Read the original Success Story post on Miss Snark's First Victim.
For more on Angela Quarles:
Colleen is primarily interested in great fiction and she has a particular expertise in fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, paranormal romance, YA and YA fantasy, and graphic novels. She's also always looking for strong thrillers, crime fiction, mysteries, edgy or quirky literary fiction, women's fiction and LGBT-themed novels.
In non-fiction, she's looking for strong narrative non-fiction, works of LGBT interest and pop culture. She'd also like to see business, marketing and career books geared toward a female audience.
Some specifics about what she's looking for:
The question is, are you ready?
And if you’ve already jumped into the I-need-to-find-an-agent arena, are you going about it the best way possible? Feeling like you’re getting the best results because you’ve hit your stride and you really believe that Agents Aren’t Scary?
Or would you like to take your knowledge to the next level?
You know, COMPLETELY lift the veil on the mystique of the agenting world?
THIS E-BOOK IS FOR YOU!
(Really, it is. I wrote it for you.)
AND PERHAPS MOST EXCITING OF ALL:
I know you don’t want to miss this.
That was hours ago. We’d been in the car long enough for lunch to be our second meal eaten in motion. We had breakfast while it was still dark somewhere in western New York state, and lunch came when we were in Ohio. “Can’t we stop and eat in a real restaurant?” I asked.
“No,” she answered, the lines along her eyes more noticeable than they’d been yesterday. “I don’t want to take the time. We’ll just stop at a McDonald’s,” she added.
“McDonald’s!” I protested. “There’s nothing I can eat at a McDonalds!”“There’s nothing unkosher about a salad. Besides, God would forgive you under the circumstances,” she said.
Galveston Island, Texas, September 8, 1900, 7:05 p.m.
Rose was accustomed to hearing the wails of the dead, but enduring the screams of the dying was unbearable. The wind and rain howled through the second story of the house with enough volume to drown out the cries of mortality—almost. She yanked her water-laden petticoat out from under her floor-length satin skirt to make movement easier.
“Hurry, Rose, we need to get out before the structure fails,” Alden shouted over the deafening roar of the storm. He was perched in a dormer window, grasping the frame with one hand and leaning in to extend his free hand to her. “Rose, please. The water is too high. We need to get out of the house before it collapses. You will die if you are inside.” She kicked off her shoes and waded through the ankle-deep water to grasp Alden’s hand.
Just touching him eased her panic. It always had—for lifetimes. More lifetimes than she could remember.
Repentance Atwater sat still as a rock, clenching her hands in her lap to keep them from trembling. Staring at her reflection in the wet, black stone before her, she attempted a happy expression, but only accomplished the terrified look of a rabbit caught in torchlight.
Her mother stood behind her, gently raking her fingers through Repentance's freshly washed hair. The woman hummed a lively buttoning tune as she worked, oblivious to the pain that would come with the night.
A weeping and a wailing.
There would come a weeping and a wailing. Repentance had been to plenty of failed button ceremonies. She knew what it felt like to stand helpless before the overlords as they loaded up the slave carts.
Mercy Atwater began to plait Repentance's hair. All the button girls wore braids.
Repentance closed her eyes, trying to focus on the tune her mother hummed, but she could not shut out the sound of the steady drip from the fog-drenched trees. Even sitting in the back of the cave, through thick stone walls and two leather curtains drawn down, she could hear the incessant drip, drip, drip.
A weeping and a wailing.
She didn't want to be the cause of it. But what could she do? Inside she'd been weeping and wailing all her life.
She could go along with the buttoning, that's what she could do. She could learn to be content like everyone else.
But she was not like everyone else. She wanted to be. She tried to be.
Annie Grant stared out her window into the pre-dawn black of the Israeli kibbutz. She set her lips in a determined line and raised her chin, defiant if only to the moon, the same moon shining over the Nebraska prairie. "This time it's going to be different."
The vaccine would work, she was sure. Annie had veered from the path the other researchers had followed, made different assumptions and now she knew she was right. The impending birth would prove it. She'd cure BA 23, save cattle, but more importantly, she'd save people.
What if it didn't work? Doubt battered at her brain like Chinese water torture. She'd been close to her dreams before and every time she'd failed. She didn't know if she could weather that kind of pain again.
Her cell phone bleeped. She leaped for it automatically, checking the clock. At this hour it could only be Hassan and it couldn't be good news. She flipped open her phone. "What's wrong?"
His voice sounded frantic, which could mean a crisis or a stubbed toe. "Esther. Her water's broken."
