Monday, September 30, 2013

Winners for Logline Critique Round 1

Winning numbers have been drawn for Logline Critique Round 1 and the owners have all been emailed their entry numbers.

If you didn't get an email, I'm sorry; that means your ticket number wasn't selected.

Here is the complete list, so you may double check:
  • C7FQEOOP as ENTRY #1


  • L7CKFWZH as ENTRY #3

  • TBIBGU33 as ENTRY #4

  • MPQWI7GV as ENTRY #5

  • 61EI7Q1J as ENTRY #6

  • WO55UXOH as ENTRY #7

  • KT9AZ66D as ENTRY #8

  • NX345UGA as ENTRY #9

  • 1JBB5XAK as ENTRY #10

  • MFRHVV9U as ENTRY #11

  • 21SDGW9A as ENTRY #12

  • 5VMCGQ43 as ENTRY #13

  • L8HHDASZ as ENTRY #14


  • 772ZYIAF as ENTRY #16

  • 0AT5SO0T as ENTRY #17

  • QAX0JCX8 as ENTRY #18

  • A5HMAW5G as ENTRY #19

  • 1KUW61CQ as ENTRY #20

  • ZRKK2E0V as ENTRY #21

  • T8MAH3ZR as ENTRY #22

  • PZKSKN6B as ENTRY #23

  • 6FZ6ZU4U as ENTRY #24

  • PBD0BIL2 as ENTRY #25

  • KIELNP8P as ENTRY #26

  • AF8MYTTU as ENTRY #27

  • 2M9SW6IE as ENTRY #28

  • N16HWAAK as ENTRY #29

  • 7H57XEWU as ENTRY #30

  • ZPYZTA2Y as ENTRY #31

  • ZWRR1INK as ENTRY #32

  • 3M9H3E64 as ENTRY #33

  • P138DV5X as ENTRY #34

  • XTTCSU54 as ENTRY #35

  • 2Z50ZXS2 as ENTRY #36

  • 1TXN9ONY as ENTRY #37

  • 1BNM0KF9 as ENTRY #38

  • L1RDISW3 as ENTRY #39

The alternates are:

  • LGJ1AG3Q as ENTRY #ALT-1

  • 1Q5CQ7U2 as ENTRY #ALT-2

Submissions Today: Logline Critique Round 1

Submissions for our first logline critique round are TODAY from 9 to 5 EDT!

Guidelines are HERE.

Entries will post tomorrow for public critique.

We're off and running!  :)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Fricassee

I've been armpit-deep in a Rather Large revision, and I haven't come up for much virtual air (my tweeting habits have been sharply curtailed, for one thing).  And I want to say this:

My agent is brilliant.

I know.  I've said all sorts of schmoopy things about him in the past.  But hear me out.

Ever since I signed with him, Josh has brought a deep insight to my stories that I would not have had otherwise.  Eons ago, he started his publishing career on the editorial end of things--and it shows.  He has an innate sense of what isn't working, and what would work if it were changed.  And he offers this insight without once trampling on the sacred "this is my story" ground.  (We all have it--you know we do.)

My current project is no exception.  And the Rather Large revision (I wanted to die when I first read his editorial letter.  Yes, I did.) is yet another example of the brilliance he brings to the table.  He's also got Danielle by his side, and she's as shiny as they come.  (And, yeah, she's excited about this project, which is a pretty strong wind in my sails right now.)

All that to say--having an editorial agent is perfect for me.  Josh's influence on my work is irrefutable.  All this without line edits, too (which makes me happy, since my critique partners are more than delighted to inundate me with those).

So those of you who are in the throes of seeking-an-agent need to decide which kind of agent would work best for you--editorial or non-editorial.  Honestly, most of the agents I know lean toward the editorial.  (Let's face it--publishers want clean-tight-ready manuscripts, so agents are out there in droves, whipping stories into shape.)  But then, I by no means know All the Agents.  Probably I just like to hang out with editorial sorts of people.  Or something.

If you sign with a non-editorial agent, you will languish in your dark corner waiting for feedback or edits or whatever it is you're hoping for.  If, on the other hand, you feel like it's not an agent's job to edit your work, you will be peeved beyond measure when you receive a four-page editorial letter and notes in the margins of your work.  So it's important to know ahead of time not only what you want, but what the agent's style is.

Before I signed with Josh, we had a detailed phone conversation about my then-project, and the problems he felt it had that he wanted to see fixed.  I fixed them, he loved it, the rest is history.  So I knew going into this thing how Josh rolled, and obviously I liked it.

His approach is brilliant, too (agenting is at least half psychology, right?).  He doesn't "rip apart", doesn't pressure me, doesn't demand things.  He gives me space and time and the sense that he trusts me to do the work.  When we were discussing my current project earlier this year, he asked, "When will it be ready to go out?"  Mind you, I wasn't even finished with the second draft!  But his well-timed question put me into I Have a Clear Goal mode immediately.  "September," I piped.  And then I beat that by a week.

After that came the Really Frightening Editorial Letter--a.k.a. the brilliance.  It took me four days to process everything, and then I dove in.  And I'm almost finished (3 chapters to go).

It works for me.  For us.  And you will want the same thing from your agent.  We all have our lists of rockstar favorites when we start querying, but that sparkly agent on the top of your list might not be right for you, after all.  The editorial vs. non-editorial issue is an important consideration, and for things to work, you need to get it right.

And there you have it--my Friday gush-about-my-agent coupled with best-advice-I-can-give-on-agent-style.  Here's to finding your perfect-for-you agent!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Re-introducing Our Logline Guru: HOLLY BODGER

Holly Bodger is an irreplaceable part of my life--hard-nosed critique partner, down-to-earth advice giver, sender of chocolates and stuffed Yorkies, and one of the sharpest witted tongues I've ever met.  And this year, once again, she is donating her time to our Logline Critique sessions.  Holly has an excellent eye for loglines, and she'll be critiquing each of the loglines in all 3 of our rounds.  I think you'll find her advice invaluable.

Holly writes YA fiction (contemporary, dystopian, whatever-else-she-feels-like-writing) and is represented by the adorable and formidable Lauren MacLeod, another sparkly gem in the publishing world.  And here comes THE BEST PART OF ALL:

HOLLY'S AMAZING NOVEL, 5 TO 1, HAS JUST SOLD!  I can't tell you how much I love this novel; I knew it was "the one" as I was reading a second draft, and I'm delighted to yell, "I WAS RIGHT!"  

Please join me in congratulating her on the sale of her novel, and in thanking her for offering us her logline expertise.  She's a keeper, and I'm honored to know her!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Round One Logline Critique: Guidelines

Aaaaaand we're off!  Our first logline critique round will be open for submissions on Monday, September 30.

For the uninitiated:  I hold 3 critique rounds for loglines only (no story text), in preparation for the Baker's Dozen Agent Auction.  Each critique round will host 40 entries, so a total of 120 folks will get a chance for public critique of their loglines.

To avoid confusion:  These logline critique rounds are NOT a part of the auction.  They are simply an optional opportunity to get some feedback as you craft and fine-tune your logline.  You don't have to participate in the logline critique rounds in order to submit to the actual auction.

A logline should be as brief as possible.  The word count for these rounds will be set at 100, but that's still on the high side.  Think SHORT and GRABBY.


The submission window will be open from 9 am to 5 pm EDT on Monday, September 30.  This is a lottery, which means the bot will randomly choose 40 entries at the close of the window.  These entries will post on Tuesday, October 1, for critique.

WEB FORM SUBMISSIONS (preferred/easiest method):

GO HERE.  Please remember to proofread before hitting "submit".


As always, send your submission to authoress.submissions(at)  Format as follows:

SCREEN NAME: (type it here)
TITLE: (type it here)
GENRE: (type it here)

(type your 100-word logline here)

If there's ANYTHING you don't understand, please post your question below!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Fricassee

Hello, fellow scribblers!

Seriously, some Fridays I sit here and have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO SAY.  I've already covered the BAKER'S DOZEN EVERYTHING-YOU-NEED-TO-KNOW, and I'm pretty sure you don't want to hear all the hairy details about my latest revision round.

(Suffice it to say that Agent Josh and Minion Danielle required of me a sex change.  After four days of staring blankly at the world, I'm on board.  This draft will surely be peppered with his/her errors.)

I could tell you about all the FREE CHOCOLATE I got yesterday.  (I paid for 3 truffles and ended up with 17, plus 2 other chocolate yums--simply because the gal behind the counter was feeling generous.)

I could squeal about my BALLET CLASSES, which have finally resumed, and how I'm still terrified to leap (because that's how I injured my calf in March).

I could lament at how furiously I'm struggling to find work/life balance.  (Because I am seriously invested in power-revising this novel--I'm living and breathing it right now.)

But instead of all that, I think I'd rather talk about YOU instead!  Let me ask you this:  In all your ups and downs and laughter and tears and struggles and triumphs, is it worth it in the end?  Do you see yourself pushing through toward publication NO MATTER WHAT?

And if the answer is YES, what keeps you going?

Share share share!  I love juicy Friday comment boxes.

Have a glorious weekend!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Fourth Annual Baker's Dozen Agent Auction: Facts and Schedule

Welcome, welcome, welcome to the season of the fourth annual BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION!

For the newcomers:  The Baker's Dozen Agent Auction is MSFV's biggest event of the year.  60 250-word entries, hand-picked by Jodi Meadows and Authoress, will be placed on the auction block for agents to bid on (with requests for pages, up to a full manuscript request).  It bears the name "Baker's Dozen" because the original auction in 2010 included 13 agents--a baker's dozen.  The actual auction is in December, but the fun starts NOW!


