Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop Q & A with Me!

So, today's post is brought to you by a wonderful blog hop that the lovely Fiona McLaren asked me to do and I thank her tons for doing so!

And what are those questions I was talking about? Well, here they are!

1. What is the working title of your book?

The working title of my book has changed a few times, but now I think I've found the winner in SPARK. It just speaks volumes to me and I hope to the reader as well.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I got the idea for Taisie's story while working on two seperate wip's. One was a contemporary that was telling a different story about Taisie, (that girl no longer exists and that's okay,) and a dark vampire wip about my antagonist, Spark and the then solo hero and now Taisie's love interest, Rune. Soon, the urge to just put them all together took over and Taisie's true story was born complete without vampires! (Wow! That's a big explanation.)

3. What genre does your book fall under?

I put it under YA Dark Fantasy.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

I've thought about this before and know my picks like the back of my hand! Taisie would be played by Lucy Hale. Rune can only be Blair Redford. And Spark has always been the always charming, Ian Somerhalder. Together, I think they'd make the best cast possible to represent what's in my head.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When Taisie moves to a new town she only wants to shake her freak past and the ghost who's stalker her forever only to gain a new spectral's admiration along with magical powers she must use to save her mom's soul or damn the world to her admire's true intentions, destroying humankind and magic-kind alike.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I'm really going for the agency. That's what I'm truly hoping for. But I will not rule out self-publishing if and when that day comes.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It's been a few years since that, but I believe it took me 2 months or so due to making the switch from two wip's into one.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hmmm... I'm not really sure, but I like to say it's a cross between The Craft and Mean Girls.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The inspiration for Spark came from my love of dark, ghostly tales. After thinking about truly why I wrote it though, I have to say that I wanted a story that I hadn't read before about someone I could be proud of. That story is Taisie's story.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Not only is does SPARK have ghosts, love, and magic; it also contains a darker shift in relationships among friends and even families that shift Taisie's view on how the world really is.

So to keep the blog fun rolling, check out these two lovely ladies' blogs on 11/21 for more TNBT Q and A!

Cassandra Marshall

Claire


Monday, October 29, 2012

Spooktacular Pitch Extravaganza: The Reveal!

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Well, everything's been building up to this. Today's the big day and I can't wait to spill all of the details that I've been sitting on during this long week filled with cat-like ninja moves from our two awesome agents! I'd like to send a huge thank you out to Brittany Booker and Jordy Albert for being such amazing people. Watching them make their moves was a pure joy to me and I really do hope they had fun. And I hope you all had fun too! So, on with the post! 

WARNING: Olan Rogers gif's will be sprinkled in because he's Olan Rogers and his gif's say exactly what I think this post needs! (And no. Olan Rogers knows nothing of this post, but I'd be all fangirl if he found out and was all cool about it. I'm just using his gif's for the reasons above and because he's awesome!)

So, do you know what today is?


Yes, Olan. Today is a Monday. But it is also the day I get to reveal who Brittany and Jordy requested submissions from and what those requests are along with the winner of editor Cassandra Marshall's $35 Gift Certificate!


Oh, yay! Me too! So below you will find the lists of pitches that Brittany and Jordy have requested along with what those requests were and how to send in your submissions. And don't forget, the winner of Cassandra Marshall's $35 Gift Certificate is also being announced below. So keep reading to the end!

Brittany Booker's Requests:
If your MS appears on any of the lists below for Brittany, please email your requested submission to bookers32 (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject line Attention: Brittany Booker Spooktacular Pitch Request.

Query + Synopsis + 10 pages:
#19 Never the Hero
#25 Dead New World
#45 Fire and Earth
#47 Ink
#51 Jennifer Strange

Query + 50 pages:
#15 Going Home Again
#17 Blame It On Meryl Streep
#20 Hope In Bloom
#24 Ex-Drama Queen
#37 Kissing Frogs
#38 Kissing a Superhero
#41 Try Me On For Size

Full Request: These two were the ties I hinted at on the #SpookPitch tag. In the end, Brittany won them by making the highest toss and redecorating them with full requests TP and eggs!

#28 Forget-Me-Not
#31 Ignite


Jordy Alberts Requests:
If your MS appears on any of the lists below for Jordy, please email your requested submission to jordy (at) corvisieroagency (dot) com with the subject line Attention: Jordy Albert Spooktacular Pitch Request.

Query + Synopsis + 10 pages:
#1 Mirror Mirror
#7 Alex Daily: Sometimes Superhero
#10 Ace of Shades
#12 Streetlight
#14 151
#27 Astral


$35 Gift Certificate to Editor Cassandra Marshall: 

I have let Cassandra know you've won so all you have to do to cash it in is mention this contest to her and all will be good. And the winner is.....
Veronica Bartles

Right now I know a few of you are like this:


While those who didn't receive request are like this:


I am so proud of everyone who entered and congratulate those who landed a pitch redecoration. Remember that this business is subjective and while a no today may turn into a yes tomorrow. I encourage you to query both of these agents because they are really wonderful at what they do. If you were in the tie breaker round or not, this is something I truly believe you should add to your list of to-do's.


THANK YOU'S:

Thank you to everyone who tweeted, blogged, facebooked this contest! Thank you to all of you who entered and for those who hung out on #SpookPitch and didn't slap me for my teases and being absent during normal people hours. A huge thank you goes to Brittany Booker and Jordy Albert for agreeing to do #SpookPitch and sticking with me through the hiccups. A big thank you to Brittany Howard for passing my invite along to these two lovely ladies and talking me into doing #SpookPitch when I almost folded. I also need to thank Kimberly Chase for that as well. I swear, we think too much alike at times, but that is totally awesome as well! A great big thank you goes out to Cassandra Marshall for donating to #SpookPitch before I even knew what #SpookPitch was. Thank you to John Lucas Hargis for letting me bounce ideas off him from the beginning of this wacky contest. And thank you to Brenda Drake, Master Yoda herself, for cheering me on and teaching me how a contest should be.

All of you are rockstars in my book and I'm very proud to know you all! Wait... do I know all of you? We're going to say I do!



Keep an eye out for more contest coming your way because you never know what I might be cooking up next!

Until next time, happy reading/writing everyone! (Ignore the face at the end. It's the only wave I could find. We'll pretend it stays a smile.) 






Saturday, October 20, 2012

Spooktacular Pitch Extravaganza: The Agent Round!

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Today kicks off the agent round of the Spooktacular Pitch Extravaganza! From today through October 28th, agents Brittany Booker and Jordy Albert will be redecorating (requesting) the pitches below. The comments are on moderation so only the agents and I will know what's being done. Well, only I will know what both ladies are doing. They won't know if there's a tie until the last day. Cheering is allowed on the hashtag #SpookPitch where I will be popping up teasing agent moves all #SpookPitch! So, I hope to see everyone there!

On October 29th I will announce who got requests, what they are along with the details to get them in the hands of these awesome agents, along with the winner of the $35 GC from editor Cassandra Marshall.

NOTE: If you see a mistake in your pitch caused by formatting, please let me know and I'll fix it. If you don't see your pitch below and you know you emailed it to me, please check this post. 

