Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pitch Wars Alternates YA Showcase

Alternates Showcase!

The agent round for PITCH WARS brought to you by Brenda Drake is happening now over at the YAMisfits blog. Hop over there and follow them and view the agent round January 23-24. The talented panel of agented/published authors, industry interns, and editors have worked for over a month with their teammates to help get their pitches and manuscripts ready for some fabulous agents. To view the teams go here, and for a list of the awesome participating agents go here.

ALTERNATES SHOWCASE! As a special reward for waiting in the wings, we are putting the alternates on a few host blogs and inviting agents to stop by and make requests. ALL AGENTS ARE WELCOMED TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS EVENT. Please AGENT COMMENTS ONLY. Will open to all other comments after the agent round. Thanks!

Here are the blogs hosting the alternates' pitches:

MIDDLE GRADE:  Deanna Romito's blog
YOUNG ADULT: Brenda Drake's blog 
YOUNG ADULT:  Monica B.W.'s blog 

TWITTER PITCH PARTY! For those of you who didn't make it into Pitch Wars, there will be a twitter pitch party on the hashtag #PitMad on January 25 from 8AM to 8PM EST. So get your twitter pitches ready and make sure to include the hashtag in your 140 character count. The rules are: be polite, any genre can be pitched, and pitch each time you see an agent on the hashtag (pitch continuously throughout the day). ALL AGENTS ARE WELCOMED TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS EVENT.

Scroll down to view the pitches!

Alternate K1- ONE TWO THREE

NAME: Elodie Nowodazkij
MENTOR: Dahlia Adler
GENRE: YA contemporary romance
WORD COUNT: 70,000

35 WORD PITCH: Falling in love scares the crap out of seventeen-year-old former ballerina Natalya, but sexy soccer player Antonio may be the only one who can help her deal with her Papa's suicide and Mama's vodka addiction.

FIRST 250:

Chopin´s music is the soundtrack of my life. Papa taught me how to play his most heart-wrenching Waltzes, Mama used his Nocturnes as lullaby when I was little, and my legs itched to form an arabesque whenever I heard his Polonaises Op. 40. Chopin used to be my escape, a way to dream about the future, about everything I wanted—from finally falling in love to dancing the main part of Cinderella one day at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.

But that was before.

As Mama drives me to school, the notes from his Prelude Opus 28—also called “Suffocation”—don´t bring a smile to my face. They oppress me. No matter how deep I try to inhale, I don´t get enough air into my lungs.

Mama turns the music down and exhales loudly. “We can´t go through the same thing every single morning, Natalya.” Her don’t-mess-with-me tone doesn’t scare me. What is she going to do? Ignore me even more? I’ve learned how to keep everyone at least a rond de jambe away partly thanks to her, aka The Master of Not Letting Anyone Close. Not even her daughter.

 “Are you listening to me?” Mama snaps. The morning sun sends shimmers through her blond hair but no amount of concealers could hide her bags. I’m not sure she’s slept a full night since we heard the news about Papa.

Eight months, three weeks, and two days ago.


 “I don’t want to see you practice again.” She sounds tired.


NAME: Tamara Walsh
MENTOR: Kimberly Chase
TITLE: Against The Falling Moons
GENRE: YA SciFi Romance
WORD COUNT: 95,000

35 WORD PITCH: When Auri falls through a rip in her world and lands on Earth with amnesia, the boy she loved risks his life to follow-but the most dangerous thing Auri can do is remember him.

FIRST 250:

Ten years earlier...

      Digger’s terror hits me as soon as I glide out of the trees and see him. My doggy is atop a nearby hill, the yellowish light of the Rip hovering behind him like a giant mouth. Knowing my suspension-board won’t fly this close to it, I leap down. Digger’s fear hurts, like a needle poking my brain. He’s trapped and, as I run towards him, I feel what Digger feels--the mesmerized urge to throw myself in the Rip. Tears fill my eyes, but I focus on the thin silver thread in my mind that ties me to Luc. It throbs steadily, like a rope wrapped around me, keeping me safe. 
I stop at the base of the hill, afraid I’ll give into the Rip’s hypnosis if  I keep going. My heart beats like a caged bird. What now? There’s nothing but relief when an adult steps from the nearby forest.  But, in the silvery light of the Thrice-Moon I see the emotion-trails streaming off him. They’re black, like smoke. Black. He walks towards me and I scream in terror, “Diggy! Come on!”
Diggy topples over, sound asleep. I blink in confusion, then I’m climbing towards him and the Rip is grabbing me…tugging me…
“Luc. Luc. Luc.” I chant his name, like it will keep me safe from the gaping mouth of the Rip in front of me and the shadowy trails of the man behind me.

