Pitch Day with Agent Jennifer Johnson-Blalock of Liza Dawson Associates

You may have heard that Sub It Club is 3 and we are celebrating! Today we are thrilled to have Jennifer Johnson-Blalock of Liza Dawson Associates here at the Sub It Club blog perusing your pitches! If you have not yet read our interview with Jennifer, please do go and read it. Jennifer shared a ton of insights that you’re sure to find helpful before pitching.

jennifer-johnson-blalock-152Pitch day is over but Jennifer left a ton of great feedback. You can learn a lot by reading through the comments! Jennifer had high hopes of being able to give everyone feedback and did all she could, but ran out of time. It looks like she got pretty far though. We had a lot of pitches! Jennifer will definitely read through the all pitches this week and make requests if any more pique her interest. Jennifer will be looking at pitches today between 10am and 6pm EST.She will be offering feedback and making requests on those that pique her interest!

Here are the rules:

Only pitch work in the genres that Jennifer represents:

  • narrative and prescriptive nonfiction
  • commercial and upmarket fiction ( especially thrillers/mysteries, women’s fiction)
  • contemporary romance
  • young adult
  • middle grade

Pitch completed fiction or complete nonfiction proposals only.

Post your pitch in the comments section of this post using the following format:

  • Title:
  • Word count:
  • Genre:
  • Pitch: (100-words maximum)
  • Excerpt: (The first 100-words of your novel. If it falls in the middle of your sentence, no worries, just finish your sentence out.)

If you get a request:

  • In the Subject Line put: Sub It Club Pitch Day – YOUR TITLE
  • Paste your pitch into the body of the email
  • Attach the requested number of pages as a Word document (.doc)
  • Send requested manuscripts to queryjennifer[at]lizadawson[dot]com

Yes, attach the pages! Jennifer says, “a lot of agents ask for pages attached because we read on various devices–a Kindle in my case.” So there you go!

If you have questions, I’ll be hanging around in our Sub It Club Submission Support Group and will answer asap. Here’s to some great pitches. Best of luck everyone!

P.S. When you’re done pitching and are patiently waiting for a reply, why not pop over and enter our autographed book giveaway for CHICKEN LILY, illustrated by Nina Victor Crittenden! It is so adorable.

306 thoughts on “Pitch Day with Agent Jennifer Johnson-Blalock of Liza Dawson Associates

Add yours

  1. Title: IN THE MIRROR
    Word count: 64000 words
    Genre: Contemporary YA
    Pitch:
    Ella constantly dreads social interactions, and the thoughts of being outperformed by her elder sister Rose. After failing at a speech contest in school; she ends up in hospital after being found by her new neighbor Ben. Ella and Ben, share more than the feelings of being alienated by their families, and then there is Sister Roberta who returns to school to offer help and support to overcome Ella’s weaknesses in school. Ella constantly fights the world for her true self. When Ben’s father remarries, he is driven by contempt which ultimately decides the fate of his relationship with Ella, and her struggle with life.

    Excerpt:
    December smells like the scent of love long harbored in the shower of slow drizzles, and tended in the frosty nights, amidst lyrics and ballads to the amicable loss of the first love – so dear to one’s heart. The weather filled with the scent of humid soil from the first shower as it mixed with the wind. The dense light from the window of the house with the Jamun tree, and its noisy tenants flew in the air. The lamplight from the window densely maneuvered the small unkempt lawn near the window, and the bare flower bed whilst the two soul’s void of their love life sat inside the room watching the evening sky; the line between the reluctant light and dark of the dusk looked more like a famous artist’s canvas, indeed it was.

    Like

  2. BUYING A STAIRWAY
    Word Count: 81,812
    Woman’s Fiction/Crime Thriller

    Pitch:
    Fueled by grief and driven by revenge, Mona: a witch of the Wiccan World, travels across the country to find and kill her mother’s murderer, who she’s learned, is in the Witness Protection Program, in Wyoming.
    Arriving in Wyoming, she befriends a Shaman, who attempts to side rail her destructive path. She, then, meets and befriends, Hope, the murderer’s wife. The murderer kills Hope, to protect a secret: a secret having to do with Mona’s dead brother, who died in an epic fire, in Yellowstone National Park.
    Mona has reservations about revenge, while experiencing dreams, visions, and deep introspection.

    Excerpt:

    Ever since Mona was a young girl, she’s looked up to the infinite sky, as a child looks up to a parent or guardian. She has assorted conversations with the heavens; the responses come in form of the unequivocal vibrations she feels, from the midst of the atmospheric abyss. Whether she is happy, sad, celebrating, or grieving, Mona finds genuine comfort and camaraderie, absorbed into the deep, quickening sky, with all of its encompassing mysteries. Her faith lies in its wonder.

    Because her mother died a sudden, suspicious death, at a young age: which she will get to the bottom of and deal with, as soon as she’s able to put more of the puzzle together, Mona, being a child, was steeped in grief, with no formative outlet and no foreseeable end.

    Like

  3. ◾Title: A SONG FOR SARAH MCPHEE
    ◾Word count: 83,000
    ◾Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
    ◾Pitch:
    All is silent for indecisive Sarah McPhee in the aftermath of a breakup until she transfers from Boston to the London offices of Sixteen Magazine. Here she meets a range of acquaintances, who help her learn how to trust her decisions and get over heartbreak. Work pressures mount when she learns the magazine is on the brink of collapse and her time in the UK may be limited. She will have to save her career and the magazine in order to remain in the country that makes her heart sing again.
    ◾Excerpt:
    The airport shuttle rocks back and forth, and the teenager standing next to me with Muse pounding from his headphones keeps pressing into my shoulder without any notice. I want to nudge him, tell him to pay attention, but I don’t. Instead I stare up front to keep tabs on my gigantic suitcase stuffed on the luggage rack and mentally review its contents to make sure I didn’t forgot anything.

    My thumb rubs over my finger where I thought a ring would be by now. The skin is bare and dry and un-gloved even though it’s March. I didn’t even pack gloves, because it never gets that cold in London, right?

    Like

    1. Thanks for the pitch! I appreciate the focus on work in this story. I just don’t feel as connected to Sarah as I want to be, though, and so much of women’s fiction depends on the protagonist. I wish you the best of luck, though!

      Like

  4. Title: THE TIME SLAVE
    Word Count: 79,000
    Genre: YA light Sci-Fi

    Pitch:
    Seventeen-year-old Liam is a Time Slave. Indentured to a society hidden beneath modern-day Manhattan, he’s bred to serve. Liam obeys his creator’s commands until his sister Octavia disappears. Liam plans on finding her through a hostage trade: Sahar— the creator’s daughter—for Octavia.

    Liam discovers an unsettling truth about Sahar—she’s unaware of her father’s wrongdoings. Even more unsettling is her ability to quell the anger inside of him. With Octavia’s rescue on the line, Liam fights against his feelings for Sahar and sticking to his plan. Choosing incorrectly means more than losing his sister—he’ll lose his heart too.

    First 100 words:
    There’s no easy way to admit you’ve failed the ones you love. I mean, besides convincing yourself you haven’t.

    I study the sole picture I have of Octavia, my sister. She’s perched precariously on the limbs of a cherry blossom tree—her fearless face painted with happiness. It was her first experience of seeing the world above-ground. The first of many times to come, so I had promised her. One of hundreds of promises I failed to keep.

    “It’s not your fault she’s missing,” Will says from my bed. He’s sitting cross-legged, arms folded across his chest, back against the wall.

