Day Twenty-one of the June Query Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Julie Dao & Mónica Bustamante Wagner
Jun30

Day Twenty-one of the June Query Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Julie Dao & Mónica Bustamante Wagner

Welcome to the June Query Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a query letter for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the query critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful. Here are the next two mentors and their critiques …   Julie C. Dao Blog | Twitter | Facebook Julie is a native New Englander who once studied to become a doctor – until she realized the only surgery she should be doing is revising her manuscripts. Though she is anything but a musical prodigy, she likes to write about them and relive her days as an orchestra geek. When she’s not working on her books, she enjoys reading, going for long runs, and beating everyone at Pictionary. She is represented by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency.     Julie’s query critique … Dear (Agent name): In her search for a story idea [Cut everything before this and begin here with “On”] on her first day as a newspaper reporter, Frannie Field Mouse encounters something quite suspicious [Add “that may just be perfect for her first story” and cut everything after the comma], and thinks her discovery is perfect for her first story. She’s convinced she has solved a mystery, but in her haste to get the story written, she finds herself in big trouble. [This is vague – what sort of big trouble? What are the stakes? Give a short, snappy explanation that makes the agent want to find out how Frannie gets herself out of this trouble.] I am pleased to present my picture book submission, [watch out for extra spaces] Frannie and the Splendid Spice Cake Mystery. It is an 863-word book for children between the ages of four and eight [I don’t think you need to specify the age group if you’ve already said that it is a picture book]. I have just discovered that it is similar to award-winning author Robin Newman’s first book of a new series, The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake: A Wilcox and Griswold Mystery, just recently released. Frannie, however, is a newspaper reporter looking for the perfect story for her first published article, and she has a very tight deadline to meet. There is no plan to make my book the first of a series, and it is most appropriate for younger children. Longer, unfamiliar words (i.e. typewriter, deadline, etc.) are intentional so that they may inspire...

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Day Twenty of the June Query Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Sarah Glenn Marsh & Kevin Springer
Jun29

Day Twenty of the June Query Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Sarah Glenn Marsh & Kevin Springer

Welcome to the June Query Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a query letter for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the query critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful. Here are the next two mentors and their critiques …   Sarah Glenn Marsh Website | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads Pinterest | Instagram Sarah is a young adult and picture book author. Her YA historical fantasy debut, FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP, will be released by Sky Pony in September 2016. She is represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency. Sarah lives in Richmond, VA with her husband and four rescued greyhounds, and when she’s not writing, she can often be found painting or antiquing. Sarah’s query critique … Coby married a drug addict and he regrets saying ‘I do’. Nice hook! When they got married, Coby said he’d never leave Jimmy. This feels a bit repetitive with your hook. Coby stays through Jimmy’s nervous breakdown, I think you could combine the first part of this sentence with the previous one, ie: “After witnessing his husband’s nervous breakdown, Coby questions his vow to never leave Jimmy’s side.” but when he finds a hidden stash of drugs and the meds Jimmy promised he was taking, the bottom starts falling out. Coby believes he’s the only person who can keep Jimmy stable Why is that? This feels a bit telling since you don’t give us any context. Has he been the only person who’s kept Jimmy stable in the past?; if Jimmy’s doing drugs again, Coby has failed. For the first time in their relationship, Coby questions his efforts to save the marriage. I’m not sure you need this last sentence; it might be punchier to end with “Coby has failed,” and I don’t think this last sentence adds new information. Tired of taking pills, Jimmy quits his psych meds cold turkey. He’s got a great job, good marriage, and he’s happier than he’s ever been–for the first week. The second week, he plasters on a smile, pretending he’s fine. Then, one misstep by his boss Where does he work? I want to know since you’re talking about a misstep by Jimmy’s boss being the thing that sends him into a downward spiral. It seems significant to the plot! sends Jimmy into a tailspin that lands him on the psych ward for two weeks of fights and a battle of...