Good luck to everyone! I hope you all get a little Halloween-esq redecorating! And thank you to Brittany and Jordy for doing this. Have fun guys and see you on #SpookPitch!

Spooktacular Pitch #01: MIRROR MIRROR

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Title: Mirror Mirror
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 60,000 words


3 line Pitch:

When girl meets ghost is what seventeen-year-old Megan Foster experiences when she discovers a heart-shaped, dusty antique mirror. After a Halloween stunt goes awry Megan is thrust into a world of ghosts when a crack in the mirror summons Slag a black ghost who tries to steal her soul. Enter Jax a white ghost charged with protecting Megan, but they both get more than they bargain for when love interrupts his duties.



First 250:

Seventeen-year-old Megan Foster detested her parent's week-end excursions to every antique mall up and down the New England Coast. They literally dragged her along, when all she wanted was to spend the week-end hanging at the mall with her friends.

“Come on Megs, it'll be fun,” her dad insisted.

Trolling for junk wasn't exactly her idea of fun, but if she didn't go her parent's would ground her. The smell of fresh cooked bacon and coffee wafted past her nose when she entered the antiqued decorated kitchen. Her mom had wrought and cast iron scattered from one corner to the other. It was ridiculous.

“Mom, do I have to go this time,” Megan flung herself onto a black speckled metal chair.

“No dear,” her mom said. But, there's a new shop that just opened and I really want you to go too.”

Megan pushed her eggs on top of her bacon and sloshed the hot, black coffee around before taking a sip.

“Dad?”

Megan fought a lost cause. Her dad would side with her mom. She got up, took her plate to the sink and flushed her breakfast down the disposal. The mall would have to wait.

Her cell rang. It was her best friend Regina. Megan silenced the call, plunged her ear buds into her ears, and plopped into the passenger seat of the mini van.

"Where are we going today?” She questioned her mom.

“Beachfront, Massachusetts and Fairy Tale Junque.”

Fairy Tale Junque. You've got to be kidding?

Spooktacular Pitch #02: Redacted

This entry has been redacted and we're wishing the author well. 

Spooktacular Pitch #03: LOVE IN REAL LIFE

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Title:LOVE IN REAL LIFE
Genre:Adult Contemporary
Word count:81,000


3 Line Pitch:

When Josey Blackman meets Alex Blake, secrets from her dark past force her to question her perfect life. Josey is about to learn life throws you curveballs even after you find happily ever after. Every choice, even the right one, comes with a price.



First 250:

Shower time. I could do this with my eyes closed. Every detail was so burned into my brain.

Step in. Turn on the water. Adjust the spray, temperature. Reach out, turn on iPod. Today’s selection: “Time Is Running Out” by Muse.

Great. Please don’t be prophetic.

Shampoo in hand. Wash hair. Soap. Scrub. Rinse.

I stood in the hot spray, feeling my overworked muscles relaxing a bit. Not enough, but a little. I had been dancing way too much lately. I ached in places a younger body wouldn’t feel and I was tired. Stretching my arms out to brace myself on the wall in front of me, I closed my eyes and imagined a certain set of hands on me, rubbing that soreness right away.

The reverie was interrupted by heavy footsteps made by a tiny person. Tramp, tramp, tramp. It was Rose. My baby girl was five. I could not believe it. She came running in the room. Smart, funny, beautiful, healthy. All the things you want a child to be. And I loved her more than the moon. She carried none of my damaged psyche. In short, she was perfect. And not just because I’m her mom. It was the truth. I may be lots of things, but liar is not one of them.

“Mama, did you make my lunch yet?”

“Mama will be out in just a sec. Are you dressed?”

Same questions, different morning.

“Uh-huh.”

I couldn’t help but smile. She was exactly what I never knew I wanted.

Spooktacular Pitch #04: JANE DOE

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Title: JANE DOE
Genre: Sci-fi with romantic elements
Word Count: 87,000


Three Line Pitch:

All CBI Agent Sam Rose needs is one big case to solve, so she can earn her transfer and finally live in the same city as her fiancé. Unfortunately, her Senior Agent believes women – especially colored women – are better suited to staying in the kitchen than chasing killers. A break-in at a local government-funded lab isn’t especially promising, until the coroner matches a staff member who went missing during the break-in with a Jane Doe who died eighteen months ago.

First 250 Words:

Monday May 20th, 2069
Commonwealth of North America

Sam tapped the unsigned Jane Doe report against her hand as she contemplated the four-meter stretch of sidewalk between the main bureau building and the morgue. It wasn’t like a significant case was likely to come up in the next twenty-four hours, or the next twenty-four months if she were honest, but she wanted her desk cleared just in case. Senior Agent Marrins delighted in finding excuses to extend her time as a junior agent and keep her from transferring to DC and her fiancé. Jane Doe was in her way. Bloody clone.

“Rose!”

She jerked her head around in time to see the elevator closing behind her boss. “Sir?”

“What are you doing?” Marrins asked.

“I’m going to get the coroner’s signature on the Jane Doe the police found Friday.”

He stopped at the bureau check-in desk and nodded to the secretary. “Theresa, you got that file Altin sent over?”

“Downloading it now, sir.”

Marrins took an efile from Theresa and handed it to Sam. “Detective Altin from the PD has a robbery he wants a bureau assist on. You can go chase stolen barrettes across the district lines with him.”

“Thank you, sir,” she said with a grimace.

“Don’t be like that. You wanted something more than clones. Altin is good for that. Can’t find his pants without a map and permission written in triplicate, but that’s what you get from his sort of people.” Marrins snorted. “Take care of it.”

Spooktacular Pitch #05: TENDRIL

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Title: TENDRIL
Genre:YA Dark Contemporary w/Magical Realism
Word Count: 68,000 words


3 Line Pitch:

Opal MacBride’s inheritance includes albinism, a lecherous uncle, and a family curse that says she’ll never find true love. The curse suffers a mortal blow when two brothers, one living and one dead, fall in love with her. But a happy ending requires foiling her uncle’s depraved abduction plot, and choosing between the boys she loves—a choice of life, or eternal life.



First 250:

Sporadic blasts of the foghorn heralded our arrival at the lighthouse. The headlights illuminated the mist shrouding the island, but couldn’t penetrate it. Once we were out of the car, fog clung to my skin like a veil. The air was thick with the smell of sea creatures, both living and dead.

Aunt Laura and I followed Uncle Ned into the lightkeeper’s cottage. He lumbered up the narrow staircase and carried my suitcase into one of the two bedrooms on the second floor. Laura began to unpack, setting my folded clothes on the narrow white bed.

“Darling, shouldn’t you start making dinner?” Ned asked. He was slightly out of breath.

“Yes, of course.” Laura scurried away.

Ned stepped towards me. I grabbed an armful of sweaters and held them to my chest, as if their soft wool could protect me, like an armored breastplate.

“When is Pearl’s funeral?” The words scraped past the clump of grief damming my throat.

