B14: ADULT MYSTERY: PORTSIDE SCREW
Mar08

B14: ADULT MYSTERY: PORTSIDE SCREW

  Title: “Portside Screw” Age Category: Adult Genre: Mystery Word Count: 99k Pitch: Retired PI turned fulltime boat bum, Jack Cubera, alongside Skeg, an eco-maniac, must destroy an egregious land development to save Islamorada’s pristine backwaters or surrender it all to crafty mobsters, ingenious kingpins, and shady politicos. First 250 Word of Manuscript: Chapter 1 The human head bobbed to the surface of Florida Bay like a lobsterpot buoy, the hair slick as a seal’s coat and the ears so brightly backlit with sunset they glowed a fiery orange. For a moment, Jack Cubera feared it was severed from the torso, but as the current tipped it forward the nose caught like a rudder in an eddy and the body surfaced, rotating clockwise in the tidal swirl. Jack stowed his fishing rod, grabbed his paddle, then angled his kayak toward the body as his fishing partner, a neighbor’s kid from the docks, paddled in behind him. “That a manatee?” the kid asked. Jack dragged his paddle through the water then rested it across his thighs and let his kayak drift. “Don’t come any closer, kid.” “What’s wrong?” A sweat bead traveled the bridge of Jack’s nose then rolled off the tip, spattering through his walrus-like mustache. As he dragged a hot tongue over the salty bristles, the dead body released a trumpeting fart of intestinal gases, sank away, then buoyed back. “Seriously. What is that thing?” “Give me a second.” In his seven years of fishing the backcountry, Jack had happened across plenty of strange flotsam—bales of weed, Haitian rafts, an abandoned seaplane—but never anything this unusual. As he considered his next move, the bloated mass rolled like a keeling boat, bringing a face pale and veiny as boiled haggis to the surface. Set over its hooked nose was a pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses, each lens reflecting a sky bleeding out in those reds and oranges usually reserved for Mai Tais laced with...

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B13: ADULT FANTASY: DAUGHTER OF FURY
Mar08

B13: ADULT FANTASY: DAUGHTER OF FURY

  Title: Daughter Of Fury Age Category: Adult Genre: Fantasy Word Count: 110,000 Pitch: Protecting Councilman Argos is better than drinking herself to death after her girlfriend is kidnapped, but when Rhea finds Liga just to watch her die, she’ll destroy everything rather than leave her people enslaved. First 250 Word of Manuscript: The jeers of the crowd that amassed in the cramped alleyway behind The Gilded Stag grew louder by the minute, but all Rhea could hear was the blood pumping in her skull. The hulking woodsman’s hand tightened around her neck, choking her airway smaller and smaller. She could either act now, or die here behind the only place in the Southlands that felt like home anymore. All over a spilled drink. # It wasn’t one of her finer moments. She was drinking at the Stag, alone, for the third time that week — and her coin purse had suffered for it. There was enough left for one last drink, maybe two if she limited herself to the cheapest ale Fager had to offer. But her taste prevailed, so she pushed the last of her crescents across the bar for a pint of her old favorite. *Life is shit*, Rhea thought to herself while tucking the empty purse back into her pocket. The least she could do was make sure her mead wasn’t. She tipped the gleaming, curved glass toward her mouth until the rosy amber liquid began to burn her tongue. Liquid amnesia was worth every last crescent she owned. That’s when he showed up. Rhea didn’t know much about Erro, other than he worked in the Woodwall gathering lumber, loved his drink perhaps more than his wife, and took any opportunity to laugh at Rhea’s expense. That, and his breath smelled of sour milk. The foul stench of it entered her nose as he shoved his way past, eyes trained on an empty seat on the far side of the...

