Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Meet My Celebrity Coach- Dannie Morin!

With the Writer's Voice rapidly approaching, I wanted to take a moment to introduce my fabulous "celebrity coach." 

I'm thrilled to announce that Dannie Morin will be joining my Writer's Voice team! This means not only will you receive feedback and suggestions from me, but from Dannie as well. Dannie is a fabulous writer and editor, but also one of the nicest and funniest women I've had the pleasure of calling a friend. These days she gets to charge for her fabulous editorial services, but if you make our Writer's Voice team you'll get them for FREE.  

Dannie Morin is an addictions therapist with a writing problem. By day she alternates between counseling teens and wrangling a very sassy toddler. By night she writes, critiques, and edits like a boss. When she's not doing any of those things, she's a compulsive participant in the Carolinas Region of SCBWI and a regular Snarky Sue in online Pitch Contests. Dannie is represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and pens Young Adult and New Adult fiction in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

If you'd like to read more about Dannie or learn how to hire her as your editor, go here:  http://lefttorightedits.blogspot.com

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Writer's Voice!

“The Writer’s Voice” is a multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by Brenda Drake, Mónica Bustamante WagnerElizabeth Briggs, 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.

Here’s the timeline:

May 1            Everybody enters the Rafflecopter lottery

May 2            The lottery winners sign up on the widget

May 2-10      We select our teams members from "The Writer's Voice" Blogfest

May 10-19    We coach our team members, helping them polish their entries

May 19          We post our team members' entries on our blogs

May 22          Agents vote for their favorites


To enter, your manuscript must meet two conditions: First, it must be COMPLETE, POLISHED, AND READY TO QUERY, and second, it must be in one of the following genres*:

Adult Historical

Adult Fantasy

Adult Science Fiction

Adult Romance

YA fiction (all genres)
MG fiction (all genres)

To determine who gets to participate in the blogfest, we’ll hold a single-entry Rafflecopter lottery on Thursday, May 1. The lottery will remain open for 12 hours, from 9:00 a.m. EDT to 9:00 p.m. EDT, at which point the Rafflecopter will select 150 random winners. Those winners will then sign up for the blogfest on one of Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets the next day, May 2. Once you sign up on the widget, you’ll post YOUR QUERY and THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript on your blog.

In summary, you must follow these three steps to enter:

1. Enter the Rafflecopter lottery on May 1 during the submission window listed above.

2. Sign up on the widget on May 2 if you win the lottery.
3. Post your query and the first 250 words of your manuscript on your blog.


We’re building our teams via “The Writer’s Voice” Blogfest, so YOU MUST HAVE A BLOG TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS CONTEST. We don’t care if you’ve had it for five years or five minutes; we just want to be able to fight over you in public:)

We coaches will review the entries and leave a comment on your post that says something like, “I want you!” If more than one of us wants you on her team, you’ll have to pick which coach you want to work with.


We’ll select our 8 team members by May 10, then spend the next week and a half helping them put a final polish on their entries. You won’t have to take all of our suggestions, of course; we just want to help you make your entry the best that it can be before the agents get a look at it. And if you make my team, you'll also get feedback from the fabulous Dannie Morin! And trust me...you'll want her feedback!


On May 19, we’ll post our team members’ queries and first pages on our blogs so that the agents can review them. Here are the awesome agents who’ll be voting on your entries:

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.

Holly McGhee and Elena Giovinazzo of Pippin Properties

Victoria Marini at Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, Inc.

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

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.

So get those queries and first pages polished up, then meet us back here on Thursday, May 1, between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. EDT. We can’t wait to read your entries! (And of course, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.)

****As you probably noticed, we’re not including any new adult genres. We have to base the genres on the agents’ interests, and most of the agents participating this year aren’t looking for NA at the moment.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nest Pitch is LIVE!

The Agent round of Nest Pitch is currently under way! 

The Slush Bilbies have sorted through the entries to help the Nest Bloggers whittle down the entries. Now the top seventy-two entries have made it through and are waiting for agents to hop on by to make requests.  

Please remember that until the agents have finished making their selections, comments are for agents only. If you want to cheer on your favourite prior to then, you can do it in the comments of this post.  

Between now and 8am April 19th USA EST  

To find out more about the Nest Pitch Easter Pitch Hunt go here and the Rules and Conditions here. You can find the full schedule here and the participating agents here  

Here are my gorgeous entries: 

You can find the rest of the entries snuggled safely in the other bloggers nests: 

Brooke Powell      
Tina Moss     

Good luck to everyone who has made it to here. May your nest be filled with lots of chocolaty request.  


