Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pitch Slam Tinsel Town - Welcome to Team Scarlett Streetcar!

It's that time again for Pitch Slam to roll out the red carpet and reveal our chosen stars of tomorrow! My fellow directors along with our AD's and producers combed through the slush in search of the shiniest words. With each of our teams only allowed 8 cast members per team, it was tough to choose! Believe me when I say I wish we could've had way more.

As usual with Pitch Slam, there were tears and bribes offered during negotiations. We thought a few times we might die, but in the end we came to an agreement and formed our teams that we love so much.

Below you will find Team Scarlett Streetcar:

You can find the other teams here:

Critics (Agents) are free to comment from now until 5:00 PM Eastern on 4/15/15.

NOTE: Only agents may comment during the times listed above. Comments are on moderation so nobody may see what's going on behind the curtains. We want our Critics to have a little privacy while handing out ratings. ;)

If you didn't make it on a team, please don't take it personally! We could only have 8 per a team and that left many more we wished we could have included, but couldn't. That doesn't mean you're horrible or should feel bad, because you shouldn't! It just means we had to make tough choices and pick those we felt were truly ready for prime time.

As someone who loves doing contest, I've seen all sides. I've entered and didn't get in. I've entered and made a team, but no love was given. Then there were times I got requests. It's a process that doesn't always lead you to your agent. I'm still querying, which is EXACTLY what you should and need to be doing if you're 100% positive your MS is polished and ready to show the world. Just because you didn't make it, this doesn't make it the end. Contests aren't for everybody and they're not the only path. Keep your head up and keep going! Never give up!

And know, we believe in you!

Pitch Slam Entry 1: Devil's Playground, YA Historical Fantasy

Title: Devil’s Playground

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Word Count: 66,000 Words

Pitch: Elizabeth, a witch in Salem, uses her forbidden powers to save innocent people accused of witchcraft. When she accidentally curses the village, she must figure out how to reverse the curse before Salem is destroyed.

250 Words:

I shiver as my bare feet hit the wood floor. It’s too early to be awake. It’s always too early. An incessant throbbing behind my eyes tells me I ought to be back in bed.

“Elizabeth, are you ready to go?” Mother calls from the kitchen.

“Yes, I’ll be right there,” I lie. With a tired shuffle I make my way to the large chest at the foot of my bed and grab the first dress I see. It doesn’t matter much when my choices are the black dress, the dark black dress, or the other black dress. Shall I wear the one with the hole, the one with two holes, or the one the mouse chewed through?

“Elizabeth! We’re going to be late, we need to leave.”

“Just a minute,” I say. After exchanging my white nightdress for the dark black dress the mouse chewed through, I tie a white apron around my waist, attempting to hide the hole. Before walking out the door I realize my cap is missing.

With a sigh I quickly pin my hair back before covering it with the white cap, a symbol of my purity. I now look like every other girl in Salem village, just how it should be. It seems a shame to let my curls go to waste and I can’t help but pull a few forward.

After double checking that everything is in order, I walk to the front room where Father, Mother, and my younger sister Anna are waiting.

Pitch Slam Entry 2: A Kiss of Blood and Gunpowder, YA Contemporary LGBT Thriller


Genre: YA Contemporary LGBT Thriller

Word Count: 77,000

Pitch: When a coup erupts in newly sovereign Esteria, seventeen-year-old Bostonian Tanner's gap-year takes a harrowing turn. Tanner must help rebels take down the US Embassy in exchange for medicine to save his British-Indian boyfriend's life.


46 DAYS ACD (AFTER Coup D'état)
25 miles outside of Esteria Capital

It was the faint whistling of bombs in the distance that shattered Tanner’s sleep. Even though the symphony of gunfire and the explosive rumbles were several miles away, that gave him little comfort. Those were explosions, and they were close enough that in the seemingly endless early morning skies, they illuminated the edges with vibrant hues of copper and gold. It was an ironically beautiful reminder that despite everything he had been through the past 46 days, he was still no closer to getting home than he was before.

The rusted feeling of his joints hadn't disappeared. Flexing his fingers hurt. Pushing himself up into a sitting position hurt. Everything hurt. A twinge in the back of his mind reminded him it was too early to be awake. He should be pissed, but in the larger scheme of things, he woke up. That was more than he could say for others.