"Take a deep breath, Hassan. I'll be right there." Before he could hang up she stopped him. "Call David. If this calf is born alive, he'll want to be there."
TITLE: ON ICE
Getting away was easier than she thought. She put the kids in the back seat and headed west on Interstate-Ten. As the Houston skyline receded, Rene took a deep breath and let it out slowly, her damp hands gripping the steering wheel.
Glancing in the rear view mirror, she flashed a nervous smile at her daughter. Sara chanted in a little sing-song voice. Rene couldn’t hear the words but it involved some sort of finger play. The sweet, pure tone wafted to the front seat to compete with the hum of the air conditioner.
Seth was another matter. Grim best described his mood. His brows were knit and his form of finger play involved biting them until they were pink and ragged. He kept turning in his seat to peer out the back window as though searching for signs of impending doom. Too much pain for a seven-year old who had suffered too much already.
I should have done this a long time ago. Maybe he won’t follow.
Rene glanced in the rear-view mirror again, this time scanning the highway ribboning out behind them. She bit her lower lip.
Maybe hell’s frozen over.
“Are you kids hungry?” She forced a note of gaiety into her voice.
Sara clapped her hands with glee. Seth remained silent. Poor kid. This took a long time in coming but it was happening too fast for him.
Rene changed lanes, checking her mirrors for a dark blue Lexus.
He probably doesn’t know we’re gone yet.
Wednesday. Blood spatter from the compound fracture seemed to linger in the air before slapping into Catherine Combes’s face. When the spoke on the steering wheel snapped her left thumb, a jolt of pain rushed up the police lieutenant’s arm. A grin splayed across the yellow teeth of the man driving the Land Rover as he rammed her again. Margarita time, and she was in the blender. The churning in her gut increased as the front end of the Ford sedan fell over the rocky embankment to slide toward the white water below. The rotted trunk of a fallen pine caught the bumper and flipped the unmarked Crown Vic into the air.
Once, twice, three times. Combes had wondered why some people in car accidents knew exactly how many times their car had rolled. Now she knew. Each crushing impact created an indelible impression in her mind. The icy water smashed through her open window and overwhelmed her, flooding into her nose and mouth before receding with the current. The crystal sharpness of the details, the cracks in the windshield and the waning afternoon sun reflected on the rushing water, faded into a blurred mush. Through the haze of red dust created by the car’s descent she saw the Land Rover on the road above back away from the precipice.
Combes’s Remington shotgun broke away from its floor mount and the business end of the barrel jammed between her legs.
Nelson Page's loud snore rattled in his chest. Jolting awake at the sound, the newspaper in his hands crunching and crackling, he sat up in his armchair and gazed around the living room.
Her eyes twinkling over the rims of her bifocals, Angie laughed with the full, high sweetness of wedding bells, the same laugh he'd fallen in love with forty-odd years before.
The wind whipped Breann’s short curls from her forehead as she pushed through the pine trees. A cruel smile lifted the corner of her mouth. Thudding footsteps sounded behind her. Good, he had followed her. A week’s worth of hunting was finally going to pay off. She surged ahead out of the trees up the hill and glanced back.
The moon lit the well-maintained lawn behind her. To any casual onlooker, a man chased her. A casual onlooker would be wrong. Because of the gift of true sight Sammuel bestowed upon her, she saw the creature, not the man it pretended to be. Araxiel, one of Sammuel’s favored.
Araxiel’s six burnt wings wrapped around his body like a second skin. His face switched between a hawk, a lion, and a man. A beautiful face twisted by lust.
The World’s Fair Pavilion shone ahead in the moonlight, alone on top of the hill looking down on Forest Park. Caught between the pulsing St. Louis’s Central West End, the bustling university, and the busy interstate, the park surrounded the Pavilion in an otherworldly quiet. Arched doorways lined the walls and left the Pavilion open to the elements. The archways interrupted the moonlight to create light and shadows that fell on the stone floor. The perfect place to play hide and seek.
Breann darted behind a column. Her heartbeat echoed in her ears. The thudding came closer.
Title: “Love? Please! (A Tale of the Holy Water Warriors)
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Great. Just fan-friggen-tabulous. Not even halfway through her shift and Teagan had an a**-grabber.
Of course, that was why she'd gotten this table of five. The girls had named her “The Enforcer” for a reason.
She'd let him play for a moment...it was just a body, after all. But soon, he'd pay.
"Can I get you boys anything else?" she asked, setting a Corona in front of each of them.
The Friday night band sang "Friends in Low Places," and a few patrons whooped or sang along. Lively crowd tonight. Good tips. Everyone was lookin' for love.
