Monday, October 31, 2011

Submission Week Tidbits

November used to seem eons away!

At any rate, it's the big MG/YA submission week for the Baker's Dozen, and I want to clear up a few muddly things that came up during the adult submissions.

  • Once you have made your payment, YOUR ENTRY IS OFFICIAL.  The automated email you receive will contain your entry number, and your receipt from Paypal will verify that your fee has been processed.
  • Hotmail doesn't get along very well with my bot.  If you use hotmail, you might consider a different email client for the contest.  Like Gmail. 
  • You might want to add bot-no-reply(at) to your address book, to avoid spam traps.
  • PLEASE DON'T FORGET TO INCLUDE YOUR LOGLINE. (Yes, it happened more than once.)
  • YES, you may CUT AND PASTE in the web form.  You may also add italics. FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE WEB FORM.
  • The total word count is 355 -- 100 for the logline, 250 for the excerpt, 5 to end a sentence.
  • No, your entry doesn't have to EXACTLY FIT those parameters.  It just needs to stay within the word count.
  • We didn't use up all 200 slots for the adult submissions.  If the YA/MG slots fill up really fast on Tuesday, I WILL ADD EXTRA SLOTS TO THE THURSDAY SUBMISSION WINDOW, up to the amount not used during the adult submissions.
  • In short, please don't rush through your submission.  I'm really trying to accommodate the admittedly larger number of MG/YA writers we have around here.  I love you all!
If something's niggling at you, leave a comment today and I will answer your question as quickly as I can.  

The agents have already started trash talking behind the scenes -- they're looking forward to this as much as we are!  I've fine-tuned the bidding rules this year, in the hope that the bidding process will run smoothly and fairly (last year, several manuscripts got bids for fulls very quickly, which was frustrating for some of the agents who didn't get a chance to bid).  I'll explain how it all works once we're closer to the actual auction.

Yay!  It's going to be a fun week.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Fricassee

I think I need to read something meaty and 19th-century.  Something that doesn't have the break-neck pace of the YA novels I adore.

Well, maybe "break-neck" is too extreme.  But the pacing of a YA novel is clearly different than an adult novel, contemporary or classic, and I'm finding that a too-steady diet of YA leaves me longing for something a little slower.  Not BORING; not PONDEROUS.  Just...slower.

Which means it's probably time to pull out Lord of the Rings or Pride and Prejudice, the only two stories I regularly reread.

I've got Dickens on the shelves, too, but he's a bit too verbose to tempt me into rereading my favorites.  I'm one of those people who will almost never stop reading a book I've started, but Little Dorrit lulled me to sleep so consistently that I gave up.  (I mean literally lulled.  I kept nodding off every time I sat down to read the thing.)  So I'm leery of trying the lesser-known, awfully-fat ones sitting there gawking at me.

Then again, I'm awfully happy with Ruta Sepetys's Between Shades of Gray, which I'm currently in the middle of.  Wonderful writing!  And yes, it's YA.  My true love.

What about the rest of you YA and MG writers?  Obviously it's important to read what you write, so I'm assuming you all do a lot of that.  But to what do you turn when it's time for something non-teen?  What dusty favorites lure you back when the weather chills and the nights darken early?

And speaking of YA and MG writers -- next week's our big Baker's Dozen submission week!  Feel free to leave last-minute questions in today's comment box.  By now, I'm sure you're well-versed--but I'm still getting emails and comments from brand new blog readers, so I have to remind myself not to assume that everybody knows everything!

The official rules are HERE.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Baker's Dozen Business

The days are just rolling by!  Some important points:

  • Winners of the adult round will be notified by email on November 14.  PLEASE ADD MY EMAIL TO YOUR ADDRESS BOOKS so your notification doesn't end up in a spam trap.
  • There is no way to officially notify non-winners (without spending an inordinate amount of time going through the database).  If you do not receive an email on November 14, your entry has not been chosen as one of the 25 winners.
  • All non-winning entries will be invited to submit their loglines/opening pages to one of 10 participating blogs for public critique.  Details will be posted after all Baker's Dozen winners have been notified (adult and YA/MG).
  • Submissions are November 1 and 3 (next week!).  I will accept a maximum of 150 entries each day.
  • Just to clarify: YES, you may enter if you were in October's Secret Agent contest.  Amy Boggs is not one of the participating agents, so it's a clear playing field.
  • Winners will be notified by email on November 21.
  • You can DONATE HERE at any time. (Or click on the DONATE button in the sidebar.)
  • I will accept donations for BOOKS until November 21.  All donations after that date will be automatically allocated to ADMIN.  This is because I would like to purchase and present the books to my library before Christmas.  
  • And please do mark your donation BOOKS or ADMIN.  Unmarked donations (through November 21) will go toward BOOKS.
I think that covers it! I'm excited to read next week's entries.  Because, yanno, I kinda like YA/MG literature a tiny bit.  

Questions below!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another Slew of Winners

And here are this month's winners, straight from the agent's mouth:

Thank you so much for having me. This really was an excellent batch of pages; I was deeply impressed. I tried to be blunt in my responses in hopes that it would be helpful, but truly, I don't think I came across a single one I would have called bad. It's so much a matter of personal preference, but I thank everyone for giving me the opportunity to consider their work.


10, I'm Game
19, Saving Andromeda
22, Defying Instinct
28, Iron and Rust
33, Gladys Gatsby Takes the Cake

THE PRIZE: I’d like to see a query, synopsis, and the first 25 pages from each.


7, Megaland
8, Electrona, Huntress of the Dark
12, Wicked Spirits

THE PRIZE: I’d like to see a query, synopsis, and the first 50 pages from each.


9, Lament the Blade
50, Girl Under Glass

THE PRIZE: I’d like to see a query, synopsis, and the full manuscript from each.

Congratulations, everyone!  Winners, please email me at facelesswords(at) for specific submission instructions.

And that wraps up our final Secret Agent Contest of 2011.  Next up:  Baker's Dozen! Wooo!

Secret Agent Unveiled: Amy Boggs

Applause and huzzahs for this month's Secret Agent, Amy Boggs of The Donald Maass Agency. (And I think this is my favorite agent headshot ever!)

Amy's Bio:

Amy is a sci-fi/fantasy geek always looking for more things to geek out about. Working at a small children's book shop during the holidays, she got her first taste of agenting during a college internship and quickly realized it was her dream career. After some years working for a psychiatry magazine by day and devouring agent blogs by night, she stumbled across an internship posting for the Donald Maass Literary Agency. She managed to trick her way in with homemade cookies, and when they found out they couldn't get rid of her, they figured they might as well put her to use. When not working or reading, she can be found watching TV and movies, playing online RPGs in a multitude of fandoms, crafting, and exploring NYC as cheaply as possible.

What Amy is looking for right now:

My focus is science fiction and fantasy, especially urban fantasy, paranormal romance, steampunk, YA/MG, and alternate history. I'm also open to historical fiction, westerns, mysteries, and contemporary YA/MG, provided they have a twist to the usual and challenge their genre (and a fantastical bent never hurts). I'm always on the look out for books that take me to unique and well-built settings. I'd also really love a YA that explored the fluidity of family, faith, and/or sexuality without coming off as preachy (think Saved!).

And as ever, I'm still looking for books that take the spirit of steampunk and apply it outside of 19th century England/USA. (Oh Mayan steampunk, you could be so awesome.)

Hooray!  Winners forthcoming.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Fricassee

And we're halfway through the auction submission process.  Hard to believe!

Jodi and I have already had one fun-filled evening of slush reading, and we've got our second one scheduled for this evening.  I really couldn't do it without her--bouncing our responses off of each other makes the whole process easier.  (I can imagine trying to do this on my own, staring at the screen as words bleed together and I long for chocolate.  It wouldn't work.)

I want to assure all entrants that formatting errors don't matter as we consider your work.  So if you forgot italics or your spacing is off or whatever, please don't fret over it.  We're ignoring all that and focusing on words.

Somehow, the idea that loglines were required to be in italics has infiltrated the ranks.  There is no such requirement!  I will italicize the loglines of the winning entries prior to the opening of the auction.  If you didn't already italicize yours, IT DOESN'T MATTER.

Okay?  I'm not that anal retentive! (No, really.)

If you have any other questions, pop them into the comment box.  (For general questions about the upcoming YA/MG submissions for the Baker's Dozen Auction, please see THIS POST.)

And now I'm off to tackle a trying-to-balance-slightly-overwhelming-life-stuff-with-writing weekend.  It happens (as you all know).  Fortunately, I'm getting better at moving with the ebb and flow, instead of snarling and gnashing.

Well, I do a little bit of that, too.  But not nearly so much as I used to.

Have a glorious weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

And a few little details...

First of all, I ADORE YOU ALL.

I was a quintessential spaz on Tuesday, and your patience until Michael was able to fix my boo-boo was beyond what most people, I think, could expect from a public forum.  A paying public forum.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  And for those of you who are planning on submitting today: I've got the numbers set correctly.

