Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"An Agent's Inbox" Contest Underway!

Well, the contest's underway! I know some of the entries have a few small formatting issues, and I apologize for that. I just wanted to get these last entries all posted before I worried about anything else. I will go over all the entries this weekend and adjust the ones that need a little fixing.

In the meantime, critique away! Any and all feedback is fantastic, but if you want to be thinking like The Agent, you could answer the question, "How much of the entry did you read, and if you didn't read it all, why did you stop?"

I'll announce the winners and the prizes on Tuesday, July 5. See you next week!

An Agent's Inbox #20

Dear Competition Agent,

When a smart, imaginative eleven-year-old tries to make sense of a seemingly callous world, he discovers that dark family secrets are being kept right under his nose, and the most shocking, most heartbreaking is about him.

Blake Payne goes queasy at the sight of blood, thinks he might be in love with an older girl who uses him as a decoy in her schoolyard trafficking business and has riled his steely mother by getting suspended from school. He wants to repair his image. He wants his mother to like him again.  Mostly, he wants to understand why his parents suddenly take off in different directions (which has never happened before) leaving him with his ailing grandparents.  Piecing together disturbing things his snarly older sister says, Blake is sure it has something to do with an uncle he’s never even seen.

Blake means to get to the bottom of the mystery but life keeps getting more complicated.  His normally down-to-earth grandfather starts asking crazy questions--like is the kitchen floor bucking under their feet.  His Grandma is snappy all the time.  Even Nelson, Grandpa’s sad-faced dog is behaving skittishly. What Blake finds out will change his life forever.  What happens to his Grandpa will put his own problems into perspective.  How his mother comes out of it will be almost as big a shock as where his mild tempered father fits in.

At 53,000 words, THE UNLUCKY PANDA is a YA novel in the realistic vein of stories like Kimberley Willis Holt’s WHEN ZACCHARY BEAVER CAME TO TOWN and the Scandinavian cult-classic, MY LIFE AS A DOG.  Although this is a first novel I have written four non-fiction books, one published by McGraw-Hill and three published in the"for Dummies" series by Wiley. Per your guidelines I have pasted the 250 words of my new work at the end of this post. The whole book is available immediately. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
T.W.


THE UNLUCKY PANDA

Blake Payne rocked.  In the physical, nervous sense.  Gripping the sides of his chair, his eyes set straight ahead to delay the sickening moment when he would see the outside door open and his mom come marching in, he swayed forwards and backwards.  It was like he thought he might somehow wind-up the plastic, stackable, bad kids’ chair.  He might set it into motion and then it might take off with him.  Idiotic.  It wouldn’t happen.  Aside from the limitation of it being a chair and not a helicopter or space rocket, and the whole sequence of events being a stupid and utter fantasy cooked up in his brainless head as a distraction, it would also be a piece of good luck.

For once Blake didn’t really care what he looked like.  He rocked like a mental case.  If any of the sour faced secretaries in their open plan office, or any a** kissing student bringing a note from class, or any older girl clutching her stomach and pretending to be on the brink of death, saw him, he couldn’t care less.  The rocking was better than slamming his fist into a wall, or screaming, or, the mosthumiliating thing he’d done recently, crying.

His mom would be here soon.  Leaving her limp, gray-skinned patients, she was on her way.  Had she told her staff sister the truth he wondered--that she was going to her jerk son’s school to sign him out on suspension?  Blake seriously doubted it.

An Agent's Inbox #19

Dear Agent:

When sixteen-year-old Camryn Brock sneaks out and gets snatched by a group of drunks looking for some fun, she’s relieved to be rescued by an alluring stranger named Christian. Her relief turns to panic when, instead of taking her home, he claims her as his own prisoner.

While Camryn is something between freaked and pissed, she becomes absorbed in Christian and his family--who strangely seem to do whatever he commands. She discovers he's one of the elite chosen to live as a Remainder, leaving him to watch over the world while enduring everyday teenage life. But the Remainders’ secrets run deep, and the more Camryn uncovers about them, the more she loses her desire to get her butt back home. It doesn't help any that she's beginning to adore her captor either.

But being with Christian is more dangerous than Camryn realizes. Because not all Remainders are like him. Some thrive on stolen life, and some want hers.

REMAINDERS is a young adult paranormal romance complete at 88,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,   
M.W.


REMAINDERS

The books reeked of salt and rotting fish. I kind of liked it. The libraries back home only carried the scent of aged paper and dust. Not nearly as charming.

I continued to browse. I loved the search as much as the read. Cream cheese was my next stop. Running errands for Mom really bugged, but it gave me an excuse to get out. Alone.

New, shiny driver’s license. Back pocket. Me? Stoked. But Mom? Not so much. The picture had turned out dreadful, but fortunately, a glamorous photo wasn’t a requirement for the freedom it offered. Well, a little bit of freedom. Mom was still pretty stiff, but I would take anything to make my life less vanilla.

I turned toward the end of the aisle where a teenage boy sat by the window with a newspaper, bright colors parading over the comic section. He was watching me.

I froze.

His eyes bore into mine, but I couldn’t look away. An invisible darkness hungaround him, so flawless, I could almost taste its putrid flavor. But at the same time, I just wanted to gawk as my finger longed to slowly trace his sharp features--make sure he was real.

Strings of black hair fell over his forehead, screening his sunken eyes, and the bones in his face looked rigid beneath skin that could snap.

But there was more. Something ran deeper, radiated from within. Something I sensed more than saw. He was…different.

I could feel it.

An Agent's Inbox #18

Dear Agent:

When Lorna McCloud's father died, she didn't cry--she buried him and vowedto avenge his murder. Years pass and she becomes an assassin, training herself as the ultimate killing machine. While trying to track down his murderer, she discovers she has the power to create and hide in artificial shadows. The Paranormal Intelligence Agency kidnaps Lorna, wanting to use her power, but she escapes to a small island, whose king many people want killed.

King Alaric is everything Lorna isn't--noble, kind, good. Falling for him slowly changes Lorna, but she can't ignore her vow. A mass gravesite on the island provides clues to her father's murder, why people want Alaric dead, and leads her back to the PIA, who promises Lorna the information she wants in exchange for her killing a seemingly random woman.

If Lorna achieves her life goal, Alaric will learn she is the assassin and turn against her, leaving her torn between duty and love.

HIDDEN IN SHADOWS is a complete 96,000-word urban fantasy standalone novel with series potential.

I am the author of a fantasy romance trilogy, WOMAN OF HONOR (2009), KNIGHT OF GLORY (2010), and CHAMPION OF VALOR (2011) published with Desert Breeze Publishing. I have also sold nine short stories for anthologies, including MERTALES by Wyvern Publications, and many collections by Pill Hill Press.

Sincerely,
N.Z.


HIDDEN IN SHADOWS

Heavy breathing. His--the hunted.

My unsuspecting prey muttered a curse as he lost his footing and slid a few feet down the mountainside.

I smiled. Easy pickings, compliments of cocaine.

Rocks tumbled down as he stumbled again, splinters of shale forcing me to hide behind a tree. I'd waited four days for this--my chance to hunt and kill him at my leisure with no eyewitness. I wasn't about to let him see me and make a break for it.

I peeked around the oak, and the setting sun momentarily blinded me, blood reds and flaming oranges blurring together like the gates of hell. How appropriate.

He stood, hunched over, his hands on his knees. His labored breathing shook his large frame, the back of his neck the same bright red as the sunset. If he continued at this pace, I might not have to kill him. His heart could give out. Perfect… save me the trouble.

But I couldn't rely on the possibility of a heart attack. He had to die by my hand if I wanted to be paid. I removed a throwing knife from its sheath inside my right boot and took aim.

Voices sounded, loud and near. Other hikers. I grimaced. Now was not the time to make my move.

The man now sat on the edge of the path in a stupor, idly picking up pebbles and letting them fall into a pile. The red Louisiana clay of Driskill Mountain stained his trembling fingers.

An Agent's Inbox #17

Dear awesome agent:

Lark Hawkins comes from a long line of mind manipulators. And it totally sucks that she has to follow The Rules.

She may possess the same thought-influencing gift as others scattered throughout history, but she's not exempt from the dos and don'ts of her tribe. At 16, Rule Three is killing her mojo: she's forbidden to make anyone fall in love with her.

Lark's broken the rule before but this time the Ducere are lurking. Once the king-making CIA of the Duo underground, its mission to recruit, train and mobilize Duos has taken a sinister turn under its new leader. He's using members' talents to wipe out Free Spirits, or people immune to Duo power, and Lark's strong abilities are on his radar. She's been warned to lay low but, obsessed with hockey star Peter Hubbard, Lark finds obedience as impossible as dancing in tar-covered ballet shoes. Giving in to one tiny temptation results in a tragic accident and Lark is forced to seek refuge offered by the Ducere at their headquarters in Oxford, England. Once there, Lark discovers she's a pawn in a game of murder. She'd better think fast or she'll become the weapon that devastates the lives of everyone she loves.

For 13 years, I was a journalist for papers in Minnesota, Washington, and most recently, the Anchorage Daily News. I'm a co-founder of a local chapter of the Alaska Writer's Guild and at one point, was represented by Janet Benrey of Benrey Literary Agency.

Thanks for your time,
M.W.


DUO

I didn’t really understand the definition of obstacle until I met Stewart Moore.

The first time I noticed him, he was just a boy in a flannel jacket throwing punches at Royce-the-gorilla, the appropriately named football player.  My friends and I heard the noise in the main hallway after the final bell and pushed our way to the front of the yelling crowd.