Each Baker's Dozen entry is required to have a logline.

What is a logline?  A logline is a 1- to 2-sentence pitch that encapsulates your story and makes us want to read it.  See HERE and HERE for advice on writing an effective logline.

We will have 3 critique rounds for those of you who would like feedback on your loglines prior to submitting. These rounds will be run as lotteries. Times TBA.

ROUND 1: Tuesday, October 1 (submissions on Monday, September 30)
ROUND 2: Tuesday, October 15 (submissions on Monday, October 14)
ROUND 3: Tuesday, October 22 (submissions on Monday, October 21)


ADULT ROUND 1: Tuesday, October 29 (100 entries)
ADULT ROUND 2: Thursday, October 31 (100 entries)
YA/MG ROUND 1: Tuesday, November 5 (150 entries)
YA/MG ROUND 2: Thursday, November 7 (150 entries)


25 adult category winners notified via email: Friday, November 15
35 YA/MG category winners notified via email: Friday, November 22

60 WINNING ENTRIES POSTED: Friday, November 29

AUCTION GOES LIVE FOR AGENTS: Tuesday, December 3 (for 24 hours)

  • There will be a $10 entry fee for this contest. Every entrant must pay the fee at the time of submission.  This is the only event I charge for, simply because of the amount of work it takes to pull it off.  Payments will be accepted through Paypal; you do not need a Paypal account to make this payment (you will have the option to use a credit/debit card).
  • A maximum of 500 entries (200 adult, 300 YA/MG) will be accepted. Of these, 60 winners will be chosen (25 adult, 35 YA/MG).
  • If the maximum number of adult entries isn't reached, the remainder will be added to the YA/MG entry maximum (because you know as well as I do that I'm going to be inundated with kidlit).
  • The 60 winning entries will receive critique from editors, authors, and blog readers, in addition to being on the auction block for our participating agents.
  • The (up to) 440 non-winning entries will be given the option to receive critique on the blog via lottery at a later date. (Because, yanno, I can't exactly post hundreds of entries for critique simultaneously.)

Names of participating agents (and critiquing editors and authors) will be posted soon.  I've got a GREAT line-up, as always!

Just a reminder that there will be no Secret Agent contest in November. October's SA will run as planned. And, yes. You may enter the October SA and still submit to the Baker's Dozen auction. Unless you win the SA contest, of course.

Questions?  Ask below!  But please don't ask specific questions about submissions: I will be posting detailed instructions as we get closer to the submission dates.  I promise that everything you need to know will be included in that post.

Spread the word. Invite your friends. And start working on your loglines!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Another Interesting Success Story

As always, from the author's own fingers:


I'd like to share an indirect success story which includes a potential opportunity for your followers! For years your blog has been my number one source for encouragement, information, and community and I can't thank you enough for all you do. I've participated in Secret Agent and logline contests and was also chosen to be in your first ever Baker's Dozen Agent Auction. The critiques I received through your blog helped me to polish my work considerably. My success, however, is more directly attributed to Teen Eyes (which, of course, I discovered at MSFV). I sought help from teen editor, Taryn Albright, after querying my book Thunderstone for over a year with absolutely no interest from agents. The short, form rejections gave me no clue what my problem was, but I suspected my query blurb - I'd rewritten the blurb so many times, I wasn't sure it even made sense anymore. Taryn was awesome. She pointed out the problems in my blurb and read my first ten pages – which she liked. I continued querying with new hope and also entered my book in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. I made it to the quarterfinals in the contest and won a Publisher's Weekly review of my manuscript. Then, a few months later, I received two requests for a full – one from an agent and one from a small publisher. The agent passed, but the publisher didn't. I can't tell you how many times I had to reread the line "I think this is a good fit for us"!

My YA novel Thunderstone will be released in November 2013 by Scribe Publishing Company. Scribe has a unique approach to publishing, offering a larger percent of the profits as well as help with marketing, in lieu of an advance. For me, the dream of getting published has always been somewhat tarnished by the daunting thought of marketing, so I loved that aspect. I've also enjoyed other perks working with a small publisher like keeping my title and helping to design my book cover; the collaboration has been a wonderful experience.

Scribe Publishing is currently accepting submissions and I encourage your followers to check them out. As a first time author, I feel like this has been the perfect way to "get my feet wet".

Again, thank you Authoress. When writing my acknowledgements for my book; thinking of everyone that helped me on my road to publication, obviously you came to mind. So should you ever find yourself with a copy of Thunderstone, you'll find a shout out to MSFV in the back. I'm ever grateful. 

Barb Pietron

Monday, September 16, 2013

Aaaaaaand Winners!

Here are Jennifer Udden's winning picks:


#28  Hide and Seek


Ms. Udden would like to see your query and the first 5 pages of your manuscript.


#30  Hallowstone


Ms. Udden would like to see our query and the first 10 pages of your manuscript.


#47  False Skies


Ms. Udden would like to see your query and the first 10 pages of your manuscript.  She is also offering a critique of your first chapter.

Congratulations, all!  Winners, please email me at facelesswords(at) for specific submissions instructions.

Another great round, folks!

Secret Agent Unveiled: Jennifer Udden

Huge thanks to the lovely and helpful Jennifer Udden of the Donald Maass Agency!

Jennifer's Bio:

Jennifer Udden is originally from Houston, Texas, and joined the DMLA in 2010. She represents speculative fiction, urban fantasy, and mysteries, as well as historical, contemporary, and paranormal romance. She graduated with honors from Mount Holyoke College and previously worked in nonprofit arts fundraising. She blogs intermittently tweets incessantly at @suddenlyjen, and sometimes adds information to her website. She lives in Brooklyn.

What she's looking for right now:

My interests run the gamut, from historical fiction to hard scifi to YA of all stripes (though I'm not actively seeking middle-grade at the moment.) I'd love to find a YA that absorbs all my attention like Maggie Stiefvater's THE RAVEN BOYS or has me hungering for more like THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS. I'm also looking for exciting science fiction projects that feel epic in the way of A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ. In terms of literary fiction and mysteries, I'm looking for settings that break the mold and characters that break the rules. And for romance, I want plot and passion that work together to satisfy the reader, regardless of the time period or setting- think my client Tracey Devlyn's NEXUS series or DMLA client Thea Harrison's ELDER RACES books.

Winners forthcoming!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Fricassee

It's been a crazy, less-than-fun week, culminating in my dropping an entire, fresh-off-the-stove pot of noodles last night.  That's right -- gobs of curly noodles and nearly-boiling water, everywhere.  It's by the grace of God that I didn't get burned.

Seriously, I'm not sure how I emerged unscathed.  My dress was soaking wet--I felt the water burn my legs.  But I'm fine.  Not a mark.

Of course, I stood there bawling until my husband came running to see what the huge noise and cries of terror were all about.  (Poor guy.  He had visions of me, lying unconscious on the kitchen floor.  Because, yanno, I have a history.  Like passing out on the toilet from dehydration.  And breaking three ribs via a fall down the garage stairs.  Both of those emergencies landed me in an ambulance.  Oh, what a girl will do for attention!)

So he was relieved to discover that I was, indeed, conscious (though not coherent).  He swept in with a broom and a calm demeanor, and cleaned up the noodle/water eruption while I went upstairs to change.   By the time I returned, the kitchen looked normal again.

I owe him one.

The Noodle Event pretty much sums up my week--as a writer and as a human.  "Explosion" says it all.

Pressing on, though!  Because, isn't that what I always preach?  It's the only thing to do.  I tell you to do it, and I do it myself.  So if your week has had its own Noodle Event--press on!

Besides, we've got a BAKER'S DOZEN to be excited about!  Almost everything is in order behind the scenes, and we'll be starting our logline critique sessions VERY SOON!  So keep working on your logline, keep polishing your first page, keep spreading the word to your writerly friends and colleagues.  If you have ANY QUESTIONS about the Baker's Dozen, today's your day for free answers!  Post your questions below, and I'll do my best to keep up with them.

(I also think you should cast votes as to whether or not I should stay out of the kitchen FOREVER.  I mean, the Noodle Event presents a strong case, don't you think?  Mr. A should be able to fend for himself.  And I'll salads from the Whole Foods salad bar.  Right?  RIGHT??)


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Oops! Disqualified Entries (plus Critiquing Guidelines)

So you'll notice a lot of "removed" entries.  Each of them was removed because it was either YA or MG.

For future reference:  If submission guidelines ANYWHERE don't include YA or MG with the genre, IT MEANS ADULT.  So if you're on an agent's web site, for instance, and it says something like, "I am looking for historical and paranormal romance," that does NOT mean YA!

(I covered my bases, at any rate.  I reminded you in Friday's post that this month was for adult entries only.  I adore you all, and I am asking you to please, please, please, PLEASE read submission guidelines carefully.)

At any rate--on to today's round!

Guidelines for Critique on MSFV:
  • Please leave your critique for each entry in the comment box for that entry.
  • Please choose a screen name to sign your comments. The screen name DOES NOT have to be your real name; however, it needs to be an identifiable name.  ("Anonymous" is not a name.)
  • Critiques should be honest but kind, helpful but sensitive.
  • Critiques that attack the writer or are couched in unkind words will be deleted.*
  • Cheerleading IS NOT THE SAME as critiquing.  Please don't cheerlead.
  • Having said that, it is perfectly acceptable to say positive things about an entry that you feel is strong.  To make these positive comments more helpful, say why it's a strong entry.
  • ENTRANTS: As your way of "giving back", please critique a minimum of 5 other entries.