    Like

  5. Title: A JAR FULL OF BUTTERFLIES
    Word count: 58,000
    Genre: Contemporary Middle Grade
    Pitch:
    Moving to Texas—devastating.
    Outdoing her perfect, Americanized big sister—impossible.
    Holding it all together—harder than surviving middle school.
    Twelve-year-old Graciela longs for the past, but a tragic accident helps her embrace her present.

    Excerpt:
    I miss the open skies of Mexico. Instead, when I look out our windows I get to admire black tightrope wires that connect to tall wooden posts, tangoing with tree branches and covered with blackbirds. Even after three years here, it’s something I’ll never get used to – the feeling of a prison.
    This is why I hardly ever look outside my window anymore. But today, the motor of Papí’s truck screeches, and then click, click, clicks. He’s trying to get it started so he can leave to work, but it won’t budge. This is the second time this week. Maybe it doesn’t like to wake up.

    Like

  6. Title: The Bloody Black Flag
    75,000 words
    Historical mystery-thriller

    Pitch: Spider John and his friend Ezra Coombs try to escape the pirate life, but can not. Shortly after joining a new crew, Ezra is murdered. Is it because of his family ties to Salem witches? Or did Ezra stumble upon someone’s secret scheme? On an outlaw sea, Spider John is the only one who cares about justice for his friend. Aboard a ship full of hardened killers, he must find the murderer and avenge Ezra, without getting himself slain.

    Excerpt:

    Spider John Rush resigned himself to the hard truth — he was returning to a world of cut and thrust, hide and pounce, blood and smoke, pitch and tar.

    He had been foolish to think of leaving that world; Spider John belonged in no other. Ezra had said as much, but Spider seldom wished to concede that Ezra was right.

    Spider John tugged gently at the oar, and watched the dark shoreline recede. The oar had a few rough spots, and a splinter poked the scabby knob on his left hand where his small finger used to be. That scab had bothered him already; it always did in cold weather, and this was October off the New England coast.

    Like

  7. Title: SETTLE THE SCORE
    Word count: 79,000
    Genre: Romantic Suspense

    Pitch:
    Jill finally resurrected her career and resuscitated her love life. Both in time to have her fears awakened. The safety net of knowing her ex was in jail disintegrated. It was her fault Herb was beaten and left for dead. Her testimony secured his conviction. Now, he’s out. She knows he’ll be looking to make good on the threatening letters he sent to her from his prison cell.
    The loosened lug nuts and shattered windows suggest he already found her. Jill could disappear. She could give up her career and new love, or risk further attacks. Herb has killed before.

    Excerpt:
    Prologue
    Virginia, Fall 2008
    Jill pulled into the Emergency Room parking lot. She sat staring past the raindrops on her windshield, gnawing at her cuticles. The thought of what to do when she got here hadn’t crossed her mind. The only thing she was sure of was that she didn’t want to be associated with the beaten man in her passenger seat.
    Her stomach twisted thinking of her ex-boyfriend’s past. Dealing narcotics. Smuggling. She knew who did this to him. Beat him and left him for dead. If they knew she saved him, there was a good chance they’d come after her.

    Like

  8. Title: XO XO
    Word count: 13,836
    Genre: Tween Fiction
    Pitch:
    Ten year old Makayla Massi may be shy and quiet at times, but she always friendly and knows exactly what she wants to be – a model. When she is chosen as the new face of Gems XO XO, jewelry store she couldn’t be happier. She’s living her dream as she walks the runway on her way to success she realizes that living her dream actually comes with so much jealously, especially from her cruel classmates who want nothing more than to crush her dream. Will they run her off the runway or will she find a way to shine?
    Excerpt:
    On a beautiful sunny morning, I woke up to a message written inside of a heart on my vanity mirror in bright red lipstick.
    Surprise, Makayla!
    After our Chocolate Chip Pancake Breakfast
    Just Us!
    Love, Mom
    I loved surprises, but I had no clue where I was going, so I had no idea what to wear. I was going to wear my favorite DIY T-shirt with a silver heart on the front to match my heart-shaped earrings, but, at the last minute, I changed my mind. After half of my closet was all over my bed, I decided to wear a solid pink, long-sleeve top that matched my finger nail polish.

    Thank you so very much.
    Have a great day !

    Like

      1. Hi Jennifer,

        You’re welcome for the pitch .Thanks for the reply.
        You’re right my novelette is short, however it’s such a powerful message that tweens really should read. My novelette is YA Middle grade. Thanks again.

        Have a nice weekend.

        Like

  9. Title: Prairie Storm

    Word Count: 60,000

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Pitch:
    Things haven’t been the same for Dillon Walker since he returned home from the Army. Running the family’s farming and ranching operation, he’s tired of their scrutiny. Honoring his dad’s last request, he meets with a counselor thinking it’ll be a waste of time – until he sees her.
    Elle Brady lands a secure job in a rural town where she can care for her recovering alcoholic father. When Dillon swaggers into her office, she experiences the appeal of a small town farm boy. Despite his efforts, she can’t forget her past – or that’s he’s her client.

    Excerpt:
    “Hear that noise? Because you shouldn’t.” Dillon Walker shouted into his phone, pissed that he had to abandon plowing the field on a–finally–gorgeous day. His cousin, Brock, could probably hear him just fine, but Dillon could barely hear himself over the clanking coming from his Case tractor’s engine.
    “Can you limp her back to your shop?” Brock was frustratingly calm.
    “Halfway there and it’s getting worse but probably.”
    “I’ll meet you there then.” Brock disconnected, and Dillon resisted throwing his phone out the window to get run over by one of the massive wheels.

    Like

  10. Title: Wonderland Acres
    Word Count: 41,000
    Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

    Pitch:
    When an abandoned amusement park becomes a homeless camp, a 12-year-old boy tries fixing the roller coaster while keeping his homelessness a secret. He will have to expose his secret if he wants to obtain help to fix the roller coaster.
    Excerpt:
    Sitting in front of the campfire, I make a suit of armor out of cardboard and duct tape for one of the littler kids at camp. A cardboard sword lies by my side but will do little to protect me from the danger lurking in our camp, mainly Leroy Carlton.
    “Tinker,” my friend Colleen calls me as she points down the path where Leroy staggers towards us; he’s barely upright. The moonlight illuminates the path.
    Leroy Carlton is a tyrant who hits like a jackhammer. His tattoos span from the top of his head down to his toes; every inch of visible skin has ink.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the pitch! The amusement park setting is really fascinating, but it seems like there are some practical problematics for middle grade, and I’m not sure of the voice. I hope you find someone with the right vision for it, though.

      Like

  11. Title: My Crimson Life
    Word Count: 96,000
    Genre: Crime-Thriller

    Pitch:
    Torn from an impoverished childhood at the age of ten, Brendan must spend the next ten years of his life learning how to survive on the margins of an underworld fraternal hitman group. With the coming of his twentieth birthday he ends a decade of nefarious training and commences his life as a professional assassin. Accepting his first international job turns out to be much more complicated than Brendan anticipates which leads him further past the point of no return and forces him to come face to face with his childhood nightmares. Some questions, Brendan learns, are best left unanswered.

    Excerpt (first 100 words):
    Rain spattered the dark blue car as it continued to roll up alongside me. Its wheels trotted slowly over the black asphalt. My chest, thumping so loud that it overtook the thunder. I rubbed a thumb over the fleshy scar that streaked across the palm of my right hand. The car stopped.

    Sometimes I wonder if I was meant for this life. And then other times, I wonder if this life was meant for me. I guess it was just luck of the draw. But in the end, isn’t everything?

    The car’s headlights pierced through the darkness like a set of bright swords.