It took him a few moments for his eyes—correction, his right eye—to adjust to the dim light. His body resisted his command to wake, but eventually the stressed limbs and swollen joints caved to his orders. His vision was, thankfully, perfect. As much as one eye could be. His olfactory senses worked just fine, confirmed by the tangy scent that brought tears to his eye and made his stomach crawl up his throat. Tanner scowled. He should have done a better job burying the body.

Pitch Slam Entry 3: Dirty Limerick, YA Historical (80's)


Genre: YA/Historical (‘80’s)

Word Count: 55,000

Pitch: Mean limericks about popular kids still went viral in the ‘80s. When 15-year-old Ricki’s best friend outs her as the author, her social-life plummets, until she uses her rhyming skills in an enterprising way.

First 250: 

There once was a girl with a crush
Seeing Mike was a rad freakin’ rush
But he never looked her way
Never had nice things to say
So the girl’s heart was a big bowl of mush.

Omigosh, omigosh, omigosh. I’d stood on my best friend’s porch for five minutes with my fist pitched in the air and ready to knock on the door. Honestly, she wouldn’t care if I just walked in. But, what if I walked in and saw her totally making out with Mike? No. She’d never do that to me. It was a miracle that Mike had agreed to attend her party at all. I still tried to wrap my head around the fact that we’d be in a room together, all…night…long.

My fist inched closer to the door, but then I rolled my eyes and dropped my hand to check that my shirt was tucked in straight and my cute belt was centered and my jeans were still pegged and the pennies in my loafers were still shiny.

“I’m a total basket-case,” I said to myself. “Stop it.”

I knocked quickly – wrap, wrap – then lightly touched my bangs to double-check they were teased and unmovable, just the way I liked them. But, would Mike like them that way? Feet pounded down the carpeted steps on the other side of the door and in a second, Katie whipped the door open. She rushed outside, slamming the door behind her, and gave me a squishy hug.

Pitch Slam Entry 4: Screen Time, Young MG Science Fiction

Title: Screen Time

Genre: Young MG/Science-fiction

Word Count: 29,000

Pitch: Eager to play his new computer game, eleven-year-old Peter is shocked to find his mom stuck in the game. To save her, he embarks on a quest with animal allies and the strangest army ever.

First 250:

Peter let the screen door slam as he entered the kitchen and poured a glass of milk. He felt the refrigerator air hit the drops of sweat on his face and sighed. School was out for the summer, and their old farmhouse always needed something done; he worried his mom might sabotage his screen time all week. He’d have to wait until Dad got back from his trip for her to lay off her Do-something-besides-the-computer campaign.

“Mom! I’m done washing your car.”

His dog scurried from the adjacent office, claws sliding on the tile floor.

“Hi Pi. I don’t have anything for you. Where’s Mom?”

Pirate growled.

“What’s wrong? Mom gave you chores too?” Peter laughed, digging into the cookie jar.

Pirate dashed back to the office, barking. Peter followed, eager to play his game. At the doorway, he saw Pirate with his forepaws on the computer desk, his mouth reaching for something. “Hey, get down! What are you doing?”

Pirate dropped a small silver object at Peter’s feet. He looked at Peter, then the computer, and growled again.

“What’s this?” It was dull and scratched, but fit nicely in Peter’s hand. Broken pottery and odd objects often surfaced on their property, which had been a dairy farm for 100 years. Peter’s Dad was a geologist, and liked explaining how rocks move through the soil with repeated freezes and thaws. It’s just someone’s junk. He tossed it in the wastebasket with a vague feeling that it reminded him of something.

Pitch Slam Entry 5: Cape of Good Hope, Upmarket Women's Fiction/Book Club


Genre: Upmarket Women's Fiction / Book Club

Word Count: 82,000

Pitch: Fearing threats from a whistle-blowing reporter, newlywed Ruby Stewart returns to South Africa to clear her father of conspiracy to murder. If she fails, her blue blood in-laws will disown her.

First 250:

It began with a wedding announcement I never submitted, no bigger than an airmail stamp, in The Paarl Post, a newspaper I’d never heard of.