Once you pay, YOU WILL RECEIVE A CONFIRMATION.  If you don't, check your spam box.

Take the time to preview your entries.  I PROMISE the entire thing isn't going to fill up in 2 minutes.

Also, to clear up a little confusion that came up:  When you pay your contest fee, you do not have to allocate it for BOOKS or ADMIN.  I've already decided the percentages on that.  The allocation note (BOOKS or ADMIN) belongs on DONATIONS.  Because if you're giving because you want to give, I want the funds to go where you want them to go.  So it's BOOKS to add to the library donation or ADMIN to go to me directly.  And if you don't specify, I will allocate your donation for BOOKS.

A huge THANK YOU to those of you who have already sent donations.  It's hard to express how deeply blessed I am every time one of your gifts arrives.

Okay, colleagues -- onward!

Baker's Dozen Submissions Today

Submissions open at 9 AM EDT.  They will remain open until 5 PM EDT or until 100 entries have been received.

Today's submission window is for ADULT FICTION, all genres except erotica.


Good luck, everyone!

(For those of you who wish to donate to the contest without entering, please click on the DONATE button on the sidebar.  Remember to label your donation either "BOOKS" or "ADMIN."  Many thanks!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #50

TITLE: Girl Under Glass
GENRE: Sci-fi Romance

Behind me, the dogs rumbled. I glanced to where both sat beside the fireplace with their heads lifted and ears pricked. “Jack, Audie, hush. It’s probably just a deer.” Turning back to the stove, I plucked the scalpel from the boiling water with tongs, placed it in the sterile box then blinked steam from my eyes as I chased the needle around the pot. “Dang. C’mon.”

Then the dogs lunged at the door, and I abandoned the task.

Pearl sat straight and stiff at the table, her doll’s clothes forgotten. Wide-eyed and watching me, my daughter knew better than to make a sound as Jack and Audie growled and paced between her and the door.

I wiped my hands on a towel then took the shotgun from the wall mount in the kitchen. I crossed to the door, pulled up the peephole rag, and scanned the yard. The grey downpour didn’t help, but movement just inside our gate directed my attention.

A man stood in our yard, a dark man.

“Christ. There’s a Stranger inside the gate. Stay here. Stay quiet.”

Pearl nodded then scrambled into the kitchen and retrieved the scalpel.

I chambered a round and said, “Heel, dogs,” as I opened the door. They flanked me, all hackles and teeth and threats, as I crossed the porch and strode through the rain and mud, the shotgun up and wedged against my shoulder.

He wore the grey-and-green fatigues of an Ohnenrai field tech.

“Don’t you move.”

October Secret Agent #49

TITLE: Chasing Carmen Miranda
GENRE: Upmarket Women's Fiction

Suspicion is such an ugly word, and trust me I am not happy that I’m full of it. The deeper it settles, the more intense the isolation, as if I’m alone on a ship rocking further and further from the shore. How far I sail away will be determined by what my mother says tonight. Because tonight I’m going to ask her about something that has shocked me to the core, a shock hand-delivered to me yesterday: that I may not be her biological daughter.

I was early to Bandera, a dimly lit steakhouse overlooking Michigan Avenue’s hubbub of designer stores, just a few blocks from my office. I slithered onto a tall barstool and began studying the wine list; a smooth, velvety glass of wine was exactly the antidote I needed for my nervous stomach.
Not caring how overpriced it was, I chose a solid cabernet from California, and I think my voice hinted to the bartender that he ought not take his pretty time in retrieving it for me. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to bring up this peculiar topic with my mother, nor if I was totally prepared for whatever answer she might give. The more ways I practiced my opening line, the more wine I drank, and at this rate I’d be slurring by the time she arrived.

“Goes down easy, huh?”

I looked up to see the bartender smiling at me, his eyes nodding at my nearly emptied glass.

October Secret Agent #48

GENRE: YA mystery

Not here, Brooke begged herself. Please, get sick anywhere but here.

Who was she kidding? Knowing that Sarah had died at this mile marker had everything to do with her queasiness. Brooke gripped the door handle and hiccupped. “Aunt Lynn, you’d better pull over.”
The woman driving the Suburban scowled as she braked. Lynn had grumbled enough when her niece had peeled a chunk of mud from her running shoe, so Brooke bailed out before she ruined the leather upholstery. Her hand dragged along the fender as she rushed to the front, half-expecting her aunt to forget why she’d stopped if her passenger wasn’t visible. Lynn had ignored her after the mud incident.
As the June breeze soothed Brooke’s clammy face and her nausea eased, she studied the scene and imagined how it had looked six months ago – the level stretch of highway bordered with wide ribbons of white instead of green, the massive evergreen tree with fresh rather than fading scars – and she came to one inescapable conclusion. This was all wrong.

No matter how much snow the past winter had dumped on them, this Minnesota highway had been designed to handle it. And Sarah had been too good of a driver to make a dumb – and fatal - mistake on a safe stretch of road like this. Something else had to have happened.

The Suburban’s horn blared and raw fear propelled Brooke into the ditch.

“You gonna puke or not?” Lynn yelled.

“Maybe in the car,” Brooke muttered.

October Secret Agent #47

TITLE: Countless
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

He had found his prey at last. From across the room he took in every detail of her face. The full lips, thin nose, and most of all the deep green eyes. Green like a dragonfly’s wings or the patina of moss on an ancient castle. His eyes traced the moon-pale curve of her calves, down to her stilettos. She had raven hair this time.

One hundred and ninety-four years had passed since he’d last seen her. That time when he’d killed her was different than the times before. He’d made it so when she came back, she wouldn’t remember a thing. Their times together, the power they’d shared, the life they’d almost had. She’d chosen another path. Taken pity on humanity, and decided she wouldn’t go through with their plan. And worse, she’d fallen in love with one of them.

So now, as he watched her, he took a moment to appreciate the beauty of it. She stood before him, waiting for the elevator, completely oblivious to the fact that she was being hunted. Totally unaware that though she may look human, as he did, she was not. And this time, there would be no temporary death. He’d discovered a way to end her forever. She thought of herself as human now, so she would die like one. Permanently. He’d taken her powers, her memories, her lives and her love. Over, and over, and over again. Now he would take the very last thing he could. Her soul.

October Secret Agent #46

GENRE: MG Adventure

Ethan wanted to kill someone. The problem was the person he wanted to kill was already dead. But if he could kill him, lynching sounded like a good way to do it. According to Ally, that’s how the town wanted to do away with Winston Stanford III before people talked them out of it. Ethan wouldn’t have let anyone talk him out of bringing Winston to justice. Because that’s what it would be – justice, not murder.

Spotting the mangled wooden plank he’d pried out of Winston’s desk, Ethan pushed off the bare mattress in Winston’s abandoned bedroom and kicked the board across the room. The satisfying crack when it hit the wall didn’t make up for the secret it had hidden.

An earthquake didn’t trap them. Winston Stanford did. On purpose.

How could Ally and Gwen just sit there? But it was different for them. At least they’d been born on the surface. And they weren’t born on the day rubble buried them underground. Like Ethan was. Twelve years ago today. He was practically the town mascot.

“Read it again.”

“Ethan … ” Ally held her hand out and then let it drop back into her lap. “OK.”

Ally took a deep breath and focused on the leather book in her hand, one of four journals they’d found under a false bottom in Winston’s roll-top desk.

Gwen said they shouldn’t read Winston’s personal journals, but Ethan figured Winston lost his right to privacy when he was stupid enough to lead people down here without another exit.

October Secret Agent #45

TITLE: Through the Time Gate

“We do not touch. We do not change. We watch.

Caleb rolled his eyes behind Penelope’s back. Honestly, did she think he hadn’t heard that phrase eighty thousand times during his entrance interviews and orientation? It was the one rule they couldn’t break.
“Do you understand, Junior Archivist Porter?”

Stifling a snicker at how serious she sounded, he quickened his pace to match hers as she marched down the corridor. “Yes, ma’am.”

The Archivist Agency forced every new initiate—intern or not—to commit the mantra to memory before gaining access to the building, let alone to the Time Gate. And no matter how much Caleb wanted to know more about them, he wouldn’t break the Temporal Directive. What good would it do, anyway? It wouldn’t make the stories, pictures, or vidrecs any more real.

Ugh, stop whining, he scolded himself. This isn’t the time or place for it.

“You will be little more than a ghost during your time jumps,” Penelope continued as she toured him through the Archivist Agency, the building once known as the Smithsonian Institute back in the early 21st century.

Chronos, how far they’d come in two hundred years, from just dreaming about holographic technologies and biomachinery to having an actual—functional—time portal. And to think his father had been the one to build all this…

October Secret Agent #44

TITLE: The Very First
GENRE: Upper MG historical fiction

“Who are these people?” Cinnimin Filliard pushed her long curly hair out of her face as she looked at one of her father’s photo albums. “Are they the ones you said were coming to live with us?”

