Merry Pitchday – Pitch Agent Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein of McIntosh & Otis!

elizabethIt’s snowing on our blog which means the holidays are right around the corner. As you likely already know, publishing tends to slow down a bit and many agents even close to submissions during the season. But we have an agent who wants to hear from you right now!

Pitching is over but if you peruse the comments you can get some insights to what Elizabeth is looking for by seeing what she requested. You can pitch Elizabeth directly. Read the McIntosh & Otis Submission Guidelines.  Today is the day to pitch Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein of McIntosh & Otis! Elizabeth will be taking pitches between 10am and 5pm EST. She’ll be making requests on those that pique her interest and may also offer feedback here and there if time permits. To learn more about Elizabeth before pitching read our interview.

Please only pitch polished, completed manuscripts in the genres Elizabeth represents:

  • literary fiction
  • women’s fiction
  • historical fiction
  • romance
  • mystery/suspense
  • memoir
  • narrative non-fiction
  • history
  • current affairs

USE THE FOLLOWING FORMAT FOR YOUR PITCH:

  • Title:
  • Word count:
  • Genre:
  • Pitch: 35-words maximum
  • Excerpt: The first 250-words of your novel

POST YOUR PITCH IN THE COMMENTS SECTION OF THIS POST. GOOD LUCK!

**If you get a request from Elizabeth please be sure to put Sub It Club Request in the subject line.

79 thoughts on “Merry Pitchday – Pitch Agent Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein of McIntosh & Otis!

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  1. Title: The Exquisiteness of Seeing
    Word Count: 89 000
    Genre: Women’s Fiction/ magical realism
    Pitch: When thirty-three year old Willa Waters meets her eight year-old and one hundred and three-year-old selves, healing her abusive past will mean facing the truths her other selves bring.
    Excerpt: (first 250 words)
    Willa Waters
    Before
    8

    The ocean arrives in a box.
    Moon sees it in my backyard, so do I. The cardboard is soggy where it sits in the dirt, dead leaves clinging to the sides. A white card the size of postcard is stuck on top. Waves that look a bit like storm clouds are drawn in swirls on one side; the blues and greens like bruises. On the other side in loopy handwriting it reads,
    One Ocean: Plant in the backyard.
    Dig too deep and the roots suffocate.
    Too shallow and the roots won’t anchor.

    Standing over the box, I scratch my head, look over my shoulder and then stare at the box again. Mango Girl, my mango tree, stands behind me. Watching too. I tuck the card inside my dressing gown and underneath my vest. My breath curls in the cold and I watch the curls as they make shapes.
    “You can be my friends, shapes,” I whisper. “Cold-shape friends.”
    There’s no address, no stamps, no name on the box at all. The string falls off without much help. A bit of help. Okay, I pulled.
    What kind of ocean arrives in a box?
    You should be able to collect oceans. That’d be some kind of magic job. That’s what I told Nannie the other day. Then you could pour one into a jar and take it home.

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  2. Title: REMEMBER, CONSTELLATION
    Manuscript Word Count: 88,000
    Genre: Literary
    Pitch: To escape his crumbling marriage, Paul time travels through memories and falls for a forgotten girl. He steers his younger self into a burgeoning romance, but disrupting his past incites turmoil in his present.
    Excerpt:

    A patch of dusty sunlight ran across the part of Carolyn’s crossed leg that escaped her robe and I wondered whether I should feel something about it. From the edge of the bed she tossed her hair mid-brush so her eyes met mine in a curious glance. “What?”

    She turned her back and I searched the flow of her long, brown curls for an answer. Her tone hid any expression, but I knew she wasn’t smiling. I tried to find a piece of wit, a rejoinder to make her breathe a laugh through her nose at least, but the last note of my phone alarm still echoed in the air and somewhere before that had been a dream I couldn’t remember.

    I settled on “Morning” and swung my legs over the side, sitting up to the routine reports of clacks in my neck. The last frame of my dream sailed into the fog, but from somewhere inside it I thought I heard The Beatles.

    I hated The Beatles.

    “Paul?” Carolyn’s voice crashed through the quiet.

    “What?”

    The bed shifted when she rose. She pulled off her robe and tossed it mechanically atop the sheets. “Isn’t it too early to daydream?” A distracted smile ghosted across her lips. I let my eyes graze past a tiny hole in her underwear as she pulled on the brown dress that made her look more like a schoolteacher than anything else she wore.

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  3. Title: GODFREY’S MAP
    Word count: 70,000
    Genre: Literary Fiction (with historical leanings)
    Pitch: Struck broadside by mid-life chaos, Sam reaches tipping point: an old family secret about a shooting. Hitting the open road, he searches for truths amongst gnarled limbs of his family tree and finds other answers.

    Excerpt:

    A photograph tells only a whisper of the tale. Sometimes not even that.

    This photograph had faded into sepia tones as old photographs do. On the back, their names had been written in pencil, also faded: Emily and Walter. My Grandpappy and Grandma. Standing stiffly, side by side, they looked uncomfortable as though caught in an off moment in time. Maybe it was a marriage photograph? I didn’t know. I had never seen this photograph before but it brought up an immediate well of emotion. Now too the stabbing regret that I had not lived up to their example. It hurt to look at the photograph for too long and I set it aside.

    I pulled other items out of the box my soon to be ex had left on my doormat: old insurance papers, bank statements, some newspaper clippings of obituaries and other miscellanea. The box had lain dormant in the attic of our formerly shared domicile for many years and I never had the time to look through it. Or really the desire. But the soon to be ex was on a mission to clear out all things reminiscent of me from the house. So here I sat in a 1970s era apartment with its bare bone furnishings sifting through those remnants.

    The box barely hung together so my wife had placed it a bigger box to deliver it. A Men’s Wearhouse box, not a store at which I shopped. It occurred to me that it might be…

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  4. Title: WAITING FOR FOREVER
    Word count: 80,000 words
    Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance with a touch of Fantasy

    Pitch: Welcome to The Waiting Room, a world where dead soulmates wait for their halves’ deaths, to spend eternity together. Will Mark watch Olivia’s entire life to play out, or give up on their connection forever?

    Excerpt:
    I’d never thought about the end. “Well, at least not before my eighties or something.” When you are a healthy twenty-three-year-old guy, death is just not a subject to worry about. But there I was, losing control of my legs, my arms, my neck. The cold water had filled in the inside of the car, and now it was taking my lungs. There was no need to fight for breath anymore, I had already lost, I was really dying.

    I didn’t see my life passing before my eyes, I didn’t think about anyone special. The only thing in my mind was the truck coming out of nowhere. I knew I shouldn’t have drunk so much. I shouldn’t have taken the car.

    “At least I’m alone; I would hate to be responsible for anyone else’s end.”

    “I can’t believe you fell off the cliff, Mark. How could you be so stupid?”

    “It’s his fault. It’s all his fault!” I tried to raise my head in anger, but the cramp had taken over my body; paralyzing me, freezing every single cell from inside out, until everything stopped.
    #

    I woke up in despair, trying to convince myself it had been just a dream. “A nightmare.” I kept my eyes wide open to forget the feeling of drowning in the ocean, fighting for every breath. But, before I could focus on where I was, I realized every little part of my body hurt. It was like I had been on a fight or something.

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  5. Title: The Insurrection
    Word count: 98,900
    Genre: Suspense

    Pitch: The love of Lilah’s life manipulated her into marrying another man to further his political agenda. Now, as CFO of the world’s most powerful oil cartel, only she can save him from assassins.