    Like

  12. Title: A SILENT GOODBYE
    Word count: 64,000
    Genre: YA Thriller
    Pitch: When a madman abducts seventeen-year-old Chloe and locks her in his basement, she must go along with the delusion that she’s his new daughter until she can devise a way to escape. But when he threatens the safety of her nine-year-old special needs brother if she tries, she must choose between going along with his sick fantasy of creating the perfect family or risk both of their lives to getaway.

    A SILENT GOODBYE is told from three points of view: the abductor, the abductee, and the boy who would do anything to have the girl he loves back.

    Excerpt:

    The Beginning

    Tucked behind a large oak, I watch her slip out the back door of her house. The dark night inhibits my vision, but knowing she’s there, close to me again, comforts me. Her silhouette becomes clearer as she nears where I stand, observing her, and a jolt of adrenaline shoots through me.

    She walks with her head down. Her hands tucked into the pocket of her hoodie.

    Anticipation boils in my gut, but soon release will come. Tonight brings me one step closer.
    For weeks, I’ve watched her diligently. From afar for years. Now, the time has come to make her my daughter.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the pitch! I really like how dark this is, but I’m worried about the multiple POVs with YA. I feel like it would detract too much from having that great authentic teen voice. I wish you all the best with it, though.

      Like

  13. Title: ESCAPE VELOCITY
    Word count: 22,000
    Genre: MG Science fiction graphic novel

    Pitch:
    It seemed to Marty he was always making mistakes, going from bad to worse. Break the neighbor’s widget? Yup. Break his OWN iGame? Double yup. Just when he thought he was finally getting on the right track, earning the money to fix his problems while helping the shut in upstairs, it seems Marty might have really stepped in it. Mysterious federal agents have come asking hard questions about that kindly old man, who is building something…explosive. When Marty discovers the truth, he must decide whether or not to help Mr. Albert escape the feds, the town and even the planet.

    Excerpt:
    Setting: Apartment 2B is a small, homey 2 bedroom apartment. The front door opens into a living room area with small sofa and chair, TV in the corner and a playpen. Toys are scattered all over the floor. MARTY’S bedroom is tiny, just large enough for the bed, a folding table and small dresser, leaving a narrow space to walk and leave dirty clothes in.

    PANEL 1
    MARTY is lying on his narrow bed, intently playing his iGame, tuning out the world. The light through the window
    SFX (off panel): Martin! Maar-teeeen!!

    PANEL 2
    MARTY reluctantly pulls out an earbud, eyes still glued to his iGame.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the pitch! I don’t represent SFF, though several of my colleagues (Caitie Flum, Hannah Bowman, and Caitlin Blasdell) do; you might check out their wishlists. Graphic novels seem very in right now, though; good luck with it!

      Like

  14. Title: SMILING UNDERWATER
    Word Count: 91,000
    Genre: Romantic Women’s Fiction

    Pitch: Becoming a performing mermaid in a roadside tourist attraction wasn’t in disgraced debutante Evelyn’s life plan, but neither was leaving her baby in an unwed mother’s home. In Emerald Springs Florida, she finds friendship, love, and a place to belong, but to reclaim her son, she’ll sacrifice it all.

    Excerpt:

    June, 1958

    She’d finally made it. Two and a half days of driving and she was grimy, stiff, and nearly delirious with exhaustion, but she was here. Here, being Florida, the farthest place she could get from Philadelphia with the minimum number of turns. Evelyn Lane pulled her turquoise and white Packard into a filling station, lucky to find one open at this hour. Lafayette rose from the passenger seat, shook his fluffy body, and curled up again with a sigh. Inside, an electric fan moved the hot, humid air around.

    Thank you for your time!

    Like

  15. TITLE: The Secrets That Girls Keep
    WORD COUNT: 55,400
    GENRE: Contemporary YA
    PITCH: Living in a world of Trending Topics, retweets and memes; thirteen-year-old Samantha Mathers is having a problem connecting with people in real life. As a spoiled, newfound feminist, the people around her are having a tough time taking her stances seriously—whether it be her disinterested peers or dismissive elders. When her mother’s drinking and prescription mixing becomes more persistent and her father’s absences becomes more consistent, Samantha is forced to deal with the threat of their possible divorce after finding a few sexually explicit text messages sent to her mother—from a woman named Caitlyn. As her aggressive and self-centered ways begin to alienate the people around her, she must decide between staying lost inside of a myriad of glowing rectangles or dealing with her real life issues head on. The Secrets That Girls Keep is an young adult fiction that follows the humorous journey of a tween searching for maturity through hashtags.
    EXCERPT:
    “You’re not oppressed, sweetheart.”
    Dad says this while masticating around the chicken parmesan meal that I prepared for tonight’s dinner. The recipe was from Giada De Laurentiis, who is quickly becoming a recurring character on my television and laptop screens as I’m beginning my quest of liberation. One of the first steps of independence was being able to cook gourmet meals for myself, which is what I had started doing.
    “Those women with the”—he limply waves a finger around his face—“. . . what are those Muslim thingamajiggys called?”
    “Burkas, niqabs and chadors,” I shoot off, while quickly adding, “but there’s no need to add arbitrary rankings to our collective struggles as women.”

    Like

  16. Title: The Drowned Mind

    Word count: 75,000

    Genre: Mystery

    Pitch: Moments before a female game designer is found drowned inside her home, Travis Watts received an email from the victim. Will the IT officer seek justice for a woman he doesn’t remember meeting?

    Excerpt: Marilyn Tolbert’s arms were splashing and flailing around trying to free the back of her head from the painful grip of her attacker. When her attempt to find his wrist failed, she focused her efforts on trying to push her head upward. Marilyn struggled for a chance at catching a second of air. Only one of Marilyn’s hands could reach the bottom of the tub. Her left hand was braced against the pearl colored tiles that lined the bathroom walls. Her right arm burned from fatigue, as the man’s forearm anchored in her back adding three times her weight.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the pitch! This seems like an interesting whodunit, but my tastes are just more inclined to the psychological and domestic right now. I also feel like I might get a bit lost with the tech angle. I wish you all the best in finding the right advocate for it, though!

      Like

  17. Title: LEARNING TO FLY
    Word count: 69,000
    Genre: Contemporary YA

    Pitch: (100-words maximum):
    At 16-years-old, Wren has perfected the art of pleasing people: Rarely say no. Always apologize. Shy away from the spotlight so others can shine. When Wren’s older sister Meredith comes home from college withdrawn and sad, Wren is determined to identify what’s wrong with her sister and fix it. But Wren’s new job at Cherry Hill Conference Center is a total time-sucker. One perk? Wren’s new co-workers, including Asher with the blue-blue eyes who makes Wren’s stomach flip-flop more than her feet. As Meredith’s sadness deepens, Wren must learn there is only one person’s happiness she can control: her own.

    Excerpt:
    The basement smelled stale as I walked down the stairs. Part of me regretted agreeing to help Meredith, but I knew unpacking these boxes was a Big Deal. So here it was, the first day of summer. Me, Meredith and the Boxes.

    Yippee.

    I flipped the switch to turn on the hanging light bulb. Sunshine poured through the crawl space window, touching Meredith’s sequined dance costumes hanging on a rack in the corner. These costumes used to feel like an extension of my sister’s personality, all sharp and sparkly.

    But that was High School Meredith. I barely recognized this new College Meredith.

    Like

  18. ◾Title: THE SCHOOL
    ◾Word count: 62K
    ◾Genre: YA Contemporary
    ◾Pitch: Veronica Mars meets the Firm as a high achieving student’s media project exposes embezzlement and corruption in her federally funded charter school, implicating the mayor of her city as well as her own mother. When school resources disappear, her favorite teacher is killed, and an FBI agent demands she surrender evidence, Asia’s dreams for her future threaten to crumble as she hustles to stay one step ahead of the law and the Russian mob in order to keep her mother and herself alive.