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Day Nineteen of the June Query Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Natasha Raulerson & J.C. Davis
Jun28

Day Nineteen of the June Query Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Natasha Raulerson & J.C. Davis

Welcome to the June Query Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a query letter for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the query critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful. Here are the next two mentors and their critiques …   Natasha Raulerson Website | Twitter| Facebook Natasha is a writer of contemporary romance that often has a touch of danger. She is also the founder and host of Whiskey, Wine, & Writing, and overall nerd. Take a look around and feel free to drop her a line. She’s represented by Laura Bradford of the Bradford Literary Agency.   Natasha’s query critique… Query #38: Dear Ms. NAME: I hope you will consider my contemporary western suspense Longshot for representation. It is complete at 83,000 words. A year ago, out of nearly 800 entries, Longshot won the Authonomy First Line Contest. The title shouldn’t be bolded. It should be capitalized: LONGSHOT Jamie English has sworn off all men because she was left by her teenage sweetheart to raise their daughter on her own. This is a hundred women. Your hook should be detailed, engaging, and let me know right away why your story is unique. The rest of the query is about human trafficking so I would suggest using something along those lines. Think of it like a tagline for a movie. (Also I see nothing in the query about her single motherhood being pertinent to the plot. It’s okay to mention she’s a single mom, but your hook needs to be something strong, so make it count.) When Jamie’s father—the sheriff(Sheriff)—is shot chasing a human trafficker, he names Jamie as interim sheriff just before he’s placed in a medically-induced coma. Although terrified of failing, Jamie takes the job eager to prove herself. The first thing she does is call the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for assistance. I like that we get a little information here, but it’s not detailed enough. I assume Jamie is a deputy as she would need some sort of law enforcement background to be named the interim Sheriff. You need to be more detailed. Ie: Twenty-seven-year old Jamie English isn’t the greatest deputy under her father’s precinct, but when she’s named interim Sheriff after he’s shot, she’s determined to make sure the man who pulled the trigger pays. Agent Austin Varner is still shaken after the death of his last partner who died at the hands of...

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Day Eighteen of the June Query Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Samantha Joyce & Natasha Neagle
Jun27

Day Eighteen of the June Query Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Samantha Joyce & Natasha Neagle

Welcome to the June Query Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a query letter for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the query critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful. Here are the next two mentors and their critiques …   Samantha Joyce Twitter | Website | Facebook Samantha has wanted to be an author since she picked up her first book and realized authors get to create new worlds with just a pen and paper (or laptop, if you will). She loves to write about romance because, as someone who married her high school sweetheart, she absolutely believes in true love. She also loves making people laugh and feels love and laughter go hand in hand. If she can make someone both swoon and giggle with her words, she considers that a success. When not writing or at her day job, Samantha can be found either singing and dancing on stage in local musicals, or at home watching geeky television shows with her husband and their pet rabbit. Samantha is represented by Kathleen Rushall from Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC. Her debut, FLIRTING WITH FAME, will be published by Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster in 2016.  Add it to your Goodreads list below:   Samantha’s query critique Query #36: Nasia has grown up in a family burdened by prophetic visions and cursed with never being believed (Never being believed by her family or her peers? Is she not believed because of her visions?). All she wants is to be normal, not follow the path of all the women in her family. She does not want to be the next high priestess or an oracle. (The last two sentences say very similar things. Are you able to combine them together?) But someone decides to ruin what normalcy Nasia has created for herself by stealing her family’s grimoire. An ancient text that holds the secrets to destroying the gods. (This isn’t really a fully sentence on its own. Perhaps link it to the grimoire.) I feel like there is more to this. How does the stolen grimoire affect Nasia’s life? Is it her responsibility to get it back? I think you can expand this section a bit to give us more of an insight into what Nasia’s “normal life” is and how it is affected when the grimoire is stolen. “Someone” is a bit vague. Is there any more detail you can give...

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Day Seventeen of the June Query Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors …  Alexandra Alessandri & Molly Lee
Jun26

Day Seventeen of the June Query Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Alexandra Alessandri & Molly Lee

Welcome to the June Query Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a query letter for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the query critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful. Here are the next two mentors and their critiques … Alexandra Alessandri  Alexandra is a proud Colombian-American living in South Florida with her husband, son, and hairless pup. By day, she’s an English professor, and by night, she’s penning children’s fiction—from picture books to young adult novels. She’s a member of SCBWI and is represented by Deborah Warren of East West Literary. Twitter | Website | Pinterest | Facebook Alexandra’s query critique Query #34   Hi there! This is cool concept, and there’s lots of promise for suspense and nail-biting moments. You’ve also got all the right components here. I hope my comments and suggestions are helpful! Dear Query Workshop, I’m seeking representation for FATAL FLAW, an 80,000-word suspense thriller. (I don’t think you need to say “suspense thriller.” A thriller is, by definition, suspenseful, right? Just “thriller” or “suspense novel” will work.) It will appeal to fans of the movie, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE and the book, THE BED I MADE by Lucie Whitehouse. [It’s best to start with the pitch—jump right in! You can easily add the book info after. If you have a specific connection, however, (e.g. you met the agent at a conference and they ask you to query them), definitely start with that. Also, you don’t need to say “I’m seeking representation.” They already know this because you’re querying them! J I will add this caveat: agents have their preferences, and some will prefer the title, genre, and word count right at the top. If that’s the case, then follow their preferences.] A small college town in rural Colorado should be safe. [Good start. It intrigues me. I also expect, by this opening, that the college town will actually NOT be safe, so it makes me want to know why.] That’s what Kesari Chavez thought when she first arrived at Northeast Colorado University as a freshman. And for three years, it has been. [You can tighten these two sentences. Since it’s been safe for the last three years, we don’t need to know that she thought this when she arrived. You can shorten and combine, something like: And for the last three years, Northeast Colorado University has been. Also, give us a hint as to her character.] She expects...