I’d just caught sight of two writhing bodies wrestling on the floor when a skinny freshman crowed like a rooster right in my ear.

Turning to face him, I sent a spike of brain pain right between his eyes. The freshman--a string bean topped with a head of fuzzy hair and two gage earrings--stumbled backward, his face contorted as if he’d developed the worst headache.

Chrystal and Kaylee squeezed into the gap he left behind.  Both had their phones out, thumbs blurring over keyboards while they simultaneously watched the fight.

I spent the next few seconds scanning screaming faces to spot my current crush, Peter Hubbard, whose curly black hair and height meant he towered above everyone else.  He was the star center on our school hockey team, moved like a striking eagle on the ice and turned the air into a drug every time he was in the room. He watched his current girlfriend with a pair of hazel eyes that crowned her queen of all things.

And for the past month, I’d wanted to be the new queen.

An Agent's Inbox #16

Dear Agent,

Liz Kavanagh was excited about school starting.  She was hoping that with her loudmouth younger sister, Anne, attending the same school, Liz would finally be able to shed her wallflower image.  Her other goal was to sort out her feelings for a longtime family friend, super-cute freshman Christian Doherty.  But everything changed when, on the night of her thirteenth birthday, Liz's parents  took her from their home in Marblehead, Massachusetts, to a place between Heaven and Earth. There, they let Liz in on the family secret: They are faeries. What Liz discovers is that she and her family are nothing like the tiny pixies she pictures from movies and books; faeries are actually strong, protective warriors.

Juggling her two worlds seem impossible at times especially when her secret not only ruins her once tight relationship with her younger sister but the strain exposes them both to great harm. Adding to her misery is an intense faery, Mac, who unlike Christian doesn’t mask his feeling for Liz. At last she feels comfortable with her progress to balance her two lives and she thinks her life can be normal, again. But when she discovers that an enemy has been lurking at her school she realizes neither of her worlds are safe and reminds herself that her life will never be normal again and must embrace her fate to save the people she loves, even if it means letting them go.

In Iron’s complete at 60,000 is a young adult fantasy that stands alone, but I have an outline for a series. I am a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and an active member in my local writer's group.  I appreciate your consideration and would like to send you the entire manuscript at your request.

Thank you,
J.L.


IN IRON'S

In the coolness of the summer night, Liz Kavanagh crossed her backyard, trailing uncertainly behind her mother. Her heart beat faster with each step. Sure, it was her thirteenth birthday, and she was excited to hear that a surprise was waiting for her. But the party and the presents had been more than enough, and she found it strange that her mom had stopped her just as she was going to bed and led her outside. What kind of surprise would be out here, anyway, near the tree-lined edge of their property?

Her mother’s ivory skin seemed to glow faintly in the moonlight. Liz’s confusion grew as they drew closer to the cliff’s edge, and she concentrated on the comforting sound of the waves rolling onto the shore below. Her mom offered a gentle, reassuring smile as she stopped beside the largest oak, the one Liz’s little sister loved to climb.

Liz watched, wide-eyed, as the tree began to sway, and then shudder. The bark sank inward in spots, forming a rectangular seam. Then a section of the trunk just...swung open. The blackness inside looked dense and impenetrable. Instinctively, Liz reached for her mom. But her shock was so intense that, by the time her arm obeyed her brain’s command, her mother had already stepped through this bizarre doorway and was signaling for Liz to follow.

“Come now, love, and don’t be afraid, ” her mother whispered. “They’re all waiting for you.”

An Agent's Inbox #15

Dear Agent,

While running with scissors, seventh-grader, Lucienne trips and loses her eye. By age sixteen, Lucienne feels like a freak despite having a prosthetic eye, and wonders if the sloth Jeremy tripped her on purpose. She wished she knew the truth.

One morning Lucienne can not only see through her prosthetic eye, but sees her mother’s lies.  Losing the dad she loved to cook with was bad enough but being stuck with her workaholic mother who lies isintolerable. The eye reveals the secrets she’s always suspected her mother is hiding about her missing dad. Lucienne must decide whom to trust when everyone she loves harbors secrets.  And she must decide to dig for untruths that may upset the house of cards she lives in. The truth will put Lucienne in danger, and she’ll have to use the magic that created her eye to save lives.

Readers of Far from You by Lisa Schroeder will connect with Lucienne’s grief over her father and strained relationship with her mother, while readers of Divergent by Veronica Roth will be swept up in the plot twists. This manuscript is written in the first person from Lucienne’s point of view. It alternates chapters between Lucienne’s past and present. These mosaic tiles culminate to reveal several betrayals and one deadly secret.

Thank you for your consideration of my 66k-word YA fantasy Naked Eye.  A synopsis and complete manuscript are available upon request.  This is a multiple submission.

I’m a member of SCBWI.  My short story “Daisy” was included in the 100 Stories for Queensland anthology and my vampire short story “Allured”will appear in the upcoming YA Fangtales anthology. I’m a substitute teacher in the Cambridge Public Schools, which gives me ample opportunity to observe teenagers in their natural habitat.  Thank you for your consideration of this manuscript.

Sincerely,
T.M.


NAKED EYE

You know how adults always warn children not to run with scissors because they could lose an eye and to stop tipping back their chairs because they could crack open their skulls?  I’ve never cracked open my skull from tipping back a desk chair, but in 7th-grade, I ran with scissors and lost an eye.

Three years later, my prosthetic eye looks and works almost like my old eye.  The unusual amber hue of the left eye has been recreated to an amazing degree. If my left eye moves to the left or right or up or down, so does my fake one, though not as well.  At this point, most people have forgotten I’d lost an eye.  I didn’t forget. For one, it doesn’t feel like my old eye and I know if I step into sunlight, my left pupil dilates while my right one does not because it’s always set for “moderate light” as Doctor Ocular calls it.

I also haven’t forgotten how the other kids at school treated me for the year I'd refused to get the glass eye.  Only Orion and Morgan have stuck with me.

Sitting in the rustic kitchen eating yogurt, I watch my mother blab into her cell phone at the other end of the table. “Yes, if there’s anything really wrong after the inspection, you can walk away without penalty….  Yes,the inspector will be very thorough. Don’t worry, I’m here for you.”

I smirk because at least she’s there for someone.

An Agent's Inbox #14

Dear Ms. Agent,

Solving the murder of your drug-dealing best friend can be difficult, especially when you’re only sixteen.

Blake Farmer’s suburban neighborhood in North Carolina has always bored him. The only crime the neighbors knew of was a cat hit and run. But one summer night after the tenth grade, Blake’s father is murdered following a car jacking. A suspect is never found, and despite his mom’s efforts to get Blake to see a counselor, he buries his emotions by working at a skateboarding park and getting high with best friend, high school drug dealer Kyle.

But when Kyle misses too many days of school without letting Blake know, Blake becomes suspicious. At first, he believes the text messages from Kyle--he’s just under the weather and he even trusts the updates that Kyle’s boyfriend gives him. Eventually, responsible Kyle doesn’t show up for too many commitments and Blake knows something is wrong. With help from an unlikely source, Margo--the target of Blake and Kyle’s teasing in middle school--Blake tries to figure out what’s happened to his best friend.

Not wanting to rely on the police who let him down before, Blake and Margo start their own investigation. They both become entangled in a long-standing drug war that Blake had no clue was happening right under his nose. Confused about new feelings for Margo and the real reason for his best friend’s death, Blake becomes overwhelmed as he uncovers an entire underground drug ring and makes enemies out of people he never thought twice about before.

THE BLUES is a contemporary young adult mystery about the violence, drugs, and betrayal that ensues when trying to get to the bottom of a small town crime.

I am currently a secondary history teacher and a member of SCBWI and AWP. I am working toward my MFA at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) and I read for the FDU Literary Review Magazine. I have included the first 250 words below per the contest guidelines. Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best,
M.H.


THE BLUES

Henry Knight was found bludgeoned to death early this morning.

I’m pretty sure I was whacking off to one of those phone sex commercials at the same moment that someone bashed his head in. The worst part about all of this…I mean, worst than his parents losing their kid, is the fact that it sucks he won’t be around to get high with me. Henry was a good smoking partner. I’d light up with him and we’d try to name all of the members of the Avengers, or the order of the people kicked off of that karaoke singing competition on TV. Who would I do those things with now? And who is gonna help Kyle make all of his money?

“We will watch a video on the beginnings of World War Two.” Mr. Kim grits his teeth as he pushes buttons on his laptop. His loud booming voice pulls me out of my trance.

“We always watch videos!” someone calls out.

Me, Mr. Kim, and everyone else looks around. There are only ten of us in the class but Mr. Kim is nearly deaf and blind so he’ll never find the culprit.

“Who said that? Blake?” Mr. Kim has his eyes all squinty as he glares at me.

I lift my hands in defense and Mr. Kim fixes his eyes on my classmates, looking for someone to verbally murder. The image of Henry Knight’s yearbook picture from the news this morning flashes in my mind. Who would kill poor, defenseless, Henry?

An Agent's Inbox #13

Dear Secret Agent,

Hello, my name is T.P. and after looking into your clients and tastes, I feel that my manuscript would fit in with you and am excited to tell you about it. BLOOD OF THE GODS is a 80,000 word Urban Fantasy novel. (FYI none of my characters are vampires or werewolves. Sorry!)