    ◾Excerpt:
    Millions of people watched me lie. You were probably one of them. Did you believe the things I said? I’ll tell you a secret. There was never such a thing as reality television. Reality belonged to the one with the best story.

    The studio people in Los Angeles did my hair so that it lay flat and twisted into a bun worthy of a ballerina on a stage. Mom would be happy when she saw that at least my hair was tamed. They powdered my face, glossed my lips, and curled my eyelashes. When they were done, I was a geisha girl, unrecognizable to myself.

    Like

  19. Title: MAKING AMENDS
    Word count: 70k
    Genre: YA psychological thriller

    Pitch:
    When sixteen-year-old Tanvi spots a girl who’s a spitting image of her deceased cousin, that’s just the beginning of her problems. The lookalike stalks Tanvi, running her off the road, even implicating her in a local bully’s death.
    To survive and unmask the lookalike, Tanvi must find the truth behind her cousin’s death. But her search is complicated by flashbacks into her past, into the dark magic rituals from India that her mother was involved in and into her father’s gruesome murder. The closer she gets to the truth, the worse the flashbacks. Survival could come at the cost of her sanity

    Excerpt:
    It had been five years since my cousin’s death, and we were nowhere near closure. Instead, the pain had coalesced into a jagged icicle in my chest, a reminder every time my gaze slipped to the woods down the road. The last place she was seen.

    With a shudder, I averted my eyes from the trees and walked my bike to the front porch. Dry, brittle leaves crunched underfoot. Fall had set in early under a cold Michigan sun, and I could almost smell winter. But, in spite of the chill in the air, sweat glued frizzy strands of black hair to the back of my neck.

    Like

  20. Title: BROKEN WINGS

    Word count: 35,000/200 pp.Verse

    Genre: YA historical thriller/mystery

    Pitch: In 1968, Diana Greene escapes her parent’s “good girl” expectations to create a new identity at the American university in Mexico City, where she falls in love with the charismatic Guillermo, an architecture student. Naively underestimating pre-Olympic unrest, Diana encounters armed soldiers and must run through troop lines to escape. Soon after, Guillermo vanishes. Diana’s anxiety intensifies when she learns of student deaths, injuries, and imprisonment at the Tlatelolco massacre. Because of the ongoing threat of retaliation, families of the missing remain mute, but Diana risks everything to pursue the truth about Guillermo.

    First 100 words:
    “Ay, Dios mio!” A frightened woman sitting
    next to me raises one diamond heavy hand
    and grips her husband’s arm as the plane rolls
    and bucks its way over jagged mountains
    before a quick descent to the Mexico City plateau.

    “Like a roller coaster ride,” I say to her,
    ignoring the sounds of someone vomiting
    as the earth falls away and rises up
    outside my window.

    She presses an embroidered handkerchief
    to her nose and asks, “Are your parents in First Class?”

    I shake my head and flash my best imitation
    Miss America smile. Not a chance Mother
    and Dad would rearrange their schedules for me,
    especially since they were dead-set against this
    little adventure, but at least they didn’t stop me.

    Like

  21. Title: BOTTLED

    Word count: 81,000

    Genre: YA fantasy

    PITCH:
    Seventeen-year-old Kia is the queen of the black market in her crime-ridden city. Combining her talent for criminal entrepreneurship with her gift of manipulating feelings, she can create and bottle emotions.

    When one of her dealers turns out to be a cadet in disguise, Kia’s offered a choice because of her unique ability: rot in jail or embark on an undercover mission to the neighboring country. The choice seems easy until she finds out that she needs to cross the jungle full of deadly, magical beasts that separates the two countries. And her company? The intolerably arrogant boy who arrested her.

    EXCERPT:
    The thick string of dark red fury slips out of my fingertips in quick waves. The flame inside the oil lamp next to me flickers, its light glimmering in the rope of emotion snaking inside the bottle. Pure perfection. The fat streak fills the tiny vial in seconds, and I slide my finger over to the next one before it overflows.

    A knock on the door interrupts me, and I set aside the vials before answering. The wind of the sea lightly strokes my skin, and a stray dog’s barking breaks the silence of the evening. Niol stands on the doorstep, his white shirt contrasting nicely with his rich brown skin.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the pitch! I don’t represent SFF, though several of my colleagues (Caitie Flum, Hannah Bowman, and Caitlin Blasdell) do; you might check out their wishlists. This seems really interesting, though the world is a bit confusing in the pitch–a city, a cadet, a jungle?!

      Like

  22. Title: LADY HAMLET
    Word count: 75,000
    Genre: YA LGBT Contemporary

    Pitch: Alice Li will do anything to play Hamlet, even stage her own gender-swapped production. But her panic attacks threaten everything when her best friend bails, the location falls through, and she’s forced to cast both her ex-girlfriend and potential boyfriend—ay, there’s the rub!

    Excerpt:
    Perhaps breaking up with Nora during our Physics lab was a bad idea.

    “You’re what?” Nora stares at me, the beaker or something or other clasped tightly in her hand, hovering over the Bunsen burner. That’s a lie. It might not be a Bunsen burner, but they teach you about that damn thing in grade school and it has burrowed itself into my fidgety anxious brain forever and ever.

    I chip at my nails, bits of polish sticking to my fingertips. Nora’s gaze bores into me, lines scrunching up her forehead, a look I haven’t seen before. Weird. I thought I knew everything about her.

    Like

  23. BEFORE BEFORE
    90,000 WORDS
    YA (low fantasy/contemporary)

    Pitch:

    Angela and Adam are BFF’s, but there’s a problem—they haven’t been born yet. Like all childlike students in Etheria, they studied to enter the Hall of Selection and select couples as their parents. The process works as designed when Angela selects a Chicago couple, but Adam, unlike any student before him, selects a single lovelorn travel reporter from Chicago as his father. Appealing to a Supreme Council, they’re allowed to travel to Chicago, New York City, Vancouver, Yosemite, and Malibu to help Adam’s potential father find his potential mother. If successful, they hope that their friendship will be born again.

    Excerpt:

    “Best friends?” Angela asks rhetorically, glancing at Adam with a knowing half-smile as they jog at an even pace toward their favorite playground.

    “Best friends,” Adam agrees.

    Then, Angela takes off with a burst of speed and, a few paces ahead, adds, “Forever!”

    Adam cannot tell whether she asked or said, “Forever.” He maintains his pace and thinks, “Forever’s complicated when you haven’t been born yet.”

    Near the swings, Angela catches her breath and waits for Adam. Several moments later, he reaches her. “Why can’t you just keep an even pace?” he asks, not out of breath.

    “Because I know where I’m going and once I see it, I want to get there fast.”

    Like

  24. Title: THE SAPPHIRE LEGACY
    Word count: 85,000
    Genre: Historical Women’s Fiction with romance elements

    Pitch:
    Forced to take a post as governess after losing the family fortune, Mae thinks she’s doomed to a life of poverty. That is, until she meets Ethan Locke, a pirate who offers her an enticing opportunity to recover her wealth.

    Unbeknownst to Mae, her family had been using their shipbuilding business to shroud generations of successful piracy. As her father’s last heir, Mae is Locke’s only hope of finding her family’s secret fortune. But as Mae unravels old family clues, Locke’s enemies aren’t far behind, and soon she has more to lose than a second chance at luxury.

    Excerpt:
    Lighting crashed on the moor, this time nearby. When her horse reared skyward, Mae strained to stay upright.