“Tomorrow, at ten thirty. Just a private service with the two of us, and your Aunt Laura. A friend of mine will officiate.” He went on to mention my father’s other siblings, whom I’d never met. “Bartholomew is in Kiev with his circus and Rowena is somewhere in Africa, doing God’s work. Neither can make the trip on such short notice. Needless to say, your father won’t be attending. It will be a difficult day, but we’ll be a great comfort to each other.”

“I’ll be fine,” I whispered, then gathered my quivering lip between my teeth.

Spooktacular Pitch #06: HAVOC'S KNOT

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Title: HAVOC'S KNOT
Genre: YA Epic Fantasy
Wordcount: 90,000



Pitch:

Jake had no idea a trip to the local museum would transform him from wallflower to warrior. When he accidentally steals the place of another boy, he also takes on a prophecy not intended for him. Now he must defeat the wolf king if he ever wants to see home again, or keep the people he loves alive.



First 250:

Nothing was more annoying than a blinding sunbeam. Frankly, Jake was not fond of the sun, or anything about the outdoors. And the sweet perfume of spring air was pounding an irrational thought through his mind. Am I outside? That simply made no sense. And yet, that’s exactly what he knew to be true.

Every muscle and bone within him ached as though he had slammed against the damp ground beneath him. Dark clouds rolled overhead, scattering the sun’s rays. Sprawled within a patch of feathery meadow grass agitated by the wind, Jake lifted himself and took in the scenery.

The dimly lit meadow was sprinkled with flowers and shrubs, surrounded by trees that scraped the clouds. Glancing at the stormy ceiling, he noticed a pink glow shed by the rising moon and another, much smaller moon snuggled close to the horizon. One thing was for sure, this was not Earth. Numbness spread through Jake’s trembling body, freezing the scream in his throat.

And although it had happened seconds before, he felt hours or days removed from the incident at the museum. The words of the boy with the sun-soaked skin continued to echo in his head, “Don’t be such a whimp.” As the tour group had converged in another corridor, the unruly kid egged Jake on to join him elsewhere. He shouldn’t have gone. He didn’t want to. But he certainly wasn’t a whimp. And no mop-haired jerk was going to prove him otherwise.

The fog of his memory was splattered apart by a voice, “Are you lost?”

Spooktacular Pitch #07: ALEX DAILY: SOMETIMES SUPERHERO

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Title: ALEX DAILY: SOMETIMES SUPERHERO
Genre: MG Magical Realism
Word Count: 78,000 words


3 line Pitch:

It’s not easy being a superhero with a different power every day and a 9:00 bedtime every night. Ten-year-old Alex Daily has no way of controlling or predicting which superpower he’ll wake up with each morning, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to discover the source of his abilities. But it’s hard for Alex to find the time, between protecting his stepsister’s life-saving research from sabotage, and learning that his biological father is a criminal.



First 250:

The day before getting his first superpower, Alex Daily found himself climbing to the top of his stepdad’s forbidden twelve-foot ladder. The sun-soaked metal burned his fingers and the cardboard box under his arm kept catching beneath each rung and throwing him off balance. He’d be grounded for life if Mom or Walter caught him climbing this ladder. The worst part? He didn’t even want to climb it.

Melanie watched from below, a half-smile tugging at the corner of her tiny mouth. He was afraid of heights and of breaking rules, but he was most afraid of being called a wimp by a girl. Melanie was a tomboy but she still counted as a girl, and her smile (which could open wide and start yelling insults any moment) was the only thing that kept him climbing.

When he got to the final rung he set the box on the little shelf at the top.

"Okay, Melanie, you ready?" Alex asked. He wanted to get it over with.

“No!” she said. “You have to go to the tip-top.”

"The box is on there. Besides, it’s for paint cans and tools."

"Not that part, stupid. Look! You’ve still got a step to go."

Melanie was right, as usual, but she couldn’t see the sticker that covered the top rung. "NOT A STEP!" the red letters warned. There were pictures of stick figure men falling to horrible stick figure deaths. One fell forward, bringing the whole ladder down with him. Another fell backwards somehow landing directly on his head with his legs straight up in the air, which didn’t even seem physically possible but scared Alex nonetheless.

Spooktacular Pitch #08: ABEGALE FORCE

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Title: AbeGale Force
Genre: Upper MG Magical Realism Mystery Adventure
Word Count: 76,000


3 line Pitch:

Abegale must decide if a mysterious old lady with ties to her grandma's past can be trusted when she tells Abegale her beloved grandmother is not dead, and somewhere near-by.

This grim old lady instructs Abegale to find her grandmother’s "medicine” book in the hopes of getting Abegale to disclose the whereabouts of her grandmother. When Abegale finds the book, she discovers the true identity of her grandmother, and learns she must act quickly, if she hopes to rescue Grandma before she's trapped forever this time.



First 250 words:

It’s not as if I want to keep secrets from my best friend, and I sure don’t want to meet her new landlady—privately, or at all, the way Mrs. Egremony stares at me. She doesn’t even stop when I catch her doing it.

But I have to speak with her before Stephanie gets home, and find out what she meant saying my “grandmother Rose is near, but far.” Yeah—far, she disappeared in the Andes three years ago—that’s pretty far.

I better hurry.

The Maiden Villas sit at the highest peak of Pine Crest, hiding under the shadow of trees. Why Mrs. Egremony named them Villas, when they’re more like shacks, is a little weird. Three years ago, they were Donald’s Cliff Cabins.

I sometimes imagine Mrs. Egremony up there in her nest of twisting vines, waiting for some unwilling creature. . .

Ridiculous. She’s just an old woman -- I know, but there’s something not right. Like the way she dresses in those Little House on the Prairie skirts dragging along the ground, and wearing a full body apron. And why she call herself Mrs. when she’s not married? Stephanie tells me she sees her sometimes, working in her garden late at night. Creepy, if you ask me. Now Mrs. Egremony tells me she knew my grandmother, and said I should come first thing this morning, alone, which is why I’m racing over.

I have to stand on my pedals to reach the top of Ridge Road, heaving like a billy goat and swaying side-to-side, when the black mass of what I later realize is a crow, swoops in front of me--CAW!

Spooktacular Pitch #09: GLOWING SHADOW

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Title: Glowing Shadow
Genre: YA paranormal romance
Word Count: 81,000 words


3 line Pitch:

Seventeen-year-old empath Muriel thinks being a genius broadcasting her feelings to everyone is the biggest curse possible -- until she moves to Madrid. There, strange shadows hunt her; she’s rescued by a stubborn man who transforms into a glowing shadow. Now she has to convince him he deserves to love her while they discover why the shadows want her soul.



First 250:

Each time the girl stroked the picture, I struggled to breathe. Despair, desolation, and agony- they all tried to stop my heart. I’d picked the wrong seat again. She’s dressed in black and crying. I should have known.

Tears fell down my cheeks too. I knew that these weren’t my feelings, that I’d absorbed them from the girl, but I couldn’t stop them.

I opened a little the window, the cool air refreshed my cheeks and I inhaled the soft smell of snow. It didn’t help; they were still in me, growing every second.

In my purse was the little sock my mother knit for me when I was a baby. It was my talisman, filled with love and happiness. I took it and squeezed it between my hands.

I couldn’t think, only feel.

