Sunday, February 21, 2010


The excitement here in the studio has been building to a fevered pitch all week. We’ve already had several episodes of urinary incontinence as a result. What’s this all about then? A clumsy and rather transparent attempt to boost my followership?  It's my MY FIRST EVER CONTEST, of course!


Two Grand Prize winners (that’s Grandes Gonadores de la Grasa for my readers in the Dominican Republic) will receive:

1) a stunningly insightful critique on a full manuscript;

2) my top secret list of YA agents; and

3) consultation and all-purpose cheering up as you embark on that perilous rite of publishing passage: yep, I'm talking about querying. Believe me, I’m who you want to sit next to at the bar when you’re feeling down and out. I am a genial drunk, and I often lose track of how many rounds of drinks I’m buying for other people. Plus, I tell everybody how much I love them (yeah, I’m that guy).

Of course, if you are not a YA writer, I will happily still do the critique. I also write adult literary fiction, so I’m perfectly comfortable with any and all 50 cent words you might choose to utilize. (Obviously the YA agent list will not be applicable, but the offer to be your comrade-in-arms during querying still stands.)***

Now, you may well be wondering, “What in the heck qualifies YOU to do a critique of MY manuscript, woman?” Fair question, fair question. Well, for one thing, my favorite book as a child was The Chicago Manual of Style, so I know my way around a comma pretty well. For another, I’ve got an MFA in writing from a Fancy Pantsy University, for whatever that’s worth. Also, I used to work for a couple well-known national magazines (I’ll be happy to name names if you email me, although you can figure it out pretty easily just by Googling my name). Also, I’ve proudly held several posts for which “Editorial Assistant” was the regal title and have copyedited a bunch of nonfiction books in that capacity.

More to the point, I am currently querying my first YA novel, and I have several partials and fulls out to agents at the moment, so I guess I know my way around well enough to get my manuscript requested. I’m also a proud practitioner of CCC – compassionate constructive criticism. That means you can count on getting honest, helpful feedback nestled on a fluffy bed of Easter grass.

Should you win, my only request is that you send to me what you would conceivably send to an agent. The less drafty your draft is, the more helpful I will be to you as a reader. But, really, I’m willing to help you at whatever stage you’re at. Winners can claim their critique at any time, so if you’re still mid-stroke on your manuscript, that’s all right. Whenever you’re ready to send, just let me know.

HOW TO ENTER: Add yourself as a blog follower AND/OR follow me on Twitter. THEN – here’s the crucial part -- send me an email with “Contest Entry” in the subject line. My email address is kalmdown(atsymbol) The email is necessary so I know who wants to be entered in the contest and who is merely following my blog/tweets because they are keen admirers of my sparkling prose and wit. I promise not to misuse your email address or send you junk mail. Frankly, I’m way too lazy to do anything like that anyway.

I will select the winners using some randomizer technology yet to be determined or maybe by throwing a dart at my computer screen. All entries must be received by Sunday, March 7, at 11:59, EST. I’ll announce the winners the following day. Questions? Please feel free to email me.

***Meghan Ward, you already get your choice of a critique, promotion assistance, or one of my lesser-used vital organs because you were my first ever Twitter follower. Actually, all of you reading this, go and check out Meghan’s blog: She’s writing a memoir with the hilarious title: “Paris on Less Than $10,000 a Day.” Tell her Kristen sent you.

Also, I’m gonna give credit to Elana Johnson for inspiring me to do a contest of my own: you can check out her awesome query advice at:

Well, what are you waiting for? Go on, git. Click their blog links already. And feel free to pass this info on to any and all interested parties.