Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Baker's Dozen Agent Auction: HEADS UP

The auction opens ONE WEEK FROM TODAY!!

Here's what you need to know:
  • The 40 entries will post on Saturday, December 4, beginning at 8:00 am EST.
  • You may begin IMMEDIATELY to critique the entries.  Please remember to choose option 3 (Name/URL) to sign your posts with a screen name.  ("Anonymous" is not a name.)
  • Bidding on the entries will open at 8:00 am EST on Tuesday, December 7, and will close 24 hours later.  Requested materials will go to the highest bidder.
  • You may continue to post critiques during the active auction.
  • Our agents, authors, and editor will be posting under their real names.  
  • Winners will be posted on Thursday, December 9.  So you won't have to, yanno, scroll through all the entries to see who won what.
I think that's everything!  Oh, and if you're looking for my donate button during the auction, you won't find it.  I know, I know--my donate button has absolutely nothing to do with the agents or anybody else involved with the auction.  But it's coming down anyway, to avoid the tiniest hint of confusion.

Thanks for understanding.

If any aspect of the auction still has you scratching your head, please leave your questions in the comment box.  This is by far my Biggest Undertaking Ever, and I want to make sure I don't miss anything.

And yes, I'm a teeny bit excited about this.  Just marginally.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Fricassee

Happy Friday!

First note of business:  All rejections and acceptances were sent out on Wednesday (with rabid determination, I might add; my poor dad did not understand why I was hunched over my laptop).  Again, if you have not received a response, please check your spam box.  Nothing bounced, so you should all have your email.

Second:  Thank you for your lovely emails, from rejectees and acceptees alike.  My intention is always to respond to each one personally, but I'm not sure I can swing that this time.  So...thank you.  And you're welcome.

Third:  I actually RELAXED for two days and had some of the best quality time with my family that I could've asked for.  (I mean, lunch out with my parents and sister?  Belly laughing the night away?  This is good stuff!)  But...after the first twenty-four hours MY BRAIN FELT LIKE COLD OATMEAL.  I really need to stay productive to feel fully "here."

Does this resonate with you at all?

I am SO eager to dive back into my WIP this afternoon.  SO glad to be reconnecting with you through this blog post.  SO thankful for the chance to feel productive again.

It's that Type A thing rearing its head again.

And there you have it.  Bye-bye Thanksgiving Zombie; hello frenetic Authoress.

There's still pie to be eaten, though.  Pie ranks fairly high on my list of Things That Make Life Wonderful.  Especially homemade pies.  Especially homemade pies that someone else baked.

See you Monday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Yes, it is.  I thought you all ought to know.

I don't have anything profound to say about it.  I found out yesterday and was fairly amused, as cashews are one of the mainstays of my existence. 

I mean, NATIONAL CASHEW DAY.  Who knew?

Anyway, I'm taking the next two days off.  As in, completely off.  No writing, no blog work.  I'm going to push through today and try to get all the rejection and acceptance emails out, though.  If you don't hear from me, it'll be right after Thanksgiving for sure.

Big hugs to you all!  And Happy Cashew Day.  Seriously.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Submissions Update

Wow.  Life-as-close-to-being-an-agent-as-I'd-ever-want-it!

Here's the update:  All 50 entrants for the adult portion have received their responses.  (Rejections and acceptances both.  So if you're in this crowd and haven't heard, please check your spam box.  I PROMISE I sent 50 emails yesterday.)

Jodi and I are still working through the MG/YA entries. We're 75% finished.  I'll send responses as soon as I can.

Also, I feel awful because one of you sent me a link to a AMAZING collection of information on all 13 of our agents, and I forgot to post it before submissions opened.  And now I can't find the email.

Yes, it's been a little overwhelming.  I'm so sorry for missing that.

But yes, this is fun!  The excitement alone propels me forward each day.  Like a non-Christmas Christmas.

I'm even receiving NICE RESPONSES to my rejection emails.  Words of THANKS.  Does it get any classier than this?

Yep, I'm loving this.  Thanks for your patience.  And enthusiasm!

ETA: Thanks to Merieka for providing the link to Catherine Misener's AWESOME AGENT LIST. And THANK YOU, Catherine!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Fricassee

You've reached a new level of awesome.

So many of you were disappointed to not have gotten in on the submissions.  Many times it was the frustration of mistiming, or a formatting glitch, or just the fact that there was such a HUGE RUSH at each submission window that, even if you timed it perfectly, the odds were still against you.

I absolutely would have felt the same level of frustration/disappointment/angst/sorrow.  Knowing me, I probably would have cried.

Well, a little bit, anyway.

But in all that, and among SO MANY of you, nobody complained.  NOBODY.

As in, NOBODY.

I've been in leadership roles online and in real life.  I've dealt with groups as diverse as four-year-olds in a preschool, adults in a church small-group setting, a huge Christian chat room online, and a sixteen-voice chamber group.

In every other instance, SOMEONE ALWAYS COMPLAINED.  One of my chamber group singers (I was the director; in fact, I founded the group) called me and told me how I was doing everything wrong and that I needed to drop a few songs because it was too hard to learn them all (read: singer incompetence).  One of the parents in the daycare complained to my director (without talking to me first) that I never greeted her child when she brought him to class (over an hour late, while I was in the middle of dealing with a dozen other children).  Her son was one of my favorites and I always gave him a huge hug after she said good-bye.  She never saw that part.

Then there was the church member who told everyone she no longer felt welcomed in my home because I had called her (gently) on some inappropriate behavior (which was my role because, yanno, I was one of the group leaders).  And the PTA members who told the principal I was an incompetent music teacher (the principal initiated a standing ovation at the performance of the musicals I'd written for the kids; something, I later learned, she had never done before).  And the misbehaving online chatters who would abuse me in a private box after I'd banned them from the room.  (Yeah, calling me obscene names is definitely going to make me change my mind about banning you.)

That's real life.  It's not outside of normal.

Then there's THIS group.  There's YOU.  And the dynamic is completely different.

So many of you received a rejection from the bot AND THANKED ME ANYWAY.  So many of you were frustrated and disappointed and SPOKE WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT AND APPRECIATION ANYWAY.

Even those of you who expressed sincere frustration and sadness did so in a non-complaining, non-accusatory way.  You shared your feelings, and I felt them along with you.

I can't tell you how amazing this is.  And how grateful I am.

I've said it so many times.  But I really love this community.  REALLY LOVE.

As for your donations?  I am humbled beyond words.  The button still makes me squirm.  That's just me, I guess.  "Thank you" isn't enough to say for your generosity, but it's all I can manage without blubbering and blathering.

So, thank you.

And may your weekend be as amazing as you are!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


There have been enough questions to warrant a quick post.

1. Your header must look EXACTLY LIKE THIS:

SCREEN NAME: (type it here and be sure you included the colon)
TITLE: (type it here and be sure you included the colon)
GENRE: (type it here and be sure you included the colon)

2.  You may have typed yours EXACTLY as stated above and still got bot-booted.  So here's the trick:  TYPE THIS SECTION INTO YOUR EMAIL BY HAND.  That way, if Word is creating weird, invisible characters when you cut-and-paste, you'll avoid that problem altogether.


It's hard enough to get through the door; I hate knowing that some of you have been tripped up by formatting glitches! :(

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Okay. I've Finally Done It.

I've added a donate button.

So if you ever feel like you want to see me a lifetime supply of organic cashews, but you're frustrated because I'm, yanno, anonymous, you can click the donate button instead.

I run the blog because I LOVE it. And I LOVE YOU.

Not gonna charge for stuff. Not gonna pretend there's a price tag. Because...there isn't.

But yeah, it's a lot of time. And I'm feeling it right now.

And if people start to feel annoyed by the donate button, it'll come down.

I've been encouraged by more than one person to give it a try. So I am. And no, I'm not REALLY planning on earmarking blog funds for cashews.

I mean, not REALLY.


You've been so amazing throughout this Baker's Dozen journey. Do you know, not a single person has yelled at me? Not one! Knowing the caliber of this community, I'm not surprised. But when you think about your average, public, entitlement-riddled groups of people, it IS surprising.

You are in a classy minority, to be sure.

Thanks for being here. And thanks for making me feel safe enough to even think about putting a donate button on my blog. Because it makes me a bit...squirmy.

That's that. Back to your regularly scheduled writing!

ETA: I've removed the button for the duration of the submissions process.  It's probably a good idea to not let anyone get the idea that donations would in any way affect submissions.  They wouldn't; but I've removed the button, anyway. *smile*

Some Notes on Baker's Dozen Submissions

Whew! We survived the Round One onslaught. COMPLETELY bracing ourselves for Round Two tomorrow!

Reading slush with a (talented, sharp-eyed, dry-witted, experienced) friend is proving to be angst-free and...dare I say it?...fun! I honestly couldn't do this without Jodi Meadows. Please send her organic chocolate and high-end ferret treats.

Things you need to know:
  • All entries will receive an email from me (not the bot), whether your submission was rejected or accepted. Please bear with me, and remember that I promised you'd hear within a week (and not a day).
  • If yours is one of the winning entries, you will also receive a post number.
  • Jodi and I have decided to raise the total entries in the MG/YA round to 100 (up from 80). That means 50 entries accepted in each window. We will still be choosing only 25 for the auction.
  • While we have certainly focused on loglines for the past few weeks, Jodi and I are finding that, in the end, strong writing trumps all. Also, a strong logline doesn't always lead to a strong opening page. So in slogging through, we're finding we need to strike a balance and decide if there's an ultimate, overall "hook" in each entry. Challenging! But yeah, fun.
  • I've always admired agents who keep up with their slush piles. Admiration has morphed to awe. Just saying.
As always, questions below! But go easy on me. This thing is...well, huge!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Touching Base on Submissions

Our first round filled up in less than a minute. Not that I'm surprised by that. What I AM surprised by is the number of entries that received "CONTEST FULL" notifications after that.

83. Seriously.

Okay. Round 2 for adult submissions will open at 6:00 pm EST.

Because it's come up in conversation: DO NOT WAIT FOR BLOG OR EMAIL NOTIFICATION. I'm not posting; it wouldn't be worth the time. I'm certain the contest would fill up before the post showed up for many of you.