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Day Sixteen of the June Query Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … KT Hanna & Leatrice McKinney
Jun25

Day Sixteen of the June Query Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … KT Hanna & Leatrice McKinney

Welcome to the June Query Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a query letter for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the query critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful. Here are the next two mentors and their critiques … Katie Hanna KT Hanna has a love for words so extreme, a single word can spark entire worlds Born in Australia, she met her husband in a computer game, moved to the U.S.A. and went into culture shock. Bonus? Not as many creatures specifically out to kill you. Her debut releases on August 4th, 2015. When she’s not writing, she freelance edits for Chimera Editing, interns for a NYC Agency, and chases her daughter, husband, corgi, and cat. No, she doesn’t sleep. She is entirely powered by the number 2, caffeine, and beef jerky. Note: Still searching for her Tardis   Katie’s upcoming release… Pre-order today! Amazon When Sai’s newly awoken psionic powers accidentally destroy her apartment complex, she’s thrown into an intensive training program. Her only options are pass or die. Surviving means proving her continued existence isn’t a mistake–a task her new mentor, Bastian, takes personally. Her abilities place her in the GNW Enforcer division, and partners her with Domino 12, who is eerily human for an alien-parasite psionic hybrid. After eliminating an Exiled scientist, she discovers someone is manipulating everything. With each mission more perilous, Sai must figure out who to trust before her next assignment becomes her last. Twitter | Website   K.T.’s query critique Query #32 I am seeking representation for my SciFi novel BLUESHIFT, complete at 94,000 words, in which a brain-injured teacher travels back in time to prevent a despot in the past from becoming a technological god in the future. I always err on leaving this at the end to try and hook the agent with the query first, however, some agents want it first, so I’d say customize accordingly. Three hundred years ago, the Cataclysm tore a rift in the fabric of space-time. Leander Forest, a physics teacher in the 1920s, has been inside that breach. His time in the void left him unable to perceive time and space, but it also afforded him the power to “blueshift” – to bend the fabric of universe. Getting to the market in under two minutes without his motorcart is his favorite trick. But I would cut this, Basically – it’s all backstory and worldbuilding....

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Cornerstones Literary Consultancy is  looking for editors … and clients
Jun24

Cornerstones Literary Consultancy is looking for editors … and clients

Cornerstones the No. 1 literary consultancy in the UK, www.cornerstones.co.uk – is looking to branch out into the US. They provide editorial feedback to writers and scout for agents and have launched many writers over the years: Sarwat Chadda, Liz Kessler, Ava McCarthy, Jane Yardley, Lezanne Clannachan, and Kate Glanville to name a few. They are looking for editors who reside in the US and who know both the US and UK market. They also want to spread the word to writers in the US that this service will be available over the coming months. Please contact helen@cornerstones.co.uk or refer to www.cornerstones.co.uk for more information. Follow them on Twitter and their blog for the latest news: http://twitter.com/cornerstoneslit...

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Day Fifteen of the June Query Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Mindy McGinnis & Jeanmarie Anaya
Jun24

Day Fifteen of the June Query Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Mindy McGinnis & Jeanmarie Anaya

Welcome to the June Query Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a query letter for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the query critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful. Here are the next two mentors and their critiques … Mindy McGinnis Mindy is a YA author who has worked in a high school library for thirteen years. Her debut, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, a post-apocalyptic survival story set in a world with very little freshwater, has been optioned for film my Stephanie Meyer’s Fickle Fish Films. The companion novel, IN A HANDFUL OF DUST was released in 2014. Look for her Gothic historical thriller, A MADNESS SO DISCREET in October of 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books. Twitter | Website | Goodreads     Mindy’s upcoming release … Pre-order today! Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound Grace Mae knows madness. She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum. When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past. In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.   Mindy’s query critique … Query #30:   Below is my query for THE OTHER EYE Seeking revenge for a beating he deserved, sociopath Bobby Lee Stover commits a mass shooting. An innocent victim, young Jim Dunn is left blind in one eye. This is a good hook, and I’m curious to read more. However, the phrasing you have at work in the second sentence is passive, which takes a little bit of the punch...