The pain was so strong, I needed it to stop. I stood and walked to the broken front door of the bus. It still hadn’t closed. The pavement fled by in front of me. I grabbed the roof handle and dangled, one foot out of the bus. Far away, I heard someone shouting. I inclined my body to jump. Something stopped me; I felt a pull on my arm and tried to focus on who was getting in the way, dragging me apart from relief. Through my tears, I spotted a man. His fear impinged upon me, lifting the fog in my mind.

What was I about to do? My hands shook. The man looked at me as if I was a freak. Well, he wasn’t wrong.

Spooktacular Pitch #10: ACE OF SHADES

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Title: ACE OF SHADES
Genre: YA Fantasy Steampunk
Wordcount: 80,000 words


3 Line Pitch:

In Spirited Away meets Boardwalk Empire set in a magical version of Victorian London, seventeen-year-old Enne Alfero searches for her lost mother in the shadow world and flees from the city’s politicians who want her dead. Her only ally is Levi Glaisyer, the hot seventeen-year-old street lord and card dealer at a casino. When the owner of the casino tricks Enne into swearing an unbreakable vow to work as an assassin, both Enne and Levi must play against the politicians in a deadly game for their lives.




First 250 Words:


Lourdes always told me that if she went missing for two weeks, she was dead. It’s been four.

I try not to dwell on that as I pull on my black tights, leotard, and long-sleeve t-shirt for ballet class. She’ll be back. She always comes back.

Only I don’t know how to keep waiting. I don’t know how to keep going to school, and dance. and gymnastics, and pretending that nothing is wrong. That I haven’t eaten Easy Mac four times this week. That I don’t jump to the window every time headlights sweep past my room and then disappear down the street.

But Lourdes told me to wait. That’s her protocol: say nothing and wait for someone to make contact.

But I can’t, I can’t keep waiting for “someone.” And each day I feel a little bit smaller, a little bit quieter, and a lot more alone.

This isn’t the first time she’s gone missing. But only for a few days, a week maybe. Never this long. I always assumed she’s a secret agent or something, but I doubt the James Bond types are normal, the kind of people who can’t function in the morning without coffee and wear the same nylons three days in a row, like she did.

Like she does, I mean.

And when she comes home, no more secrets. James Bond or not, my mother cannot go missing for a month and pretend that this is normal and la-tee-da. No more avoiding my questions, no more changing the topic. I deserve some answers.

Spooktacular Pitch #11: PRICE OF REFUGE

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Title: Price of Refuge
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Word Count: 80,000


Pitch:

Pregnant mother-of-two Kelsey Brooks has a family history of mental illness, an exasperated husband, and a lot of buried secrets. When a ghost from her past threatens to destroy the life she's built, she must stop him even if it means loosening her tenuous grip on sanity. Sometimes crazy is what it takes to stop a madman.



First 250:

It seemed crazy, nearly drowning myself in order to stop feeling like I was going to die, but water was the only thing that stopped the panic. I waited until my lungs burned, then lifted my head, took a deep gulp of air, and sank back down into my warm cocoon. I stayed under as long as I could, the contour of the tub cradling my body, keeping me bubble-wrapped and buffered from the distorted sounds of the outside world - the bickering of the kids, the inane chatter from the television.

Spencer yelling.

I sat up, coughing and spitting and sucking oxygen through my veil of sopping hair.

“Kelsey!”

I peeled wet curls from my eyelids as I tried to analyze my husband’s tone. I’m not good at much, but in this one area I’m an expert. Water sloshed over the side of the tub as I strained forward to listen. It was probably just the usual morning chaos of getting the kids ready. No need to assume anything terrible had happened. Spencer wouldn’t let them stick forks in the toaster or turn on the stove.

“Kelsey!” Louder now, and with a hint of panic – an emotion with which I was all too familiar.

It was time to get out. I braced myself with both arms and heaved my beached-whale body onto the edge of the bathtub, bumping the vanity and knocking over various tubes and jars of creams and perfume. Only my bottle of Escape stayed upright, mocking me, and I pushed that one over too.

Spooktacular Pitch #12: STREETLIGHT

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Title: STREETLIGHT
Genre: YA Romantic Thriller
Word Count: 62,000


3 Line Pitch

Turning off streetlights with her mind is a trick fifteen-year-old Logan didn’t know she’d be hunted for. But a group of paranormally-gifted outlaws are hell bent on acquiring Logan’s power. If they catch her, she’ll not only be stripped of her ability, but also her identity – leaving her with no memories of her family, her past or even herself.


First 250

“Come on, Logan.” Justin pulled me out of JavaBeans into the muggy autumn night. Chad and Jeremy followed us to the curb. “Just do it. It’s so cool.”

I shook my head. What was wrong with my brother? He knew it wasn’t allowed.

Justin sighed. “Nothing’s gonna happen.”

But that constant feeling of being watched crept up the back of my neck as I peeked into the shadows. Not that I ever saw anyone. I just felt them. All the time. That wasn’t something I shared with my brother since I was already the family’s barely-in-the-closet skeleton.

I leaned toward Justin and lowered my voice. “You know how Daddy feels about it.”

“They’re not gonna rat you out.” He nodded to the guys who shook their heads.

I pulled at the ends of my hair. “I can’t.”

“Yes, you can.”

“Don’t want to.”

“Wanna walk home?”

No. I did not want to walk home. Alone. In the dark. I made it a point to never be alone. You just never knew. It wasn’t that I was afraid of the dark. Okay, fine. Maybe I was.

“So?” Justin raised his eyebrows.

Being the sophomore little sister of a senior football star wasn’t easy. I was terrified of disobeying Dad, but I was even more terrified of walking home alone – in the dark. Justin had me, and he knew it. I glanced up and down the sidewalk. Streetlights illuminated the old-fashioned storefronts and tiny white lights twinkled in the trees of our small Alabama town.

Spooktacular Pitch #13: JUMPING ANTS

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Title: JUMPING ANTS
Genre: Upmarket Fiction
Word Count: 100,000


Pitch:

With a talent for self sabotage, the charming but aimless Max gets himself hired, fired, and evicted in quick succession. While waiting in line at a fast-food drive-thru, the twenty-nine-year-old is carjacked at gunpoint. Forced on a weekend-long journey with this stranger, an older rounder, more desperate version of himself, Max walks away with a black eye, a crush on a feisty bartender, and the truth that the unfazed grin he’s been honing hasn’t been fooling anyone, least of all himself.



First 250:

"You gotta go, Bro." Scott's hand was on the door jamb blocking Max Walker's entry to the one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment the two had shared for the past year — and shared intimately. The shotgun layout didn't allow for much privacy.

Through the doorway currently being obstructed by Scott's armpit was the living room with the futon that was Max's bed. At the opposite end of the apartment was Scott's bedroom, roughly equal in size to where Max slept. That Scott's bedroom had a door and the only bathroom wasn't a source of conflict until Scott's new girlfriend arrived. She resolved things by discovering the bedroom door had a lock, which Scott never used, but she did. Often.

Fortunately, the flirtatious repartee Max had cultivated with the barista at the café on the corner had rendered the "customers only" bathroom always open to him. Problem solved.