So watch a reliable online clock and submit on time. Please don't rely on me.

What's REALLY super is that there were hardly any errors on submissions--things like word count, headers, etc. YOU ALL DID A GREAT JOB SUBMITTING PROPERLY!!

Okay. I'm truly sorry that so many of you are getting turned away. I knew this would be big, but my expectations have been exceeded.


Monday, November 15, 2010

And Our Winners Are:

In Ms. Janczuk's own words:

I didn’t think it would be so difficult to judge this contest, but in the end, it was—lots of good things and things that need work were happening on different levels. In the end I thought about the writing, my personal preferences genre- and writing-wise, and how excited I was about a particular excerpt overall, taking into consideration whether the excerpt promised a solid, well written and interesting read in the rest of the text.

I have read some of these excerpts in my slush pile, too, and I tried to be fair, looking at them as objectively as I could.

My winners—


I’d like to see a query and the first fifteen pages.




#41 – SET ‘EM UP, JOE


I’d like to see a query and the first thirty pages.




I’d like to see a query and the first fifty pages.




I’d like to see a query and the full manuscript.


Congratulations to all winners! Please email me at facelesswords(at)gmail.com for specific submissions instructions.

Secret Agent Unveiled: WERONIKA JANCZUK

Endless huzzahs to the remarkable and dedicated Weronika Janczuk of D4EO Literary Agency for some of the most detailed, thorough crits I've ever seen!

Weronika's Bio:

Weronika is, as of August, a literary agent with D4EO literary. Since her very first internship with YA editor Brian Farrey at Flux, she's held an array of positions and worked in different capacities with editors and agents, assisting at D4EO since April.

She considers herself a literary generalist and is actively looking for clients in the following genres: literary and commercial fiction, women's fiction, mysteries/thrillers/suspense, romance, fantasy/sci-fi, memoir, and commercial non-fiction. Submission guidelines are detailed on her website here, while her specific interests and favorite books are detailed here.

Huge thanks and kudos to you, Weronika!

Winners forthcoming.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fricassee

What a week! I can honestly say that blog traffic's never been higher.

A few questions that keep popping up concerning the agent auction:

1. Does "250 word" mean ANY 250 words?

ABSOLUTELY NOT. Contests are ALWAYS for the first 250 words--your first page. Why? Because THAT IS WHAT AGENTS WANT TO READ. For that matter, it's what anyone wants to read.

How many of you pick up a book that looks interesting and start reading in the middle to see whether or not it sucks you in?

Okay, maybe some of you do that. Rest assured you're in the minority.

2. Your word count restriction includes 100 extra words for the logline. If my logline is only 50 words, may I send a 300 excerpt?

Um, you can send it; the bot won't know the difference. BUT JODI AND I WILL. And we will be rejecting entries that are over 255 words. Period.

Seriously, please pay attention to this. It will KILL me to reject a strong entry because of word count. But with the kind of response we're expecting for this contest, we've got to have hard-and-fast rules. And word count is one of them.

100 words or less for your logline.

255 words or less for your excerpt.

3. What about memoirs? What about narrative non-fiction?

The genres for this contest ARE CLEARLY STATED IN THE CONTEST RULES. They do not include memoirs, narrative non-fiction, or how-to-fix-your-own-plumbing books. I'm sorry (truly!) if your genre isn't included. The genre list reflects the interests of our participating agents. I didn't pick them out of a hat.

Not even a red hat.

4. Are YOU, Authoress, entering the contest?

Of course not. Even if I had something I wanted these agents to see, I wouldn't enter my own contest. Especially a contest with a built-in slush pile. Sure, I'd love the feedback! I'm as hungry for it as the rest of you. But I'm perfectly happy to run the thing.

The administrative assistant in me is experiencing a regular squee-fest over it. Seriously.

5. Well then, what can we send you to make you happy? Chocolate truffles? Sonona Cutrer? Organic cashews? A huge gift certificate for soulflower.com?

All of the above.

Okay, I made that last question up. Things were feeling too serious.

If there's ANYTHING I missed, please post it in the comment box below. If you ask a question that's already been answered, I'm not answering.

No, really. Please refer to the links in yesterday's post to get ALL THE DETAILS. I know there are many. But I've tried to be as clear as possible.

BIG HUGS TO ALL! This is going to be so much fun.

Especially when my presents start arriving. *grin*

Thursday, November 11, 2010

ANNOUNCING: The Baker's Dozen Agent Auction CAST OF CHARACTERS!

I promised I'd let you know. So without further ado, here's the line-up for our Baker's Dozen Agent Auction:


Holly Bodger, represented by Joanna Volpe of Nancy Coffee Literary
Jodi Meadows, represented by Lauren MacLeod of Strothman Agency
Beth Revis, represented by Merrilee Heifetz of Writer's House


Our three illustrious authors will provide critiques on the entries. Each entrant in the auction will receive at least one author critique. They're all fabulous, so it hardly matters which!


Stacy Whitman of Tu Books


Ms. Whitman will provide--wait for it!--a critique for each entry in the auction. She's an amazing editor, so this is an automatic "win" for each of our participants.


Ammi-Joan Paquette
Danielle Chiotti
Josh Getzler
Kate McKean
Kathleen Ortiz
Laura Bradford
Lauren MacLeod
Melissa Jeglinski
Michelle Wolfson
Sarah LaPolla
Suzie Townsend
Tina Wexler
Weronika Janczuk


The agents will bid on entries that catch their eye. Bidding will be open for 24 hours from the start of the auction. Requests for material will go to the highest bidder.



I think that's everything! You'll find all the info you need in the above posts. However, if you still have a question, post it below.


Announcing Open Submissions at Dragon Moon Press

Sparkly editor Gabrielle Harbowy has asked that I let you know about Dragon Moon Press's open submissions period, which is running through December 31, 2010. Dragon Moon Press's roster of authors includes winners and finalists of writing awards like ForeWord Book of the Year, the Bram Stoker Award, Sir Julius Vogel, IPPY and Endeavour.

And let's not forget that they've been part of the success story of our own J.M. Frey. (Read her SUCCESS STORY HERE.)

Submission guidelines and info on Dragon Moon Press can be found HERE.

Also, more info and resources are available on Gabrielle's blog.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November Secret Agent #41

TITLE: Set 'Em Up, Joe

Just me, a bottle of Oban, and Pamela the bartender. Hard to tell which was smoother. I’d just had Pamela, so I reached for the scotch. I poured a double, leaned back in my barstool and watched as she started to close down the place.

Kooper’s Tavern was my kind of bar—it served booze. The patrons were, for the most part, young, and when I tapped into their collective pulse I felt alive. Human, almost. The last of the crowd had trickled out an hour ago, but some of their energy lingered on. Not much, but enough to keep my exhaustion in check. Course, Pamela’s blood had also helped.

I raised my drink and took a sip; the hint of smoke and sea salt teased my tongue. I took a few more, letting the booze work to settle my senses.

My life, by necessity, takes many turns. The latest was to this place—Baltimore. I’d been engaged in a bit of—let’s call it freelancing—in the D.C. area, when I’d received a distress call from an old acquaintance of mine. A body had been found along the Inner Harbor. Murders are cheap to come by in a town this size, so there’s nothing newsworthy in another one. Unless the victim happens to be missing all its major organs, devoid of over ninety percent of its blood, and sans fingerprints or any identifying markers. That kind of mess always makes the headlines. It also calls for my involvement.

November Secret Agent #40

TITLE: Dreamscaper: Illusionary Mortality

Swirling black and charcoal clouds gathered around the ceiling, turning the bright room dark. A thick electrically charged mist pulled from around the room, swarming around him like angry locus to the fields. The wind blew his hair back and the red light building between his hands illuminated each of his features, making them appear to be cut from demonic stone. "You will all bow before me. Grovel at my feet and worship me like the god that I am! Bow before me and I will smite thy enemies and they will lick the dust from my feet. Bask in my greatness and glory, fear my wrath and cower from my very breath. You are nothing more than dirt under my nails-"

"And lint in your g****** bellybutton," I made a face at him and he glared at me. "Sit down already before someone catches your hair on fire, dumb a**." The class nodded their agreement.

"Oh come on," Kyron whined, the charcoal clouds dissipating, the bright overhead lights illuminating the room once again, his onyx hair falling around his face and shoulders. "Come on yourself...wait, don't, ew, never mind," I groaned, covering my rapidly reddening face with my hands. "Tell me again how we are related?"

"That is the million dollar question, wight," he smiled wide, his short fangs reflecting the overhead lights and the rest of the class roared with laughter. "A**hole," I mumbled under my breath, sulking down into my chair.

November Secret Agent #39

TITLE: Death by High Heels
GENRE: Mystery

I wasn't sure which was worse, the smell or the sight of his organs spilled out onto his lap.

"What the hell did you hit him with?" I asked.

"My shoe."

"Your shoe? Damn it, Lindsay, you can't kill someone with a shoe." I snapped.

"Hello, they're Via Spiga."

"Ugh." I rolled my eyes. There was no way in hell she had done this kind of damage with a shoe. If she had women all over the world would soon be saying goodbye to their much beloved accessory, the high heel. Once this made the news men everywhere, even NRA members would insist on an instant ban of the deadly yet sexy weapon.

"Any idea how he got this giant hole in his stomach?" I asked.

"What? No, I hit him and ran."

"Come here and see if you recognize him."

"Gross, no way."

"Quit being a coward and come here."

"I'm not a coward because I don't want to look at some dead guy."

"Just get your ass over here!" I yelled.

"Police, nobody move!"

Standing in the doorway was Twin Falls' oldest beat cop, his gun drawn and pointed in my direction. It would have been a scary sight, if he didn't look like he was about to go into labor at any minute with triplets.

"Ah hell," I muttered. "Hey Duncan."

"Kim Murphy. Oh man the Chief's gonna be pissed," Officer Duncan said.

"The chief?" Lindsay asked.

"The chief of police. He's my dad," I answered.

