Sunday, February 23, 2014


Title: Punishment Summer

Genre/Sub-Genre: YA/Crime


Sent to live with her grandfather in the Mendocino forest, sixteen-year-old Nicki Steele faces a new world. As if the dead animal heads hanging on the cabin walls aren’t bad enough, there’s also no electricity or cellphone service.

Nicki doesn’t trust easily, but she and Grandpa’s German shepherd become fast friends while she learns to fish, hunt and tend vegetables. She tries to fit in, hoping good reports about her behavior will encourage her dad to bring her home before summer’s end.

The prospect of romance with a neighbor gives Nicki hope for some fun, but she soon starts to doubt his honesty. Adding to her unease is the belief Grandpa is living under an assumed name. From secret pot farms to human trafficking, Nicki discovers nothing in the ‘Mendo’ is what it seems. Before the summer is over, Nicki learns there are some choices you cannot undo.

Opening sentence:

Fingers dug into my shoulders, strong hands shook me.

Entry #79 - SNAP

Title: SNAP

Genre: YA Contemporary


In the CUTTING EDGE meets ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, Seventeen-year-old Kate Reddy has sacrificed school, family, and a social life to be a figure skating champion. But when hot hockey player Brice tears up the ice, Kate's blade is caught in a rut, and an ACL injury ruins her Olympic dreams. Despite her feelings for him, Kate blames Brice for ruining her career. She doesn’t know who she is anymore without figure skating. Her estranged physician father suggests an experimental treatment that might heal her knee by next season, but Kate must learn to trust him again, and realize there is more to her identity than skating.

First sentence:

I yank hard on my skate laces, not caring how they dig into my calloused fingers.    



Genre: Upper MG, humorous fantasy


In the realm of Wyverndawn, a wizard’s height is the mark of his power, and shrinking an entire inch is disastrous for twelve-year-old Gerald.

Looking for promotion of an inch or two Gerald attempts to create a village landmark using his superior wizarding skills, but the spell he bought - from a guy who knows a guy - is a tad more powerful than he anticipates. The resulting earthquake, hurricane and escape of a very dangerous wizard from prison really weren’t part of the plan.

A red-faced Gerald is banished from his village and, to complete his shame, shrinks another inch; two more and he’ll join his father as a Royal Equine Poop Disposal Coordinator.

Gerald’s hopes of returning home hinge on repairing the damage to Wyverndawn and thwarting the evil wizard’s plans. Failure could mean Gerald’s next spell might well be his last.

First sentence:

A flash of blinding blue light filled the room, followed by a billowing cloud of dark, acrid smoke.

Entry #11: ELSPETH

TITLE: Elspeth


Sixteen-year-old Elspeth McCaffrey’s normal, teenage life ended the day she was date-raped while studying abroad in England. Her therapist tells her it just takes time; she will heal soon enough. The long, dull days at school and evenings alone in bed with her IPod will vanish like whipped cream in hot chocolate. The memories will fade and her zeal for life will return.

Right. An amoeba has a better existence than me...

Her best friend, Charlie, tries his best to help but his needs are just as great. Her ex-boyfriend, Matt, wants to be close but she’d rather curl up with a pillow than embrace anything with life. Pain and fear riddle her brain like bullets and she dreams of nothing but running until she can no longer feel. Then Matt invades her personal space or Charlie grabs her hand.

Feeling might be worthwhile after all...

First Sentence:

As I spoke the words “I was raped”, the man sitting across from me smiled.


Title: What Lies Between
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy


Seventeen-year-old Grace Armstrong craves sanity the way some girls crave chocolate. But every time she catches a glimpse of her reflection, a snarling horde of nightmarish beasts crowds out her image. Either she’s crazy or monsters are stalking her. Hell of a choice.

When a boy replaces the monsters in her bedroom mirror, Grace realizes nothing's crazier than falling for one of her hallucinations. But Luke teasingly persuades her that even her twisted imagination couldn’t invent someone as awesome as him. As Grace risks both her life and her grip on reality to save Luke from the monsters on the other side of the glass, she’ll discover that sanity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

And that long distance relationships don’t suck half as bad as inter-dimensional ones.

First Sentence:
Silence fell in a slow crash as I pulled away from the keys, the final chords fading into stillness.



Genre: YA Urban Fantasy


Sixteen-year-old Kenzie Moriarty doesn’t believe in luck or signs. As far as she’s concerned she earned her status as class president, girlfriend of the football star and honor roll student with hard work and her take-charge personality. That all changes when her Grams tells Kenzie and her two sisters they’ve inherited the roles of the immortal Fates because after two thousand years Grams and the aunties are ready to retire. To determine which sister will be responsible for each job—spinning, measuring or cutting life-threads—the girls must take tests that reveal their true character.

Eternity to see the world? Fantastic! Ending lives? Not so much. When Kenzie meets her soulmate and discovers the only way to be with him forever is to cut someone else's life early, she finds the life hanging by a thread isn't at all what she expects.

First Sentence:

The cardinal saved me.


Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Title: Heritage Blade


Jay’s the most lethal secret walking the streets of Chicago, the boy who smells of blood and magic. He's killed before, and will again. Trained to protect mankind from rogue Pandorans—supernatural beings who cross into this world through Pandora's Box—he’s good at what he does, so long as no one knows he does it.

While rescuing a damsel faking distress, Jay inadvertently reveals himself and what he’s been up to. The powers that be aren't gonna like this, especially since he’s Unsanctioned—read hunting without a license. No bueno.

On top of having to convince his superiors not to throw him in a dark hole somewhere for the rest of his life, someone or something’s put a price on his head. Probably looking for a little payback. Jay needs to track the bastard down before everything that goes bump in the night arrives to collect.

First line:

How the hell did a four-legged, supernatural killing machine the size of an F150 vanish?