Blondie, the man sitting across the table from where she stood, smiled and tossed down a hundred dollar bill. "Tequila shots?"
Mr. Hands, on her left, inched his grope further up the backside of her inner thigh. If he went any higher, he'd be fondling parts of her only seen by her doctor and her vibrator.
She snapped her teeth into a grin, ignoring Mr. Hands, as she pulled the Jose Gold from one holster on her costume gun-slinger's belt and six shot glasses from the other hip. Between the rowdy saloon atmosphere and the waitress costumes-- leather vest, gunfighter's belt over short-shorts, Stetson cowboy hat and boots--it was no surprise Tommie's Knockers drew the largest crowd in the Canyon.
"If you're buying one for me too, sugar," she said. When he nodded, she twisted the cap off the bottle, pouring tequila into each glass before sliding them around.
I was sitting at the table eating my breakfast when she came in.
“Good morning.” I said.
“Your pants make you look like the elephant,” she said in her cute little French accent. “I would not have thought it possible but I think you are fatter now than you were when I came two months ago.”
I scooped a syrup drizzled forkful of pancake into my mouth and smiled.
She grabbed a rice cake and started walking to school. I waited a few minutes until she was a safe distance ahead and then I started after her. What on earth had I been thinking when I asked my mom if we could have an exchange student? I guess I was thinking we’d get a sweet South American girl who would be thrilled to live in the U.S. and could be like the sister I never had. Things never work out like I plan.
I was just a few steps behind Dominique when we got to school. Her diet of rice cakes, grapefruit, and water must have made it difficult for her to walk quickly but she didn’t care as long as she could walk in size zero pants.
I trailed behind her through the main hall. Nearly every boy’s eyes followed her and she pretended to be oblivious to the attention. Almost every guy at the school had asked me about her since she came to stay with us in January.
“What does she like to do for fun?”
TITLE: Lucifer’s Porsche
GENRE: Urban fantasy
Thousands of doomed souls shuffled before him in a chained off queue. Every four meters, a sign flashed the estimated time remaining until one reached the torture devices. Anticipation fed the terror. So did bats. One swooped down to gouge a cheek. The Damned who witnessed the carnage recoiled with yelps. What did they expect? Hell was hell. Satan used to love that line. Now, well…
He flicked a talon at the next soul in line, which bore the curved form of a human female. She cowered, head darting in search of escape. A first timer.
Satan inhaled her salty, warm aura. “If you can spell ‘Mephistopheles,’ I’ll give you a pass this round.” Tough luck if the language she’d spoken on outer-Earth had been character-based.
Hope flashed in her eyes. She straightened up. “M E P H I S T O P H E L E S.”
Satan summoned an oily assistant demon. “Escort her to the elbow twister.”
Her knees faltered. “But I spelled it correctly.”
Satan rolled his head, working out a neck kink. He pointed to a neon sign that hadn’t been there a moment earlier,
NO EXCEPTIONS, NO EXCUSES
(AND NO ONE LYKES A GOOD SPELLER.)
She shrieked as the demon dragged her away. Crybaby.
Satan squinted at the endless queue, not an amusing soul in the bunch. Couldn’t they see he was suffering here?
A high-pitched scream filled the air and at the same time Ally’s horse disappeared from under her. She crashed down onto the wet sand and all air burst from her lungs. Long seconds passed before she sat up. With her back to the ocean, she wrapped her arms around her waist, and willed the air back into her lungs. As she took a deep breath, the smell of salty seawater energised her.
Shrewdy snorted and backed away toward Mount Grief.
A woman's scream had filled the air, but she and her mare were the only females on the beach. Ally knew she hadn't screamed.
An odd sensation played along her backbone and she turned around. She gasped.
A large saltwater crocodile floated in the water only metres from her leg.
Water splashed up as Ally fell sideways onto her bottom. Her heart beat fast and loud. Instead of enlarging the distance between them, her left leg jerked closer to the beast. Animals can smell fear. Without taking her eyes of the salty, she tried to scramble back like a crab but her legs wobbled out from underneath her. The dark grey reptile planed closer.
As if in a trance, Ally sank into the watery sand. She knew her mouth was open; she tasted salt on her tongue. The crocodile moved ever nearer with the tide. Why didn’t her body listen to her frantic orders to move? Closer and closer, the wide snout approached.
David Brewer’s mind was racing almost as fast as his body was falling. Why would someone do this to me? Who the hell pushed me over the railing? He tried to yell but the fifty-five foot plunge had taken his breath away, and when he crashed back-first into the ocean it sounded like a gunshot, followed by total silence. The menacing water swallowed him like a black hole, and he sank fifteen feet below the surface into total darkness.