November Secret Agent #38

TITLE: Carly's Hearse
GENRE: Horror

My step dad's the kind of man who helps the armless beggar throw his-self under the bus. Seen Steven do it too when we was up in New York for three days after he married momma. The beggar went squish and everybody got to crying and screaming and crap. I looked at Momma. She shrugged and we got on the bus.

I was eleven.

When I was twelve Steven introduced me to mattress polo. Now he's got diabetes. He's always had the crap, least since he married momma, but his blood sugar's got real bad. He just had his arm amputated. The wrong limb if you ask me.

"Haven't you thrown yourself under the bus yet?" I says when Steven picks up the phone.

"I commit suicide you don't get nothing out of that insurance policy you got on me."

"Like I can afford me one of them. As long as you're dead, I'm happy."

"What the eff you want?" Steven says.

"Where's Momma?"

"If you called to ask her for money, she's gonna say no."

"'Cus if she don't she gets acquainted with your fist, blah, blah, blah. I need money for a hearse."

Steven mumbles like he had planned what to say but I done ruined it. Finally he barks, "What the hell you gonna do with that?"

"Drive you to your grave."

Steven laughs big. I imagine him wiping tears from his eyes.

"No," he says. "I don't got no cash."

November Secret Agent #37


Sidney Bidwell was a busy guy. He drove fast, but how else would you drive a Porsche with a boxer engine? He never looked up from his very important text message to see the box truck slow to a halt. Sidney never felt a thing, which (had it made the news report) would have led some who knew him to say it just proves life isn't fair. The delay on the bridge that morning was brutal.

Sidney stumbled through dense, dank fog. He heard whistling, and moved toward the melody.

“That's one hell of a turn, isn't it, Sidney?”

“Where am I?” Sidney said. The little man clasped Sidney's hand between his own.

“You died, Sidney…a few minutes ago.” Pushing his arm away, Sidney stepped back.

“I'm not dead!” Sidney shouted. “How could I be dead? Who the hell are you?”

“Calm down, Sidney. I'm dead, you're dead…what's the difference? You died on the bridge. I'm Patrick...and I'm your only friend now.” Patrick pulled a shiny silver clipboard from under his arm, and read aloud. “You're forty five. Divorced, two kids.”

Sidney could hardly breathe. “How do you know that? Where am I?” his voice cracked.

Patrick leaned toward him, and raised his brow. “Where do you think you are, Sidney?”

“Am I in heaven?” Sidney whispered. Patrick burst out laughing.

“Heaven? That's rich! A foggy day, and another prick thinks he's in heaven.”

November Secret Agent #36

TITLE: Kiss Virgin
GENRE: Literary YA

I had to stop. One day, he was going to catch me staring. It would be awkward. Then I'd have to explain myself.

Danny made the mundane fascinating. He always leaned his head slightly to the side when he was thinking about something. Time to go back to pretending to read the same page in my notebook. It had been open to that page for way too long.

Being in love with one boy and in lust with another is complicated. Especially when the one doesn't know you're in love with him. And there'll be real trouble if the other finds out what you want to do with him.

We sat in my kitchen with our school stuff strewn all over the table. Papers weighted down by books so the fan circulating in the corner wouldn't blow them away. It was early May and Mom forbade me from turning on the air conditioning until June. Fortunately, the breeze coming through the window screen was cool, and the fans were all we needed to keep the air from becoming stifling.

I put my hands over my face and said, "Why can't I just learn things by osmosis?"

I heard the grin in his voice. "C'mon, Chrys. It's not so bad."

My full name, which no one is allowed to use, is Chrysanthemum Violet. My mom's a little...obsessed with flowers.

"That's easy for you to say. You're kind of a genius."

"Says the valedictorian."

"Not only that, but you're addicted to this stuff."

November Secret Agent #35

TITLE: Seeing Alex
GENRE: Women's Fiction w/Paranormal Elements

Starting over at any age sucks, but at forty it sucks the life out of you.

This thought danced around my brain on the six-hour drive to Bethany from Dallas. I second-guessed my decision for the ninety-ninth time, eying every exit ramp as a potential escape hatch. As we got closer to my home town, in a Ford Escort with no air conditioning and my sixteen-year-old daughter hanging her naked legs out the window to dry her pretty little coral toes, I felt the options slipping. One by one.

Not that I wasn't grateful to have a destination. My dad loves me, and he's never judged. But this time was no visit. It was the real deal, with bath towels and CD collections, and everything that would fit in a U-Haul trailer. My head started banging out a rhythm just thinking about it, but I knew it was the smart thing to do. Despite how many times I pushed reality aside, it kept waving at me. I had Riley to think about. I had to keep a roof over her head, and a small town like Bethany doesn't get touched by declining economies. We would be okay.

I glanced over at her, jamming with eyes closed to whatever her iPod was pumping into her head, and I prayed she wouldn't be tainted by association with me.

"So, when do we get to Podunk?" she asked after we passed Restin, the nearest big town.

Not big like high rises. Big like it has a Walmart.

November Secret Agent #34

GENRE: Contemporary YA

"We're live from outside the hospital where the latest Hollywood 'it girl', Chey Morrow, has been brought in. According to an unnamed source, she lost control of her BMW earlier tonight on a slippery stretch of PCH and spun out into oncoming traffic. No reports yet on whether or not alcohol was a contributing factor." The same perky blonde reporter from the premiere flashed a bright smile at the camera like my sudden downward spiral was the highlight of her day.

The screen split in two, and before the serious looking anchorwoman could ask a single nauseating question, I clicked the television off, glaring at the darkened screen. Alcohol a contributing factor my rear. I hadn't been near any all night. I'd been stone cold sober throughout the entire painful ordeal.

I eased down in bed, wishing I had the chance to redo at least part of my summer. I'd been so naive when I arrived, thinking the whole time was going to be about me and my father bonding, hanging out and having fun. All the things that I'd missed out on since my parents' divorce nearly a decade ago. Yeah, if I could go back in time, I'd seriously think about smacking that
version of me up alongside the head as I issued a dire warning. Beware of Adriana. Enough said.

November Secret Agent #33

TITLE: By The Night
GENRE: Literary YA

Luna raised her gray eyes to meet the brilliant shine of the moon. It was full and pearl white hanging pregnant with promise in the inky sky, purple clouds flitting across its surface only transiently, the light filtering through the wisps to obliterate the dark. To her and her kind, the moon was nature's most perfect creation - round, and so mysterious - the only thing that was in a constant cycle of change, and yet every month stayed the same. The fluxuating but consistent pull of the moon made it unique within their universe. It was as old as time and because of that it held the tomes of creation.

Not to mention Luna's secret.

The night around her seemed calm, but Luna felt the life buzzing around her body, radiating just off her skin, pulsing with promise. Her stomach tightened with anticipation as she honed her ears to the wind stirring the long yellow green grass that grew wildly across the meadows, her eyes focusing on the bats and bugs that flew near the tree line, awake for the night, until the sun crept from its slumber and rose the next day. Underneath her bare toes the ground was cold, the minerals seeping through the gaps in her toes. She scrunched her toes and felt the dirt squish between them, leaving her with toefulls of fresh upturned earth.

November Secret Agent #32

TITLE: Braver
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Leyik's head was forced underwater. A stream of bubbles rushed past his face as he screamed. He didn't have much time left.

Leyik struggled to move his head above the water, but strong hands gripped his neck with such power that they could have easily broken his spine. He thrashed his arms and legs against the jagged metal tank, but couldn't break his shackles. His body buzzed from what felt like ten thousand pinpricks in his fingers and toes. Little specs of light burst into his vision from a spasm of blood vessels in his brain. He started convulsing, moving his body in desperate attempt to flood his lungs with oxygen. Finally the reflex to breathe was too great to be controlled. He opened his mouth and sucked in water. A moment later a man with a shaved head pulled him out of the tank. A slap across Leyik's face accompanied his violent gasp for air.

A barrage of questions came before Leyik could clear the water from his lungs. "Who are you working for? What is your mission? What are you planning on doing with VANGUARD?"

What the hell is vanguard? "I don't know what you're talking about!" Leyik coughed. "What did you do with Mike?" The man threw Leyik to the ground. He wore a white lab coat that covered the length of his slender form. Thick-rimmed glasses rested on his pale, sunken face. The scientist walked across the room to switch on surgical lights above a medical table.

November Secret Agent #31

TITLE: Minus Me & You
GENRE: Women's Fiction

“Mom!” Grace yelled down the hall impatiently, “Why in the heck did you save all this stuff?”

June Parker approached her daughter's old bedroom and calmly answered, “I saved it all because I knew you'd want it one day.”

Grace surveyed the room crowded with hefty storage totes, an empty bed frame and an old dresser. Her whole childhood was contained in those totes, carefully separated into categories of artwork, report cards, awards, and pictures. Preserved memories hidden away in the attic, waiting for someone to care.

“Any chance you want to take it with you?”

June rolled her eyes and sighed.

“If you don't want it then throw it away. But I really think you should at least go through it first. You never know what you might find.” She said before walking out.

“That's what I'm afraid of.” Grace said quietly to herself.

She sat herself down in the middle of three big totes, feeling like she did as a child when she and her brother would build fortes out of anything handy. Why is it children like to feel boxed in, she wondered.

Avoiding items that looked like letters or pictures she began by sorting through a container of favorite toys and dolls. After saving only one cherished teddy bear, she moved onto awards and report cards. Elementary track and field ribbons could go, state finalist track and basketball trophies she'd keep. This wasn't too bad, she reasoned.

November Secret Agent #30

TITLE: Intersections
GENRE: Mainstream/paranormal

It was my fault--the accident. There's no way Win would have missed seeing that truck, especially at this intersection, where the land actually rises a few feet higher than the flat prairie around it.

Not if I hadn't blown smoke in his face.

It was my fault we were running late and had to take the Hard Road with its four lanes and faster speeds. It was my fault we went at all.

Now all I can do is sit on this chunk of granite near that old rockpile they call Buena Vista Mount and pray to all the gods in the universe that my husband came through as good as I did--or better. Because even though nothing hurts and there's not a scratch on me, I can't seem to move.

