Monday, December 28, 2015

Announcement: A Fond Farewell (of sorts) to Josh

Some of you have been with me all along, and some of you are newer to the blog and less familiar with my writing journey.  For the sake of history:  on December 17, 2010, I signed with Josh Getzler, who was then with the Russell Volkening Agency.

If you've never read the 3-part story of how we came to be, GRAB A CUPPA AND READ IT NOW.
(I really love this guy.)

For 5 years, Josh and I have stuck it out.  Through the disappointments and near-misses and long, bleak stretches, he never threw me out the back door.  And I didn't throw him out, either.  (Well, I tried to, once.  But he loved me through that episode, too.)

I'm thrilled (beyond measure) to announce that I am now represented by Danielle Burby of Hannigan Salky Getzler.  (Which is, of course, the same agency.  So I'm not really leaving.)  The simple reason?  My current project (as you probably know) is YA fantasy, which Josh does not represent.  Danielle, on the other hand, loves fantasy, and has been indispensable during the last two rounds of revisions on this manuscript.

Thankfully, Josh will still be on board in an advisory capacity.  He has an amazing editorial eye, and I can honestly say that my completed works would not be what they are if it weren't for his input.  (Here is a great blog post about his editing style.  If he's on your to-be-queried list, take a moment to read this!)

As for Danielle?  I loved her almost from the moment I met her.  She came on board as Josh's assistant in early 2013, and started to build her own client list faster than you can say "Danielle Burby is a Superhero".  When I was in NYC this July, I spoke with Josh about the possibility of shifting to Danielle once my current novel was ready for submission, and he agreed that it was a good idea.  Last week, we made it official.

I'm so happy to be moving forward with Danielle (who, when she sent me the agency agreement, closed the email with, "I'm excited to hit the ground running together in 2016!". I mean, how could I NOT be thrilled?).  I know you all understand how amazing it feels when someone shares the vision and passion of your work.  Danielle was enthusiastic about this project when I was still drafting it, and her level of investment and optimism continues to be unflagging.

And, seriously?  How could you not love this face?

So here's to a new year and new beginnings.  Big hugs and thanks to those of you who have been cheering me on FOR PRETTY MUCH FOREVER.  I'm not sure I can ever adequately express my thanks for your faithful support over the years.  Mine was never meant to be the fast-and-flashy success story, yes?  And I'm so very grateful that so many of you have stuck with me through this (very long) journey.  More times than I can count, YOU WERE THE REASON I didn't quit.  (How could I quit when I'd spent so much time telling YOU not to quit?)

Josh:  Thanks for 5 years of not giving up.  You will always be my Agentman.

Danielle:  Thanks for believing in me enough to take me on.  And now I'll need to come up with a nickname for you, too. :)

Everyone:  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Fricassee -- My Gifts

Christmas is a season of giving.  I have so many "gifts" in my life as a writer, and I'd like to acknowledge you here.

In no particular order:

  • Julie Butcher, for your wit, cheerleading, and sharp eye.  You deserve the best, Julie!
  • Adam Heine, for your worldbuilding superpowers and your amazing sense of humor.
  • Peter Salomon, for giving so much to this blog, and for being such a faithful crit partner.
  • Alison Weiss, for your unflagging support and always-there-ness.
  • Jodi Meadows, without whom I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am today.
  • Josh Getzler, who stuck with me for 5 years.  So thankful for you!
  • Danielle Burby, for your undying enthusiasm and incredible eye. And love of Jane Austen.
  • Beth Revis, for never failing to speak encouragement at precisely the right moment.
  • Christine Nguyen, for your unconditional love and bubbliness.  And forever faith in me.
  • Michael Wulf, for putting so much time into our fearless bot. I couldn't do this without you!
  • Leah Petersen, for not being afraid to say hard things. And for always supporting me.
  • Holly Bodger, for being so faithful with logline critiques, and for always making me laugh.
  • Joan Paquette, for picking so many gems from our offerings, and for being so supportive.
  • Rena Rossner, for being an incredible "agent sister", reader, and source of encouragement.
  • Gabrielle Harbowy, for believing in me.
  • All my Success Story Authors, for being an army of good will (for real).
  • All my regular commenters and tweeters -- I so appreciate your involvement and support.
  • ALL my blog readers, for, well, reading.
  • All my clients, for entrusting your work to me.  I count it a privilege.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and I'll see you week after next!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Fricassee

I'm sure you've noticed the low activity level here.  Originally, I was going to do a thing or two during December--a holiday lyrics contest and probably a small, in-house critique session.


It felt to just let it all go and give myself a bit of relief from the pressure.  I've been running this blog for a long time (it'll be 8 years in April!), and eventually I'm going to plan an end game.  The archives here are a rich resource for anyone who wants to spend time reading critique in order to sharpen his own writing (and critique) skills.  So when this blog finally goes away, its treasures-of-the-past will remain, and will hopefully continue to help and inspire writers old and new.

Anyway.  December needed to just be...December.  Finished the latest round of edits, took on a couple of editing projects, decided to focus on Christmas.  And my husband.  And possibly the shiny, new "book 2" I'm planning.  (You know what I mean--the fun stage where you're not actually plotting yet, but you're considering all the possibilities.)

Thanks for understanding.  Hope you're finding joy in your daily writing.  (Notice I said daily.  That might not be true for you, so substitute something like regular or scheduled there.  Because writers WRITE!)  I promise we'll get back into the critique in January.  That's always been the crux of this blog, after all--a focus on critique for the betterment of our craft.  We're not flashy, but we get it done!

Sending December hugs and something steamy in a cup.  Or frothy in a mug.  Or sparkly in a fluted glass.  Your choice!  :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Release Day Interview: JM Frey

I've got another book birthday interview for you!  This time, we're celebrating with JM Frey, another of our success story authors and a multi-talented gal in her own right.


AUTHORESS: We first met over TRIPTYCH, your award-winning novel that is truly one of the best time-travel stories I've ever read. Can you tell us a bit about how this story came to be and how it has propelled you forward?

JM: D'awww thank you! TRIPTYCH was the second novel I wrote, and the first I really thought about in terms of a book I wanted to publish. The first novel I never really thought was publishable, and I trunked it, but I really worked and polished TRIPTYCH because of that. I came up with the concept for TRIPTYCH on my mother's 50th birthday. I was living overseas at the time, and I was chilling in the local onsen and thinking about Mom; that was when I realized I was turning 25 that year, and that Mom had had me when she was my age. And there I was, not married, no kids, no career, living on the other side of the planet studying nihon buyo, seiyuu, and teaching at a high school. We had cone down very different paths. And then I wondered if 25 year old Mom would like 25 year old me. I thought we'd get along (I got my wanderlust from her). But of course, story comes from conflict, so I then I wondered... what if we didn't?

AUTHORESS: I absolutely LOVE that the time-travel aspect of TRIPTYCH is derived from your mom-and-me soul searching!

So, you wrote it, and at first it didn't fly. Can you share a bit about your journey from first draft to sale?

JM: TRIPTYCH started life as a novella titled (Back), which I sold to Silverthought Press for online-only publication in 2008. I got a lot of really positive feedback from that, and most of it was some version of "And then what happened??" So I started thinking about what happened next, and seeing as I still had all the rights for (Back), I expanded the story into a full novel.

I wrote several drafts, working and rewriting constantly for a year. When I thought it was ready, I started querying agents and sometimes small presses. Every time I heard back, I tried to tweak and edit the book to address the notes or concerns the rejects included. (All in all, I logged 64 drafts between start and publication, and that included the ones I did with Dragon Moon Press. You read draft 64. But a lot of those drafts were alterations suggested after a rejection, like cutting a scene, or adding just a few lines for clarification in the midst of dialogue, etc.)

I'd had a lot of rejections by April 2009. I went to a SF convention in Toronto, as an academic guest, and after a panel I stopped by the hotel bar to hang out with some nerds I knew from the SPACE Channel here in Canada. There were some people I didn't know in the group, but at this convention especially, people are very friendly and welcoming. So when we all relocated to a room for beer and pizza, everyone was invited.

At that party, I was talking to some authors I know about my frustrations, and a woman came over to ask about the book I was talking about. So, having no idea who she was, slightly drunk and kinda bitter, I pitched her the book. I thought she was just being polite when she kept talking about the book, and then, strangest of all, she requested the full! I had no idea who she was!

Turns out she was Gabrielle Harbowy, acquiring editor at Dragon Moon Press!

I sent her the book that Monday, and a little while later got her response. She really liked the characters, but was rejecting it because she felt that there were issues with the structure of the narrative that was irreparable. Well, trust me to take that as a personal challenge.

I asked her if she would be willing to read it again if I revised, and she agreed (I am going to project a little here and say reluctantly agreed), and I spent the summer pulling it apart and rewriting large swaths of the book to address the issues she had pointed out. I returned the book to her that autumn and heard... nothing.