Entry #75 - SUMMER OF HOPE


Genre: YA Contemporary


After her brother’s death, sixteen-year-old Callie shuts down. Forced to go to her family’s summer beach house, she resolves to erase the pain any way she can. Enter the "Perfect’s”—a Gold Card group of girls who offer escape in the form of parties, booze and boys.

Then she meets Ethan. Despite fighting it, Callie is drawn to his sweet ways and sexy smile. She falls hard—before discovering he's hiding a secret that changes everything. Ethan came to the beach to escape, to live without the label. Because his label is the kid with Hodgkin's disease.

Callie is left with the choice of standing by Ethan's side and watching another person she loves die, or running and abandoning the one person who helps her to believe in love again. Fight or flight? Callie’s decision puts her own life in danger, and changes the lives of everyone around her, forever.

First sentence:

"I watched my twin brother die, and couldn't do a thing to stop it."


Genre: NA supernatural


When eighteen-year-old aspiring opera singer, Ash, loses his first love—Isabette, his vocal coach—to a car crash, his devastation threatens to end his career. Until her ghost returns to him six months later.

Believing his love for Isabette is what brought her back, he allows her spirit to possess him. With her vocal guidance, she lands him a role in an upcoming opera. But when Isabette murders the male lead so Ash will get the role, he refuses to harbor her spirit any longer.

Furious, Isabette possesses Ash’s new love interest, Teagan and with time running out to return Teagan’s soul to her body, Ash must find a way to bury Isabette for good or risk losing the girl he truly loves forever.


It took her six months to return from the grave.


Genre: YA Romance/Sci Fi

Title: Defying the Stars


When sixteen-year-old Virginia Sawyer moves to the backwoods of Upstate New York, she’s reluctantly drawn into the town’s obsession with the Swifts. Untangling the mystery behind the extraordinary family is a harmless pastime, until she meets the eldest son, Alvin.

The marks on Alvin’s arms look like constellations—like she could read her future in them. When she finds out what fate—and Alvin’s father—have in store for him, solving the mystery behind the marks becomes critical.

Alvin says she’s come to Ashwood for a reason, but the Swifts find fate in everything: what they eat, when the sleep, how they think, and when they will die.

The date is set.

The time is fixed.

The Swifts are preparing to leave this earth. But there is one thing they didn’t foresee: Virginia and Alvin have fallen in love, and there’s no way on earth she will let him go.

First line:

Three months before the world ended, at least for the Swifts, I moved to Ashwood, New York.

Entry #22 - DWARFED

Manuscript Title: Dwarfed
Genre: YA, Contemporary rural romance


Sixteen year old Grace Sullivan has never let her dwarfism bother her. She has more important things to worry about, like working as a court jester at the Renaissance Faire and developing new tricks for her magic show she performs in. When her parents enroll her in public school, Grace discovers others can’t overlook her height. Her classmates consider her an oddity and a freak.

Luke Searc, a cute farmhand with a laid-back attitude, is the only person who recognizes Grace is more than a number on a measuring stick. Somehow, amid feeding pigs, shared lunches, and long discussions about Shakespeare, things change and Grace realizes she’s attracted to Luke.

Grace believes in going after what she wants. She also knows the odds of a great guy like Luke being attracted to her are long. Should ignore her feelings or make a move and potentially lose her only friend?

First Line:

I'd give my right arm for a guillotine.


Title: Leaving Peacesylvania
Genre: Contemporary YA


Lark is the perfect hippie, growing up on a picturesque commune with her nine siblings, celebrating individuality, frolicking in peace and free love. Except, she’s sick of it all. At sixteen, this life of permissive parents and free rein to do as she pleases is getting old--especially when her days involve watching her mother dance topless around a campfire, high on ‘shrooms. She wants to experience life. Real life. She takes a leap and registers for public school.

Lark thrives in the real world. She even meets a boy she can be serious about. Jeremiah’s genuine and kind. And a Republican. Lark embraces her new life, but she realizes that she’ll never truly fit in with either Jeremiah (whose feathers she ruffles) nor her Peacesylvanian family (who makes bad decisions at every turn.) Lark must choose to be herself even at the risk of losing the people she loves.

First sentence:

My to-do list has grown dauntingly long and the darkening grapes are just another reminder of how quickly this summer is ending.



Category/Genre: NA Historical Fiction/Time Travel

Word Count: 62,000


Having discovered the manuscript for a mysterious symphony, grad student and “lady’s-man” Hans Meyer takes off for Germany to research Beethoven and the symphony, which will make one killer thesis. When a strange text shows up on his cell about a Time Train, offering Hans the inside track to discovery, curiosity buys him a ticket to ride and he is dropped off in Vienna, 1820.

When Hans meets 19th-century Viennese chambermaid, Analeise, a love connection sparks like he’s never felt before. Now romantically involved, they accidentally uncover love letters holed up within Hans’ bedchamber windowsill, exposing a secret about Beethoven and the mysterious manuscript which has eluded history books. Hans brings Analeise and this information back to the 21st century only to find his existence has been erased. He must find a way to rewrite the past, which might mean losing the 19th-century girl that has actually stolen his heart.

First Line:

With my right foot planted on the piano’s sustain pedal, the final notes of “Piano Man” dissipated under the laughter at The Tavern.


MS Title: The Adventures of the Boy-Crazy-Boy-Lovers

Genre: MG reluctant reader

150-word pitch:

The Boy-Crazy-Boy-Lovers are not boy crazy. They are not boy lovers. They are the greatest thing to happen to girls since the death of the maxi pad belt. Winnie, Lulu and Beta are budding feminists and kindred souls known to the world by their ironic, postmodern nickname “The Boy-Crazy-Boy-Lovers.” Their wild causes on behalf of womankind have inspired Isaac Newton Middle School for years.