“Indeed they are. I hope you don’t mind having to share your room with Katherine. She’s only three months your junior.” Mr. Filliard took a sip of tea. “You know I would’ve gone to the depot to pick them up instead of making them take a cab here, but I haven’t felt too strong since my rheumatic fever last year.”

“Of course I understand, Daddy. Your health is the most important.” Cinni looked at the brief biographies her father had written for each of the five Brandts. “The mother actually won awards for being a good housewife? I can’t believe people still do that in the twentieth century.”

Mr. Filliard smiled at his youngest child, his special pet. “Most girls and women aren’t as forward-thinking as you. Maybe as you get older, you’ll find your opinions are changing. If I live long enough, I could see you living the life of a housewife and mother of many children when you’re a woman.”

“I hate it when you talk like that. Just because your doctor thinks your rheumatic fever weakened your heart and gave you a death sentence doesn’t mean it’s true. My friend Kit is always talking about how a lot of doctors think they’re God. I bet the medicine man would do a better job.”

October Secret Agent #43

TITLE: The Glass Gargoyle of the Last Elven King
GENRE: Fantasy

I’d been chasing my bounty for the last two hours in the pouring rain, only to be told that he’d holed up in my pub. Now granted, I don’t own the Shimmering Dewdrop but I've spent plenty of time and cash I couldn’t afford there. It wasn’t shimmering, nor a dew drop for that matter. But it was my turf, and that son of a hag was holed up there. It was enough to make any self-respecting woman highly annoyed.
Noise from the pub smacked me in the head the moment I turned down the lane. That was never a good sign. Only one thing could count for that- a full pub brawl. Just what I didn’t need. Although if it wasn’t too bad maybe I could sneak in, grab my quarry, and get out before anyone noticed.

I’d just nudged open the wooden door when a chair flew over my head and shattered against the door frame. The debris also scattered on the retired fighters piled next to the door, but they were in no condition to notice.

Damn it. The one night I actually needed to get something done at the Shimmering Dewdrop that didn’t involve me sleeping it off in the back room and they were having a party.

I was having enough difficulty adjusting to the idea of having to bounty hunt for a living; I shouldn’t have to wade through bodies on the floor to get it done. Sadly, the natives were not only restless, they were homicidal.

October Secret Agent #42

TITLE: Matchbox Dragon
GENRE: Upper Middle Grade Fantasy

Leda lay on her bed in a puddle of moonlight, holding a small, tattered matchbox. She’d found it two years ago on the front lawn, near the birdbath she could see from her bedroom window.
She slid the box open a crack and touched the four-leaf clover inside. She’d spotted it last year in the same place, on this same night, the third Thursday in June--the night the man always came, and her mom met him outside and sent him away.

How many years had he been coming? Leda closed the matchbox. She couldn’t be sure but she suspected it was thirteen years, ever since she was born. And more than that, she could feel the truth deep inside her, a lingering ache that never went away. He was the one man her mom never talked about. The one man Leda longed to know--her father.

The rumble of an approaching truck drifted in through her open window. The click, click of Mom’s high heels raced down the sidewalk toward the street. Headlight beams fanned bright streaks across her bedroom walls. He was here!

Leda bounced out of bed. She tucked the matchbox into the pocket of her sweatpants.

She dashed across her bedroom, her stomach wriggling like a thousand fireflies were flashing and fluttering around inside it. Her toe caught on the edge of her rug. Yikes! If she tripped and twisted an ankle, she’d never get down the stairs and out to where she could eavesdrop.

October Secret Agent #41


After I pushed the witch's cat out of the second-story window by mistake there was no turning back. I know that now. At the time, I stood staring into the yard—with dark magic from the gates of space and time about to pounce—and it just seemed like an average, ordinary, rotten day.

Spring break was almost over, and later that morning, instead of being downtown at the gamer convention with my dad (as promised) or hanging with my friends at Village Games and Magic, I was sitting in the dirt, Grounded for the Foreseeable Future. Just me and a tub of industrial-strength glue. What I was doing? Trying to put my dad’s antique birdbath back together again. Was it my fault the birdbath was smashed into a jigsaw puzzle? Not really. (Okay, sort of. That's where the witch's cat landed.)

My strategy was to slather glue on two sides of a break and sit holding the pieces together until my arms felt like they were going to fall off. I’d been at it for a while when my left leg went numb, so I shifted position, and out of nowhere a sharp pain raked my hand.

I looked down and saw a slash of blood.

A tiny voice yelled, “Stand and Deliver! I have a weapon and I know how to use it.”

October Secret Agent #40

TITLE: Smoke and Wait
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Dmitry sat on the ground between the two bodies. The bloated stinking corpse to his left would never move again. The young girl on his right would stir soon. He could have been on his way hours ago. Instead, he sat and waited.

Their numbers were increasing and far outstripping Dmitry’s abilities to contain them. He hadn’t the first idea where to turn. The others would do nothing unless paid. Dmitry wished, not for the first time, that he didn’t care.

The girl was no more than nineteen. A broken heart dangled from a chain around her neck, the small golden charm engraved with a name: Annie. Was this Annie? Or was Annie wearing this girl’s heart against her chest. Whoever she was, the girl had suffered a lonely death on the forest floor. The part of him that wasn’t exhausted, that very small part, mourned for her.

Dmitry didn’t believe in ghosts or angels. He believed in what he could see and touch. And what he could remember. He remembered the smell of Elena’s perfume, the sound of her voice. She’d loved him until she’d died a normal, human death. Elena never let him forget he cared, even when he wanted to.
And that was why, when the dead girl’s eyes opened, Dmitry apologized before he cut off her head.

October Secret Agent #39

TITLE: Blackfire
GENRE: fantasy

I was ten years old before I learned that my absent, nameless father had given me anything more than dark-red eyes and fur.

I learned it the afternoon Marikha’s insufferable twins dared me up the highest, narrowest trail I knew. I outranked them. And I’d convinced them to follow me, or be shamed.

Our left shoulders brushed the cliff. The drop below was fifty feet to the nearest ledge, another three hundred into the purple-shadowed canyon. Stepped cliffs rose to the uplifted plateau of the Red Hills, five thousand feet closer to the clouds. If we followed the twisting trail to a ridgeline only a few dozen feet higher, I thought we might glimpse the flat turquoise grasslands to the south.

Fuzzy white seed-puffs drifted between red sandstone and lavender-blue sky. One puff got too close to my nose. I sneezed.

“Tel’s sick,” said one twin.

“Tel’s always sick,” said the other.

I angled the second sneeze back at them. “You’ll catch it, too!”

I was small enough to turn on the trail, taunting the bigger twins with sneeze after sneeze, only some of them real.

One twin lunged forward to nip me. I hopped back, drew a deep breath to yell a happy insult. A seed-puff lodged in my throat. My eyes watered. As I felt a real coughing-fit approach, I wedged my body against the cliff wall. Amid my sneezing and hacking, one of my weak forepaws skidded off the edge. I lost my balance, and dropped headfirst.

October Secret Agent #38


To send me out to the wilds with this squabble of brats, I must have done something cruel to fate.
It’s a beautiful morning. Summer’s heat has passed and the trees are just starting to turn. After I finished my chores, I planned to sneak off with a book for a few hours, enjoy the fall now that harvesting is through monopolizing my life. But Momma caught me before I set foot off the yard. She wanted more tree bark and roots. Oh, and because that’s not painful enough, I also had to take some of the kids with me. I almost hope one of the monsters is out there to kill me.

Since no amount of protests convinced her otherwise, I’m stuck ushering them towards the edge of the compound. The force field is still up, keeping us safe under its rosy dome, but there’s only about fifteen minutes until it’s down for the day. The color deepens as we approach the border, veiling the forest beyond in magenta.

It’s pretty, calming, but my sense of peace is roughly cut off when the two littlest kids knock into me. I yell at them to stop horsing around, not that it does any good. They run off through the trees and I don’t feel like chasing after them. They’ll be fine anyway.

October Secret Agent #37

TITLE: Fairy Finders

Lily yanked Skylar behind their favorite oak tree on the playground. The two girls kneeled behind the gnarled old trunk, knees touching.

Lily leaned in toward her best friend, “I found fairy pictures in my mom’s closet yesterday,” she whispered.

Skylar nodded and twisted the hem of her skirt.

Lily grabbed her by the shoulders. “Not drawings, real pictures.”

Skylar gasped.

“The last section is taped shut and it says ‘beware,’” Lily said in a spooky voice.

“What was in it?” Skylar asked, breathless.

“I was hiding under the clothes with a flashlight. That’s not a good place for reading secret pages.”

Skylar eased back and sighed.

“I was alone,” Lily repeated, “but I snuck a picture to show you.” She pulled out a grainy black and white photo from her back pocket.

Skylar snatched it away and smoothed it across her lap. “Wow. The wings look like spiderwebs,” Skylar said, tracing the shape of the wispy wings.

“I know,” Lily squealed. “Some look like dragonfly wings and some have feathers like birds.” She pulled another piece of paper from her pocket.

This time Skylar squealed. “You brought me one, too!”

“Rose made you a copy.”