I don't remember how I got here, but I do remember the ferocity of the noise when I first opened my eyes, how the air around me vibrated with sirens, screams and shouting, with the scrape of metal and the whine of it being pulled apart. It's quieter now, but I still see the rescuers in their lime-green jackets and gray helmets scurrying about on the highway and in the ditch. Which is odd, come to think of it, because it's full-on summer, when the tall grass and weeds that surround Buena Vista Mount should totally block any view of the highway. Someone has trampled down a wide swath of the brush, leaving a chaos of footprints.

November Secret Agent #29

TITLE: The League of Rogues
GENRE: Regency Romance

In a secluded room of a Gentleman's Club on Berkeley Street, a meeting was taking place between five men. To a casual observer they appeared to be nothing more than a dedicated band of friends who met during their studies at Cambridge, but these men of power and influence had a deeper bond.

Many years ago their enemies had dubbed them as "The League of Rogues" and the five men took the name with wicked delight. Each month, the League of Rogues met at their reserved room in the club to catch up on gossip, rile each other with threats of marriages and other activities that were often dubious in nature.

At that moment two of these rogues were engaged in a game of Ecarte, while another pair watched and betted on the game, the fifth member had not yet arrived.

"Charles...you did say Godric was coming," Lord Ashton Lennox, one of the two card players asked the other. As always, he was concerned with the matters of the other members. Godric's absence was unusual and Ashton was prone to worry where Godric was concerned. Godric was
the most volatile in temper of the league. Ashton was a thirty-three year old Baron with ash blond hair and blue eyes that could sparkle with delight or frost with displeasure.

November Secret Agent #28

GENRE: Women's Fiction

Finally the air conditioning kicks on. Maryann pushes up from the high backed chair and crosses the dining room to stand below the air conditioning vent; it blows the best cold air in the house. Tilting her face up, she breathes in the cool air, but misjudging her precarious balance, she wobbles forward. Her swollen abdomen presses against the wall and underneath her white tank top, a tiny foot kicks back.

"Hey!" She pokes the foot and then gasps, setting her mouth against the gymnastic onslaught of the tiny body living inside. "I thought we passed the alien stage?"

But there is no reasoning with it. Not even the tricks her midwife, Liz, showed her worked. Especially the pelvic thrusts she did, just as instructed, on her hands and knees. (It took about an hour after that experiment for the last kicks to subside.) But each feisty move is a reminder not to complain. If Doc thinks for a moment that her attitude about having the baby at home is weakening, she would be relentless, pounding on about the superior benefits of being in the hospital. And the hospital is the last place Maryann wants to go.

A passing car draws her attention out the window. She lays her hands lightly on her stomach as it crawls past at the speed of snail. "The world has turned into a huge, hot waiting room."

November Secret Agent #27

TITLE: Rites of Flesh
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

I wandered the streets of Houston like a dog without a home. Restlessness slithered under my skin, a snake playing hide-and-seek in my guts. I let my breath out in a hiss, fingers digging into my belly as if I thought I could catch the serpent and cast it out. Lately, I'd found it impossible to sit still for more than a few hours at a time. Only walking took the edge off. I let my feet go wherever they wanted, a moving divination which yielded answers too vague to interpret.

Tonight my feet had brought me to the miles-long asphalt path edging Braes Bayou. Cloudy with silt and algae, the bayou oozed along its cement-lined bed. Less than a foot deep now, Braes would turn into a raging river when the next hurricane hit. The city's massive pumps and extensive sewer system wouldn't prevent the bayou from overflowing its banks and inundating nearby streets.

Coming to a bridge, I rested my forearms on the railing, careful not to lean far enough to see my reflection in the water. I'd only inhabited this body for three years, and it didn't feel like mine any more than the others had. I didn't think of myself as short and pale and blonde. I didn't see a point in getting used to it, either. No telling how soon I'd have to become someone else.

November Secret Agent #26

TITLE: My Shackled Marquess
GENRE: Regency Romance

London, 1817

She held her head up high despite of the gossip swirling in the ballroom. Mimi Anderson weaved her way through the crowd, acutely aware of the glances thrown in her direction and the snickers that followed in her wake. She ought to tell them to go to the devil. What a lovely idea. Pity she needed a sparkling reputation to stay in society and to capture Ashford Simon Dering, Marquess of Blackstone, in marriage.

She would be lucky if Ash didn't give her the cut direct. That was what they were hoping would happen, what they were all salivating to see. Her legs wobbled at the thought. The smell of candle wax, perfumes, and body odor assailed her nose and tightened the knots in her belly. She swore below her breath. Owning a body full of cowardly parts was quite annoying. She tipped her chin up and squinted at the majestic staircase up ahead.

Ash was not among the latecomers.

Blast the man. He had been back a week, and he could devastate her life again, this time for good. The least he could do was make an appearance so she could... well, see him. She had no
plan in mind. Shameful, really, since she had eight years to prepare.

Squeezing past a gaggle of bejeweled women, she smiled. They returned her smile and prattled behind her back. Not even the lively tune of the orchestra could drown out the murmured speculations of the juicy tidbits the gossipmongers had unearthed.

November Secret Agent #25

TITLE: Faerie Fate
GENRE: Paranormal romance

Holly Reed paced the hospital corridor outside room 532, uncertain if she wanted to enter and accept the consequences. On the other side of the door lay the grandmother she had never met, apparently in the last losing days of her battle with cancer.

An orderly rushed by pushing an empty wheelchair, giving her a quizzical look. Across the hall at the nurse's station they'd watched her for the last fifteen minutes as she bit her nails and traipsed back and forth in front of the door.

"Can I help you with something?" one of the nurses asked, suspicion in her voice.

"Uh, no," Holly said, surprised by the interruption. "I'm fine." She'd have to make a decision now. Either leave and spend the rest of her life wondering, or go in and find out why her grandmother had waited until she was on her deathbed to make her only granddaughter's acquaintance.

She took a deep calming breath, squared her shoulders, and adjusted her purse strap. She was going in.

The door was already ajar, so she leaned into it, swinging it inward on its hinges. She entered the room on silent feet to find an old woman resting peacefully in the bed. Rather than being enshrouded by tubes and needles and monitors, she wore her own robe and only one lead attached to her chest, hooked to a machine that showed a readout of her heart rate and blood pressure.

November Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Immortal Lies
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Hunting Night.

It's one of those times everyone recognizes and most humans can't name. Ordinary folk step out after sundown and every hair stands on end. They check over their shoulders like a nervous tic as they walk down a deserted street. Little things--everything--makes them jump. Smart people listen to their instincts, stay inside and lock their doors.

There are a lot of not-smart people in the world ignoring their lizard brains.

Mine told me that on a night like this, I'd be better off inside watching movies with my girlfriend, and yet somehow I found myself on a street corner. Again.

Not that I had to be out there. No one pointed at the sidewalk and commanded me to stay. I'd put myself on duty. I didn't have to play guardian to this side of the city, but if I did, I had the chance to stop something, save someone from heading down the path I'd traveled and regretted most nights of my unlife.

And honestly, who wouldn't get a little thrill from being the lurking shadow at the corner of the eye? I don't know what the girl was thinking when she ducked down the side street, shoulders hunched around her ears, but I imagined she at least had a fitting soundtrack playing

on her mental radio. She'd chosen a shortcut that every fiber of her being should have struggled to avoid.

November Secret Agent #23

GENRE: Literary YA

Rebecca pulled open the sliding glass door and a rush of heat washed over her. Stepping outside, she closed the door and leaned over the balcony railing. Guitar music filtered from below, almost obliterated by the hiss of sand pulled to sea by the surf. A far cry from the strident guitar licks of Vietnam War protest rock that blared from her sister's stereo back at home, these dulcet classical notes crept into her psyche with soothing, exotic sweetness.

She closed her eyes and concentrated on the rhythm of waves and music, if only to drown out the sound of her parents arguing behind her.

Inside the apartment, her father's low voice intersected her mother's shrill protests. Somewhere in the mix, Rebecca heard the words, "New start," and "Time to think."

She wished they wouldn't fight, not just before Dad had to continue on to Algeria. Who knew when they'd see him again - weeks, months?

His habit of disappearing for ages seemed to have little effect on Rebecca's little brother Michael and her older sister Lori. Rebecca tended to count each day until Dad's return. Unannounced, he'd blow back into the house like a fresh breeze, often accompanied by smiles and exotic gifts from afar. Lori would fill him in on her current crushes, and Michael inevitably asked if Daddy had anything interesting in his pockets.

At times Rebecca imagined Dad wasn't a project manager, but really a spy with obscure missions in dangerous, faraway places.

November Secret Agent #22

GENRE: Women's Fiction


Tonight was meatloaf. It was quiet and just our forks.

Then Mom said, "I think I'll give her a call later."

Dad didn't answer.

Mom said, "What?"

Dad said, "These challenges are sort of par for the course to adulthood, don't you think? Maybe she could use a little space right now."

That was about Steffi. I looked at her chair that no one was in it.

Mom said, "I hardly think I'm being overbearing."

Dad said, "I know, hon. I didn't say you were."

Mom said, "It's not like I'm demanding to know what color her socks are, or, or, what she had for lunch."

Dad said, "Okay, Celie."

Mom put down her glass and did a sigh.

I said, "Is Steffi an adult?" I used to be the one in the higher grade, before my extra years.

Mom said, "In my opinion, eighteen is still very much part of adolescence."

Dad said, "Some would argue adolescence is an art fact." Then he looked at me. He said, "An art fact is anything made by humans. Like tools, or-"

Mom used her loud voice. She said, "Until Stephanie graduates from college and gets a job, she's not an adult."

Some people don't believe I'm older. When we moved in this house a girl came in our yard. Holly. Me and Steffi were digging to India because Steffi said it is better than China.

Holly said, "Hi."

Steffi and me both said, "Hi."

November Secret Agent #21

TITLE: The Fifth Generation
GENRE: Young Adult

"Oh, I ain't believin' this." Something turned in Devon Jones' gut and stuck like a grease clog in a drain, blocking the commands from his brain to his feet. Stop. One Nike shoe squeaked on the tiles.