    Excerpt: The casket was cold and wet when Lilah kissed it. Papa, she whimpered in her mind. Lilah wrapped her arms around the second coffin. I love you, she told her parents. Biting her lip in a futile effort to stop the sobs, she staggered back under the big, black umbrella she shared with her twin, Daniel. Light rain pattered on the nylon.

    Through the fog clouding her mind, she heard one of the mourners murmur. “Death is terrifying enough, even under the best of circumstances.”

    A hushed voice responded, “Poor things, to lose their parents like this. At fifteen…”

    Lilah rubbed a fist over the shirt she wore, trying to ease the knot in her chest. A short gust of wind rustled through the trees, blowing goosebumps under her stockings. Her teeth chattered. She barely heard the words of the minister as he said the last prayers committing the remains of their parents to the ground.

    The string quartet played a hymn when the caskets were lowered to their final resting place. The minister summoned the twins. Dan returned after tossing mud into the grave, tears streaming down his cheeks. Cold fingers took the umbrella from Lilah and guided her hand to the mound of earth next to where she stood. Lilah could barely see through her tears. She didn’t want to see.

    “My dear, everyone’s waiting,” someone whispered to her. Gentle hands propelled her forward.
    The fog in her head got thicker as she walked unsteadily to the graves with a fistful of dirt, wet pumps squelching. A raw, animal sound of grief escaped her lips. Lilah felt her knees buckle.

    A dark-haired young man broke off from the ranks of the pallbearers, his arm catching her around the shoulders. “I’m here,” said Harry.

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    1. Interesting pitch! But the opening scene doesn’t grab me. I like the writing style, but I feel like the rainy day parents’ funeral introduction is overdone, and in the context of the pitch, doesn’t sound necessary to me. In a suspense, I want the opening to really pull me in from the get-go. Something to keep in mind!

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      1. Thank you. You did like the writing and the pitch; I’ll take that! Can’t avoid the funeral, unfortunately. That’s were the seeds of betrayal are sown.

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          1. I am still chewing over it. This is a solid suggestion from an established agent, which she didn’t have to do. My thanks to her. And you, for hosting the event.

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  6. Title: A LEAF IN THE WIND
    Genre: Literary Fiction
    Wordcount: 85k
    Pitch: Jihyun strives to rise to the North Korean elite, but she has a secret. In North Korea secrets can kill…or worse. As society turns against her, she fights to find hope. MISCHLING in NK.

    “The firing squad will execute prisoner Cho Jihyun at noon.” The guard pronounced from outside the cell. “The warden wants to eliminate the hopeless ones before the ground freezes.”
    Hopeless ones. This place was designed to leach hope. Not knowing had been the greatest torture.
    She’d expected something sudden, less sterile.
    Darkness clung to the grayed walls. She couldn’t tell shadow from grime. The only contrast, the immaculate pictures of Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il. These ubiquitous portraits hung over every room in the country. Their white-toothed smiles mocked the interred.
    So many prisoners filled the room that she couldn’t make out the floor. Some of them slept, alternating head to toe, one on top of another. Most were awake, skeletons waiting to rise and carry out their daily duties.
    Eyes darted away from her. She’d been in their place before–they didn’t want to share her misfortune.
    She walked to the back corner of the room. The others scuttled out of her way. Even the members of her own work team wouldn’t look at her. She sat down, hugged her knees to her chest.
    So, this is how it is going to end. Alone.
    She glanced at the others. Fear’s graveolent stench overpowered the rancid odor of their unwashed bodies.
    Jihyun yelled, “Why do you still try to please them? What else can they take? Look around, see what the Dear Leader has given us. We’re not even human anymore.”
    The empty space around Jihyun grew.

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  7. Title: Avenge The Son
    •Word count: 80,000
    •Genre: Suspense
    •Pitch: Layton Spencer is the F.B.I.’s golden boy. But can he stop a Chinese billionaire bent on revenge from killing thousands of innocent people just to settle the score? A kidnapped First Lady, Supreme Court Justices under fire and a nationwide manhunt challenge Spencer as he tries to stop Fa Mahn Chi.

    •Excerpt:

    The Gulfstream G50 cut across the western Rocky Mountains on the first leg of its trip to return the newly graduated son of Fa Mahn Chi to his Beijing home. Later in the week the son would become the newest Vice President in the second largest aeronautics firm in the world.

    “Father I am ready!” the son said.

    “Yes! It is time for you to excel in our business!” Fa agreed.

    Fa Lau fell silent when the plane suddenly shuddered uncharacteristically. The young man had flown thousands of miles through plenty of different weather conditions, but this felt totally different from anything he knew.

    “Something is wrong,” Lau said.

    “Wrong? What do you mean Lau?”

    “The plane. Something is wrong with the plane!”

    “Order them to land! They can use one of the large American freeways if needed.

    Lau jerked open the door to the cockpit where he found the pilot and co-pilot fighting the controls. Both men were long-time corporate pilots with plenty of experience in all types of aircraft, but they seemed to be overwhelmed with the current situation.

    “What is wrong ?” Lau asked.

    “The engines! Both have failed!” the pilot shouted over the blaring of alarms.

    Lau’s stomach hardened with those words as well as the digital reading of altitude which rapidly decreased through the twenty thousand digits while the nose dropped noticeably.

    “Father!” Lau screamed as hs struggled to exit the cockpit gainst the pull of gravity.

    “Yes Lau?”

    “I . . .” the phone in Chi’s ear registered only a blaring busy signal.

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  8. Title: GUILTY: My Dad, Parental Incarceration, and Me.
    Word Count: 81,000
    Genre: Memoir
    Pitch: Pamela Brunskill overcomes fear and judgment to develop an authentic self-concept after her father murdered her step-mother and her step-mother’s lover when she was fifteen. A memoir for fans of Piper Kerman and Brené Brown.

    Straddling
    January 2010

    Dad told me that after he killed Ginny, he turned the gun to his own head. But no bullets remained in the chamber.

    I immediately lowered my eyes to the table wedged between us. We were sitting in the visiting room at Clinton Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in northern New York State. It had been seventeen years since he’d killed my stepmother and her lover, and I had moved beyond the shock and despair. All I felt was a dim burst of interest.

    I couldn’t tell Dad that over the past two decades there were times when I wished he had died, or would die. And that my life would be so much easier if he did.

    In my silence, Dad took a swig of orange juice, the acrid smell nauseating me.

    By then it didn’t much matter that he had tried to kill himself. Because we were both still alive, trying to figure out how to move on from his actions, the impact of which never ceased. Thinking about what could have happened but didn’t was irrelevant. I wanted to know what really did happen. What had led Dad to kill someone and was it still possible to accept him? I wanted something that validated his existence and my relationship with him. Because I still desperately wanted a father, but I didn’t want all the shame that went with mine; I was preparing to abandon him.

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    1. Wow! That’s some story you’ve got there. I’m a memoirist too, and I think you’re very brave for writing this. I know what an emotional toll it can take.

      Best of luck to you. I look forward to reading this some day. 🙂

      Like

  9. Title: THE BOY WHO SPEAKS TO TURTLES & ME
    Word count: 45,000
    Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade
    Pitch: A drowning beckoned the boy Henry David Thoreau. Almost got him killed. Don’t blame the man in the wooden mask. Blame me, the girl who brought troubles to Henry on his quest for truth.