Eighteen-year-old Julia Jane knows from personal experience that being kidnapped is not as exciting as it sounds. It doesn’t matter if the kidnapper is a totally hot, super charged, mythical being, like let’s say, the ancient Persian god of darkness.

Abduction = un-fun.

It completely screws with the boyfriend situation. Really, because what boy can look good next to a god in all his…godliness? Talk about major Stockholm syndrome. Furthermore, consider the effects on the work situation; forget about it, you’re totally fired. You can’t just not show up. Dead or kidnapped. And let us not forget how this predicament reaffirms to the parents what a totally screw up you are. Like, “How dare you get abducted!”

Julia’s recommendations for avoidance…anyone?

1. Obviously, try not get kidnapped in the first place. 2. If you do get kidnapped just understand that there’s a reason. There’s always a reason and knowing it can give you power. 3. Learn the truth about your ancestry--as strange as that sounds. In truth, it could spare you the aggravation of six-million-year-old gods trying to steal your blood so they can use it for some flesh ripping, soul transplanting, world domination ploy.

Just sayin’.

The Ancient Persians have a rich mythology which has yet to be explored in fantasy. Wanting to utilize this resource yet add my own twist, I have, in BLOOD OF THE GODS, created a new generation of Persian gods who are the grandchildren of those ancient ones. Conscientious of the lack of general information on these gods and desiring not to info dump on my readers, I decided to twist two stories together. The first is a brief, yet rather vague third person omnipresent storyline, which creatively informs the reader about the history of the gods, their goals and their purpose. The second is Julia Jane’s first person narrative.

I have a degree in history and it was in college that I found I had a passion for writing fantasy. Though I have been writing for ten years, I am a novice in this business. I am looking for a hands-on agent that welcomes a wide variety of fantasy.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Regards,
T.P.


BLOOD OF THE GODS

Why on earth were my hands shaking so much?

I remembered a book my guidance counselor had forced me to read about fear and how human bodies react instinctually in dangerous situations.

Situations like the one I was in right now, perhaps?

My hands continued to shuffle around in one of the cabinets as I pretended to search but my mind was trying to remember what I should do.

It was then that a strange, bright purple canister caught my eye. It gave me a freak out. I had opened this cupboard five minutes ago and not seen it. I knew I hadn’t. I picked it up and read, Yerba Mate: tea of the gods, written in orange letters across the front.

A little stunned, I stood and went to the window. Confusion colored my voice, “Yes, actually, we do have that tea sir.”

The man sat looking forward as if he expected as much. Then in a aggravating, gravely, blas√© way he said, “The water needs to be 160 degrees, and I’ll take a bit of sugarcane, if you have it.”

A shiver came as he spoke. It was such a strong reaction that I openly examined him--well, the bit I could see of him--and narrowed my eyes even as my body continued to respond. I wondered if he was dangerous or just superhumanly annoying. Perhaps his voice was on the exact wrong frequency for my ears--like one of those whistles that torture dogs.

An Agent's Inbox #12

Dear Agent,

Danielle Angeletti isn’t a straight A student. She doesn’t do sports or paint or sing or play chess. But if there’s one thing she knows she’ll be good at, it’s magic. So when her 18th birthday comes and goes, and her magic remains dormant, she’s crushed. Still, Danielle stubbornly buries her disappointment, replaces healing runes with prom dresses, levitation spells with college applications.

After a sorcerer ambushes her and her brother Jamie, Danielle is torn between elation and a panic attack when her magic finally awakens and saves her life. But she’s ready to give it all up again if it meant the knife buried in her brother’s gut would disappear too. Worse, removing the blade does nothing but aggravate Jamie’s condition, and a misguided attempt at a healing rune triggers a curse that turns his own magic against him.

With her hold on her new powers strenuous at best, Danielle must ask Chris, Jamie’s best friend and her best enemy, for help in destroying the curse. After they get trapped in a deadly labyrinth that’d put the Minotaur’s to shame, Danielle, Chris and a dying Jamie must battle mythical creatures, sorcerers, unwanted attraction and the most merciless enemy of all: time.

LEGACY is a 70,000 word YA contemporary fantasy. I believe it will appeal to fans of Cassandra Clare’s MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series and Jim Butcher’s HARRY DRESDEN series.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
S.R.


LEGACY

Danielle stared at the ground fifteen feet beneath her, and screwed her eyes shut as her breakfast threatened to make an unwelcome reappearance. Funny, she’d never had vertigo before. Then again, she’d never contemplated jumping out of a two-story window before.

Her hand sought the cold comfort of the metal bracelet strapped around her wrist. It pulsed with the same power it always did, sending sparks of warmth through her arm. The magic stored inside--her mother’s magic--felt different, though. On edge. Like a knife balanced on its point, about to tip over.

Reckless insanity on one side, bitter disappointment on the other.

Danielle blew out her breath and channeled her will through the bracelet. The metal slowly warmed against her skin--reluctant, a warning. But the shield obediently appeared around her, encasing her in a bubble of green-tinted energy.

Still, she hesitated.

She couldn’t stand here forever. Jamie was bound to come looking for her sooner rather than later, and then she’d have to explain why his sister was hanging over her balcony’s railing. She couldn’t imagine that conversation going well.

But she wasn’t suicidal. Just desperate.

Once the clock struck midnight, she’d officially be eighteen. She’d officially be normal. Powerless. Her mother’s bracelet would be the only spark of magic left to her. And what use was a shield against a horde of sorcerers?

Who would avenge her mother’s memory then?

Danielle took a deep breath, prayed to Gods she knew couldn’t hear her, and let her hold on the handrail slacken.

An Agent's Inbox #11

Dear Agent,

Sixteen-year-old Nora Greene knows the value of personal space all thanks to her ability to see people’s thoughts just by touching them. And being thrust into the overactive imaginations of her often horny and horror-movie-obsessed classmates gets old fast. As if seeing other's sick fantasies isn't bad enough, she has to deal with the massive headaches and occasional blackouts that seem to be a part of the gig. That's why she's been keeping to herself since kindergarten.

That changes when she’s forced to take part in a group play in class, and Adrian Lockhart leans his knee against hers. She sees a vision of a school shooting in his head and has to know if this is an errant thought, or a plan. To find out, she volunteers to play his character’s love interest, but after spending time together practicing she falls for his laidback attitude and killer smile. Just when she starts to question her involvement with Adrian, he makes a confession that changes everything. Nora's relieved to know that she's got him all wrong, but now they've got to find the true identity of the potential gunman before it’s too late--and people get hurt.

THINK OF ME is a YA paranormal, complete at 52,000 words. It will appeal to fans of WAKE and EVERMORE. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
H.C.


THINK OF ME

As soon as the final bell rings, I spring out of my desk and head straight for the hall, dark flyaway hairs tickling my face. I smooth the strands out of my eyes to scrutinize my classmates. They shuffle toward Emerson High’s main exit, two heavy doors with initials and crude pictures etched into them. I fall into the crowd next to Mark and hesitate for a moment. Then, with a slightly shaking hand, I brush my fingers against his knuckles.

Katie Westmore is so hot. What I wouldn’t do for the chance to--

I jerk my arm away, wrinkling my nose. He’s staring at Katie, eyes narrowed, as if trying to conjure up x-ray vision. I wonder what he’d do if he knew that, with a simple touch, I can hear his thoughts. Blush? Run away? Call me a freak?

Tapping into his mind wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I even don’t have a headache, yet. My heartbeat’s racing, but I don’t think it’s a side effect, just excitement. I hang back from the throng of juniors and lean against the royal blue lockers that line the hall.

An Agent's Inbox #10

Dear Mr. or Ms. Agent,

When Heather was four, Ayi gave her the Chinese name Hai Yan--Seagull--because seagulls are strong and fly in the face of storms. Now Heather’s strength has failed.

After twelve years, her family makes an abrupt move to America from Tianjin, China. She’s not only leaving her home, but Ayi, the Chinese housekeeper who raised her, who taught her to cook. Heather knows her mom’s to blame for the move--she hated everything about China, especially Ayi.

In China, cooking was Heather’s passion. Now in limbo at her grandmother’s house in a middle-of-nowhere farming town, she can’t even pick up a spatula. Even when her inability to cook seems tangled up in her mom’s decision to take off--possibly forever--Heather still struggles to even chop an onion.

Writing poetry about her life in China provides some comfort. As she writes, she uncovers long-buried memories that might help her not only reconnect with her mom, but reclaim her wings. Maybe even her spatula.

SEAGULL RISING is a 74,000-word contemporary YA novel written in a combination of free verse and prose similar to Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere.

I lived in China for eight years and my recent move back to the United States was the inspiration for this novel. I hold a BA in Creative Writing with an emphasis on Children’s Literature, and I’ve been a member of SCBWI since 2007. I’ve included the first page of my novel below, as per your submission guidelines.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
A.S.


SEAGULL RISING

Give me a well-sharpened knife. I can devein a shrimp in less than five seconds, and mince a stalk of jiucai, piling it in a mound of green shards as if it’s gone through a food processor. But when I drop the knife and face my life, I wish I were as good with a needle: as good at repairing as I am at cutting apart.

Ayi and I stand elbow-to-elbow at the kitchen counter making jiaozi, Chinese dumplings. Looking at us, anyone would think this was a regular day, because making dinner is something we’ve always done together. Ayi talks as she rolls out small rounds of dumpling dough with a short rolling pin. Her flour-coated hands work to a rhythm. I nod to the sound of her voice, to the familiar rise and fall of her speech, the tones that make the Mandarin language sound like a song. What the casual observer can’t see is how my smile is stretched, how Ayi has to keep blinking to keep tears from her eyes. This is not a normal day. I am reminded with every stroke of my knife, with every pump of my heart. The knowledge hangs over my head like a guillotine ready to fall.