On the eve of their 8-year friendship anniversary, the Boy-Crazy-Boy-Lovers’ world is suddenly upset by the addition of a boy in their lives. A Boy-Crazy-Boy-Lover and a boy? What will happen to life at Isaac Newton Middle? Winnie, Lulu and Beta have to decide how to reconcile their feminist ways with this newfound maybe-love.

First Sentence:

When I tried to tell my mother that my friends and I were celebrating our 8-year friendship anniversary with a school-wide bash to top all bashes and possibly inviting Tina Turner she just said, “That sounds great, Winnie, now eat your healthies.”


Genre: NA Contemporary Fantasy


Blood magic drives you mad. So does family. Twenty-year-old witch Rose LeFey has problems with both, especially when she discovers fae, werewolves, and a vampire imprisoned in her Aunt Sorcha’s basement. Sorcha stole their blood, and intends to use its power to re-ignite an ancient conflict.

Determined to prevent a LeFey-led atrocity, Rose frees the captives. Together they pursue Sorcha to the gates of the fae city. There’s just one problem—when Rose releases the werewolf, Dar, she triggers a spell that forges a mate-bond between them. Now Rose can barely resist pouncing on him like a starving jungle cat.

Passion, power and LeFeys are a dangerous combination. But to stop Sorcha’s war, Rose must harness her repressed blood magic without letting it consume her. If she fails, she’ll become the protégé her aunt wanted all along. If she succeeds, she’ll break every spell – including her bond with Dar.

First line:

All witches liked their accessories – even the bad ones.


Sidewalk Chalk

Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy


Thirteen-year-old Jake meets Galen, an artist whose brain-meltingly awesome works of 3-D sidewalk chalk art serve as a portal to the magical worlds beneath the streets of New York.

When one of Jake’s friends runs into a drawing, he sets off a chain of events that ends with Blake, the most annoying kid in school seeing him and following him in. The next morning Jake finds Blake’s boat-sized footprints in the chalk, along with claw prints from the hundreds of creatures that crawled out behind him.

After finding weapons of water and drawing an army of their own, Jake and friends chase the creatures through Central Park to destroy them. If they fail, New York will be overrun and the door will remain open forever.

SIDEWALK CHALK is 41,000 words of Home Alone meets Despicable Me where sidewalk-drawing, monster-hunting, minion-leading, middle-schoolers have chalk creatures crawling out of their drawing issues.

First Sentence:

Sidewalk chalk is only good for drawing bases in the middle of the street, and filling the extra-long socks of my extra-long older brother to hit my friends with on Halloween . . . or so I thought.



New Adult Contemporary


When Anna accepts her friend Coy’s invitation to join him and his uncle on a Shakespeare Festival roadtrip, she only sees it as a last hurrah before Coy goes back to Chicago. She never expected to fall in love while watching Othello smother Desdemona with a pillow.

Their romance has the potential to be more than just a summer fling when Coy asks Anna to move to Chicago. But Anna’s father, a widower, has always dreamed that Anna would remain at home and finish her education at the same school where he met Anna’s mother.

Anna’s impending move threatens to destroy their relationship, which has always been the most important one in her life. She can be a dutiful daughter or a woman in love—but not both.

Like the Bard says, the course of true love never does run smooth.

First Sentence:

The thick manila envelope from the University of Oregon is staring at me.


Manuscript title: A Serpent in the Garden
Genre: YA Historical Mystery


Germany, 1148. A young woman seeking sanctuary is murdered near the abbey
of St. Nicholas. Struck by similarities between the victim and her own dead mother, Eva von Hirschburg, a fiery teenage noblewoman, partners with a peace-loving monk named Brother Clement to find the culprit.
As she investigates, Eva is courted by the charismatic Friderich von Starckebrucken. Eva cannot deny her attraction to Friderich, but when her suspicions turn to
Friderich's childhood friend, she must risk her heart and her life to catch the killer before he strikes again.
A SERPENT IN THE GARDEN (60,000 words) is a historical mystery for young adults, a
medieval Nancy Drew with the lush, sexy feel of Anna Godberson's Luxe series.


No one prayed for my mother's soul.

Entry #25 - TRAVELER


Middle Grade/Fantasy


Twelve-year-old Tommy has but one desire: to find his father who mysteriously vanished when he was a baby. With his best friend, Nick, he discovers that his father is actually a time-traveler from England during the reign of the famously temperamental Henry VIII! Together, they use the magical amulet they find in his mother’s forbidden box to travel to the year 1540 in search of him, but their plans are thwarted when they’re immediately captured and held in the infamous Tower of London as spies. Rescued by none other than their history teacher, Mr. Barnhart, they soon find themselves pursued by another time-traveler, the evil Abraham, who wants the amulet in order to change history and take over the world. Desperately, the three heroes race across Tudor England in search of the one man who can help them set everything to rights and get them home to 2013: Tommy’s father.

First Line:

William grabbed his sword and sat up, waiting for the source of the noise to show itself.


NA Sci/Fi


Ivan killed his mother. His father hates him. His brother beats him. He is Durochka, the Little Fool.

And then the firebird comes, stealing sculptures from his beloved mother’s garden.

His family won’t believe what he has seen, so Ivan, an autistic twenty-three-year-old, goes out alone seeking proof of the mysterious bird. FORREST GUMP meets LUNAR CHRONICLES as Ivan discovers his autism makes him a hot commodity to the scientists who would use his brain to further their own ends. Ivan is thrust into the center of a conspiracy to bring down a foreign government, unsure of who to trust or what consequences his choices might hold.

The key to Ivan’s survival may lie with a spy crucial to the rebellion, a woman code-named Trojan Horse. A woman who has Ivan’s eyes. A woman who knows Ivan’s face. A woman callous enough to walk out on an autistic son.

