scholastic); Kathy Ellen Davis's debut picture book TA DA! (forthcoming with Chronicle); and Denise Vega's IF YOUR MONSTER WON'T GO TO BED to be illustrated by Zachariah Ohora (forthcoming with Knopf/PRH).

Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary

Kathleen comes to the Andrea Brown Literary Agency after agenting for nearly five years with the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. She represents writers and illustrators for picture books (both fiction and non-fiction), middle grade, and young adult literature.
When it comes to picture books, Kathleen loves to laugh and have her heartstrings pulled, and likes quirky character driven stories with heart. Kathleen is also actively building her list of nonfiction picture books. She would love to find more biographies and what some call “ficinformational” picture books (books with a fictional story that ties into the Common Core).
Kathleen is actively looking for fresh middle grade across all genres. She has a soft spot for heartfelt stories, as well as humorous contemporary with a relatable voice. She particularly enjoys middle grade with strong friendship themes. She would be happy to find a middle grade fantasy, adventure, historical, or a high stakes story with a twist of magic. For YA novels, Kathleen loves voice-driven contemporary (and is especially fond of magical realism), compelling fantasy with unforgettable characters, historical fiction, and romance with lots of chemistry. Additionally, she is always on the lookout for something smart and edgy that pushes the envelope.

Laura Biagi of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency

Laura Biagi joined JVNLA in 2009. She is actively building her client list, seeking adult literary fiction, young readers' books, and nonfiction. She also handles the sale of UK and Australian/New Zealand rights, as well as audio rights. In the past, she has worked closely with Jean Naggar and Jennifer Weltz on their titles, as well as the submission of JVNLA's titles internationally.

Laura's writing background has honed her editorial eye and has driven her enthusiasm for discovering and developing literary talent. She studied creative writing and anthropology at Northwestern University. As a writer, she has participated in workshops at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, and the New York State Summer Writers Institute. She is the recipient of a Kentucky Emerging Artist Award for fiction writing.

Laura grew up in a small town in Kentucky and maintains a fondness for Southern biscuits and unobstructed views of the stars.

Ginger Harris-Dontzin and Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency

Liza Fleissig, with her partner Ginger Harris-Dontzin, opened the Liza Royce Agency (LRA) in early 2011. Their goal was, and remains, to represent authors in all stages of their careers, from the most established to those developing their craft, as well as debuts. Both former partners in NYC based litigation law firms,Liza and Ginger bring a combined 40 years of negotiating experience to the field. This background, along with connections rooted in publishing, movies and television, allowed them to focus and build on a referral based clientele.
From picture books through adult projects, fiction and non-fiction, LRA welcomes strong voices and plot driven works. Their inaugural books became available in stores January 2013.  Their first was an Edgar nominee, another was an Indie Next Pick, and two others were optioned for film. LRA’s success began right out of the gate.

Brianne Johnson of Writers House

I’m extra-crazy-picky with taking on picture books, but I do love them and rep them. I would love a great picture book series, like a Fancy Nancy or a Knuffle Bunny—something where we could see fabulous, memorable characters encounter a variety of new circumstances. My tastes tend to run toward the funny, here—very sweet, gentle picture books are just not for me. The same goes for chapter books. I’m particularly on the lookout for humorous, entertaining, illustrated chapter books that also have some kind of educational angle to them, something that could be brought into a classroom to supplement the new Common Core Standards, and ALSO something a kid would gleefully reach for, themselves.

I’m also very interested in seeing illustration work for cover design and picture books, and love author/illustrators.

I have a great love for middle grade—bring on the whimsical, the imaginative, the dark/crass/wacky/hilarious. Roald Dahl's bizarre flights of fancy comprise some of the most pleasurable reading time of my life, and I love lower-fantasy in general—-I would go live at Hogwarts if I could..! It's a career goal of mine to rep a Newbery winner. I grew up reading Karen Cushman, Sharon Creech, and Scott O'Dell's books until they fell apart in my hands. I'd love to find a historical MG that is also fun and exciting--a lot of submissions I see for this genre are a little too serious/earnest for my taste. Really, I'd just love to find a fresh, beautiful, fun, thoughtful story that makes that first real step into adulthood seem brand-new, all over again. I'd love to find a great middle grade series!