This is my last night in China.

An Agent's Inbox #9

Dear The Mystery Agent,

With a quartz crystal in her back pocket and a stash of belladonna at the ready, seventeen-year-old Evelyn Bent is about to give the Society a swift kick in the ass. Because there are two things Evelyn is absolutely certain of: one, she didn’t murder her parents; and two, she’s not about to let the world think she did.

She’ll be the first to admit she killed her parents’ murderer--watching the light leave his eyes was the sweetest thing next to eating a moonpie. Disgusted by her dark satisfaction, Evelyn’s more than ready to do her time and accept her punishment. But once the Society accuses her of the very crime she was trying to avenge, she throws her conflicted conscience to the wayside and discovers that the Society is dabbling in some Black Magic of its own: weaving lies and sacrificing the Blind, people who are unaware of the supernatural world.

In an effort to clear her name, Evelyn will scour the city of Portland looking for any clues that might be able to help put an end to the corruption plaguing the magical landscape. In the process, she befriends a strange raven--a Familiar--that won’t let her out of his sight. When she awakes one morning to see a boy her age, naked and lying in a pile of black feathers on her floor, her journey will take an unexpected turn. Toward the unfortunate possibility of losing someone she cares for dearly all over again.

NIGHTSHADE AND MOONPIES, a YA dark urban fantasy, is complete at approximately 70,000 words. I’m currently looking for an agent I can grow a career with, and I feel as if we could make a great team. While this is a stand-alone novel, it has series potential.

Thank you very much for your time and I appreciate your consideration. This is a simultaneous submission. Can’t wait to hear back from you!

Sincerely,
N.S.


NIGHTSHADE AND MOONPIES

Powered by staccato breaths and weak, jellified legs, I glanced over my shoulder to see the specter of the man I’d just killed coming up behind me quicker than a Polynesian puckwudgie. If he’d been anything more than a spirit, like perhaps a solid man with flesh, he would’ve tripped over my heels and together we would’ve gotten a taste of the eternally damp pavement. The dead are always quicker, no matter how freakin’ fantastic a girl’s neon-green Nike runners look bolting through the night.

Moaning in the language only the dead understand, the tormented soul tried to grab hold of my jacket collar. A jet of icy air assaulted my neck. Goosebumps. He’d forfeited his right to touch the moment I’d presented him with his one-way ticket to the underworld. Once more his substance-less fingertips swiped at my jacket. A chunk of my aura burst apart as his hand passed through my body. Another chilling burst, reminding me of the coldness I felt upon my lips as I’d kissed my dying mother and father for the last time, scattered across my back.

“We’re even!” I shouted, my voice getting lost in the type of wind only a sickened god could conjure. I looked over my shoulder once more to see the translucent figure of my parents’ murderer floating across the rainy Portland street. The streetlamps were in full bloom, the balls of light only blurs as I sprinted past them. “Leave me alone! Please, just--” My lungs burned. Every breath felt like a swarm of bees buzzing down my throat.

An Agent's Inbox #8

Dear Mystery Agent,

Because of your interest in YA, I am querying you with my 81,000 word contemporary YA novel BACKGROUND VOCALS.

For seventeen years, aspiring rockstar Meridian Ashton has traveled through Europe with her mother, breaking ties as easily as she changes strings on her guitar. When her fourteen-year-old cousin Natalie Owens loses her leg in a freak gymnastics accident Meridian surprises everyone by staying in suburban-Massachusetts hell to help Natalie redefine herself.

While she watches Meridian perform in Harvard Square, Natalie forgets the terror of crashing onto the gymnastics mats. She plans to make the titanium limb her least interesting attribute by dyeing her hair purple, making friends with drag queens, and sneaking into the neighbors’ swimming pool. With Meridian there to catch her if she stumbles, she even overcomes her fear of falling.

Unfortunately, Meridian is the one poised for a fall this time. Letting Natalie in has reopened wounds from her past, and her nomadic instincts are kicking in hardcore. She has a chance to escape her nightmares and realize her dreams, but the reverberations from her betrayal could cause her to crash with no one there to help her up--not even Natalie.

Dually narrated by Meridian and Natalie, BACKGROUND VOCALS mixes themes of identity, friendship and acceptance with a hint of quirkiness. It will appeal to fans of John Green, Sarah Dessen and Kody Keplinger.

I am an MA/MFA candidate at Simmons College, and a member of SCBWI.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
C.K.


BACKGROUND VOCALS

Chapter One: Meridian

Outside of Boston’s South Station I became the anonymous girl-with-the-guitar again, the person I’d been when the European city streets were mine to fill with music. The chords I strummed reaffirmed my choice to flee my suburban Massachusetts exile, and my ticket to New York would be my ticket to a record deal. Manhattan would never be Paris, but at least no one there would want to take my music away.

“Sweetheart, do you have a permit?” My tiny audience parted for the cop pushing his way toward me.

I misfingered a chord, and my E-string let out a low moan, like it knew we were in trouble. Shit, merde. I dropped to the ground and laid my guitar in its open case. The concrete bit into my knees through the holes in my jeans. The right clasp on my guitar case had bent when I broke the lock Uncle Rob put on it, and now refused to snap. I pressed it until the metal almost broke the skin on my hand. It shut, but it wouldn’t hold for long.

“Can I see some ID? Lots of runaways lately,” the cop said with an I’m sure you’re not one of them smirk.

Reluctantly, I slung my guitar case over my back and slipped my hand into my pocket. My D.C. license didn’t match my Boston location, or my New York destination, one of the perks of having a mother who couldn’t tolerate living in the same place for more than six months at a time.

An Agent's Inbox #7

Dear Mystery Agent,

For Hagai's 17th birthday, he receives a stone from his mother that shows visions of the future. The thing is, Hagai thought his mother was killed ten years ago.

The bravest thing Hagai's ever done is put peppers in his stew, but when the stone shows his mother alive and in danger, he sets out to find her. Air pirates are hunting the stone too, and it's not long before a young pirate named Sam nicks it. Hagai tracks Sam down and demands the stone back--politely, of course, because Sam's got a knife.

Oddly, Sam offers him a job. He needs someone non-threatening to consult a seer hiding among the monks, and he reckons Hagai is as non-threatening as they come. Hagai agrees, intending to turn Sam in at the first opportunity. But when the seer says Sam is the key to finding his mother, Hagai chooses his mother's life over the law.

Though Sam has the Imperial Navy and the world's most ruthless pirate on his keel, Hagai joins Sam's crew, headed toward some godforsaken island he's never heard of. He doesn't trust Sam, and the stone haunts Hagai with visions of his own death. Nonetheless, he's determined to change the future and find his mother, if it's not already too late.

AIR PIRATES is an 84,000-word YA adventure. I think it would appeal to readers of Scott Westerfeld's LEVIATHAN trilogy. My short story "Pawn's Gambit," set in the same world as AIR PIRATES, has appeared in BENEATH CEASELESS SKIES.

I've pasted the first 250 words below. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
A.H.


AIR PIRATES

"You've been here every day for a week, mate," the shopkeep said.

"Good stew." Sam tugged his hood, keeping his grimace carefully shadowed. He had thought he could say it with a straight face.

"I ain't seen you in town before. You waiting for someone?"

Sam slurped his pepper stew. Though if there was pepper in it, Sam hadn't found it. Hadn't found much flavor at all, really--he suspected his stew had come from the same pot all week.

The shopkeep eyed him warily. "You ain't a knocker, are you?"

"Wouldn't be a smart question if I were, aye?" Sam glared like a hungry wolf. He was only eighteen, but he could make an imposing figure when it suited. The sword at his hip didn't hurt either. Sometimes it was best to let folks think you were dangerous, as showing them only caused trouble.

Other times--and the way the man fidgeted with his greasy apron told Sam this was one of those times--it was best to play it friendly. Sam smiled. "I'm just drumming you, baron. I ain't gonna kill anyone."

"Course." The shopkeep laughed nervously. "But you are waiting?"

An Agent's Inbox #6

Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for my 93,000 word adult urban fantasy novel, RAVENOUS DUSK.

Necromancer Blake Killan has the glamorous job of Dusk nullification: de-possessing people inhabited by ghosts of the dead. Dealing with possessed people who go on murderous rampages, and those whose original souls can’t be found, leaving their bodies permanently possessed, are added perks. Things change when she meets Kieran, an infuriatingly gorgeous demon who informs Blake that he is Reaper and she is his vessel, meant to help him channel Dusks into the Underworld.

Because nullification makes Dusks nonexistent, there’s a Dusk shortage in the Underworld, which means weakened barriers that can’t keep their creatures at bay. Blake thinks the demons would desire hell on earth, but soon realizes why the Underworld must keep their monsters locked away. And the more she’s forced to help Kieran, the more she finds herself tangled up in demon politics, which include nightmarish trips to the Underworld.

As Blake struggles with her detest for her role as Kieran’s vessel, and the magnetic pull she feels towards him, she and her partner are put at the head of a murder investigation involving Dusk possessed humans. Blake will follow the trail directly to the power hungry Witch’s Council, whose hidden agenda has been endangering necromancers, and getting on the wrong side of the Underworld’s leaders. Blake will also discover that Kieran is withholding information that could jeopardize her life, and a dangerous risk could cause her partner to lose his soul forever.