    “Stand firm!” Her horse jerked back before righting himself. “Easy.”

    With the threat of rain imminent, their only cover was the Northern Woods ahead, but not even her horse, Thomas, dared to enter. Gaining on a web of lifeless trees, he snorted and pulled back.

    “Quiet…” Mae rubbed his black mane. “It’s no more than a bunch of trees.”

    The words worked to reassure Mae, too. It took only another glance to freeze the blood in her veins. The trees were so dense that the ground had darkened to black, and inside all was still and silent.

    Like

  25. • Title: The Art of Healing
    • Word count: 57,000
    • Genre: Contemporary Romance

    • Pitch: Julianne thought she had the perfect marriage until she came home to an empty apartment. Jokob was living his dream life with his high school sweetheart until cancer changed everything. Jokob’s art brings them together but even love may not be enough to keep them that way. Broken hearts, life events, and long silent dreams work to pull them apart.

    • Excerpt: Julianne rolled over in bed and reached for the warmth of her husband. Her hand met an empty space, already cold. “Clay?” Wondering why he was up so early, she slid to the edge and dangled her feet, patting the floor in search of her house shoes. Where are they? She hopped to the floor and lifted the duvet. Not finding them, she pulled on her robe and hobbled on the heels and balls of her bare feet keeping her toes pointed upward, trying to avoid the icy cold hardwood floors. She found them right where she’d left them inside the bedroom closet, and slipped them on.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the pitch! This seems like it has potential for strong emotion, but I’m afraid my bar for contemporary romance is very high right now, and the hook just doesn’t feel strong enough here. I wish you all the best with it, though.

      Like

  26. THE CURED: REBIRTH
    Word count: 84,000
    Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

    Pitch: This is the origin story of William Scott.
    A fifteen-year-old boy, who discovers the side effect of finally overcoming his life-long problem with his weight, is stage four lung cancer. His best friend, Emma, urges him to survive. Will uses his formidable knowledge of biology to figure out an idea for the Cure for Cancer. He is given an ultimatum. Stay with his love and sacrifice the world or sacrifice his love and save the world. The Cure gives Will a new body that seems to grow stronger and faster with each passing day.

    Excerpt: The weight of the world, of school, of family and above all else, his body weight, threatened to collapse all around on him. It pressured and griped to him like a vice, appearing unresolvable until this very moment.
    William Scott, at only fifteen, stood in front of the full-length mirror in his bedroom and couldn’t help but smile. His lifelong problem with his weight had finally been over. He looked at the thin, bare-chested boy staring back at him. If it wasn’t for the dark blue eyes and spiky black hair, he would barely recognize himself.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the pitch! I don’t represent SFF, though several of my colleagues (Caitie Flum, Hannah Bowman, and Caitlin Blasdell) do; you might check out their wishlists. I do think it’s interesting how grounded in real dilemmas this is, though.

      Like

  27. Title: REACH FOR THE SKY
    Word count: 33,000
    Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

    *** Pitch (100 word max): ***

    Trolls are tough and fearless. Well, not Bernie. Bernie is eleven and timid, and mostly spends time with his friend, Tish. When Bernie tastes danger in the air, his parents ignore him, but Tish thinks danger sounds like fun. Boy, is she wrong.

    After giants carry off their parents, Bernie and Tish must go on a dangerous rescue, though neither knows how to fight giants ten times their size.

    Inside Mount Dreadful’s murky caverns, the trolls learn that tight spots require small heroes, protecting others sometimes means risking yourself, and when fiery dragons take to the sky, nobody is safe.

    *** Excerpt (first 100 words): ***

    Danger.

    Bernie sniffed the air. Something smelled different, wrong. He didn’t know what it was, and bent over to get closer to the ground, though he didn’t have far to go. He sniffed again, then stuck out his thick, stubby tongue and licked the path.

    It tasted like trouble. And a beetle. Bernie spat out the twigs and leaves, but munched on the beetle, enjoying its crunchy flavor.

    After a moment, he scratched his neck, wondering what he had forgotten. He looked down to see if he’d stepped on anything. His feet were green and almost round with four stubby toes on each.

    Like

  28. Title: CLOCKWORK COWBOY
    Word Count: 65,000
    Genre: New Adult Steampunk

    Pitch: Ten years after her family avoided imminent imprisonment by sneaking aboard an airship headed for Wyoming, Nova Radcliffe is once again on the brink of losing everything. But things are about to get worse.

    An outlaw has entered Little River to escape persecution from the powerfully corrupt. Jese Calhoun searches for the only man who can help him, but finds the drunk inventor long deceased, leaving his headstrong daughter, Nova, in charge of their idyllic property. Jese soon has her where he wants her… wed.

    However, he hasn’t taken into consideration his wife’s stubborn streak. They must learn to trust each other, or they will both find themselves hanging from the noose.

    Excerpt (First 100 words):

    Her fingers itched to find their way into his pants. He had something in there that she desperately wanted. That she desperately needed. She had to have it, or she would have a disaster on her hands. Nova could see the bulge in the fabric from there. But was her mind playing tricks on her? Could a man so perfect exist?

    No. He was a figment of her overactive imagination. Seated amongst the denture decay which made up the Blue Bottle Saloon’s motley audience, his legs crossed loosely, limbs relaxed. Even the smile that tugged at the corners of his mouth was unruffled. Yet, there, in his expression, lay a dark and smoldering intensity that was in complete contrast to his posture.

    Like

  29. Title: CODE CLAIRE
    Word count: 59,000
    Genre: YA Thriller/Humorous

    Pitch: When 16-year old Claire is forced to flee New York City to avoid someone using her to get to her military contractor father, she ends up making decisions that put her in even greater danger. With the help of an old friend turned cute boy, an eccentric ex-spy, and some possible double agents, she arranges to trip to India to find her missing father.

    There, Claire is faced with the ultimate test: save her father or save the world.

    CODE CLAIRE is a feminist, tongue-in-cheek, thriller parody. Lemony Snicket meets Ally Carter with boy appeal.

    Excerpt:
    This was a really stupid idea. That was all I could think about as Agent Fulton went on and on about my responsibility to my country and why it was my patriotic duty to tell them where the medicine was hidden.

    The agent refused to even talk about my missing father.

    “I’m not a big fan of torture myself,” said Agent Fulton, “but I have been authorized to use whatever means necessary.”

    “Seriously? I’m just a girl, I’m not dangerous to anyone.” I said this, but felt a little weird about it. I hoped I was at least a little bit dangerous.

    Like

  30. Title: One of Them

    Word count: 102,000

    Genre: NA Sci-Fi/Fantasy

    Pitch: Ames has always been able to feel other people’s emotions. This curse makes her life almost impossible to live. Furthermore, her uncle is dying of cancer. Ames worries his death will be the final straw that causes her to snap. That’s when they take her.

    The Rotorans have a plan for Ames. After all, she is a descendent of a Sirria, an alien who has passed down her gene tied to special abilities. Her new planet promises something she never had on Earth, a purpose. But when Ames learns the truth of why she was abducted, everything changes.

    Excerpt: While waiting for the crossing sign at Court Street to change, I feel it again, someone watching me. I shiver even though I am warm, bundled in my fleece jacket and wool leggings. The cross sign blinks from red to white. I glance around the crowded street as co-eds scurry with headphones in their ears. Their lives seem effortless, so different from mine. I can’t sense any of their emotions in my mind, which is strange. I usually can pull in their emotions to free me from whatever undesirable feeling I am experiencing.