But it doesn't. It doesn't keep me safe at all. In the end, it’s only a name.

Alternate K3- THE MEMORY BOX

NAME: Sarah E. Robinson
TITLE: The Memory Box
GENRE: YA Contemporary
WORD COUNT: 84,000

35 WORD PITCH: Her brother’s obituary, the name of her mother’s therapist, and beer tabs are all items Cassie’s saved in THE MEMORY BOX.  And Travis Beck – a mixture of dimples and bruises – holds the secret why.

250 WORDS:

Object:      Glow Bracelet
Obtained:   Chase Morgan’s spring break party
Memory:    Meghan said Chase wanted to meet at midnight, so we tip-toed through the house and sprinted across my front lawn to his jeep waiting at the corner. We entered the party exchanging five dollar bills for glow bracelets. This allowed us access to the keg and alerted the boys to which girls were drinking. Talking, joking, dancing, drinking games, and then my mother busted through the front door.

Sitting in church on the first Sunday of September, I watched as familiar faces filtered in through the arched doorway to my far right.  Besides my frame of mind, it was like any other Sunday I’d spent in this church since my birth.  There were the same wooden paneled walls, the same golden carpet blanketing the floor, and the same hard pews I cursed at every week, for sixteen years.   

I closed my eyes and opened my ears to the peaceful hymn floating down from the sound system above me, hoping it would calm my mood. 

It didn’t work. 

In an attempt to amuse myself, I pulled out a pen and started to doodle on the church program in my lap, decorating the corners with paisleys, hearts, and flowers.  Pastor Grey’s sermon was titled, Inviting God to Fight your Battles.  I wondered if I invited Him to fight my mother, if he’d help. 

Using the words on the program, I started to make acrostic poems.

C  assie
H  ates
R  ules !!
I   s being
S  lowly
T  ortured   


NAME: Naomi Hughes
MENTOR: Danielle Ellison
TITLE: The Shadowed Flame
GENRE: YA Fantasy

PITCH: Being the only male Unicorn Rider--and being in love with his partner--is just the beginning of Jackson’s problems when he discovers the unicorns are keeping a secret that could destroy the world.

FIRST 250:
The worst part about being a Unicorn Rider was that we had to stay pure of body—meaning we were pretty much doomed to eternal virginity. As far as I knew, I wasn’t even allowed to kiss a girl. It didn’t matter anyway. The only girl I wanted to kiss was a rider too, and she’d never leave this lifestyle for me. Even if I tried to steal a kiss—which would be epic—she’d probably deck me for the effort.

“Jackson! Stop staring at me and focus,” came a frustrated hiss from my side. I snapped out of my reverie and shot my partner, Moira, an apologetic grin.

“Sorry. You, uh, had a bug on your face.”

She rolled her eyes and stabbed a finger at the meadow below us.

“Fine, fine.” I scooted forward on my stomach to peer over the rise again. “New monster. Giant worm. Very dangerous. I know.”

“You’re lucky worms don’t have ears, or that thing would’ve eaten you by now.” Moira slung her bow off her back and drew out an arrow, shaking her head.

“For your information, it would not eat me.” I glanced at the forest behind us to watch the oak leaves flutter. Good—the breeze was still carrying our scent away from the creature. “It would take me prisoner. Everyone knows monsters only eat ugly people. I, being charming, handsome, muscular, and hilarious, would merit being kept in a little golden cage at its side to provide entertainment.”

