Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Logline Critique Round #32

TITLE: Year of the Letters
GENRE: Adult Upmarket

After his soul-searching son is killed in Afghanistan, a pragmatic father discovers a notebook of secret letters his son wrote, when 11 years old, to his dead grandmother during the traumatic year that changed everything. Reading them reveals a son he never knew.

Logline Critique Round #31

TITLE: The truth about Paris
GENRE: YA Contemporary, Romance

Hana comes to Paris to escape her overprotective mum and to study but learns a life lesson and finds love. When mum comes for her, Hana will have to say goodbye to her plans for the future and the gorgeous neighbour.

Logline Critique Round #30

TITLE: Two Sisters Woods
GENRE: MG Adventure

To save her magical family, Toby Harris, a 12-year-old girl, must prove that they didn't cast a spell on a pack of wolves suspected of killing a little boy, but it's kinda tough to argue gnawed human bones.

Logline Critique Round #29

TITLE: OCD RULES
GENRE: YA Contemporary

a sixteen-year-old girl suffering from OCD agrees to go to a movie shoot in hopes she'll get a part and show her classmates she's not as weird as they think.

Logline Critique Round #28

TITLE: Murder's Web
GENRE: Adult Crime/Mystery

When PI and retired cop Rule Carson agrees to help defend a war-damaged black veteran charged with the murder of a white police officer. he begins to suspect his surrogate son may be the real murderer, a suspicion that ensnares him in a web of dishonesty threatening his life, his newly discovered love, and even his adopted son.

Logline Critique Round #27

TITLE: The Rookery
GENRE: MG Fantasy

Twelve-year-old Kellen absolutely refuses to be turning into a bird, or really, a Freak. But when her younger sister becomes the next victim of Avian kidnappers, she realizes that the only way to save her is to accept her newfound powers.

Logline Critique Round #26

TITLE: QUANTUM
GENRE: YA Science Fiction

17 year-old Willow is like Schrodinger’s cat. She can be in 2 places at once but only keeps one set of memories, unless she can learn to navigate both realities. She risks losing her family, her first love, and possibly her life.

Logline Critique Round #25

TITLE: UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY
GENRE: MG MAGICAL REALISM


When eleven-year-old Kimberley Adams’s plan to contact her grandfather after his death implodes, she is sucked into an UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY where she finds surprising answers to family mysteries but also ghosts and the uncertainty about whether she will be able to return to her real life.

Logline Critique Round #24

TITLE: Banished
GENRE: YA fantasy

In a world twisted by the dna wars a young warrior must learn to control her changing mutation while surviving the monsters of her nightmares as she tries to reach the free city.

Logline Critique Round #23

TITLE: June Plumay, Teenage Curse Inspector
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

June Plumay knows her way around a stink-eye, but wearing the badge of a Teenage Curse Inspector does not help her with zits, or boys, or trigonometry. Tragically, she has to hide her blessingways from her new family that she was plopped into after her pops got vivisected by a demented curse-worker. Then, she discovers her pops might not be all-the-way-dead. How far would June go to have her father back?

Logline Critique Round #22

TITLE: The Exquisiteness of Seeing
GENRE: Adult women's fiction-Magical realism

Willa Waters died aged 34 unless, through a link in time, Willa at age 33 together with herself at ages 8, and 103 can confront her father's lies about her abusive childhood and create a new future.

Logline Critique Round #21

TITLE: The Bone Cypher
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Nineteen-year-old War Messenger Nicola must bear the bone cypher, a dispatch which eludes detection burned into her bones.
Though seers foretell a silver-haired girl will end the war, Nicola seeks only to survive the navigation of reluctant allies, smiling foes, ghosts, mages and the heartbreak she finds along the way.

Logline Critique Round #20

TITLE: Enthrall
GENRE: MG Horror

After Zac is kicked out of school for defending his moms, a renovation job leads their family to an old hospital. Zac encounters a ghost in the building who warns him of trapped spirits. When one of his moms grows extremely ill and his sister begins acting strangely, Zac realizes he’ll have to free the ghosts to keep his family safe.