*I can't possibly read every comment.  If you ever see a comment that is truly snarky, please email me.  I count on your help.

September Secret Agent #ALT-1

TITLE: On the Surface
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

The sound of a fish slamming into her window woke Faye Coats from the dank, dreamless sleep she’d come to expect while living in the middle of the ocean. She cracked one eye open to illuminate her whole studio apartment: a tiny, efficient kitchen, the dresser at the foot of her bed, and the two chairs that made up her living room. Depressing, really. She stared at the star shaped reflection of light in the black void of ocean outside, then she flipped off the light and the room plunged into total darkness.

She hated fish, she decided as she stared toward her ceiling.

No. Hate was too strong a word. She liked eating fish. It was the romanticizing of fish that she hated: fish crackers, fish movies, cartoon illustrations on childhood card games, and fish in the doctor’s waiting room that she watched every time she had a fever growing up. Faye had spent her entire life thinking fish exotic and beautiful, when in reality, they were stupid animals who kept her from a good night’s rest because they couldn’t tell the difference between a floor lamp and sunshine.

Faye rubbed her temples and decided that she wasn’t going to go back to sleep. She rolled out of bed and pulled the covers up while she told herself she was glad that her boyfriend, Mick, hadn’t stayed the night. But at least he never romanticized fish.

Nasty buggers, he called them, fanning himself with his tail. As if he weren’t half fish himself.

September Secret Agent #50 (removed)


September Secret Agent #49 (removed)

*removed by request of author*

September Secret Agent #48

TITLE: Soulseeker
GENRE: Speculative Fiction

The worst part was hearing Varali's cries. He'd never been able to stand them. Loud, obnoxious -- just like her. They ripped through his spine like nails down a chalkboard.

And that was probably the closest to empathy he'd ever gotten, that scratching feeling down the spine when Varali cried.

She'd cried the night they'd been brought here, waking half the asylum, and again when the mentalists had decided to move her into a cell down the hall from his.

Now she cried as they marched her brother past her cell for the last time.

"Lykus!" she bawled, her bony fingers grappling at him through the bars. She caught the backs of his rags and he felt them rip as his guards tried to push him onward.

He resisted their pushes, looking over his shoulder at her. Kid was ugly as hell, with those strings of raven hair licked to the sides of her face, a face grimy except where tears cut an ivory path down each cheek. But there was beauty in that dirty, emaciated, swollen-eyed ugliness. It was love.

Or so he'd heard. Love was just another abstract concept like altruism. He would never find out what it meant. People had tried describing it, but they'd vainly used other ambiguous terms. Feelings. Caring. Lykus felt pain when the guards beat him. He cared to make Varali shut up for the sake of his pounding eardrums.

September Secret Agent #47

TITLE: False Skies
GENRE: Speculative Fiction

On some autumn nights in the New York dome, the icy breeze sliced straight to the bone like a knife, drawing goose bumps to the skin’s surface instead of blood. Even on the roof of the Clifton hotel, where the bulk of the British Embassy across the street should have blocked most of the wind chill, it was still too cold for comfort.

“Why the hell do we have to wear these uniforms even when we’re on night jobs?” Meredith muttered from beside me, pulling the coat of her suit jacket further around her shoulders. “They’re so damn thin!”

“They allow us to wear overcoats, don’t they?” The rookie cop from section five asked tentatively. The poor guy had looked seconds from passing out the entire night. Not surprising, given that this was his first Beta related mission.

“Exactly.” Simon flashed the rookie a grin, pulling his thick, black coat around his shoulders to make Meredith jealous. “Meredith just didn’t bring one; her pain is self-inflicted.”

“I don’t have a suitable coat that goes with my uniform.” Meredith quipped.

“What do you mean it’s not suitable? A coat is a coat.”

“Some are expensive. I’m not chasing down Betas in a designer coat.”

The rookie looked in between my two exasperating team members, looking sorry spoke in the first place. I chose to come to his rescue.

“You can discuss your wardrobe later,” I said and my team immediately fell silent. “Do you want to warn off the Beta before he even gets here?”

September Secret Agent #46

TITLE: Royal Trial
GENRE: Historical + (Romance-Gone-Awry)

Everything’s different.

Lady Lena Zan Aurin’s eyes lifted from the dusty streets of Lir. Although she vaguely acknowledged the market’s flashy new shops, she struggled to piece together the fragmented images around her. The chaos around her seemed to match her frenzied thoughts.

But what was I expecting? After five years, was everything supposed to remain the same?

The slender nineteen-year-old wafted through the bustling multitude with an unconscious familiarity. Her dark cloak and traveling attire, combined with her five-foot frame, let Lena blend in with the crowd.

How could it have grown so busy this quickly? Perhaps Andon has–

No. I won’t even think that name. Not yet.

It was a memory of a life she had no desire to resume.

Lena tried to distract herself with the wares of the many vendors, but to no avail. The scene was much too odd for her to feel entirely at home.

Home. That makes sense. Go home first.

It was a place to start, assuming that no one had appropriated the family manor in her absence. Perhaps some of the old servants would still be there. Horisk and Sonit and Iliare and Lor and Alessa—if no one else, at least Lor and Alessa.

Everything else has changed; they’re probably gone, too.

No. They had to be there. They would never abandon her.

Lena strode in the direction of the Zan Aurin manor, as eager to reach her old home as the insatiable crowds were to buy the merchants’ wares.

September Secret Agent #45 (removed)


September Secret Agent #44

TITLE: Candy, Murder, and Just Desserts
GENRE: Mystery

Monday morning I paced the floor of my dress design salon for plus-sized women, which I called either Cookie's Queendom or Florida Fashions, depending on how mad I was at my boss. Unable to figure out why my employees weren't beavering away, completing gowns for our spring fashion show, I passed rows of unused sequins and spangles, which for some unknown reason smelled of baked apples.

"These should be attached to frocks, to make them sparkle," I said in the most compassionate voice I could muster under the circumstances.

No one even looked up from their work tables. Were they perhaps doing the crossword puzzle, playing online solitaire, or revising their profile for an online dating service?

"Attention, minions. These Angelskin, Satin Gloss and Dance crepe luxury stretch fabrics should all be pinned around these gorgeous mannequins, standing by, ready to display my award-winning designs. Why isn't anyone pinning?"

Still no response. This felt like a strawberry Twizzler moment, but I had none handy.

While the Venice, Florida weather report of sunny and warm blared at me from the tiny pink radio on my desk, I scrutinized my employees.

Instead of cutting fabric, Theo Grumsbak, my head cutter looked up from his work table on the other side of the room and winked at my favorite model, Flora.

Convinced that a new adventure, or at the very least, a juicy affair, could be afoot, I switched from slave-driver designer mode to amateur sleuth.

September Secret Agent #43

GENRE: Paranormal Romance

Maniacal laughter pierced Golden Alexander’s mind as she lay in her bed. Her eyes flew open. She tried to scream, but only managed a faint squeak.

A huge creature hovered three feet above her. Its twelve foot wingspan spread from one wall of her bedroom to the other. The wings, divided by black veins, formed an interlocking pattern that shimmered with iridescent blue scales. No sound emanated from the rapid beating, but a current moved as if huge wooden blades, suspended from the ceiling, oscillated at full speed.

The air in her bedroom grew thick—charged with electricity. Ozone scorched her nostrils. Chills chased their way down her spine, and the weight of the comforter did nothing to warm the frigid blood circulating in her veins. Her breaths came out in gasps as she struggled for air. This can’t be happening again.

Transfixed, she stared at the insect-like body and her heart jackhammered in her chest. Nauseous waves roiled the contents of her stomach while electrified air pounded with rhythmic contractions. Her legs thrashed on the bed as her head twisted from side to side. An unseen force pressed her into the mattress. She couldn’t get away.

The creature’s face glistened with skin the color of burnt flesh. On its brow jutted two blackened nubs. Three inches long and jagged, the dark bony prominences looked like something larger and more vicious gnawed the decaying stumps.

Sleep paralysis, sleep paralysis, this isn’t real. Golden repeated the diagnosis as a mantra in her mind.

September Secret Agent #42

TITLE: Heartworms
GENRE: mystery

During a recent televised talent show, there was a little girl with the voice of a budding Christina Aguilera. She was terminally ill, and as she sang her precious heart out, the entire audience was in tears. It was just infinitely sad. It really was.

She was an angel, but I couldn’t help wondering why her parents had bought braces for her teeth?

I mean, come on? I couldn’t have been the only one wondering why someone would spend a small fortune on orthodontia for a kid on her way out. I have to say, I saw it as being kind of cruel, like trying to fool her into believing she was going to be around to enjoy perfect teeth.

Clearly, that’s a cruel observation, but cruel observation’s my stock in trade and one of the aspects of my character that helps me do my job, because the fact my mind can readily go to dark places often gives me a leg up on cruel characters.

I’m a private eye, which I prefer rather than being called a private dick, because I like to think my being a dick is pretty much in my past.

Apparently, a couple weeks ago, someone fired some bullets at me that finally found their mark, and spending all that time in flight, they stored up a world of f***-me hurt, because that was pretty much my response when the first one hit me. As I recall, it was something like, ‘ f*** me, that hurts.’