Skylar touched one of the web-like wings, accidentally smudging the tip. Even the tiny nose and lips were drawn perfectly. “Wish I could draw like this.”

Lily nodded. Rose was Lily’s four year old sister who drew better than an art teacher. Both girls kept a notebook of Rose’s fairy drawings.

October Secret Agent #36

TITLE: Unitus

Rather than protest when her English teacher angrily pounded the big red mushroom-shaped button on her desk, Abby simply gathered her things. She’d been to the Principal’s office before. The janitor would walk her down the hall and—-

Her classmates gasped. Abby turned. Standing in the doorway was Smackie, the former Sumo wrestler who normally handled only tough cases. He was six-nine and four hundred pounds of melancholy. His baton looked tiny in his huge hands, but it was deeply stained with the blood of recalcitrant students.
She pictured the headline: TEEN REGRETS INSULTING TEACHER.

As she walked down the hall, Abby heard the handcuffs that hung from Smackie’s belt jingling like they were trying to escape. She felt lucky he hadn’t cuffed her, but the contraband in her pocket seemed so bulky and obvious that even the dim-witted guard would notice it sooner or later. Her only hope: distract him.

“Sorry to interrupt your lunch,” she said, though it was mid-afternoon.

Smackie never engaged in small talk with students. He said nothing.

“How many rabbits you eat today?”

He poked the baton into small of her back, just below where her long black hair fell.

“None, huh? You stick with sushi or what?”

“Roasted schoolgirls.”

Abby gulped. Some kids ended up in the clinic after a round of discipline. One boy died after a week in the hospital.

Smackie opened the Principal's private door, seized Abby by the neck, and shoved her into a chair--exactly what she wanted.

October Secret Agent #35

GENRE: MG Contemporary

Summer vacation called kids to the edge of their seats. But I leaned back and stretched my legs, sliding low in my chair like a turtle ducking inside a shell.

“We’re free!” Maddie bolted from her desk the second the last bell rang. “C’mon, Brianna,” she squealed. “It’s summer!”

“Hold on,” I said, yanking the sticky zipper on my backpack.

My sneakers dragged as I packed pieces of fifth grade: broken crayons, old notebooks, a dried-up glue stick.

Maddie squeezed my shoulder. “We’re gonna have fun,” she said, her eyes pleading. “Hang out every day together, maybe even go to day camp.”

“Yeah,” I said, my palm hitting air as it half-slapped hers.

Maddie looked over at me a million times during our half-mile walk. “You know what we should do?” she said, her face suddenly brightening. “Stop at Dairy Whip and get one of those chocolate dipped cones. I’ve got five dollars.”

“Let’s go later,” I said, swallowing the taste of vanilla soft serve, already swirling inside my mouth. “Mama said I’m supposed to go straight home.”

Maddie’s lips tightened for a half-second before curling into a smile. “I really hope you can go to camp. We’re gonna swim in Memorial Pool and grill hot dogs on sticks.”

“Me too,” I said, my voice cracking along the edges. I stared at the almost-hole in my left shoe, my big toe wiggling under the frayed fabric.

October Secret Agent #34

TITLE: One of Darker Blood
GENRE: YA Fantasy

The baby blue sky was bright even without the assistance of the sun, which rested behind a lone cloud. Sea birds flitted and sang in the chilly breeze. Fay leaned her upper body out of her burrow’s lid, sighing at their carefree nature and happy song. Everyone said that they were the most beautiful birds in the area, that they made perfect pets for royalty. But what did that matter? The noise of their wings flapping annoyed her. She picked up a nearby rock and nailed one right in the chest. Ten points for the artful nosedive, but the landing sucked.

“Come eat your breakfast, Fay.”

Fay huffed and closed the dreadful, salty air away as she skulked back to the table. “My potato is shaped like a foot.”

“Fay,” her father warned.

“No, really, it has five toes and everything…” She poked each toe with her finger. “No, it has seven. Close enough.” She made her potato foot skip merrily around the rim of her plate.

“Don’t play with your food, honey. Come on, now, you’ll be late for school.”

Fay sighed heavily. “Do you think they need potato-foot dancers in the circus?”

“For the last time, you’re not joining the circus.”

“At least I’d fit in there.” She pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket labeled Why my life sucks…and scrawled Circus request rejected, yet again. “What good is turning sixteen if you don‘t even get to do what you want?”

October Secret Agent #33

TITLE: Gladys Gatsby Takes the Cake
GENRE: Humorous Middle Grade

Gladys Gatsby stood at the counter, the spout of her father’s heavy blowtorch poised over the top of the first ramekin. Her finger hovered over the trigger button that was supposed to turn her plain little custards into crunchy, tasty treats. That's when she heard a car door slam outside.

Gladys froze for a second, but then she checked the clock. 5:16—still a good 44 minutes before her parents were due home from work, and they were never early. It’s probably just the neighbors, she told herself, and with that, she took a deep breath and pulled the trigger.

Several things happened at once. With a hiss, a blue flame several inches longer than Gladys had expected shot out of the blowtorch, passing clear over the far edge of the first ramekin. With a whoosh, the wind outside changed direction and began to blow in through the kitchen window, setting the gauzy blue-and-white curtains aflutter. And with a jingle and a grinding noise and finally a click, someone turned a key in the Gatsbys’ front door.

A moment later, she heard her parents’ footsteps in the hall.

“Gladdy!” her dad called. “We’ve got pizza!”

Fudge! Gladys thought.

She tried to release the trigger on the blowtorch, but to her horror, the spout kept shooting flame. She pumped on it desperately with her finger, but that only seemed to make the flame get bigger.
Their footsteps were getting louder.

October Secret Agent #32


I leaped out of bed and pulled on my best riding pants—-the ones without any holes—-and my Happiness Is Owning A Horse T-shirt. Today I’d meet my horse. And Mom and Mike would make the BIG DECISION: could I keep Valiant?

I didn’t see what the big deal was with me keeping him. Aunt Margaret’s friend had sent her Valiant to sell. Aunt Margaret said she’d buy him for me if I’d work at her barn to pay for his keep. Of course I said YES! I already hung out at Aunt Margaret’s whenever I could.

But for some reason Mom and Mike were hung up on me being too young, keeping up my schoolwork, blah blah blah.

I ran down to the breakfast table and slid into my chair. I would show them how grown up and responsible I could be.

“Good morning, Lucy,” said Mom.

“Subtle shirt,” Mike said.

I raised my eyebrows at him.

“Subtle: understated or not obvious,” Charlotte said. “He’s joking, Lucy.”

“I knew that.” Then I remembered that I was being grown up and responsible. “Good morning, Charlotte. Nice earrings.”

Charlotte’s poodle earrings jingled as she swung her head to look suspiciously at me. The poodles had blue ribbons on their necks that matched Charlotte’s royal blue shirt, shorts and socks. The enameled barrette on the end of her French braid had flecks of royal blue in it, too.

October Secret Agent #31

TITLE: Brittle
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

It's funny how much I always took my boring, traditional life for granted.

Looking back now, there's no way I’d ever go back to it. But that doesn't mean I don't miss the feeling of total safety. Or maybe I should say the feeling that everything scary in the world was “out there”, far away.

Because now I know how very, very close it really is.

My name is Sara Jacobs. Or Persephone. Or how about it doesn't even matter anymore. I was born in Andover, MA, a town that is...perfect. And boring.

Perfect like a New England postcard, like a rich Massachusetts small town where every girl is fit and carries Coach. Where every house is $400,000 and flawless. No chipping paint, no missing pickets on the bright white fences wrapping lawns that always look like they were just cut and never walked on.
And boring like a place with nothing to do, like a place with no alleys that doesn't really need police. No dark alleys, the kind that'd make you stop dead in your tracks and feel nervous for a second if you accidentally turned the corner and started walking down. The kinds of places that make you really appreciate safety.

I was born at the Holy Family Hospital. Yup, caring hands “with roots in the teachings of the Church and the Gospel message of Jesus” delivered me into this great world of ours.

I wonder if they would've put me back had they known how I'd turn out.

October Secret Agent #30

TITLE: Sendek
GENRE: Science Fantasy

Death lurked in the shadows. Talia’ shaking fingers clenched into a fist. Where was the door to the library?

Her breath came in shallow bursts as she moved beneath the circles of light cast by the bulbs dangling from the ceiling. The dim glow reflected off the water filling the hall as she hurried through the underground tunnel.

I have to find it before I wake. Talia ran her hands along the stone wall, bits of dirt and moss crumbling from her touch. There was no sign of the door, but the cold seeped through her blouse, causing her to shiver. The ache in her chest felt real enough that the confidence this was the dream wavered.

Two men stumbled into view. Their long black robes hung heavy around their legs. They paused in a circle of light, while the fatter of the two gasped for breath as he leaned against the wall.

No, not yet. Talia slapped the stone wall. “I need more time.” She screamed down the corridor, but the men ignored her.

Calm fluttered somewhere inside her, just out of reach, as her mouth moved in sync with the man’s words, “It's too late. They're here."