Logline Critique Round #19

TITLE: Breathing in Darkness
GENRE: Adult Romantic Suspense

Snatched from her home, a self-absorbed scientist’s daughter learns from a conflicted kidnapper what’s really going on behind the closed doors of her father’s research lab and is forced to make some hard heart choices. 

Logline Critique Round #18

TITLE: TO SEE THE ELEPHANT
GENRE: Adult HISTORICAL FICTION

John Delany, an Irish emigrant father, impoverished but devoted to his family, leaves them behind to search for gold in California. He fails, but returns home to learn his family's love is more important than adventure and golden riches.

Logline Critique Round #17

TITLE: Trans Liberty Riot Brigade
GENRE: Adult Science Fiction

In the future United Free States of Liberty, Andi, an intersex street junkie and resistance member must overcome h/er inner demons to save the Trans Liberty Riot Brigade from destruction and the lives of USF citizens from the corrupt government’s fake terrorist plot.

Logline Critique Round #16

TITLE: BURDEN
GENRE: YA Thriller

When 17-year-old Greer Carson drops her insulin on the way to her own kidnapping her whole plan goes awry. How was she to know her partner in crime would turn out to be her captor?  Will boyfriend Kenny, find her in spite of the death of his brother, and the dark memories that imprison him?

Logline Critique Round #15

TITLE: WHAT EYES MAY SEE
GENRE: YA Romance, Magical Realism

When losing control of your emotions could cost the life of anyone nearby, falling in love is a dangerous game.

Logline Critique Round #14

TITLE: Pale Green Light
GENRE: YA Science Fiction

When Maya Norris sneaks into a massive underground chamber only to be trapped with vicious dinosaurs, she must embrace the chamber's secret before the chamber becomes her grave.

Logline Critique Round #13

TITLE: Isabel Slate Makes the News
GENRE: MG Contemporary

A spunky kid journalist with a tendency to embellish the facts finally gets the chance to earn her byline. But first she must stop an ambitious local journalist—once her hero, now her foe—from stealing her biggest story yet.

Logline Critique Round #12

TITLE: Kyte's Revenge
GENRE: YA Contemporary speculative fiction

“When the boy who nearly rapes 16-year-old Kyte Cabrerra dies in a freak accident, his family blames her. Kyte must use the power of the Santeria she’s learning from her Afro-Cuban grandfather to prove herself innocent of murder.”

Logline Critique Round #11

TITLE: Signal Void
GENRE: YA Light Sci Fi

Sixteen year-old, Kate Hirst, vanishes from the Grid hours before her parents are murdered. With every citizen Bio-chipped, The EYE suspects Kate. In a world where you’re guilty until proven innocent, Kate’s thrust into a seedy world of Junkers and Tag Dealers. Ironically, her only hope lies in Defiance, the rebellious group she fears is responsible for everything.

Logline Critique Round #10

TITLE: The Paper Crane
GENRE: Adult Women's Fiction

Torn between a scandalous office romance and a relentlessly devoted ex, Kelly Tong has to juggle time for a frustrated teen daughter and a demanding career, while her sister makes a last-ditch effort to win over her childhood buddy, about to marry an emerging pop princess. As they embark on separate journeys to seek happiness and redemption in Hong Kong, they must mend their frayed familial ties before they lose the two things they seek.

Logline Critique Round #9

TITLE: Racing Eden
GENRE: YA Contemporary with fantasy elements

High school track star Anabelle Mason scrambles to maintain her life's careful order after the search for her missing grandmother leads her to a geographically impossible, probably magical garden -- and a sympathetic, if inconveniently distracting, boy.

Logline Critique Round #8

TITLE: GATEWITCH
GENRE: YA Science Fiction, Fantasy

When a teenage scrap-hunter from the slums wakes up from her own murder with godlike abilities, she must test her metal against a real god's cursed army, the militant government set on using her as a weapon -- and one seriously bitchy ex best friend.