Alternate K5- ROGUE HEALER

NAME: Laura Rueckert
MENTOR: Deana Barnhart
TITLE: Rogue Healer
GENRE: YA Light Sci-Fi
WORD COUNT: 80,000

35 WORD PITCH: Stay away from humans. Easy for Lexi—until she falls for Garrett. Her species can't survive without donor bodies, and he'd be perfect. But preventing Garrett's donation means betraying her people...and risking the Council's wrath.

FIRST 250:
I knew it was rude to eavesdrop, but I'd gotten used to it. When you had as few friends as I did—meaning none—you had to get your information from somewhere.

"Bet Ben is going to flip," Trow said to Beth.

"Why?" Beth asked.

Feigning preoccupation with my textbook, I slunk after them into Modern History class.  

"He has major issues with Relatives," Trow continued. "And Mrs. Knapp is going to introduce us to one."

Just inside the door, I stopped cold. Introduction to a Relative? That was impossible. My mouth went dry, and if I hadn't known better, I would have thought my heart had stopped too.

Someone behind me didn't notice me standing stupidly in the way and smacked into my back. I whirled around. It was the new guy who'd been sitting in the back of the classroom since last week.

"Sorry," I stammered, as my brain scrambled for composure.

New Guy offered a little smile and opened his mouth to say something, but Mrs. Knapp blew into the classroom and motioned for us to sit down.

All of the seats were taken except two. The new guy rushed to the one at the rear window.  The seat I wanted. That left one right in the middle for me.

As I lowered myself into the chair, I surveyed the room. If the truth really came out, I'd have to make it past twelve students to get to the door or ten to escape through the window. 


NAME: Dannie Morin
MENTOR: Kimberly Chase
TITLE: Imperfectly Fine
GENRE: YA Contemporary
WORD COUNT: 59,000

35 WORD PITCH: Sixteen-year-old Skylar Benson has cystic fibrosis and expects to die before everyone she loves. When she witnesses her rockstar father's murder, she must do the one thing she never expected--survive.

FIRST 250: 
      I'm a "friggin' miracle"
      That's what my dad says. He says so twice tonight. First, as I pin the white stephanotis blossoms to the lapel of his tuxedo, then at the reception during our less-traditional father-daughter dance.
      In Dad's heroin-altered universe, my craptastic lungs, toothpick frame and piss poor immune system make me miraculous. In reality, these are symptoms of cystic fibrosis. My body produces thicker mucus than normal. So I get sick. A lot. And I'll probably die before I'm thirty.
      Miracle, my ass.
      I pluck a gazillion pins out of his bride's hair. Elaborate, blonde curls tumble down the back of Angela's white linen suit. She does a final makeup check in the powder room's mirror before we head back to the reception, so she and dad can make their grand exit. There are rumors of a confetti cannon. Dad likes to put on a good show.
      “Skylar, you're absolutely sure you won’t come to Mexico?” Angela asks.
      I'm stoked for them, but I'm not down with playing third wheel during two weeks of carnal wedded bliss. Cuz that wouldn't be awkward. “You guys deserve a real honeymoon. Just take a ton of pictures, okay?”
      Angela nods, eyes radiant; like she still can’t believe they finally tied the knot. I dab a tear from beneath her eye before it smudges her flawless makeup.
      “C'mon, Mrs. Benson. Your husband is waiting for you.”
Dad shakes his hair out of his eyes, revealing gaping holes in his earlobes where ten-millimeter gauges should be.

Alternate K7- YESTERSEER

NAME: Sophia Chang
MENTOR: Michelle Painchaud
GENRE: YA/Historical Fantasy
WORD COUNT: 85,000

35 WORD PITCH: Gifted with Sight, a power that allows her to see memories, Uzbekistanian teen Serebat flees her tiny farm and shamed reputation for the city of Ladan-a-Shir to find the orange-eyed man who haunts her Sight – a man whom other Seers say is her destiny, and the man who is the Conqueror who slaughtered her people and took their city.