When the editor called from South Africa, she said that our announcement’s publication had raised a few questions about my long-dead father, her thick Afrikaans accent turning each word into a scolding. That easily, she took me from being a confident newlywed to a scared six-year-old, grieving for my father, clutching at my mother as, with the precision of a surgeon excising a tumor, she erased any trace of our lives in South Africa.

“Which section do you edit?” I asked, hoping to slow her momentum.

“All of them.”

I pushed aside the dishtowel I’d been compulsively refolding on our kitchen counter. She’d said Paarl was a small farm town. There was no way this paper had a circulation of more than a couple thousand. She probably just wanted to confirm that Dad’s job at the U.S. consulate is what brought him, my mother, and me to Cape Town all those years ago. What other kind of questions could have been raised from a wedding announcement that doubtless ran on one of the last pages, next to the ads for discount cruises to Mozambique or something?

“Who submitted the announcement?” I asked.

“I’m sorry, I can’t share that.”

“What does it say?”

A shuffling of papers on her end. “June tenth. Ruby Anna Dean of Boston, USA was married to Marc Thomas Stewart.”

Pitch Slam Entry 6: Seeing Through the Blindfold


Genre: YA Sci/Fi Thriller

Word Count: 72,000

Pitch: Lust and drugs took seventeen-year-old Ava’s first family. After foretelling a nationwide blackout, she flies her new family toward safety, failing to foresee the crash. Guilt-ravaged, she crosses the country on foot, hoping they’ve survived.

First 250:

A sparrow takes a kamikaze flight into the window near our booth in the diner. The thunk causes my sister, Ronnie, to flail and laughter jumps into my throat at her reaction. But inside, something wilts for the bird. A few silent seconds pass before my adopted family bursts into snorts again, though it feels wrong to laugh about a life lost at the hands of ignorance.

Silverware clinks on ceramic as a woman twists a cigarette in an ashtray in the booth across from ours. Her brows cast shadows over her sunken eyes. She reminds me of my bio-mom. Also bone-thin. Crack does that to people.

One whiff of cigarette smoke and I’m swept backward in time to seedy hotel rooms, truck stops, laundromats. Shaking off the déjà vu, I look around for a piece of reality to ground me.

The gravity of my family’s love is all it takes. Everything in the diner seems to orbit around it, including me. So, why does my past glare at me through the sunken eyes of the woman across the diner?

Just when I feel I may fly out of orbit, my eyes fall on Ronnie. I get that weird feeling that I’m looking into the mirror, a cajoling that something deep connects our life-threads. But two people couldn’t be more different. We’re both seventeen, redheads and eerily similar in looks, but she’s the outgoing daughter of a Rabbi and I’m the quiet, less approachable spawn of a prostitute and evangelist.

Pitch Slam Entry 7: The Box in the Corner, YA Contemporary

Title: The Box in the Corner

Genre: YA Contemporary

Word Count: 71,000

Pitch: Seventeen-year-old Charlie loves all of Ben... even his deranged, knife-wielding side. But if his personality disorder isn't treated soon, she might end up with a slice to the neck instead of a happily ever after.

First 250 words:

Goosebumps spread up my legs, like spiders scurrying to safety. I stared down the dark alley and shuddered. There were probably rats the size of baseballs in it— and God only knew how many drunks had barfed in it— but it was better than waiting in the street like bait.

I prayed Freddy Krueger wasn’t crouching behind one of the dumpsters, and jumped into the shadows.

"I think she went this way."

Shit. I scrambled between a trash pile and the brick wall. My stomach lurched into my throat, as the smell of rotten fish and urine overwhelmed my nostrils. If I’d eaten at all in the past two days, my puke would’ve been added to the alley’s collection.

Something next to me rustled and I jolted so hard a pain shot up the back of my neck. I clamped a hand over my mouth to keep from crying out.

Please, God. Don’t let them find me. If you keep them out of the alley, I’ll start going to church. I’ll become a nun. Anything. Just don’t let them find me.

A man holding a knife rushed past the end of the alley without even glancing direction. My breath shook as I exhaled.

Damn it. I didn’t really want to be a nun.

Then a bigger, hairier man stepped in front of the opening. When he turned to stare deep into the alley, his eyes landed directly on me.

Okay, I’ll be a nun! Whatever you want!