Logline Critique Round #7

TITLE: Angels in Play
GENRE: Adult Literary Fiction

When first grader Niklas Larkin’s best friend dies in an accidental shooting, he is afraid more kids will die, maybe himself. God influences the boy to unite opposing forces to storm social media. The movement inspires many, but not the minds of politicians or the NRA until unexpected help arrives.

Logline Critique Round #6

TITLE: LIFELINE
GENRE: YA Contemporary

All she ever wanted was to make up for her alcoholic mother and wild-child older sister. The valedictorian of her senior class, she’s failing at life. But not for long. When her bad-boy crush starts calling the teen hotline where she volunteers, he tempts her to cross a line—one that sets her pulse racing but may derail her dreams.

Logline Critique Round #5

TITLE: Middledom
GENRE: MG Fantasy

When Princess Violet, pushed out of the limelight by her more glamorous sisters, overhears a Fairy Godmother declaring middle princesses tend to fade out of the story, she sets about to do something famously heroic to keep from dwindling away.

Logline Critique Round #4

TITLE: Uneven
GENRE: YA Contemporary

A former elite gymnast struggles to adjust to life as a “normal” high school student after a traumatic and life-defining incident causes her to give up the sport.

Logline Critique Round #3

TITLE: Shadowed Angel
GENRE: NA Paranormal

Magnolia never wanted to be a vampyr. Now Vladimir, a powerful vampyr who just happens to be her boyfriend's dad, wants to use her coveted super predator skills to conquer the vampyr race. She must find the strength to defeat him before he enslaves vampyr and humans alike.

Logline Critique Round #2

TITLE: The Pursuit of Craze
GENRE: Adult Paranormal Romance

Allie will stop at nothing to save her rockstar boyfriend from the seven deadly sinners hell-bent on ending him- next stop world domination- even if it means ruining her manicure...and her life.

Logline Critique Round #1

TITLE: Club L.A.D.
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Breakfast Club set in an orthopedic hospital. Five teens of differing abilities meet in a hospital at a turning point in each of their lives and learn that control of their futures isn’t dictated by their disabilities but by their own perseverance.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Logline Practice Round

Great news!

Holly Bodger, our very own Logline Guru (and fantastic YA author), has agreed to critique a round of loglines for those of you who are planning to enter the ON THE BLOCK auction next month.

Yay, Holly!

Here are the details:

  • This critique round is specifically for ANYONE WHO IS PLANNING ON ENTERING ON THE BLOCK next month.
  • Submissions will open at noon EDT on Tuesday (tomorrow) and will close at 8 pm EDT.  
  • You will be allowed a maximum of 75 words for your logline.  HOWEVER: You are STRONGLY encouraged to whittle your logline down to 50 words or fewer.
  • Enter HERE.
  • The bot will randomly choose 50 of the entries, and will post them on Wednesday.
  • ALL readers are encouraged to read and critique as many loglines as you can.
  • Holly will critique all 50 loglines!
And there you have it!  

HERE IS ALL THE INFORMATION ABOUT ON THE BLOCK, including links to information on how to write a strong logline.

Leave your questions below!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Fricassee

Have you ever had the privilege of watching the metamorphosis of a human being from non-book-person to passionate reader?  There's nothing like it.

Especially when it's your spouse!

So, I married a bookless man.  Or perhaps a man with a bookless soul.  In his defense, I wasn't really actively reading when we started dating.  It was my senior year of college, and who has time to read fiction then?  More than that, though, I was a majoring in music, so all my non-dating time was taken up with practicing and student teaching and practicing and accompanying for the choir and practicing and bitching about my non-music courses and practicing.

When I finally reconnected with my love of literature, I found myself in a sort of husband-less black hole.  I also struggled with having to set aside things I really would have loved to do, like curl up in bed with a book and a cup of cocoa on a winter's evening, or bring a nice, fat novel with me on a picnic.  Reading was reserved for times when Mr. A was otherwise engaged, or perhaps out of town.  Certainly I was able to sneak it in on the toilet, but that doesn't get you through too many books in a year.