Category/Genre: YA URBAN FANTASY

Word Count: 93,000

Pitch: Supernatural meets Angel Burn when Caleb's necromantic powers have him
dodging a zealot who believes he plans to enslave mankind, gun-toting wizards, demons,
and the affections of a super-powered hottie who’s eight kinds of crazy.

If my main character were an easter egg, what flavor would he/she be and why? “I don’t--I don’t understand the question. Do eggs came in flavors other than...egg?”

Chapter One: Narcoleptic
Present Day


Caleb stared at the headline with practiced apathy. Three simple words emblazoned across his computer screen leered up at him from article after article, news post after news post. It was an old truth, but the pain tied to it burned fresh.

Presumed means probably. His parents were probably dead. Not definitely.

He repeated the thought until the pressure in his chest deflated. Deep breaths drew him from the brink and he lowered his hands from his face. Pull it in and push it down.

Shoving from the desk, he glanced at his occupied couch. Nestled in the crook of the arm, L’Dawn swept bangs from her face and tucked them behind her ear. Her hand dropped against her shoulder, the collar of her t-shirt cut away, leaving a wide arch that exposed soft, caramel skin. Not the outfit she wore to school today.

She’d changed before coming over, even put on more makeup for some reason, something about wanting to be ‘comfy’. The effort women put into relaxing was ridiculous, and didn’t more work sort of defeat the point? He hoped she was good and cozy, because her comfort obliterated his ability to focus, and made him squirm.

His eyes traced the path one dark curl marked against her neck, down to where it dipped just beneath the front of her shirt. His palms itched at the thought of brushing that hair aside. Instead, he tightened his grip on the arm of the chair. It creaked under his fingers, and she looked up. Her shoulders shook in silent laughter.

“Doesn’t look like you’re doing much studying.” She set down the magazine she’d been reading.

“Hmm?” he asked, casual like, as if he hadn’t been undressing her with his eyes this whole time.


Category/Genre: MG Contemporary

Word Count: 41,000 

Pitch: If twelve-year-old Jake Evans doesn’t advance in the spelling bee, he’ll fail Language Arts and his dream of pitching in the little league world series will be over. The problem – Jake can’t spell.

If my main character were an easter egg, what flavor would he/she be and why? "Oreo - I always get an Oreo milkshake at Ruby's after a big win!"


Harrison Templeton has a big fat head. But it's a good thing. When I slouch in my seat behind him in seventh period Language Arts, Mrs. Cooper can't see me. At least, I don't think she can.

Today I scrunch so low my butt is off the chair.

My right knee bounces with each passing second - thirty minutes and counting until the first practice. I've been waiting for-freaking-ever for this day. Or eight months, which might as well be eons.

We have a shot at making it all the way to the Little League World Series this year. That would be the most awesome thing ever. Well, not as awesome as A Rod showing up at my house. But still super cool.

I peer two inches to the right, around Harrison's watermelon head. His hair is sticking straight out on one side, like he battled with the hair gel and lost.

"Can anyone tell me from what point of view the Red Badge of Courage is written?" Mrs. Cooper asks, pacing in front of the white board wielding a dry erase marker like a bayonet.

I don’t understand why we can’t read something cool. Like The Boy Who Saved Baseball. Heck, I kind of even liked Holes. All this talk of themes and symbolism makes me want to poke my eye out with my number two pencil.

Like the stealth bomber, I duck out of her line of sight. She's been droning on the entire class period about the book. She's going to call on someone to read out loud soon. And it better not be me. I hate reading out loud. I see the words, then they jumble up like a puzzle when I try to read them.

They come out of my mouth all wrong. That's when the laughing usually starts.


Category/Genre: Adult Contemporary Suspense

Word Count: 90,000

Pitch: Desperate for redemption for failing to save her partner’s life, DEA agent Ellis must track the killer in secret, gain the trust of a lethal drug dealer, and survive colleague betrayal before more agents die.

If my main character were an easter egg, what flavor would he/she be and why? Deanna Ellis would be a pecan flavored egg because she's southern with a tough exterior.


Fifteen days after the worst night of her life, DEA agent Deanna Ellis stood outside the dark entrance of O’Grady’s Bar in Atlanta. The neon sign above the wooden door buzzed an incomprehensible beat with the O flashing at random. The air hung heavier than a typical June evening, the result of a hard afternoon rain.

Ellis inhaled an unsteady breath, moved her hand to the brass doorknob, and stopped. Her thoughts replayed her partner’s funeral she attended a few hours earlier. She turned to Senior Special Agent David Ambers. Her boss had changed into a fresh white shirt for his black suit. His brown curly hair kinked tighter when wet.

“You okay?” Ambers asked. His musk cologne filled her with warmth and teased reassurance.

“I still don’t understand why I can’t be involved with the investigation,” Ellis said.

He sighed, his brown-eyed gaze softening. “Let’s not get into this now. Everyone’s waiting.”