September Secret Agent #41 (removed)


September Secret Agent #40

TITLE: The Shadow Life
GENRE: Mystery-Romance

Lying is the bull**** I’ve built my life on. I’ve lied to everyone including myself. I’m learning that deceit has no respect of person, not even for my child – the only person I’ve ever been honest with. I want to be honest with her but in this situation, telling the truth to a seven year old only complicates things. They ask questions, they whine and then cry; the latter of which I’m not at all excited to experience. I’m on a tight time schedule, no room for anything extra.

I stand outside the doorway to her bedroom, hearing the clatter of glass hitting glass. When she isn’t busying herself with my makeup, I know I can find her playing with the set of perfume bottles I’d given her. Although they no longer hold the liquid fragrances, the scent lingers and that amazes her the most.

That’s how I find her, spinning in lazy circles in the middle of her room, spraying air from a bottle onto her small neck. Her hair’s pulled into a high ponytail, nails shine with red polish that matches the red Converse on her feet. Her small, chocolate heart-shaped face holds smudges of my rosy blush. I cringe when my eyes fall on the wide scraping of skin over her right eyebrow. It’s a fresh wound earned from a fall off her bike. My little girl, the most feminine tomboy I’m sure I’ll ever meet.

I stand there for a while, watching her dance around, wanting to relish these last moments.

September Secret Agent #39 (removed)


September Secret Agent #38

TITLE: Falling Stars
GENRE: Contemporary Romance


The hand scrawled paper was taped from the inside of the glass window, and her steps grew heavy as Jules halted her approach to the box office. Lamenting herself for being such an idiot that she had not foreseen this, she used the heel of one boot to pivot, turning to bleakly stare at the large complex.

The few people striding up the concrete stairs walked with purpose—fortunate, buoyant people with tickets. The walls thunked dully. Inside, the show was underway for the last twenty minutes by her estimate, so there were few stragglers. Her plan to arrive after the opening show late enough to be sure she wasn't accidentally noticed had badly backfired.

The dark sky above was cloudy when she raised her eyes to it seeking some sort of answer, but there was no mystical lightning strike, and she began to walk back to the curb defeated. Namedropping could get her into the show. She knew that she had some pull in that way, but tonight had been about curiosity and she needed the anonymity.

"Excuse me." The youth, politely speaking for her attention was punked out—a look that was not in character with most of the others passing by on their way to the entrance. He moved in close asking her for a cigarette, and she shook her head in apology. Years ago, she had quit the habit when she could not shake the memories of sharing cigarettes with Matt, all day every day.

September Secret Agent #37 (removed)


September Secret Agent #36

TITLE: Haunted Ever After
GENRE: Paranormal Cozy Mystery

I craned my neck to look up into the giant's face. “I'm tired of this. I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna sell.”

The giant had no counter-argument. Neither did the beanstalk nor Jack himself.

I sighed. It was way past time to go home, and the late September sun was already setting in a picturesque manner behind Rapunzel's Castle, with brilliant reds and oranges blazing across the sky. If I'd been in a better mood, I might have stayed to enjoy the show.

On the drive home, I reviewed my circumstances. My fairytale park was ten thousand dollars in the red. If I didn't turn things around, I'd have to file for bankruptcy. The answer seemed clear. I should accept the offer and sell StoryWorld to the ThrillsLand conglomerate. Then I could go home, lock my door, and never come out. An idea had never seemed so appealing. Unfortunately, the repercussions wouldn't be nearly so pleasant.

I wished I were on my way to Freddy's Diner, where Jamie and I had often met for dinner after work. I could spill out my troubles and feel the safety of his reassurances. We'd splurge and order a huge dessert to share. I still couldn't believe we would never do that again.

The crying came easily, the grief as familiar to me as the park I would soon sell. I finally had to pull over when I couldn't see through my tears.

I at last arrived home, too tired to even eat.

September Secret Agent #35

TITLE: Jessamine Rose, Monster Hunter
GENRE: Steampunk Romance

Jessamine Rose blinked and covered her mouth with her brown lace glovettes, leaning ever so slightly on her open stone front door. “I beg your pardon, but could you repeat that?” Her voice held firm, but inside, she was quaking.

“I’m afraid that last night, on patrol, your brother was found dead.”

Jessamine closed her eyes, not wishing to see the heavyset Inspector Wilkins Pontisbury. His pity threatened her composure. First her father, now Philip…

A few breathes and she opened her eyes, head somewhat clearer. “How did he…pass on?”

The inspector fiddled with the brass buttons on his uniform. He removed his helmet and nodded toward the door. “May I come in?”

Jessamine opened the door and stepped aside, her long brown skirt swirling around her matching ankle boots. Once the inspector entered, she shut the door. “How did he die?” The word felt strange on her tongue: heavy, wrong.

“I’m afraid we don’t know, Miss Donahue.”

Her brown eyes narrowed. “He has never been sick a day in his twenty-two years!” Something was far from right here.

“Allow me to assure you we will discover how exactly he died.” The inspector bowed his head before returning his helmet to his head. “I’m sorry I had such unsettling news to share.” He inched toward the door.

“When will you release the body?” She had to stay strong, be firm. Once he left, she could break down. But not yet. Not in front of him. The inspector. How she hated him.

September Secret Agent #34 (removed)


September Secret Agent #33 (removed)


September Secret Agent #32

TITLE: Burning for You
GENRE: Romantic Suspense / Thriller

Waiting made him antsy, as if someone cracked a stick against his cage all night long.

Face slick with sweat, Sheriff Adam McClelland paced, wanting badly to end this call. Any vacuum in his crazy-ass schedule allowed him to think, and he didn’t want to think.

Might as well keep his hands busy. He withdrew a cigar from his pocket and lit it, his one-per-day indulgence. He exhaled smoke, his gaze roaming over the barn, garage, shed and his patrol SUV on the gravel drive. Tranquil here. Moonlight filtered through the canopy of shade trees, while Mexican music floated in the humid air. Corn stalks rimmed the property like chlorophyll walls. Make that godforsaken tranquil. Isolated. Old man Grayson might as well live on the outer ring of Saturn.

When the screen door clapped behind him, he jumped.

“Um, sorry to keep you waiting.” The old man trudged across the parched front yard, a quaver in his voice. “Didn’t expect that phone call.”

“Bad news?”

“Naw.” Sam tugged at his collar. “Someone who always wants money.”


Sam laughed, loosening up. Although he lived modestly, Sam Grayson defined ‘easy mark.’ Whether church ladies looking for donations or kids peddling fundraiser candy bars, first door they knocked on was Sam’s.

Adam got down to business. “There’s some minor damage to the front bumper. Likely won’t meet her deductible, though. Maria couldn’t get a read on who tried to run her off the road, no plates, no car make or model.”

September Secret Agent #31

TITLE: Rebecca Kagan
GENRE: Speculative fiction

This would have to be a baffle-everyone-with-attitude kind of day. After a deep breath I forced the memories of my dead dad and missing sister from my mind. I needed this contract, and it was up to me to represent the construction business I’d inherited from him. I didn't want to lay off any more employees, and my estimators had worked long hours to calculate our bid as close as possible.

Opening my truck door, I got out and glanced behind the seat at my survival backpack. Today, it felt silly to carry it with me everywhere I went. I almost shut the door then remembered the sealed bid envelope. I grabbed it from the console, and fumbled with my two fingered right hand, dropping it into the slush. Swearing under my breath, I wiped the envelope dry on the lower pant leg of my jeans. The ink smeared, but it would have to do. I strode into the City of Denver municipal building with purposeful long strides, my shoulders back and my head held high.

My watch showed 2:20 as I entered the room. I glanced around while my tendril-like senses checked out everyone’s emotional disposition. The ability to read people’s energy came in handy when people hid their feelings behind a façade.

September Secret Agent #30

GENRE: Fantasy

I keep telling myself I'm a waitress, but here I am scrubbing the only toilet in the men's washroom.

“Hey Anya! You in there, baby girl?“ slurs a drunken male from the other side of the stall door.

Lord. It's Bobby Lee. I don't want to answer, but I know he's not drunk enough to miss my shoes peeking out. Thank God, I locked the stall door.

“I'm a little busy right now,“ I reply as I scrub the bowl harder.

“Aw, come on. Can't you make time for me?“ Bobby Lee asks in his Arkansan drawl. “You still haven't told me your answer about seeing that new movie Friday night.”

I roll my eyes and try to ignore him.

The door to the stall shakes from Bobby Lee's repeated, clumsy knocks.

“Damn it, Bobby Lee. I am freaking cleaning the toilet. Unless you want to do my job, leave me the hell alone!”

“Fine. I'll try again tomorrow night. Good night, baby girl.”

He takes a long leak before finally leaving. I don't even want to know the state of the three urinals outside. Not my problem. After a ten-hour shift at John Jack's, Plumerville's one and only bar, it's time to go home. But my manager, Lorie, told me to finish the bathroom first. If I didn't need the money, I'd have told her to do it herself. She promised me cash at the end of the night and after three bounced paychecks, I gave in.

September Secret Agent #29

TITLE: Dragon's Treasure
GENRE: Fantasy

The most heated arguments lead to the dumbest choices.

The thought struck Olivia's heart as she recalled the argument she had had with her father. Did it really happen only the night before?

A bone-deep tremor shot down Olivia’s back as she stumbled through the unfamiliar forest. The boughs creaked above, parting only briefly in the intermittent breeze to allow a glimpse of the tiny, brilliant stars. Olivia glanced up at the cloudless sky and gave thanks for the full moon above, its beams fighting through the branches to illuminate her path. She picked up her pace, seeking shelter in the folds of the forest, lost and no longer sure whether she was running away from home or back towards it. With her arms wrapped around her quivering body, she wondered if she had done the right thing after all.