FIRST 250:

          Ironically, it was my sister Patinka who taught me how to sneak out of the house. Years ago, when she still crept into 
my bedroll to brag about her surfeit of suitors.
     Our front door sits politely in the shadow of our clay house, hiding even from the moon. Quiet and friendly to sneaks and intruders alike–until it opens more than a foot. Then it screeches like a baby crow.
     Slowly, I ease the reed door as far open as I dare. I throw my rucksack out and gather my faded purple tunic tight about my pants. I'm next.
     The door’s screech comes from the uneven ends of each reed scraping the threshold. Pati once tried to shave the ends down when she thought no one was near to hear. My father heard all right. There is nothing more embarrassing than being a grown girl of fifteen with spoon marks on your calves.
     Except, of course, being a grown girl of seventeen caught with your sister's husband.
     I grip the doorjamb as guilt pierces me one more time. The memory of Pati’s face cracked with pain has tempted me to tell the truth so many times since she found me with Aratem.  But that would bring an end much worse than being forced into a stranger-marriage. In Qara, there is something more terrible than letting your sister think you betrayed her: having the Sight. To reveal I can See memories would send me straight to the salt fields for a slow death. 

Alternate K8- THE HIT LIST

NAME: Nikki Urang
MENTOR: Dahlia Adler and Monica B.W.
TITLE: The Hit List
GENRE: YA Contemporary
WORD COUNT: 77,000

35 WORD PITCH: After her rape, sixteen-year-old Sadie finds dancing with a partner hard enough. But when she suspects he’s a player in a web-based sex game, she must confront his betrayal and her feelings for him.

FIRST 250:
Music crashes down around my body, the bass vibrations sending tingles along my skin. My core flexes and tightens instinctively. My mind wraps around the beat and I automatically tap out the eight count on my thigh. A smile spreads across my face when the perfect moment arrives.

My muscles pull and glide in perfect coordination. Effortless movement. At least it looks that way. Getting to this point took me years. To know the correct position by feel. To make it look flawless.

This is home. The safest place in my world.

Tension radiates through my body and my leg doesn’t extend the way it should as an unwanted thought slips into my mind. The letter should arrive any day. The one that seals my fate for the next two years. Either I’ll be dancing at the Los Angeles School of Performing Arts or I’ll be stuck in New York, doomed to try to make it as a dancer on my own with all the other wannabes the city has to offer.

Movement catches my eye and I do my best to ignore my best friend, Taylor, who runs full speed into the room and almost crashes into a parent. She bounces on the balls of her feet in barely-contained excitement. Her reaction isn’t unusual, but I find myself watching her for a few seconds, wondering what the gossip of the day is. She holds something white in her hand and I falter coming out of a pirouette.

Alternate K9- DANNY BOY

NAME: Jean M. Malone
MENTOR: Stacey Lee
TITLE: Danny Boy
GENRE: YA Contemporary 
WORD COUNT: 60,000

35 WORD PITCH: The Renaissance Faire circuit is like being frozen in time, but musician Daniel and his brothers must let go of the past they’ve been trying to escape, if they're ever going to build a future.  

FIRST 250:
Today I lost my brother. 

Lost him, because I was thinking about meerkats while we took our last tramp through these northern Virginia woods. Lost him, because even though I don’t quite believe it’s true, we’re finally going home. Soon as I find Sully.

I scan every inch of the forest, but there’s no one there. Just more forest.

“Sully, catch up! It’s getting late,” I say. I listen hard for a response—a footfall, a cry for help—but all I hear is a breeze tousling the tree leaves and the whispers of gnats chasing each other across my face in a game of sweat-tag.

“Sully?” I call again, trying to mask the panic that rises from my stomach up into my throat.

I backtrack the way I think we came, but there’s no path. We were making our own. That’s why they warn you to keep on the path. If I’m not careful, I’ll find myself as lost as Sully. There’s nothing for it but to go back to camp, enlist the help of the others, face my father.

I make my way out of the woods to the field where we’ve been camped for the past month. Everyone else has already left. Our instruments, amps, and cords have all been stowed inside the camper. And my father’s in a temper, like I knew he would be.

“I said eight o’clock sharp, din’t I?” he says, his Scots-Irish brogue thick on account of his ire. 

Alternate K10- DREAM MAKER

NAME: Mandie Baxter
MENTOR: John Hansen
TITLE: Dream Maker
GENRE: YA spec-fic

35 WORD PITCH: Mason knows what he has to do: find the Dreamer, save the world. Easy until he meets Avery, a Dreamer powerful enough to save the world—or, if the Dream Catchers find her, destroy it.