    Excerpt:
    That night in 1816 when I was born, a star flamed across the sky over Concord. Mama spread three pinches of salt by the door to protect me from any dark-winged devil who might dare to wander in.
    “Thirteen years ago tomorrow,” Mama says. “The orchard glowed fiery orange, and gold-leafed willows cast shadows on the barn.”
    I can’t imagine a more perfectly miserable reminder of my birthday. Mama’s tale again. We’ve heard the story so many times that each of us knows the words by heart. Would she notice if I stick my fingers in my ears?
    “Are you listening, Buckee?” Mama asks me. She bundles the last tea cup in newspaper for a safe ride to Boston.
    “You don’t have to tell us. We know what happened that night,” I answer. “The plow horse bucked. He broke out of his stall to gallop clear across the village.”
    “Your entrance into this world was a sign. This girl will be a hard one to tame,” my brother Timothy says. He puts on one of his baby-face grins that shows me he is joking.
    “She’s trouble,” says my brother Eugene with a poke of his elbow at me. “This girl will bring night shadows back to Concord.”
    My brothers laugh together. They’re twins. Eugene and Timothy do everything together. They repeat each other’s words and stumble over the same arithmetic lessons. They put their huckleberries in the same pail. Neither one believes Mama’s warning that I bring trouble.
    Neither do I.

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  10. Title: THE MARRIAGE ACT
    Word Count: 90,000
    Genre: Women’s Fiction (Transgressive)
    Pitch: When Maggie arm-twists her asexual twin Josie into sleeping with her husband to be their surrogate, she thinks she’ll have it all, never dreaming Josie will fall for him. Or he for her.
    Excerpt:
    Josie’s cell phone rang again, the ringtone it came programmed with emanating from the battered vinyl purse slung over the back of her desk chair. It had been ringing repeatedly for an hour, which meant it was Maggie. When her twin wanted to talk, she meant now. Maggie didn’t know what it meant to work. That you can’t stop an experiment mid-culture to yack about whether Maggie should try bangs or to congratulate her on losing two pounds.
    Eighteen. Josie counted the rings subconsciously. She was math-y that way. Numbers spoke to her better than people.
    “Would you pick up the damn phone, Josie? It’s driving me nuts,” Jack Randall called from the next office. It wasn’t like Jack, who co-directed the forensic lab with her, couldn’t be annoying. He spent plenty of time on YouTube and Hulu while he set up cultures and rubber-stamped requisitions. If he was doing something rote, it never occurred to him that Josie might be trying to concentrate, even if she pointedly closed her door. But Josie never spoke up, never told him off, didn’t today. She wasn’t that way.
    The office walls were paper thin. They weren’t even proper walls, just dividers that gave lab directors the illusion they’d risen above the mere benches. As a result, Josie knew way too much about Jack, his rocky marriage, his druggie kid, his gambling, his girlfriend. She didn’t want him, or anyone, to know about her.

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  11. Title: LOUANA
    Word Count: 89,000
    Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

    Pitch:
    Louana won’t be just another stop on tour.  And drummer Jake knows it. That’s why, like his hit “Faster,” he throttles through their relationship. But if he can’t slow his tempo, their song is over.

    Excerpt:
    After one final protest-complete with a fake whimper and head bang on the steering wheel- I stepped out of the car, navigated the potholes of the barren parking lot and walked into the bar. Because I would not go home and drink Sangria with my 82-year-old landlady. Again.
    Inside the bar was just as deserted. Stale beer and broken dreams lingered in the air. A random rock song played through the overhead speakers as filler music signaling we were between acts. I should have known when Steven Brass invited me, he had only been looking for warm bodies to fill the room. But I was under obligation–by me–to resuscitate my floundering social life, so I studied the scene.
    Steven was setting up microphones on the tiny stage and I gave him a little wave. He replied with a quick nod and returned to his task. A group of chattering girls sped by me and right out the door, taking my hopes of friendship with them on the way. Pity, one of them had on killer heels and I would have liked to know where she found them. I wished her luck with the potholes outside.
    As I approached to the bar, I continued skimming. A middle aged woman sat by herself in front of the stage. She looked like she would share a plate of nachos and have some fantastic dirty jokes. Both were a serious plus in my book. But my “older lady friend” dance card was already full -I needed fresh blood, that’s what brought me out in the first place.

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  12. Title: DRIVEN
    Word count: 70,000
    Genre: Literary suspense
    Pitch: A car, a blizzard, a sick husband. Death is near for one and they both know it. But one of them knows better, and it’s not who you think.

    Excerpt:

    This is the way the day ends: The hospital sidewalk whitened and slick. Air so snow-thick it’s alive with milky undulating figures. The lowering sun drills a serrated circle through buffering skies. And through this, she has to get Dragan back to their home.

    She mounts wide steps and presses her gloved hand against the glass door, solid and transparent. It opens smoothly, soundlessly, closes behind her the same way. She looks to the receptionist, who doesn’t look back. End of a long shift probably. She knows how to find his room: follow the numbered signs, left and right. Be careful not to touch the handrails lining every hall. At Dragan’s door she stops. Hovers for a second and scans the room. Men in there. Prostrate. One encased in every bed under sharp clean sheets and topped with blankets, heavy and tucked. Dragan is the sixth, at the end of the room by the window, its heavy drapes drawn erratically.

    She moves slowly toward him, tiptoes awkwardly, tries to keep her boot heels from tip-tapping. The bald man in the first bed watches; his head teeters on the edge of a high pillow. Next to him, on his back and looking up, a yellowed man mutters, mumbles, points to the ceiling. He looks at her and points again, tries for her attention. “Look there,” he whispers. “Creatures are crawling, do you see them?” These men are drugged, every one. Some deeply, some less.

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  13. Title: SPEAKING CONFIDENTIALLY
    Word count: 80,000
    Genre: Romance
    Pitch: A lovelorn boy battles mental health issues throughout his life. His salvation will lie in the childhood friend he did not notice at first or the flame with instant chemistry. Unfortunately, he wants them both.
    Excerpt: SPEAKING CONFIDENTIALLY/Chapter 1: Gardening at Night

    2/9/2015, Gainesville, Florida
    I am sitting in the living room of my spacious house. I haven’t turned the heater on all winter. I am still wearing my jacket, tie and shoes from the day. It might be forty or fifty degrees inside. I can afford to turn on the heat. I just don’t care to. Remy’s in my lap. She’s one of my cats and by far the weirdest. She drools when happy but will flee in terror if I approach. As I think about it, that seems appropriate.

    It’s past 3am. I should be in bed. My mind is racing. I didn’t take the Seroquel to make me sleep. Without it, I’d be awake for days until my body quit. I’m staring forward looking at the fireplace. The wood has been reduced to hot coals. I’m sitting too far away to feel the heat. I want to add more wood. I like the smell, the flames and the orange glow. I’m not doing anything. I’m simply thinking even though I don’t want to.

    A few years ago, I would have solved this problem with bourbon and ice. I’ve set that part of me aside. Dad quit drinking because he chose to. I quit because I had to. I know about relapses and am careful. I think I’m in a better place and I hope that I’m a better man. Margaret seems to think so. I’m not sure.

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  14. • Title: Love and the Art Immortality
    • Word count: 100,000
    • Genre: Women’s Fiction/literary magical realism
    • Pitch: Violinist’s struggle with career and fidelity collides with vampire’s paranoid loneliness. When seduction fails, vengeance prevails. To save kidnapped husband she must trust an old rival or risk becoming a slave forever.