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The Writer’s Voice Agent Round Begins!
Jun19

The Writer’s Voice Agent Round Begins!

Welcome to Team Coffeehouse for The Writer’s Voice. It’s been a few weeks of revisions with our team and we couldn’t be more proud of their hard work. Joining Brenda Drake and myself, Nikki Roberti, to coach the team was the amazing Kimberly P. Chase. Since you already know about Brenda and I, go visit Kimberly to find out more about her and buy her book! She’s amazingly kind and talented! Kimberly P. Chase Website | Twitter Buy The Apollo Academy today!   What is The Writer’s Voice? “The Writer’s Voice” is a multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by Brenda Drake , Mónica Bustamante Wagner , Elizabeth Briggs , and Krista Van Dolzer . We based the contest on NBC’s singing reality show The Voice, so the four of us selected projects for our teams based on their queries and first pages and coached the talented writers who wrote them as they polished their entries. And TODAY we get to post our team members’ finished entries on our blogs! Twelve amazing agents are going to read these queries and first pages, then vote for their favorites on Tuesday, June 23. 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 noon EDT on June 24, at which point we’ll determine which coach’s team received the most votes (and let this year’s ninja agents take a crack at the entries). 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. Our twelve amazing agents: Caitie Flum of Liza Dawson Associates Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary + Media Erin Harris of Folio Literary Management Lauren MacLeod of The Strothman Agency Sara Megibow and Renee Nyen of kt literary Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary Agency Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, Inc. Courtney Stevenson of Pippin Properties Caryn Wiseman of Andrea Brown Literary Agency   And here are the links to our teams entries … Team Coffeehouse #1 – DEVIL SPRINGS (YA) Team Coffeehouse #2 – MIDGARD (MG) Team Coffeehouse #3 – FOSTERING HOPE (YA) Team Coffeehouse #4 – THE...

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The Writer’s Voice: Team Coffeehouse #1 – DEVIL SPRINGS
Jun19

The Writer’s Voice: Team Coffeehouse #1 – DEVIL SPRINGS

Genre: YA Contemporary Word Count: 69,000 Query: The devil has come to Devil Springs. Except he hasn’t. Not at all. But try and tell that to Mayor Avis Kneller. This is not the senior year Mesa Merritt pictured. She’s already suffered through her grandmother Avis’s restrictive dress code and no boy rule. Now Avis ratchets up her expectations and declares spiritual warfare on behalf of the town’s teens. (Stupid skinny dipping cheerleaders and their stupid Facebook posts.) Mesa is sick of being bullied into fake piety, but standing up to Avis will mean losing the small freedoms she does have including her spot on the cross country team. Most unfortunate since she’s started training with the yummiest possible running partner, Cody Howard. But when she won’t get baptized as Avis mandates, her alienation begins. (Public schoolers sneaking alcohol into the pastor’s daughter’s party–so not helping.) The devil may not have come to Devil Springs, but judgement has. Mesa is left hopeless in its wake until a storm rolls in on top of Avis’s devil-banning march. Mesa’s neighbor with autism goes missing during the chaos, and Mesa needs a swell of faith, at least in herself, to find him. First Page: Avis cries out in the kitchen, but I hesitate to see if I’m really needed. My grandmother likes to holler. “Mesa! Get in here!” I toss my book aside and move toward the sharp scent of ammonia that lingers from Avis’s post-breakfast mopping. She stands at the sink, blood dripping from her finger onto the glossy linoleum. “Get this out of the way.” She shoves a colander filled with strawberries toward me and lifts her hand in the air. I grab the bowl as the blood runs down her wrist, and seeps into the cuff of her blouse, crimson blooming in white threads. “The devil attacked me.” Her voice is sharp, hissing. The revelation vibrates between us. That’s so Avis. Brimming with melodrama and crap. She cut herself, the paring knife she’d been using to hull the berries slipping as knives sometimes do, but I nod. Kenzi and her mom will be here in ten minutes to pick me up for our senior picture appointment; Now’s the time for placating. “He’s in this town. Staked his claim into its very name.” Her favorite topic. Avis has been trying to get the town name changed from Devil Springs to Life Springs for as long as I can remember. I return the strawberries to the fridge, consider popping one in my mouth, but decide against it. It’s hard to tell if they suffered any blood splash. “I’ll get the Band-Aids,” I...