I was anxious, and then I was upset, and then I was devastated. Surly that meant she didn't want it and didn't feel the need to break it to me gently. Right? Wrong. Gabrielle later told me that she held off on reading it so long because she had really liked the characters and really didn't want to read the revisions and have to tell me that they were rejecting the book. Except, that when she finally did read the revisions, she liked them!


I think, though I can't be certain, but I think I got the email offering publication sometime around Christmas? It might have even been on Christmas Eve.

We announced the sale at that same convention in 2010, and then launched the book there in 2011.

AUTHORESS: And the rest is history!

So now you're launching your second novel (with other goodies on the horizon). Can you tell us how THE UNTOLD TALE came to be?

JM: Well, after TRIPTYCH, I wrote another novel (THE SKYLARK'S SONG) and leveraged TRIPTYCH'S success to pitch to agents. I was actually approached by some too, and in the end I had three phone calls. I chose an agent, and we started working on SKYLARK. It was clear pretty quickly, however, that I hadn't made the right choice. He absolutely mangled the manuscript, had no idea what I was trying to do with it, and was extremely condescending. I regretted my choice nearly instantly - the good news was, one of the other agents regretted not pitching me harder. We met again a little later, when I was horribly upset with my then-current agent, and just chatting with her made me realize I had to fire the jerk.

So I fired him. I was worried that I'd completely screwed myself, and that I'd never be represented again, and that THE SKYLARK'S SONG was beyond saving now. The other agent heard I was free, and jumped on the chance. From what I understand, she invited Gabrielle out to dinner, and borrowed her phone to call me randomly out of the blue and offer representation. I actually missed the call, though, because I was busy being the Maid of Honor at my friend's Bachelorette party! She left a lovely message, though.

I decided that if I was going to go to Laurie, I wanted to bring her something that The Jerk hadn't touched first, before we began to work on SKYLARK. I wanted to do with Fantasy what TRIPTYCH did was Sci-Fi - that is, something left-of-center, something issue-laden without being issue-driven or issue-burdened. That was when the buzz for this new TV show started to fill the air - Game of Thrones. I'd never heard of George RR Martin, or read his books, prior to the series coming out. But it sounded right up my alley, so I watched.

It gave me a lot of ideas, but mostly what it really sparked in me was a kind of low-level resentment. It wasn't at the show per se, but at the guy friend I was watching it with. We had an argument about intended audience, and I couldn't get him to understand how much it sucks to not be the center. I mean, I literally couldn't get him to understand that Game of Thrones, while not horrible, was not made for me, but for people like him. White. Male. Straight.

I was so angry I went off to my office and wrote a scene where a female character yells at the hero of a standard fantasy series.

The next morning I reread it and thought... "I think there's something in this. This... anger at always being on the edge."

Turns out there was!

Laurie ADORED the book (only gave me three notes). We had a hard time shopping it though, because it's very self aware and some publishers thought it would be difficult to market. Everyone really liked the book itself, but in general the editors who read it weren't certain how to handle it. Last November, Laurie was giving a keynote at a conference and mentioned the book. As soon as she was finished speaking, she was cornered at the tea table by REUTS. And to borrow your phrase - the rest is history!

Though I was very surprised when they offered a three book deal. I had never intended the story to continue, but now that I have the chance, I really relish the ability to dig back in to this world.

And yes, I did finally bring SKYLARK around to a place I liked with Laurie, and REUTS snapped that up in a three book deal as well.

AUTHORESS: So, as a "self aware" fantasy, what kind of reader will THE UNTOLD TALE beckon to? What do you think the readers will find most surprising? Most challenging?

JM: I think the book will really resonate with readers like me, readers who love fantasy books but are frustrated at never seeing themselves in the books (or, if they are, as villains, exotic "others", or savages). I mean, it's no wonder the weird kids always fall in love with monsters, and bad guys, and mutant characters - it's the only place we see ourselves.

THE UNTOLD TALE points out that fantasy novels have, for a very long time, (And I'm talking The Epic of Gilgamesh here) have been power fantasies for straight males. And my book isn't saying "No, that's bad", it's saying, "Uhg, this is boring. Another one?" The heroes in these books are the side characters, the overlooked ones, the voiceless ones. That, I think, will be the surprise.

As for challenging, it is hard for us nerds to be told that something we have accepted as a staid fact of our reality is problematic. (I mean, #GamerGate/Sad Puppies are the perfect example.) Nerds and Geeks like us often internalize our favorite stories and base a lot of our personalities and self-worth on them. So when someone else finds fault with those stories, it can feel like a personal attack, even though it isn't. It's never a personal attack or an attempt to oppress. It's a question that says, "Don't you see how harmful these stereotypes can be? Not just for me, but for you too? Please, can we make room for everyone?" And I think the book might be challenging for those readers who've never had the flaws and problematics of classic fantasy novels pointed out to them before.

AUTHORESS: Wow, thanks for that very deep glimpse into not only your writer-mind, but your deepest self. Writing is so much more than simply "telling a story", as you've just made clear.

Thank you so much for this interview, and best of luck as THE UNTOLD TALE flies into the wild!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Friday Fricassee

Guess what these tiny Christmas trees are made of?  Ripped-up-pages-of-old-paperbacks!  Wonderful way to recycle, yes?

Beyond that, though, is this imagery of book-shredding that reminds me of revisions, and how good it would feel if the process were a bit more tactile.  I mean, it's effortless to delete a word or a sentence or a paragraph or an entire bleeding chapter.  But wouldn't it feel tremendous to be able to feel it a bit more?  To actually take those words and mangle them with your hands?  To resolutely shove them down a garbage chute?

There's something to be said for those melodramatic movie scenes of writers crumpling sheets of paper in a fit of pique and tossing them into the nearest hearth.

Though, truth be told, I don't feel piqued when I delete things during revisions--I feel EMPOWERED.  I feel LIGHTER.  In fact I feel like I'VE LOST FIVE POUNDS AND MY JEANS AREN'T TOO TIGHT ANYMORE.  All those excess words that had to go away to allow the story to shine!  All that cumbersome fluff, those extraneous scenes--au revoir, all!

(Oh, dear.  "Cumbersome fluff"made me think of Benedict Cumberbatch.  How will I get myself back on track?)

As if it's not obvious, I've just completed a round of revisions that left my story 4 chapters shorter and close to 6000 words lighter.  All along, I knew the story needed trimming, tightening, finessing.  I knew, but I couldn't see.  And then Danielle Burby pretty much nailed it (she's good at that), and off I went with a clear vision on exactly what I needed to do.

Except, I'm now sort of wishing that I had actual pages I could rip up and turn into tiny Christmas trees.  It would help me feel like all the hours that went into the now-deleted pages were redeemable.

(This is the part where I remind you that every minute spent writing a book is worth it--even when you end up deleting stuff.  It's all part of the process.  It all COUNTS.)

So don't be afraid to say good-bye to the parts of your story that aren't doing it any favors.  If it's an entire chapter, you'll probably want to save it "just in case" (and this is one of the reasons why Scrivener is awesome, because you can just throw the chapter in the trash, but Scrivener will save it there indefinitely, so you will always find it later if you need to), but if you're just rewriting dialogue or getting rid of a redundant paragraph, THROW IT OUT AND DON'T LOOK BACK.  Maybe even toss an evil laugh its way as it goes.

Okay.  Go delete something.  Or go rip up a paperback and make me a tiny tree.  And have a marvelous weekend!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wrap-Up Month

That's really what it boils down to--December is largely a "wrap-up" for the publishing industry.

It's unlikely that your agent will send out a new round of subs this month.

It's unlikely that an editor will buy your book this month.

It's unlikely that anyone is going to start a new project this month (especially in the wake of NaNoWriMo).

It's unlikely that anything will kick off, embark, move forward, or otherwise Happen this month.

Mind you, this industry is a study in exceptions!  But overall, December is more a non-month than an actual month.

Which is actually nice, because I LOVE CHRISTMAS.  So it's nice to slide into the final month ready to celebrate Christmas or Chanukah or whatever is important to you in December, yes?

I'm in a lovely, contented-sigh place right now, just having finished another round of revisions for Danielle's sharp eye, and having absolutely no intention of beginning anything new.

Well, okay.  I'll play around some more with Book 2 ideas.  I may even pull out that Other Novel and give it a read, to see how I'd like to change it.  But Actual, Firm-Deadline Work?  No, thank you!

Unless, of course, Danielle says, "Fix this!"  Because you know how it goes.

But for now, I'm happy to be at this hard-work-finished place.  And I hope that, wherever you are in your personal writing load, you will also come to this happy place some time in the next couple of weeks.  Because having time to take a DEEP BREATH during this season is such a good thing!

I've been admittedly lax here on the blog as well.  I'm evaluating and planning right now, and I'll let you know what the coming year will look like.

For those of you interested in an Authoress Edits critique:

I now have a Premiere Critique slot open for December.  The Premiere Critique is:

  • a detailed line edit of your first 75 pages
  • an editorial letter
  • a guaranteed 1-week turnaround
  • $260, payable in 2 equal installments
Please email me at authoress.edits(at) if you would like to secure this spot.  First come, first served!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Fricassee

In the spirit of Thanksgiving -- thank you:

For sharing your time and insight with your fellow writers, offering your critique and comments during contests and critique sessions.