    • Excerpt:
    Love doesn’t simmer, she thought, it boils over or cooks down to nothing. There must be a Chinese proverb like that. Her husband was watching sports in the living room; she was alone in the bedroom with the door closed.

    Maggie Wu dumped the change from her purse onto the bed; counted it. The exact amount wouldn’t stay in her head. Counted again. Really that little? Violin was the core of her being but the small pile of coins she’d earned playing it was a good indication it wasn’t going to be a career. She’d make more working at the drive through. “Can I take your order?” Which is exactly what mother, sucking her teeth, had always said. She said lots of things—all practical, far too practical for Maggie to listen.

    “Don’t be confuse. Music not job. Just discipline.” Some Chinese proverb had probably followed. Maggie couldn’t remember for sure, didn’t want to. She hated those sayings. Ancient wisdom (superstition) was mother’s way of ending conversations (arguments). If the Chinese believed something for 5,000 years already, it wasn’t Maggie’s place to question it. “Don’t look in mouth of dog for dragon teeth.”

    Her chest was just as tight now as when mother had told her not to hope. “Music isn’t a job,” Maggie’s said, brushing moisture from her eyes, “it’s everything.”

    Smoke and nicotine—just one cigarette—that’s all she needed.

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  15. Title: When Lilies Bloom

    Word count: 70,000

    Genre: Women’s Fiction (with Romantic Suspense)

    Pitch: Eve’s cancer diagnosis comes with a proposal from her doctor, only he’s after more than her heart and it could cost Eve her life. Steel Magnolias’ southern wit and charm plus Safe Haven’s romantic suspense.

    Excerpt: I envied her luscious, perfectly styled blonde hair as I watched her browse the store. I was regrettably having a bad hair day myself. Sometime during the night I rolled off of my satin pillowcase and my already course hair rubbed all over my cotton sheets. The friction left me with hair that resembled a chia pet on the right side of my head. I woke up late that morning, which was uncharacteristic of me, and didn’t have time to properly tame the beast known as my hair. I had just opened the store minutes before her arrival, and it wasn’t often that a place like Morley’s had customers chomping at the bit to enter. I could tell it was her first time stepping foot inside the stale boutique. I had worked there for two years, and I knew well-dressed women like her weren’t regulars. She politely looked over the dated inventory, even though she was clearly disinterested. I watched her out of the corner of my eye as I began counting our jewelry pieces. As I counted, I was consumed with aspirations of owning my very own chic boutique one day; one that fashionable people like her would actually seek out, and revel in. It was my dream to be the one to actually pick out everything that was sold, but I was way too passive, complacent and loyal to ever leave Morley’s. I knew people judged me because my dad was a doctor, they assumed I had everything…

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  16. IS THERE A WITCH DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?
    80,000 Words
    Mystery
    Pitch: All Lou wants to do is protect his family. But when the police charge his wife with murder and his son with arson, he’s forced to confront what he will and won’t do for love.

    Excerpt
    Driving home in the mid afternoon through the back roads of Northeastern Connecticut, Lou Cooper was wondering how he was going to break the news to his wife about getting laid off at Marvelous Memories, Inc., where he’d spent the last twenty-five years writing blurbs for their mail order catalog of vintage sit-coms and detective shows. Choosing to delay the inevitable, or perhaps fearful of catching her off guard by his untimely entrance, he gunned his rusty Buick toward a familiar forbidden crossroads, almost out of Bordenville but not quite East Ferry, where the heavy metal nightclub, into which he and his wife had just poured a boatload of money, stood in the middle of a corroded strip mall off a triply bisected traffic circle, like an elaborate, oversized outhouse, only a small blue blinking sign to identify it.
    He slowed down as he approached the intersection, but it proved too much of challenge for his driving skills to enter the club’s parking lot on the first pass, so he had to circle the traffic circle twice and park his car in the lot of the abandoned pool supplies factory behind the building and cover the remaining quarter mile on foot. The owner, his old high school battery mate Hank Saunders, didn’t usually get around to opening up before early evening, so Lou was surprised to see a police car parked out front next to a couple of dented SUVs and an emergency rescue vehicle, just leaving.

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  17. Title: THE FEASTING VIRGIN

    Word Count: 95,000

    Genre: Adult/Upmarket Women’s Culinary Fiction with Magical Realism, LGBT

    Pitch: 38-year-old Xeni is secretly praying for a virgin birth, but when she unexpectedly falls for a free-spirited new mom during sumptuous Greek cooking lessons she must reconcile her religious beliefs with her emerging sexuality.

    Excerpt:

    I’m not asking for much. Some greedy people want money, cars, jets, or boob jobs. I just want a baby. It’s a simple wish that comes naturally to so many women, who are then compelled by some biological imperative to bring forth life. It seems unfair that for some women the wish is easily and mysteriously answered – or even an unwanted accident – when for some of us, it’s a struggle. Some of us are reduced to desperate measures, brought to the edges of our sanity, and willing to try nearly anything to make our wish come true. I know what most people would say to me. You’re thirty-eight years old and a virgin. You have to have sex to have a baby. But I’m not like other women, and I won’t rely on a man to get pregnant.

    That’s because I have something better. I have God. He has the power to make my wish a reality. He did it for the Virgin Mary, and he can do it for me. I have made a vow to God and the Virgin Mary that no one will ever touch my body. I will remain an Ever-Virgin just like her. I know that if I keep my body and soul pure of sin, that God will see me and reward me. He will give me even more than I dare wish for. He will give me the miracle of love and a baby. All I have to do is prove myself worthy.

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  18. Title: PERFECT MISTAKE
    Word Count: 98000
    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Pitch:
    A single-mom is forced to help her ex-lover, who fathered her secret baby, to expose a trafficking ring. Realizing she’s being framed, pressure mounts as her choices become tangled with desire and revealing the truth.

    Excerpt:
    Landing on her feet came as naturally to Simone Levin as landing a plane, but this time…dread stirred in her stomach as she glanced down at her phone again.

    The pilots’ schedule she had downloaded minutes before boarding her international flight to Dar es Salaam didn’t specify where she’d be flying to this week, but the solid orange block mocking her from the screen was crystal clear: she was on for the next three weeks straight.

    Ten minutes to landing. She swallowed the curse that hovered on her lips and leaned back against the seat, turning her thoughts to the other bad news that had accompanied the schedule. She still couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that Peppe had suffered a heart attack a few days ago. She held a deep affection for the Italian owner of the Tanzanian safari airline she piloted for. Peppe had taken a chance on her, given her a job, at a time when her life had been in shambles. For the past three years, he’d always been in her corner regarding the schedule she needed. But now…if he didn’t make it…

    A warm little hand covered hers and she turned to her three-year-old. She leaned in and wrapped her arm around her daughter’s shoulders, hugging her. The economy class seat’s armrest was a pain in the midriff, but hugs were important – especially today when later, she’d be leaving Sarah with her nanny again.

    “Love you, Mommy.”

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  19. Title: Thalia’s Rooms
    Word Count: 99,000
    Genre: Literary women’s fiction
    Pitch: Thalia, an emotionally broken amnesiac, awakens in her cell to news that her world no longer exists. Unless she confronts her past and her uncertain future, Thalia risks succumbing to the same fate.

    Excerpt:
    Something is horribly wrong.