The relief of knowing she dreamed fled and she willed herself to wake. Her heart rate sped up as three huge creatures walked out of the shadows. They moved in silence, barely disturbing the water with their smooth motion. Two legs, but definitely not human.

October Secret Agent #29

TITLE: Across Borders

Standing in the middle of the London Gatwick airport Tessa looked at the Departures flap display. In half an hour she was leaving for Slovenia. She remembered that the Slovene word for ‘thank you’ was ‘hvala’, she knew that the country was in the Mediterranean but despite that it could get very cold there, yet she had no idea what were the colours in its flag or whether you could buy marshmallows there. With her luck, probably not.

Dad’s hand squeezed her shoulder as he looked at her concerned.

“Be careful, sweetie. And if you need anything, call me.”

“I will, Dad.” She wished more than anything that he and Mom would come with her instead of sending her on vacation all alone, but Mom had just returned from the hospital from her latest cancer treatment and she needed to rest.

“You’ll have fun at Nona’s place, you’ll see. And you’ll be back before you know it,” Dad was saying.
“I know, but …”

He hugged her fiercely and she poured all her thoughts and unspoken wishes into the hug.
“I love you, pumpkin. Have a safe trip and send Nona our love. Tell her that next time we’ll come too.”

That lightened Tessa’s mood a bit. “Love you too, Dad.”

Next, she was being dragged towards the security line by her cousin and losing sight of Dad in the crowd. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa was going on a three-month trip across the Continent and Tessa would travel with her till Italy.

October Secret Agent #28

TITLE: Iron and Rust
GENRE: Science fiction

A dozen unlicensed mercenaries were holed up in a cave on the other side of the crater. That’s what the Intel and Tactics groups had said, and they’d sent Fifth Platoon in to flush them out: straightforward and easy work for a fraction of the Hessian Security Company’s elite division.

Platoon Sergeant Atesh Metin changed his helmet’s visor from IR to night vision and scanned the crater. The red star was in front of them, and the former mining site the enemy had set up in was in the shadow cast by the dim light. If they’d waited another day, they’d be in the dark behind the nameless gas giant the moon orbited.

There was no sign of activity outside the cave mouth, and his comm was silent. The team on the ship hadn't detected anything, either. Their targets had to know they were coming; no matter how stealthily they came in, a drop shuttle was hard to miss. If these criminals were savvy enough to choose a well-hidden site, they probably had scanners. They were waiting in their cave, in the ground they knew, defending against an attack.

Atesh looked at the five men with him, waiting for his signal. The other half of his platoon stood on the other side of the crater with his second, preparing a pincer attack. “Let’s go,” he said.

The comforting hum of his headset went silent as he slid down the escarpment.

October Secret Agent #27

TITLE: Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls
GENRE: MG Mystery

Imogene Walters leaned against the parlor door jamb, listening. Dottie, the maid, had told her this was a good way to find out things. All morning Mama was in tears over her missing pearls, until Papa sent a post. Now a famous man and his friend sat in the parlor, asking questions. 

The two men were a tall, skinny detective named Sherlock Holmes, and his partner, Dr. Watson. Papa, a junior partner in a small bank, said Mr. Holmes was famous for his calm brilliance in solving mysteries.
Imogene had watched for Mr. Holmes's arrival from the upstairs window of the school room. When the hansom cab drew up in front of the house, her governess, Miss Mullin, said, “All this excitement is bringing on a headache,” and went to lie down in her room.

Imogene immediately raced downstairs to the small entry hall just as Dottie opened the door. Then Imogene’s parents appeared in the hall.

Papa raised his eyebrows. “Don’t you have lessons, Imogene?”

“Miss Mullin isn’t feeling well.”

Frowning distractedly, he waved a hand.  “Run along and play, then.  Your mother and I have something to discuss with Mr. Holmes.”

“And with Dr. Watson,” Mr. Holmes had said.  “You may tell him anything you would tell me.”

Now, as Dottie fetched tea, Imogene tried to catch every word.  Absentmindedly she fingered the silver locket her parents had given to her when she turned ten last month.

“It must be an inside job.” That was Papa’s voice.

October Secret Agent #26

TITLE: From The Fallen
GENRE: YA Dystopian

Some say it started with the earthquakes and flooding, but Falcon knew it started with the greed. She wasn’t old enough to know Hell-A in its prime, when the people called it L.A and the Hell Wood sign still read Hollywood, but her parents had known it well. The stories they told made her long for the time when Sunset Strip held advertisements for Coca-Cola and Budweiser and not recruitment posters for the Stronghold.

They made it sound so glamorous, though, the people’s army with their shiny gasmask and pretty guns. And the slogan was so inspiring.

“Join forces with the Stronghold and restore our city’s potential.”

Flacon scoffed at the pictures of the boys smiling down at her with their masks pushed back on their foreheads, basking in the sun kissing their faces. Sun. She snorted and let her gaze stray to the smog covered sky. The sun hadn’t broken through the pollution since before the Corruptors had fled, leaving behind their mess for the poor and weak to live in. Cleaning up the city was too big a job, which Falcon knew, but she still stayed behind. Despite what she told her brother, the pact they made wasn’t the only thing binding her to the city. Even if they found their parents killers she doubted whether or not she would leave. She wanted the good citizens to have a voice again.

Under her modified gasmask, Falcon scanned the streets as she prowled from one shadowed alley to the next.

October Secret Agent #25

TITLE: Bonded
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

Virginity. It felt like a sin—like I was Hester in The Scarlet Letter, except I trudged around with a V on my chest, given to me for one reason. Leyton Bradford.

We met my tenth grade year, after he transferred as a junior from a school just north of Dallas. He was absolutely gorgeous, not to mention an impressive quarterback for Forest North. His first attempt to woo me lasted about five seconds when he offered to give me a ride home from school. I turned him down. Boys made me nervous. The next morning he showed unannounced at my door, holding a bouquet of pink roses. Whether it was the scent that traveled off each petal or the grin that slid across his face, or quite possibly both, I hoisted my bag over my shoulder and rode with him to school.

That was ten months ago when my life was nothing short of a disaster. My parents had split for the third time, my mother was flirting with every senior on campus, and I had to somehow come to terms with the fact I would never be larger than a B cup. But Ley was the stillness deep inside the storm. The one person that could just look at me, smile, and unravel every knot that had promised to never come undone. It was also a time when our relationship was made up of harmless possibilities, like holding hands, listening to his radio out by the lake, or late night talks on the phone.

October Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Hidden in Sadows
GENRE: Magical Realism

Heavy breathing. His—the hunted.

My unsuspecting prey muttered a curse as he lost his footing and slid a few feet down the mountainside.
I smiled. Easy pickings, compliments of cocaine.

Rocks tumbled down as he stumbled again, splinters of shale forcing me to hide behind a tree. I'd waited four days for this—my chance to kill him with no eyewitness. I wasn't about to let him see me and make a break for it.

I peeked around the oak, and the setting sun momentarily blinded me, blood reds and flaming oranges blurring together like the gates of hell. How appropriate.

He stood, hunched over, his hands on his knees. His labored breathing shook his large frame, the back of his neck the same bright red as the sunset. If he continued at this pace, I might not have to kill him. His heart could give out. Perfect… save me the trouble.

But I couldn't rely on the possibility of a heart attack. He had to die by my hand if I wanted to be paid. I removed a throwing knife from its sheath inside my right boot and took aim.

Voices sounded, loud and near. Other hikers. I grimaced. Now wasn't the time to make my move.
The man sat on the edge of the path in a stupor, idly picking up pebbles and letting them fall into a pile. The red Louisiana clay of Driskill Mountain stained his trembling fingers.

October Secret Agent #23

GENRE: Futuristic Fantasy

Georgia wrapped both arms around her friend and held the struggling girl tight. “Maisie! Come up! You can do it. Focus.”

Maisie continued thrashing from side to side. Both girls fell and Georgia landed hip first on the wooden floor. Pain shot through her pelvis; she gasped and stifled a growl. She wanted to shout, “Pull yourself together!” But Maisie didn’t need more provocation or another focus for the rage that wasn’t her own, that she hadn’t learned to control.

Getting angry wouldn’t help. This wasn’t Maisie’s fault.


Sure, spellwrights at her level should be able to cope with the effects of a minor spell without trying to kill their friends. And if Maisie toughened up and developed a little confidence, Georgia wouldn’t be risking her life by being in the same room when Maisie practiced.

Stop it, Georgia. She blew out a loud breath and climbed to her feet. Everybody learned at a different rate, she reminded herself. Friends lend each other strength when they need it. And right now, Maisie needed it.

Maisie sprang across the living room and threw herself at the locked kitchen door. She battered it with her fists, screaming words that, under conditions of sanity, she would have blushed to whisper.
Maisie gave the door a final kick and spun back toward Georgia. Georgia braced herself for another attack, but before Maisie had taken two steps, she slowed and then stopped. She dropped her hands and shuddered, and Georgia knew the girl had come back to herself.

