The Writer’s Voice … agent round is live!
May19

The Writer’s Voice … agent round is live!

  The Writer’s Voice” is a multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by Monica Bustamante Wagner, Elizabeth Briggs, Kimberly P. Chase, and me. We’re basing it on NBC’s singing reality show The Voice, so the four of us will serve as coaches and select projects for our teams based on their queries and first pages. We also had guest “celebrity” coaches this year, and I would like to give a special thanks to Heather Webb for helping Team Brenda this year! I couldn’t have done it without her this year! Here’s more about Heather … Heather Webb is the author of historical novels BECOMING JOSEPHINE and RODIN’S LOVER (Plume/Penguin, Jan 2015).  A freelance editor and blogger, she spends oodles of time helping writers hone their skills—something she adores. Find her twittering @msheatherwebb or contributing to her favorite award-winning sites WriterUnboxed.com and RomanceUniversity.org.   Also, many thanks to the participating agents:  Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary + Media Emily Gref of Lowenstein Associates Taylor Haggerty of Waxman Leavell Literary Agency Erin Harris of Folio Literary Brianne Johnson of Writers House Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, Inc. Holly McGhee and Elena Giovinazzo of Pippin Properties Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency Renee Nyen of kt literary Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary Agency Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency Bridget Smith of Dunham Literary Monika Verma of Levine Greenberg Literary Agency Caryn Wiseman of Andrea Brown Literary Agency Plus two secret ninja agents who will be requesting too! The agents will vote for their favorites on May 22. Each vote will count as a partial or full request depending on how many votes the entry receives. If an entry receives 1 or 2 votes, those votes will count as partial requests. If an entry receives 3 or more votes, those votes will count as full requests. Voting will stay open until 9:00 a.m. EDT on May 23, at which point we’ll determine which coach’s team received the most votes. That coach will win bragging rights for time immemorial, and everyone who received requests will be able to submit their materials to all the agents who voted for them. These votes represent serious interest in your project, so PLEASE DON’T ACCEPT AN OFFER OF REPRESENTATION BEFORE GIVING “THE WRITER’S VOICE” AGENTS AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A COMPETING OFFER. To read the other teams’ entries, please use the following links: Team Monica Team Elizabeth Team Kimberly  Check out the following posts for my teams’ entries! Lastly, cheerleading is allowed, but only until Wednesday! We want to leave the comments free for the agents to vote on Thursday. (Also, we...

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TWV B-1: SimSim
May19

TWV B-1: SimSim

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi Title: SimSim Word Count: 75,000 Query: Trader, pirate, crook – take your pick, they all describe Ali Baba Khan, and he doesn’t really care what you call him. There’s only one thing on his mind, and that’s making the Reformation pay. They took everything from him – his home, his livelihood, his beloved wife – and now he’s going to destroy them. Twelve long years of careful planning have led him to this point. Twelve years of moving from plant to planet, planting seeds throughout the Fringes of space that will spark a revolution. Twelve years of struggling with the demons inside, haunted by dark secrets he can’t even share with his crew. And that’s because Ali Baba Khan’s cloned crew is one of the greatest secrets of all. They just don’t know it. Twelve years, and it all went so smoothly. But when a man from his past steps back into his life, threatening to expose his true identity, Ali Baba Khan must make a choice: Abandon his plans on the cusp of completion, or kill and run, taking his ship and crew into hostile territory where he’ll be hunted. SimSim (75,000 words) is a completed work of adult science fiction that is loosely based on Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. First 250 words: The house lay in ruins – roof blown out, walls collapsed, fire and smoke everywhere. Piles of rubble dotted the area, the remains of other houses, an entire neighborhood razed to the ground, wiped completely from the map. This was no accident, the raven-haired man thought, scanning the wreckage. It couldn’t be. The targeting was too precise. A square mile of devastation stretched around him, with his home at the epicenter, the focus of this destruction. That stank of military. And because there were no emergency crews around, no fire brigade, no first responders looking for survivors, he knew without a doubt that the Government had done this. Only the Reformation could so bold, co callous as to murder dozens of people and not even care. “God. Oh god.” His legs buckled, sending him crashing to his knees. He should have been in that house. He should have been killed with the others, buried in all that rubble. “It’s all my fault,” he whispered, staring numbly at a child’s doll lying half buried beneath a shattered toilet. “What have I done?” he asked it, leaning forward, reaching for the doll. It had button eyes, yellow yarn hair, red thread for lips. He fished it out, and immediately wished he hadn’t. The doll had been cut in half, legs torn away,...