First line:

A midwife placed her hands on the small of Vasilisa's back, pressing hard to relieve the pain of the contraction.


Camp Cammoodle
Middle Grades/Contemporary Fantasy

Revised Pitch:

Larry’s sure that going to summer sleep-away camp is his last chance to be popular or at least ditch the label Larry the Loser. Of course, that’s before his mom chooses Camp Cammoodle-where kids learn to doodle. Even the name says a place for dorks! Other kids in his class head to mountains and lakes; Larry’s camp is in a dilapidated building in the middle of the city. Could things get any worse?

But Cammoodle has lots of surprises like trampolines for beds, a mountain in a stairwell, and horses that never need hay. The three guys in Larry’s cabin, Lizard, Ladder, and TG, become his first real friends and allies in adventure. But his awesome summer could come to a swift and terrible end unless Larry can find courage enough to conquer his fears and save TG from the fate of The Chute.

First Sentence:

I don't want to be the biggest dork in the 4th grade--I just am.


Manuscript Title: Dirty Rainbow
Genre: YA Science Fiction

150 word Pitch:

Cyborgs freak out Jenna McBride. Her mother and her bestie, Hetty, assure her cyborgs are simply mindless drones used for labour since men became extinct. As the Australian head-of-state, her mother should know.

When Hetty has a horrific fall, cyborgs take her mangled body away for treatment. Her mother attempts to alter Jenna’s memories to ensure she doesn’t learn the truth: Hetty will never return. With the help of her neighbour, Ashley, Jenna investigates why her mother would take such a drastic measure. But Ashley has a secret too; she’s on Australia’s most-wanted list. Falling for Jenna is hazardous for their health.

In her search for answers, Jenna discovers the grisly truth about Hetty’s disappearance, cyborg creation, and her mother’s role in it all. But she also puts Ashley in danger. Jenna must choose: family loyalty or save her best friend and new girlfriend from the woman who raised her

First complete sentence:

A three letter word shouldn’t sting this much, but it does.



Genre: YA fantasy


Many covet what sixteen-year-old Jazzlyn has—immunity from the Star’s lethal rays. As Jazzlyn trains to become the next liaison between her darkness-ravaged homeland, and Lumen, the mountain city above the clouds, outcasts take her boyfriend hostage. The exiles have found a way to unlock their own defense against the light and their plan requires an artifact found only in Lumen. Jazzlyn’s the perfect candidate for the heist and if she complies, they’ll return their captive in one piece. If she fails, they’ll return him to her in pieces.

One botched theft later, the black clouds protecting the city threaten to break. Jazzlyn discovers someone doesn’t want her people freed from the dark and everyone, boyfriend included, has something to hide. The light won’t hurt Jazzlyn, but if she can’t uncover who’s controlling the Forever Night before the sky opens up, her city, along with everyone she loves, will burn.

First Sentence:

Mushrooms thrive in the dark, so they’re the only food that isn’t rationed.

Entry #87 - NEOPHYTE


Genre: YA PN/UF 


After sacrificing her life to save a friend, Addisyn's angelic afterlife should be all clouds, halos, and harps. But her guardian angels are shielding her from a well of secrets deep enough to drown the entire west coast. There’s also a mysterious dark-winged angel trying to manipulate her into inciting a war between the uncorrupted Light angels and the Fallen, angels who have turned away from their brethren out of resentment and self-indulgence.

With her new family hiding her destiny to prevent her from Falling, and an enemy who is more than happy to exploit her ignorance, Addi is on her own to find the truth and prove the future isn't predetermined. If she can't, the two clashing worlds will collide in an epic battle that could very well destroy everything. May God help us all.

First Sentence:

Honestly, they must have thought I was going to throw a celestial-sized rager the minute they left me alone.

Entry #89 - LUMA

Genre: YA Horror

Title: Luma

Revised Pitch:

Majestic Isle has been the scene of countless adventures for Abbey and her best friend, Callie, until an unexplained accident closes the island amusement park. A few years later, seventeen-year old Abbey hears of an underground club that has popped up amid the broken down roller coasters and rusty bumper cars, and she drags Callie out for the night of their lives.

Unfortunately, it might be the last night of their lives.

The club isn’t the haven for misfits Abbey was hoping for – it’s a buffet, and the club goers are the main course.

What was once an innocent sanctuary of fun is now home to something far more dark and sinister.

If Abbey and Callie survive the night, they may find they are the key to saving the world from an invasion of creatures with an insatiable appetite for human flesh.

First Line:

An ocean of bodies swayed like seaweed across the warehouse floor.



Genre: Contemporary MG


Soon-to-be seventh grader Suzie Martin is happy to find a friend in the new boy in the neighborhood, science prodigy Joshua Jacobs. He makes friendship – something Suzie’s never quite gotten the hang of – look easy. She looks forward to a great year, until she learns Joshua believes his dead father visits him through time travel.

As the news spreads, she must decide whether to stand by a friend she doesn’t believe even if it means losing her newfound acceptance at school, standing up to the school bully, and defying her own family. In a few short months, Suzie learns more about friendship, fear, hope and the spacetime continuum than she ever thought possible.

First sentence:
There was nothing about you, your mother or the moving truck to warn me about what to expect from you, Joshua Jacobs.

Entry # 73 - ENTHRALLED

Title: Enthralled

Genre: NA Contemporary Fantasy


Exploiting Tom’s unique gift of being able to find anyone, anywhere is the only way to pay off his late father’s enormous gambling debts. So when a rich recluse promises Tom a fortune if he brings back her kidnapped daughter, Una, Tom seizes the chance for freedom.

To augment her magic, Una Kearny’s mother has siphoned power from Una all her life, and Una’s sick of being someone else’s battery pack. But after she escapes the shackles of her mother’s hexes, she’ll do whatever it takes to stay free.