As I dived more deeply into my writing, I also ramped up my reading.  It continued to be that thing I did on my own, and I often found myself longing to have a nice, deep BOOK TALK with my beloved.  But the only talks we had were about my own stories, which Mr. A was so very kind to read and comment on, despite a lack of true love for the written word.

Mind you, this had its own hazards.  Not being well-versed in author-speak, he would absolutely go off his rocker about things like "he narrowed his eyes" ("What the heck is a narrow eye?") and "she opened her mouth and closed it again" (I suffered through more bastardized demonstrations of this than I care to count).

"If you read books," I would say, "you would know that these are normal ways of saying things in writing."

Ultimate eye-roll.  "There's nothing normal about that."

So there it was.  He was helpful and supportive and he read every novel I wrote.  But he wasn't a reader.

And then.

This past spring, I read the blurb of The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey, and I just knew that my husband would like it.  Just knew.  I didn't buy it right away, though, and in the meantime, Mr. A saw the trailer for the movie, and exclaimed, "Hey, I want to see this."  My response was, "Hey, I'm totally buying you the book, because you will love it and you know I will only respect you if you read it before seeing the movie."  Or something like that.

(Disclaimer: The movie absolutely sucked. But that's another story.)

So I bought the book right before we left for vacation, since he was clamoring for a "vacation read" (things were already looking promising).  I also bought myself Mary Pearson's Kiss of Deception, which I've gushed about more than once since having finished it.

Mr. A tore through The Fifth Wave like nothing I'd ever seen.  (Well, okay.  He read The Giver on a flight to San Francisco a few years ago, which was pretty impressive.  But since that event didn't lead to any sort of permanent change, it pales in comparison.)  Then...then!...he reached for Kiss of Deception.  And that's when the real magic began.

My husband--my non-book-reading, I-don't-like-fantasy husband, DEVOURED Mary's novel.  Gushed about it whenever he came up for air.  (Honestly, "gush" isn't a word I often use in the same sentence as my husband's name.)  He was, and is, absolutely in love with Mary's books.  And yes, he has since read all three.  In fact, I let him read the third one first (big-hearted wife that I am), and he is dying to discuss it with me.

Yes.  My husband is DYING TO DISCUSS A BOOK WITH ME THAT I HAVEN'T READ YET.

Oh, the beautiful irony!

So the final 5th Wave book is on his table, and just last night he announced to me that he is buying a Kindle next month.

A freaking Kindle.

The first thing he's planning on downloading?  My novel-on-submission.  He's never read the final, polished, out-to-editors version, and he says he wants to read it with his new reading eyes, now that he's read Mary's books.

Which makes me sort of nauseated.  I've begged him to read something--anything--in between my book and Mary's.  I'm pretty sure I couldn't deal with the pressure!  It looks like Rick Yancey will be the perfect buffer (different genre, different writing style), so I think I'm covered.

I've also suggested that he should read at least the first three Harry Potter books, and he has agreed.  (This may be directly related to the fact that he recently overheard me having a conversation with someone about the names of different spells, which made him exclaim that it sounded like we were speaking some other language. Which we kind of were.)

I'm over the moon.  I'm not sure who this man is, but I really, really, really like him and hope he stays.  What's nice is that he gives me credit, as though I've somehow wrought this change.  I'd imagine it would be kind of hard to live long with a writer/book lover without something rubbing off, but I can't take all the credit.  Mr. A is a creative, imaginative, intelligent guy.  I have to believe that it was only a matter of time until he found his inner bookworm.

Oh, and he's told me he'd like to read some adult fiction, and that he's particularly interested in thrillers (but nothing to do with serial killers, which creep him out).  So PLEASE FILL MY COMMENT BOX WITH YOUR SUGGESTIONS!  I don't read thrillers, so I can't help him out here.
So, yay, me!  I have a TRANSFORMED HUSBAND!  If I suddenly start expressing a deep interest in the NFL, you'll know why.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Aaaaaand Here Are Our Bronze, Silver, and Gold Winners!