FIRST 250:
Dad’s fist connects with the left side of my rib cage. The blow knocks me off balance and I collapse on my back, all the air that hadn’t already escaped forced out of my lungs. He appears above me, eyes tight, lips pulled into a thin line. He watches me. Waiting to see what I’ll do next.

"Again," I say through clenched teeth as I pick myself up off the ground. My clothes are caked in mud, soaked through to my skin from the melting snow. He’s knocked me on my ass today more times than I care to count. Or admit. Most days I put up a better fight. Though it’d be easier if the Company hadn’t assigned my dad as my mentor, but maybe that’s the point.

"The problem is, Mason," Dad says, crouching into a fighting stance, "you're thinking too much. You’ve got to relax. Your life, as well as the lives of the Dreamers, depends solely on you."

"Like I don’t know that,” I say. Of course I do. I’m the one being shipped south. I’m the one risking my life.

Dad shifts his stance slightly, his body language telling me to charge. I run at him as fast as my bruised legs will allow, but he dodges my attack and it’s not long before he hits me. Hard. My body slams into the ground. I lay down on the cool earth until my breaths stop coming in gasps.

"You know what to do, most days." 

Alternate K11- SEMITONE

NAME: Laura Frazier
MENTOR: Andrea Hannah 
GENRE: YA Scifi/Romance
TITLE: Semitone
WORD COUNT: 84,000

35 WORD PITCH: A boy trading places with a parallel world version of himself is caught in a bizarre love triangle when they both fall for the same girl.

FIRST 250:
Chapter 1
The Penny

My first thought: I shouldn’t be here.

The train station was smaller than I expected. Two short rows of benches, a tile floor half-covered in dust. Rusted metal. Graffiti. I shifted my weight, finally letting Lacey’s suitcase drop. The clatter echoed down the single platform, and all I could think was how appropriately pathetic the scenery was.

Because she was breaking up with me.


“I’m sorry,” she said. “I thought I’d be okay with the long-distance thing. But I’m not.”

My second thought: This is not happening.

My hands grew clammy, and heavy, and suddenly felt very empty. You’d think I would have been used to the routine. But no.

“Andrew? Say something.”

I took a breath. “You didn’t even try.”

“That’s not fair.” She reached for her duffel bag, clutching it against her side. “You’ve been gone so long. You have no idea what it’s like to go to parties alone. And now that I’ll be out of town for most of the summer anyway . . .” She swallowed and looked down at her feet. “I really don’t think it’s right to expect you to sit around and wait for me—”

I would wait. She knew that. I had only told her a thousand times. During late night calls that broke the rules. In texts and emails I sent during class. In the too-short dates over Christmas vacation. I had planned an entire summer of waiting. Alone. While she had her fun in San Francisco. 

Alternate K12- MOVE

NAME: Ferris Robinson
MENTOR: Heather Webb
GENRE: Contemp YA

35 WORD PITCH: A wrestling scholarship is the only way George can get away from his unbearable parents. His plans are thwarted when he is the only one alarmed about his sister's sudden weight loss. Isn't anorexia deadly?

FIRST 250: 
I have thirty seconds. My thighs are on fire, but I crouch low to the mat and circle him, moving in and out quickly. I shoot in and grab his leg, then explode up through his
body. Again. And again.

Sweat streams into my eyes, but I couldn't see him clearly even if he was really there. I watch him, my imaginary opponent, as Three Doors Down blasts Kryptonite around my head. If I go crazy now will you still call me Superman? I check the clock behind the basketball goal, and go again.

I lunge so deep my left knee skims the wrestling mat, then spring back after lifting him up. Light on my feet. Smooth. Every ten seconds I power up under him for a take-down.

I move through the chorus – not a single break. My thighs feel like they’ve been boiled.

I'm on my two hundredth shot when Erin Abercrombie suddenly grabs my elbow. I lose my balance, and stumble in the middle of the last take-down. I look at my time; 199 take-downs in twenty minutes. I failed.

She should have warned me. Made a noise. Stomped her fucking Eskimo boots. Something. She's lucky I didn't jab her in the eyeball.