Max shifted his grocery bag to his other hand. His six-foot-two height allowed him to see over Scott's head and into the galley kitchen. There she was. Tara. The girlfriend. She was leaning against the short fridge with her arms folded across her chest. Though Tara's was not an unusual position in Max's presence, Scott's was.

Stifling Max's sense of humor around tension was like trying to stop a sneeze. "Guess I should be grateful you're 'sexiling' me in person instead of using that ratty wool hat," Max said.

Maybe the nod to their shared history would lower the gate that was Scott's arm.

Spooktacular Pitch #14: 151

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Title: 151
Genre: YA sci-fi/fantasy
Word Count: 82,000 words

3-line Pitch:

Seventeen-year-old Aeneas is Number 151—one more than needed—and lives in the Ilium Underground, a ruinous place where the outcasts from the Colonies struggle to survive. When the band of pirates that raised him is slaughtered in cold blood, he finds himself lost, on the run, and worst of all, alone. Then he meets Casseopea, a girl from the Colonies, and he must decide whether to help her spark a rebellion and free the 150 members of her Colony, or run away for good.


First 250 Words:

“What d’you know of the Key, boy? Tell me, or you die.”

Aeneas looked up into the bulging brown and purple eyes of the man called Gore, one of the most powerful Titans of the Ilium Underground. His hair was drenched from the sewage leaking from above, and his wrists were cut by the metal chains that tied his arms behind his neck. The yellow scar that ran down the tip of Gore’s bulbous nose throbbed as the question hung in the air between them.

“The Key of Ilium!” Gore snorted when he didn’t respond. Saliva dripped from the sides of the man’s mouth and down his winding goatee. “Where is it?”

His mind clouded with confusion as he searched through his memories from the past 17 years. A shiver ran through his body. “Don’t… know anything about a key…”

They were in the giant storage locker of the Titan’s Underground nightclub. Scattered around the room were dirty tables, unused instruments, smoking pipes, and huge kegs of liquor. Wooden buckets were spread out across the stone floor to catch the water dripping from the ceiling. A heavy carpet of moss grew out from between the cracks.

Gore hesitated, pulling at the tiny hairs on the side of his smooth reptilian skull. He glanced down at Skylla, the tiny old man by his side. “You sure this is…”

“Master…” Skylla purred, “he’s the one, Master Gore! The thief, the outcast, the one ya been searchin’ for. The one with the markings on his back, Master. Scars. Markings carved in blood…”

Spooktacular Pitch #15: GOING HOME AGAIN

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Title: GOING HOME AGAIN
Genre: Contemporary romance
Word Count: 83,000 words


Pitch:

For Alyssa Jones, Michael Day was the untouchable guy she pined for in high school but couldn't get to notice her--especially after he became a world-famous pop star. Twenty years later when Michael is back home to escape his floundering marriage, no one's more surprised than Alyssa when sparks fly between them. Now with a relationship on the line and plenty at stake, Alyssa and Michael are left questioning everything they thought they knew about life, and love.

First 250 Words:

One Tuesday morning, I got a call I never expected. A call that, for the past twenty years, I may have secretly hoped for.

A familiar voice buzzed over the loudspeaker on my phone. “Alyssa?”

“Yes?” I replied, not looking away from my computer screen. Had Rebecca even started this piece about beach erosion? She usually procrastinated. I scribbled a note to myself to light a fire under her ass.

“There’s a Mr. Johnson on line two for you. Says he has a great story for the magazine. He’s a talent agent from New York.”

An annoyed sigh escaped my lips. “Thanks, Mary.”

There was always an agent or producer trying to get us excited about some low-budget cheese ball TV series or movie being filmed down here in Wilmington, North Carolina. Since Dawson’s Creek, the floodgates had been opened for Wilmington and the surrounding beaches, like Wrightsville, where I worked. Thanks, Van Der Beek.

I picked up my phone. "Wrightsville Magazine, Alyssa Jones speaking."

“Hi, Ms. Jones and how are you today?” answered a bright voice.

“I’m just great and how are you?” Could we skip the pleasantries and get on with it? I work under deadlines, dude. I drummed my pen impatiently on my desktop.

“Fabulous! My name is Greg Johnson. I’m with International Star Management out of New York, and I have a terrific story idea for you.”

“Oh, really?” I rolled my eyes but I’d perfected my professional voice and was sure he couldn’t tell how annoyed I actually was.

Spooktacular Pitch #16: THE GLASS PRINCE

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Title: THE GLASS PRINCE
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
Word Count: 73,000


3 line Pitch:

17-year-old Clara’s attempt to escape social suck-fest at home lands her in the middle of a 500-year-old family curse, with the Ice Queen (aka “Grandma”) and an obnoxious Prince as her guides. A glass prince figurine is one key to breaking the curse, allowing her to transport to the past to see how it all started. But, an unexpected enemy stands in her way and failure means she’ll suffer the same fate that killed her father when Clara was only one.


First 250:

I shared my birthday with the death of my dad. I closed my eyes and tried to picture him as the hot chocolate I drank satiated my taste buds and slid down my throat. I could never get a clear picture of him in my head. He always showed up a little fuzzy around his edges. Sighing, I took another sip. I heard Mom stumble down the stairs and shuffle to the kitchen.

The door swung open and Mom rubbed the sleep out of her eyes before she looked around. When her gaze settled on me, she glared. “Stubborn-ass birthday girl.”

I smiled.

She hobbled over to me and kissed the top of my head, then slumped into the chair next to me. She sniffed the air and sighed happily. “Homemade cinnamon rolls?”

“Of course. With homemade cream cheese glaze.”

Mom twitched to stand up and I pointed a finger at her.

“Not now. You can lick the bowl when I’m done, lady.”

She chuckled and settled back into her chair. “Well at least get an old woman a cup of coffee. I can barely keep my eyes open.”

I set my cocoa down, then stood and walked over to the coffee pot to make her a cup. She liked it black on days when she woke up too early.

“You’re confusing ‘old’ with ‘lazy’ again, Mom.” I teased as I set the cup in front of her.

She grinned. “Well, you spoil me, Clara. Now I feel all entitled and stuff.”

Spooktacular Pitch #17: BLAME IT ON MERYL STREEP

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Title: Blame it on Meryl Streep
Genre: Women's Fiction
Word count: 97,000


3 Line Pitch:

At age 28 Laura Sanders, who has never been in a relationship, has given up on love until she watches the movie Mamma Mia and suddenly finds the perfect coach to a happier life at her side: Meryl Streep. Nobody but Laura can see and hear imaginary Meryl, but so what? Sometimes you have to lose yourself in a fantasy to fix your reality.




First 250:

I’m Laura M. Sanders.
I’m twenty-eight.
I’m a TV producer in Los Angeles.
I’ve travelled the world.
I have a cat named Sartre.
I own 108 pair of shoes.
I’m a virgin.

The worst part about my pathetic, lonely life is the constant pretending. Pretending to be normal. Everybody knows the drama of love, the passion, the pain, and not knowing makes you a complete freak. Until some years ago I used to be honest and tell friends at some point that I never had a boyfriend and never had sex. Someday I’ll tell a stranger that I killed a person. Simply to see if that confession arouses a similar mortified look.