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B12: YA CONTEMPORARY: FAULT LINES
Mar08

B12: YA CONTEMPORARY: FAULT LINES

  Title: FAULT LINES Age Category: Young Adult Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 81,000 Pitch: Teen mechanic Zoe is tired of people treating her like she’s fragile just because she was born with brittle bones. When she meets Dylan, she hides her condition: a decision that could break her heart. First 250 Word of Manuscript: Senior hall is deserted. Completely. Picture a sno cone shack in Antarctica, and they’re out of fish flavor so not even the penguins are interested. The slowest stragglers have made it to class or slipped out the back, unnoticed by the school resource officer. Homework has been handed in. Lessons have started. The echoes of the tardy bell have long since dispersed into open space. Everyone is where they should be. Except me. I should be sitting in chemistry, listening to another yawn-inspiring lecture on molecules. Taking notes. Suffering through a pop quiz. Instead, I’m staring at the gold fliers that have been carefully taped to the face of every senior girl’s locker. Except mine. Reaching out, I tug the flier off the closest locker. The paper must not be as strong as the tape, because it rips, leaving a jagged gold scar on the deep blue paint. I doubt Julie will mind if hers goes missing. When the principal tried to force her to go to a pep assembly on the first day of school, Julie stood in the middle of the commons and declared that she would rather gouge her eyes out with a hot spoon than participate in a single activity planned by Student Council. I’m guessing Powderpuff Football is only the tip of that massive iceberg. The flier’s various grammatical mistakes are showcased in some ridiculously perky font that has to be named Cheerleader or Spirit Squad. Morgan Townsend, the president of the Student Council, probably paid for it out of her own pocket just so she could use it for this...

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B11: YA FANTASY: A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN
Mar08

B11: YA FANTASY: A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN

Title: A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN Age Category: Young Adult Genre: Fantasy Word Count: 76K Pitch: To appease the violent spirit of her murdered sister, Princess Anh agrees to marry a foreign king so she can investigate in his country. But now the assassin’s after her. Vietnamese and Maori-inspired elements. First 250 Word of Manuscript: My shoulders stretched against the silk of my *xia lai* as I wrenched myself up to the highest branch that would still carry my weight. A mother dragonbird in the nest above cawed and flapped her wings in an attempt to drive me away. If only one of her feathers would flutter down to me. I stilled, waiting until the kitten-sized bird stopped panicking. But a hopeful breath later, my patience gave out. I’d need to get the feather straight from the nest. The iridescent blue and green bird dove down at my face then hovered, battering me with its wings. I couldn’t risk injuring her or the ritual wouldn’t work, so I curled into the tree trunk, pressing my lips together to avoid a mouthful of feathers. As gently as possible, I brushed her away, and she landed just out of reach. “I won’t hurt you or your babies. I promise,” I muttered, as she hopped frantically along a thick twig. I didn’t quite trust the branch not to splinter below me, so I circled the trunk with one arm and groped up into the nest above my head, praying for the sensation of one of those long, beautiful feathers against my fingertips. Dry grass…twigs…fluffy down that wouldn’t do. The mother bird screeched at me, and I hurried all the more. One egg, then two. A silky length! My heart sang even as my arm muscles cried. I plucked the feather from the...

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B10: YA CONTEMPORARY: DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND
Mar08

B10: YA CONTEMPORARY: DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND

  Title: Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend Age Category: Young Adult Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 78,000 Pitch: When Mattie tries out for the baseball team, she learns who she can trust to stand up for her. But can she learn to stand up for herself before her Tourette’s makes her strike out? First 250 Word of Manuscript: “How do you get out of this forsaken maze?” My dad rarely gets angry. He says it messes with his chi. But today his chi is pissed. I catch up to him just as he turns helplessly down the freshman hall, which leads to the gym, so I tug on the sleeve of his paint-flecked t-shirt in the opposite direction, toward the office. “We’re gonna sue the daylights out of this school,” he grumbles. “What?” I grab his sleeve, bringing him to a halt in the doorway to the secretary’s office. “They can’t do this; it’s not lawful—” “Dad, we are *not* suing my school! I have to *go* here, you know!” “Mattie, this is bigger than—” “No, it’s not! It’s not bigger than me. It’s exactly the size of me! It is me! It’s about me!” Now, I know that sounded like the start of a monologue by the most spoiled brat in the history of humanity, but come on! High school is hard enough without a pending legal battle. Not ten minutes ago, I overheard a junior basketball player tell his friends that a freshman’s angry dad had called the office to rip into the secretary about his daughter not being allowed on the baseball team. He called it “The Battle of No Bulge” loud enough that I know he meant for me to hear. “Just wait here, Mattie.” Dad points to the line of fold-out chairs outside the office and disappears. I let my face fall into my hands as I plop down,...