Maybe marrying Sebastian wouldn’t have been so bad... What was I thinking? I could be at home, where it’s safe and warm. Such a stupid, impulsive decision from an irresponsible spoiled brat.

An owl’s screech pierced the night, through the song of crickets and birds. A hair-raising chill had Olivia glancing over her shoulder as a muffled crunch drew her attention, making her stay her feet. It was no hedgehog bobbing along through the undergrowth, nor a cricket, for she had heard plenty of those chirping in the moonlit shrubs. But now, they too were silent. The quiet tension enveloped her in an ominous cloak and squeezed her tight

September Secret Agent #28

GENRE: Mystery

The thing I liked most about Las Vegas was being out on the Strip when the sun came up. It was as if God turned on the lights and everyone was caught doing something they shouldn’t. In other places, and for other people, dawn might have been a mystical time when one breathed in the fresh promise of a new beginning – a spiritual rebirth, an On Golden Pond moment. But here, when the curtains were yanked back from Sunrise Mountain, the orange glow of desert sky was accusing: it was not a beginning but an end. What remained of the spirit was exposed and crushed. The only thing left behind was the afterbirth of over-indulgence and miscalculation. Whoever came up with the idea of executing people at dawn would have been someone comfortable walking the streets of Las Vegas at first light.

Someone like me.

There are some creatures who maintain a dignity about them when they retreat to sleep as the rest of the world awakes. A feral cat finishing its prowl carries itself with a kind of pride or resignation depending upon the results of its nighttime hunt. But humans were never meant to be nocturnal animals. There is no mistaking those who are starting their day, those who have risen from their beds, showered and dressed. They carry a freshness about them that contrasts starkly with those who have remained awake and semi-ambulatory long past what nature and good sense advised.

September Secret Agent #27 (removed)


September Secret Agent #26

GENRE: Speculative Fiction

Inspector Kate Swanson knew the junior officer standing by the courtroom doors watching her. Flaherty was flushed with excitement. He looked so desperate to get her attention that for one horrendous second she thought he might shout over.

The accused sat to Swanson’s right on a separate table with his lawyer. Little more than a child, he had been arrested six months ago for petty theft after stealing a bottle of vodka from a supermarket - a dare from his fellow gang members. Dressed in a prison jumpsuit, his narrow eyes looked absent. Swanson listened to the familiar sound of the verdict followed by the equally familiar sentence.

There was only ever one sentence.

The boy barely reacted. She had seen the weary look of resignation countless times before. No doubt the hope had been ground out of him during his probationary incarceration in the holding zone.

‘Court dismissed,’ said the Judge.

Flaherty was by her side in seconds. In his ill-fitting uniform, he looked like a schoolboy playing dressing-up games. He smelt of nicotine and sweet aftershave. He pulled at he clip-on tie which dangled from his throat. ‘Ma’am,’ he said.

‘What is it?’ asked Swanson.

‘It’s Judge Lloyd, Ma’am. He's missing.’

September Secret Agent #25

TITLE: Redwing
GENRE: Fantasy

Claire wanted to fly.

It was an overcast day but the clouds were high in the sky and the air was calm when she walked out onto the River City Base tarmac for pilot tryouts.

Claire had joined the Ladies Division of the Avaline Air Guard to work on the hangar deck refueling and towing aeroplanes. Working alongside men who flew the machines that sailed among the clouds was the closest she might ever come to flying them herself.

But even that wasn’t enough for her any more.

The concrete airstrip stretched out to her left, bright white in the diffused sunlight. The dreadnaught Omnipotent hung in the sky to the west, black and angular. The hangar deck crew were there in their canvas coveralls, but the fly-boys wore their leather flight jackets like badges of pride. None of them knew that the C. Genaille who'd signed up today was a woman, but they would in a moment.

Someone called out names. “Sebastien Sine, Quentin Chevalier, Rene Dufont, C. Genaille.”

Three young men stepped out towards the training planes taxiing onto the ramp. Claire steeled herself, held her head high and followed them, flight goggles in hand.

Across the ramp, the first to notice her was the Admiral's bastard son, Michel Prideaux. Ace pilot, call sign Redwing. He liked to play with people like a cat plays with a mouse, for no other reason that he was bored. Claire's stomach turned to ice at his gaze.

September Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Death on the Cliffs
GENRE: Historical Mystery

The day my best friend’s father was murdered began like any other June Sunday in Camden, Maine. That is to say, ordered like clockwork and dull beyond belief.

Church at ten. An enormous Sunday dinner at one. Self-improvement at two.

With a sigh, I settled down on the porch swing and opened the book of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays to “Self Reliance,” the piece I had been digesting in five-minute installments over the past month. To be frank, my attempt at these dense, scholarly essays was my friend Eugene Palmer’s idea. In his opinion, I needed to elevate my reading material, not to mention my mind, above the level of delectable dime novels like Lady Something or Other’s Secret.

I felt like tossing the book into the lilac bushes, but since Eugene was presently playing the piano in our music room, I was trapped. So, to the thump-thump-thump of a military march, I began to chew on the first sentence.

Within moments, my gaze wandered to the road, where I spotted a lone man approaching on foot. I didn’t recognize him as a local resident; most likely he was one of the visitors who flock to our hotels and grand cottages during high season. His jacket, tie and decent hat indicated a gentleman; the knapsack and walking stick spoke to his being a rusticator who enjoyed tramping the countryside. And most importantly, his tall build, blond hair, bristly mustache and twinkling blue eyes proved him young and attractive. A welcome addition to our unexciting shores.

September Secret Agent #23

TITLE: Mending Heartstrings
GENRE: Contemporary Romance

Kane walked out of the private back room of Nashville’s Fiddle and Steel and headed straight for the bar. Every so often, he’d still try out his new material at their open mic nights. But tonight, the initially warm reception of the regulars had fizzled out as he played. They hadn’t really responded to any of his three songs. He needed a beer.

A couple of the regulars greeted him, and Kane paused to exchange pleasantries. The laid-back atmosphere of the bar put everyone at ease, which was a huge part of the reason Kane tried out his music here. The locals who knew him weren’t intimidated by his relative fame, and he wasn’t a big enough deal yet for the occasional tourist to recognize him.

When he finally reached the bar, he flagged down Cody, tearing the younger man away from a pretty brunette who was probably underage. He greeted Kane with a subtle lift of the chin.

“How’s it going, man?” Kane asked.

“Just got better,” Cody answered, looking over Kane’s shoulder.

Kane followed his gaze to a group of girls who’d just walked in but turned back after barely a moment. They hadn’t heard his failed songs, so maybe one of them would be up for some fun later. First, though, he really did want that beer. “Get your mind back to your work, boy,” Kane scolded with a smile.

Cody’s mama hadn’t raised an idiot. “You just want them for yourself.”

Kane grinned. “It’s no competition.”

September Secret Agent #22

TITLE: The Hunter
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

I eyed the jars that ran along one of the tent’s lopsided shelves, wondering if there was something dead, or deadly, pickling in each of them. My stomach clenched at the thought, imagining that I could see an eyeball pressed against the cloudy glass of one of them. Get a grip, you wuss. I blew out a long breath and ran my fingers through my hair. This was definitely one of the more elaborately decorated psychic spaces I’d encountered. So what if the place was creepy?

“I’m going to kill Rachel,” I muttered as I pulled my jacket tight around my waist. I was the worst person to be sitting in a psychic’s tent. Thanks to my crazy drunk of a mother, I was certifiably superstitious and a self-admitting gullible dope when it came to the all-knowing, fortune telling scams.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. At least that’s what I kept telling myself as I scanned the ghoulish interior of the tent and stifled yet another shiver. Sure, ten bucks for a psychic reading, greeeaaat idea! I adjusted myself in the uncomfortable wooden chair, my uneasiness growing as the smell of some very pungent, exotic herb assaulted my nose.

And yet, even knowing this, I didn’t dare get up and leave. No, I couldn’t walk away, not when there was a chance that this psychic would get it right, tell me what I needed to do to fix my life.

September Secret Agent #21

TITLE: The Lokana Chronicles
GENRE: Fantasy

Tears had carved grooves through the layers of grime on the poor farmer’s face as he fought to maintain his dignity. “Please, your Highness, have mercy. I beg you.”

Vegin sympathized with the man. After all, it wasn’t his fault the rains had stopped. But that didn’t nullify his duty to pay his taxes. The prince was silent for a moment; he wanted to choose the right words. He glanced at his father out of the corner of his eye and wondered if his judgment would be allowed to stand.

But as Vegin opened his mouth to pass sentence on the man, Tol sighed loudly, letting his hand drop against the arm of his throne in irritation. “I’ve heard enough – if you can’t pay your taxes, then you’ll simply have to work off your debt. Guards, take him away.”

“But your Majesty, please! My family – without me, they’ll starve!”

“Father, you’re only supposed to observe,” Vegin hissed. “Remember?”

Tol’s mouth fell open an inch or so as he stared at his son, momentarily silenced by the boy’s brazenness. It took only a moment for his shock to be replaced with anger. “I’ll deal with you in a moment,” he said, glaring daggers at Vegin, who rose from his seat and stormed out of the room. “As for you,” he bellowed, returning his attention to the old farmer, “you should have thought of your family before you decided not to pay your taxes. If they die, you’ll have only yourself to blame.”

September Secret Agent #20

TITLE: Angel
GENRE: Historical


The ground shuddered beneath Ginger’s feet. A thin fog of dust floated down from the roof of the dim, olive drab tent. She steadied the metal tray of medical supplies and went back to rebandaging Sergeant Armstrong’s leg.