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The Writer’s Voice: Team Coffeehouse #2 – MIDGARD
Jun19

The Writer’s Voice: Team Coffeehouse #2 – MIDGARD

  Genre: MG Fantasy Word Count: 47,000 Query: Twelve-year-old Stian wants to be the greatest Viking ever, but when he convinces his dad, the leader of his village, to let him go on his first raid, he fails. Miserably. A well-timed dive and a little help from a mysterious fireball are all that save him. Stian needs a second chance. When he discovers Dahlia, a twelve-year-old dark elf, spying on his village, he pursues her into the forest. Stian’s role quickly changes from the hunter to the hunted when Dahlia uses magic to capture him and brings him before her mother, a prophetess. There, Stian learns a completely different story of his life—that he is the son of Loki, Asgard’s greatest enemy. Uncertain if Dahlia’s mother is crazy, but knowing that he is meant to do more than just be an ordinary Viking, Stian decides to discover the truth himself and free Loki from the clutches of Odin. Only then, will he know who he is and what he is meant to do, and maybe, put the so-called gods in their place. But first he must out-think, trick, and defeat Thor’s children. If he succeeds, he may well become the world’s most famous Viking, but if he fails, he will fall victim to the gods’ merciless justice. First Page: Are you alone? Good. Keep an eye out for Thor and Odin. They won’t like you talking to me. You see, I know the truth; something they desperately don’t want you to know. That’s why they made up all those stories about how Thor did this and Odin did that. Jerks. Let me tell you what really happened, but before I do, I need to let you in on a little secret. Well, two actually. First don’t believe everything you read. Especially if it’s written by an Aesir. Second, those tales about Odin and Thor are actually about me. Yes, a twelve-year-old boy. To be fair, I’m not an ordinary boy. I’m a Viking. So here it goes, the truth. It all started on the morning of my first raid. # Adrenaline coursed through my veins as I dropped the last log onto the fire. Sparks erupted from the flames. I jumped back, managing to avoid most of them. My hands danced around my pants, smothering the few embers which struck me. I took a deep breath. I needed to calm down. My hand swept across my forehead. Sweat mixed with the dirt on my hand and made black streaks across my palm. No telling what my forehead looked like. I closed my eyes. I’m going on this raid. Those...

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The Writer’s Voice: Team Coffeehouse #3 – FOSTERING HOPE
Jun19

The Writer’s Voice: Team Coffeehouse #3 – FOSTERING HOPE

Genre: YA Contemporary Word Count: 53,000 Query: Fifteen-year-old Reece never thought for a second that his social worker’s plan to get him into Wickersley Academy would come to anything. The slick, shiny brochure from the boarding school didn’t scream, “Wanted: Biracial foster kid. Extra points for having a mom in jail and abusive grandparents.” But an academic scholarship sends him into the clean corridors of the prestigious institution and way out of his comfort zone. The pampered white kids aren’t exactly the kind of people he’s used to hanging out with. He doubts they’re going to give him the time of day, but his social worker insists he give them a chance. Between shooting hoops with his housemates and awkwardly romancing the girl from Sophomore English, Reece begins to feel he’s found a home. After he witnesses a white town official shoot one of his black classmates, Reece learns that the perpetrator may walk free of all charges. He stages a protest demanding justice, but the taste for revenge is strong. If his inner rage wins out, it could mean the loss of the future he’s started to build and of the man he’s becoming. First Page: The bag I carried was almost as empty as my expectations for the coming year. As I searched the hall for my new room, a kid in a Wickersley Academy uniform glanced my way. I recognized his facial expression. Living in white society for fifteen years had taught me what suspicion looked like. Hopefully he wasn’t my new roommate. To my right, a lady in a grey dress with black, knee-high boots was saying, “…and be on time to class. Oh, and remember to take your vitamin each night.” The boy she spoke to looked like he’d heard this speech one too many times. He leaned against the wall, twirling his key chain over and over. In the other direction, a man wearing a sport coat and jeans stood with a boy who looked a lot like him. The father gently slapped him on the back and said, “Let’s get something to eat before your house meeting.” My father and I had never shared a meal together and my mother sure as hell never gave me anything, least of all advice on how to stay out of trouble. It was weird being a part of these family scenes. I wanted to be someplace else. “Found it, Reece. Your new home.” Holly pointed at the number seven on a door. I fumbled for the key in my pocket. The little metal piece felt odd in my hands. I’d never owned a key before....

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