She taps at her ear, and I take my ear buds out.


"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. I just wanted to let you know I'm here. Didn't want to freak you out if you saw me in the office."

Monday, January 14, 2013

February Love Workshop

We're heading into the most romantic month of the year, so what better time to hold a love scene workshop, right? Do you need help getting your love scene on? Well, Brenda Drake is rounding up some very talented friends (I'm floored that I'm included in this lovely group...woohoo and thanks!) to help you amp up the steam.

Here's how it's going down ...

Love scenes can be in any category and genre. Yes, middle grade, too, especially upper middle grade. In some middle grades there can be a budding relationship and 'love' scenes may be more about the characters not sure what's happening with those hormones that have been dormant but are awakening as they approach puberty. Think more of a friendship confusion thing. YA, NA, and Adult, well, anything goes as long as it's PG13.

Yes, we're keeping this PG13 people, so stop before you get to 3rd base. The scenes are limited to 300 words max. It can be any love scene in your manuscript that you want a critique on. We'll take 35 entries. Critiques will go live February 12-28.

Sign up on the linky at Brenda's blog for a chance to win a spot in the workshop from January 14 through January 20. Brenda will post more information about formatting when we post the winners on January 21.

I'm ready to be swept off my be sure to sign up for a chance at a free critique!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pitch Wars Update and Twitter Pitch Party.

Pitch Wars is rapidly coming to a close and I wanted to give everyone a quick update. Behind the scenes both mentors and mentee's have been super busy reading, critiquing, and polishing their manuscripts and pitches. But it's almost time to snag some agents! Mentor picks must be ready by January 16th because they go live and in front of 16 agents on the YAMisFits blog on January 23rd.

Alternates must be ready by January 20th. Don't worry, your mentors should be helping you with everything you need to do. The alternates pitches will go up on four different blogs on January 23rd. These blogs will be open to any and all agents! My blog will be hosting YA alternates, so be sure to stop by and check them out! When I have the other blogs confirmed, I'll let you know their links as well.


And finally, if you still want a chance to catch an agent's attention, there's a Twitter Pitch Party going on the hashtag #PitMad on January 25th from 8AM to 8PM. We'll announce more details as the event nears. So get your twitter pitches ready and make sure to include the hashtag in your 140 character count. (Be sure to follow @BrendaDrake on Twitter, the Queen of Contests)

Let's do this!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It's a New Year!

Happy New Year's Everyone!

I can't believe how fast last year flew by. 2012 was a great year for me and I can only hope 2013 is just as great. 

A recap of 2012:

-Finished writing my first novel, The Apollo Academy.

-Entered the world of publishing and all the craziness that goes with it...

-Landed an agent.

-Started a blog. My one year bloggerversary will be on 1/28/13. And what's even crazier is that I have gained over 100 followers and had over 12,000 page hits this past year. That's probably not a lot to some people, but I think that's huge!  So thank you all for following along.

-I participated in two agent contests! Trick or Treat with Agents and Pitch Wars.

-Learned about and immersed myself in a fantastic new world- Twitter. This magical place is where I gained a ton of new writer friends. Picture below is of Dee and I this past December where we finally got to meet in person!

-I was interviewed here....whoa!

-Read 104 books this year! Apparently I'm not sleeping...AT ALL.

And of course most of those are only on the professional level.  On top of all of that, I was a mom to my wonderful 3yo boy. I got to spend another year with my best friend and husband. We began designing a new home that we'll eventually clue if that will happen in 2013 or not. Fingers are crossed.

Goals for 2013. I'm putting this out publicly, so you can all hold me accountable.

-Write more! I want to finish the sequel to The Apollo Academy. So far, I'm only 7000 words in. I have about 80,000 more to go! I'd also like to focus on my other WIP, a YA Historical Romance with a twist. So lots more writing scheduled for this year.  

-Travel more. 

-Oh God...I just realized I'll be turning 30 at the end of this year. So I guess I better make the last year of my twenties totally rock!

I wish you all the best in 2013. I read a really great quote yesterday and I think it's so fitting: "Today is the first day of a 365 page book- write a good one!"

May you reach the stars!