It had been so close…closer than normal. A second explosion followed the first. What was going on? It had been quiet for days.

“Move! Find cover! The Germans are bombing the unit!” a short dark-haired medic shouted, pushing through the tent.

His head streamed blood, and most of his combat uniform was in shreds from just below the knees showing the peppering of shrapnel up and down his legs. He tried to push off the nurses who came to attend to him and began aiding the wounded soldiers. “Get up! We have to evacuate!”

Ginger stared at the chaos, motionless. It was as if the world had changed to a film running far too slowly and she couldn’t find a way to speed it up.

Another explosion screamed just outside the tent. The force sent her flying backwards against the empty cot next to Sergeant Armstrong. A searing pain seeped up the back of her skull as her vision blurred and momentarily faded to black.

“Ginger! We’ve got to get you out of here!” the sergeant yelled over the deafening explosion.

He had managed to pull himself off his cot and held onto one of the tent’s wooden support poles. If he was in any pain, he didn’t show it.

September Secret Agent #19 (removed)


September Secret Agent #18

TITLE: The Faithful
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Raine Morgan pulled a crushed pack from his front pocket, fished a twisted cigarette from it. Flame flickered then vanished. He took a drag, stared at the bars, the neon flashing, calling the shuffling drunkards and wannabes out into the dead of night for some faintly promised tail. He scoffed, leaving a fresh trail of smoke diving from his open mouth.

Grasping his watch chain with one hand, he tugged on it, checked the time, and shoved the piece back in his pocket with a sigh, letting the jacket fall over his olive vest.

“Mr. Morgan,” said a soft, earnest voice. The man fumbled with a sheet of paper. It crinkled as he flipped it over. He'd worn it thin from the sound of it. Leaning into the brick, Raine let his hand drop, replied, “Where to?”

“The Deserted Temple.”

“The target?”

 “Manal Ratula.”

 He nodded, flicked his cigarette into a mound of trash as he walked forward, bathed in pinks, oranges, and flashing blues. The heat of the bodies struck him as the night’s bitter cold played at his fingers. He rolled his fingers as if rolling a quarter along his knuckles, turning a corner, coming to a stop at a rundown dive. Its shattered windows glittered with candlelight, a whisper of wind creeping through the winking panes. Its door hung slightly ajar, ragged holes in the wood revealing all their secrets. He slipped in, letting the hot air waft over him. He peered over the warped wood, the remnants of the lower district.

September Secret Agent #17

TITLE: Currently Untitled
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

If you’d asked her even two weeks ago to make a list of ‘places to start your life over’, Bryony would not have put Scotland in the top ten. And yet, her she was, coming off a plane in Glasgow airport at some horrendously early time in the morning, four thousand miles from home. She wouldn’t change the past if she could, but it was hard to remember that as she hauled her bags into the arrivals hall and prayed she’d find someone waiting for her. Even in an airport that was tiny compared to JFK, it was a little overwhelming to a girl who’d never left the US before. She scanned the row of people holding up placards, then common sense caught up with her and she looked for the smell of shifter instead. There it was - the scent of cat something familiar, at least. She walked over to the woman, tall and slim and dressed to blend in. Bryony didn’t know for certain, but she’d be willing to bet this woman worked in the security side of the pack.

As she approached, the redhead met her eyes.

“You must be Bryony.” It was said with a smile, but Bryony had faked enough of her own to see the lie.

“That’s me.”

Eyes flicked over her, and she was forced not to fidget under the power emanating from this woman.

“I must say, considering all the fuss and arguments you’ve caused, I was expecting someone a little bigger.”

September Secret Agent #16

TITLE: Inner Demons
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

Sometimes the simplest things end up being the hardest things.

Like saying no. Like not turning left across Main Street into the liquor store parking lot. With both hands gripped to the steering wheel, I kept my eyes straight ahead. Cold beer on sale tempted me, the neon signs flashing red and blue hypnotic lights against the lengthening shadows. Aisles and aisles of vodka, scotch, gin, rum, and wine waited on the shelves, whispering muted promises of oblivion, everything I needed to replace the bottles dumped down the drain.

You can do this. Don’t turn left.

Slowly, agonizingly slowly, my car crawled through traffic until the neon signs blinked in my rear view mirror.

Don’t turn the car around.

I drove up Prospect Street, up the snaky hill, releasing my breath as I parked the car in the laneway and turned off the engine. A little victory for me, but there was no one to share it with. I really wouldn’t want anyone to know how hard each battle was, anyways.

I banged through the door, expecting resistance from the sticky frame, but the weather had been dry for a change and the door yielded effortlessly. The old farmhouse enveloped me with its scents of old dust and firewood, the powdery fragrance of Aunt Helen’s perfume lingering as if she’d just walked by, making me miss her all over again. After dumping out the day’s worth of textbooks and notes on top of the mini-freezer, I hung up my backpack.

September Secret Agent #15

TITLE: The Dragon Princess
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

Throughout her life, Peregrine Zoracht, former princess of Kaukos, had found refuge in books and studies, and the dragon’s hoard was a wealth of knowledge unavailable to ordinary humans. But tonight, nothing could distract from the turmoil in her mind.

She slid the ancient scroll back onto its shelf in the dragon’s hoard, ran her fingers along a line of leather bound books. Behind her, the silver dragon jolted awake, his wings brushing against the roof of the cavern. He tilted his head to one side, as if listening to something only he could hear. We are no longer alone, Little One.

The absolute isolation of their ice cave made it impossible for this visitor to have any innocent purpose. “Hunters?”


He said nothing else. Rurik was not particularly talkative at the best of times, so if she wished to know the details...

Peregrine closed her eyes, and surrendered to the now-familiar rush of dragon magic, letting the heat and energy flow through her. A sea of boiling white replaced the darkness under her eyelids, and her body shifted. Changed. Grew.

Her senses stretched far beyond the confines of the lair, focusing on the scent of a man and the sound of footsteps crunching through rock and gravel.

Close. Very close.

The footsteps paused at the entrance, and a deep voice echoed through the caverns. “Hello? Anyone home?”

Definitely not the words of a hunter, and there was something very familiar about that voice.

September Secret Agent #14

TITLE: Apotheosis
GENRE: Speculative Fiction

She’d always figured it was just an expression, but the clock on the opposite wall was, in fact, ticking. It was carved out of wood with a shining classical face—hands and everything—and a brushed metal pendulum swinging back and forth with a slight mechanical jigger. A pure analog pattern of motion that nearly induced hypnosis but for that perpetual tick. Tick. Tock. Over and over. She was surprised she had not picked up on it before.

Her closest frame of reference was her old metronome, but that beat was for keeping, for holding a little snatch of time in place. This sound was altogether different, a conspicuous nod to the passage of the past twenty-two minutes. Kallie supposed that might be the purpose of the antiquity—a subconscious reminder that someone’s time was valuable, just not hers. She shook the thought away. There might be plenty to malign the physicians for, but their choice of wall decorations was not one of them.

There had always been people who mistrusted the doctors, avoided them, feared them. Men who had convinced themselves that taking care of oneself was a greater sign of weakness than a stubborn march into the advanced stages of disease. Women who preferred to fatten the pockets of anyone with a book or a pill—or both—to sell. Skepticism was healthy. But the prevailing attitudes were not skepticism and even now, after everything, Kallie would not join them. Her rationality would not allow it.

September Secret Agent #13

TITLE: Playing All the Angles
GENRE: Contemporary Romance

Isabelle hadn’t stopped grinning since Calais. She, her mother, and her eldest sister were making a whirlwind through Paris, shopping and eating, and spending far too much money on a possibility. They were loading up a trousseau on the off chance that Dominic would be proposing soon.

“He will,” her mother had dismissed any doubt. “He’s got that look about him.”

“What look?” Isabelle asked.

She grinned wickedly, “The look of a man who came asking your father for his blessing last week.”


Elaine laughed at Isabelle’s cry of despair. “I’m not spoiling anything,” she waved. “You still don’t know how, or when.”

“But now you know to be ready,” Alora agreed.

Isabelle groaned, but had to smile. They meant well. “I suppose I will.”

“And ready you'll be,” Alora sang again, swinging a filmy negligee from a rack. “White with blue trim. Perfect for a honeymoon.”

“I hardly need white! I’m quite sure that what we did last weekend disqualifies me from all shades even remotely approaching that shade!”

Elaine, put her fingers in her ears and hummed, “Things I don’t need to hear, darlings.”

They laughed together, falling on one another for hugs, delighting in the company. In the late afternoon, as they sat in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, sipping coffees and sharing chocolate éclairs, Isabelle sighed happily. “The only thing missing is Eve. I wish she could have made it. She knows all the best places—and she can get into them, too.”

Elaine and Alora exchanged a look.

September Secret Agent #12

TITLE: Djinnocide
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

No one ever asked me if I wanted to be a genie. I never even thought such a thing was possible. I was a modern woman living in the Roaring Twenties. Against my mother’s wishes, I wore my hair and my skirts short. I drank at speakeasies. I danced with gangsters. Hell, I even smoked for petesakes. After surviving for almost two whole decades, I had certainly aged too far to believe in fairy stories anymore.

My father, Reggie, he was the dreamer in the family. He was the one always looking for the next big thing and if he could steal it? Well, even better. Me, I spent years looking for the next big party. In fact, I’d been prepping for my own birthday extravaganza when the package arrived. The shipping label said ‘ Constantinople’, but whether my thief of a dad could still be found there was anyone’s guess. Odds were he’d moved to the next port of call and his next score. At least he’d bothered to think enough of me to send a gift. After all, it’s not every day a gal turns eighteen.