    My cousin was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was eight; he was only six months younger than me, and since we lived in the same town, we were consistent playmates. The first time I witnessed one of his seizures I began to scream. My mother had warned me that Johnny hadn’t been feeling too good, but nothing could have prepared me for the vision of him convulsing on the floor, of his eyes rolling back in his head, of the spittle that gathered at the corner of his mouth. It didn’t last too long, I guess, though to me it was a lifetime. When he finally stopped shaking and sat up, it took me a long time to approach him. “What’s the matter?” he asked me. “Why don’t you want to play anymore?”

    “Don’t you remember?” I whispered. His skin was pale, almost translucent, as he stood leaning against the couch. He shrugged, beginning to toss a ball to himself.

    “I never remember. Sometimes I fall down, sometimes I just shake, I guess, but I never remember. Mom says it’ll get better.”

    And Johnny did get better, though it took several years and many medications. I never fully got used to the sight of him convulsing on the floor, but I never screamed again. I knew to protect his head, to hold his hand, to try to count how long it lasted, and to urge him to stay seated for a few minutes before he continued with his day.

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  20. Title: Slow Ride
    Word Count: 70,000
    Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
    Pitch: Hot sex with the tow truck driver who rescued her is fun and flirty, until she discovers he’s lying about his identity. Now the eligible billionaire will have to shed his bad-boy ways to win her heart.

    First 100 words:

    “That’s what you’re wearing?” Zoe gives me the five-second up-and-down style assessment you can only get from your BFF. Her tone tells me she does not approve of my demure silk blouse, white skirt, and strappy block-heeled sandals for a formal night out at the swankest venue in all of Detroit. “For fuck’s sake, Hallie. It’s supposed to be the social event of the year.”
    I take the marble steps of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial two at a time up to where she’s standing. Zoe’s strapless black cocktail dress fits her like a second skin. Impossibly tall, dark-skinned and doe-eyed, she has enough style to be a supermodel and enough sass to get us both in trouble. Frequently.
    “That’s your idea of being supportive?” I shoot back. I know I’m dressed to argue a speeding ticket in traffic court. In my defense, I never dress to be noticed, today my style is a silent protest. “You tell me. What do you wear when the honor of your presence has been requested at your ex-boyfriend’s engagement party… especially when he’s marrying your big sister?”
    “No one cares who you’re wearing tonight, Hal,” she says. “It’s all about your face. If you’re not smiling, they’ll think you’re suicidal.”
    “And if I’m afflicted with Bitchy Resting Face for even a second, they’ll think I’m homicidal. I can’t win.”
    “Can’t think of a better excuse for getting drunk and hooking up with a total stranger,” Zoe says.
    ###

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  21. BYRON & KEATS: THE BOXED SET
    90,000 Words
    Literary
    Pitch: The lives of the romantic poets reimagined in this tale of Gloria Byron and Shelly Keats, rock first songwriting couple, as told by their publisher, who may have killed them both.

    Excerpt:

    CO-AUTHOR’S STATEMENT OF FULL DISCLOSURE

    With the 60th anniversary of her first single upon us, many critics and fans still say by introducing Franny Brown (AKA Gloria Byron) to the fledgling poet Sheldon Katz (AKA Shelly Keats) in 1955 Murray Kaminsky had merely discovered, at the age of sixteen, a way to keep his hand in their pockets forever. This is woefully beside the point. In the long view, whether it was fate, luck, jealousy, spite, pure avarice, or simple accident that brought them all together, discerning fans of the rock and roll single in its most exhilarating form will agree it was history nonetheless. It is in the service of this history that Kaminsky engaged me to help him set the record straight—revisiting and revising some of the most painful moments of his long and often controversial career.
    Under the terms of his incarceration, Kaminsky will receive no financial benefit from the publication of this biography in the form of liner notes to BYRON & KEATS: THE BOXED SET. Nor has he had much time or inclination to proofread the text in which I have tried to capture his unique voice. If occasionally this voice comes across as less whiny and nasal than the inescapable Brooklynese of the narrator; if somehow the narrator seems taller and leaner, more cultured and less vulgar than the Murray Kaminsky many in the industry have come to know and loathe, I will shoulder the blame.

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  22. Title: Under A Gibbous Moon

    Word Count: 72000

    Genre: Historical Fiction

    Pitch: Ruth Crisp marries in 1908 never imagining she will be asked to betray her conscience and alibi a murder. Under a Gibbous Moon fictionalizes one of the most publicized killings in South Carolina history.

    Excerpt:

    Willie Avant gloomed into his glass of whiskey, the pungent smoke of Cleveland’s cigar hovering in the salt air. Between them a bottle of Shaw’s Malt caught stray shafts of the evening sun and cast them back as burnished rays that striped the faces of the innkeeper and my husband Cleveland Bigham. I sat motionless on the porch swing, as still as the breeze. Before us, Sunnyside’s expansive yard sloped to where a languid Atlantic rippled the marsh grass. There was no surf sound this far in, no distant lapping. I heard only the gargled call of a nesting shorebird.

    “There you are, Ruth.” Cleveland had greeted me with his slant smile when I stepped out onto the veranda. “Avant was telling me of the oyster beds. Just offshore. Isn’t that correct?”

    Willie looked up, his gray eyes shiny as polished pewter. Our host appeared paler than usual — tawny hair uncombed, suspenders dangling loose. He had come to supper in the same clothes he’d worn all day. “That’s right, Doc.” Willie cleared his throat. “Out on those flats. They pick them up by the bushel load. Mrs. Bigham could reach down with her delicate fingers and grab enough to choke a drunkard.”

    Cleveland arched a slender brow at the remark. Pulling a watch from his snug waistcoat he flipped the cover, eyed the timepiece then clamped it shut with a snap that reverberated off the surrounding live oaks. It was hard to believe this was the man I married only fifteen months before.

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  23. • Title: Becoming a Heroine
    • Word count: 80,000
    • Genre: Contemporary Romance with adventure
    • Pitch: CATHRYN fears it’s too late for her happy ending. But as Jane Austen predicts, when a lady–of any age–is to become a heroine, something must and will happen to toss adventure her way.

    • Excerpt: Chapter One – First Impressions

    Cathryn found the place and turned her truck into the parking lot. She hurried over the blistering blacktop and entered the cool refuge of the brick building. Are we really meeting at funeral homes now? She frowned into the hallway mirror as she tidied her French braid, patting the stray locks into place. A good hair day is impossible in this weather. Smoothing the wrinkles from her sundress, she took a last look in the mirror and sighed. This will have to do.

    She surveyed the room to get her bearings, then joined those who had come to pay their respects; Lisa’s mom had died. Cathryn and Lisa had shared a long and winding road from junior high through college, and beyond.

    “Dad says he’ll never go into the house again,” Lisa confided.

    Cathryn was touched. “It must be devastating, after so many years together. Home will never be the same for him.”

    “But … it’s not like this was sudden,” Lisa protested. “We’ve known for months.”

    Jodie, another friend, spoke up. “Don’t you think it’s harder for men to–you know–pick up the pieces and move on? It was so hard for my brother.”

    The others nodded thoughtfully.

    “Dad’s been staying with me, and doesn’t seem to have a plan. I’m worried about him.”

    Cathryn wrapped a comforting arm around her friend. “Oh, Lisa, I’m sure you’ll work something out. It must always be a shock, I think, even when it is expected.”

    Or unexpected. She winced inwardly.