October Secret Agent #22

TITLE: Defying Instinct
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Killing her would be so easy. The tiny, wrinkled human with her fragile bones, vulnerable spine, and constantly flapping mouth. I could silence her in an instant. Shutting her up would be a pleasure. As if that sagging flesh could keep me from her vital organs. As if her puny frame could withstand the weight of my wrath.

“I understand your frustration, ma’am,” my half-breed demon soul grimaced, but the controlled, customer service smile never left my lips. “There’s just nothing I can do for you right now.”

Oh, I could think of a few things I could do for her right now. Smash the cash register over her frail head. Stab her throat with my pencil so her snotty words would cease. Strategically staple her face. That would definitely shut her up.

“That’s not good enough, missy. I was promised my books would arrive on Tuesday. Today is Tuesday,” she tapped her watch with a crooked finger. “I’m too old to be waiting around for incompetent, young…”

“Ma’am,” I snapped, imagining the demon in me peppering my interruption. “We aren’t responsible for the punctuality of deliveries. We informed you of this when you placed your order. If you would like to leave your name and phone number, I’ll have the owner call you when he’s available.”

The old woman made clucking sounds inside her wrinkled mouth, narrowed her crinkly eyes, then finally shrugged her hunched shoulders.  “Fine,” the old, human woman spat.

October Secret Agent #21

TITLE: All She Needs is Love
GENRE: Contemporary YA

“Happy birthday to me,” I mumble as I walk out the front door holding a garbage bag with all my possessions. Every last one fits in this bag. Pathetic, I know.

When you’re a foster kid, you do a lot of borrowing. You never really own anything. So, I guess I’m lucky I even have something to put in my garbage bag.

I’ve been preparing for this day for a while though. When you turn eighteen the state washes there hands of you. Jan was nice. She let me stay an extra day. Didn’t want to kick me out on my actual birthday.
I’ve been working since I was sixteen, saving every penny I can. I’m not gonna end up like those other foster kids who take to the street when they officially become an adult. I’ve got big plans: graduate high school, four year college, a job in marketing.

“Emma!” little Jimmy calls from the porch. I turn and look at the tyke. I am gonna miss him, even if he did steal most of my socks.

“What’s up little man?”

“Where ya goin’?” he asks as he runs down the front steps. “I mean, can I come visit ya sometimes?”
I ruffle his hair and put on a smile. “Course you can little man. I’m not goin’ far. You know the diner where I work?” He gives me a big nod. “Ms. Shepherd is letting me live in the apartment above it. You can visit me anytime you want.”

October Secret Agent #20


Hitting the ground is the hardest part. Nine times out of ten, it’s dirt or gravel. But all it takes is that one time on concrete, or worse, asphalt, to send even the most experienced Shifter into a panic.

My feet slammed into cobblestone. Muskets cracked and echoed down the alley where I’d landed. Acrid gunpowder stung my nostrils, searing my throat as I fought back a cough. My hair caught in the warm brick wall behind me, twanging and snapping as I lowered myself into a crouch. The gunfire grew louder and louder, bouncing off both sides of the narrow passageway, so I couldn’t tell which direction it was coming from.

Where was I? Valley Freakin’ Forge?

If so, my dang transporter had missed the target by well over two centuries. Good grief. How hard was a 23rd to 21st Shift? Wyck must have set a new personal record. He would pay for this when I got back.

If I got back.

Puffs of fresh gunsmoke clouded the few rays of sun in the dim alley. I slipped behind an empty barrel and pulled out my QuantCom. A Virginia address and instructions popped up. “Bree Bennis, pre-Tricentinniel midterm. Deposit package contents on Muffy van Sloot’s grave with following message: ‘There’s no time like the past.’”

So help me, I thought, if this is for a dead cat, heads will roll.

October Secret Agent #19

TITLE: Saving Andromeda
GENRE: YA mystery

I think I knew long before discovering the letters that my real name wasn’t actually Emma Hudson.
There were the repeat dreams of answering to a different name, of looking in a mirror and seeing someone else’s face. For years, I’d dreamt of drowning, struggling to breathe in a body that wasn’t mine, of wandering through my house to find room after room hidden under floor boards or in closets that unfolded like paper dolls.

I just figured they were the normal dreams of a teenager. If you’d asked me who I was in the weeks leading up to high school graduation, my answer would’ve been a list: basketball player, high school senior, daughter of Jud and Claire, resident of Resurrection, Alaska and Sam’s girlfriend.

The problem was, only some of that was true.

The mystery note came in the mail the week of final exams, along with a pile of late college brochures and other junk I’d been getting since my junior year. Mom put it all on my desk but it wasn’t until graduation day that I had time to sort through it.

The envelope looked like the others with my name written in neat handwriting across the front. I opened the flap and a piece of folded paper slipped out.

Ask your mother about Andromeda. Open the green chest in the basement. It’s yours.

It wasn’t signed. There was no return address.

October Secret Agent #18

TITLE: Pulse
GENRE: YA Contemporary

It was bitterly cold in the mid-December twilight, but not cold enough to keep Jessica Joiner and her friends indoors. Despite the snow covering the pitcher’s mound and dusting the bases, the park was packed. Jamaica Plain Recreation Center was no Fenway, but every kid around that field could picture the Green Monster scoreboard and smell the franks carted through the stands by an imaginary vendor.

“You ready, Princess?” A freckle-faced boy jeered from the pitcher’s mound.

Home on a two-week reprieve from The Academy at Hartford Grove, Jessica’s ribbon-adorned, auburn ponytail gave the mistaken impression she embraced boarding school life. In truth, she wore her Academy Wildebeests sweatshirt with the hope of staining it to the point of ruin. Stepping up to the plate, she gripped the bat in her small hands. Jessica glared straight into freckle-face’s eyes and smirked.

“Bring it.”

The pitch sped toward her like a comet, bright white in the dusky sky. She swung the bat and heard the satisfying crack of wood against leather. The ball shot way over the pitcher’s head, over the second baseman’s outstretched glove and into the trees framing the park. The girls cheered as Jessica skipped around the bases, ignoring a small cluster of unfamiliar kids watching the game from the sidelines and taunting boys she’d known since childhood as she passed each one. As her grand finale, she leapt gracefully onto home plate.

Her best friend, Sunnie Johnson, squealed, “double-you-tee-gee, Jessie!” and the other girls cheered her name.

October Secret Agent #17

TITLE: Down into Darkness
GENRE: Science Fiction

“He’s a smart kid; it’ll be a shame to lose him.”
“He could make it, sir.”

“Not likely.”

“He’s a soldier, sir. Even if he doesn’t know it.”

“Isn’t that true. Amani, I don’t know what we need most, justification for war with the damn Mars colony, or sufficient intelligence about Jupiter’s little devils to know what the devil’s going on.”
“It’s in God’s hands now.”

Jason grinned nervously only because he was still alive. He activated the down-link to Earth, speaking into empty space. “Jason Marconi, signing on. I’ve just been turned away from the gates of the Kingdom of God. In fact, Peter told me to go to Hell, though in a few more words…” he paused at the irony, “…which, of course, is just what I intend to do.”

Jason sucked at his mug of coffee, which soothed, though he hardly needed the caffeine. Out of habit he set the mug by the console. Immediately it began to wander, drifting slowly upward through the air. Grabbing it again, he snapped it into its holder away from the control panel.

He took a breath, feeling his flippancy fade to thinly-veiled anger.

He’d failed, but the failure wasn’t his. He’d always known the overture would fail. Maja! Earth could be as bad as Mars sometimes. He’d known it would fail, but he’d tried anyway. Because of Ruth.

October Secret Agent #16

TITLE: Uriel's Fall
GENRE: Fantasy

Mortality wasn’t the epic adventure I had imagined. I paused near the diner kitchen, blowing strands of black out of my eyes and resisting the urge to take off my worn sneaker and rub my foot. Supposedly that kind of thing was unsanitary. It wasn’t like I let the dirt stick to my hands. Talk about gross.
And then my sore feet didn’t matter anymore. Pain scored my flesh like razors opening the skin and heat cauterizing the wound in a single swipe. I looked at my arms in horror before remembering I wasn’t going to see anything.

I never did when creepy devoid-of-emotion-to-the-point-it-literally-hurt guy was in the diner. Why did he have to ruin one of the best aspects of being tangible? Empathy becoming physical sensation was incredible…unless he was around, sucking all the feeling from the room.

He’s back, a voice whispered.

Thanks for the update, miss obvious. I ignored the muttering of the captured demons sharing my mind. I scanned Formica tables and vinyl benches until I spotted him across the room. At least he wasn’t in my section.

He’s like Ace.

That voice was always loudest.

Not worth your attention. Focus. Gentleman on table twelve.

The others ran together until I couldn’t tell them apart.

“Shut up.” I hoped no one heard me talking to myself.

October Secret Agent #15

TITLE: Knights of Avalon
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

A fencing champion destined for the Olympics.

A martial arts prodigy.