“Marriageable age,” my mother mumbled at me that morning in lieu of a more sentimental greeting. She’d meant ‘well past the age of finding a husband’ if her previous birthday greetings were any indication. She wanted me married and out of the house before I could graduate high school. To Evangeline’s thinking, she should’ve had at least a couple grandchildren bouncing on her alcoholic knee by then.

September Secret Agent #11

TITLE: The Big Ugly
GENRE: Mystery

It was a hot bright Tuesday late in June, the seventh straight day of high temperatures in the city, and I was late picking up my tour. The singeing heat that normally hung back in the high desert until July or August had moved in early, burning off the morning fogs and insinuating itself into the fabric of daily life. The early arriving heat made LA itchy and abrasive, its citizens ill-tempered.

My boys, John, 11, and Nick, 9, warmed to a low simmer by the stuffy morning heat of our small house, had bickered and complained through breakfast about having to spend another hot day at the Rec Center where they would be expected to run feral, entertaining themselves outside.

I wasn’t going to give in, but John brought up their dead mom.

Three years later, even when it’s a cynical ploy to get what they want, I can’t trump dead mom. They used to pull it out only in emergencies, but recently they’ve taken to slapping it down over deuces and threes. I don’t have the energy to fight it. Someday I’ll have to stand strong, but not today. Today was just too damn hot. Today they’re at their grandmother’s.

The detour had me running late. The repeated and reliable failure to stand my ground had me feeling like a shitty parent. The fact that they’d again ended up at my mother-in-law’s house had me thinking about how much I depended on her, worried about rubbing her love thin from overuse.

September Secret Agent #10

GENRE: Paranormal Romance

Janelle vowed she would make the girls pay for this. Nothing short of indentured servitude would suffice. Scanning the lobby of the movie theater, which resembled a screaming fan-girl convention, she searched for any sign of them. Revenge tactics barraged her mind with each jabbing elbow and purse smacked into her abdomen.

LIES WITCH BIND, your typical book turned big-screen movie, blew up out of nowhere. Janelle suffered blissful unawareness until the promos for the movie came out. Not much of an avid reader like her friends Dara and Cecily, her free time consisted mainly of science journals and dolphins.

Merging in with the rest of the hormone-surged women, chatter about the book and movie clogged the air. Grateful that at least one of them had towering Amazonian height, she caught sight of Cecily; whom she affectionately referred to as Go-Go Gadget Legs. Compared to her, Janelle and Dara were like hobbits.

Once Janelle had a visual on the girls, she all but army-crawled to where they were in line.

“Oh good, you made it!” Dara cried out.

“Only by tapping into my zombie-apocalypse survival skills. If I even looked at the movie poster the wrong way they'd suck my will to live. These women could probably hold an entire seminar on plot theories and character analysis. If they put as much thought and effort into chemistry or biology, maybe we'd finally find the cure for cancer,” Janelle huffed.

“They're just passionate,” Dara chided.

“They're delusional lemmings,” Janelle smirked.

September Secret Agent #9

TITLE:   A Temporary Convenience
GENRE:   Mystery

What about:

"People want to believe things that aren't true. I've always felt I should tell them when they're wrong. Often they don't appreciate my benevolent motivation. One might think the academic world would be different. If so, one would be quite wrong. Having two degrees useful for life as a professor and little else–and having well burned those particular bridges–I became an office temp."

No, that would be a disastrous answer for my interview. This was my first shot at a permanent position since receiving my doctorate two years ago. I needed a better answer. Miss Brooks, the owner of Capitol Temporary Services, had explained that I shouldn't mention those degrees, lest potential employers think me too overqualified or snooty to do their grunt work. She was right, of course. As my lawyer dad had drilled into me, don't volunteer damning information.

Naturally, I hated the name for my firm. There was no capitol in Columbia, Maryland. Capital would be a more accurate name and had the beneficial connotation of a useful resource. Further, the word would provide an emotional draw by sharing the name of the hockey team popular in the area we served, the Baltimore/DC corridor. I'd explained all this to Miss Brooks, but she'd told me to mind my own business. This was my business, technically, but I'd dropped the subject.

Maybe I should stop obsessing over potential interview questions. Arriving far too early, I was still outside the imposing gates to the Campbell estate.

September Secret Agent #8

TITLE: The Watchman
GENRE: Mystery

Santa Barbara police officer Claire Hartman had focused her sights on plenty of people, but she’d never once wanted to pull the trigger. Willing? Absolutely. Wanting? Not so much. Jamie Sullivan changed all that— and he wasn’t even within twenty miles of her.

Across the southbound lanes, the ocean shivered in the sinking sun. He waited for her at the police station. Each exit along the Ventura coastline brought her closer to the impending confrontation and she found herself slowing. There was nothing left to say. Too much time had passed.

Anger heated the interior of the unfamiliar detective car and threatened to suffocate her. She ran her hand across the armrest, searching for the window control and cursed that she wasn’t in her patrol car. But she’d spent the afternoon teaching at the academy in Camarillo. The department didn’t like their marked cars going into other jurisdictions. Her fingers finally brushed the right switch. Cold February air seared her nostrils and raised goose bumps on her bare arms.

The message from dispatch replayed in her mind. She’d listened to it four times, each time hoping to hear different words. Jamie Sullivan had stormed back into her life with no notice. Hell, even hurricanes had warnings.

Up ahead, red and blue police lights colored the right shoulder of the freeway. She glanced at her speedometer and tapped the brakes.

She neared the traffic stop and scrutinized the scene, processing the subtle clues that whispered of danger.

September Secret Agent #7

TITLE: Dram Halo
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

A rat scurried across the litter strewn pavement directly in front of Magnolia. She snorted at the desperate creature and couldn't help but compare it to the depraved human rats living around her in the Neith Clean Zone.

Most were just human scum, but some were much less.

Grimacing at the thought, she hustled past the scavenging rat and focused on the tense faces of the pedestrians she passed. She suspiciously regarded them, wondered who they were and where they went. Some had surely even crossed through the vampyr detectors, with a regular's ease, from the nearby Baba Quarantine Zone. Magnolia shuddered at the thought. Nothing could ever tempt her to do something so foolish as to willingly live in vampyr territory. Baba's citizens were constantly faced with the threat of a violent, bloody, ending.

Clutching her purse tighter, she reluctantly reconsidered. Vampyr contamination or no, there was no way a quarantine zone could be much sh*****r than Neith. Muggers, gang bangers, and the human vampyr pets known as Sniffers were always a threat to the citizens of Neith. Magnolia shook her head at the rancid thought of Sniffers and reflexively darted her eyes up and down the sidewalk. She knew they were here, but too many people jostled past her to differentiate any suspicious behavior.

Besides, did any of her caution really matter? Sniffers could be anywhere or anybody.

September Secret Agent #6

TITLE: The Gear'd Heart
GENRE: Steampunk/Fantasy

The clouds thickened as Keira picked her way down the muddy slope toward the grotto. Not the best day for a walk, but the chilly halls of the abbey, quiet with most of the students already departed for the winter holidays, made her restless. Especially since the arrival of the telegram.

She tightened her fist, the damp paper crumpling in her fingers. The envelope was unopened, but she knew what it would say. Da has business to take care of. Perhaps he had been called away suddenly, perhaps his investigation was more complex than he first thought. She’d had every variation of theme before and the actual words this time made little difference.

The fog tangled around the abbey spires curled down the hillside as she reached the grotto, a few heavy drops of rain splattering against the overhang. Keira settled on the stone kneeler, her back to the carved figure of Meta, Mother of All, and tore open the wrinkled envelope. The letters on the slip of paper inside were damp-blurred, but still legible.

From: P. Laine, London, Britain

To: K. Fennel, Spinners Abbey, Ballaghaderreen, Eire

Have been delayed on business. Matter is urgent. Cannot predict when return to Eire is possible. Apologies. Much love.

Keira rubbed her forehead. Sod. Da always had a good reason for his absence, but it never softened the ache of one more year passed at a distance or the holidays cut short.

“I thought I might find you here, Fennel.” The voice was instantly and uncomfortably familiar.


September Secret Agent #5

TITLE: Banished Blood
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Rhonnie and Edeira exchanged tired glances as the screams got louder.

“It sounds like your Mom is having fun with this one Rhonnie. She usually doesn’t take this long to finish them off.”

“Yeah this one must be personal, those are usually the ones that take the longest,” Rhonnie replied.

This was the third time in a week they had accompanied her parents on one of their assignments. They were supposed to be on security detail while the subject of the day got tortured and subsequently executed.

Orlarion, Rhonnie’s dad, poked his head out the door. “You girls can come in now for the end.”

They filed in behind him and surveyed the blood spattered room. It was much quieter now. The screams had stopped and were replaced by a soft gurgling. Now the loudest sound that could be heard was the soft clicking of Edeira's stilettos and Olarion hooves on the marble floor as they shifted around the room.

The closer they got, Alanna, Rhonnie’s mom, could be heard panting loudly. They crowded around the target, his eyes bulging and mouth puckered, opening and closing like a goldfish. With the perfect frontal view, it was clear to see where the gurgling was coming from, the male’s throat had been slit wide open. Rhonnie's parents felt the moments before death are the most important, because you owed your victim at least an ounce of respect by looking them in the eye as life left their bodies.