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B9: YA SCI-FI: SCARS WE BARE
Mar08

B9: YA SCI-FI: SCARS WE BARE

  Title: Scars We Bare Age Category: Young Adult Genre: sci-fi Word Count: 72,000 Pitch: When 17-year-old Olivia discovers her dad’s amputation scars, branding him as a sub-human wingless being from the planet Keres, she’s forced to confront her biases, or risk losing the only father she’s ever known. First 250 Word of Manuscript: Everyone dreams, at some point, of flying. Not going to the airport, getting scanned, and spending a few hours staring out of an eight inch square window. I’m talking about when you reach your hand out of the car window and feel the wind slicing through your fingers. Looking down from a high building and getting that sensation of falling. Like being on vacation with your family, the seat belt cutting into your lap a little as you bounce over hills in the country. Like all of that, only lasting however long you want because the wind couldn’t hurt you, because you won’t ever fall, and there is no seat belt holding you down. When I asked Mom what she thought it would be like, flying, a crease formed between her brows, and she looked at me as if I had read some passage she had posted long ago and forgotten, one I now confronted her about. I asked because of all people, I thought she should know—working with the anthies. Their days in captivity had rendered them flightless, she confessed, so she felt unprepared to answer my question. “Do you think they miss it?” When she didn’t answer and I saw her eyes, I knew she was millions of miles away—maybe even back on Keres where we had spent the first five years of my life. Later I learned I never should have asked my mother that question because she couldn’t possibly have known the answer. I should have asked my...

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B8: YA CONTEMPORARY: STAGED
Mar08

B8: YA CONTEMPORARY: STAGED

  Title: STAGED Age Category: Young Adult Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 61,000 Pitch: After seventeen-year-old country singer Paxton Parker loses her record contract, she teams up with her bestie to stage tabloid pictures. But trusting he’ll only sell photos she approves might cost her career. First 250 Word of Manuscript: Skyscraper Louboutin’s and liquor were a bad combo. If my manager hadn’t nudged me through the stage curtain, I would’ve chucked those stilts. Barefoot. Now that’s a statement. With a rhinestone microphone clutched tight, I stumbled through the darkness on stage. A sea of haters stirred like wild animals. Static and animosity prickled the air. Nerves always raked my skin before every performance. Not tonight. I wouldn’t have felt flames lick the sweat beads off my forehead. White lights danced across the band already in position with guitar straps tight across their chests and drum sticks inches from play. The entire front row flipped me off in unison thanks to my scandalous breakup with country superstar, Chad Holloway, but I waved at the ten people holding sparkly “Paxton Parker” signs. Turns out, opening for my ex-boyfriend was like playing country music for jailbirds who’d requested rock. “Hel-lo, Dee-troit.” Jack Daniels vapor wrapped the microphone. “We have a great show for you tonight.” Music blasted my back and I tottered, bracing myself with the silver microphone stand. Words trickled from my mouth, slower than the beat, but faster than the echo in my head. I pirouetted on one five inch heel, my skirt flowering higher than my panty line. The drumbeat pumped blood to my heart, and the lights flickered and swirled as I collapsed on stage with a thud. Screams and bursts of laughter sliced through the shadows, rising toward the ceiling like billowing smoke. Camera flashes flickered with the brightness of a thousand strobe...