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TWV B-2: A MAGIC DARK AND BRIGHT
May19

TWV B-2: A MAGIC DARK AND BRIGHT

Genre: YA Gothic Romance Title: A MAGIC DARK AND BRIGHT Word Count: 84,000 Query: Seventeen-year-old Amelia Dupree hasn’t seen the ghost who haunts the woods surrounding her hometown of Asylum, Pennsylvania, since her brother died. Desperate for any connection to her brother, Amelia spends sleepless nights watching the forest. But the Woman in White seems to have disappeared…until Charlie Blue moves in next door. Amelia can’t help liking him, even though she spent her childhood thinking his grandmother was a witch. And she definitely can’t ignore the connection between his arrival in town and the Woman in White’s return. When Amelia and Charlie make contact with the Woman in White, they learn she’s a prisoner, trapped between the worlds of the living and the dead. Devastated by the idea that her brother could be suffering a similar fate, Amelia turns to magic. But then Amelia’s classmates start to turn up dead in the Susquehanna River, and rumors swirl as people start to connect the timing of Charlie’s arrival with the unexplained deaths. As they uncover the truth about the Woman in White and her history in Asylum, Amelia and Charlie realize that their magic may have unleashed an unspeakable evil. One they have to stop before everything they love is destroyed. A MAGIC DARK AND BRIGHT will appeal to fans of the moody small-town atmosphere of April Tucholke’s BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA and the mystery of Sarah Rees Brennan’s UNSPOKEN. First 250 words: A woman haunted the woods behind my house. I used to watch her from my bedroom window. She glowed silver in the moonlight, a pale wraith in a white dress that curled around her ankles and twisted in an ancient wind that didn’t touch the pine trees around her. My brother, Mark, used to tease me about my interest in her. Some days, he called her my obsession. On others, my overactive imagination. “Watch out, Amelia,” he’d say, throwing his hand against his chest, “She’ll lure you out into the woods and steal your soul.” But that was before. I hadn’t seen her in six months, not since the night she watched Mark die. I pressed my palm flat against the screen and waited, like I had almost every night since I’d come home from the hospital. Nothing stirred outside; the line of forest along the edge of our yard stood still. Black branches stretched toward the sky. Not even a breeze fluttered the gauzy curtains around my windows. The woods were empty. Everything was empty. “Come on,” I whispered, like I could summon her with my words. The clock in the...

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TWV B-3: HERITAGE BLADE
May19

TWV B-3: HERITAGE BLADE

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy Title: HERITAGE BLADE Word Count: 84,000 Query: Sixteen-year-old Jay is the most lethal secret walking the streets of Chicago. Trained to hunt rogue Pandorans—supernatural beings who cross into this world through Pandora’s Box—he’s making a name for himself as the boy who smells of blood and magic. But people like Jay, known as Sentinels, are only good at what they do so long as no one knows they do it. The Sentinels have kept to the shadows for millennia, so when Jay inadvertently reveals himself while rescuing a damsel faking distress, his superiors threaten to toss him down a dark hole for the rest of his life. On top of that suck salad, someone or something has put a price on his head. Now he’s gotta find the jackhole responsible, as well as the girl who started this mess, before everything that goes bump in the night arrives to collect. HERITAGE BLADE is the Moral Instruments meets The Dresden Files. First 250 Words: Seven stories high, Jay paced the ledge of a building like a caged panther; anxious, eager, and irritated. How the hell did a four-legged, supernatural, killing-machine the size of an F150 vanish? Magic was an easy answer but transport spells left remnants—potent ones. He would’ve sensed something like that a county over. “Not like it took the metro,” he reasoned. The pounding behind his eyes intensified and he pinched the bridge of his nose. If he hit one more dead-end, he’d shoot something or himself. In the face. Think, idiot. Howlyngs weren’t the Einsteins of their kind. Eat, sleep, repeat. But this one’s smart enough to hide. Damn thing must’ve gone underground after its last kill attracted Primetime attention. The newscast flashed through Jay’s mind; a sobbing mother pleading for clues about whoever mutilated her daughter. There was no who. He gripped his sword, banishing the memory, and scanned the skyline. The Near North Side rose around him with buildings transformed to solid shadows by the overcast night. Sirens crested and faded like the tide. The tangy scent of the lake drenched the air, and the wind belted him with bitter cold, cutting through his leather armor. October in Chicago—arctic. Police found the girl’s remains in the alley below. She was a petite thing. The howlyng wouldn’t stay sated for long. There was one trick Jay hadn’t tried. It would expose him to the beast but prevent another innocent having their throat ripped out. He stood. Desperate...