RAVENOUS DUSK is based in New York City, and has the potential to be a series, but can stand alone. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
A.M.


RAVENOUS DUSK

The room was spinning, no wait, maybe I was the one spinning. I stopped and wobbled onto a bar stool.

“You know, it pisses me off that I live in a world where people just don’t go away when they die,” I said. “I mean, isn’t death supposed to be the ultimate end? The grand finale? The Big Bang?”

“Actually, the Big Bang is that theory by scientists about the formation of the universe…”

“Now, Liam? Really?” I said, glaring at him.

“Sorry, I forgot logic isn’t welcome during ‘drunken times with Blake’.”

“Exactly. Now, where was I?” I got up again and started pacing. Liam was sitting hunched over the one beer he’d been nursing for the past hour, and watched as I chugged the rest of my beer, then demanded another from the bartender.

“Raving about people not being gone when they die,” Liam said dully. He actually took a drink; I must really be annoying the h*** out of him tonight.

“Right! What’s with all the d*** ghosts Liam? Did you know when I was twelve my grandmother’s ghost decided to jump into some old lady, ring my doorbell, and offer me candy from her purse?”

“Yes, I knew…”

“But she was in an Asian lady’s body! That was my first clue something was off.”

“Maybe the first clue should have been that you already knew she was dead,” Liam said around a yawn.

An Agent's Inbox #5

Dear Mystery Agent,

Melody is a young muse who has the misfortune of screwing up most of her missions--which pretty much sucks when you have someone as strict as Zeus for a father. After having her inspiration license revoked for a hundred years for reckless behavior, Melody is finally released from house arrest and put on probation.

When her Inspiration Officer assigns her to help a pair of down-on-their-luck teen brothers, Melody is glad to be back on the job--even if it means posing as a high school student. But with unexpected romance added to the mix, things get complicated. Even Melody knows falling in love with a human is a big no-no, so she is left with an impossible choice: give up the boy she loves to keep her muse status or succumb to her feelings and give up her immortality.

My young adult paranormal romance, BITTERSWEET MELODY, is complete at 60,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
D.D.


BITTERSWEET MELODY

One thing I can say for sure is I’m the only muse in history to ever have been grounded. I know this is true because my father told me. Well, more like screamed it at me while gripping the heck out of a lightning bolt, holding it over his head like a maniac. He totally over-reacted, of course. I mean, come on. Revoking my Inspiration License and grounding me for a hundred years? That completely sucks!

"Sucks" is a word I learned from my sister Calliope. She spends a lot of time with humans and picks up the best phrases. Whenever she comes home from a case she teaches them to me. Calliope’s a lot more fun than my other sisters--and there are many of us, not just three or nine like humans are misled to believe. And the only one who’s ever been suspended from inspiring? That’s right: me. It’s so unfair. My father says I had it coming, but I swear I’m not a trouble maker; I’m just misunderstood.

But that’s all over with now. I’ve served my time and I’m about to get my freedom back. Don’t get me wrong, Mount Olympus is pretty much the most beautiful place ever, but I’ve had it with being locked up here unable to do what I was born to do.

The last step toward my ticket out of here is a meeting with my Inspiration Officer so I can get my license back. That’s where I am now: sitting in his little office of cloud-white walls, rocking back and forth on the hind legs of a rickety chair while I wait for him to show up.

An Agent's Inbox #4

Dear Agent,

The sky looked black for days after the bomb killed her parents, and seventeen-year-old Lena Lowell will do anything to make sure the sky stays blue from now on.

When Lena’s boyfriend, Will, tells her that he feels an agitating energy surging through his body, he asks her to keep it quiet. As the son of the President of the Republic, Will doesn’t want the press to know he’s losing his mind. But Lena can feel the electricity humming beneath his skin and one touch sends a prickly sensation through her body.

Lena hates to watch her stalwart boyfriend suffer in private, so she investigates the cause of the energy on her own. Before she can find an answer, Will goes missing and the President suspects that the King of the enemy nation has kidnapped him. Lena must discover the secret of Will’s affliction and help bring him home before the Republic stops searching and starts bombing. If she fails, war will take away everything she loves for the second time in her life.

STORMLAND is a 70,000 word young adult fantasy. It was a runner-up in the Made of Awesome blog contest judged by agent Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson and Associates. I have also been published in small press magazines such as Nerve Cowboy.

At your request, I would be pleased to send you more of STORMLAND. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
S.B.


STORMLAND

“Why isn’t the sky blue anymore?”

The man sat under a bridge with his niece huddled beside him. The black rain seeped through the cracks above and left little pools of ash on the girl’s pale skin. He moved her over in the hopes of finding a dry spot. The child reminded him of a doll left out in the rain. He had cut the tangles from of her hair and now it rested around her ears in uneven clumps. She deserved something better than this.

“Why isn’t the sky blue anymore?” she asked again.

“Lena, dear, I don’t know.”

“Yes, you do.”

“The sky is a giant mirror that reflected the blue oceans. But someone threw a rock at the sky and it shattered. So now we only see what was behind the sky.”

“Can they fix it?”

“No.”

“I’m hungry,” she said.

The brush nearby crackled and in an instant the smuggler was there. Far too soon. The child pressed herself closer to him.

“Lena, I want you to go with this man.”

Her little green eyes went wide with fright. “I want to stay with you.”

He took a deep breath to hold back tears. “I am no good at taking care of you. He is going to take you to a better place. He is going to take you to a place where the sky is still blue.”

“Will Mommy and Daddy meet me there?”

Each time she asked about them, he felt like his heart would burst. But this would be the last time he would have to say it.

“You won’t see Mommy and Daddy for a long time. They will meet you in heaven.”

An Agent's Inbox #3

Dear Ms. Agent:

I’m seeking representation for my YA contemporary fantasy DEEP BLUE SECRET, complete at 96,000 words. After reading your blog interview posted at Mother. Write. (Repeat.), I feel my writing would be a good match with your areas of interest.

Seventeen-year-old Sadie James enjoys her breezy California life until she’s rescued from drowning by a mysterious boy who seems oddly familiar. He runs off without explanation, but when she finds the same boy asleep in her hospital room after an accident, Sadie pushes for answers. His name is Rayne, a secret agent called a Keeper who’s been assigned to her since she was seven years old. He explains how Sadie’s injuries miraculously healed in just days--Healing Water, a long-kept secret of the Keepers, the reason they live more than two hundred years.

Sadie can’t stop daydreaming of Rayne. She might even be in love. But he insists their attraction is just an illusion, a powerful bond created when he overdosed her with Healing Water at the hospital. She fights off the feelings which seem utterly real, but when Sadie faints for the second time that week, it’s clear the problem is bigger than her Keeper let on.

Rayne reveals Sadie’s obsidian-like birthmark is a Watermark meant to regulate the steady release of Healing Water in her body, and she’s not the only one. Rayne bears the mark too. But Sadie’s circumstances are rare. Being triggered abruptly by the overdose after years without use is causing Sadie’s mark to malfunction. If she doesn’t have constant exposure to the Healing Water, her body and mind will deteriorate in a matter of days--if she’s lucky, hours if she’s not.

To make matters worse, a rogue agent from Rayne’s organization discovers sensitive information about Sadie he plans to use to blackmail his way to exoneration, and he kidnaps Sadie as added leverage. Now cut off from the Healing Water, Sadie must escape before her Watermark literally drains her body to death.

I'm including the opening page of my manuscript as requested. Just to clarify, my story includes several viewpoints as you will see in the sample page, although the great majority of the story is expressed from Sadie’s point of view. DEEP BLUE SECRET is available at your request.

Thank you for your consideration,
C.A.


DEEP BLUE SECRET

Chapter 1: Voss Waits to Strike

The night air was quiet, devoid of sound or life or the rustling signs of vitality. Through the silence, Voss sensed the animal’s trembling. He smelled the fear, the frozen limbs and helpless twitching. A sinister smile grew across his face and he turned to lurk sideways through the brush. His movements were stealthy and premeditated. Even with ragged leather shoes covered in dirt and falling apart, he placed each foot skillfully in front of the other without sound.

His fist tightened around the makeshift knife, bone handle steady in his grip. The years of training did not fail him. Quick paws over crinkled leaves broke the silence and Voss flew forward, blade hurling through the shadows. The tiny animal fell to the ground.

Voss fastened the rabbit to his belt and turned back to the spot where he’d dropped his supplies. The animal hunt gave him a slight sense of satisfaction, a rare feeling in this wretched wasteland beyond the Threshold. He took quick steps as he continued his hike over the barren terrain, winding through pathetic, half-dead trees.

The moon struggled to light the path, just a faint yellow glow, dingy through the dust ridden atmosphere. How could this be the same moon that showed so vividly on the other side of the Threshold? They shared the same brilliant sun as well, yet here in Cayno it barely skimmed across the horizon during daylight hours.

He cursed the pitiful moon and dragged his legs forward toward his camp. This was his existence. While others slumbered in their beds in far-off happy places, Voss fought to survive.

An Agent's Inbox #2

Dear Secret Agent,

Presley O’Connor’s life has always been about keeping secrets.

As an Empath, eighteen-year-old Presley O’Connor feels perfectly in tune with those around her--until a note arrives wishing her a happy last birthday on her mutilated senior picture. Believing it’s a classmate’s sick idea of a joke, Presley keeps the threat to herself and bides her time.