For your bravery and vulnerability in sharing your own work here.

For helping to create and maintain the vibrant community that exists here.

For allowing me to be myself (even though you've never seen my face).

For being a supporter instead of a complainer.

For pouring encouragement and kindness (and maybe a little love?) into me when I most needed it.

For bringing your perspective, your ideas, your talents, and your sense of humor along with you.

For not giving up on your dreams.

Thank you, dear readers and fellow wielders-of-the-pen.  Together, we are a mighty force and an absolutely lovely gang.  (Yes, we are.  We're a gang.  Or maybe a gaggle.  Or a murder.)

Hugs to all!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

OTB Logline Critique #14

GENRE: YA - Contemporary

Haunted by his role in the death of a friend, Hood Roberts––a teen who navigates between football stardom and the reigning poster boy for bad decisions––becomes a modern day Robin Hood in a small Maine town.

OTB Logline Critique #13

TITLE: Fortress of Bones
GENRE: Adult - Fantasy

In a world where animals can talk and curses are real, a cursebreaker and her companion cat search for a cure to a girl’s madness to prevent a necromancer’s vengeance from destroying their homeland.


OTB Logline Critique #12

TITLE: The Third Gift
GENRE: MG - Fantasy

All Marisi wanted was the adventure of a lifetime. She got it when a witch kidnapped her parents and took over her home. To get everything back she must solve three impossible riddles before sunrise. But her baby sister may be the key that saves them all.



OTB Logline Critique #11

GENRE: YA - Science Fiction

In 2265, no one should disappear. Programming whiz Mouse and survivalist Taryn have to use their skills to escape from kidnappers, who have found a way to disable their trackable id-chips and recycle teens into mining robot replacements as part of a virtual reality mind-control experiment.

OTB Logline Critique #10

TITLE: The Antidote
GENRE: MG - Fantasy

Lonely 12 year old Adam Revelstoke can see disease, and reluctantly battles ILL, the ancient evil behind much sickness. Adam must use this newfound family “gift” to thwart ILL’s plan to destroy mankind with a new super disease, worse than polio, worse than small pox.


OTB Logline Critique #9

TITLE: The Relic Heir
GENRE: MG - Urban fantasy

When Kyle inherits his suicidal father’s magical relic, he’s cursed by Baba Yaga and marked for death by a militant Russian society. Doomed to become the witch’s violent pawn or die at the hands of the Obshestvo, Kyle must break the curse to save himself and his dad.

OTB Logline Critique #8

TITLE: The Balance of all Things
GENRE: Adult - Urban fantasy

Title: The Balance of all Things
Alyssa's on the run from the Conclave, former mentors in magic. She fled when she realized they were training her to destroy all realms.  She's now either fighting off or hunting down Conclave minions and horde demons whose interest in her keeps growing. Hope lies in unraveling her destiny as a possible savior or destroyer. Finding at least one unlikely ally wouldn't hurt either.

OTB Logline Critique #7

GENRE: MG - Animal Fantasy

Wink, a one-eyed hamster, is desperate to find a forever family, but when he leaves the pet shop as snake food, his future seems bleak. His quick thinking saves him from the snake, but it’s back to the pet shop unless he can outsmart the family cat and convince Mom he will be the perfect pet.

OTB Logline Critique #6

TITLE: Cargo Hold Five
GENRE: YA - Science Fiction

When the hunt for her kidnapped sister leads to a galaxy-traveling circus, Hazel joins The Greatest Show in the Sky to flush for clues. But when her investigation uncovers the circus’s involvement in the illegal Freak trade, Hazel is forced to get out quick, before the homicidal ringleader catches on to her, and the search for her sister dies with her.

OTB Logline Critique #5

TITLE: This World In Gray
GENRE: YA - Contemporary

Lacey and Grace are twins who share more than looks, they share a soul. When Grace dies, Lacey doesn’t know who she is anymore, she can't see past the grief, isn't sure she wants to live without her. When she finds the letters Grace left her, leading her on an adventure, it might just save Lacey's life.

OTB Logline Critique #4

TITLE: Unpossible
GENRE: MG - Science Fiction

Twelve-year-old science prodigy, Banks, just wants his Mom’s attention, but he has to do the unpossible to get it: unlock the science behind Mayan magic and use it to stop a ruthless cosmetics maven before she can uncover the secret of eternal youth and sell it in a bottle.

OTB Logline Critique #3

TITLE: Tarot Traders
GENRE: YA - Urban Fantasy

Toria will die on her next birthday if her tarot cards are stolen. Her mentor is missing, and Toria doesn’t have enough money to hide forever. Conspiring with herself in a parallel time line, she must evade a tarot thief while pulling off the biggest heist of all her lives.

OTB Logline Critique #2

TITLE: Chasing Autumn
GENRE: Adult - Light-hearted Women's Fiction

As if Cora’s incontinent dog and partial mastectomy aren’t enough for the town to gossip about, her friend is arrested for murder. Cora’s passion to fix things goes way beyond restoring antiques in her shop. With help from an unconventional therapist, she’s determined to fix the chaos in her life.

OTB Logline Critique #1

TITLE: The Pendragon’s son
GENRE: Adult - Fantasy

Prince Vaeldhei, the son of King Arthur and apprentice to the wizard Merlin, tries to thwart his deluded half-brother and a vengeful sorceress from igniting a countrywide war, despite a grim prophecy cursing all of Britain.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Beth Revis's Winners!

The response to our contest was admittedly disappointing.  Nevertheless, those of you who DID enter definitely benefited, because Beth Revis has decided that YOU ARE ALL WINNERS.


Her winning entry:

I don't have a plea. I have only the fact that I'm starting to not want to try anymore. I've written sixteen novels. Queried seven. I think I might be crazy for continuing to try. But it looks like you had to write a lot of books, too. And I think maybe Paper Hearts can give me some new motivation from someone who's fallen down a lot as well. ^_^ So if I don't win, the sky will explode and the moon dragons will fly down and eat me.

Why Beth chose this entry:

It spoke to her heart.

(See what I mean about Beth?  You definitely want this gal in your corner!)

THE PRIZE:  A signed paperback copy of PAPER HEARTS!!


Beth would like to send each of you a digital copy of PAPER HEARTS!

Winners, please email me your email address.  I will send your addresses to Beth, and she will contact you with instructions on how to claim your prizes.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Logline Critique Round for ON THE BLOCK Entrants

You asked for it -- and here it is.

Starting at noon EST today, FOLKS WHO ENTERED ON THE BLOCK BUT WHOSE ENTRIES WERE NOT CHOSEN FOR THE AUCTION may send their loglines for public critique.

(I put that in all caps to stress that this critique round is specifically for these people.  PLEASE DO NOT ENTER A LOGLINE if you did not submit an entry to ON THE BLOCK.)
  • Your logline must be 50 words or fewer.
  • The entry window will be open from NOON today (Tuesday) to NOON tomorrow (Wednesday), EST.
  • The bot will accept the first 25 entries.  This is not a lottery.
  • Please USE THIS FORM to enter your logline.
  • The entries will post on Thursday morning (November 19).  Critique may begin immediately.
  • If your logline is posted, you are requested to critique at least 5 other loglines.

I had the dates set wrong, and folks were getting a message that submissions don't open for 7 days.  I HAVE FIXED THIS.  You should be able to enter without any problem now.  I'm so sorry!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Beth Revis: Release Day Interview and Book Giveaway!

It's unlikely that you haven't heard Beth Revis's name before.  She's a multi-published YA author who is among our MSFV Success Story Authors, and an absolutely lovely person.  I'm thrilled to be celebrating the release of her non-fiction book for writers, Paper Hearts, by offering this interview and a fun book giveaway!

AUTHORESS: So, let's go back to July 29, 2009, when your entry for A LONG WAY HOME posted on MSFV for Jodi Meadows's Query Contest. What led you up to that point? And what happened next?

BETH: Prior to that point, I'd written ten other novels. And I'd queried them and eventually trunked them. In fact, there may be some other trunked-Beth-books in the MSFV archives...

Anyway, a lot of writing! And a lot of failure. But I thought I had something with this book (and I did--it eventually became Across the Universe), but I was struggling with those first few chapters. I'd had conflicting critique partner advice on those first chapters, and the MSFV contest helped me to see that I needed to rearrange them.

AUTHORESS: Which is, of course, one of the most exciting MSFV stories ever. :)

So tell us about your success with the Across the Universe trilogy (which graces my downstairs bookshelf).

BETH: AtU was really been about dreams coming true. There's a line in the Harry Potter books about how nothing impossible if you have enough drive. Everything about AtU--it being published, it doing well, it starting my career--that all felt impossible, and now that it's happened, it feels as if nothing is impossible.