A slouching silhouette stood against the glare of afternoon sunlight streaming through the glass doors leading to the bus lot. Though his cousin, Morris, stood only five-foot-six and had rail-thin limbs beneath his baggy clothes, his menacing stance had students crowding the walls to go around him. Three glittering chains draped down Morris' right thigh. One supported a massive Egyptian ankh, not because Morris believed anything in particular, but as a protest to Devon's new Christian faith.

A smile broke through the tough veneer of Morris' face. He couldn't bluff cool for very long. At his core Morris was a lemming. Nothing would get him back into the hallways of South Stiles High School but an order from somebody.

Devon hoisted his backpack higher and shambled forward. He exchanged a series of fist knocks with his cousin. All fake.

"Yo-yo, Dee. Came to carry you home." Morris' attempt at street talk couldn't survive his rural North Carolinian drawl.

Devon sucked in his lips. His mind blanked on a good excuse. "I can get the bus."

Morris' face scrunched up on one side. "I'm doin' you a favor and you're blowin' me off?"

A question rocketed heavenward through Devon's mind. Was lying a sin if it kept him out of trouble?

November Secret Agent #20

TITLE: The Some Day List
GENRE: Contemporary Romance

The obnoxious buzzing causes Quinn to sit up in bed. What the hell? Some idiot must be trying to reach one of their friends and hit the wrong doorbell. She flopped over agin, hoping they'd figure it out quickly. Another buzz, the extended version this time. She got out of bed and stomped downstairs. At the intercom she asked, "Who are you looking for?"

"Quinn, babe, it's me. Let me up."

Nick? "What are you doing here?"

"I came to say Happy Birthday."

She sighed and buzzed him in. Nick always had genuine moments of being sweet. Of course, it would've been nice if he chose to be sweet at nine o'clock in stead of two a.m. She couldn't complain to much. How many other women could claim their ex-husbands remembered their birthdays?

She swung the heavy metal door open and Nick stood leaning against the wall in his usual James Dean, I'm-too-cool-for-everyone stance. He straightened and handed her a bouquet of roses. So much for sweet. She hated roses. The rotten smell they emitted as they died off made her stomach turn.

Nick leaned in and kissed her cheek. "Happy Birthday."

The stench of whiskey burned in her nostrils. Drunk again. She should've known. Even after all this time, she still wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Knowing he'd been drinking meant he came for only one of two things: he was in trouble or he wanted to get laid.

November Secret Agent #19

TITLE: Alvilda: Viking, Pirate & Queen
GENRE: Historical Fiction

When Grandfather died, I didn't get to carry his sword. Guthbrandr, a long, shining blade carved with runes that glowed in the firelight, mysterious and powerful. For years I believed no power
on earth could defeat that sword or my grandfather, King Sigar of Gotland. But in the last days before his death, I had yet to learn that swords, like the men who wield them, are neither immortal nor invulnerable to attack.

The thaw had come but the late winter snow had not yet melted away. I stalked silently through the woods with my sword in hand, pursuing one of the many outlaw war bands that raided Gotland's shores. My island home had warriors of its own. We called them Vikings and hailed them as heroes, brave men who sailed the sea in wooden ships and returned home laden with foreign gold. If they died in battle, Odin sent his Valkyries to bear their souls to Valhalla, where the Vikings feasted forever in the company of the gods. But the foreigners who raided our shores deserved no such honor. We called them pirates and our laws punished piracy with death.

I placed my booted feet in the tracks of my prey, following them through the snow. I heard noises ahead, a silent rustling that echoed through the trees. Crouching to avoid discovery, I proceeded with deliberate steps.

The pirates had paused in a clearing surrounded by evergreen shrubs. I approached from the south, taking care to remain downwind.

November Secret Agent #18

TITLE: Mourn the Sun
GENRE: Adult Sci-fi

I was barely eight years old when they came for me.

The knock on the door went on for quite some time before I realized that whoever it was actually intended to wait for us to open it. When I did, I found in the hallway the strangest sight I'd ever seen.

The sight of a man in uniform actually inside our building, on purpose, was a shock. This was a uniform I'd never seen before. All dark, serious colors and little ornamentation, the fabric looked heavy, whole, and clean. Never-been-worn clean, not simply what you call clean because you just washed it and that's as good as it's going to get anymore. Another man hovered behind him.

For all he looked so important, he was fidgety, his eyes darting up and down the hallway. I swear he was scared someone was about to jump him. A patsy. Easy pickings.

Still, you couldn't trust anyone in uniform.

I offered no greeting. We weren't big on formalities in Abenez, the most notorious neighborhood in the slum that was Mexico City. To my mind the "what do you want" was implied in the opening of the door. So we stood there for quite a space of time, staring at each other, his nose wrinkling in slow, measured increments.

In his defense, it probably did stink; there was already a group of spectators forming behind him and I'm sure at least one person there wasn't washed, probably several.

November Secret Agent #17

TITLE: The Sweet Spot

They call it the sweet spot of the bat, the perfect place for the ball to make contact to allow as little vibration as possible, almost always ending in a line drive or home run. I found that spot in my last game, the one before my world turned upside down. The one before I started to question who I was. The one where I was just a grungy ball player named Sam.


The smirk on the pitcher's face told me he was one of those guys who didn't think a girl should be playing on the boy's team. He went into a slow wind-up, making a big show of the ease at which he would get me out. I bit my lip and focused.

The ball came in. I judged the timing and location of my swing, then swung low.

"Strike!" the umpire yelled. Coach called time.

"Sam, what was that?" he asked.

"What do you mean?" I tried to sound innocent, but I couldn't hide the grin. I eyed the pitcher. He looked gleeful, smug. I might have to slam the next one right at his...

"Are you listening to me?" Coach asked. His large face reddened. "Stop fooling around and play ball."

"Okay, Coach," I said.

"And Samantha, you hit this guy with the ball, you're benched for the rest of the game."

I sighed and moved back to the plate.

November Secret Agent #16

TITLE: Outsourced
GENRE: Suspense

She stood at death's door, clinging to the promise that her visit beyond its threshold would be a brief one. Then she stepped inside.

Ella Laraway couldn't watch the make-believe autopsies on TV without shuddering, and this was going to be much worse. When the real-life detective who'd accompanied her from the parking lot had described what she'd be seeing, she'd assumed the monologue was routine for him. But his description of the body-identification process had made her queasy.

At least she wasn't alone. They walked in silence now, Ella and Detective Frank Bianchi, past a red arrow on the wall and a sign that read Viewing Room. Then they turned a corner to the swinging door that opened onto the Toronto morgue.

In her mind, Ella replayed Jim Kenyon's 9:00 AM call to her office to ask a personal favor. Although her heart usually beat a bit faster at the sound of his voice, it missed a beat this time when she learned the favor would be in the company of a detective, not him, and that he wanted her to identify a body so he wouldn't have to.

Jim told her that his son Jamie had disappeared, leaving behind a note explaining why. Jim didn't share the details with Ella, but from the stammering fear in his voice, it was obvious to her that Jamie's explanation was that he'd killed himself.

November Secret Agent #15

TITLE: Waking Up
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

In movies, murder is a savage act--something that severs the killer from humanity, something dreadful and dark that corrupts her soul and festers in her mind. Murderers are the bad guys. It's necessary propaganda, because kids these days aren't really taught right and wrong anymore. But most of the screenwriters have never killed anyone, so they can't possibly understand.

Murder can bring peace; it can be the best catharsis and the only salve to ease an aching heart. God and heaven may exist. There may even be avenging angels. I can't speak to all that because I don't know anything about them. I do know that I sure as hell won't wait for an angel. I do my avenging myself.


Matilda woke with a start and slid her sock clad feet out of bed, padding as quickly as her seven-year old legs could manage across the floor. The hinges on Jesse's door creaked as she pushed it open. The noise woke him and Matilda shot over to his racecar bed, hopped up onto it and crawled over next to him.

He rubbed his bleary, bright blue eyes and asked, "Tildy, are you okay?"

"I'm fine, but I had a dream. I thought you'd wanna hear it."

"Really?" Jesse pushed himself up and ran a small hand through his straight, dark chocolate hair, which stood almost on end. "You've never had a dream--any dream. Of course I wanna know what it was."

November Secret Agent #14

GENRE: Christian Paranormal

"Can they get in here?" Carla whispered, with wide eyes and a face that appeared to change expressions in the soft flickering candlelight.

"I hope not," Dan replied, his breath floating out in white waves, cross-legged on the worn carpet and nervously looking around the circle.

"They can't," Paul lied, carefully chewing the partially frozen apple pie he had somewhat thawed out by the living room fireplace. He wanted to keep that fire going all night, but they'd see it for sure.

The snow covered farmhouse was deserted and drafty, caught in the frigid clutches of Iowa's snowiest winter in ninety-nine years. At least that's what Ed Wilson had said on the local news just a few days before all hell had broken loose. The nine-millimeter strapped to Paul's right leg was cold as ice but he couldn't feel it anymore. He would have to get them to warmer weather, and fast, because if the walking dead didn't get 'em, the freezing temps would.

Carla continued scanning the farmhouse's many windows while clutching her two young boys on the stained carpet. It made Paul paranoid. He knew what she was thinking and wished they were boarded up too, or at least had thicker curtains.

"Mom, are they gonna to eat us?" Mike asked.

"What? No sweetie, they're not going to eat us," she told him, rubbing his back.

"I don't wanna diiiiiiie!" Matt suddenly cried out too loud.

"Peanut, will you stop! You are not going to die.

November Secret Agent #13

TITLE: The Cracked Slipper
GENRE: Fantasy/Women's Fiction

In a ballroom packed with those who live their lives governed by strict decorum, a harried woman elbowing her way through the crowd attracts considerable attention. This is doubly true when the woman in question has been on the arm of the crown prince for most of the evening. She does not bother excusing herself; she plows on regardless of who blocks her path, be it a strapping soldier or a frail grandmother. Her corset is a tight fist around her chest, and she fights for a clean breath through a hundred conflicting perfumes and the scent of burning candles. The spell is slipping through her hands. She trips over pieces of tulle dangling from her petticoats and is jerked backwards as others step on what trails behind. It seems inevitable she will be left standing in the middle of the ballroom in her servant's rags.