(In Rena's own words:)

I really enjoyed reading all of these entries! Many of them were strong and I would certainly have continued to read more of many of them. I look for strong voice and writing more than anything and I will often read on if I’m impressed by those – that’s the hardest thing to nail! I said “I’m intrigued” or “I’d keep reading” to many of you – so if you saw that and were surprised I didn’t ask for pages, it’s because it’s true – I would likely have read on, but there’s a difference between being willing to keep reading on and requesting to read a full or partial manuscript based on only 250 words. Thanks to everyone who entered! It was a great group of entries! In the spirit of the Olympic Games:

THE WINNERS:

Bronze Medalists – Query and the first 25 pages:

#31 – Breaking the Chalice
#4 -- The Bone Tree

Silver Medalists - Query and first 50 pages:

#35 – Da Vinci’s Secret
#29 – Dolsa Bones and the Witch Who Stole Laughter

Gold Medalists – Query and full manuscript:

 #40 – How Ty and I Saved the World
 #17 – Basille
 #1 – The Third Gift


Congratulations, all!

**
Winners:  Please email me at facelesswords(at)gmail.com for specific submission instructions!

Secret Agent Unveiled: Rena Rossner



Huge thanks and thunderous applause to the delightful and super helpful Rena Rossner of The Deborah Harris Agency!

BIO:

Rena is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University’s Writing Seminars Program, where she double-majored in poetry and non-fiction writing. She studied at Trinity College, Dublin and holds an MA in History from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She worked at bookstores in four countries, has written extensively for The Jerusalem Report and The Jerusalem Post, and worked in PR, grant-writing, and website development at The Jerusalem Foundation. She is a writer of both fiction and poetry as well as the author of the cookbook EATING THE BIBLE, which has been translated into five languages.

Rena is interested in representing Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction in all genres, Adult Literary and Contemporary Fiction especially Upmarket Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction and Thrillers. She is also actively seeking Young Adult, Middle Grade and Picture Books.

Recent Sales:

Between Two Fires by Mark Noce (Historical Fiction, sold to Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press in a 2-book deal, comes out this month! August 23, 2016)
Not This Turkey by Jessica Steinberg (Picture Book, comes out October 1, 2016 from Albert Whitman)
Three Envelopes by Nir Hezroni (Thriller, sold to Thomas Dunne, St. Martin’s Press, sold in a 2-book deal, comes out April 2017)
Dear Martin by Nic Stone (Young Adult, sold to Crown in a 2-book deal, comes out October 2017)
Winterhouse by Ben Guterson (Middle Grade, sold to Christy Ottaviano Books in a 3-book deal, comes out in 2018)

Most recent deal: Leah Scheier’s third Young Adult novel, The Rules of Rain, was just sold to Annette Pollert at Sourcebooks Fire.

WHAT RENA IS LOOKING FOR RIGHT NOW:  

I definitely seem to specialize in YA books, but I am actively seeking great classic-feel middle grade, especially middle grade historical fiction, and I am always looking for classic-feel picture books and funny/quirky picture books. In terms of adult fiction I am also on the hunt for a great Thriller, for Upmarket Women’s Fiction and for great Historical Fiction, along with anything in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Winners forthcoming!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday Fricassee

I've just got to say how impressed and thrilled I am by your critiquing response during this Secret Agent Contest.  The normal pattern is lots-of-crit on the first day, and then just a smattering the next, with light trickles by Friday.  This time, Wednesday AND Thursday saw a continual onslaught of crits coming through.

WELL DONE, ALL OF YOU!

There are so many new names here, as well, and I'm delighted that you've jumped headlong into our community.  WELCOME!  And thank you for sharing your time and writerly insight.

Honestly, it's just so encouraging to see this level of support for our fellow writers.  I LOVE THIS SO MUCH.  I tell people over and over how amazing the online writing community is--not just here on MSFV, but all over the place.

