Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Author's Name: Shawn Barnes
Category: YA/A (YA MC, but adult themes & pacing)
Genre: Near-Historical/Realistic (1980s)
Stage of Completion: Mostly Polished
Preferred Critique Style: Whatever works for you
Cat or Dog? Neither. I’m a vegetarian
Tea or Coffee: Coffee 6-10; Tea 10-bedtime

Short Pitch

High school senior Matt Hayes is caregiver to four siblings, including a severely disabled sister adopted from a Saigon orphanage. With graduation only months away, Matt’s desperate to earn a scholarship, pass his family duties to the next oldest and start his own life. The reality check that his mother is ill reframes Matt’s future. He can be selfish and happy, or dutiful and miserable. It’s the same choice Dad faced four years earlier. And a good man, unlike his father, doesn’t abandon his family. 

Writing Sample

For months before my mom’s diagnosis—the first half of my senior year of high school—I consciously controlled my dreams. Not perfectly, but with enough skill to inspire hope and the topic of my English paper. I explained it to Pete the night before it was due, after Mom went to work and left me to parent the kids as usual.

Pete, browsing my record albums, pushed his glasses higher onto his nose and said, “Dream control? Freaky. Might wanna leave yourself out of the paper though. Your teacher will think you’re on drugs.”

“Good point.” I took up my bong, a sleek black thing I’d nicknamed the DS Gun after the sandman’s weapon in Logan’s Run and packed a half-bowl. “It’s called lucid dreaming by the way. Buddhist monks do it.”

“Cool.” He flipped more records. “How ‘bout Bowie?”

“Sure. Something early.”

“Man, I can’t wait for the new one. It’s been three years since Scary Monsters.”

Pete placed Hunky Dory on the turntable and at the opening notes of “Changes” looked to me for volume approval. Finger over the shotgun hole, I fired up the DS Gun and passed it to him. I held the hit deep in my lungs. The smoke burned cool, mellow. I exhaled, watched the white swirling cloud bump against the stained ceiling tiles of my basement bedroom, and grinned. This is some good shit.

“So what’s it like?” Pete asked.

“What’s what like?”

“Lucid dreaming.”

Honestly, it was less awesome than it sounded.


  1. My own story "dreamscape" also deals with dreaming. I think it would be fun to work together. If you are interested, message me at

  2. Everyone should jump on this guy's bandwagon! He's just made it into Pitch Wars and well on his way to being agented. Way to go Shawn!


Please leave your courteous and professional comments for the writer! We'd love to hear from you! : )