    Like

  31. Title: Adi and the Little Visibles
    Word count: 44,000 words
    Genre: Middle Grade fantasy

    Pitch:
    Are all shadows bad? That’s what 11 year old Adi must face as she moves into her latest foster home. When Adi and her new friend Rupe are chased into a world of energetic shadow-like figures known as Littles, Adi’s home troubles become muted. She learns dark Shadows are overcoming the glimmering dreams Littles unearth in the form of gems from the forest. Nightmares will soon overshadow dreams everywhere. Adventuring through night gardens in this fairy tale world, Adi must choose bravery, trusting in new friends as she dares rediscover a bright future in this tale reminiscent of The Graveyard Book.

    Excerpt:
    The first leaves would fall soon. Adi looked into the sky through the canopy as they quivered and swayed in the morning breeze, which she inhaled deeply. Fall has a fresh, comforting smell.
    She lay sprawled out like a star, a four angled one, and traced nearly all the points she could see in the leaves above. Some drew maps. The kind that became obviously apparent while looking longer at the same orangey shape. Others, she saw happily, were more shy about moving this way and that before she could make out any lines on them at all. That was how she felt, too. Shy, but not really too shy if someone paid attention for long enough.

    Like

  32. Title: SHADOW OF A SOUL
    Word count: 65,000
    Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

    Pitch:
    Vetis was a young demon who ate good intentions until he got booted from the dark realm. After breaking the rules by befriending a human girl-child, he ends up bound to the Earth in a body that was only supposed to be fancy packaging for the demon within.

    Fast forward ten years, and the boy who calls himself ‘Wes’ has adapted to human life. Then fate slaps him with an apocalyptic hunger issue. Wes doesn’t want to be evil, but he begins to doubt his ability to not consume the souls of the humans he has come to love.

    Excerpt:
    Vetis drifted along the wall of a supermarket, nothing more than a phantom. His oily black presence was indistinguishable from the shadows to passersby, but he didn’t need for people to see him. Still, he would try to materialize. He was only six years old, and not very powerful, so filling out his human form and giving it substance was difficult. Bael, who ruled the Vetis arm of Legion, had instructed him to practice.

    His human body, which served as a tether to walk the Earth, looked like a beautiful little boy, with dark blue eyes, rosy cheeks, and a head of thick, straight hair the color of wheat.

    Like

  33.  Title: EVERGREEN
     Word count: 57,000 words
     Genre: YA Contemporary

    Pitch:
    When a control-freak’s dad is hospitalized and she refuses to leave his side, she loses her hard-earned valedictorian title, job, and boyfriend. When she falls for a boy at the hospital, she loses her need to be in control.

    But falling for him is tragic when her dad lives and his dies. If only she could regain control of their love so that it might comfort him in his grief.

    Excerpt:
    Everything looks perfect. Strings of red lights drape across the ceiling and dangle from the center of the gymnasium, cloaking all the dancers in crimson.

    Everything sounds perfect. The music is upbeat; the bass a perfect volume, not that crass loud overbearing beat that makes everyone’s ears bleed and heart hurt. Not like last week’s prom at East High—which naturally I crashed to be sure I didn’t overlook any details. Nope, my prom is nothing like that. Everyone is laughing and having a good time. I circulate, smiling at my classmates, nodding at their dress and accessory choices.

    Like

  34. Thanks for your time!

    Title: MY PAPER ROUTE AND OTHER DEADLY THINGS
    Word Count: 40,093
    Genre: MG mystery/thriller

    Pitch
    Kazuko’s mom is making her do the paper route even though kids in town are disappearing.

    When she finds an SOS in a recycled newspaper bag, Kazuko decides the geezer on her route is the kidnapper. Enlisting the help of BFF March Winters, the two begin Operation: Expose Geezer. They gather evidence to convince the police they’re right, but an official search returns “clean.”

    Going rogue, they botch a rescue attempt leaving March in Geezer’s chokehold and Kazuko running for life. Now she must discover where March is or Geezer may come through on his threat to kill her friend.

    Excerpt:
    Mom still made me do the paper route even though kids in our town were disappearing.

    Until yesterday just three kids had vanished in over a year, and two of them could’ve been swiped by ex parents. Even so, Athens, Idaho was too small to be misplacing children. And now CindeeRae Lemmings from my own sixth grade class was gone.

    I cleared a spot in the middle of my bedroom and knelt before my free newspaper, spread like wrapping paper on the floor. CindeeRae’s portrait was blown up on the front page. Her long and curly red hair fell in ringlets over her shoulders, a spatter of freckles on each of her cheeks.

    Like

  35. Title: THE ILLUMINATED PRINCESS
    Word count: 69,000
    Genre: YA Fantasy

    Pitch:
    Princess Rose spends her days riding with her father, reading illuminated manuscripts, and exploring talents not bestowed on her by fairies at her christening. Until she uncovers a dark secret—on her sixteenth birthday, she is cursed to prick her finger on a spindle and sleep for 100 years.

    Desperate to save her, the king proclaims that whoever can break the curse will win Rose’s hand in marriage. But Rose will not let anyone, not even her beloved father, determine her fate. She must unravel the curse on her own. And she only has six months left to do so.

    Excerpt:
    “Race you!” I cried, urging my chestnut mare Bonny into a full gallop.

    My father threw his head back and laughed, urging his black hunter onward as well.

    We thundered through the dense, leafy forest. I slit my eyes against the rush of wind and leaned forward into Bonny’s graceful movement. My heart beat in time to her hooves. The trees blurred by, making themselves known only by the occasional twig reaching for my streaming garments. I stole a glance sideways at my father. The horses were practically even. Tendrils of curls escaped my hat, but I did not care.

    Like

  36. Title: INCENSE & PEPPERMINTS
    Word Count: 67,000
    Genre: YA/Coming of Age with historical elements

    Pitch:
    Sixteen-year-old Mary decides to cut the apron strings and fly. When her brother offers her the solution in the form of a little pill, the rumba going on in her brain should’ve been a forewarning.
    She suddenly plunges into popularity and meets the new boy, Michael. He’s not flawless, mysterious healing wounds cover his face. The scars hardly detract from his looks, only gives him a dangerous appeal.

    New experiences and new friends, Mary crosses the threshold of adolescence with a bang. Will her sensible side triumph and bring her down to Earth?

    Excerpt:
    September 1969
    The corners of my bedroom had dulled to a muddy gray when my brother leaned, or rather wobbled on my door. Glassy eyes floated in their sockets—stoned, again. “Whatcha doing, Sis?” Stevie slurred.
    My gaze slipped over his pasty chest sprinkled with wiry hair, past his jockeys to stick-like legs. Did he realize he was only wearing saggy underwear? Normally I’d say gross and mock him out, yet normally he treated me like a speck of toe scum.
    “Nothing much.” I slipped my diary into my sock drawer, away from prying eyes. Our parents weren’t home and our little sister was asleep in her crib on the side of my room.

    Like

  37. Title: A SEXUALITY
    Word count: 82K
    Genre: LGBT Romance

    Pitch:
    Exhausted from looking after his siblings, Patrick, 19, is ready to move out and unwind, replace his terrible Care Bear bed, and—desperate for it—find love… only to realise he’s asexual. In a sexual world, he presumes a loveless life alone. His dream of relaxation fades next when reckless mate Art turns up in a removalist truck. Patrick and housemate Josh didn’t even invite him. Patrick’s housemates are as helpful as newborns, Josh guilts Patrick into being his Sexual Wingman, and Art dodges death daily (and doesn’t even notice). Then Patrick feels horrible, confusing lust… for most disastrous person.