AUTHORESS: Your career certainly had a strong start, including bestseller status. So, let's help dispel the myth that, once you make that first sale, you've got it made in the shade. Can you tell us a bit about the next step in your journey?

BETH: Think of it like rolling a ball up a hill. Sure, a great sale with strong numbers on release will push your ball higher up the hill, but if you don't follow that with more--more books, more sales, more work--the ball will just roll back down to the bottom. Unless you're content just releasing a book whenever, without really caring about your audience or reach, and definitely not caring about your career, you can't just sit in an ivory tower and spin tales. You have to keep working, just like at any other career.

AUTHORESS: An excellent analogy!

So, tell us where your adventures led from there.

BETH: It always makes me smile when fans write me and ask me to "never stop writing." That's definitely something no one has to worry about! I don't know what I'd do with myself if I stopped!

As I was wrapping up the Across the Universe trilogy, I tried to think of what I should write next. The idea that really seized me was a fantasy novel. I wrote the whole book, planned a quartet, sent to readers and...the response wasn't that great. Some of my readers loved it, but at least three-quarters were lukewarm at best. I think I got bogged down in the world building. After talking long and hard to my agent about the book, we both decided the best thing was to shelve it, and maybe return to it later, and maybe not.

That was definitely a hard pill to swallow. I was supposed to have made it! I wasn't supposed to still be shelving books!

The next book I wrote was also strange--a science fiction that was loosely linked to the AtU world. I worked with my editor at Penguin on it awhile, but it ultimately wasn't a good fit for my next traditional book, so I ended up self publishing The Body Electric. It was such a wonderful experience. I was initially scared of doing it, but I think it's like getting a tattoo--after the first one, they become really addictive!

While all this was going on, I was already working on another project, one that Penguin latched onto right away--A World Without You--which will be published by Razorbill next July.

All this to say that in the two years since wrapping up the AtU trilogy, I've written one book that was shelved, one that was self published, and one that will be traditionally published. I'm like a microcosm of writing careers across the board!

AUTHORESS: Which makes you a sort of "everygirl" for those who are watching you. A reminder that there really is no such thing as One Way to success. Your author journey is inspiring in many ways!

So now you've taken your wisdom and experience and connections and have created something new, especially for writers. Will you tell us the story of how Paper Hearts came to be?

BETH: Paper Hearts is something that I've been working on for years, even before I was published. I was a teacher, and I loved being a teacher, so some of the book--such as the grammar chapters--came from that background. And some of it just comes from experience. There's this sort of untalked about awkward stage when you decide you want to be a writer where no one you know really knows the real deal. So many people who don't write assume you just type "the end" and get a book deal. That's why so many non-writers ask, "Is your book published yet?" when you tell them you're working on something.

So I started on my blog first, dispelling some of the myths, trying to be up front and honest in response to questions or common misconceptions I was seeing. And then I moved the random blog posts to Wattpad, so everything was organized into one place. But that kept growing and growing, and people kept asking for it to be in book form. Once I hit 100k reads and libraries started contacting me to teach workshops based on the Wattpad book, I decided to shift it into real publication.

AUTHORESS: Paper Hearts feels like a love story to me. That may be because I went into this knowing more of your story, but I think that any writer who reads this book will feel the love. It's so much more than a "how to" book.

Can you put into words what I am so desperately trying to? What makes PAPER HEARTS more than your average "how to be a writer" book?

BETH: Paper Hearts is very much is a love story! It's the story of my own love affair with writing, of my love for fellow readers and writers, of my love with the dream of writing.

But it is most definitely not a "how to" book. Because I make it very clear very early that there is no such thing as a "how to write" book. None exists. The best I can do is explain what I went through, and what helped me, and what didn't, and hope that it helps someone else.

That's not to say it doesn't have specifics. It's not a life story. It does go into great detail of the very specific strategies that help me write. But it doesn't say they're the only way.

AUTHORESS: Another thing I love about Paper Hearts is your transparency. It's "here's my journey, here's my heart", and not just "here's what I know" -- though there is plenty of that as well.

In short -- it's the first writing advice book that I will actually feel good about recommending to writers who want some specific guidance.

Aside from the excellent take-away of "there is no one RIGHT way to write", what else can readers expect to get out of this book? Can you distill the book's "mission", if you will?

BETH: Aw, thank you so much! <3 p="">
I think the real incentive for me to get this book into print was the fact that I a lot of the questions I kept hearing all sum down to one simple answer: calm down. Before you're published, there's a lot of unknown about what writing can be like. People worry that they have to fit a certain mold or that they'll make one tiny mistake and ruin their chances at ever being published. It's not like that. We fear the unknown, though, so I'm trying here to take away some of the unknown, and hopefully the fear.

AUTHORESS: So much wisdom here! For those of you who are dying to get this wonderful book into your hands, here's the info: 

Would you like a signed copy? Contact my local indie Malaprops.
Indie Bound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBookstore |


Thanks so much for this Release Day interview, Beth, and for the honor of being mentioned as a resource in PAPER HEARTS. May your words of encouragement and common sense reach the writing masses!

BETH: And thank you for hosting me and all you do for aspiring authors!


Here comes the fun part!  How would you like to win a signed paperback copy of Paper Hearts?  You know you want one!  So here's what you have to do:

In the comment box below, write the most hyperbolic plea you can possibly come up with, begging Beth for your copy.  Enter as many times as you'd like!  Beth will read all the entries and choose her favorite.

Yanno, something like:

Beth!  If I don't receive a copy of Paper Hearts in the next 48 hours, my entire pulmonary system will shut down, and my lungs will implode and create an alternate universe in which only carbon dioxide-breathing organisms will survive, which means the destruction of this world as we know it!

The contest is open NOW, and will close at 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, November 18.

On your mark, get set, go!

Beth Revis is the NY Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series. The complete trilogy is now available in more than 20 languages. Beth is also the author of The Body Electric and several short stories. Her nonfiction books, the Paper Hearts series, gives writers advice on craft, publishing, and more. A native of North Carolina, Beth is currently working on a new novel for teens, tentatively scheduled for 2016. She lives in rural NC with her boys: one husband, one son, and two massive dogs.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Fricassee

How 'bout them auctions??

So now's your chance to give feedback, and I REALLY WANT TO HEAR IT.  This was our first ON THE BLOCK, and its future depends on the overall perception of how it actually went.

I set it up in the one-at-a-time format so that everyone could watch the auctions live (unlike the Baker's Dozen, during which all the bidding went on simultaneously and it was impossible to watch it unfold).  Did that work for you?

Full disclosure--it was a lot more intense on my end this way, because I basically couldn't leave my computer for 4 consecutive hours.  But I planned ahead and knew it was coming, and honestly, it wasn't bad.  And other than a ridiculous problem with Blogger asking for verification EVEN THOUGH I HAVE ALL THAT TURNED OFF, there were no technical issues.

Did any of you deal with being forced to prove you weren't a robot?  Several of the bidding agents were quite frustrated because their bidding was stalled by silly compare-the-picture type verifications.  What is that??  Please let me know if you also dealt with that while leaving critiques last week.

Any other thoughts and impressions, positive and negative, are welcome.  Please don't be shy. :)

A few of our give-aways winners still haven't contacted me, so please do check to see if your name is ON THIS LIST.  Don't miss your chance at a critique from one of our Success Story authors!

A couple of you mentioned the idea of offering logline critiques to the people who submitted to ON THE BLOCK but were not chosen.  I like this idea, so LOOK FOR SUBMISSIONS FOR THIS EARLY NEXT WEEK.  (Note:  This will ONLY be for people who entered the ON THE BLOCK contest in September.)

And MAKE SURE YOU POP BY ON MONDAY, because we're having a BETH REVIS INTERVIEW AND BOOK GIVEAWAY!  I'm very excited about Beth's new book for writers, Paper Hearts.  Be sure to stop by and grab your chance to win a signed copy!

I think that's everything.  And now I'm going to take a deep breath and launch myself back into writer mode after nearly 2 weeks of doing other things.  I did spend a little time planning my Next Book over the past few days, but my goal for this weekend is to really launch myself into everything full time.  Mr. A will be out of town for several days, and of course that means more writing time, yes?  Wish me luck.  You know I'm not the queen of planning or drafting, so these are the things I have to muscle through.

Though, truth be told, planning a "book 2" isn't half as daunting as starting from scratch, since the world and characters are already built, right?  It's just that dang PLOT thing.  (Am I the only one who really, really, REALLY hates plotting?  No one should have to think that hard.  Or maybe I have to think that hard because I'm essentially plot-challenged.)

Anyway -- have a wonderful weekend, everyone!  PLEASE leave your ON THE BLOCK feedback below, and I'll see you Monday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


The following names were chosen randomly (gotta love those random number generators!) from all critiques left on the 24 ON THE BLOCK entries.  Critiques left by editors were not included.  Because most people had multiple entries, there was the chance that each could win more than once -- and some did!  If you are a "double winner", enjoy that!  But if you don't want 2 critiques, email me and I'll randomly select another winner for one of them.