I’m also looking for exciting, high-concept, gobble-down-in-one-sitting YA novels that keep me up way past my bedtime (I love creepy/horror/suspense, historical, historical fantasy, and creative fantasy in general) as well as beautiful, literary works that explore the coming-of-age theme from a truly original angle and beg for multiple re-readings. I'm a huge Francesca Lia Block fan, and tend to gravitate toward stories featuring offbeat, alternate-lifestyle protagonists who trailblaze their own weird and wonderful paths through life--I want unforgettable characters that I'd follow anywhere, who burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.

Rena Rossner of the Deborah Harris Agency

Rena is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University’s Writing Seminars Program, where she double-majored in poetry and non-fiction writing. She studied at Trinity College, Dublin and holds an MA in History from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She worked at bookstores in four countries, has written extensively for The Jerusalem Report and The Jerusalem Post, and worked in PR, grant-writing, and website development at The Jerusalem Foundation. She is a writer of both fiction and poetry as well as the author of the cookbook EATING THE BIBLE, which has been translated into five languages.

Rena is interested in representing Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction in all genres, Adult Literary and Contemporary Fiction especially Upmarket Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction and Thrillers. She is also actively seeking Young Adult, Middle Grade and Picture Books.

Andrea Cascardi of Transatlantic Agency

Andrea Cascardi has held senior editorial positions at Random House and Disney Publishing, and was an agent with Transatlantic for ten years before returning to the Publisher role at Egmont USA. As an editor she acquired and edited Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King winner Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold, the Raffi Songs to Read series, and Pura Belpre winner Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez among many other award-winning books. As an agent she represented many bestselling and award-winning titles including Clare Vanderpool’s Newbery winner MOON OVER MANIFEST and Printz Honor winner NAVIGATING EARLY, e.E. Charlton-Truillo’s Stonewall winner FAT ANGIE, New York TimesBestseller NUBS: A MUTT, A MARINE, AND A MIRACLE Read Full Entry →


Query Kombat 2016 Round 5

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 28 June 2016 · 31 views

The final four!

We are down to the best of the best! This round lasts until June 29th at 8:00 pm and will determine the final battle.

On the last day the hosts may call out for extra judges to come and break ties, or in case of extra close votes to try and get a more decisive margin. In the event a tie remains, the blog host will provide the tie breaker.

The four entries with the most votes for Victory move forward to the final battle on July 1st!

There will not be any more opportunities to revise for the remainder of the tournament. Good luck!

Now before we begin:

Read this post again to remind yourselves of the rules and guidelines of 
commenting and judging. Below I've reposted the main ideas:

Reminders for the Entrants:

You may comment on your own entries ON the last day of the round to offer thanks or congrats. If there is a problem with your entry, please tweet me @Michelle4Laughs. If you don't have a Twitter, you may comment on your entry telling us the mistake. Also, we tried our hardest to make the match-ups as fair as possible and against as similar stories as possible. But, obviously, this is impossible to do perfectly and some match-ups may seen very random. We apologize for this but it's an evil of the system.

Reminders for the Judges:

Wait until after one of us hosts comments on each entry first and reply to that comment to cast your votes. Try making your votes objective instead of subjective (but if you really love an entry subjectively, don't even feel bad about saying it was a subjective vote - subjectivity rules!). Be sure to point out the good as well as what needs work. Post under your nicknames! If you forget, just delete and repost. And judges: seriously, thank you for doing this. It's a very tough job and isn't for the faint-hearted.

Reminders for Everyone:

Try not to comment until after one of us hosts have made the first comment, then go ahead and offer your feedback. We ask everyone who entered Query Kombat to leave at least one comment. 

NOW THE FUN BEGINS!!! GO GO GO!!! We'll be Tweeting under #QueryKombat!


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