But Presley is wrong about the note. Away at college, Reid Montgomery, a long-time crush, is having visions of her abduction and murder. When a serial killer makes his move, Reid is the one that rushes back to thwart the attempt. Blissfully in love, Presley is willing to ignore the dark secret Reid carries deep within his soul. When an accident reveals that secret, Presley’s life hinges on her ability to convince Reid that no matter what, she would have loved him anyway.

My YA paranormal romance, I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY, is complete at 89,000 words. Pasted below are the first 250 words per the contest rules. Thank you for your time and consideration of my work.

Sincerely,
B.C.


I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY

The ants go marching two by two.

The words of a childhood song loop through my head. I swear that’s exactly the way I feel—like an army of red ants are marching just beneath the surface of my skin. Definitely creepy. Even for me. My heart thuds erratically as a blistering pain travels up my arm. The ants go marching seven by seven. The little one stops to look at heaven.

A blur of white flashes before my eyes; squealing tires drown out the beats of my heart. “Jerk!” I yell as a panel van speeds through the stop sign at the end of our street, almost taking out my car. “Can’t you read?” The driver doesn’t look my way. You could have killed me. And dying on my birthday isn’t what I had in mind when I got up this morning.

My heart, but not the trembling in my legs, slows as I turn onto Oak Tree Lane. The safety of home is only a half block away. Our house, a two story white brick, sits behind four large oaks. Our neighbor, bent over in her flower beds, straightens up when I pull in our drive. Her lawn, like most of those along our street, is manicure-perfect. “Happy birthday, Presley,” she calls as I walk to the mailbox.

An Agent's Inbox #1

Dear Mystery Agent:

Maya doesn't have a last name. In the Sprawl, no one needs a last name. No one needs an education, or electricity, or running water. No one needs a reason to live, because their only purpose is to die.

In Maya's city, a fiery barrier divides the Sprawl from the rest of the metropolis, which is a sector filled with sciences, politics, and extreme opulence. Maya isn't meant for that world across the barrier. She was born to be drafted, just another body waiting to fall in the Neverending War.

Maya's a fighter. She believes in survival, and in herself, but she doesn't dare believe in hope - hope is too dangerous. No one's ever been able to escape the Sprawl or desert the army, and Maya isn't going to be the next idiot to try.

One boy changes that. A boy who shouldn't follow Maya into the war, shouldn't fall in love with her, and shouldn't ignite the desire for revolution in her.

But he does.

With Sam by her side, Maya finds hope. At any cost, she'll escape the Sprawl. Escape the draft. Escape to a place where she's worth something.

She'll shatter the constraints that have held her for seventeen years. And in the process, she'll create a new world.

PARTITION (89,000 words) is a dystopian romance for young adults. As per the rules of this wonderful contest, I have pasted the first 250 words of my manuscript below. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
R.R.


MAYA

No one sneaks into the Glass City and returns unscathed, especially not us Pewts. My best friend told me not to come. He said this was stupid and reckless, and he was probably right, but I gotta try.

I wish he was here. H***, I wish any of my friends had the guts to climb up with me.

But it’s probably less the climbing part and more the breaking-into-prison part that scared ‘em off.

As I pull myself up, my bare feet struggle to grip the glass pillar. My biceps burn like acid, and I spit a curse into the darkness, reminding myself that this pain is probably nothing next to what’s coming. If I get back without some sorta serious injury, it’ll be a g**d*** miracle.

I look down. My throat yanks shut like the neck of a drawstring bag. This height is dizzying, painful, and being so close to the top is totally unreal. I’ve seen the City my whole life from below, seen it sitting smug on these glass anchors like it’s balanced on a forest of fat crystal straws. Beautiful, especially compared to the filth of the Sprawl.

The City’s stilts are linked together by a webwork of shining metal struts, which make solid footholds. So it’s possible to climb up, but that sure as h*** doesn’t mean it’s easy. Someone told me the anchors aren’t real glass--knowing the Glass City, it’s probably some sorta special-engineered material.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Now Accepting Entries!

UPDATE: And we filled our 20 slots! Those entries will go up sometime tomorrow. (And if you didn't make it in this time, I'm hosting another round of "An Agent's Inbox" with another agent at the end of July, so stay tuned!)

I'm now accepting entries for the first-ever "An Agent's Inbox" contest! Here's a quick refresher:

The Rules

1. To enter, your manuscript must meet two conditions: First, it must be COMPLETE, POLISHED, AND READY TO QUERY, and second, it must be in one of the genres The Agent represents (which are listed at the bottom of this post).

2. All entries must include A QUERY and THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript. You must paste these items IN THE BODY OF YOUR E-MAIL; otherwise, I'll disqualify it.

3. THE ENTRY WINDOW OPENS AT 4:00 P.M. EDT (OR 1:00 P.M. PDT). Once the entry window opens, I'll accept the first 20 entries. I won't accept any entries sent before the entry window opens or after the first 20 slots fill up.

4. If your entry makes it in, I'll send you a confirmation e-mail with a post number. If your entry doesn't make it in, I'll still send you an e-mail, but it won't have a post number. (But never fear! I'm hosting another contest just like this one at the end of next month!)

5. If your entry makes it in, YOU MUST COMMENT ON AT LEAST 3 OTHER ENTRIES.

The Prizes The Agent will select both the winners and the prizes. The Agent might pick 20 winners, or he or she might only pick one. The Agent might offer full requests, or he or she might only ask to see another page. It all depends on how good the entries are.

Please keep in mind that THIS CONTEST ISN'T FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. I've encouraged The Agent to treat the entries exactly as he or she would a normal batch of queries. Essentially, The Agent will be answering the question, "How much of the entry did you read, and if you didn't read it all, why did you stop?" I think this process will be instructive for all of us, but if you enter, you need to be prepared to hear exactly what The Agent thinks of your query and first page.

The Genres

YA fiction (all subgenres)
Adult Paranormal Romance
Adult Urban Fantasy

To enter, please send an e-mail with YOUR QUERY and THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript to kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com. And please, please, please remember to PASTE THESE ITEMS IN THE BODY OF THE E-MAIL.

Good luck!

Friday, June 24, 2011

"An Agent's Inbox" Contest Alert

THIS IS NOT A CALL FOR ENTRIES! I'M JUST GIVING YOU A HEADS-UP. THE CONTEST OPENS NEXT MONDAY, JUNE 27.

"An Agent's Inbox" is exactly what it sounds like--next week, I'm turning the blog into an agent's inbox, a public one. We'll get to see 20 queries along with their first pages, and we'll get to hear what a bona fide agent thinks of each one.

The queries and first pages will be yours, of course. I'll accept your entries this Monday, June 27, and then I'll post them next Wednesday, June 29. The entrants and anyone else who wishes to review them may comment on them until the following Tuesday, July 5, when I'll announce the winners. Those winners will be chosen by The Agent, who will remain nameless for now, and he or she will offer whatever prizes he or she wishes.

The Rules

1. To enter, your manuscript must meet two conditions: First, it must be COMPLETE, POLISHED, AND READY TO QUERY, and second, it must be in one of the genres The Agent represents (which are listed at the bottom of this post).

2. All entries must include A QUERY and THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript. You must paste these items IN THE BODY OF YOUR E-MAIL; otherwise, I'll disqualify it.

3. THE ENTRY WINDOW WILL OPEN AT 4:00 P.M. EDT (OR 1:00 P.M. PDT). Once the entry window opens, I'll accept the first 20 entries. I won't accept any entries sent before the entry window opens or after the first 20 slots fill up.

4. If your entry makes it in, I'll send you a confirmation e-mail with a post number. If your entry doesn't make it in, I'll still send you an e-mail, but it won't have a post number. (But never fear! I'm hosting another contest just like this one at the end of next month!)

5. If your entry makes it in, YOU MUST COMMENT ON AT LEAST 3 OTHER ENTRIES.

6. Oh, I'll probably think of more, but for now, let's stick with this:)

The Prizes The Agent will select both the winners and the prizes. The Agent might pick 20 winners, or he or she might only pick one. The Agent might offer full requests, or he or she might only ask to see another page. It all depends on how good the entries are.

I'm so excited for next week! I'm so excited to see what projects you enter! BUT DEFINITELY KEEP IN MIND THAT THIS CONTEST ISN'T FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. I've encouraged The Agent to treat the entries exactly as he or she would a normal batch of queries. Essentially, The Agent will be answering the question, "How much of the entry did you read, and if you didn't read it all, why did you stop?" I think this process will be instructive for all of us, but if you enter, you need to be prepared to hear exactly what The Agent thinks of your query and first page.

So get those queries and first pages polished up, then meet us back here on Monday, June 27, at 4:00 p.m. EDT! Can't wait!

The Genres

YA fiction (all subgenres)
Adult Paranormal Romance
Adult Urban Fantasy

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Interactive Interview with an Agent: Sara Sciuto

I have another great agent to introduce to the class! The subject of today's interactive interview is Sara Sciuto of Full Circle Literary. As always, details on the interactive part are at the bottom. Enjoy!

KV: How long have you been agenting, and how did you get into it?

SS: I came on to Full Circle Literary in September of 2010 and made the transition to full-time agent earlier this year. Prior to that I did a foreign rights internship with Taryn Fagerness Agency, which was fun because I got to communicate with people from all over the world; but I love the opportunity to work with authors (and later, editors) on all stages of the creative process, that comes with being a domestic agent. It's kind of the perfect job for me because my personal interests are all over the board--agenting gives me the opportunity to explore my ever-changing and expanding list of hobbies/interests with the many different kinds of projects I choose to acquire.

KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

SS: At Full Circle we like to say we represent authors, not books. We're very active during the revision process before sending a project to editors; we're your advocate during and after publication, and offer professional guidance for the lifetime of your author career. I'm a very hands-on agent and--perhaps, because I'm a newer agent with a bit more time to gamble with--I'll often take on projects that need some editorial work if I have a strong connection to the idea or the author. It doesn't always pay off, but it's worthwhile when it does.

On that note, my dream author is more than willing to get their hands dirty revising, and comes back with something that exceeds my expectations (i.e. they do more than just plug in my suggestions--they re-conceptualize and come up with an overall stronger manuscript). To me, dedicated hard work upfront and the ability to utilize feedback is a great sign that the author will be able to handle the critiques and challenges they'll be encountering throughout the publishing process.

KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?

SS: I've only recently begun representing my own clients--so no upcoming releases just yet. Some of the forthcoming projects that I've assisted on at Full Circle Literary include: THE CODE BUSTERS CLUB by Penny Warner, a new middle grade mystery series; Jennifer Ward's latest picture book, THERE WAS AN ODD PRINCESS WHO SWALLOWED A PEA; and a gorgeous craft book by Kelly McCants, SEWING WITH OILCLOTH.

The projects I'm most excited about right now all have really standout writing with a strong, compelling voice. They also all have unique concepts that hit some of my hot buttons (see below). Originality is key--I bore pretty quickly of seeing the same ideas showing up in the submissions box. If I'm sick of a certain concept, certainly editors will be too.

KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?

SS: I'm very actively building my list and am primarily looking for middle grade and young adult fiction--dystopian, science fiction, fantasy, unique paranormal, and contemporary stories with a strong, unique voice. While I'm not specifically seeking out picture books right now, if a superbly well-written PB with a quirky or humorous narrative found its way to me I wouldn't pass it up! Ditto for a terrific author/illustrator. I'm also considering select nonfiction in the areas of craft, design, how-to, lifestyle, and pop culture.

Currently, I'm NOT considering any adult fiction (all genres).

KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?

SS: My biggest pet peeve is queries that are too long--especially when I have to read for five minutes only to figure out that it's adult fiction (which I don't represent!). This isn't the place for a full plot synopsis; I'm only looking to see if this is a project I would generally be interested in or not, and then I want to start straight in on the sample pages. Shoot for brevity and clarity--one sentence introducing the project, a three- to five-sentence description, brief author bio/relevant publishing history, and closing paragraph, is ideal.

I also don't like to see a query that hasn't been personalized in any way. Queries should be addressed (in subject line or greeting) to a specific agent, or at least the agency, so we know you’ve actually considered our guidelines and interests.

KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now? What are you tired of seeing at the moment?

SS: When I’m going through submissions I’m not hunting for specific types of projects, just someone who has a unique idea and executes it well. I of course have my personal hot buttons--I'm a sucker for anything in the Deep South (sweet contemporary to dark paranormal), gritty contemporary, utilitarian dystopias or dystopian thrillers, anything with international locales or period settings (think flappers or "Mad Men"), and anything with artistic themes. Still, when I'm going through submissions, I don't have any of this in mind--I'm just looking for unique concepts and strong writing.

With regards to trends, I generally only consider them when it comes to passing on a project. This is especially true for paranormal--I'll likely be passing if I see the words vampire or werewolf; and if you're writing about angels/immortals/demons there needs to be another element (e.g. dystopia, à la ANGEL BURN) or a really unique twist. I'm also not big on contemporary stories where the main conflict is everyday teen or relationship drama (i.e. teen chick-lit)--I prefer my contemporary stories with some grit or quirkiness to them.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

SS: Send your query letter and first ten pages (full ms text for picture books) in the body of an e-mail to submissions(at)fullcircleliterary(dot)com. Please see our website (fullcircleliterary.com) for full submission guidelines.

Thanks again, Ms. Sciuto, for these responses. I always love finding an agent who's eagerly searching for her next client. Makes me feel a little more hopeful:)

And now on to the main event! If you have a question for Ms. Sciuto, please leave it in the comments below. You'll be able to find Ms. Scuito's answers down there a little later. We'll wrap everything up at 8:00 p.m. EDT (or 5:00 p.m. PDT--gotta love these West Coast agents!), but until then, ask away!

P.S. I won't be around much today, so I'm just going to ask that you please, please, PLEASE respect the cutoff time. If you get here late, just enjoy Ms. Sciuto's answers to everyone else's questions and resist the urge to ask one of your own:)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Agent-Author Chat: Mollie Glick and Gennifer Albin

This sophomore installment of “Agent-Author Chat” features Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary + Media and one of her newest clients, Gennifer Albin (whose manuscript also happens to be one of Ms. Glick’s newest sales).

Here’s a quick reminder about how all this will work: Ms. Albin will share her query with us, the actual query she sent to Ms. Glick, and then she’ll chat a bit about how she developed it and what advice she has for fellow writers. Then Ms. Glick will tell us what she liked about the query--and what she liked about the manuscript itself--and share some query-writing tips with us.

Ms. Albin’s query and answers will appear in orange, and Ms. Glick’s will appear in blue.

Ms. Albin’s Query Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her--tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape. Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

Complete at 78,000 words, CREWEL is a YA dystopian novel that follows Adelice's fight for autonomy and redemption in a world of femme fatales, steel looms, and towered compounds.

I hold a Masters in English Literature from the University of Missouri. I also served as a student editor for Pleaides and The Missouri Review and did some time teaching literature to college students.

I have pasted the sample chapters below followed by a synopsis and bio. Thank you for your time and consideration.

KV: Ms. Albin, how did you first come up with the idea for CREWEL?

GA: I think the idea came from a painting by the Spanish surrealist painter, Remedios Varo, which I’d studied in college. In the painting girls are embroidering the world from a large tower, and the world flows out from the windows. I’m not sure exactly how it germinated into the novel, but one day last August, I wrote a one page prologue that’s still the first page of CREWEL. I would have kept working on it, but a few days later I fried my Mac with a whole glass of water, so I picked the idea back up in November and started to build a story around it.

KV: Tell us a little bit about your query-writing process. Did you work on it here and there as you were writing the manuscript, or before, or after? How many times did you revise it? And how did you decide what order to put things in?

GA: I greatly admire the YA writer Scott Tracey, and he outlined his query process on his blog. He advised to start writing the query and perfecting it as soon as possible, so that’s what I did. I wrote my first (horrible) query in December and then many more horrible queries over the next few months. At the end of April, I had the opportunity to participate in a live query critiquing workshop. I wanted to do it, but when I showed my husband my best query, he basically told me it sucked. We then spent about four hours together writing a pretty experimental new one to send in for critique.

First I tried a summary of the book, which was too detailed and too vague at the same time. Next, I tried sticking to the first fifty pages, but even that’s a lot to boil down. It was my husband’s idea to go back and start in the backstory and lead up to the beginning of the novel, and I realized he was on to something.

KV: What was the hardest thing about writing your query? What was the easiest?

GA: Trying to figure out what to include was always the hardest part of the query. I have several plot layers and subplots in CREWEL, and for a long time, I tried to cram them all into the query. It was easier when I decided to stick to the inciting incident and initial stakes. The easiest thing was realizing I had THE query when it was done. I knew as soon as I read it that I was finally happy with it.

KV: Ms. Glick, when you first read Ms. Albin’s query, what caught your attention?

MG: I loved Genn’s query because it immediately drew me into the story and left me wanting to know more. That’s what I look for in a query and also what I look for in a first chapter. And her premise was high concept and intriguing. I was also impressed by her bio. I liked that she’d studied literature at the graduate level and that she already had two successful, well written blogs.

KV: Obviously, the manuscript met--or exceeded--your expectations. What did you love about CREWEL?

MG: I know I’m going to take a book on when I find myself setting everything else I’m reading aside and ignoring my husband because I’m so engrossed by it, and when I start making notes as I read it. I started reading CREWEL at 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. one evening and didn’t go to bed until I’d finished it.

I loved the originality of the world--her description of the spinning was absolutely mesmerizing. And the characters were great. Nobody writes a villain better than Genn, and I love a good villain!

KV: How quickly did you read Ms. Albin’s manuscript? Is that pretty typical of your response times on requested material, or do those vary?

MG: In one night! She submitted it to me over a weekend, then let me know that she had interest that Monday, so I sat down and read it that day. My response times vary, though, depending on how many client manuscripts I have in at a given time and how sure I am that something sounds like a good fit for me.

KV: Ms. Albin, what tips do you have for fellow writers as they work on their queries?

GA: Get help! From people who’ve read the book and those who haven’t. Your critique partners and betas may fill in gaps with their own knowledge, while people who haven’t read it will point out areas that are confusing. And don’t be afraid to ask for criticism. I think you can get too caught up in your own head sometime to get the information out on the page.

KV: Same question to you, Ms. Glick. What query-writing suggestions do you have?

MG: First and foremost, make sure your letter is professional, informative, and grammatically correct. You wouldn’t believe how many inappropriate or poorly worded queries we get! And bonus points for capturing the voice of your novel in your letter and making me laugh or captivating my curiosity.

KV: Any last words of advice or encouragement you’d like to share with us?