Tom soon discovers he's the Son of the West Wind. Una finds breaking her addiction to her devious mother is harder than she’d ever imagined. And if the two of them can’t find a way through the perilous Traveller trials of fire and water, they’ll lose their only chance at escaping the magical enslavement that may yet bind them both.

First sentence:

The symptoms hit Una sooner than she had calculated. 

Entry # 72 - ROGER FIREBUG


Genre: humorous MG contemporary 


Roger “Firebug” Frieburg spends a lot of time in the middle school principal’s office and has his eye on his best friend’s crush, but it’s his artistic ability and love of pit-firing ceramics that earns him his new nickname. Unfortunately, when an at-home art experiment goes awry, the fire department doesn’t find his nickname very cool or funny. And when his brother is abruptly fired from the local restaurant and the building mysteriously burns to the ground, Roger looks just like an arsonist- not an artist. Small town secrets are revealed and friendships shift as Roger tries to prove he is not the real firebug.

First Sentence: 

I think I just burned my eyebrows off.

Entry # 43 - NANNY MORTO


Genre: MG fantasy


MARY POPPINS meets THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, in a Middle Grade fantasy novel NANNY MORTO (25,000 words).
Only Eva and Phillip see the new nanny as a freaky skeleton - smooth skull for a face, bony fingers under the velvet gloves. Forget the park and playgrounds! Trips to the cemetery and visiting antique stores to collect seemingly random items become their new routine. Even so, the children slowly warm up to their peculiar caretaker.
However, Nanny Morto comes with a secret. She is here to earn her death angel wings and requires a few items in order to build her wings, including a soul of a child. Nanny Morto must choose one of the siblings in order to complete her task, and at the end of the summer - she does.

First Line

A clean chalk-white skull grinned at Phillip from underneath the black velvet hat adorned with a golden broche. 

Entry # 33 - CLASS CLOWN

Title: Class Clown

Genre: MG Contemporary


For everyone, the eighth grade is tough. For Clarabell Gritt, it’s a circus. 

After her clown parents leave the circus, Clara attends a normal school for the first time, which is like all she's ever wanted with delicious, processed cherries on top.

Despite a few hiccups that totally weren't her fault (because teachers should really say that most kids don't wear neon leotards in gym), Clara is determined to seize her golden ticket to normalcy: the school dance. That is, if she can just get a date and keep this whole growing-up-in-the-circus thing a secret, but when Clara's parents show up in clown costume in front of everyone, the school's ringmaster manipulates and bullies Clara, sabotaging her attempts to make this the best dance ever. 

Being ordinary might be a stretch, but it would be nice if Clara could make it through middle school without becoming a total freak show.

First Sentence:

Most kids think their parents are total clowns; I guess I do too, but that's because my parents are clowns, like... literally.

Entry #69 - THE LAST FLOCK


Genre: YA Contemporary Speculative Fiction

Seventeen-year-old Reese survived cancer as a child, but after a biological terrorist attack, she finds herself fighting for her life again - spending what should’ve been her senior year of high school sealed in a shelter beneath the Rocky Mountains. Life underground is hard, especially without her missing older brother, and even falling in love with Lucas comes with a price – reconciling that everyone she left above has perished.
Just as Reese begins to suspect they weren’t gathered by chance, Joshua, the shelter leader, stuns them all by announcing he might not open the doors at the end of the year as agreed. In order to save everyone she must embark on a mission to discover what secrets he’s hiding, and why he wants them to remain below. What Reese uncovers is unimaginable: the greatest threat is not in the outside world, but instead sealed in the shelter with them.
First Sentence:

“Probably not,” would be my response if you asked me the following question: if you knew in the beginning what you do now, would you still have saved yourself?

Entry #48 - THE BOOK OF ADAM


Genre: YA urban fantasy


Despite the fact his guts are dangling from the live oaks like spanish moss, sixteen-year-old Adam Shelley isn't dead. His mom, Lenore, broke a demon's deal for a Philosopher's Stone and used it to turn him Immortal.

Now Adam's incurred the wrath of the heavenly council, who fear the Stone falling into the demon's hands could trigger an apocalypse. They grant Adam one-thousand days to tun the Stone over to them or suffer eternal confinement in Hell.

Sounds easy enough... if not for the fact the Stone's been missing since the night the demons tore Adam's family— and his guts— apart. Desperate, he sets out to find the Stone and take his fate back into his own hands. So that if he Falls, it will be of his own Free Will...

First sentence: The Philosopher's Stone is the Elixir of Life.



Genre: YA paranormal 


The week Becca Sanchez discovers Uncle Don is a total whack-job begins with a moving van and ends in handcuffs. First, her creepy history teacher moves in next door. And then her uncle tries to stake him. That’s right, stake. As in vampire.

But when a student goes missing, Becca starts to wonder if maybe crazy Uncle Don isn’t so crazy after all. She investigates and finds a freezer full of blood bags in the teacher’s basement. She and her uncle team up to stop him before he turns the Halloween Dance into his personal high school buffet line.

Everything is going to plan … until she discovers proof her teacher isn’t a vampire after all. Because that’s ridiculous. This is real life, and vampires aren’t real. But now Becca has to save her least favorite person from a stake to the chest and her uncle from sixty to life.

First sentence: 

“Whoa, do you see that? Someone’s moving into the haunted house.” 

Entry #76 - THE WITCH'S BREW

Title: The Witch's Brew

Genre: YA - Fractured Fairy Tale/Legal Thriller


There is a saying in Everafter: never trust a witch. So when the skeletal remains of Gretel are unearthed on the outskirts of the Dark Forest, everyone believes Mrs. Camamelo a.k.a the Candy Witch, did it. Everyone except sixteen-year old Amy Faye and the Witch’s adopted son, John.