    Excerpt:
    How to Find Love

    Patrick Johns worked twelve stinking hours in broken air-conditioning while wearing a tampon shirt.

    A tampon shirt.

    When his boss Gary barked at him to go home, he told Patrick, quote/unquote: “Don’t worry, Paddy. Ya get to wear the shirt next time as well.”

    Patrick looked at Gary like Gary should explode. Or the shirt. Either way.

    ‘The shirt’—a hot pink polo—featured an enlarged picture of an unwrapped tampon on the back. To advertise feminine hygiene products to customers seeking fuel.

    Patrick didn’t have a problem with tampons. It was just—they didn’t even *stock* tampons at the garage shop.

    Like

  38. Title: CRAYON GIRL
    Word count: 82,000
    Genre: Adult Thriller

    Pitch:
    When a high-heeled shoe appears inside the pig yard, Jane suspects the worst about Mother and her likely involvement in the disappearance of local women. Jane believes the pig farm truism; pigs will eat anything. Father, a congenial fool with a penchant for pig jokes and Bud Lite, finds himself increasingly at odds with Mother over his lecherous behavior, and an accident with an angry sow leaves him confused, perhaps dangerous. Jane survives by drawing as if her life depends on it, and perhaps it does, as she seeks a way to alert authorities before becoming another victim.

    Excerpt:
    Something is awry in the pig yard. The full galvanized steel heavy duty watering troughs are all in their usual places along the electrified fencing, and the double door zinc coated steel feeding stations are filled with organic grain. There is some pig manure in random places on the ground, but not any more than usual. Father is always meticulous about transferring it to a nearby pit.

    But there is something that doesn’t belong, and it is not the paper Lays potato chip bag blowing in the breeze, under attack by the largest Black sow. Jane sees something that disturbs her to her core, and she shudders when she realizes that bad dreams can really happen.

    Like

  39. Title: CONCESSIONS OF A GYM MOM
    Word count: 105,000
    Genre: Women’s fiction (more friend than love)

    Pitch: Shannon wants no part of the hypercompetitive world of modern parenting, but lands in its bizarre epicenter when her daughter Lucy joins a gymnastics team. Suddenly, Shannon finds herself in a strange new land where parents delight in the injuries of others and sabotage seven year olds’ dreams, because – let’s face it – everyone is the competition. But as Shannon bushwhacks her way through the Gym Mom arena, she discovers that there is more to these women than venom and velour jumpsuits, and that she is not as innocent of competitive parenting crimes as she would like to believe.

    Excerpt: It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment when I lost my way. One day, I simply found myself in a boiler room with six grown women, six women who, over the course of the previous year, had taught me that there actually was more to fear than fear itself and that it was often wearing a blonde wedge cut. Each woman in that boiler room was covered head to toe in baby blue velour and plotting to (1) trigger the fire alarm, and (2) blame it on the group’s most recent pariah, a woman who had worn black to our daughters’ home gymnastics meet and brought the wrong casserole.

    Like

  40. Title: LUNADAR: HOMEWARD BOUND
    Word count: 50,000
    Genre: YA Fantasy
    Pitch:

    Forced into piracy to feed her people after King Midar’s murder, Ariana, a 17-year-old mystic, must convince the forest fairy queen to unite forces against evil Lord Shemar and a vengeful mermaid queen who are hell bent on kidnapping the future heir and destroying her waterfall city.

    Excerpt:

    The setting sun bathed the deck in an unnatural light. The men were restless. They had been too long from land, too long from home and it weighed heavily upon their spirits. This night would be a rough one with choppy seas and razor sharp tongues. Lady Ariana’s hand gripped the railing and her body swayed in rhythm to the waves. Her eyes peered into the fading light as if to see land just beyond the portal. She would get no rest that night.

    Voices wafted up from below, a harsh word muttered here and there as
    men settled down in cramp quarters which reeked of sweat and dirt from many days at
    sea with only the moonlight for company.

    Like

  41. Title: THE TRUTH IS FOR THE WEAK
    Word count: 67,000
    Genre: YA Contemporary

    Pitch:
    As a last-ditch effort to snag Sierra’s affections, compulsive-liar Kristi claims she has malaria. Seventeen-year-old Sierra, whose mixed-race background and panicky self-doubt make fitting in difficult at their mostly white high school, is sympathetic of Kristi’s ailment and desperate to please. Sierra jumps into action, playing the supportive full-time girlfriend and part-time caregiver. Kristi must maintain the act to keep Sierra, but her ruse might smother the one person she needs most. Nancy Garden’s ANNIE ON MY MIND meets Justine Larbalestier’s LIAR.

    Excerpt:
    Kristi bounced her eyes between the open menu in her hands and the waitress standing fifteen feet away. She knew every item and number on the menu, from the $4.95 queso dip on page one, to the $6.49 chocolate volcano cake on the back cover. There was no point reading the laminated pages—they were the same as they’d been every Friday evening for the past year. Kristi’s order was as predictable as everyone else’s at the table.

    She had examined the menu and the waitress an equal number of times during Friday Night Dinners with her so-called family, but there was always a new curve or freckle to discover about the latter.

    Like

  42. Title: DONN’S HILL
    Word count: 83,000
    Genre: Cozy Mystery

    Pitch: Grief changes you, rewiring your brain and making you see the world through different eyes. For Mackenzie Clair, it awakened her ability to talk to the dead. After losing her father to cancer, Mac relocates to Donn’s Hill—a small town in the Midwest—and begins coming to terms with her newfound psychic powers. But when she stumbles across the corpses of Donn’s Hill’s most prominent residents, Mac must decide whether to flee for her own safety or stay and use her abilities to identify the killer… before she winds up joining the ranks of ghosts wandering the town.

    Excerpt: Someone was sitting on my bed.

    I didn’t know how he had gotten past the locks—I’d made sure the deadbolt was turned and the chain was fastened before I’d gone to bed—but that was a question for later. Right now the more important questions were “Who is he?” and “What does he want from me?”

    It couldn’t be anything good. People who want to do good things usually knock.

    He smelled foul, like rotting garbage. I felt his weight press down on the right side of the thin mattress. My body wanted to roll toward that lower point, but I held myself in place.

    Like

  43. Title: CHILDREN OF AVALON
    Word count: 60,000
    Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

    Pitch: SKY HIGH meets GAME OF THRONES when a medieval princess is reborn centuries after her aunt destroys their kingdom. Stuck in the modern world, Crysta finds herself caught in a secret war of Elementals, and there’s no ‘how-to’ guide for saving the world. When her family and friends get caught in the crossfire of Crysta’s deadly, new life, she’ll need to decide if throwing in the towel might be a better choice than sacrificing loved ones for victory. And maybe she can afford to skip out on her oh-so-magical destiny after all.

    Excerpt: The wind tore around them as horse and rider flew toward the tree line. Each pounding hoof beat of her mount echoed in Crystianna’s ears and thudded through her chest. Grass and the warm scents of summer filled the air.

    She glanced back and saw her brother, Damien, bent low over his saddle, a white mane flying across his angular face. Devilish eyes met her glance with a challenging gleam.

    Clouds of dust and dirt drew her eye to the thundering mass of wild horses coming up behind them. Damien’s grin spread. He had whipped the beautiful creatures into a frenzy, daring her to race with them across the open fields.

    Like

  44. THE APOTHECARY’S APPRENTICE
    Word Count: 74,000
    YA speculative

    Pitch: 
    Orphaned teen Evee is caught stealing from an apothecary. While working off her debt in his greenhouse, she hears the plants talking to her. After her best friend is attacked by one of the most popular guys in school, Evee asks her plant friends to help her avenge her BFF.
    After Evee discovers her bio-dad is a disgraced priest who murdered a good friend, she begs the apothecary to teach her about his most poisonous plants. Together, the nurture a seed of revenge and a desire to protect others. Can she live with the consequences of such a violent act?