An organizer for Habitat for Humanity.

Someone was murdering the brightest, most brilliant teens in New Jersey . Now in the middle of the night, the persistent ringing of my cell phone broke me out of my sleep.

I scrambled to get my bearings in the darkness. I was in my bedroom, the Bruce Lee posters on the walls told me that much. Through bleary eyes, I could see the alarm clock shining 3:11 back at me. I froze, shaking off the last remnants of sleep. Why would someone be calling at 3am ? I peered at the phone, trying to place the number. Then I took a deep breath and picked up. “Hello?”

“Hi, Justine. I’m sorry to be calling so late.” I immediately recognized the shaky voice on the other end of the line. It was my best friend’s Mom, Mrs. Martinez, but I had never heard her sound like this. “Gwen’s not with you, is she?”

My mouth dropped, the question a punch to the gut. Three in the morning on a school night. A murderer on the loose, cutting down the best kids in the state. And Gwen? She was the most incredible person I had ever met. She had an inner light, a compassion that shone like a beacon, and now she was missing.

“No,” I said, my mind racing with possibilities, each one more horrible than the last. “Why would she be?”

October Secret Agent #14


“Is this Heaven?” I asked.

My angel laughed, his eyes sparkling in the light from the two moons overhead. “Heaven? You’re messing with me, right?” A warm breeze rustled the field of glowing blossoms surrounding us and tousled his curls. He slipped his arms around my waist. “Okay. I’ll play. No, it’s not Heaven, but sometimes, it feels that way. Especially with you here.”

He leaned in, his scent filling the air. His lips brushed mine--

“Livy?” Patty’s quiet voice jerked me back to reality, from my attempt to escape to a happier place. Even if that world--and the boy I’d come to call my angel--existed only in my dreams. She laid her wrinkled hand over mine. “It’s almost time.”

I glanced across the room at the casket--shiny black with silver handles. Elegant, according to Patty. Like that mattered. It would be buried underground, never to be seen again after today. And that wasn’t my mother in there. Not anymore.

Patty settled down on the arm of the loveseat and tucked my long bangs behind my ear. I resisted the urge to release them, so I could go back to hiding behind their auburn curtain.

“You sure you don’t want to see her?” she asked. “This is the last chance you’ll get.” She meant well. Just doing her job as my pseudo-grandmother and legal guardian. Well, that was what she would’ve been, if I hadn’t turned eighteen on the day my mother was killed.

October Secret Agent #13

TITLE: Empathy
GENRE: YA Paranormal

“Long night?”

The nurse in standard blue scrubs gives the disheveled man a sympathetic smile. She’s seen his particular expression before – exhausted, relieved, and not a little shell-shocked. His hair looks as though it’s been permanently mown down by an anxious hand.

“Yeah, it was.” The man is staring through a large glass window at a row of bassinets. He turns to the nurse and smiles back.

“My daughter.” He points a finger at the pane, indicating the third newborn from the left.

“Your first?”

“Actually, I have son, but... first time, uh, participating. You know?” He turns back to the window.

“She’s a beauty,” the nurse says, out of habit. Upon examining the pink face, she realizes the conventional compliment is actually true. The infant’s eyes are open. Unusual this early – and under the bright nursery lights – but not unheard of. Her tiny head is turned toward the bassinet next to her.
“She keeps looking over that way,” the man says.

The nurse glances at the adjacent bundle. A baby boy. Then she examines the face above the blue blanket more closely. “That little one seems to be looking right back,” she says. Now that is unusual.
“I’ve never seen such a thing,” she murmurs.

The nurse and the man stand before the glass in silence, as the baby girl reaches a tiny hand toward the boy. Her mouth opens in a soft, bleating call.

The boy mirrors her movement, stretching out his fingers.

Through the transparent bassinets, two pairs of blue eyes lock.

October Secret Agent #12

TITLE: Wicked Spirits
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

If my best friend wasn’t already dying, I’d kill her for this.

The man in front of me eyed me coldly, his gaunt face a mask of displeasure. I inhaled slowly and tried to center myself with some yoga-breathing. He noticed my discomfort and smirked.

I wondered at the cruel jest my life had become as I stared down one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. My body tensed, deciding between fight or flight.

Then I remembered my promise to her, and mustered the courage to give it a shot.

“Diah didn’t mention your name when she set this up,” I said, trying to start the conversation with the grim figure seated across from me. “I’m Vesshana—Vess for short,” I offered.

He looked at me flatly. “My name can only be properly pronounced in the throes of agony,” he answered, taking a sip from glass of sweating ice water on the table.

“Oh,” I answered, wondering what the hell I should call him. I certainly didn’t plan on ending up in any kind of throes tonight, let alone agony. “So what do you go by?”

The ice clinked against his teeth as he responded, “Walter.”

I suppressed a laugh. “Ok, Walter,” I said with a smile. Judging by his demeanor, probably the first and only of the evening. “So what do you do for fun?”

October Secret Agent #11

TITLE: Terra Incognita
GENRE: Fantasy

Like most of life’s extraordinary problems, I felt ill equipped to handle the beast hurtling toward me. The monster’s yellow eyes focused upon me. Its tongue, dripping saliva, lolled from its mouth. I flicked my eyes left and right, looking for cover. A door to slip through. Anything. But could find no escape. In a matter of seconds, it lunged for me. I hit the ground, the air forced from my lungs. And, before I could take a breath, my face was plastered with the dog’s kisses. Laughter bubbled up in my throat, and I tried to shove the more than one hundred pound wolf-hybrid away to no avail. So, arms shaking, I managed to hold the dog several inches from my body and draw my knees up, and rolled us both to the side. I made it to my feet, but the dog remained with his tummy in the air, smiling at me.

Bending down, I rubbed his belly, and tried to sound scolding. “You’re really too big to be doing that.” However, my laugh gave me away.

With the canine properly mollified, I continued on my trek to the house across the lawn. The farmhouse, and Lobo the happy monstrosity, had belonged to my aunt Bethany Wells until her recent death. Aunt Bethany had died under what local gossip was calling “mysterious circumstances.” But mysterious was putting it more than gently.

October Secret Agent #10


The com on my wall buzzes, spitting out the voice of my best friend Tag. “Dodge, you there?”
I don’t want to extract myself from my bunk’s covers to answer. The heating in our apartment shell is broken for the second time this winter, and besides this bundle of blankets, there’s no way to ward off the chill.

Despite my lack of response, Tag keeps talking. “I know you’re there, bud. Sitting in your bunk and trying to ignore me. Don’t think you’re getting away with it – I’m gonna keep talking until you answer.” A pause. “Yes, that was a threat.”

I roll my eyes. Tag’s not kidding, either. He’ll go on for hours if I don’t shut him up. I slide out of my bunk, the icy air calling the hair on the back of my neck to attention. As I rub the goosebumps away, my fingers trail over the microchip beneath my hair. The rectangular chunk of circuiting is cold to the touch.

I kick my way through the clutter on my floor and slap my hand onto the wall-com. “Yeah,” I say. “What’s going on?”

“There you are.” Tag’s voice vibrates in the old silver disk. “The guys wanna go out. You coming?”

I’m tempted to say no. If I go, they’ll ask me what I’m going to pitch.

Tag pitched Army. I knew he’d do it – it’s a rich kid thing. When they pitch, they get their extras plugged under their natural-born arms, one more arm on each side.

October Secret Agent #9

TITLE: Lament the Blade
GENRE: YA High Fantasy

Like many boys his age in love with war, Cyran Averne practiced the executioner's art many times on gourds and melons, but all the playacting in the world couldn't prepare him for the real thing.

The shackled convict stood in front of an old tree stump and whimpered, his breath visible in the chill air of the early winter morning. A soldier shoved him to his knees when Master Swordsman Gent arrived and surveyed the group. Battle-hardened, Gent was a survivor of the War of the Long Dark. Scars crisscrossing his cheeks told the tale.

"Which one of you skinny runts is up to a kill?"

Cyran froze. Surely, this was a test, but Cyran didn't know what Gent was testing. Strength? Skill?

When no one stepped forward, Gent pointed to Cyran’s best friend Balar, tallest of the boys, whose bony limbs and gangly appearance got him the nickname 'Scare The Crows'.

Gent held out a huge sword almost as long as Balar was tall. "You'll have to do. Have at him."

"What?" Balar's face blanched. "What do you mean?"

"Separate him from his head."

Balar took the sword, but the blade dropped to the wet earth, the tip sticking in the mud.
"Dark be damned!” Gent took it back and wiped it on his trousers. He shoved Balar to the side. "Who among you can hold a sword?" He walked around the group, eyeing them up and down. "What about you?"

Gent pointed the blade tip at Cyran.

October Secret Agent #8

GENRE: Adult Fantasy

Thaddeus and I stood on the sandy ground outside the five-story, red stone building that housed the precious medallion, the one he couldn't wait to get his greedy hands on. A yellow moon rose over a line of fir trees, so close, I could almost make out the outline of a man's face on its surface.