Eons and ages ago, Jodi Meadows sent me one of her manuscripts to read.  This was before she was published--in fact, she wasn't even agented yet.  But she was leaps and bounds ahead of me in the writing department, and I was TERRIBLY intimidated to read her novel and offer up my opinions.  And in all honesty, I didn't have a lot to say.  Not just because the story was good (of course it was!), but because I wasn't sure what, exactly, I ought to be pointing out.

(Grammar, for Jodi, was and is never an issue.  I think probably she was born knowing all the grammar rules.  So my one strength back then--grammar--wasn't really needed.)

Anyway, I did what I could, and Jodi and I continued to read each other's work for several years.  My point?  You just have to JUMP IN and start critiquing other people's work.  You won't know what your critique strengths are until you actually do it.  Also?  You're not responsible for whether or not the writer actually takes anything you say into consideration.  A smart writer knows what to hang onto and what to chuck.  Your role is to offer your best advice, and then to walk away.

I had to teach this to my dear husband, who gave me notes for one of my novels and then proceeded to hound me.

No, really.  I'm talking, "So, do you agree that ___?"  "But did you read what I said about ___?"  "But don't you think you should ___?"

JUST NO.

He was lucky to be thoroughly loved.  Especially when he STARTED TO SULK after I told him to back off.

Poor Mr. A.  He's been through so much.  I give him all sorts of credit for sticking with me.  I do.  He's amazingly supportive.

And on that note, I'd best be off to pack my little bag for our anniversary weekend getaway.  Exciting in itself, but even more exciting when I ponder the fact that WE ARE BRINGING BOOKS TO READ.  Books!  This man, who for our entire married life has not been a book person, WANTS TO READ WITH ME.

My life is complete.  :)

Of course, I have to give Mary E. Pearson's Remnant Chronicles the credit.  I had a moment of weakness  kindness and handed my husband the third book so that he could read it first.  (What was I thinking?)  I will have to content myself with Harry Potter 4 while I wait for him to finish.

All right, then!  Have a wonderful weekend.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

August Secret Agent: Critique Guidelines

Guidelines for Critique on MSFV:
  • Please leave your critique for each entry in the comment box for that entry.
  • Please choose a screen name to sign your comments. The screen name DOES NOT have to be your real name; however, it needs to be an identifiable name.  ("Anonymous" is not a name.)
  • Critiques should be honest but kind, helpful but sensitive.
  • Critiques that attack the writer or are couched in unkind words will be deleted.*
  • Cheerleading IS NOT THE SAME as critiquing.  Please don't cheerlead.
  • Having said that, it is perfectly acceptable to say positive things about an entry that you feel is strong.  To make these positive comments more helpful, say why it's a strong entry.
  • ENTRANTS: As your way of "giving back", please critique a minimum of 5 other entries.

*I can't possibly read every comment.  If you ever see a comment that is truly snarky, please email me.  I count on your help.

Secret Agent #40

TITLE: How Ty and I Saved the World
GENRE: MG Sci Fi caper

I set the colander on my head and adjusted it so that I could glare at Ty. This whole idea was his and it was just plain stupid.

“That’s good.” Ty stood back to admire the tin foil “antennas” he’d added to the colander’s legs.

“Define good.” I peered at myself in the mirror. I looked like you could plug me in and blow out half of Spokane.

“Quit being negative, Reggie,” Ty said. “This is going to work.”

Colander, green wig, matching face paint. Ty had mined the Halloween closet as well as the kitchen to come up with this getup. I’d lost the toss, of course, so I had to wear it. I looked weird. We were supposedly going for alien. I cocked an eyebrow at him. “Really?”

“Seriously, dude,” Ty said, “you look awesome.”

My cousin Ty is like that. He gets caught up with stuff. Then he keeps on until I get caught up, too. You want to know, most of the trouble I’ve gotten into in the past eleven-plus years has been thanks to him. So this dare wouldn’t even have made our Top Ten Crazy Dares list. Not then, anyway.