September Secret Agent #4

TITLE: Supernatural Freak
GENRE: urban fantasy

Being alone, in the middle of nowhere, at night, is a scary situation. Still, the true Londoner doesn't lose her head, but takes a deep breath, smoothes the pleats on her jacket and goes in search of a Bobby, or a black cab.

Only foreigners freak out in such circumstances. Londoners, on the other hand, being the most British of all British people, never ever freak out. But, when you are a paranormal expert who's in a deserted area of the Docks and was supposed to heal a werewolf with the aid of a shaman who hasn't showed up, I'm afraid the only reasonable reaction is to...

"Run!" Mr Wilson growls, getting worryingly hirsute. He has a point. A skinny girl in her twenties is no match for a werewolf, and I don't think that telling him I'm a dog person would make much of a difference. Trouble is that he's standing between me and my car, so my only option is to run in the opposite direction. My feet sink into the sand of the Thames' shore, the river a creepy black ribbon, untouched by the full moon’s rays. It takes what looks like ages to cross the sand and reach the building-site, a hundred yards away. I should have never trusted that damn shaman. How could I have been so stupid? A long howl fills the air. My client has now fully transformed. In a second he will pick up my scent and hunt me down.

September Secret Agent #3 (removed)


September Secret Agent #2

TITLE: Silver
GENRE: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Jallaian had been one of Halbrechta's most prominent policy-setting Venerables. Now she was just a corpse.

She had no marks on her skin. Her clothing was neat, without any rips or tears, and her silver hair remained securely fastened in its knot at the back of her neck.

“Poison, I'm guessing,” the coroner said, lifting an eyelid and examining the lifeless gaze. “She was too healthy to die without external causes.”

Alinda Joren frowned and strode around the table to have a look from the other side. “Are you sure it wasn't just old age? It's highly unlikely anyone could have slipped her poison without her knowing.”

The coroner raised her eyebrows. “She had precognition, then?”

“No. Telepathy. And telekinesis, and a reputation for using both with unsettling accuracy.” Alinda had done a brief bit of bleary-eyed research on the victim on her way to the station. “Early onset, too – forty-one or forty-two, I believe. Jallaian had plenty of time to hone her abilities.”


Alinda made a note in her logbook. “Any other theories, Miry?” She could have added, Any other reasons for summoning the Senior Inspector from her warm bed just before dawn?

“Not upon a quick initial look like this, Inspector. I'll let you know what further examinations reveal.”

“Good.” Alinda started for the door, then turned. “Oh, and I assume you realize - since it concerns a Venerable, it's better if we downplay the murder possibility until we have concrete evidence. I hope I can trust you to keep quiet."

September Secret Agent #1 (removed)


Monday, September 9, 2013

Secret Agent Submissions Today!

Submissions for the Secret Agent Contest will be open from noon to 6:00 pm EDT today.


(Remember, it's not a lottery today; it's first come, first served.)

Best of luck!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Fricassee

So, let's talk about THINGS!

1.  I apologize for posting the SA guidelines late.  Labor Day threw me off a bit.

2.  Just making sure that you all realize that this month's SA is for ADULT ONLY.  I know it doesn't happen often, but there you have it.

3.  So far, we've got 11 agents on our Baker's Dozen line-up.  Final number--and names!-- will come later.

4. Thanks again to all of you who helped spread the word for the BD Agent's Auction during our BLITZ.  Keep talking it up!  Each year, I'm surprised by how many people (particularly on Twitter) start saying, "Oh my gosh, what are you all talking about??" And by then, they've missed the opportunity to submit.

5.  The CP dating entries have been taken down (for security purposes).  Please be sure to LET ME KNOW if you make a perfect match via MSFV!  I'm always delighted to hear about things working out like that.

6.  The wait time for my Authoress Edits queue is down to 2 1/2 months (from 3 or more).  If you're considering hiring me and would like to secure your place in line, here's the info you need.

7.  I'm wondering just how many new readers have joined our ranks in recent months!  If you'd like to say HI, today's your day!  Pop into the comment box and introduce yourself.  (Or, for that matter, say hi anyway--even if you're a REAL OLDTIMER.)

8.  Have a magnificent weekend!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

September Secret Agent Early Info

Please note: This is NOT the call for submissions! The contest will open next Monday, September 9.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES (please read carefully):

*There are TWO WAYS to enter: a) via email to authoress.submissions(at) OR via web form at
* THIS IS NOT A LOTTERY: The submission window will be open from NOON to 6:00 PM EDT. and will close when 50 entries have been chosen or 6:00 PM arrives, whichever comes first.
* 2 alternates will also be accepted, for a total of 52 entries.
* PLEASE NOTE: You are responsible for figuring out your own time zone. "Time Zone differences" are NOT a reason for not getting your entry in.
* Submissions received before the contest opens will be rejected.
* Submissions are for COMPLETED MANUSCRIPTS ONLY. If you wouldn't want an agent to read the entire thing, DON'T SEND IT. If an "entire thing" doesn't exist, you shouldn't even be reading these rules.
* Manuscripts THAT HAVE BEEN IN A SECRET AGENT CONTEST DURING THE PAST SIX MONTHS (March-August) will not be accepted.
* You may submit A DIFFERENT MANUSCRIPT if you've participated in any previous Secret Agent contests.
* Only ONE ENTRY per person per contest. If you send more than one, your subsequent entry(ies) will be rejected.
* If you WON A CONTEST WITHIN THE PAST 12 MONTHS (i.e., offered any kind of prize from a Secret Agent), please DO NOT ENTER THIS CONTEST. (Unless it's a different manuscript.)
* Submissions are for THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript. Please do not stop in the middle of a

GO HERE to submit via our web form.

If you choose to submit via email, your submission for this contest should be formatted EXACTLY as follows:

SCREEN NAME: Your Screen Name Here
TITLE: Your Title Here
GENRE: Your Genre Here

(Followed by the excerpt here.)

* No "chapter one," chapter titles, etc.
* You will receive a confirmation email with your lottery number.
* Submissions go to authoress.submissions(at) They DO NOT GO to my facelesswords address. Or any other address.
*It doesn't matter what you put in the subject line. The only thing you MUST NOT do is to use "RE:" The bot will think you are attempting to respond to an email, and will reject you.

As always, there is no fee to enter the Secret Agent contest.

This month's contest will include the following genres:

  • speculative fiction
  • urban fantasy
  • mystery
  • romance: historical, contemporary, paranormal

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Another Indirect Success Story!

It's been a while, and I'm delighted to bring you this success story in the author's words:

Contests are a little bit like the first day of school. You dress up your first page in its finest duds, hope the teacher (i.e., judge) likes it, and are scared beyond all get-out that you won’t make a single friend. 

Or maybe that’s just what they were like for me.

When I entered the Baker’s Dozen in November 2012 with my hot-off-my fingertips YA Contemporary Fantasy, I had high hopes. Everyone who had heard the concept loved it. It was about a Jinn, aka a genie. Not many genie books were around at the time, and I thought I had a good shot at making it in the Baker’s Dozen.

And, well, I got schooled.

I didn’t make the cut. But the positive feedback I received on the generous K.T. Crowley’s Web site, which hosted loglines for critique, fueled me. The concept was solid, the writing was there (I hoped), but my first page needed work.

Turns out my first chapter needed work. As in a revamp. A rewrite. A retooling. I was fortunate to receive feedback from three published authors whose critiques I had bid on and won as part of charity auctions, including, coincidentally, Jodi Meadows, who had selected with Authoress the winning Baker’s Dozen entries.

I absorbed all the feedback and zeroed in on my opening, concentrating on making it the best it could be. The start of Chapter 3 became the start of Chapter 1. Reworking this was like throwing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in the air and trying to reassemble them into a picture that made sense. It wasn’t easy. But I did my homework, read books about opening pages, read more opening chapters than I can count, and I learned. At least I hoped I did.

When the January 2013 Secret Agent contest came along, I was lucky enough to have my number chosen. If it wasn’t, I’m not sure I’d be writing this today.

Because when I put my shiny, first page in its new outfit up there on its first day of school to meet the teacher, it had a great day. The best. Readers loved it. And, so did the teacher. The Secret Agent chose three winners and asked for the full manuscript. My first page was one of those winners. 

I hadn’t even begun querying, and I had a full out. I had planned to start querying that week regardless of the contest outcome, and I continued with the plan, sending to a handful of agents.

One liked it. A lot. Asked for the full. Asked if anyone else had the full. I explained about the contest win (for which she offered huge congratulations) and told her about the Secret Agent.

She offered me representation within a couple of days. And that agent, Lucy Carson of The Friedrich Agency, sold my January Secret Agent winning entry BECOMING JINN and its sequel to Macmillan’s Feiwel and Friends in May.

My agent and I worked on a revision before we went out on submission, but that first page, which I spent all that time honing for the Secret Agent contest, never changed. Through my agent’s reads, through my betas’ reads, the first page remained as it was. And, you know what’s pretty cool?

I recently received my line edit from my editor. The first page that won me the Secret Agent contest, that led to my offer of representation, well, my editor didn’t make a single mark.

I can’t wait to see that page in print. And for you to see it too.

Thank you Authoress for running your Secret Agent contests. I’m thrilled to have my success story start with you. If that weren’t enough, I also managed to make some friends on that contest day, one of which has become a beta and dear friend with her own contest success story (go Nat!).

The tentatively titled BECOMING JINN is scheduled to be released in Spring 2015. You can see a sneak peek and follow its journey at and follow me on Twitter at @loriagoldstein.

~Lori Goldstein