Fuelled by her own false arrest and her growing attraction to John, Amy is determined to help the Witch get a fair trial. But uncovering the truth means committing social suicide, crossing the Chief of the Guard and undermining her mom in court.  This dangerous game of law and order could land Amy in jail or worse, in a body bag.

THE WITCH’S BREW is John Grisham’s The Accused meets Bill Willingham’s Fables: Peter and Max.

First Line:

Agreeing to a search and seizure wasn’t part of the plan. 


Title: Becoming Hook
Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairytale Pre-telling LGTB


When sixteen year old James Allison (Jas) joins her Uncle Blackbeard’s crew, she has a plan: Find treasure and start a new life, putting living as a boy behind. But when conniving Tinkerbell strands them in dangerous Neverland and a flying boy stabs Blackbeard with a poisoned knife, instead of searching for treasure, it’s a cure. Captured by by Peter and the Lost Boys, all seems lost – until a native, Tiger Lily, offers help. In exchange, Jas and the pirates must never return. Their journey leads to friendship and something Jas can’t deny – she’s falling in love with Lily. As talk of war between the Indians and pirates brews, they race to find the cure amid interference from psychotic Peter. It’s jealousy that drives Jas and Peter towards battle and love that will tear Neverland apart. Jas must decide: Become the pirate she was meant to be or lose everything.

First sentence:

The long bandage squeezes my breasts but I pull it tighter – until the binding digs in and pinches my skin.

Entry # 55 - THIRTY DÍAS


Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance


Elephant-sized mosquitoes. Rebel uprisings. Kidnapping by monkeys. Twenty-one-year-old Annie London is prepared for anything that could happen in the Nicaraguan jungle, as long as she makes it out with a medical school letter of recommendation in hand. She’s not prepared for Felipe, the quiet, dimpled doctor charged with supervising her work.

As they travel through bone-soaking rains, setting up clinics and handing out mosquito nets, the spark between Annie and Felipe ignites. But when Annie’s meddling brings the wrath of an entire village on the brigade, their relationship and their careers are sunk. Stuck together in the jungle for ten more days, they have to find a way to work together to save lives – and maybe even their fledgling relationship.

First Sentence:

It had been a cereal for dinner, vodka for dessert kind of flight.



Genre: Upper MG fantasy/adventure


Thirteen-year-old Persephone Stone stumbles across a terrifying secret, the hottest fashion label on earth, DarkenWear Inc., is imprisoning magical creatures from another realm in its clothing and accessories line. Unicorns live in jacket linings, dragons warm the fingers of gloves, and goblins lurk in the shadowy folds of skirts. As Persephone starts investigating, she discovers that the nasty scar on her left arm is actually a dragon’s bite and she’s slowly transforming into a fire-breathing monster that’s sure to be on DarkenWear’s list for next season’s collection. Persephone must stop production before she, and every enchanted creature, is transformed into a designer handbag or a fabulous pair of shoes.

First sentence:

The vortex howled around the dilapidated Calvin Coolidge Middle School, throwing crows against the glass and filling the air with feathers. 

Entry #59 - BAD DREAMS

Title: Bad Dreams

Genre: YA Dark Fantasy


John is a seventeen-year-old boy who’s living a life of hell. His grades are atrocious, his friends non-existent, and his bullies unbearable. So he does the only thing he feels he can do--he ends his life with a bullet.

In Hell John finds himself working in the mailroom. It’s not his ideal way of spending eternity, but luckily his boss sees potential in him, and he’s promoted to the position of Wrath, the giver of nightmares, the bearer of bad dreams.

With his new position, John makes his assignments feel the fear he’s felt his entire existence. He does this until he’s assigned a young girl named Danielle. The reasons she’s been assigned are troubling—and wrong. Now he must decide between continuing this life of torture and scares, or using this dark gift for something else, something that could help this girl who needs him.

First sentence: 

School was tough, everyday was a battle to get out of bed, to face the fears that would become a reality the moment he walked through those doors.  


Title: The Unbelievable Misadventures of Avery Mann

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy


Avery Mann’s biggest worry before his eleventh birthday is avoiding atomic wedgies from the school bully. However, his fear of overstretched underwear fades when he becomes a pawn in a supernatural game of four-way chess between wise-guy magi, scheming witches, calculating monsters, and storybook villains come to life. Needless to say, getting caught up in an inter-dimensional conspiracy throws a flying monkey wrench into his summer plans, which did not include: magically bonding himself to a murderous raven, making fishy deals with Long John Silver, or being chased around by ghosts, ghouls, and giant, one-eyed cops. Worse yet, Avery's only chance to get out of this tangled web of wackiness is to free the Wicked Witch of the East… from Hell. And if he fails, his family will remain a bunch of Rip Van Winkles, his newfound friends will be imprisoned, and he'll never finish reading his Ultimate Spider-Man collection.

First sentence:

The walled garden in Kensington Park wasn't as impenetrable as Superman’s Fortress of Solitude or high-tech as the Batcave, but it made the perfect hideout.


Title: The Comic Adventures of Ruby Bella Brown

Genre: Humorous MG, Contemporary


The Comic Adventures of Ruby Bella Brown is Dork Diaries meets Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and shows readers how to find their inner superhero.

Eleven year-old Ruby Bella Brown creates comics to escape from her wacky family, bullying ex-best friend, and humiliating bra-tastrophes. Determined not to let last years’ ditch-a-thon become an annual event, she keeps secrets from her new best friend, Julia. But when Julia discovers the truth, it looks like Ruby might lose her, too. The only thing Ruby wants as much as a forever friend is to go to art camp. But just as her dream is about to come true, she’s forced to choose between working with her favorite cartoonist or helping Julia—hoping she’ll turn into a forever friend.   

First sentence:

I’d eat worms or kiss a gross boy like Stinky Gorman to make sure my eleventh birthday won’t be another suck-a-rama.