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TWV B-4: THE MAGICIAN’S DAUGHTER
May19

TWV B-4: THE MAGICIAN’S DAUGHTER

Genre: Historical Title: THE MAGICIAN’S DAUGHTER Word Count: 92,000 Query: Not many women are magicians in 1870s Paris, but that doesn’t stop Valentina Gianetti—until the day her father is killed onstage. She puts her onstage career on hold to find his killer, and soon finds herself entangled in an underground society of spectacular performers that are much more than they seem. Helping Valentina in her quest are the honest, Daire O’Flynn, and not so honest, Cooper Mathers. The three follow new leads to old murders, discovering a conspiracy that transformed a government and removed a king. As Valentina moves in on the truth, she becomes the killer’s next target. With her life, and the lives of those she cares about in jeopardy, she devises a plan she expects will bring due justice. The last thing she expects is to fall for both Daire and Cooper. THE MAGICIAN’S DAUGHTER will appeal to readers who enjoyed THE HISTORIAN, THE NIGHT CIRCUS, and THE THIRTEENTH TALE. I’m a technical writer by day and an aspiring author by night with an unhealthy addiction to the BBC. First 250 words: The Eve of Vienna – 1871 The custard of the small fruit tart gently jiggled with the rumbling of the train. I was hypnotized by its slight vibration, if only to distract myself from what I soon faced. The tranquility of my private carriage lulled me into a moment of calm. I lit the small candle poking from the tart’s middle and closed my eyes. “Happy birthday, Mama.” The flame extinguished before I could take a breath to blow it out. I smiled. I didn’t have to turn around to see him standing in the doorway, though he made no sound. Sterling Caindale was, after all, the best magician in Europe. “Are you prepared for tomorrow?” His English accent sounded like home. “I’ve practiced the three acts so many times I could perform them with my eyes closed.” “Good girl.” He smiled, the wrinkles around his eyes deepening. I wondered what he kept from me. It wasn’t only his growing paranoia that tipped me off, but the way he became more and more distracted during his performances, almost expecting an interruption. “I have a gift for you,” he said, producing a small red flower between his fingers and presenting it to me. The instant that my fingertips brushed against its stem, the flower disappeared, and in its place hung a gold necklace with a simple red pendant. “It’s beautiful. Thank you, Father.” His eyes twinkled. I knew he appreciated the term. I knew two things of my real father – His mum’s name was...