Her trembling fingers clenched. She didn’t want to go inside.

Ambers escorted her across the threshold.

Two dozen pairs of eyes studied her. Colleagues, all passing judgment. On the landing, three steps higher than anyone else, Ellis’ shoulders sagged under their scrutiny. After hours of interrogation, the official report concluded she acted with courage. No fault rested with her, yet she continued to doubt her conscience.

She did everything possible that night, didn’t she? The cocaine buy had to be in the clearing, close to where Ricky Reyes’ thugs delivered the product to shore. With the van’s high beams blinding her, she aimed and shot the best she could. Hadn’t she?

No one knew the horrible words Ellis had said to her best friend and partner those moments before everything happened, how she’d cut Leigh off, made her muck up.


Category/Genre: YA Contemporary

Word Count: 67,000

Pitch: Emma’s scheme to lure in the adorkable boy-next-door turns into one hot mess as a cute college guy competes for her attention, school queenie’s out for blood, and Emma’s no closer to getting her man.

If my main character were an easter egg, what flavor would he/she be and why?
Emma would be a peanut butter egg, kinda nutty but sweet and way loved.


He had 247 friends.

Now to add one more to the list.

I’d spent the last two weeks of my life carefully mapping out every piece of the plan. Forethought, strategy, research—it all came down to this very moment.

“It’ll work. You can do this.” I began chanting encouragement to myself as the mouse hovered over the photo of a smiling, perky-looking teenage girl. I gamely tried to ignore the small beads of sweat forming at my hairline and upper lip. This was no time to wuss out. Licking away the salty moisture, I stared at the photo taunting me from the screen of my Dell.

The girl had shiny blonde hair flowing over sun-kissed shoulders peeking out of a cutesy white sundress. Who the hell had hair like that unless she’s in a hot pink package and distributed by Mattel?

Okay, fine. I might be the slightest bit jealous, considering my own unruly mop of plain brown curls. I was about as un-Barbie as you could get. To make it worse, the girl’s smile looked like she’d been born to star in toothpaste commercials. Or, maybe one of those Abercrombie ads where the models always wore perfectly coordinated outfits, and actually had the bod to fill in the cute little shirts instead of looking like a walking ironing board.

I couldn’t stop my gaze from bouncing over to the second open profile in an overlapping window. Just looking at his face grinning back at me caused my pulse to speed up. Like usual.

A quick knock sounded on my bedroom door. Startled, I immediately hit the minimize button while swiveling in my seat just in time to see Dad poke his head in the room.

“Hey, Emma! Your mom and I just got back. How’s the project coming along?”


Category/Genre: PICTURE BOOK

Word Count: 599

Pitch: All Fin wants is to be a dragon. Problem? Fins a fish! With advice from the wise fish Wish, Fin overcomes his fears and begins a journey to make his dreams a reality.

If my main character were an easter egg, what flavor would he/she be and why? Fin replies- "I would be a white chocolate Easter egg, covered with smarties that sparkle and shimmer, just like the scales of the dragon that I want to be!”


Fin dreamed of being a dragon. The only thing was… Fin was a fish!

He wanted to fly over mountains and see new places but his friend Blue didn’t understand.

Swimming up to him, Fin let out a big

C R O A K !

“Tadpoles get to turn into frogs.”

“Yes, I know Fin, but-”

“And caterpillers get to turn into beautiful butterflies”

“Yes, that’s true too, but-”

“So, why can’t I become a dragon?”

Blue did not have the answer.

Finally he said, “Go see the wise old fish Wish. She knows all the fish myths."


Category/Genre: ADULT Women's Fiction

Word Count: 78,000

Pitch: Disillusioned with life after college, Jen moves into a fishbowl-shaped house for a reality show where 20-somethings compete for $250,000. When she stumbles into a love triangle, Jen must decide what matters most.

If my main character were an easter egg, what flavor would he/she be and why? If Jen were an Easter egg, she’d be chocolate—is there any other kind?

I clutched a blanket around my shivering body as I huddled at my desk. I held high hopes that management would one day trust employees to turn the heat above sixty degrees. Or would insulate the windows. Meanwhile, I turned up the volume on my computer so I could hear my music over the November storm. I sipped weak coffee from the caffeine molecule mug in my left hand.

With my right hand, I scrolled through my newsfeed, scanning jokes, cartoons, and political statements. Yes, I was on Facebook at work. I know: I’m not supposed to. But everyone does it. Besides, I had nothing to do while my boss reviewed my project. Being a marketing assistant included a lot of waiting. After working twelve-hour days all week to include last minute changes, I’d earned a break.