Entry #62 - HELICA

Title: Helica

Genre: YA-Science Fiction Futuristic Thriller

Avalon is genetically perfect, but that doesn't mean Helica's leadership trusts her. Helica, the last thriving piece of Earth, forces the population to take a drug that cures PTSD by erasing memories of the nuclear war fought for genetic supremacy. But Avalon metabolizes it quickly, remembering the tragedy Helica's leadership inflicted upon her family.
In a time machine, Asher returns to Avalon from the future. He promises they're in love but she can't remember. Hoping to alter his future without Avalon, Asher presents her with a message from her deceased father, the former Defiance commander. Avalon must spread the truth to Helica's brain-washed population, or the leadership will continue exterminating genetically imperfect humans. However, Earth may not survive genocide, the nuclear war was too much. With mankind's fate at stake, Avalon must reveal the truth before it's too late - but that’s easier said than done. Helica’s leadership is watching.

First Sentence:

Here in Helica, we live by the decree of survival of the fittest - well, they do, anyway.

Entry #35 - CONDUIT

Genre: Paranormal NA

Not everyone turns seventeen twice, unless you’re a Conduit—a reincarnated human contracted to reap souls.

For Liv Hartley, a second chance means a new college, and David, a new love interest. When another Conduit, Asher, steals her first assignment, it lands her in hot water with her afterlife caseworker. While attempting to redeem herself, Liv’s life is threatened. Asher is forced to bind his soul to hers to protect her. Liv soon discovers there’s more to Asher than bad boy attitude and movie star looks—and the fact his touch is a drug Liv craves.

Even though Liv has fallen for David, she can’t shake her feelings for Asher. David is kind, honest, and promises the kind of future Liv could never have with Asher. But when Liv gets her toughest assignment yet—to reap David’s soul—she must decide whether to follow through with the contract or risk losing her soul instead.

First sentence:

All the people with near-death experiences got it wrong.


Title: Paloma and the Bow Wow Bar Mitzvah

Genre: contemporary early middle grade 


Impulsive, fur-phobic, nine-year-old Paloma Perez, needs cash fast, or she’ll miss celebrating her best friend’s birthday bash at the most epic-i-licious concert ever. Pet-sitting a lost and most-likely dead cat isn’t working out, so Paloma literally turns herself upside down to come up with her newest venture, Paloma Perez Party Planner Extraordinaire. But she ignores her best friend’s warning and her first event, a Doggie Bar Mitzvah, unloads a pooper-scooper full of trouble. Paloma struggles to pull together a furry fun-a-palooza, but amid the chaos of cat party crashers (they come for the herring) and yarmulke-eating canines, even Paloma is worried she might fail, and worse, she might lose her best friend too.

First Line: 

Summer Vacation Rule Number One: if you’re trying to save the planet, don’t use left-over Easter egg dye as hair color. 


Title: The Beast of Gantu

Genre: NA/Adventure/Non-Magical Fantasy


Brynna is one of Norin’s elite snipers. She is undercover, attempting to steal the rifle that will turn the tide of the war. When her partner is shot, Brynna refuses to call off the mission; instead, she forms an alliance with a fellow officer and Marcus, a local glasswright. As the three struggle to procure the rifle and the men vie for her attention, Brynna encounters the horror left in the wake of the Beast of Gantu. She determines to kill the Beast and prove the capability of the rifle. Her hunt forces her to grapple with her motives, but when she learns to stand on her own, a heart-rending betrayal drives her to the edge of her strength where she must decide where her true loyalties lie.

First sentence:

Marcus leaned on the porch rail and welcomed the breeze after the stuffy warmth of the tavern.

Entry #42 - TWIST OF FATE

Title: Twist of Fate 
Genre: NA time travel romance

Twenty-two-year-old goddess Pandia’s shaking in her Jimmy Choo’s. When the NYC socialite travels through time to attend a party, she meets Julius Caesar, and convinces him to abandon politics for gardening. Her father, Zeus, summons her to twenty-first century Olympus after discovering the month of July no longer exists. To teach her the importance of fate, he strips her goddess power and sentences her to a stint of mortality in ancient Pompeii.
Pandia intends to do her time, leave destinies untouched, and be home before the next sale at Saks Fifth Avenue. Instead, she’s mistaken for a prostitute and arrested for inciting a riot. Condemned to serve in Pompeii’s Gladiator School, she’s assigned to Caladus, a gladiator whose washboard abs test her vow to remain uninvolved.
To escape Pompeii, Pandia must prove she respects mortals’ fates. But she’s falling for Caladus, and her time’s running out: Mt. Vesuvius is rumbling.
First Sentence

Pacing outside the Great Hall, I yanked down my red top with trembling fingers, and wondered what I’d done to piss my father off this time. 

Entry #71 - SWORN

Title: SWORN

Genre: NA Contemporary Fantasy


Deep in the Rocky Mountains, college student Kai Monahan watches in awe as a dozen dragons—actual freaking dragons—battle beneath a fat, white moon. When one crashes nearly dead at her feet and transforms into a man, Kai does the only thing a decent person could: grabs the nearest sword and saves his life. As the man/dragon, Rhys, recovers from his wounds, an accidental brush of skin against skin binds him inextricably to Kai, but she isn’t about to give up her future because of a mythological creature with a hormone imbalance.

Kai soon learns there’s more at stake than her freedom. Rhys and his companions have an enemy who plans to pit dragonkind against humanity in a clash that could decimate both. Kai must decide if her freedom is worth risking Rhys’s life; a life more crucial to the fate of both species than she can possibly guess.

First sentence:

Kai stood at the brink of the precipice, the toes of her worn hiking boots hanging over the edge.



Genre: YA Near-Future Thriller

In 2107, two very different teenagers threaten to shatter the money-making machine of Nova Vita, an anti-technology cult with the key to unlimited solar power.