  1. REBECCA M -- A query and 1st chapter (up to 15 pages) critique from Leah Sloane Petersen
  2. ZOLOSOLO -- A first-5-pages critique from Lia Riley
  3. JULIE TOMIAK -- A 20-minute Skype session with Alice Loweecey
  4. E.S. WHEELER -- A 1st chapter (up to 15 pages) critique from Peter Salomon
  5. PATCHI -- A first chapter (up to 5000 words) critique from Nicole Wolverton
  6. SANWRITES -- A query and first-5-pages critique from Kristi V Helvig
  7. SUSSU -- A first chapter (up to 5000 words) critique from Mandy Mikulencak
  8. NEICOLE CREPEAU -- A query critique from Tara Dairman
  9. SUSSU -- A first-5-pages critique from Mindy Braun
  10. GEORGIANA DERWENT -- A query and first-5-pages critique from Gail Nall (YA or MG only)
  11. ZOLOSOLO -- A query critique from Lori A Goldstein
  12. JESSICA REDMAN -- A query and first-5-pages critique from Jen Malone (YA or MG only)
  13. BRENT SALISH -- A first chapter (up to 10 pages) critique from Anita Saxena
  14. ABBE HOGGAN -- A first chapter critique from Stephanie Scott
  15. IKMAR -- A first chapter (up to 15 pages) critique from J. M. Frey
  16. FIONA MILLER-STEVENS -- A query and first chapter (up to 15 pages) critique from Helene Dunbar
Winners:  Please email the following information to me at facelesswords(at) with PRIZE WINNER in the subject line:
  • Name
  • Email address
  • Name of author whose prize you won
I will pass along your contact information to your prize-giver, and you can communicate directly from there.

Congratulations, everyone!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


I know it was a nerve-wracking time for you all.  Hooray -- you made it through!

If your post didn't receive any bids, please don't despair.  The agents represented here are a VERY SMALL percentage of all the agents out there.  DO YOUR RESEARCH and QUERY WIDELY.  Your work is good, and it'll find a home if you are tenacious.

WINNERS:  Please email me at facelesswords(at) for specific submission instructions.  Please include your TITLE, the AGENT, and the REQUEST AMOUNT.

PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT QUERY the other agents who bid for your material.  They will have an opportunity to make requests after a 1-week exclusive with your winning agent.  So sit tight!

Congratulations to all!

#24 FLASH, YA Paranormal Romance

TITLE: Flash
GENRE: YA Paranormal romance

A teenage boy, born as a liaison between the living and the dead, agonizes over the way to tell a frenemy that she's next.

Benjamin strolled into Taylor Woods Nursing Home knowing somebody was going to die.

Popping an orange Tic Tac into his mouth, he nodded at the secretary and headed off towards the East wing. He didn’t need a guest pass. She knew who he was, and based on the raise of a single eyebrow, she was curious. He peeked back, wondering if she was watching to see which room he walked into.

She was.

“Howdy, Ms. Gail,” Benjamin crooned as he walked through the door at the end of the hallway. In this wing, lunch was served on trays as all residents were no longer able to make it to the cafeteria. The floral and disinfectant smell of the nursing home was too strong for his nostrils to make out the menu.

Ms. Gail wasn’t speaking. Benjamin blew out the breath he wasn’t aware he was holding. Had he expected her to stand up and dance at his arrival? Nobody did that, even if they didn’t know about his gift. Or curse, depending on the day.

Her bedroom was noisy, even though it was just the two of them. The respiratory machine hummed as it breathed in and out, an accordion-like thing moving up and down with the noise. To the right of Ms. Gail was the heart machine. The green lines weren’t moving up very far, if that meant anything at all. And the beeping noise that accompanied the rising green line took a break for a few seconds before repeating.

Saying Ms. Gail was pale would be an understatement. As Benjamin approached her bedside, his own pale skin looked tan in comparison. Her breaths were shallow, so he knew she was still with him. And even though her eyes were closed, he knew she’d awaken any second.

“Ms. Gail,” he sang as he swept her gray bangs off her forehead. “Wakey, wakey.”

“What are you doing?” The female voice came out of nowhere, causing Benjamin to pull back abruptly.

#23 THE SATIN SPY, NA Historical

GENRE: NA Historical

Adrienne pushes back against French laws and prejudices under Louis XIV. She spies on the powdered and privileged at court to save her family estate. But, when she’s targeted for treason by the King’s bloodhound, she goes to extreme measures to keep her freedom.

May, 1684

The sheer terror of being spotted made Adrienne du Mont run. The heat-red urgency of escaping the official visit of His Majesty’s agent made her sweat through her silks. She’d rather cut off all her hair than sit in the same room with Louis XIV’s Intendant.

Taking in deep breaths, Adrienne and a servant hurried through the halls of her ancestral estate. The rustling of her peach satin skirts disrupted the silence and the leather of her silk shoes scraped the rock floors.

“Tres vites, Jacques,” Adrienne gasped at her lackey. She barely slowed at the kitchen, passing scullions on their knees brushing the sandstone.

The thought of an official interrogation at only sixteen years chilled her.

Merde! Why was such a powerful official sitting in her front parlor? Could it be the paper she had tucked in her bodice? Panic rose inside her chest, but she ignored it, talking to herself.

I will behave as a young man would. I’ll do what I like and face the reprisals later.

Jacques stopped. “Why rush about in such secrecy?” the servant wheezed. “Is it the man in black who sits in the drawing room with your mother?”

Obviously, Adrienne thought. Sieur La Briffe rendered justice for Louis XIV, enforcing the king’s will upon local officials. After his inspections, France had put many an innocent citizen in prison to rot.

Oui, any noble would want to avoid an Intendant du Roi, with good reason.”

Hearing the title, Jacques tuned pale.


TITLE: Checks and Balances
GENRE: Thriller

The scheming, antiheroine wife of a British dictator in the idealistic run-up and brutal aftermath of a UK military coup.

I stepped out of the rickety lift and into the Treaty’s underground control room, fighting to keep my breathing under control. It never ended well when David summoned the officers of the Treaty together. What desperate plan or restrictive new decree did he intend to announce today?

David stood under the screen that showed our hacked CCTV camera feeds. Years of outdoor living and physical labour had given him the muscular tone and hearty glow he could only have dreamt of in his old life as an academic. I pushed through the massed ranks of stern-faced men and women dressed in hardy, unflattering outfits, and took my exalted position directly opposite our leader.

Michaela leaned against the reinforced metallic wall of the abandoned mine. Her wavy obsidian-black hair had grown out of the practical cropped style we all sported, into an elegant bob. She’d swapped her usual guerrilla uniform for a vintage silk gown someone had decided would pass muster in London. The emerald dress showed off her curves and emphasised the youthful beauty that shone through even in army fatigues.

David crossed his arms. “I’m sending Michaela to Somerset House. She’s going to find her way into the First Lord’s presence. She’s going to charm him and allow herself to be seduced. She’s going to gain his trust and steal his secrets. And when the time is right, she’s going to kill him.”

His unblinking eyes and fixed mouth dared me to defy him in front of his supporters. He should have known I could never resist a challenge.


TITLE: Journey to Ryu Airu
GENRE: YA Fantasy

A Japanese slave trying to pay her father’s debts, Kaiya is abducted by Chinese pirates and taken into foreign waters. The pirates are oddly congenial, befriending Kaiya and helping her forget the family duty left behind her. But when she discovers the captain intends to sacrifice her to a dragon, she will do anything to escape, even blackmail her new friends.

The teahouse was loud with alcohol-enhanced laughter and the roll of dice. Some men came in, adjusting their dirty robes as they sat at a table. Keeping my eyes lowered in deference, I hurried over and served their tea. I feared if I raised my gaze, I’d find the man in the corner watching me again.
Long black hair was knotted at the back of his head, revealing broad shoulders and a fearsome look. He hadn’t stopped staring at me since he came in. I once beat off four feral dogs with a stick, but his expressionless eyes made me feel cold and jittery.

Mindlessly I took an order for wine and headed toward the kitchen. A hand rubbed across my cotton skirt and I shifted out of the way smoothly, hearing titters behind me. Four years working in a portside teahouse taught me quick reflexes, especially being the doughy kind of girl men looked for.
In the safety of the kitchen, Gorou-sama lugged a barrel across the floor from the cellar and Midori, my fellow slave, stirred a pot of okayu. I paused in the corner to catch my breath, but Gorou noticed me.

“Kaiya, more wood.”

I bowed. “The newcomers ordered sake and the group in the corner wants more rice wine.”
He nodded without looking up. “Midori will serve it. Go get wood. Oh,” he added, changing topics at lightning speed, “There’s a new ship anchored this evening. It will probably get busier.”

I felt a nervous jolt.

“You said I could go home in an hour.” I tried to keep my tone respectful.