Pitch Slam Entry 8: Of Time and Blood, YA Science Fiction

Title: Of Time and Blood

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Word Count: 76,000

Pitch: As a Timekeeper, seventeen-year-old Mikaelah keeps humankind on a preordained course for peace. When a violent organization championing free will emerges, she must decide: defeat them and prevent anarchy, or abdicate and embrace the unknown.

First 250:

Some Timekeepers saw the Schedules as a rigid set of rules never to be broken, but I figured a little creative interpretation never hurt anyone.

The dust was thick in the air and heavy on my tongue as I inhaled. With every breath, history took root in my lungs. A flowery perfume tried to hide the musty scent, but the smell of years long gone still lived on in the antique store.

“Change of plans,” I said as my assignment partner rounded the corner of the aisle. He jumped out of the way to avoid sending a teetering pile of old magazines crashing to the floor.

“Why do you always do this?” Trent closed his eyes and sighed. "What was wrong with the original plan?”

“Too simple for a guy like that. We’ll need something a little more drastic to get through his thick skull.” My gaze drifted towards our target.

Twenty-six-year-old Joseph Bolland stood on the far side of the store with stiff shoulders and a straight back. The window behind him, dirtied with years of grime, let in very little light. Even with the dingy overhead lamps, the wine glass in his hands was barely visible.

I ran through my mental checklist for matchmaking assignments. The briefing was on point with almost everything, but it had failed to mention Joseph was a real jerk.

Trent's voice sliced through my annoyance. "What'd he do to piss you off?"

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Little Pitch Slam Treat: Would Crossing Brielle make a Pitch Slam team if the tables were turned?


We mean business!

For a little over a week I along with the amazing #PitchSlam team have been critiquing over a hundred pitches and first 250's in two rounds that lead up to the final round. The glorious agent round!

Well, we've seen you stressing and worrying. And we totally get how you feel. So we started thinking about things. The the super fabulous Caitlyn McFarland came up with a fantastic idea! What if WE posted our first 250 and pitches and have YOU critique US?

That's crazy, right?

Well, no. Because we actually really liked it. In fact, we jumped at the chance of sharing and hearing if we'd make the cut if YOU were the judges.

So below, you will find both the pitch and first 250 for my MS, CROSSING BRIELLE.

Please, be gentle! (Just kidding. Be honest. I can take it!)

I felt this image fit both my MC's in the perfect way!

Name: Jamie Corrigan

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy


Word Count: 64, 000

Pitch: A bridge connects doppelgangers Cross and Brielle. If they don't find the madman who put them on a hit list for swapping worlds before his assassins find them, that connection might be what kills them.

First 250:

Cross slinked through the alley tracking her prey. Liquid-gold light illuminated the path just enough to guide her. Foot firmly placed on a dumpster that smelled like rotting tuna, she pushed up. The squeak came a second before the trashbin shifted under her. Before she could react, Cross tumbled forward and slammed to the grungy alley floor.

“Ack!” Cross bolted back to her feet, head darting from side to side. Good. No gawkers this time so no need to mention it in the report, she thought as she stared daggers at the faulty wheel that'd brought her down.

She checked her sword then tried again. This time she propelled herself up to her post on top of the rundown apartments. Sweat dripped from her brow, but Cross refused to acknowledge it. Spring wasn’t always so hot, but right then she felt like she was kneeling in a desert instead of a tar roof in Nashville.

Any day now. She surveyed the landscape. People zigzagged through the rubble-filled streets, ignorant of the killer in their midst. Daniel was somewhere among them, working his way toward her through the decay. She was sure of it. He wouldn't pass up the chance to say a twisted hello to his victim.

To the untrained eye he looked like a normal human—six feet tall and two hundred pounds of pure muscle. But Cross knew the monster lurking beneath his skin. All of her jobs were dangerous, but Daniel was the most vicious type of moth―a cinnabar.

* This page has been chosen for Pitch Wars, Pitch Madness, and featured on Nightmare on Query Street and received agent requests.

So there you have it! Feel free to leave your critique's, thoughts, or just cheers for it being Pitch Slam time again down in the comments. If you submitted for the agent round of Pitch Slam or even Nest Pitch, good luck!

You can find pitches and pages from the other Pitch Slam team below!