The tide of her luck changes as the very person who seeks to prevent her from leaving unwittingly allows her escape. Trumpets blare, but the poor buglers are so suddenly and unexpectedly called upon that their normally synchronized fanfare becomes the braying of a troupe of confused donkeys. Callers bedecked in the royal colors of purple and green shout commands through golden megaphones.

"Fall back! Make way for Prince Gregory! Make way for the prince!"

Like hundreds of trained dogs the assembled guests retreat to the far sides of the ballroom. She finds herself alone in a wide aisle, a stranded bride in the heart of a great chapel.

November Secret Agent #12


The humidity hung like a noose around Arlen Phelp's sweat-stained collar. Just below him, cars packed with heartbreak and panic jammed the interstate. Arlen had a cell phone to his ear.

"Johnny, it'll be blowing before you get near a pump."

"Then hold my place in line," Johnny said over the phone.

Arlen glanced at the gas starved motorists behind him. His lips thinned with pain. The improvised bandage was too loose. Sweat was dripping into the bullet wound.

"They got a cop here, Johnny. Limit's twenty gallons per customer. Youâ're not getting fuel before she hits."

"Then what am I supposed to do?" Johnny said. "This damn thing came up out of nowhere."

Arlen frowned. Like everyone else around New Orleans, Johnny had expected Katrina's path to shift, hurricanes always did. Only this storm didn't jog and Katrina's fury was coming to the Big Easy. Nobody was ready.

A woman and child walked through the police barricades on the interstate's exit ramp. Arlen watched them head toward the gas station where he stood. The woman had a red gas can cradled under her arm like an out of fashion purse. She was pulling along a girl with sandy hair and freckles. The child was exhausted, an anchor with two legs.

November Secret Agent #11

TITLE: Sector C
GENRE: Near-Future Thriller

Vikram Shankar squinted down the long metal barrel. Framed squarely in the sight, not two hundred feet away, the white tiger sat on its haunches, its lower jaw drooping, ribs rippling under a mat of chocolate-striped fur.

A sweet shot.

Vikram's right finger closed over the trigger. He inhaled slowly, deliberately. Too seasoned a hunter to let the thrill overcome judgment, he took his time, savoring the anticipation.

The nasal whounk-ing of a snow goose flying overhead pricked the big cat's ears, and the heavy-set head swung toward the sound. With pounding heart, Vikram exhaled.

The sight bead wavered. He glanced down, and realized his left arm had begun to tremble.

Hell. Not now.

He willed his arm still, but it jerked -- wide -- then jerked again. The barrel danced in front of him.

Something -- whether the movement or some slight sound Vikram made -- drew the cat's attention. It rolled into a crouch, facing Vikram's blind. Sunlight bouncing off the snow caught its blue eyes and they glistened like tanzanite as it peered into the camouflage.

The rifle steadied as Vikram's muscle spasms quieted. Again he sighted down the barrel, waiting for another clean shot. As long as his arm cooperated, he could outwait the cat. And with two hundred thousand dollars his to lose if he missed the kill, he could wait a very long time.

After another moment, the tiger rose, turned and padded across the snow.

November Secret Agent #10

TITLE: Magic
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

The cab came to a screeching halt. Alys lurched forward in the backseat and dropped the phone she'd been fumbling with in the hope to get a reception. "Geez. I thought only London had a reputation for bad drivers."

"Ye'll have to get out now," the driver said.

"I'm sorry, what?" She glanced out the window, then back at the driver. This wasn't where she asked him to take her.

"I said, ye need to get out now, lassie."

She stuffed her cell phone back into her over-spilling handbag and glared at the man's hooded eyes in the rearview mirror. "I'm paying you to take me all the way up there." She pointed up the winding country lane.

The driver shrugged. "I'm 'fraid I canâ't, Miss. 'Tis too dark now and I doona want to be here at this time of day."

Alys cringed at his Scottish accent. She didn't get half of what he said. "It's only seven."

He shrugged. "'Tis all dark."

"What's the deal? Do cab drivers turn into pumpkins once it's dusk? You should've told me at the airport."

The driver turned to stare out of the window. "Yeâ're paying me for driving, not answering questions."

Grabbing her handbag she opened the door. No point in arguing with him because it seemed like a lost cause already. A chilly wind ruffled her hair.

November Secret Agent #9

TITLE: Trial of the Heart
GENRE: Women's fiction

The doorbell rang while Emily was baking cookies with her two-year-old son. Or rather, she was cleaning up, and Sean was eating one of the cookies. Leaving him laughing in his highchair, she moved to answer the bell. When she saw the flashes of blue and white lights in the foyer, her steps quickened.

A heavy knock on the front door made her jump as she reached for the handle. She pressed the latch and pulled open the door.

Two police officers stood on the brick stoop, their dark winter overcoats in stark contrast to the snow-dusted bushes beside them. In the driveway sat the source of the flashing lights, a white police cruiser puffing exhaust clouds into the frigid air. She was barely aware of shivering as she returned her gaze to the two officers. "Can I ... help you?"

"Mrs. Emily Hennas?" the taller officer said.

Her mouth wouldn't work. She nodded.

The shorter officer slowly removed her police hat, glanced down at her hands.

A burst of wind tousled the tall man's short brown hair as he met her eyes. "Mrs. Hennas, we're with the Minnesota State Police. Ma'am ... I'm afraid there's been an accident involving your husband and children."

Emily tried to swallow down her panic. "There ... has to be some mistake. They were just going to the store to get ... to get ... Where are they?"

November Secret Agent #8

TITLE: An Obscure Homicide
GENRE: Thriller

Jimmy Madison didn't look like a killer.

When mothers saw him jogging along the beach, they'd think, now there's a nice boy. Why can't my daughter meet a guy like that? He was tall and lanky, with a cheerful countenance and the kind of wide-eyed innocence you'd associate with a child, although he had a bullet-hole scar in his back. Barely nineteen, he looked like a surfer with long blond hair and deeply tanned face, but he had an air of purpose about him that people admired even without knowing he went to the community college at night and worked full-time to help support his family.

Those admiring sidewalk mothers—unaware his father was serving a life term back in Connecticut for murdering a young girl—would figure, correctly, that Jimmy already had a girlfriend. In fact, he was happily engaged to his high school sweetheart, the wedding six months away. He was working hard, saving money.

Killing was just part of his job.

He sat on the sand and closed his eyes, anticipating.

Once you were in the mood, it was easy and fun. Not to mention exciting.

You squeeze the trigger. The recoil from the weapon—a 9 mm Uzi, a Heckler & Koch MP7, or a ridiculously potent multi-barreled auto-feed cannon—throws you backward. The explosion pounds your eardrums. The bright flash lingers on your retina. The projectile sears the gap, leaving a faint trail of pungent smoke and displaced air, and slams into the enemy.

November Secret Agent #7

TITLE: Amid the Alien Corn
GENRE: Commercial Fiction

The bus stopped in the middle of the woods. She clutched her Russian phrasebook to her chest as if it held her heart in, and searched for a sign that this was where she would find her baby. While trying to dispel the hummingbird's wings in her chest, she descended the wide, dusty steps of the bus -- against which her white sneaker was nearly aglow. Outside, rows of trees that resembled prison bars obstructed a simple white-washed house.

A dark-haired man emerged with arms extended. “X-hello,” he said in a thick Russian accent. “Welcome to Detski Dom.”

Ten children stood in line facing a rusty jungle-gym, like little soldiers awaiting their orders. She hoped her smile hid the trembling of her lips as she went down the line. A girl whose smile was framed with baby fat, a boy whose freckles were washed in meandering tracks of sweat. Next, a beauty -- with messy auburn ringlets and winking dimples.

But her attention was riveted on another girl. She was slim and taller than the rest, with long blonde hair knotted from sleep. She had chiseled features, tender pale skin, and brooding sage eyes. Unlike the others with strained smiles, this girl's lips were down-turned. Her mind was elsewhere, perhaps suffering. This girl needed something; on her face was a call for help.

Was this the long-awaited sign?

She spoke the foreign, well-rehearsed phrase: “Kak va zavoot?”

To her surprise, the girl answered in deeply-accented English. “My name is Lena.”

November Secret Agent #6

GENRE: Science Fiction

My eyes fluttered open. I was shivering. Exhausted. Unable to focus.

Gotta find a blanket, I thought as the shivering worsened. Get up... My mind blanked. Get up...
In that tiny space where a name should have popped into my head, silence lingered, accompanied by the haunting sensation that something was wrong.

I couldn't remember my name.

Beeping stole my attention for a moment. I couldn't tell if it was real, or just in my mind. My head remained fixed, eyes still blurred. What's going on? My arms struggled against restraints. How did I get here? My legs didn't move. Why can't I remember? The beeping at my side increased with my panic. Something poked me in the back.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught some small movement. A group of people clad only in white stood just a few feet away from where I lay trapped. Several of them wrote on what looked like small electronic devices.

One of them, a brunette, approached me, her eyes soft and almost calming. "Hey there," she said quietly.

I tensed, struggling to focus. She seemed familiar, but I couldn't remember why. A small tear rolled down her cheek. "Who are you?" I asked, my voice barely stronger than a whisper.

Her eyes narrowed. "Janelle?"

I turned back and stared at the ceiling, closing my eyes against my throbbing head. The beeping just wouldn't stop. "Janelle?" Is that my name? I...

A sudden splitting ache ravaged my head.

November Secret Agent #5

GENRE: Literary YA

Dear Diary,

Sometimes I feel like I don't belong anywhere.

When I told my mom that, she said, “You belong here with me and your brother.”

I told her, “If that's true, how come you and Dave are as blond and light-skinned as angels, and I have thick black hair and dark skin?”

She didn't answer that one. She just told me to start a diary and write down my ideas and feelings. Like that's going to change anything. I think she did that because she's tired of hearing the same old questions from me. Maybe she thinks if I write things down, I won't have any more questions.

Okay, I'll write down my ideas and feelings.