GA: I’ve heard the terms “whirlwind,” “fairytale,” and “Cinderella story” a lot lately. I think reading a story like mine can be both inspiring and super frustrating. So while I think it’s important to dream REALLY BIG, remember all our journeys are unique and joyful and bittersweet. Not a single moment will happen like you think it will--but it will be better because it’s happening! My agenting journey was short, but there was a lot failure and heartache in other areas of my life before I got serious about writing.

One day I realized there was no other option but to just freaking do it. I was tired of sitting on the sidelines of my life--wiping noses, couponing, and doing laundry--so I jumped in the game, which meant demanding time for me (often in the form of handing off the kids to my husband at the door). There are going to be a million reasons not to write, but none of them are as good as the reasons you should write. So keep dreaming and write on!

MG: The market is tough right now, but great books rise to the top like cream… If you’ve got a great premise and a great query letter you WILL get noticed. I’m always looking for the next novel that’s going to sweep me off my feet!

Thank you, ladies, for these informative, inspiring thoughts. And for those of you who might have missed the announcement on PM, CREWEL just sold to Farrar, Straus Children's in a three-book deal, so we'll all be able to check out Ms. Albin's debut next year!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Suspension of Disbelief

I saw some great movies* over the weekend. We borrowed Swing Vote from the library and watched it Friday night, and then on Saturday, Honey Bear and I got a babysitter--wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles!--and went to see Super 8. Even though these films were very different, the thing that stuck out to me about both of them was how easily they got me to suspend my disbelief.

I used to think of suspension of disbelief, or the willingness of readers to set aside their doubts and go along with a less-than-plausible storyline, as something that only fantasy and sci-fi readers had to do. But as I watched Swing Vote, I realized that, at least to some degree, readers--or watchers--of every genre must suspend their disbelief.

Swing Vote features Kevin Costner as the sloppy Ernest “Bud” Johnson and Madeline Carroll as his determined, go-get-’em daughter, Molly. Molly spends the month before Election Day learning about the electoral system in her elementary school class, so she really wants her dad to fulfill his social contract and cast his ballot. But Bud, of course, forgets to vote, and by the time he remembers, he’s too drunk to even turn the key in the ignition. Molly takes matters into her own hands by sneaking past the sleepy polling volunteers, forging her dad’s signature in the voter registry, and feeding his ballot into the machine. The power cuts out just before Molly makes her selections (understandably spooking her), and she runs away before the process is complete.

Molly’s little mess-up probably wouldn’t have come to anything had one of the candidates won in a landslide, but in fact, with only one state left to report, the presidential race is in a virtual tie. Thanks to the electoral college, whoever takes New Mexico will take the election, and New Mexico comes down to one county, one city, one vote--Bud Johnson’s.

If you know anything about the American electoral system, you’ll know this scenario is wildly unrealistic. Elections, especially presidential ones, never come down to just one vote. And yet as I watched the story unfold, I was willing to go along with it. Even though there was nothing fantastical about Swing Vote, I still had to suspend my disbelief.

Good moviemakers--and good writers--never trust their audience to willingly suspend their disbelief; they force them to do so through top-notch storytelling. So what was it about Swing Vote and Super 8 that so thoroughly engrossed me? THE CHARACTERS. That seems to be the answer to pretty much every writing question, but that’s because your characters are king. If you want me to suspend my disbelief, just make your characters enchanting and unforgettable. I will believe just about anything enchanting, unforgettable characters tell me. I will follow them to the end of the world and back.

*I loved Swing Vote and Super 8, but I ought to warn you, they both have quite a bit of language. Bud Johnson curses at the slightest provocation, and the tween boys in Super 8 sound like a junior high boys’ locker room. (Or so I’m told. I’ve never been inside a junior high boys’ locker room, mind you, but Honey Bear informs me that it’s pretty bad.) We’re talking multiple S-words in both films, and one character in Super 8 takes the Lord’s name in vain every other sentence, so that’s something you should be aware of, especially if you’re thinking of showing either of these movies to your kids.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Interactive Interview with an Agent: Jeff Ourvan

I’ve got another good one for you. Today’s interactive interview features Jeff Ourvan of Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency. Details on the interactive part are at the bottom. Happy reading!

KV: Are you a writer yourself? What did/do you write?

JO: Yes, I’ve written two thrillers and also two non-fiction works about sports, one of which, HOW TO COACH YOUTH BASEBALL SO EVERY KID WINS, will be published next spring.

KV: How long have you been agenting, and how did you get into it?

JO: This is my first year as a literary agent. I was for a long time a PR guy and spokesperson and then a corporate attorney, in addition to working as a magazine editor. I also studied creative writing for many years with the novelist John Rechy.

I wanted to bring all these skills together so had considered agenting for several years. I knew of the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency because Jennifer successfully represented my wife, who is a published novelist with Harper Collins. And I found out I enjoyed working with authors a lot more than I did with lawyers.

KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

JO: I was on the author side of this coin long before I was an agent, and so I’m keenly aware of how much heart and soul and work and tears it takes to write, let alone market, a successful book. And I know from personal experience that authors place their hopes and dreams in an agent’s hands, so I take that responsibility seriously. I work closely with my authors, and I hope I help them to bring forth their very best--which, from my perspective, means marketable--work before we ever take that work to editors and publishers.

The relationship between writers and agents has to be based on mutual consideration, a shared vision, and a common objective to work diligently and professionally. E-mails and phone calls have to be returned.

KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?

JO: I have some terrific projects right now, including a memoir from a former top leader of Hezbollah; a memoir from the only Jewish-American spy in Baghdad; a very clever romantic comedy set at Harvard University; a zombie novel that both turns the genre on its head and reads like Edgar Allan Poe; and several exciting YA and sci-fi works.

All of these authors are new, excellent, page-turning writers. Also, they offer something different, something not out there yet that people--meaning publishers and editors--would be intrigued to either learn about or to experience.

KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?

JO: I favor nonfiction works--international, sports, music, history and memoir--and commercial fiction, including thrillers, mysteries, international, YA, and really just about anything other than children’s picture books.

KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?

JO: Well, since you ask, please spell well and use proper grammar. I’m in part judging ability based on the care writers take when they query me. Second, just get right to the point. And third, try to control the use of adjectives and superlatives when describing yourself or your work--less is more in that regard. But I went through a couple hundred queries today so I might just be cranky.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

JO: E-mail is preferred.

KV: How do you feel about a writer’s including a few sample pages at the bottom of the query? Do you find that more assertive or obnoxious?

JO: Yes, it can be helpful to paste a few pages of the manuscript below the query. I typically know from the general query whether I'd want to read more, but in a case where I'm on the fence a few attached pages can help me to capture a sense of writing ability and style.

Thank you, Mr. Ourvan, for these responses, and good luck to everyone who decides to query. I imagine that will be quite a few of you, as Mr. Ourvan represents a wide range of genres:)

I’m sure everyone knows the interactive drill by now, but for any newcomers, here’s a brief refresher: If you have a question for Mr. Ourvan, feel free to leave it in the comments below. He’ll drop in periodically throughout the day and leave his answers down there in the comments as well. We’ll wrap everything up at 4:30 p.m. EDT (or 1:30 p.m. PDT), so don’t dilly-dally!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Winners!

Thanks again, everyone, for entering my contest! I appreciate your faith in my critiquing abilities:) Now, without further ado, here are the three random winners:

Charity Bradford
A.J. Cattapan
Mim

Congratulations, ladies! Please e-mail me at kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com for more instructions. I look forward to reading your partials!

In other news, make sure to drop by this Thursday, June 9, for our next INTERACTIVE installment of “Interview with an Agent,” which will feature Jeff Ourvan of Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency. He might be a new agent, but he has a lot of experience in the publishing industry, so he should be able to answer a wide range of questions.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Random and Totally Impromptu Contest

I finished Bob last week, but I’m still a little too antsy to settle back into Steve, so I have some time in the afternoons while my kids take naps. As I was bumming around the Internet earlier today, I thought, “Gee, it’d be nice if I had some manuscript to critique so I don’t have to keep wasting time. But where am I going to find one…?”

The answer hit me right away: From a contest!

I realize I’m not an agent or an editor or even an agented writer, but if you need another set of eyes to go over the beginning of your manuscript, I’d love to help. To enter, simply comment on this post and let me know you’d like to win. You’re more than welcome to tell me what your manuscript’s about, but I'll select the winners randomly, so it won’t make any difference when it comes down to picking.

The Rules

1. Anyone may enter.

2. Everyone who enters may only enter once. (So even if you have multiple manuscripts for review, please only enter once. If you do win, you’ll have to decide which manuscript to send.)

3. Please only enter if your manuscript contains no worse than light PG-13 material. I can handle a little language, a little blood, and a little kissing, but not much more than that.

Well, I think that pretty much covers it. You don’t have to promote the contest in any way, and your manuscript doesn’t have to be finished or in any particular genre. I’m willing to read whatever you’ve got.

The Prizes I’ll select three random winners to receive a 30-page critique from yours truly. No agents involved this time (although I’ll be hosting an agent-judged contest at the end of this month), but I like to think that I’m pretty thorough when it comes to critiquing. My critique will include in-text comments as well as chapter and general notes that address the overall plot and characters and anything else I feel like mentioning:)

The contest closes at 3:00 p.m. EDT (noon PDT) on Saturday, June 4, and then I’ll announce the winners on Monday, June 6. I look forward to learning more about your projects, and thank you, thank you, thank you for giving me something to do!