#20 THE DOLPHIN NEXUS, MG Magical Realism

GENRE: MG Magical Realism

In THE DOLPHIN NEXUS, when a sheltered, scientific-minded thirteen-year-old girl discovers she has a mystical connection to the sea, she must unravel her past and harness her growing powers to prevent a secret military project from silencing the ocean forever.
A streak of iridescent silver flickered past the port side of the tour boat. Waves of eager onlookers rushed to get a glimpse at the elusive shape. All except Irene. She shuffled starboard.

Typical tourists, she thought. She tried to forgive their silly ‘oohs,’ since these inlanders didn’t observe dolphins daily like she did.

"Well, folks," said the yellow‑toothed tour guide. Locals called him Captain Crunch, but Irene reserved Jimmy’s nickname for when she wanted him to leave her alone. "That there’s a sight we don’t see just ev’ry day.” His cheeks crinkled around his gray eyes as he aimed a wink her way.

I do.  A dolphin pod used the cove behind her house for their private vacation spot. She cast her gaze to the deck, catching sight of lobster-red shins sticking out of black-socks-in-sandals. British, she guessed. Looking over her shoulder where Jimmy stood behind the helm, she pointed to the sandals and mimed a monocle.  Jimmy lowered the mike so he wouldn’t snort into it.

Sandal-socks told his son, “Budge up, Johnny. Your sister fancies a look.”

Irene mouthed to Jimmy: That’s twenty.  Jimmy gave her a thumbs up.

Seventy-eight tourists correctly pinned to their countries so far this summer. Not bad for August. She congratulated herself as Sandal-socks held his little girl up to see over the side.

“Emma, stop your whinging and see the fish.”

Fish? No, that’s a mammal. From the Delphinidae family to be specific.

As Jimmy reeled off his usual speech, Irene mentally recited along. “That there's an Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin. Some say they’s deeper than us two-leggers.

"Wow,” said a girl to Irene’s left.


TITLE: Nick Stevens, Chef of Destiny
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

When Las Vegas teenager Nick Stevens gets a job at a hotel that caters to creatures from other dimensions, he must learn in a hurry how to cook, how to fight -- and how to handle a girlfriend who might not be entirely human.  

I wish I could say that on the morning I first faced a creature from another world, I was up early calibrating my repulsor cannon, or working on my badass krav maga skills, or any of the other stuff guys who later wind up saving a major American city are doing when the story opens. Things would probably make more sense that way – if I was The Chosen One.

Spoiler alert: There's no such thing.

Instead, I left our house in the Las Vegas suburbs half an hour late, dropped my painstakingly assembled egg sandwich in the gutter when my bike hit a speed bump and sprinted into Mr. Freeman's junior Literature class just as the bell was ringing.

With most teachers, you could sneak in a few seconds late and not be too worried about it, especially on the last day of school. Unfortunately, Mr. Freeman hunted tardy students the way rich guys hunt quail, and after 38 years at De la Paz High, the man's aim was flawless.

"Nicholas Stevens," he intoned as I lunged past him and slammed my butt into my seat a split second before the last echo of the bell faded. "You may delay, but time -- and this class -- do not."

"Sorry," I said. And I guess even Mr. Freeman was feeling a little summery. He just glared at me and began talking about the final we'd taken yesterday. Which was fine, because I knew I'd done pretty well on it. I don't get straight As or anything, but my dad always bought me books for Christmas, even when I asked for video games.


GENRE: MG Contemporary

Faith needs to win $1,000 in the writing contest. Or else her family might be stuck living in church shelters. Forever.

I’ll never forget the first morning I woke up inside a Sunday school room. As the early morning light cast shadows between our cots and the Bible bookcase, I rolled over and read the words pinned to the Bethel Brethren Church of the Redeemer “Be Who You Are” bulletin board:

Honest, Humble, Helpful, Happy.

I shivered as another “h” word flashed through my mind:


“Faithee?”  Perched on her cot, my little sister Hope hugged a rag doll with sausage legs and yellow yarn hair. White, cotton ball stuffing popped from the doll’s seams, which wasn’t a big surprise, considering that thing had been glued to Hope’s hip since last summer, when Gramps died.
“Shh,” I whispered. “Mama’s still sleeping.” My eyes flitted to the three garbage bags slouched against the Bible bookcase, my jeans and t-shirts bursting through the plastic drawstrings holding our life together. On the window ledge above Mama’s cot, a withered rosebud from Gramps’ garden delivered a powerful pain, smack dab in the center of my chest.

Hope stood up, her flannel nightgown swishing against the carpet. “We going to school?”

I checked the clock. 7:05 am. Even if the van driver agreed to take us, it was fifty miles across the Northern Ohio Turnpike one way.

“Get in." I pulled back the covers. "I’ll rub your back.”
My hands circled Hope’s shoulders. I traced an imaginary path back to Mapleview, the maple syrup capital of Ohio and the only home I’d ever known.

#17 FIRST TUESDAY, Thriller

TITLE: First Tuesday
GENRE: Thriller

Why win an election when you can steal it?
When John Garner grabs the wrong piece of paper, he discovers our nation is under siege from within - and that his number one task isn’t getting to the bottom of the conspiracy before Tuesday’s presidential election. It’s staying alive.

“Hey, buddy! You.”

John Garner turned at the tap on his shoulder, stopping amid the hustle of Amsterdam Avenue. The man who’d accosted him was tall, a good four inches longer than John’s own 5’10” frame, with dirty blond hair that rested uneasily on the collar of his olive-drab pseudo-Army-surplus jacket. Or maybe the jacket was the real thing, though John was sure – almost sure – the Army had ditched olive-drab for desert camouflage fifteen years ago.

“Weren’t you just in that coffee shop?”

The man’s words sketched a question in form only – no upturned voice at the end, no doubt, more imperious accusation than query. Two sentences, and already the man reminded him of his second-year torts professor, a frustrated courtroom-wannabe who treated his students as hostile witnesses.
The man assumed the answer – correctly, as it happened – and kept speaking. “Did you pick up a piece of paper there?” Again, it sounded like “Where were you on the night you murdered your wife?”

John felt like shouting, “Objection!” Instead, he took a deep breath, refusing to let the man, a total stranger, spoil one of those unexpectedly warm fall afternoons that made even smart people believe winter would never beset New York. He decided that if the man were going to act like a litigator, he’d play dumb witness. “Piece of paper?” he asked, trying to sound artless, trying as well to avoid wrinkling his nose at the cigarette odor clinging to the man’s jacket.

“Yeah, paper. Like, you know….” The man gestured with open palms....

#16 THE BOOK OF ROGUES, Historical

TITLE: The Book of Rogues
GENRE: Historical

In Georgian London, a Scotswoman with literary ambitions and radical sentiments plies secrets from true and false suitors to help her clan unseat the Prime Minister. But when an amorous, vengeful lowland baron discovers her complicity, she must decide whether to break with her family and join him in an even more dangerous conspiracy.

1733. Cambridge, England

What did a man wear when he might die before sunrise?

Thomas Caldwell, Baron of Bonjedburgh, crossed to the clothes press and thrust his head into a crisp linen shirt. It smelled of bran starch and the hedgerow where it had dried, sun-bleached after laundering. He pulled on his indigo waistcoat with silk-embroidered buttons, sewn in Spitalfields. Not his finest but well-fitted. Dark enough to blend into the early morning shadows, loose enough to raise his pistol-arm swiftly.

Handsome enough to meet his Maker—but No! Blood wouldn’t mar his dashing swoop of cravat today, nor any another, God willing.

Knife, slipped in his boot. Dagger, sheathed in his belt. Hands—clenched and unclenched, awakening reluctantly, readying themselves. He shrugged into his favorite wool coat, thick-napped, dark brown like his hair. His fingers combed through stubborn curls and tied them back in an efficient queue. Candlelight flickered in the mirror. He cut a fine figure.

Fine, fine. Two French pistols in their case. Alexander’s.

He slung his brother’s satchel on his shoulder and cantered down the dark stairs. A desultory lantern lit the mews. The horses shied but Robin steadied them. Tom mounted and nodded for the young servant to follow.

They rode hard, past the Cock-and-Bull Tavern, past the Colleges. The morning star gleamed above a church spire. A sign? Tom prayed it so.

Eight hoofs on cobblestones beat a tattoo in his head. Their horses careened between carts headed to market on the bridge arching over the Cam. Farmers, too, up before the sun in market-day rituals. This Saturday of nearly-spring was dawning fair.

They dismounted at the fields outside town, their footfalls quiet from sinking in soft mud. Withered grass stretched across the meadow and rustled in the March wind.

A good day for a duel.


TITLE: Shrouded Goddess
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Sophia was raised among the foreigners who married into her tribal family, but she’d rather drown than wed a conqueror who keeps trying to take her by force. To escape marriage and bring peace to the ravaged rainforest, she must awaken a powerful goddess and prevent the slaughter of her tribe.

Only Uncle Hector would hang a man then go fishing.