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B7: YA SPECULATIVE THRILLER: THE DARKNESS RISES
Mar08

B7: YA SPECULATIVE THRILLER: THE DARKNESS RISES

  Title: The Darkness Rises Age Category: Young Adult Genre: Speculative Thriller Word Count: 68,000 Pitch: After fourteen people die because Whitney saves the wrong man, she vows to stop rescuing people. But when someone sets out for revenge, Whitney must find the courage to save one last life—her own. First 250 Word of Manuscript: The Dallas night was like a sweaty palm clamped over my mouth, but a welcome improvement from the chaos inside—the rooms were too cramped and the thudding bass made even my eyeballs rattle. At least I could hear myself think outside. Near the fence, two guys passed a cigarette back and forth, studying me over the rims of their Coors Light cans. Heat crept down my neck when I saw them whispering, eyes still trained on me. “Relax.” Marissa grabbed my arm like I might make another escape attempt. She wasn’t too far off the mark. “They’re just checking you out.” As if in answer one of them stepped closer, curls of smoke snaking out of his nostrils. “You here to take our car keys away?” He drawled, offering a smirk before taking a large swallow of beer. I couldn’t remember his name, but I vaguely recalled wrestling a set of keys from him at a party last year after I’d seen him stumbling toward the exit. “No.” I answered flatly, hiding my hands behind my back so he wouldn’t see them ball into fists. “I don’t do that anymore.” The backdoor opened, spilling music into the yard as several more people escaped the stuffy house. I turned, grateful for the distraction. Beau Gunter led the pack, a pitcher of his infamous punch in one hand and a stack of cups in the other. “Ladies!” He grinned at us from under a low-slung hat brim. “I couldn’t help but notice your empty hands, and I can’t have empty hands at my...

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B6: YA SCI-FI: INTO THE SKYE
Mar08

B6: YA SCI-FI: INTO THE SKYE

  Title: Into the Skye Age Category: Young Adult Genre: YA – sci-fi Word Count: 83000 Pitch: One brother loves her, the other wants her dead. They both want the throne. Lucas and Ash land on Earth turning Skye’s junior year to chaos. Dune meets I am Number Four. First 250 Word of Manuscript: Skye’s Converse squeaked on the zombie gray linoleum. The oversleeping had to end. She headed to the office for yet another tardy slip. The pungent odor of paper, rusty metal and sweaty gym shoes filled her nostrils. Morning announcements crackled over the loudspeaker. *Damn*. She was later than she’d thought. It may be her seventeenth birthday, but Marie, the secretary from hell, wouldn’t let her slide. What a great start to achieving her goal for junior year– to keep her head down, her grades high and finish without too many horribly embarrassing incidents. She slid to a stop just outside the office door and caught herself on the door handle. *Yeah, like that*. Skye shook her head and pushed inside the stuffy office, almost colliding with the broad shoulders of a tall blond hair boy. Wow! Two disasters averted in less than one minute. The birthday angels must be hovering close by. She took in his perfectly filled out chocolate hoodie and inhaled the heavenly scent of his cologne. A welcomed break from the normal spiciness of Morristown High. Her skin heated several degrees. She plopped into a hard metal chair to await her execution and plucked at her Pink Floyd t-shirt. Was the heater on? She couldn’t afford being sick. If she wanted to get into Columbia University her grades needed to stay right at the top. But her recurring dream over the last year had become harder to shake off. A dark-haired guy with sapphire eyes, pulled her through a dusty ruined city on a barren golden...

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B5: YA URBAN FANTASY: VITIUM
Mar08

B5: YA URBAN FANTASY: VITIUM

Title: VITIUM Age Category: Young Adult Genre: Urban Fantasy Word Count: 73,000 Pitch: Seventeen-year-old Superbia has an arrangement with Death: if she survives working as his newest assassin, he’ll resurrect her brother. But failing even one mission will transform her from Death’s favorite hitwoman to his newest target. First 250 Word of Manuscript: As an Aspect of Death, I know exactly when I’m supposed to die. Down to the very second. But standing at the top of the New York Times Building, I’m suddenly not so sure. Ambulance sirens below me whirl in my ears and a warm April breeze caresses my face. My lungs expand as I take in a breath. It feels strangely final. *No*. I won’t die. And, to prove it to myself, I leap into the open air. The rushing winds lash against me and rip my cheeks. My arms tense and I almost want to shield myself from the cool air. But just as terror lances through me, so does adrenaline. Confidence surges beneath my skin. “Look at the world, Dani! You run this shit!” I shout. Screams from below interrupt my boasting. A kid points in my direction and yells for help. The people on the ground will probably be calling 911 soon. I have to act fast. “*Ignore me*,” I command them. My voice strains in the gusts of air blowing around my face. They can’t hear me down on the ground, but another Aspect perk is that they don’t need to. As long as I can see them, my commands work. And sure enough, people go back to what they’re doing—buying street meat from sidewalk vendors, laughing with friends, taking pictures. *Good*. I swing my eyes to my left and see a stone ledge coming fast. Beyond it, inside his penthouse condo, my target’s waiting for...