    Excerpt: 
    Tightening her grip on the satchel slung over her shoulder, Evee crept toward the canopy overhanging the base of the tree. The wintery light dappled the forest floor through the needles above. This is where the salvia grew. Since last summer, she’d slipped in and out of the apothecary’s garden, snipping cuttings from this same shrub. Taking her shears out of her bag, she knelt in the damp soil. She grasped a small cluster of the soft green leaves and cut two slim stems. She heard the swift snap of a twig underfoot.

    “Crap.”

    Like

  45. Title: EXTRA-ORDINARY ANNIE
    Word Count: 27,000
    Genre: MG realistic

    Pitch:
    Annie Abbott, “the most average twelve-year-old in Texas,” wants to emerge from the shadows and shine. When outrageous Randy O’Brien bursts from an azalea bush into her life, the two bond over parent problems, but together they get into trouble. Annie develops new talents, like keeping secrets, mouthing off to teenagers, and rigging a grouchy neighbor’s sprinkler system, but it’s Randy who catches the heat because no one takes her seriously. Even worse, Annie is in the Never-Never Land between childhood and adolescence; she doesn’t know if she can’t stand Randy or if she can’t survive without him.

    First Hundred Words:
    If they gave awards for eavesdropping, I’d win first prize. It’s easy when you’re invisible.
    Today I was wiping off on the kitchen counter, just two feet from Mom and our neighbor Mrs. O’Brien, but they didn’t even look in my direction. As usual Mrs. O’Brien was complaining about her son Randy.
    I tried not to stare. Mrs. O’Brien has this weird way of leaning on her elbows and pressing her baggy cheeks up under her eyes. It makes her look creepy, like one of the gargoyles on the old courthouse.
    “It was a late night,” she said.

    Like

  46. Title: THE VANISHING GAMES

    Word Count: 38,000 Words

    Genre: MG Mystery

    Pitch:
    Reality and imagination blur when 12-year-old Stuart thinks he saw his best friend Katherine in his new neighbor’s (Mr. Turner’s) house even though she’s been missing for two years. Katherine’s body soon turns up, yet Stuart isn’t convinced she’s dead since the funeral was closed casket. His best friends Lily and Oscar help him investigate Katherine’s death despite the escalating danger surrounding Mr. Turner’s involvement with what happened to Katherine. Stuart must also accept he’s gay, and his burgeoning friendship with DJ. Stuart likes him as more than a friend, and DJ’s lack of boundaries complicates their dynamic.

    First 100 words:
    I was about to close my laptop and go to bed when something popped out at me. I stood by my bedroom window for a moment, scratching my head. There was a girl by the window across the street from my house whose blond hair had an uncanny resemblance to my friend Katherine’s hair. However, the girl couldn’t be Katherine since she didn’t live across the street from me in addition to how she disappeared two years ago without a trace.

    The girl continued staring at me until a disheveled man appeared right next to her by the window. He locked eyes with me before yanking the girl by her ponytail and dragging her away.

    Like

  47. Title: The 180-Degree Rule
    Genre: YA
    Word Count: 61,000
    Pitch:

    Seventeen-year-old Cooper Perkins views life through his DigiCam, and he’s shooting bloopers. He’s in love with Jess Contreras, but frozen in the friend zone. So when his deadbeat dad inherits millions and invites him to sunny Italy, Cooper craves the change.

    With help from fellow film freak Nate Skull, Cooper films a documentary about Dad’s new life, and tries to get over Jess by scoring a hot prom date. But when he finds the change of scenery doesn’t change his Dad, and his public promposal is a bigger disaster than “Sharknado,” Cooper sharpens his focus and turns the camera around.

    Excerpt:

    During my Saturday morning shift, I snaked a thousand carts across the parking lot, cleaned up spaghetti sauce in aisle five, and squeegeed the automatic doors until they sparkled — but I didn’t say a word to Jess Contreras, even though I bagged at the register next to hers for forty-five minutes.

    It was way past time to man up.

    I had to tell her how I felt.

    I followed Skull through the cloudy plastic strips separating the stock room from the employee “lounge.” It was even nastier than when I walked in at 8 a.m. Dinged-up folding chairs surrounded a wobbly-legged card table covered with newspapers and half-filled coffee cups.

    Like

  48. Title: Winter Without Flowers
    Word count: 71,500
    Genre: Women’s Fiction

    Pitch: Lili Rivera mourns the approach of midlife without love. When she is arrested for drunk driving her ex-husband, a police captain, files for full custody of their boys, her college-aged daughter tires of enabling her and she is on the verge of losing her best friend whose husband was killed by a drunk driver. Two men come into her life, a younger man who sweeps her off her feet and one from her past. Both threaten to upend her family. Lili struggles to deal with her choices before she loses the people whom she cares about.

    Excerpt: The police officer stood on the front porch silhouetted against a fuchsia sunset. Lili squinted into the peephole and watched him tug on his collar before he wiped his brow. The Santa Ana winds swept dead leaves around his polished black shoes. This wasn’t going to be good news. Her mother always said the Santa Anas brought temporary insanity. The cop pushed the doorbell again and held it until Bingley, her dog, barked himself into a higher pitch. Persistent rookie. Lili set her bottle of water on the hall table, next to the statuette of St. Jude, and opened the door.

    Like

  49. Title: Beyond The Bars
    Genre: YA Contemporary
    Word Count: 75,300

    Pitch: Juana Maria Ivanov’s desire for the American dream becomes a nightmare when she is imprisoned for her abusive boyfriend’s death. She fights to keep custody of her baby while attempting to clear herself of her charge but the secret she carries keeps her from trusting her correctional counselor. Jester, a gang leader tells Juana she must join her group to survive in prison. Her dilemma of obedience to the inmate code, the correctional program, and her goals force her to walk a thin line between violence, survival, and freedom.

    Excerpt: We left Centre Juvenile Hall for the San Bueno Correctional Facility before the sun woke. The van chugged down the street, through the mist, and sped up the freeway ramp. Two other girls sat in cuffs too, like goats tied to the corners of a truck bed, going to market. Our handcuffs rattled against the bottom of the windows when a jolt shook the van. I slid forward until the metal chain yanked me back into my seat. My free hand flew to my mouth, stopping the flood of sour saliva spreading over my tongue.

    Like

  50. Title: I AM HERO
    Genre: MG/ Historical fiction
    Word Count: 33,000

    Pitch: There’s tension in the streets of Alexandria, roiling anew, long after Julius Caesar left his mark of destruction upon the great city. Greek, Roman and Egyptian factions are distrustful of and downright hostile towards each other. Schoolmates Hero and Ti, become immersed in the fight when they discover a hidden building with inscriptions dating to that violent era. Hero wants to solve its riddle, but first…The slave girl, Merti, who has stolen Hero’s heart, is about to be sold to a cruel patrician. To rescue Merti from her fate, Hero will have to make his ideas and gadgets real…and do it with steam.

    Excerpt: I was happy to be able to help my family. I offered to leave for school an hour early, walk past the road where I would turn to enter the grounds and go all the way to the edge of town to meet the Alabarch’s son. I am Hero. I’m twelve years old. I live in Alexandria, a Roman provincial city, in the reign of Emperor Tiberius and I’m a scholar at the Musaeum.
    My city is in Egypt, where the Nile River and Mediterranean Sea meet. Now I’m here at the edge of the harbor, pacing.

    Like

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