All right, all right, I'm going to give this diary thing a try. I guess I'd try anything to feel like I belong. I went to the drugstore and bought this peach-colored notebook. Peach is my favorite color, although I like pink and lavender pretty much too. I don't have a dad and I've sort of gotten used to that. Sort of.

Okay, I admit it. I haven't gotten used to it at all.

November Secret Agent #4

TITLE: Spring Chickens
GENRE: Contemporary Romance

I'm not running away.

The thought scrolled through her head like one of those LCD displays they use at the bank to display interest rates. Lynne Prescott flexed her fingers in an effort to pry them from the death grip she had on the steering wheel since heading south from Springfield, Missouri. Taking care of the task at hand was the only thing of interest to her.

I'm not running away, I'm just taking care of business.

She eased her foot off the accelerator and checked the GPS display again. A few unmarked streets cross-hatched the cartoonish ribbon of highway depicted on the map. Blank spaces of pale yellow represented the dormant fields that had been her constant companions since she steered her way out of the Ozark National Forest.

I'm not running away. If I were running away, I'd have gone
someplace...better. Like...Tahiti. Miles of powdery sun-bleached beaches, turquoise water, and those sexy little bungalows with the thatched roofs....

Lynne snorted and shook her head, too aware the only thing more pathetic than checking into one of those romantic little bungalows alone would be whipping an A.A.R.P. membership card out of her wallet and demanding a ten percent discount on said bungalow.

No, I'm not running away. I'm doing what I should have done long ago.

November Secret Agent #3

TITLE: Athena: Ready to Fight
GENRE: Historical Fantasy

Odysseus clung to the black crags that bit into his hands, defying the surge of water that tore at his body and treated him like a loose cork in the bitter sea. The crash of surf against the rocky shore told him the backwash was headed his way, and he knew his muscles were too weak to keep hold. Athena has abandoned me.

He saw the tide turn, felt the first tug that would tear him loose. Young crabs were swept back out to sea with more dignity than this. But that knowledge lifted him from his despair. He let go of the rock.

Odysseus could have chuckled at his own craftiness when he found where the water was only choppy, not crashing against the hard shore. He swam while gazing at that fell coast, looking for any imperfection, any gap in those rocks. Something, even a spit of sand in the dawn light. Then he saw it.

A river. The sandy mouth beckoned through the wind-driven spray, but he felt his strength ebbing. Shipwreck and the black rocks had left cuts that stung his hands, and each stroke came weaker.

Then a strange wind pushed him and the waves forward, up the mouth of the river, the sea invading land. He tensed his numb legs, in case some submerged rock would tear at his knees as the reverse current took him upstream. A little cove found him, then he was in still water.

November Secret Agent #2

TITLE: The Brevity of Roses
GENRE: Literary Women's Fiction

Jalal prayed the groan that woke him had been his own. He raised his head an inch off the pillow and scanned the room, confirming he was in his bed and alone. That was the last time. No more lost weekends for him. "If it was a weekend." he murmured. Gingerly, he maneuvered himself upright on the side of the bed. It could be midweek for all he knew. Getting wasted was no longer confined to weekends. He ran a hand over his jaw, then sought a second opinion from the bathroom mirror. Stubble length indicated he might have lost only one day this time. That was one day too much. He renewed his vow and stepped into the shower.

Twenty minutes later, dressed in jeans, he walked out of his closet and pulled on a tee. As his eyes cleared the neckband, they focused on a blonde in a tight black dress, standing in the doorway across the room. He blinked. He froze. The rising fear his blackout had progressed to hallucinations dissipated when she spoke.

"Oh, good, you're finally up," she said. "I'm starved. Let's go to Colliano's for lunch."

Jalal glanced at the clock on the bedside table; it read 2:17. He stared dumbly at her, wracking his brain for her name. Her face was familiar. He knew her. Hell, considering she was now disentangling her underwear from his sheets, he apparently knew her intimately.

November Secret Agent #1

TITLE: Amber and the Whispering Willows
GENRE: M/G - Y/A Fantasy

Car lights flooded the Esplanade as limo after limo pulled into the circular driveway of the the Mayor of Helmsdale's mansion. Falling snowflakes created delicate shimmers of light on the nearby pine trees as elegant ladies, draped in furs, entered through the columned portico, escorted by gentlemen in tuxedos.

On the edge of the village, Paul Sanders paced in his living room. He rumpled his sandy-blonde hair in frustration and clicked on the television; New Year's Rocking Eve blasted into the room. "This is no time to celebrate," he muttered and switched off the set. Picking a book from a nearby shelf, he flipped to the first page, then tossed the book onto the sofa. Why her? Only twenty-two and now I'm raising our child alone!"

Three years ago this very night, it happened. He would never forget how long he had waited downtown. Just before midnight he received a call; a drunk driver side-swiped his wife's car. She swerved into oncoming traffic and died instantly.

Punching his fist into his trembling hand, an image of an ethereal woman streaked through his mind. She had been there to comfort him that tragic night. If it hadn't been for her, he never would have been able to cope with what had happened. "Where is she now?" he blurted out.
As he sat on the couch, thoughts of Elena haunted him. Their many years of friendship had grown into so much more. Paul adored his wife, but Elena owned his soul.

And Here We Go!

Quick reminders:

Entrants, please critique a minimum of 5 other entries. This is about give-and-take, not just take.

Please PLEASE please PLEASE don't use "Anonymous" as your screen name. Choose option 3 (Name/URL) and type a name by which we can recognize you.

Enjoy! This is our final Secret Agent contest of the year.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Attention Participants of Logline Crits 2 and 3!

Two more altruistic souls have stepped forward to offer further critique opportunities on their blogs!


Rachael Harrie has created YOUR CRITIQUE OPPORTUNITY HERE.


Walter Williams has created YOUR CRITIQUE OPPORTUNITY HERE.

Wow. That was a lot of capitals. It's admittedly exciting, though, to watch this community continue to self-nurture. This Agent Auction is going to be one amazing ride!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Submissions Are Now Open

Let Round Two begin!

Submissions Are Closed

Our second submission window, for the second 25 entries, will open at 7:00 PM EST.


Submit in PLAIN TEXT in a PLAIN TEXT email for best results! Rejections for too-high word counts are almost always due to invisible rich-text characters that the bot counts as words.

Submissions Are Now Open

Your submission for this contest should be formatted EXACTLY as follows:

SCREEN NAME: Your Screen Name Here
TITLE: Your Title Here
GENRE: Your Genre Here

(Followed by the excerpt here.)

* No "chapter one," chapter titles, etc.
* You will receive a confirmation email with your post number.
* Submissions go to authoress.submissions(at)gmail.com. They DO NOT GO to my facelesswords address. Or any other address.
*PLAIN TEXT is your best bet! And if you receive a rejection notice that claims you didn't include TITLE, etc., please TYPE THE SCREEN NAME, TITLE, AND GENRE BY HAND and resubmit. (In other words, don't copy and paste that part.)

This month's contest will include the following genres:

Adult fiction, all genres (including SFF)
Literary YA

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Fricassee

Today brings another helpful gem from one of our own.

S. Kyle Davis has opened his blog as a forum for the 25 ENTRANTS OF THE FIRST LOGLINE CRITIQUE SESSION.

Go HERE and follow the directions.

Basically, if you were among the 25 who participated in the first logline session, you are invited to submit your revised logline for critique on Mr. Davis's blog. The loglines will post this coming Monday, November 8.

I've said it four million times, but I'll say it again: YOU ARE AN AMAZING COMMUNITY OF WRITERS!

Other tidbits:

Just a reminder that participation in next week's Secret Agent Contest DOES NOT EXCLUDE YOU from entering the Baker's Dozen Agent Auction in December.

I will announce the names of our thirteen participating agents and our critting editor and authors next week. Stay tuned!

And finally, here is Holly Bodger's THIRD INSTALLMENT on loglines, wherein Bob must defeat the King of Sweden. IF YOU HAVEN'T READ ALL THREE OF HOLLY'S POSTS ON LOGLINES, GO DO IT NOW.

That's everything! My personal happy news is that I've finished the Big Revision and am almost halfway through a final edit. So many of you have cheered me on through this soul-sucking process; thank you.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

And while you're busy critting:

Two things.

1. I totally forgot to share this link with you last Friday. The delightful Holly Bodger has posted A SECOND INSTALLMENT of thoughts on the logline critiques. She has tirelessly critiqued every entry so far, and I expect we'll see her around today, too.

2. Steena Holmes has been hosting a LOGLINE BLOGFEST this week, and she says it's still not too late to join in! This is for all of you who were unable to squeak into one of our critique sessions and would like to get (and give!) feedback. (Thank you, Steena!)

Okie dokie. Back to the critting!

Logline Critique Session Three #25

GENRE: young adult urban fantasy

Sixteen year-old Dahlia Kennedy can't help but fall for the mysterious man in her dreams after being alone in them for the past ten years. But when she finds out who Rowan really is and he disappears, she must help find him or risk his world falling apart and losing him forever.

Logline Critique Session Three #24

TITLE: Ink Wash
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Katie moves to Japan and crosses paths with her school's arrogant and gorgeous kendo star, whose drawings come to life in dangerous ways.

Logline Critique Session Three #23

TITLE: The Keeper
GENRE: Middle Grade

Chasing a legend can be dangerous. Finding out it's real can be deadly when Jack's sanity is on the line, he's stuck searching for clues with someone he barely knows, and his fate - sealed by ancestral bloodlines - is to protect the Daylight Stones, fabled to destroy the world...all before he turns thirteen.

Logline Critique Session Three #22

TITLE: The Garden at the Roof of the World
GENRE: Romantic Historical Fantasy

Gwenaella, a convent student in the high middle ages, sets out to find the Biblical Tree of Life in the hope that its fruit will cure the unicorn who walked in Eden with Eve. Her journey will take her across half the world and into the depths of our soul, where her capacity to love provides her one hope, and her worst peril.