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B4: MG FANTASY: AMANDA JONES AND THE QUEST TO SAVE ZEE
Mar08

B4: MG FANTASY: AMANDA JONES AND THE QUEST TO SAVE ZEE

  Title: Amanda Jones and the Quest to Save Zee Age Category: Middle Grade Genre: Fantasy Word Count: 53,000 Pitch: Amanda had one job: protect her little sister Zee, an eight-year old with Down Syndrome. But she failed. Now Amanda must brave a world of warring Goblins and Fae, or Zee will be lost forever. First 250 Word of Manuscript: In a land both far away and very close, the Goblin King paced before his throne. His attendants cowered behind aged stone columns, crowding each other in an attempt to see without being seen. Unlike the king, they boasted claws and beaks, horns and talons, fur and muck. They filled the room with the scent of wild things. “Where is he?” the king demanded. A bat-winged goblin bobbed in the air at his side. “H-he’s coming, your highness,” she hissed. “We’ve reports he’s entered the city.” The crowd murmured. They were dressed in their best. Swords polished and scabbards rubbed to an oily sheen. Crones wore their better robe, and desert goblins scrubbed the grime from their teeth. All for a ceremony that couldn’t take place without the prince. And his sacrifice. The throne room doors burst open, booming as they hit stone walls. “At last,” the bat-wing goblin hissed. “He’s here. Your highness, he’s—“ The prince stepped into the throne room, and the goblins gasped. They glanced from the prince to the king, and saw the black of the king’s eyes deepen. Shadows crowded the walls behind him, moving like dark whispers across the cold stones. The king stalked to the boy in measured steps, power following him like the black silk of his cape. The goblins waited. A few chanced to whisper; their hisses swarmed the room, bouncing from the naked stone walls and flying on the cold winds that cut through the ancient...

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B3: MG FANTASY: DANDELIONS
Mar08

B3: MG FANTASY: DANDELIONS

  Title: Dandelions Age Category: Middle Grade Genre: Fantasy Word Count: 55000 Pitch: The worlds Quilla created by wishing on dandelions are dying. She is the only one who can save them, but her sister’s murderer swore to kill her if she returned. Time for an epic plan. First 250 Word of Manuscript: Aaron shouldn’t be here. My first day of middle school and my best friend from the world I made when I was five stares at me from across the room. It’s impossible. No one from my made up world of Wonderland can be on Earth. But here he is, sitting on the other side of the room, like it’s no big deal. He smiles at me, eyes bright, and waves. His eyes are as blue-green as the sea, hair black as my favorite pen, dark brown skin lighter than my own. A scar runs from behind his left ear and down his jawline. It cuts across the right side of his lips, skates around the bottom of his nose and ends at the corner of his right eye. I will never forget the flash of Gunnar’s sword as it swung toward Aaron, and his body crumpled to the ground. The final day of fighting in Wonderland. The day my sister, Amy, was lost to me forever. The last day I saw him. He got it trying to protect her, trying to help me. I trace the puckered skin on my left arm, circling around my wrist and thumb. I quickly sign, “How are you here?” but he looks away from me as our teacher calls for our attention. My interpreter, Lucy, signs my name, Quilla, and I raise my hand. I can’t focus on anything else Lucy translates. My hands shake, my chest is tight, and I blink away...

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