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TWV B-5: TROUBLED
May19

TWV B-5: TROUBLED

Genre: YA Contemporary Title: TROUBLED Word Count: 57,000 Query: Sixteen-year-old Kyle Grimstone will do anything to escape the barbaric regime at St. Bonaparte Military Academy. He can’t endure two more years under Headmaster Sterm. The deranged dictator’s questionable disciplinary methods drive cadets to the brink of suicide. The school board’s annual review is Kyle’s best chance to get out early. If he proves he’s changed his reckless behavior, he’s free to leave. But like all decisions at St. Bonaparte, Sterm has the final say. When a defiant new cadet arrives, the school’s rigid policies turn upside down. Blazing fires, explosive wake-up calls and beautiful girls remind the cadets what true rebellion tastes like. Kyle knows the revolution could destroy his early ticket out of St. Bonaparte. If he fails his upcoming review for release, he must be ready to execute a less civilized escape plan and force Sterm to set him free. Fans of Piper Kerman’s ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and Ned Vizzini’s IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY might enjoy this story. First 250 words: We run. Single file, silent, through the slush and mud. The splatter stains our sweat pants like blood from a gunshot wound. I fix my eyes on the feet in front of me, counting each step. The steady rhythm distracts me from the icy burning in my throat and lungs. “Pick it up, piss ants!” Bates and Oden recline in a golf cart, their golden chariot, rolling next to the line of steaming shaved heads. We run. Lap eight is no different than the previous seven. The damp cold doesn’t relent. Sunlight won’t arrive until 0700 hours. “Grimstone, do your legs work? Run, you gimpy bastard!” Bates and Oden address us all the same way: loud. Nobody receives criticism in private. Fear of humiliation is their most powerful weapon. Soon, everyone will hear about last night… I’ve never been so deep in shit. It must have been a week’s worth of shit—the officers hadn’t flushed. How they put up with the stench, I’ll never know, but their diligence paid off in the end. Bates and Oden got drunk and shot me with pellet guns as I unclogged their private toilet. The warm moisture in the air made me wretch. Plastic pellets pierced my skin, a welcome distraction from the nauseating mess around my wrists. My arms and hands still burn this morning. There isn’t enough soap in the world to clean my soiled skin. No steal wool can ever scrape away the filth under my fingernails. Getting clean is impossible here. All I can do is wait to escape. “Grimstone!” They pull...

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TWV B-6: ONE OF THOSE TIMES
May19

TWV B-6: ONE OF THOSE TIMES

Genre: MG Magical Realism Title: ONE OF THOSE TIMES Word Count: 30,000 Query: When twelve-year-old Sam Heans finds a tattered datebook on the sidewalk, it doesn’t take long for him to realize it’s everything but ordinary. The book contains clues of things that will happen to him—or so he thinks. The book isn’t predicting Sam’s future, it’s instructing; telling him to do things that either put his neck on the line, or humiliate him in front of the entire school. He’d stop following its instructions, only he’s convinced that finding the book was fate. But in order to learn the book’s true message, Sam must follow all of its instructions to find answers, even if that means doing some unthinkable things, like swinging off Dead Man’s Jump into the river, or trying out for the lead female part in the play. If he doesn’t, Sam will miss out on guidance that will help him put his timid ways aside and keep him from living a life filled with regrets. ONE OF THOSE TIMES should appeal to fans of Rebecca Stead’s WHEN YOU REACH ME and Ellen Potter’s SLOB. First 250: Sometimes people can do the dumbest things, for no reason at all. Like last year when Joe Pentel tried to drink an entire gallon of chocolate milk in under an hour without chucking it up. Which wasn’t pretty, by the way. Not me though. I’m way too big of a wimp for that sort of stuff. So you might be wondering why I’m about to do something that will most likely bring my twelve-year no-hospital streak to a painful end. Because it was written in the datebook. Apr 14 – Soar If I’ve learned anything by now, it’s that no matter how crazy it seems the datebook’s advice is always right. Either that or it’s trying to kill me. To be honest, I’m still a bit fuzzy on that part. So that’s how I found myself squeezing the brakes on my bike, my eyes slammed shut, sitting on the edge of the ridiculously steep hill behind my house. I squinted over my handlebars, and my stomach turned. A tiny speck at the bottom marked the flimsy ramp that my best friend and I had just thrown together using some scraps of wood from my garage. “What if you die?” Rye asked. He looked anxious, like it was him on the bike. I faked a laugh. “You have the lens cap off, right?” “Check.” I let off the brakes and started down the hill, mashing the pedals on my BMX to pick up speed, which I’d need if I wanted...