After the look there’s always the insensitive comment: Why don't you just pick up a guy at a bar? A woman can get laid even if she’s coyote ugly and you look really cute. Thanks, but no thanks. I don't want to get laid. I want to be loved.

Next is usually the sexist, but still popular, good advice.
Good Advice Number One: Be dumb. Men don’t like smart women.
Good Advice Number Two: Be hard to get. Men still think like hunters.

Good Advice Number Three: Be a listener. Men need attention.


After the look, the comment and the good advice, there’s the worst part: the awkward silence. After all, everything everybody ever talks about are relationships, and to fit in you need stories to contribute. So I make up stories. Stories that cover up the fact that for whatever reason I seem to be an invisible woman, unable to catch a guy's eye, let alone his heart.

Spooktacular Pitch #18: SUPERTEENS IN TRAINING

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Title: SUPERTEENS IN TRAINING
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Science-Fiction
Word Count: 54,000 words


3 line pitch:

Five sixteen-year-old girls are brought together by a mysterious guardian when they discover their awesome elemental powers that make them feel like superheroes. But besides wearing sexy costumes and learning kick-ass fighting skills, they must put off mall shopping and hot dates until they defeat enemies from another planet, who want to destroy the girls before they can help the good guys win a planetary war. So the girls must learn to put their differences aside, because only their bond makes them stronger than any other force in the universe.

First 250:

The seatbelt restraints barely held her in place as Malaysa was jolted in her seat. The whole spaceship rumbled and shook as it came to an abrupt stop. Its engines purred softly as they powered down. Then, silence.

Malaysa breathed a sigh of relief, and figured it was safe to open her eyes. The way her seat was slanting, she could tell the ship hadn’t landed as it should have. She glanced at the control panel in front of her, and saw its multi-colored lights flashing wildly. She guessed that meant something had malfunctioned, but since the ship’s course hadn’t been set by her, she couldn’t have done anything wrong.

Her hands fumbled with the clasp of her restraints, and when she had freed herself, she stood up out of the half-spherical seat, holding onto the sides as she tried to get her wobbly feet to support her. The flight had lasted about six hours, and she had barely moved at all in that time, which was why she was so stiff. Her anxiety about traveling so far away from home for the first time had left her paralyzed.

She felt alone…but then, she wasn’t alone.

She looked up and checked the five other occupied seats. To her relief, all the babies appeared safe. She stumbled her way over to each child, giving them closer inspections. The Sleep Plugs in their ears had kept them from waking during the ride, but the devices only lasted for eight hours. In less than two hours, Malaysa would be dealing with five hungry, crying infants all by herself.

Spooktacular Pitch #19: NEVER THE HERO

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Title: NEVER THE HERO
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
Word Count: 61,000 words


3 Line Pitch:

Everything nineteen-year-old Krystin knew about her destiny changed the moment her true love, Shawn, almost died by her hands, isolating her from everyone. But now Krystin must reunite with Shawn, as per her destiny, or risk starting a war between not only Good and Evil, but every faction standing blind and arrogant in between. They’re ready to obliterate her world through war, but is she ready to be the hero?




First 250:

It’s kind of funny the places you end up in life, the way it throws you for a loop and sets you back into motion when you least expect it. How, after all you've been through—all you considered hell—it can help you start all over again.

Or, that’s what I’d like to believe anyway.

Then again, there’s also a moment in everyone’s life where you make that one decision that changes everything. The best way I’ve heard it described is something my mother told me once: everyone at some point in their lives comes to the edge of a huge cliff. You can choose to either fly and succeed, or jump and fall to failure. In the end, she was right in more ways than one, even if I’ll never admit it to her indignantly proud face.

It’s been a good year, down to the day if I’m right, since I made that decision which would change everything so drastically. Instead of choosing to fly, I jumped and plummeted to the very rocky bottom. Funny thing is that regardless of what it’s caused me and how little I got in return, I’m happy that I did it—to some extent, at least. I got the chance to start over, and that’s what I thought I most desperately needed.

You see, so many people have told me that I’m supposed to do something “great” with my life, that I’m above all this “Good and Evil” crap I basically grew up on.

Spooktacular Pitch #20: HOPE IN BLOOM

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Title: HOPE IN BLOOM
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 72,000 words



3-line Pitch:

When eighteen-year-old Mallory sees her boyfriend’s lips attached to another girl’s at the end-of-summer party, she loses the last bit of happiness in her troubled life. Desperate for a moment of hope, she decides playing the lottery is the ticket to erasing the misery that surrounds her at home and at school. Although her plan delivers the joy of a picture-perfect fantasy world, Mallory’s real life grows more problematic with each new set of numbers.



First 250:

Every girl needs a good luck charm. Mine was a shirt, emerald green with rainbow embroidery along the neckline. I was convinced that magic lived in every thread. My boyfriend Ben said it was the shirt I had on the day he fell in love with me. I'd also worn it the day I found out I’d finally made the varsity cheerleading squad and the day I’d gotten my first ‘A’ on a pre-calculus test. It was definitely a lucky shirt, and I would’ve worn it to the party that night if only it had been clean.

“Hurry up!” I tapped my foot impatiently, looking back at my friends who were moving at a snail’s pace up the walkway.

Sara, Taylor, and Nicole were gossiping about something, but I had zero interest in their conversation. My heart somersaulted in anticipation of seeing Ben. He left for college a month ago, and I missed him. A lot. I missed that fresh-from-the-dryer smell of the sweatshirt he always let me wear. And the taste and feel of his soft lips when he kissed me at the end of our dates. And most of all, I missed his smile, that special treasure that could always melt away my troubles. He was home that weekend for the end-of-summer party, and we’d be reunited after four long weeks.

At the door, a stoner kid who graduated three years ago stamped our hands, and we walked inside. A guy I recognized from chemistry class last year reached out to high-five me and shouted, “Seniors, yeah baby!”

Spooktacular Pitch #21: CHEATING DOESN'T WASH OFF

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Title: Cheating Doesn't Wash Off
Genre: YA Commercial
Word Count: 71,000



3 Line Pitch;

Two days before their two year anniversary Johnathan Diamond Warner catches his girl cheating on him. JD’s baffled, heartbroken and in serious denial until he decides to go on a what his nephew calls a bird cleanse. Bird Cleanses have helped Travis get over a lot of women maybe it can work for him too, especially when Travis sends him a Bird Cleanse Manual tailored just for him.




First 250;

Chapter 1

“To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves.” ― Federico García Lorca, Blood Wedding and Yerma

He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath the lemon wax used to polish the dance floor fills his lungs. Every time he plucks a string on his guitar the music flows through him and guides her. For an hour every Wednesday they share a heartbeat.

He opens his eyes and watches her refined movements in the mirrored walls her body moving in time to the beat he sets for her. The amp is turned up so high that it drowns out everything, including all of her doubts. She leaps through the air effortlessly.

She pauses to gather up her auburn hair and redo her ponytail letting it swing down to her back. Their eyes met and he asks himself the same question he’s often asked over the years; does she know how much he loves her?