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  24. Title: SHIP OF DREAMS

    Word count: 10,814

    Genre: Historical Fiction Chapter Book

    Pitch: Coalie strikes. Bad omens. Historical chance encounters. Margaret records everything in her diary of the countdown to Titanic’s maiden voyage. But why is there something trying to prevent the SHIP OF DREAMS from actually sailing?

    Excerpt:

    Wednesday, March 20th, 1912

    Dear Diary,

    “This is my first time writing in you. I got you for my birthday today from Aunt Alberta. Momma says every young lady should keep a journal of her most private thoughts. I asked her what kind of thoughts would a ten year old girl have important enough to write down? Momma told me not to sass her. There’s just no talking to Momma when she scrunches up her eyebrows and her smile turns upside down, so here I am, scribbling on this blank page just to be able to tell her I wrote my thoughts down tonight.

    Well, there is one thing I can tell you DIDN’T happen today, Diary, and that’s the maiden voyage of the White Star Line’s newest ship. They call the ship Titanic and I hear it’s the biggest one ever built! Momma and I were supposed to meet Papa down at the docks to say goodbye to all those folks traveling to faraway places like America. It was going to be kind of special, it being my birthday and all. I must remember to ask Papa at dinner tonight what happened. Papa sure is lucky to be one of White Star Line’s tally men because he hears all the latest gossip down on the docks. That means Momma and I do too…”

    Margaret closed her diary and blew out the lantern. She wished there was money to get fancy new electric lights like some of the other folks in Southampton…

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  25. Title: The Lollipop Rebellion
    Word count: 55K
    Genre: Literary fiction (YA crossover)
    Pitch: The Bennenfall School for Girls on the Upper East Side has been churning out little ladies for over a century—but with the sixth grade class in open rebellion, that era might be over.

    THE FACULTY MEETS

    It could not wait until the regular, all-faculty meeting held on Wednesdays, so the teachers were gathered now on a Monday in the dance studio by the lower gymnasium. Already hot by virtue of its proximity to the boiler room, but all the hotter because spring was nigh, the dance studio was the one place at The Bennenfall School for Girls that no student could stumble into without first being spotted in one of the great mirrors that ran along its walls, and in which generations of girls ages five through eighteen had tracked (with varying degrees of thrill or dismay) their growing bodies in leotards.

    It could not wait. The Lollipop Guild had to be ousted.

    Miss Jane Washburn, fifth grade teacher, age seventy-seven and not retiring anytime soon thankyouverymuch, raised her hand and said in her childlike voice, “But Daphne Grady isn’t here anymore—”

    Colleagues young and old groaned and drowned her out. Daphne Grady wasn’t the problem anymore; anyone who knew anything about the class of girls terrorizing the school knew that much. Daphne’s being sent to boarding school made it all the clearer that she had been merely a figurehead, and that the sixth graders were more dangerous than ever for that danger being diffused among them.

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  26. Title: Parade of Lies

    Work count: 83,000

    Genre: Suspense

    Pitch: D.C. businesswoman Rainelle Ramsey wants to be heard, but not by electronic snoops. She takes on spies, soldiers, and sociopaths in a deadly duel fueled by government agents trying to cover up illegal electronic stalking.

    Excerpt:

    The man who started it all stood at the bar, deep in conversation with someone beside him. He was tall, big-shouldered, tight-assed. He balanced his bulk over smallish feet, giving the impression he could spring and pounce like a cat if needed.
    Rainelle noticed him in passing as she surveyed the crowd and picked out a handsome blonde at the pool table in the back.
    “Find someone different,” hissed her best friend. “Stop going after men who look like your ex.”
    Fresh off marriages to college sweethearts, they had tolerated her parents’ Thanksgiving for two long days before escaping on Saturday to a blues club in Tampa’s Ybor City.
    “Hair color was not the problem. Pathological lying was.”
    Absurd how she lived with him for twenty years and overlooked everything. Didn’t even notice until WHAM! Something happened too big to ignore and she realized she’d been fooled. Rainelle thought she was smart, until then. He made her question her judgement.
    She moved toward the blonde and made eye contact. He obeyed the signal and came over to say hello. They chatted about blues, Florida, his job selling computer firewalls to Israel. After he won a game of pool and brought her a beer she expected humping and grinding on the dance floor would be next. Then she looked up. The cat-like man stood before her. He said he was Paul, a Navy Seal from Minneapolis. He moved in. The other faded.

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  27. Title: I’m Only Me
    Word Count: 99k
    Genre: Women’s Fiction
    Pitch: First year teacher’s predetermined life is erased when she loses her job and sense of self. Her unpredictable neighbor tries to keep her from falling into chaos, but she ends up falling for him.

    Excerpt:
    Even at twenty-six, sitting in the principal’s office makes my knees shake. The wildflowers on my skirt flutter as if caught in a spring breeze on a mountaintop. I wipe my sweaty palms over the flowers to steady them, wishing I could transfer some of the moisture from my hands to my mouth, which grows increasingly dry by the second. Can Mr. Peterson tell I’m about to pass out from weighing all the possible reasons for this meeting?

    “Miss Morgan.” He folds his hands and brings them to his chin. “We need to talk.”

    Despite the impending doom from those dreaded four words, maybe this meeting is the normal end of the year evaluation conversation. Mr. Peterson will tell me how my first year as a full-time teacher was fantastic and how my freshmen loved me. But my brain is conditioned to expect the worst. And his sorrowful dark eyes and blank expression don’t suggest a Teacher of the Year nomination.

    “This school may not be the right fit for you.”

    Not the right fit? But this is McKinley High, the school that saved me from becoming a professional substitute, like a forever bridesmaid or an overqualified understudy. I shift in the stuffy chair and stare at my principal.

    “I believe there is an opening better suited for you elsewhere. I’ll have to make some calls.” His smile attempts to console but instead thickens the bile creeping up my throat.

    “I…I won’t be here next year?”

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  28. Title: Growing Wild
    Word Count: 67K
    Genre: Memoir / Punk lit

    Pitch: When K.P.’s parents drug her, drive her a thousand miles from home and commit her to an institution, she writes her autobiography.
    An authentic, honest account of 1980’s punk rock teen romance, bi-sexuality, self-harm and self-preservation.

    Excerpt:
    The Five Headed Monster of Excelsior
    May 15th 1982
    My parents aren’t anywhere around, they don’t come when I scream for their help. I am taken down, one person at each limb and another at my head. None of the people restraining me have uniforms or badges- how do they have any authority or reason to do this? As they drag me down a hallway, I writhe and scream for help and bite at hands that grip tightly at my wrists. Voices yell for me to stop, to calm down, to be quiet. Above me, I see bright lights, unfamiliar faces, pieces missing from the dirty drop ceiling panels. Bodies block my periphery; I can only see upwards and feel like I’m falling into a well- or hell. Nobody answers me as I scream, demanding what gives them the right to treat me like this. They are like a five-headed monster as they work in unison to drag me down. It’s like they have planned this all along and they have done it hundreds of times before.

    They toss me onto a mattress and the last limb of the five-headed monster locks the door behind them. It’s the most hopeless sound imaginable because in that second I know the door only unlocks from the outside. You know when a glass slips out of your hand and it’s too late to catch it, but it hasn’t hit the floor yet? I’m stuck in that moment – helpless, desperate, irreparable. The room is immediately smaller.

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  29. Title: UNDER A LANTERN SKY

    Word Count: 82,000

    Genre: Women’s Fiction with Romance

    Pitch: Amy flees New York for Japan, where love, friendship, and sushi await, but there’s only two weeks before the past catches up and shatters her island paradise. Eat, Pray, Love meets The Life List.