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TWV B-7: THE HEAD TRIP
May19

TWV B-7: THE HEAD TRIP

Genre: Contemporary Romance Title: THE HEAD TRIP Word Count: 76,000 Query: Ballsy Los Angeles publicist Lettie Gold has the kind of life plenty of women fantasize about, studded with red carpet events and celebrity clients. But when her musician fiancé David abruptly breaks things off at his shrink’s suggestion and heads for New York, her life splinters into a thousand glittery pieces. Since David won’t take her calls, Lettie’s left with no choice but to track down her man in person. And she only has six days to do it—he’s leaving the country for a soul-searching trip to Europe. Lettie takes to the road with a most unexpected passenger riding shotgun: Dr. J. Preston, the very same psychiatrist who talked David into ditching her. With a few coincidences on her side and one tiny lie of omission, Lettie hoodwinks the bookish young doctor into coming along. Stuck in a car together for all those hours, she’ll have plenty of time to make him understand how perfect she and David are for each other. By the time they get to Manhattan, she’s sure he’ll be only too happy to help her make things right. Lettie makes plenty of wrong turns along the way. But each one brings her closer to seeing how lost she’s been all along. With so many setbacks, she’s no longer sure they can make it to New York before the clock runs out—or, if she still wants to. The love Lettie finds waiting for her in Manhattan will have been well worth toughing her way across the country for. It just might not be with the man she had in mind… THE HEAD TRIP will appeal to fans of funny, contemporary romance such as Sophie Kinsella’s Can You Keep A Secret, Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me, and She Went All the Way by Meg Cabot. First 250 words: Lettie tipped the last bitter swallow of coffee into her mouth and scowled at her mug’s brown-stained, grain-speckled bottom. There was no mournful sadness like an empty coffee cup. She glanced at the time on her laptop, which sat fired up on the bed with the Skype window open. Six fifty-seven a.m. Not enough time to brew more, even though she needed it. Badly. The two coats of mascara she’d hastily swept on earlier felt like Maybelline’s exclusive new lash-thickening formula of concrete and lead. Maybe she looked better than she felt. With a few mouse-clicks, Lettie activated her laptop’s camera so she could preview what David would see on video chat. Oh, dear God. Her under-eye bags looked packed for a weekend getaway, and the pimple on her...

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TWV B-8: BEAST
May19

TWV B-8: BEAST

Genre: MG Fairytale Retelling Title: BEAST Word Count: 54,000 Query: Twelve-year-old Elliot wants nothing more than to prove he’s got guts. The schoolyard bully thinks he’s a wuss, and even Elliot’s best friend, Hammer, and his overprotective mother both know he isn’t very tough. So when the town begins the  hunt for a missing reporter rumored to have been taken by a mythical beast, Elliot decides to take matters into his own hands. He will find the man and monster on his own. Unfortunately, Elliot discovers all too soon that the creature is very real. Even worse, the guilt-ridden beast traps him with magic and his soul becomes caged within the monster. Elliot berates himself for his dumb move, but quickly uncovers the beast’s greatest secret—it can turn invisible at will. In a desperate attempt to contact Hammer in the hopes she can help him escape, Elliot learns the disappearing technique and controls the body he’s trapped in while the beast sleeps. But the monster discovers Hammer’s and Elliot’s companionship and threatens to hurt Hammer if she doesn’t go away. Just as Elliot thinks the enraged beast is the worst of his problems, Hammer’s father commits her to an asylum for believing in monsters. Now Elliot must face his biggest fear—risk his life to save his friend, or be stuck inside the beast for eternity. First 250 words: Death waited to seize the careless. That’s what mom said because Dad died falling from a roof. He was dancing like Zac Efron trying to show off for her. I was only a baby. And thanks to dear old Pop, Mom made me a prisoner in my own home. “Quit riding your bike fast. It’ll tip over and your skull will bust open on a rock,” she said, as if we had boulders in our yard. “I’m twelve.” I hit the brakes, sliding to an intentional halt. “You getting smart with me?” Mom stood on the porch with her hands pressed against her hips. “Look what you did to my yard.” Grass had lifted away from the dirt. Awesome! I smirked. “Think it’s funny? Well, you can put your bike up for the day. How’s that Mr. Hawk?” “Man.” I knew better than to argue. Mom always ruined my fun. Don’t run. Don’t jump. Don’t, don’t, don’t. She believed everything we did in life had dire consequences. But the only results I ever saw from my “reckless behavior” was her grounding me. “I’ll be home late,” Mom said as she got into her silver beater-with-a-heater. “I’d better not hear any talk about you running around town. Stay home. Hear me?” “Yep,” I answered...

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