The giant jatoba tree, where the noose is set, shades the corpse but doesn’t protect it from the heat. Winter is more merciful than the hellish summer of this land, but only slightly. Noon is fast approaching, and a stench of emptied bowels permeates the village like early morning fog. I press an arm over my nose and quicken my pace to the bakery ahead. At least there is some advantage to being forced to wear long sleeves in this weather.

Vultures circle the cloudless sky above the tree, but not even they dare to defy Uncle Hector. Why did Aryeea send me to the village now? I glance over my shoulder at the fortress’s four-story tower spiked on the Igjommi Hill. The fluttering white cloth, billowing like a sail in the valley breeze, can only be my grandmother’s skirt. Of course she’s watching me from the balcony.

I enter the bakery and shut the door like I found it.  The warm scent of dough helps me ignore the heat. Steps approach from an inside room, and the baker’s rosy face beams at me as he ambles through the doorway.

“Lady Sophia.” He wipes his hands on his tunic. “What do you like today?”

I’d like someone to cut down that man and bury him before he rots. But if I voice the request, the baker will feel obliged to carry out the order. No need to tempt another hanging.


TITLE: The End and Everything After
GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy

When Aura Lea and her boyfriend attempted to take their own lives they never thought one of them would survive. As Aura Lea struggles to pick up the pieces of her life, she receives a cryptic message from her dead boyfriend, postmarked a few days before his death, leading her to believe that what happened that night was not a suicide pact, but something else.

Time. It's what I'd been told would make all of this bearable.

But time had moved forward and left me behind.

As I stood at the end of E Hall contemplating my limited options, I realized I only had two choices: go to class, present a brave facade and face my jury or hide. The bell rang and my feet remained planted hard in the ground. Maybe tomorrow.

As a stampede of people pushed their way past me, I let myself get caught up in the forward momentum. The crowd veered right toward the bungalows. I turned to the left and pushed my way out.

Knowing that I needed a place to hang out for the rest of the day, I took off toward the gym. At the end of the hall, just past the locker rooms, I came to the equipment room. It was the only place on campus where I could go and truly be by myself.  I tested the knob and then took out my keys from my backpack and found the one I'd painted burnt orange to match the door. I took one last look to make sure no one was coming and then slipped in. The fluorescent lights flickered as the small ten by ten foot room filled with light. The familiar smell of damp concrete and chalk made me uneasy, but I knew the alternative was much worse.

I looked around and quickly noticed things were different. The change was subtle, but for someone who spent as much time in here as I had, it was obvious.


TITLE: Prime Vector
GENRE: YA Science Fiction

Born into military service, eighteen-year-old Catita wants to join the Queen’s special operations force of highly trained immortals. When her grandmother's secret project files are taken, Catita lands in the middle of a century-old feud to control a virus that gives its host immortality. Now Catita must race to recover the stolen files before the thief deciphers the encrypted information, and the Queen's enemies use Catita to make a new and improved immortal army.

 City of Phoenicis, Mars
Mars Year 103, Month 7, Sols 410
06:00 hrs LST 

I barged into the dim-lit, high-rise apartment. My grandmother, Wela, sat at the breakfast table, facing the floor-to-ceiling windows.

“Where did you go at this hour?” she asked, holding her favorite mug between her hands.

“The Queen’s Garden.” I said, peeling off my sweaty pullover, before I bent down to kiss the top of Wela’s head. “Curfew drones leave me alone when I run that close to the wall.”

“What? I thought I’d fixed that for you. I’ll take another look.” Wela hated it when her network didn’t behave. “Coffee? Just made it. It’s so strong, it almost tastes like the real thing.”

I nodded. “I only have a few minutes though,” I mumbled the words fast, then dashed upstairs. Wait for it.

“You’re heading out again? It’s six in the morning, Catita.”

And there it was. I spun, leaned on the banister. “QEC Trials are in only nine sols. There’s no morning or night until I get in the program.”

I put my hands up in the air and shrugged to conclude my argument. This really was out of my control. After a quick steam shower, I fumbled with my hair trying to pin it in place. Clothes flew out of the way as I kicked them off the floor and onto the bed, looking for my dark uniform jacket.

“You’ve been like this for months.” Wela said from my bedroom door.

#12 TWICE BETRAYED, MG Historical

TITLE: Twice Betrayed
GENRE: MG Historical

Three girls, in Colonial Philadelphia, dress as boys and head to the river to put a perilous plan into action, but only two return and one is accused of treason. To escape the traitorous web that ensnared her, she must again don boy’s clothes—her life depends on it.

Something big is about to happen. The momentum outside the upholstery shop’s open window draws me like my needle pulls its thread. With more vigor than concentration, I force the point through the gathered lace ascot I’ve been working on all day and prick myself. My hand jerks back. “Ouch! Pay attention to what you are doing, Perdy Rogers.”

I suck the circle of blood from my finger and can’t stop staring at the drays rolling by carrying people, instead of lumber and stones.

Mindless of the pouring rain, citizens rush down Arch Street, spurred on by the energy pulsing through Philadelphia like the electrical charge Mr. Franklin discovered with his kite and key. Some whisper. Others shout. But all bear the same message. “Freedom. The time is now.”

Suddenly, Jane Ann and Lizzie dart through the crowd.

 “Lizzie,” yells Jane Ann, leaping away. “You’re splattering my skirts.” To get even, she jumps in a murky puddle and splashes mud onto Lizzie’s ruffled petticoat.

“Ahhh.” Lizzie takes shelter under the vendor’s stall, opposite the shop, to brush grime from her skirt.

Jane Ann laughs, but her smile fades when she spots me at the window. She motions to Lizzie to wait and hops puddles across the street.

The shop bells jingle as I yank the door open.

“Perdy. What are you doing inside? Come with us to The State House. Adam says over four thousand people have a mind to make Pennsylvania join the revolt against King George."

#11 WINDFALL, Romance

TITLE: Windfall
GENRE: Romance

A young woman makes enemies when she attempts to save her family’s marina from financial ruin. But when she enlists the help of a mysterious new dockhand, the trouble he brings threatens both her legacy -- and her heart.

“A clam?” Marissa Charnelton sat on the edge of Bayside Bank’s softly worn, brown leather chair and stared open-mouthed at the vice president of business lending. “My loan is being denied because of a clam?

She shifted, keeping the rays of California sunlight that streamed through the window from exposing the irregular coloration of her second-hand suit. Banks made loans to people who already had money, not people who needed it.

The move let Marissa escape the revelatory light, but not Paula Duncan’s firm, professionally compassionate denial. The woman knew how to break bad news. She probably headed an entire division devoted to it.

“Was my business plan …”

Paula raised a slim hand. The manicure had to have cost more than Marissa’s own shoes. “Everyone knows you have a handle on the industry,” she said, and Marissa didn’t miss the pity in her voice. “But your entire proposal depends on dredging new deep-water berths.”

And now that some rare form of mercenaria mercenaria had taken up breeding in the one area she wanted to develop, it would be the clam that survived, not her family’s legacy.

Marissa swore, and not under her breath.

Part of her had been prepared for the bank to turn her down. Yes, she knew the business. Yes, she’d done nearly every job at the marina for as many of her twenty-three years as she could remember. But she’d also dropped out of college — no, had let herself be forced out, damn it— before getting to her business classes.

#10 REDEFINED, YA Contemporary

GENRE: YA Contemporary

Seventeen-year-old Cat craves a social life, but a neurological disease is wrecking her mom's health, and her uptight dad wants her to stay home and out of "trouble".  When Cat falls for a guy who understands family weirdness, she must defy her overprotective father or lose the boy she loves.  

Most seniors from Keene County High School didn’t stay home on Friday nights to babysit their moms, but I did.

I was chopping tomatoes in the kitchen, helping Billie finish dinner. Dad hired her to take care of Mom during the day, but she also liked to cook for us, a definite bonus. Billie’s cooking tasted almost as good as Mom’s used to. Almost.

Dad called at six. One hour before the football game in which Drew Stokes would execute the new play he’d drawn in ridiculous quarterback detail on my Spanish notes.

I had to see this game.

I didn’t want to answer Dad’s call.

When I did, he started talking before I could finish saying hello.

“Catherine, I’m in the ICU waiting for lab results on one of my patients. This could be a long night.”

I held the paring knife in midair. “You’re not coming home.”

“Not for a while.”  His words wrapped around me. Tight.

“But I wanted to go to the game tonight.” I could still see Drew’s x’s and o’s scattered across my paper.

“I’m sorry. You need to stay home with your mother.”

I glanced at Mom, sitting in her wheelchair in the family room, head dropped to one side. She couldn’t help that she was sick, that she needed me. The doctors said she had “Cerebro-Spinal Degeneration,” a neurological disease that over the past few years had stolen Mom’s balance and ability to walk.

Lately, it was snatching pieces of my life too.

#9 SENTINEL, Historical Paranormal Fantasy

GENRE: Historical Paranormal Fantasy

It's 1952 and tensions are high as the Cold War's in full swing. But when the United States' top psychic, Ruslan, goes rogue and threatens to destroy the civilized world one atomic bomb at a time, the world powers must work together to assemble their best psychics and soldiers to hunt him down.