    Excerpt:

    The butter knife swipes across my hip and clatters to the floor, covering the linoleum tiles in red, sticky globs. I should’ve put it in the sink and rinsed it, but no, I had to stick it in the jar again, and apply one more spread of jam. Now it’s not only the kitchen floor that needs a scrub, but also my cream blouse.

    The letter—bearing a stamp with the Queen of England—lies opened on the counter, and now routine tasks floor me. Thoughts scatter round my brain like leaves dispersed by a blower on full speed. Focus. Just get through the morning. But how can I? The last thing I expected to receive the day before my birthday was a letter from my mother.

    A memory scrambles to the front of my mind from when I was about seven; a cable knit cardigan scratching my arms as my mom enveloped me in a hug after I’d spilled ketchup on my favorite My Little Pony sweatshirt. Her touch halted my tears, and the peppermint Trebor extra strong mint she offered up, soothed me. Could do with that hug right now.

    The click of the kettle breaks my reverie.

    “Toast!” I screech for the second time, stabbing at the stain with a wet rag plucked from under the sink, the stench of old milk transferring from the cloth to my work outfit.

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  30. Title: GOING UNDER
    Word count:49,408
    Genre: CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
    Pitch:

    MELODY HUGHES witnessed a murder and found herself taken by JACK DENISON, who has his own hell to pay. His motorcycle club president wants his downfall. Taking Melody captive may just be what saves him.

    Excerpt:

    Piss and sulfur in the alleyway clawed at my nostrils. I recognized it, wallowed in it. Hell, not too long ago I lived in it, waded through filth and destruction for that blissful next hit.

    “It’s the whole reason I’m back out here,” I affirmed out loud.

    Coming to places like this always brought the itch back. Reminded me how far I’d come, and how easy it would be to plunge back into that way of life.

    One hit and I’d be good.

    “This is stupid. Really stupid.”

    My skin crawled and the back of my throat itched. I coughed to scratch it, but the burn only intensified. The tiny holes up the inside of my arm could have been craters filled with black ooze, they hurt so bad. But you still came out here. Yeah, I did, because the streets made sense to me. I worked a dead-end job at a gas station because my criminal record kept me from doing more. An Ivy league education sat useless in my brain, unused by the ‘worthless drug fiend’ I’d become. It didn’t matter that I changed my life around. Three years ago I put down the needle and never picked it up again. My family and friend watched me destroy my life with enough interventions and promises to do better that they didn’t believe I ever would be.

    And maybe they were right.

    I tiptoed my way through refuse in the alley, where the messed up parts of my soul felt right.

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  31. Title: Book One of The Soul Bound Trilogy: The Warrior
    Word Count: 95,000
    Genre: Dark Romance, Paranormal, Suspense
    Pitch: Most believe Jace Camden a murderer and he’s been fighting to escape his past since his wife’s tragic death. But his past will not let him move on and as Jace believes he losing his mind.

    Excerpt:
    Five Years Ago
    His eyes were cast down and fixated by the dried blood on his hands.
    Laura’s blood.
    The brightness of the fluid hours ago on his hands was dark after the crushing passage of time—how much, Jace had no idea as even perceiving that basic concept impossible.
    “Mr. Camden? Do you know why you are here?”
    He heard the officer speak and cast a sorrow filled gaze upward to seek out the man.
    “Yes. My wife is dead.” His voice flat and devoid of emotion. Perhaps when the soul became overwhelmed, it just numbed out to react in order to protect itself. The two detectives looked at each other and stepped away to speak in whispers as Jace’s eyes returned to his hands. The only thing not covered in dark crimson the silver bracelets of the cuffs that encircled his wrists, which were linked to the table.
    Splatters of Laura’s blood were gruesomely dark against the white of his shirt, a rip near the cuff, a grass stain, and dirt from when they tackled him in the yard.
    Why had he been in the yard?
    The events of the day and night were fuzzy as if his mind was wrapped in flannel, surrounded by wool and refused to be exposed itself in the coldness of reality.
    “Mr. Camden?”
    The burly looking detective came in close to brace his arms on the table and met Jace’s eyes as they lifted upwards.

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  32. Title: AN ISLE IN THE SKY
    Manuscript Word Count: 93,000
    Category/Genre: Adult/Historical fiction
    Pitch: In WWII Warsaw, a Luftwaffe ace falls in love with Jewish girl from the ghetto. One wrong move against the Nazis will not only end their chance at love but also their chance at life.
    Excerpt:

    Chapter 1
    Warsaw, January 7, 1943

    Some memories are better left untouched.

    Five years after their first encounter, Warsaw was not the city Georg von Kirchhoff remembered. A lighthearted place pre-war, she had grown cold and uninviting, greeting visitors with the eyesores of damaged buildings in place of former architectural masterpieces. Dirty snow covered the ruins in a pathetic attempt to camouflage the sweeping transformation, all in vain, for the gloomy faces of Poles said it loud and clear: welcome to the devastation of war.

    The Opel Admiral limousine passed the mauled facade of what used to be a tenement building, judging by the twisted iron remains of balconies attached to the bare walls. Georg raised the collar of his overcoat. Somehow, the chilly draft found its way to his neck through the closed windows of the limousine that belonged to the Governor of Warsaw, Ludwig Fischer, who’d been kind enough to send his personal driver to bring Georg to their rendezvous at Café Adria.

    The Hotel European, Enrico Marconi’s Neo-Renaissance tour de force, came into view on the right side of Cracow Suburb Street. Undamaged. An unexpected pleasure rush rippled through Georg’s veins, warming his heart. Five years after he and Rachel had won the Youth International Ballroom competition, the European’s grand edifice stood as a monument to the Austerlitz of his youth. At least one intact place remained in Warsaw for an unrushed visit down nostalgia lane later on.

    “All right, Hans, I’ve seen enough,” Georg told the driver.

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  33. Title: NIGHTMARE BEAUTY
    Word count: 82,000
    Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
    Pitch: To break a curse, Rachel must stick together with a new romance. As she tries to make sense of an elderly witch’s mysterious warnings. She must also save all the innocent children of the world.
    Excerpt:
    Rachel Summers joyfully skipped in a field of blooming flowers. There were red, blue, yellow, pink and white flowers. She loved all the colors. She made sure she said “hello,” to each flower. She sniffed their warm and light fragrance. The sun was shining high in the sky. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. There was a very light breeze.
    Her mommy and daddy were with her too, Rachel and her mommy were both wearing dresses with a floral design on them. Rachel’s was a light blue. Her mommy’s was a light purple. And her daddy was wearing a long-sleeved light blue white buttoned T-shirt and khakis. Rachel and her parents giggled and smiled when the petals and leaves tickled their bare feet.
    The flowers went on for miles and Rachel was in complete contentment with her parents.
    “I want to have my birthday party here mommy!” Rachel smiled as she hugged her mommy.
    “Then we’ll have your birthday here. Do you know how old you are going to be sweetheart?” Her daddy asked her as he knelt down to her.
    “Six,” she answered, as she held up six of her fingers.
    “That’s right, honey,” her mommy beamed as she hugged their daughter. Her daddy high fived her as well.
    The three of them played in the flowers. Their laughter filled the air. Then, they played “Ring Around the Rosie” and a flower color guessing game. Then Rachel’s parents disappeared. And the joined family laughter disappeared as well.