He can’t help being in love with her he’s tried to stop many times. If she did know he’d be okay with her turning him down, now that he has someone else that he loves. In fact in two days he’ll be celebrating his two year anniversary with that special someone.

Every day that he spends with his girlfriend his love grows stronger. Their love hasn’t helped him stop being in with Lana Cooper. His love for her is different he’s loved her longer.

Spooktacular Pitch #22: THE OTHER SIDE OF LAUGHTER

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Title: The Other Side of Laughter
Genre: Women's Fiction
Word Count: 83,700



3 line Pitch:

Emily Cooper has been kicked out of her life. Once a member of one of Georgia's wealthiest and most highly esteemed political families, she is now left with nothing due to their manipulative tactics and Emily's inability to fight for herself. In walks Camilla Baldwin who is hell-bent on seeking revenge.




250 Words:

(Told in the voice of Sally Sewell, Camilla's cousin)

I knew it as soon as I saw her that I had done the right thing. I knew it like nobody's business. And I knew for a fact that Camilla Baldwin was going to be mad as fire, but I had to help that poor girl.

Norma Watson is in my church group at the Baptist church. She makes the best apple strudel straight from scratch and I make the best coffee, so everyone at church says that we make the best team when it comes to mornin' prayer circle. Well, Norma told me that she heard from Melinda Sawyer 'bout this young woman whose husband decided to up and divorce her and left her no place to go. Said her name was Emily somethin' or other. Said they lived somewheres up near At-lanta. Well, I just couldn't imagine how that was so. How would she have no place to go? Wouldn't she get half? Isn't that what's useful 'bout useless lawyers? Aren't they s'posed to get ya half? Well, I declare, I don't know how such a thing could happen, but it did.

So I told Norma to tell Melinda to tell whoever needed to be told that the poor girl could come live with us. No, I did not even take a breath to get Camilla Baldwin's permission. There just wasn't time.

I picked her up at the bus station bright and early on a Saturday mornin' two weeks later. She was a tiny little petite thing sittin' amongst her luggage and whatever possessions that son of a bitch ex-husband allowed her to take.

Spooktacular Pitch #23: RUNNING FROM SHADOWS

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Title: RUNNING FROM SHADOWS
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 77,000 words


3 Line Pitch:

High school senior Greta Shore has lost her magickal abilities, a shadow demon has marked her for death, she's being forced to marry against her will and, to top it off, she just found out she's a unicorn shifter. As if all that weren't bad enough, she promptly falls for the shadow, putting her entire coven at risk and setting both unicorns and demons against her. But with the future of mankind hanging on the death of the boy she loves, will Greta choose to kill?

First 250:

The giant oaks of the Red Forest loomed above me. Unease prickled down my spine. Something else was in the woods. Lurking in the shadows. Watching me. I froze mid-step, ice in my veins. Peered into the darkness with my breath caught in my throat.

Haven slammed into my back. “Greta, seriously?”

A shiver rippled through me. The thing in the shadows had taken my attention so completely I’d forgotten that my two best friends trailed behind me. What was that thing? Had I imagined it?

When I didn’t answer she stomped in front of me. “Don’t just stop like that.” Haven smoothed a loose strand of pink hair behind her ear. “Damn. Maybe I should take the lead.”

“Whatever, girl.” I risked a quick glance over Haven’s shoulder toward the shadowy figure. Gone.

“What are you looking at?” She followed my gaze.

Jill joined us, her blond hair swaying over her shoulders as she bobbed her head up and down. The giddy smile on her face said she might start clapping at any second. “Ooh, I hope it’s something witchy and dangerous.”

Jill was ecstatic to cast a spell with us. Haven hadn’t ever asked her and I’d never been skilled enough to lead a circle. Until now. I took a deep breath. Was I crazy for needing to do this? For wanting answers?

Part of me had always felt carved out. Missing. Today, I was hoping to find a reason.

“Probably just a deer. Come on.” I gave Haven the let’s-move look and marched past both of them.

Spooktacular Pitch #24: EX-DRAMA QUEEN

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Title: Ex-Drama Queen
Genre: Upper MG Contemporary
Word Count: 51,000 words


3 Line Pitch:

Rather than be doomed to a life of mediocrity when she loses the lead in the school musical to her best friend, thirteen-year-old Casey makes a list of ways to reinvent herself. Karate champion, figure skater, poker player...and accidental boyfriend stealer? So much for ex-drama queen.



First 250:


Wednesday, September 6th is the day my life will change.

I'll either land the lead role in The Sound of Music, get into Holland Performing Arts High School, and end up on Broadway before I graduate college. Or, I'll bomb the audition, go to boring South County High where I'll have no friends, and end up waiting tables at some roadside diner in Nowheresville, Kansas.

So, I've decided to memorize the entire play before I even audition. No drama teacher – not even Ms. Sharp – can possibly deny my dedication to theater.

“Casey, aren't you going to eat?” Amanda pushes my lunch bag toward me.

“I can't marry him!” I recite with my eyes closed. My voice carries across the lunchroom, drowning out the chatter and shouts and clattering trays.

“Nice projection,” Amanda says as I bow to the table of wide-eyed sixth graders next to us. “The auditions aren't for two days. I really doubt Ms. Sharp expects you to have anything memorized.”

“I have to be perfect. My entire life depends on this role.” I rip open my lunch bag and pull out the salad and veggie burger I packed last night. Every great actor must perfect her skills, so I like to take on the role of different characters. Since Mom bought a boatload of bagged salad on sale, I decided to be a vegetarian this week.

“Don't worry so much.” Amanda flicks her long blond hair over her shoulder.

Spooktacular Pitch #25: DEAD NEW WORLD

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Title: Dead New World
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 79,000 words


Three line pitch:

Seventeen-year-old Holt spends his days in the Army hunting down zombies in a rebuilding United States. Everything changes when the leader of a powerful cult kidnaps Nancy, the girl he loves. Can Holt save what the person he most cares for without sacrificing his humanity?

First 250:

Sunlight filtered through the trees, brightening parts of the forest while leaving others in shadow. Birds chirped and chattered serenely. Everything seemed peaceful.

That’s what frightened me so much.

Nothing was ever peaceful anymore. Not since I’d been alive, at least. I tightened my grip on my M16 and tried not to let the guys see my hands shaking.

It was my first time out. A search and destroy, away from the relative safety of the bases or towns. No walls or fences to hide behind. No machine guns or bunkers for protection. Out here it was just your rifle, your squad and, if they happened to be in the area, air support.

The summer heat weighed down my bite-proof fatigues. Sweat drenched my body and dripped into my eyes, stinging. I flipped up the visor on my helmet to wipe my face.

Ambrose patted me on the shoulder. “Cold enough for you?”

I turned to him and grinned, struck again by how he’d changed since basic training. He didn’t look like the kid I’d known practically my entire life anymore. He’d shot up and filled out, his built frame and square jaw making him look older than sixteen. Even though we were the same rank, I couldn’t help looking up to him, and I wasn’t the only one.

“I hate these things. It’s like wearing an oven.” I closed the visor.

“Better than being dead, Holt. Or worse, dead-ish.”