Guiltily, I peeked at the empty desk behind me. My officemate would’ve been first to tell me to pretend to work, even when I had nothing to do. However, he was out for paternity leave. Our tiny office was all mine for the next few weeks.

Wait a minute. What’s this?

An ad posted by my former Beginner’s Drama professor caught my eye. 

Do you always have to be right? Do you love puzzles and trivia? Are you outgoing, vivacious, and engaging? Do you usually find yourself surrounded by less intelligent people? Do you want to win $250,000? We're looking for smart, spunky 21- to 25-year-olds, for an exciting new reality competition filming this summer! Email Stephanie with your name, age, 2-4 photos, and a little about yourself for more information.

A reality show designed for smart people? Really? 

Voices sounded outside my closed door. I glanced over one shoulder. Being located next to the kitchen had its perks, but it was hard to tell if people were about to burst in on me or had just met to gossip.


Category/Genre: MG MYSTERY

Word Count: 33,000 
Pitch: Thirteen-year-old Lizzy Kirkland inherited an ancestor’s name and link to a dark Navajo spirit. Lizzy must act fast to solve the mystery of her ancestor’s fate, before a tragic family history repeats itself.

If my main character were an easter egg, what flavor would he/she be and why? Lizzy is an Easter egg with a hard chocolate surface and gooey caramel inside. She tries her best to present a perfectly smooth finish to the outside world, but there is a sticky mess of unresolved emotions just underneath.

Lizzy wasn’t used to how dark it got in the country, but after the last eight months it would take more than a dark night to scare her. Still, every few moments she turned around to shine the flashlight behind them. Just in case. 

Sneaking through the dark, Lizzy felt like a hunter, which in a way she was. It was a hunt for answers to the strange noises only she could hear, to her belongings moving around her room on their own, to why she never felt like she was completely alone.

And then she looked down.

“What exactly do country people have against cement anyway?” Lizzy whispered in a huff. Even in the dim light of her flashlight, she could see that the Vans she just got for her birthday were covered in the red dust of Carolina clay. Her mom told her not to get white ones. Lizzy hated when her mom was right.

“Why didn’t you wear different shoes?” Hannah whispered back.

Lizzy rolled her eyes. She hadn’t said anything out loud about her shoes, but that didn’t matter. Hannah could almost always read Lizzy’s mind. Hannah said it was because she was more in tune with the universe than Lizzy, whatever that meant. So Lizzy had no clue why Hannah was acting so unfazed by the dark and the general creepiness of what they were about to do.

“It’s this way.” Lizzy walked to the middle of the burial plot. There were fourteen headstones, but she was only interested in one.

“There.” Lizzy shone her flashlight directly on the stone. She started at the top so Hannah could see the carved figure of a sleeping lamb. Then Lizzy lowered the light to the engraving.

“Eliza Jayne Kirkland,” read Hannah. “Creepy. Even the middle name is the same as yours.”


Category/Genre: YA Fantasy

Word Count: 87,000

Pitch: Olivia investigates the attempted theft of her mentor’s invention, which could revolutionize scientific philosophy. When she discovers the culprit is an Academic from a prestigious university, stopping him means giving up her dream of attending.

If my main character were an easter egg, what flavor would he/she be and why? Like a Kinder egg, Olivia seems quiet and ordinary but is full of wonderful surprises.


The campus of the University of Athenia was spectacularly ordinary, bordering on utterly mediocre. Though a blanket of snow hid much of the grounds, the mismatched classroom buildings and laboratories remained visible, standing stalwartly along the south bank of the frozen Codswallop River. Here and there, a few dead sprigs of ivy poked up from the snow, evidence of a mad attempt to scale one of the plain brick walls and the failure that had followed.

Olivia Lear walked across the university quadrangle, the cold nipping at her legs through the holes in her stockings. She tried to keep an open mind as she peered around, looking for the positive attributes of the place. The clocktower, she decided, was the U of A’s most attractive feature. It sprouted up to her left from a pale stone building. A glass window into its innards revealed the ticking, turning mass of gears that kept time for the university. The two spade-tipped hands indicated that it was almost one o’clock. Olivia quickened her step.

Straight ahead, a cloud of white billowed into the sky from the chimneys of the university’s steam-power station, made thick and fleecy by the cold air. Below it sat a rectancular building of somber grey stone. The snow piled up on its windowsills gave Olivia the impression that it was watching her with skeptical, narrowed eyes. She looked back at it in much the same way. The crumpled piece of paper in her hand indicated that her interview with Professor Christopher Cavalier was to take place on the second floor of Kedleston Hall. This same name was chiseled into the stone beside the doorway. Tucking the letter into her pocket, Olivia stepped inside out of the cold.

The yellowed walls and white-tiled floor of the entryway to Kedleston Hall conveyed the same practiced indifference as the building’s exterior.