Logline Critique Session Three #21

GENRE: YA Ghost Story

Ever since seventeen-year-old Tessa James moved to Manchester, she's done her damnedest to ignore the rumors of ghosts in the theatre next door, even when letters in a foreign language--and her own handwriting--appear on her nightstand. But then the accidents begin and they're much too similar to the notes to brush off.

Logline Critique Session Three #20

GENRE: Romantic Comedy

Based on love--artist Raphael and his brother, stand-up comedian, commitment-shy Troy Chariote--swap places in jail, allowing Troy to prove his innocence and Raphael to detox. Whoops, not informing Troy's powerful attorney, Ms. Hai Lo, and Raphael's on-again-off-again fianc�e, head-strong psychologist Stella Riccardi, pull four confused souls into a life-altering, madcap, swap-infested journey to a double wedding finished with a meringue twist.

Logline Critique Session Three #19

TITLE: Out of Time
GENRE: Middle Grade

When thirteen year old Charlie Wells moves onto the North Carolina plantation that's been in his family for 200 years, he thinks his life is over. But, when he and his new friends discover a time machine hidden deep in the woods he realizes it's just getting interesting. By accident they arrive on Charlie's same plantation 150 years in the past. Within minutes one is forced into slavery while another is accused of being a Yankee spy. The two others must set out on foot to find their friends and the key that will take them home, before they're history.

Logline Critique Session Three #18

TITLE: Obsidian
GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy

Aspen---a skydiving, rock-climbing, bear-cuddling---adrenaline junkie, finds herself in real danger when she unwittingly ensnares the heart of Obsidian, the dragon king.

Logline Critique Session Three #17

TITLE: Bound and Broken
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

Psychic and empath, Zoe finds herself soul-bound to a vampire after a life-saving blood exchange. When the Queen of Nightmares shows up looking for revenge, Zoe finds herself danger. Will the newly bound couple survive the wrath of an ancient vampire out for blood?

Logline Critique Session Three #16

TITLE: No Other Tart Will Do
GENRE: Historical Romance

In Regency London, a former courtesan who yearns to be a part of her daughter's life must silence the blackmailer to protect her respectable family and prevent her ex-lover from learning she sold their baby to the bride he abandoned. The notorious rake is back after years of spying for the Government, and armed with guilt and his wife's suicide note, he's hunting for his daughter's birthmother to avenge his wife's death.

Logline Critique Session Three #15

TITLE: The Legend of Itasca
GENRE: YA Magical Realism

While on vacation, fifteen-year-old Jeni buys a Native American artifact and unintentionally frees a mythical monster. With the week winding down, she must evade her family and overcome her fears so she can vanquish the creature or the death toll will continue - and it's about to become personal.

Logline Critique Session Three #14

TITLE: Courting Greta
GENRE: Contemporary fiction

If reclusive, crippled programmer Samuel Cooke can survive a year as a long-term sub, he knows it will give him the strength he needs to leave his abusive father for good. Then he meets butch basketball coach Greta Cassamajor and discovers mere survival isn't enough-- not when it comes to falling in love.

Logline Critique Session Three #13


A 17 year-old cabaret performer must choose between personal happiness or protecting the orphaned friend she helped raise from a sexual predator in 1890s New Orleans.

Logline Critique Session Three #12

TITLE: The Brevity of Roses
GENRE: Women's Fiction

Devastated at the loss of his soulmate, Jalal's solution is to run from life, but a new woman--one he never would have chosen--blocks his way.

Logline Critique Session Three #11

TITLE: The Chocolate Curse
GENRE: Thriller

Peta, a grieving location scout, takes a seemingly innocuous job on a documentary about chocolate. But when two men are murdered, she discovers the dark side of the sweet industry and must expose the killers before they end her career, or worse, her life.

Logline Critique Session Three #10

TITLE: Amber and the Whispering Willows
GENRE: Y/A Realistic Fantasy

When an evil fairy force creates a plague that kills the Earth's vegetation, its next target is twelve-year-old Amber, for she has the power to save both human and fairy realms against its onslaught.

Logline Critique Session Three #9

TITLE: The White Phoenix
GENRE: YA Dark Fantasy

After he lays ruin to Mount Olympus, Hades and his wife are the only gods left standing. But now, with word of a deadly plague he plans to unleash spreading like a wild fire, the deities slain by his hand present town skirt-chaser Silas Wolfe with a choice: stop Hades or fail at the cost of every life he holds dear.

Logline Critique Session Three #8

GENRE: Contemporary Middle Grade Fiction

For seventh grader Jace Evers, the new basketball season and the friendly rivalry of "one-ups" with his teammate, Owen, are welcome diversions from his deteriorating home life...at first. But when his parents' fighting intensifies and the rivalry with Owen escalates into malicious pranks, Jace realizes that in both situations he's the one who must come up with a way to stop things from getting any worse, even if he must risk splitting up his family or losing his only friend.

Logline Critique Session Three #7

TITLE: Moral Compass
GENRE: YA Dystopian

In a town where people are controlled by moral compasses tattooed on their skin, Tobin will defy his compass and risk imprisonment to get the girl he is morally forbidden to love.

Logline Critique Session Three #6

TITLE: The Grey Library
GENRE: Literary/Womens's Fiction

Divorced, lonely and bitter, Franklin Grey suffers a memory-erasing stroke that lands him in rehab, where a nurse's aid reads to him from his list of favorite books. The words she reads trigger memories that lead Grey to suspect the woman is his daughter who was abducted when she was two years old--the event that ruined Grey's marriage and life--but he must overcome fear of a final devastating rejection as he secretly pursues the truth in hope for reconciliation and joy.

Logline Critique Session Three #5

TITLE: Soul Sifter
GENRE: YA urban fantasy

When sixteen-year-old London Howell inadvertently "creates" a person, drawing the attention of the city's ruling mage family, the House of Dering, he must decide if the answers to newly raised questions about himself and his family are worth the price of a human soul.

Logline Critique Session Three #4

GENRE: YA Paranormal

After a werewolf kills Kat's father, she deals the only way she can--she rips out his throat. Now the outcast teenage werecougar must go against everything her family believes to find happiness with new boy in town Remi--a werewolf. When Remi was hired by the wolf council to woo Kat and steal her family's magic, he thought it would be easy money. He never counted on finding love.

Logline Critique Session Three #3

TITLE: The Clown House
GENRE: Thriller

When his little brother is murdered, wealthy Silicon Valley lawyer Roger Steele returns home to Phoenix to ind strangely complacent detectives. Drawing on a network of high school friends--a judge, a politician, a prosecutor--Roger conducts his own investigation, only to discover his brother was a player in the harrowing world of Mexican drug cartels and the Arizona officials who protect them--including an old friend who orders Roger and the rest of his family killed.

Logline Critique Session Three #2

GENRE: YA/Fantasy

Fifteen year-old Ruby lives in a Podunk town in Alabama. Irish, poor and the object of school yard bullies, Ruby unwittingly uses magic to get even when she causes potato roots to spring from the face of the most popular girl in school. Without warning, Ruby's mother announces the family is moving to Ireland. Ruby hopes that this will be the end of all her troubles, but it's only the beginning.

Logline Critique Session Three #1

GENRE: Suspense

When she is thrust unwillingly into a deadly feud between politics and the mafia, all Evelyn wants to do is save the Senator's daughter. In order to do that, she has to be willing to go on the offensive, sacrificing her own safety - and possibly her own life.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

And We're Full

Yikes. That was fast. ;)

Submissions for our 3rd Logline Critique Session

Submissions will open at 6:00 pm EDT today for 25 more loglines.

Please do not enter if you've already participated in one of our first two sessions.


SCREEN NAME: (type it here) (this is the name you use when you leave comments here)
TITLE: (type it here)
GENRE: (type it here)

(type your logline here)

Send your submission to authoress.submissions(at)gmail.com.

This will be our final critique round prior to the Agent Auction.

The loglines will post tomorrow morning for your excellent critique!

Questions below.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Secret Agent Early Info

Please note: This is NOT the call for submissions! The contest will open NEXT Monday, November 8.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES (please read carefully):

* There will be TWO SEPARATE SUBMISSION WINDOWS. Each window will be open for 2 hours and will receive a maximum of 25 entries. This is to accommodate my other-side-of-the-globe readers.
* SUBMISSION WINDOW #1: Monday, November 8, NOON to 2:00 PM EDT or 25 entries, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST.
*SUBMISSION WINDOW #2: Monday, November 8, 7:00 to 9:00 PM EDT or 25 entries, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST.
*2 alternates will be chosen from the second submission window.
*PLEASE NOTE: You are responsible for figuring out your own time zone. "Time Zone differences" are NOT a reason for not getting your entry in.
* Submissions received before the contest opens will be rejected.
* Submissions are for COMPLETED MANUSCRIPTS ONLY. If you wouldn't want an agent to read the entire thing, DON'T SEND IT. If an "entire thing" doesn't exist, you shouldn't even be reading these rules.
* Manuscripts THAT HAVE BEEN IN A SECRET AGENT CONTEST DURING THE PAST SIX MONTHS (May-October) will not be accepted.
* You may submit A DIFFERENT MANUSCRIPT if you've participated in any previous Secret Agent contests.
* Only ONE ENTRY per person per contest. If you send more than one, your subsequent entry(ies) will be rejected.
* If you are a PAST WINNER, please DO NOT ENTER THIS CONTEST. (Unless it's a different manuscript.)
* Submissions are for THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript. Please do not stop in the middle of a

Your submission for this contest should be formatted EXACTLY as follows:

SCREEN NAME: Your Screen Name Here
TITLE: Your Title Here
GENRE: Your Genre Here

(Followed by the excerpt here.)

* No "chapter one," chapter titles, etc.
* You will receive a confirmation email with your post number.
* Submissions go to authoress.submissions(at)gmail.com. They DO NOT GO to my facelesswords address. Or any other address.
*PLAIN TEXT is your best bet! And if you receive a rejection notice that claims you didn't include TITLE, etc., please TYPE THE SCREEN NAME, TITLE, AND GENRE BY HAND and resubmit. (In other words, don't copy and paste that part.)

This month's contest will include the following genres:

Adult fiction, all genres (including SFF)
Literary YA

Questions below!