Like a lot of our stunts, it started with an argument.

“Wouldn’t it be awesome to meet a real alien?” Ty had asked. We were three weeks into summer vacation, and I was pretty sure he’d been watching way too much of the SyFy Channel. He has cable at his house.

Secret Agent #39

TITLE: 'I Wouldn't Have Kids If I Was You'
GENRE: Adult Women's Commercial

I wouldn’t have kids if I was you.

Firstly they all start as babies, and babies are arseholes. They show up, sometimes uninvited, cause a shitload of pain and distress on arrival and then spend most of their time screaming loudly in a manner scientifically designed to cause maximum irritation to the adult brain.

I can think of no other circumstance in life where I would allow a complete stranger to treat me this way.

They are undoubtedly the worst, most demanding and narcissistic house guest you will ever have.
And they are so needy. They literally want you to do everything for them. Everything. “I’m hungry! Feed me” they squeal at you with indignation. “I shat myself, wipe my arse!” They bellow at you. And all of this is said with screams. Screams to tell you what they want you to do for them. You are then forced to go through an intense process of elimination to determine what the flip they actually want. Even then they might not be happy. Some of them just cry for the hell of it, even after they’ve been changed and fed.

Babies – massive eyes and layers of fluffy swaddling wrapped around the dark heart of a tiny dictator.
After arriving in the most painful fashion imaginable they then deploy devious means of torture on their captives. Because, as a parent that is essentially what you are. A captive with a sentence of 18 to life.

Secret Agent #38

TITLE: NILE
GENRE: YA Fantasy - Own Voices

Beta Universe, Hieros —Apraesis

Our two moons once foretold that I would become Queen of Hieros, Sun of the Four Kingdoms. But I had never been interested in standing in the sun. I lived in the shadows, and pretended to rule under the light.

As heir to the throne, or Hierisa, private training was my favorite moment of the day, the few hours when I got to let off some steam, when I was allowed to be myself. I excelled at it, and no one bested me when it came to the Mystic Arts, except for my mentor Raeki. Standing at the other end of the Stone Room, he stretched out his arms and got ready to attack.

"Create a fireball," he ordered. In the always cold training room, only ten feet separated us and the rock wall, circling the space like a prison cell.

 “Piros!” A flame sprung from my fingertips, a blazing raindrop of orange heat that crept up my hands. I released the fire, allowing it to spread across the chamber like an uncaged tiger.

Although I had been practicing The Mystic Arts for years, I still wondered how I didn’t get burned. I could not age. I could not die. The first time I generated fire with the power of my mind, I hadn’t said a word out of fear for three days. Now that my eighteenth Red Moon had passed, I was supposed to control my nature. Now I was supposed to become Queen.

Secret Agent #37

TITLE: Mr. Grumbles
GENRE: MG Fiction

One overcast, night in Miami, Florida, a small car stopped, for a moment, in front of a yellow house. A black cotton bag landed on the driveway, and big yellow eyes from inside watched the car as it drove away into the night.

“Wait! Come back!! Don’t leave me here!!!” a kitten cried.

The kitten, with shiny black fur, peered up the driveway. His fur was scattered: with white hairs.   A blaze of about twenty heaths under his neck. He had a black nose and big yellow eyes.

“Hello... Is anyone here?”

Clouds moved in, winds picked up, and rain started to fall.  However, the kitten looked for a dry place. He scurried up the driveway, and dashed under a tan car, just as the sky opened up with a gush of heavy rain. There, feeling safer, he curled up in a tiny ball, and watched the rain fall.

“Why did they leave me here?  What did I do? Mommy...

I want my mommy. Why did she let them take me away?  He wondered.  Mommy...”

Slowly the kitten’s eyes became heavy, and he fell asleep.

The next morning the kitten woke, to the sound of birds singing.  He came out from under the car, and looked around, and his stomach started to growl. Two brown, anole lizards were sunbathing. He hunched his stomach down low to the ground and pounced!  The kitten caught one of them by its tail under his paws.