Plagued by her OCD, Eve Thomas is already on edge when her brother contracts a disease the cult won’t treat for religious reasons.

Migrant laborer Mana Aquino left Manila’s slums for work in Nova Vita years ago. Now he’s determined to kill the bishop who made a sacrifice of his sister. He just can’t get anywhere near his prey.

But when Mana learns about Eve’s photographic memory, he realizes she’s the weapon he’s been missing. He offers to smuggle medicine to her brother, if she’ll serve as his human camera, gathering information that could topple the bishop. If Eve accepts, she’ll commit a crime that could destroy the only home she’s ever known. If she says no, her beloved brother’s as good as dead.

First sentence:
Mama and I struggle to keep my sister in the kitchen chair so the medics can find a vein and fill a vial with her blood.

Entry #70 - SIGN OF THE STAR


Genre: YA High Fantasy


Princess Ilyra is dead, and seventeen-year-old healer Janni plans to keep it that way.

But then she meets Brennant, a fugitive nobleman seeking to end her uncle’s increasingly unlawful reign. Pursuing the rumours that the princess lives, Brennant is certain he can help her reclaim her throne—if he can find her. When circumstances force them together, Janni is forced to come to terms with her past, and the deadly repercussions it brings.

Yet Janni possesses a power not even she understands, and her actions shape the destinies of those around her. As they journey across mountains, deserts, and the sea, she will destroy a castle, battle the winds themselves, and unravel a plot to annihilate a neighboring kingdom. As her abilities grow, Janni realizes she must soon decide—remain a healer, or take back the throne she abandoned—though it could cost her everything she’s come to hold dear.
First sentence:

Stolen lantern swinging wildly as I clasped it tight, I hurtled down the musty passageway, desperate to keep up with the tiny ermine leading me to safety. 



Genre: YA Contemporary


Shy girls don’t yarnbomb the school fence at dawn, and they definitely
don’t skip school to hang out with Patrick Hayes- student council
president, football vice-captain (and president of his own fan club.)

But then, best friends don’t usually resort to blackmail.

Fifteen-year-old Mabs Starling is the shadow to Olivia’s sun. That’s how
it’s always been. But when Olivia goes on exchange, Mabs can no longer
hide behind her. When a letter arrives, postmarked Paris, the last thing
Mabs expects is blackmail. Unless Mabs completes the enclosed list of
dares, Olivia will send a love poem Mabs wrote to her secret crush.

What’s even worse than Olivia thinking she needs to be blackmailed into
getting a life, is having to admit it’s true. And that Patrick, her
brother’s pain-in-the-neck best friend, may be the only one who can help
her finish the list, and step out of Olivia’s shadow.

First sentence:

I'm the shadow to Olivia's sun.

Entry #46 - THE ELDER RACE



Seventeen-year-old Carri Helms isn’t the first mortal the Goetia, a legion of Fallen Angels and demons, has attacked. But she’s the first to live.

After surviving a car accident the Goetia orchestrate to kill her, Carri discovers she’s a Keymaster, the only one capable of opening Heaven’s gates—whatever the hell that means. But she’s more interested in graduating from her posh prep school than fulfilling an ancient prophecy. Until she meets Riker, an Angel with a killer smile and authority issues, and they fight off another attack.

As they explore their forbidden feelings for one another, Carri discovers the truth behind her Elder heritage--she’s the last direct descendant of Eden’s Eve. With Carri central to Hell's plot to storm Heaven’s gates, the Goetia kidnap her sister to guarantee her cooperation. Now, Carri and Riker must rescue her and send the Goetia back to Hell…or die trying.


The screen on my phone blacked out as the last of my battery drained, leaving me with the world’s most expensive paperweight. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Congrats to the Top 50 Entries in the Pitch Plus One Contest!

The following entries have been selected, and Lisa and Jan have compiled the list below. Congrats to everyone who entered! Putting your work out there in a contest like this is hard. HARD. It takes a leap of faith and it leaves you feeling awkwardly squirmy at the notion that someone is judging your writing. But it's also the first step to finding out whether your writing and your idea is going somewhere.

Now, a caveat. If your entry wasn't selected that doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't good, or that it doesn't have potential. It may just be too similar to things that have already hit the marketplace. So whether you are one of the top 50 or not, think big as you revise your manuscript, and think small. How can you make the idea and stakes bigger and how can you make the details more unique and personal?

Yes, there is a chance to revise based on the feedback you're received and the feedback you've seen given to others. If you are one of the entries listed below, please do whatever you like to your pitch and first sentence, but get it back to us by 6:00 PM EST today, February 22nd.

  • Send your email to AYAPcontest (at) gmail dot com. Include Top 50 Pitch Plus One and your entry number in the subject line.
  • Top 50 entries must consist of a pitch of no more than 150 words and the first sentence of your completed manuscript. Please make sure to include your name, email, manuscript title and genre/subgenre as before.
  • The top 50 entries will be judged by a group of respected bloggers, who will score the entries according to a standard scale with two bloggers reading each entry and a third blogger serving as a discrepancy judge if there is a wide disparity in scores. 
  • The top 25 entries will be announced at noon EST March 1st and invited to send in their first page in addition to their pitch. These full entries will be scored by a group of authors according to a standard scale — two authors per manuscript with a discrepancy judge available. 
  • The top 10 will be announced at noon EST March 8th and will move on to the agent round
  • Overall winners will be announced at noon on 3/15/14.
You can find the full rules and information on the judges located in the original contest post.

Good Luck!

If you're not one of the top 50, we'll have another opportunity to try again soon.

*Note: Please include Top 50 Pitch Plus One and your entry number in the subject line of the email when you send your revised pitch/sentence. 

Again, congrats everyone!

Entry #7
Entry #11
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Entry #15
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