Spooktacular Pitch #26: FALLEN ANGEL

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Title: Fallen Angel
Genre: Contemporary Sweet Romance
Word Count: 116,000


3 Line Pitch:

In Fallen Angel, Antonio does not believe in love at first sight, until he sees her fall into a street in Milan and get hit by a motorcycle. Compelled to know who Renatta is and if she can return his affection, he becomes her hospital volunteer only to learn that the accident erased her memory. If he fails to win her heart, Renatta will wed her fiancee, Marcello, return to her opera career and sentence Antonio to a lifetime of lonelines - for love at first sight never happens twice.


First 250:

Sweat trickled down the back of Antonio’s neck as he made his way back to the apartment. The gelateria across the street tempted him with its cool refreshment.

“Gratzie, Antonio. We love the new game,” called one of the neighborhood boys as he ran past. With his long legs he had outstripped the rest of the boys who trailed behind.

The smallest boy caught up to Antonio and tugged on his arm. “Per favore, can you play a little longer,” he pleaded with his large brown eyes. He passed a ball back and forth in his hands.

Antonio reached down and ruffled the nine-year-olds hair. “Mi dispiace, another day. I need to take a shower before I meet Stefano and his models.” He smiled at him.

“Okay,” the boy said. “We will get Fabritzio so we can teach him and keep playing.”

“Ciao, amici.” Antonio waved as the rest of the boys ran past, their noisy shouts momentarily blocked out the sounds of life returning to Millefonti Street after siesta in Milan. The sounds of stores being reopened, the clatter of glasses and silverware being set out at cafes and the chatter of people rebounded off the building walls. A low hum of cars and trams from the busy street around the corner added to the noise.

Antonio checked for cars, and then crossed the street. A light summer breeze ruffled his black hair and cooled his sweaty olive skin. He sniffed under one arm. “Scifo. I need a shower”Queen of Random

Spooktacular Pitch #27: ASTRAL

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Title: ASTRAL
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Word Count: 80,000 words


3-line pitch:

Seventeen year-old Bastian Reynolds just met the other universe’s version of Sora Walton – also known as his dead girlfriend – which was creepy enough without the whole “she can see violent crimes before they happen” thing. Apparently her dreams have been slowly counting down to the day when he’ll end up on the wrong side of her knife – but, hey, the bright side is she doesn't want to kill him. The not-so-bright-side is that unraveling the mystery of Bastian’s murder means the two uneasy allies must travel between their ailing parallel universes and place their trust in some morally questionable people as they fight to change their futures – oh, and they've only got two months to go before Sora’s knife wins.



First 250 words:


There are easily five hundred people from both ‘verses in Ryland Market today – and my arm is stuck to some guy who seems to be sweating super glue.

Awesome.

I’m tempted to just start yelling. If I make enough noise or freak enough people out, they might leave. Or stampede.

One look at the large guy next to me and I decide against causing a scene. I don’t want to end up on the wrong end of his feet. Instead I put all my power into my arms and propel myself forward, finally breaking the disgusting sweat-seal that started to form between me and the Hawaiian-shirt wearing shopper.

I wipe off my arms as I continue to scan the crowd. I have less than five minutes left before the bomb goes off, and –

Do you always have to be so melodramatic? Reese’s voice intrudes on my thoughts.

You’re not the one about to be framed for this thing. I shoot back, rolling my eyes. Telepaths. Think they know everything.

I heard that. Reese says as someone pushes past me to get to the wind chime booth. You should be more grateful, you know. I am technically a traitor now –

That makes two of us. I interject. Remember me? Bastian Reynolds, the soon-to-be-infamous Ryland Market bomber?

Yeah, yeah, sure. You count too. But we all know I’m the brains of this outfit.

Oh, just shut up and help me find the damn bomb. I snap at him.

Yes, oh bossy one.

Spooktacular Pitch #28: FORGET-ME-NOT

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Title: Forget-me-not
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Word Count: 77,000


Pitch

When Seventeen-year-old Anamae finds her missing mother’s pendant, she puts it on and discovers it’s actually a piece of technology that makes the wearer invisible. Triggering the pendant’s true purpose attracts the attention of The Collective, a secret society sworn to suppress technology so advanced it could be straight from a science fiction movie. Now she’s at the top of their hit list.



First 250

How do I tell my mother what’s happened, what she’s missed, everything about my life?

Chin cupped in hand, I sit at the desk in my room, staring at the pale yellow notepaper before me. The blue lines across it are as empty as my pounding head. My favourite pen poised in my hand, but the words elude me. I let out a long sigh.

Two faces stare up from the photo waiting to be slipped into the envelope along with this letter. It’s a ‘selfie’, not one of the nature shots that I normally put with these letters. My cheek’s pushed up against Will’s. His sandy blonde hair falls into his bright eyes. His arm, resting over my shoulders, pulls us close together. Our grins say more than words ever will. He’s my best friend.

Twirling the pen between my fingers, I gaze out of the window into the soft autumn afternoon. The distant clang of metal on metal pierces the silence. What is that?

I lean over the desk and lift the window. Warm air brushes against my face in a soft breeze.

Will’s jean clad legs stick out from under the hood of a beat up green car parked in the neighbour’s yard below. He backs out and hoists a large piece of machinery up onto his shoulder lifting it like it weighs no more than a small sack of potatoes. He looks up at my window, his face splitting in a grin.

Spooktacular Pitch #29: DUSTED

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Title: DUSTED
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 95,000


3 Line Pitch:

Sixteen-year-old Brina is half-human and half-pracin—don’t call them pixies—and a half-breed should not be able to suddenly produce all eight kinds of the addictive, marketable, pracin dust. If Vincent and his revolutionaries can make her unlock the secret behind her abilities, humanity could face extinction. If Brina doesn’t expose the secret herself, the pracin will remain enslaved by an ancient curse.


First 250:

When you’re the strangest-looking person in a country full of paparazzi, you should either look your best or hide. But Brina’s workout had run late, her parents expected her home in ten minutes, and it was rush hour: driving was out. Flying was more fun anyway.

So she dumped her school bag, gym bag, and purse in her best friend Moira’s closet, threw open the window, and sat on the sill.

“Watch out for birds,” Moira said, pulling the ponytail holder out of her long blue hair and toeing off her gym shoes. “It’s not faster if you have to go to the hospital again.” Then she smirked, lifted one slender, light blue hand, and headed off to her shower.

Brina stuck her tongue out at Moira’s long blue wings, gripped the edge of the window sill, and closed her eyes. Concentrating on the gland behind her heart, she pumped black dust into her bloodstream. When her fingertips started to tingle, she thought SMALL and opened her eyes to see the window frame slowly rising large around her as she shrank down, down, until she was the size of a small mouse, buffeted by the warm fall breeze.

With a twist and a push, she launched herself out the window into the sweltering air of San Antonio, gliding above the manicured gardens that stretched out under Moira’s window.

The first flash came from her left and, like an idiot, she twisted toward it. Which is how the photographer’s zoom lens caught her: eyes opened wide, long braid slicked back from her face with her own sweat, and limbs sticking out at startled angles from her workout tank and short-shorts.