Disoriented and panicky with excruciating pain racing through his lower body, Brewer flailed and kicked wildly—finally making it to the surface. He gasped for air and swallowed disgusting amounts of briny sea water. Brewer spat again and again, but the waves rolled at him relentlessly, each one smacking him hard in the face. He let out a feeble cry for help, but the floating resort was beyond the range where anyone onboard could hear him. His legs were like rubber, but he continued to kick to stay afloat. He closed one eye and squinted through a salty blur as he watched the lights of the cruise ship flicker farther and farther away.
The killer smiled triumphantly looking back at the vast darkness of the ocean. The only sound was waves careening into the ship’s hull, as the Tranquility of the Seas maintained her heading and forward speed through the eastern Caribbean Sea. As had been the case with the six other passengers who’d vanished from four different cruise ships in the past year, Brewer’s name would soon be unceremoniously removed from the ship’s manifest as the Tranquility of the Seas sailed on.
Five weeks before his disappearance, Miles St. John pushed me up against a locker and kissed me. Hard.
This didn't exactly make it into the police report. A lot of things didn't. Not that night, not our plan, and especially not this little fact: I could have saved him.
Even the reporters, who descended on Verity with their news vans and power ties, didn't discover our secret. They badgered witnesses and dug up rumors, but not a single tabloid mentioned my name.
In a few hours, I could be away from it all. Suitcases and secrets in hand, I could get on that plane to Texas and never be caught. Those stories would stand and you people could go on guessing and wondering, your theories swirling around and around until pretty soon everyone loses interest. It would be yesterday's headline.
It would all be a lie.
And if there's anything my year at Verity Prep taught me, it's this: a lie, even one that no one suspects, will do more bad than good every time. So, this isn't going to be like before. I'm telling the truth now.
Not just about Miles, but about everything - the robberies, the fire, the curse.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, aren't I? Uncle Dash says that the best quality in a good journalist is that she gives all the facts – from the very beginning, when things first get fishy, all the way until the criminal's confession.
So here it is –from my beginning to his end—the confession of Elizabeth Archer: amateur sleuth, total freak, and murderer.
Kieren watched her funeral from a distant hill, face hidden under a heavy black cowl. Far below, the train of mourners passed the wooden bier. A body, her body, lay on top of the tinder, covered by an opaque shroud.
She felt sick.
Following the procession, her husband entered the courtyard, wearing the golden mantle of the King of Men. He stood, still and silent like a statue. Their son stopped beside him, head bowed. His long blond hair blocked his face from Kieren’s sight. He reached out, rubbing his little sister’s back as she sobbed into her father’s chest.
Kieren’s heart lurched, aching that she couldn’t reach out to them.
She tore eyes away and addressed the old man at her side. “This is not right, Talfryn. I don’t care what the Morraugh have told you. This is cruel.”
His stained grey robes flapped in the early spring breeze. “This is the only way, my queen. If you wish to protect your husband and children, you must leave Cuhulaiin.”
“But to make them think I have died? Staging my own funeral? How, in the Morraugh’s name, will that help anyone? They are suffering because of me.” She wrapped her arms around her waist. “I wish you’d kept the knowledge of the vision to yourself, Talfryn. No good can come of this.”
“The Prince and Princess will be safe.”
“But at what cost?”
It was supposed to be some sort of aptitude test—the kind that would help with career tracking. But this test was nothing like the placement test I took last year in eighth grade where checking off that you like to work with your hands got you recommended for a satisfying career in basket-weaving. Instead, this test asked things like: ‘You’ve discovered a way to read people’s minds, what do you do?’ Or: ‘If you could change the course of any historical event, what would it be and why?’
I made a complete mess of that last question, writing how I didn’t want to change history since then I might not get born. After the test I heard a few other kids agreeing that the answer must have been to kill off Hitler.
Later on that month we had to go see our guidance counselors about our scores. I could just picture Mr. Cuthbert telling me how selfish I was to think only of myself, and not about getting rid of a terrible nemesis like Hitler or Stalin.
Mr. Cuthbert had a red, pointy nose that always looked like it needed a Kleenex, and bulging, fishy eyes. But today his washed out eyes had an intense, hawk-like stare.
“Well, Sadie, we have some very exciting news for you.”
“Oh really?” Basket-weaving here I come, I thought.
He popped open the folder in front of me, pointing at a number: 157. “This is your social I.Q. score. The average score is 100, a score of 157 ranks you as above genius-level.”