With a single action he forfeited his life.

Frowning at the backs of the two dour guards escorting him, he quickened his step to keep pace with the officials' long stride. Their footsteps echoed ominously along the endless, empty corridor. A young man, now nearly eighteen, Draza didn’t specifically know why he'd suddenly been transferred into the deep dark of an obscure mountain fortress, but well understood it had to do with his brother's vanishing from the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s, research facility in Fort Meade nearly six months back.

"I'm not a liar. I don't know where my brother is."

Tensing, one of the soldiers snapped his head to the left and eyed Draza over his shoulder. "What?" His mouth twisted down as he nearly spat the words, "I didn't ask you anything."

"Yes, but you were thinking it."

The soldier outwardly acted as though he wasn't concerned by the comment, mildly quirking his brow back at him. And yet, Draza knew better. Squared shoulders, tightened jaw, creases as the corners of the mouth, he didn't need his ability to read minds to see just how much he'd affected the soldier. Ever since childhood his telepathic talent made everyone uncomfortable.

With a sigh of exasperation, Draza added, “It's cold here.”

Clearing his throat and motioning his hand, the soldier quickened his pace and gruffly ordered, “Keep moving. This way.”

Yes, get me off your hands as quickly as possible and be done with me.


GENRE: YA Science Fiction

Lukas escapes South-3 and vows to destroy the Regime, but doesn’t count on falling for runaway Nova, who wants to put it behind them. When they discover alien tech that only Lukas can decipher, they must risk losing each other, their memories and their lives to aid the Resistance.

For my sixteenth birthday my parents staged my death. It took months to plan, with Mom slowly pilfering pharmaceuticals from the infirmary and Dad quietly teaching me survival skills. When the time came, I was ready. I was blasted.

I was terrified.

We’d be killed if it went wrong. And the prospect of living alone in the Wild reeked. But staying wasn’t an option. Not one I could live with, anyway.

I finished my last lap, swallowed the little white pill that would induce vomiting and sank into the soft, green grass to wait.

“That time was unacceptable, Dawson.” Crane, my unit leader, glared down at me. “This isn’t nap time. Get up!” The rest of my unit was already in the training center for the next phase of our morning routine.

“I know. Sorry, sir. I’m not feeling well, sir.” The drug kicked in as if on cue and I sat up and heaved.

Crane kicked my boot. “Now that you’ve got that out of your system, you’ll be fine. Get to the training center.”

I stood, trying to obey, but vomited again. “I think I need the infirmary, sir.”

“I say what you need. Now get to the machine. Your vitamin shake will fix you right up.”

Just the mention of the shake made my body try to heave again. It was rank. “Maybe I’m having a reaction to the new protocols, sir.” A plausible excuse, we hoped.

Crane had a lot of pressure on him to get me to training.


TITLE: Reverie West and the Oneironauts
GENRE: MG - Fantasy

After six lonely years living in Asylum Island’s rickety-crickety lighthouse with only her father for company, eleven-year-old Reverie West is more than ready to set sail with the five mysterious visitors who wash ashore one summer night. What she may not be ready for is their destination – Oneiros, home of dreams, nightmares, and Revi’s long-lost mother.

When the lighthouse on Asylum Island turned on, it had been one hundred and three days since Reverie West had seen anyone other than her father. Revi knew it had been that long because she kept track in one of her journals; the journal was entitled Human Contact or Lack Thereof: An Accounting of Days, and it was filled with dates and tally marks. Her record was two hundred and twenty-six days – forty-five hatch-marked sets and one lonely line. Some record.

Revi was all alone most of the time for at least two reasons. The first was quite simply that she lived on Asylum Island. Just a heap of rocks in the middle of the ocean, the island was surrounded by a notoriously treacherous reef that could smash the hull of a ship to smithereens. So, understandably, most ships avoided it.

If someone had really wanted to get to the island, there was a twisty-turny route through the reef’s sharp rocks and coral. But – and this was the second reason that Revi was all alone – no one did really want to get to Asylum Island.

As far as Revi could tell, no one even knew that she and her father had been living in the island’s lighthouse for the past six years. There was no reason anyone would know. The lighthouse's light had never turned on, and the lighthouse itself, a rusty monstrosity that tilted rather alarmingly to one side, was certainly no tourist attraction.

On particularly windy nights, Revi would lie awake listening to the metal joints creaking and groaning and think that if the whole thing happened to topple into the ocean, no one would notice.
At least that was what she thought until the night the lighthouse turned on.

#6 WONDER WHY, Upmarket

TITLE: Wonder Why
GENRE: Upmarket

When a reporter appears at her husband’s funeral, former Seventies rock music icon Elaine Brooks is forced to confront the thirty-year-old tragedy that sent her into hiding. She begins a soul-plumbing journey to reconcile with her past and help her equally talented son navigate the dangerous life she once rejected.

It began in the topmost branches of a stand of pine trees on a scorching October afternoon.   The keening wind dropped down through the branches, raked the over-baked earth, and began to strip away all such things that were past their prime or not firmly anchored.  Newly freed tumbleweeds raced each other across the sandy soil, more dynamic in death than in life.  A drift of dirt, born when the spring winds last blew, disintegrated in a swirling red cloud of dust, and a rusted gate broke free at last, clanging madly as though a ghost on a mission had just torn through.

And just that quickly, the seasons turned.  Summer lifted away and autumn stole quickly in, soothing the hardscrabble landscape of western Texas and beginning to work on the souls gathered around the gaping hole carved into the earth.  Across the dusty caliche road that wound through the cemetery, a man leaned back against one of the larger headstones and lifted a damaged hand to hold back the shoulder length hair that whipped about his face.

 Elaine watched him from behind dark glasses and wondered who he was. One of the homeless from the shelter where Ethan had worked?  Several of them dotted the sea of mourners arrayed behind her, here to pay their respects to the man who had handed out used clothing and a kind word twice a month for the past eight years. Then the disease left him too weak to stand, and the fog of the morphine lulled him into oblivion.

#5 THE TIDES OF TIME AND CHANCE, Historical Fantasy/Romance

TITLE: The Tides of Time and Chance
GENRE: Adult Historical Fantasy Romance

When a social-climbing privateer intent on marriage finds his dream companion in the ruined girl masquerading as his cabin boy and then discovers she's only half human, he must decide between an uncertain future with her and the respectable life he's already sold his soul for.

As for the sea's love affair with the moon, every captain knew his place in that story. High tide was coming to the River Avon and Silas Trescowe would sail with it.

His temples pounding from the pre-voyage revelry chased down by a scant hour's sleep, the Deasura's master punished his face with a handful of cold water from his basin. The blue-on-white piece of Delftware with its Continental townscape and clog-shod figures was one of the few trophies he had kept for himself from the past two years of fighting. The Deasura itself was another. Or at least the best half of it. The tang of fresh sawdust lingered in the brigantine's great cabin and the corner of Silas's mouth nudged upward, but his proud moment was more than held in check by his hangover and the maddening uncertainty that came with his profession. Would it all prove worth it? He had no way of knowing. Would he be making a return trip to England this time? Also impossible to predict, but his gut said no and he wondered what that meant. Beyond dying a gruesome death in the near future, of course.

Silas had ducked into his cabin as much for a break from pretending to relish his job as for a respite from the clamor outside. It soon became apparent, however, that his men's laughter and the bleating of goats had ruthlessly followed him. Resigned, he swiped some of the droplets from his face and stepped back out into the fray.


TITLE: The Disappearance of Sloane Stevens
GENRE: YA Contemporary

After years in witness protection, seventeen-year-old Sloane Stevens’ wish is coming true: she’s getting released. Someone confessed to the murder she witnessed and as soon as she graduates, she’ll be Sloane for good. But when she runs into Jason, her old best friend, she has a choice: inform the Marshals and risk remaining in protection, or stay quiet and risk being found by mobsters who, despite what the Marshals say, might still want her silenced.

Out of all the names she’d had in the last seven years, she liked this one the best: Sloane Stevens. It looked right, printed there at the top of her new class schedule. Good thing too, since it was the last one she was ever going to have.

“There’s just one more thing I have for you and then you’re all set,” the secretary said gently. She was a little hard to hear over the buzz of voices coming from the hall on the other side of the glass wall behind Sloane and the incessant ringing of phones inside the front office.

Sloane glanced up from her schedule to find the secretary smiling kindly. Her short, curly white hair and the deep crow’s feet around her sympathetic eyes screamed helpful grandmother. She actually looked a little like their neighbor eight towns back who was a grandmother of eleven.

“I figured it must be hard to transfer so late in your senior year,” the secretary continued, “so I marked up a map of the school with the location of all of your classes. That way, at least you won’t get lost on your first day.”

Aw, Sloane thought. Out of all the schools she’d attended, no one had ever done that for her before. She peeked at the nameplate sitting on the side of the tall counter separating her from the rest of the office. “Thanks, Mrs. Zalinsky. That’s really thoughtful of you.”