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  34. Title: GHOSTLY SMELL AROUND
    Word count: 120k
    Genre: Literary noir with speculative elements
    Pitch: A dead future is all Michael brings with him from the reservation. But he knows dead don’t rest in peace. A ghost haunts the Chicago speakeasy where he works. Facing it might turn his future from death to life

    Excerpt

    Michael always knew when something was up with Blood, so he turned when he felt the gentle tug of a hand on his shoulder.
    Blood stood several feet away on the busy sidewalk, his hands in his pockets, eyes downcast, brow creased. He snapped his head up and turned to look down the straight throughway running from Lake Michigan toward the inner city.
    Michael looked too. Cars snaked in the street to avoid the few horse-drawn carts. People hastened on the sidewalk to get those few things on the way home before shops closed for the night. Kids weaved their way among adults, shouting and laughing.
    Michael listened. The whistle of the “el” from the nearest station cut through blocks of tenements. Honks of cars blew from the main street. The call of geese sailing southward rained down on him almost too soft to be heard over the noise of the traffic.
    He took a step toward Blood. “What?” he asked.
    Blood’s troubled gaze met Michael’s for just one moment. Then he whirled back, took one step in the direction he had been looking, stopped.
    A shiver ran down Michael’s spine and he shivered inside his coat. The cold wind, that must be it. They should be going. They were already late. Susie would be waiting.
    Instead he watched.

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  35. Title: Brynnde
    Word Count: 58,000
    Genre: Regency romance
    Pitch: Brynnde Archambault must find a suitor or else marry dull Mr. Dallweather. Alas, she only manages to make matches for all her friends. Can the charming Viscount Burbridge help?

    Brynnde’s thoroughbred kicked up dust as she spurred him up the tree-lined carriageway. She kept her own head low under her wide-brimmed hat, more in the hopes of not being noticed than for keeping the dust from her eyes. She was in trouble and she knew it.
    She rode astride the horse, having “borrowed” some of her older brother Nicolas’ clothing. It was something she did often, and her family had long since ceased to prevent her, except on days like today—days when important guests were expected to arrive. Brynnde had ridden out early that morning, fully intending to be back and presentable before nuncheon, but she had managed to get herself into a long conversation with Mrs. Davershire, wife of the gamekeeper, which had led to a visit to the gardener Mr. MacDonald to check on the recovery of his broken leg, and so she had lost track of the time.
    If the tenants were at all appalled at the sight of a daughter of the house riding in masculine fashion, they kept it to themselves. Surely, in Brynnde’s mind, that topic of conversation around Aux Arbres and the nearby village of Barrow Wood would have worn itself out long ago.
    But now they would have something new to fuel the gossip, namely Brynnde’s disgraceful arrival.
    She came to the front of the house and was off the horse even before they’d come to a full stop.

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  36. Title: AKROTIRI
    Word count: 106,000
    Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
    Pitch: Minoan priestess chooses sexy heathen foreigner as partner in sacred fertility rites. Her goddess vehemently disagrees & punishes her city with catastrophic earthshakes. Asta’s dilemma: kill her beloved or sacrifice her people. Mists of Avalon + Outlander
    Excerpt:
    Balmy breezes from the sea broke the late afternoon’s heat and added to the near perfection of my afternoon of freedom. The never-ending list of chores and my mother’s scrutiny seemed miles away, leaving me only with my cousin’s unhappiness, which I hoped an afternoon together would lighten.
    Julla’s misery was how I’d managed to escape my duties and mix with the crowds of Akrotiri’s marketplace for a few hours. Mama sent me to cheer her up and make Julla understand that the plans were the best for the House of the Ladies; even if they weren’t for my cousin and her boyfriend.
                To make Julla laugh, I grabbed a voluptuous clay figurine of the Mother Razija, and wiggled it under her nose, shimmying my own much smaller rear end. “Is this really what men find sexy?”
    Julla rolled her eyes, ignoring me. “I won’t ever forgive you if you pick him as your partner in the Rites, Asta. I mean it.” She turned on her heel ready to flounce away.
    “It’s only sex.” Why couldn’t she understand that?
    She twirled back, her beautiful face desperately sad. “Maybe one day you’ll be in love, too, and you’ll know how much more than sex this is to me.” 
    My face flushed even though I spent the past moon reminding her that Ikanos partnering me in the Rites was Mama’s choice, not mine. She disappeared into the crowded stalls and wagons laden with the bounty of treasures Akrotiri traded across the seas. 

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  37. Title: THE LAST BRONZE TALE
    Word count: 88,000
    Category/Genre: Adult/Historical Epic Adventure
    Pitch: Mercenary Teres must outmaneuver his enemies – all of them heroes of Trojan War, no less – to regain stolen inheritance and keep himself, his companions and woman he loves, safe through a bloody invasion of Egypt.

    Excerpt:
    Curse Agamemnon and all Achaeans! Teres swore in his mind as he imagined another day in full armor before they tottered back to Troy. Smell of pack animals and human sweat filled the dusty air around him and the two dozen Paeonian warriors he led as caravan rearguard.
    Teres’ scalp itched under the bronze helmet and the sweat washed down his dirty face. He scratched the lumpy scar running along his stubbled cheek and sighed. Some of his gear added to the misery and conspired to obstruct his movement or irritate him. His scabbarded short sword flapped against his knee and the waterskin kept sliding down the spear on his shoulder. The splashing sound of the water distracted him and gave him urges to piss.
    “Dropion, do you hear it?” Teres raised his hand and turned to his cousin marching next to him.
    “What?” Dropion’s thin, sharp face tensed.
    “My ass sizzling in my leggings.” The short burst of laughter startled a bony mule a few paces ahead.
    “How I miss the cold weather,” Teres said still smiling and lapsed back into silence. Images of the snow-covered mountains in his faraway home swam into his mind.
    Teres’ eyes were fixed on the rumps of the beasts and the swinging grain sacks on their backs. He yelled at a caravan driver to pick up pace when a spot of light flashed for an instant in his side vision. He gazed through squinting eyes, not sure about its exact location.

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  38. Title: Never Too Late
    Word count: 85,000
    Genre: Women’s fiction/second chance at romance
    Pitch: Jessica faces 40 with dread. Her friends form TeamHookUp and TeamHEA to help. But TeamSexyMD has his own plan to win her heart. Bridget Jones (w/o diary) meets After You.

    Excerpt:

    Jessica Jordan stood naked in front of the full length mirror, attempting objectivity—not so easy, given the subject matter. She’d been repeating the mantra ‘you look good for thirty-nine’ since she’d turned thirty-nine, but she’d only be thirty-nine for another four months. When February rolled around she’d hit the big four-oh, which felt like a death sentence for her youth. Just thinking about it opened a yawning pit in her gut.

    The mirror didn’t help. It showed the concrete evidence that forty was halfway to eighty. She could be closer to the end than the beginning. Closing her eyes, she pushed that ugly thought away, mentally stepping back from the edge of terror it always sparked. The numbers crept higher every birthday, but she didn’t feel as old as they sounded, and it frightened her to think of running out of time. She still had so much left to do, so turning forty caused her the tiniest bit of real panic.

    Even now, four months pre-birthday she struggled to reconcile how she felt on the inside with the way she looked on the outside.

    Opening her eyes, she squared her shoulders and faced her reflection. Her curly brown hair hung in loose shoulder-length waves tucked behind her ears. At least it hadn’t turned gray, so that was a point in her favor, and she’d take all the points she could get.

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