Breathing fast, as if ready for the beginning of an astounding meal or the end of a tumultuous sexual experience, he told me his theory about the ancient medallion and what it was doing here. "Somebody from the government packed the medallion away with other priceless relics, and put it into a wooden case stamped Top Secret." He chuckled and hid his motorbike in the bushes to the side of the building. "Those fools have no idea what they had."

"Good thing we do. Tell me about this medallion." I listened while thinking how glad I was that I'd worn boots and stretch black pants that day. Something told me I was in for some climbing.

Thaddeus talked with his hands like he always did when he got excited, while the wind blew strands of white hair across his cheeks. "The medallion exhibits many mystical qualities, including finding essences or entities across dimensions. When we get inside, look for a burnished gold medallion with a single crystal stone set near the top of the piece. The whole thing only weighs about 18 ounces, but yields results many times its weight in gold."

October Secret Agent #7


In the history of school lunches, no one had ever paid this much attention to a side salad. Inky Kahn swatted a straggle of his long hair away from his face, scrunched up his storm gray eyes and tried to conjure the exact green of the lettuce in Amanda’s salad. He concentrated as if everything depended on it.

He wanted his drawing of her to be perfect, and focusing on color helped. He was rusty. Realism, all those cartoons for the school newspaper, that was before.

Last year he filled his notebooks with abstracts, a mad rush of color, emotion running like muck. Rivers of guilt traversing the page.

There were definitely peas in her salad. He remembered how Amanda balanced one on her fork while she laughed (she laughed!) at his story about his nickname. And asparagus? Are there even asparagus in October?

The top of his chest throbbed as if his heart was pushed up, displaced by grief, his insides swollen from the burden he carried.

He wanted to impress the game developer; this was his shot, and if this worked, maybe it wouldn’t matter that he wasn’t going to art school. He was good enough. Why not?

There were things that actually mattered in the world, Inky knew, and just in case he forgot, his school, Manhattan’s prestigious Metropolitan Diplomatic Academy served up heapings of world tragedy and disasters as part of the curriculum. But at this moment, the world, his world, depended on him drawing Amanda.

October Secret Agent #6

TITLE: Kitsune
GENRE: Futuristic urban fantasy

As I stepped out of the bathroom, the cool breeze rustled my damp hair and tickled my nose with this rich, masculine scent. Whoever else was in my hotel room with me had to be good; I hadn't even heard him come in.

Instinctively, I reached for the silkwire bands that should've been around my fingers, but I had taken them off before my shower. Of course I wasn't defenseless; I was Scorpio. I listened for the intruder's steady breathing and pinpointed his location.

Hiding amongst the shadows, I slipped into the darkened bedroom, and came up behind him. As I reached around for his chin, he elbowed me in the gut. Recovering, I round-kicked him in the side.
He turned to face me. As our eyes met, his breath caught, as did mine. For someone sneaking about in other people's rooms, he was not what I expected. In addition to the black mask that covered the lower half of his face, he wore black cargo pants, a black t-shirt, and a button up white shirt with the top two buttons undone and the sleeves rolled up. But still, he had to be hot. I was, and I was wearing shorts and a camisole.

Then I noticed his mask again, like it had been trying to get my attention the whole time. Only I was too busy pretending he wasn't wearing one. Or what it meant that he was. What was another Scorpio doing here? Was he here to terminate me?

October Secret Agent #5

GENRE: Contemp. romance

Her butt had fallen asleep ten minutes ago.

“That isn’t supposed to happen with these ergonomic chairs,” Claire grumbled to the smiling face in the corner as she shifted her bum back and forth to stimulate circulation.

The chair, if the backless contraption could be called that, was her latest attempt to break through her writer’s block and stimulate the magic that used to happen at her keyboard. That magic had produced the bestselling Hetty Graham series and launched Claire as one of the hottest new authors to come out of the Pacific Northwest.

But that was before her world ended.

It had been two years and the magic hadn’t returned.

She stared at the open document on her computer screen, a series of false starts, random sentences and lots of white space. A fly buzzed past and landed on her keyboard, completely unthreatened by the motionless fingers on the keys. Claire watched, hypnotized by its incessant activity, until it lifted off to another corner of the room. Eyes trailing the fly, she spied the giant neon clock on her home office wall, a gag gift from her husband, Mark, several years earlier. She’d been sitting in this ridiculous chair, unproductive, for two hours.

“Oh, for crying out loud!”

October Secret Agent #4

TITLE: The Saint and the Smith
GENRE: Historical Fiction with strong elements of fantasy

Most claimed that I was a fair shadow of my willowy mother. So alike, apart from our eyes. Mine were the same odd silver as Grandmother’s. Mother’s were dark like that of a doe. Perhaps if she had been cursed with eyes like mine, the men would not bully her.

Men like Harold the baker.

In the rutted road stretching between my uncle’s farm and the village, Harold, cheeks ale-red and fists in knots, shouted into Mother’s upturned face. His voice was lightning in my ears.

Kneeling in the cracked earth, I concealed myself behind our cart, peeking between the stalks of wheat which we had bundled like sickly babes.

“I won’t pay it, woman!” Harold lurched closer to Mother, his spittle wetting the smooth skin of her forehead. “Your brother asks too much for his meager harvest! Do you want me to starve?” He bent to level his head to hers. “I know you call me ‘beast’ behind my back.” The hulking man swayed, bumped into the object of his discontent, and straightened himself, swearing like a horned devil. His ale breath rode the late summer air to my hiding place.

“No, I would never…” Mother held her hands, palms up, to him.

He blinked hard and focused his stare on her, his barrel chest rising and falling, faster and faster, just as it did when he beat his wife bloody in front of his young son not two days past. “Give. Me. My. Wheat.”

October Secret Agent #3

TITLE: Gift of Sunshine
GENRE: Middle Grade

"How was your trip, Sunshine?" Dad said as he loaded my two, red suitcases in one arm and hugged me with the other. The train ride had taken all day long. I was very tired and hungry by the time my dad and stepmother picked me up at the train station. As long as I can remember, he always called me, "Sunshine." Then, he would sing some old song with the word, "Sunshine" in it. "You sure have grown since last year. Did you bring some jeans and sweaters?"

Before I could say anything, my new step-mother interrupted, "April, you sure have on a beautiful dress."

What did she care? She doesn't have any idea how special this dress is to me. Just who does she think she is anyway? Some old lady who took my dad away from my mom and me. Then, she had to move him out of state.

"I'm sorry, I forgot to introduce you. April, this is my wife, Shelby."

Shelby isn't anything like my own mom. I noticed right off that Shelby didn't even look at me while she talked. She wears dark sunglasses and her skin has lots of blisters. Serves her right for living so close to the sun. My mom is beautiful, even when she dresses in jeans and an old, yellow shirt. My stepmother has long, black hair.

It seemed forever before we arrived at my dad's house.

October Secret Agent #2

TITLE: The Keeper
GENRE: Middle Grade/Adventure

The last day of school arrived on the perfect summer day. Well, sort of. For everyone else, maybe. But not for Jack Wilkes.

During last period, his classmates raised a ruckus when he told them about his dilemma – at least the part he could tell them – Calvin, the Fresh Air Kid.

“Wow! That sucks! Sharing your room with a complete stranger . . . all summer?” Tyler said. “Sticking a kid like that in the country for the summer is like throwing a river trout into Archer’s Pond!” He flashed the girls in front a devilish grin and a wink. They blushed, giggled, gawked and giggled more. Jack felt weird; having giggling girls suddenly staring at him made him really uncomfortable.

“What kind of kid?” Jack wondered, shying away from their stares.

“You know,” Matt added, elbowing Jack’s arm, “inner-city kids. They’re usually pretty messed up, aren’t they?”

“It’s always on the news – the problems. Gangs. Drugs. All that junk,” Tyler said. “Can’t trust city people.”

“Yeah, kinda scary, if you ask me,” Matt replied.

“Well,” Jack started, “when I met him in February, he seemed okay . . . kinda quiet – more interested in my Wii than anything else.”

“Just watch your back, that’s all,” Tyler warned.

“What about baseball?” Matt groaned. “You’re gonna play, right? You can’t NOT play –”

“Doubtful! Ugh! I really don’t need this – not this summer!” Jack snorted, leaning his chair back to stare at the ceiling. “This is gonna suck so bad!”

October Secret Agent #1

TITLE: Moon's Child Rising
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Somewhere in the space between sleeping and waking, Selina felt her hand move a pen across paper. Then the pen stopped and fell from her grip. It clacked against the linoleum floor, the noise dispersing the remnants of her daydream. The classroom came back into focus and with it, the nightmare. She couldn’t believe this was happening, not during the very last class of her very last day of high school. Twenty pairs of eyes who normally looked right through her as if she didn’t exist were suddenly fixated upon her, waiting for her next move. The undivided attention was terrifying.

For the millionth time that year Selina squeezed her eyes shut and desperately willed something magical to happen. She visualized opening her eyes to find herself transported out of the classroom and lounging in the shade of the great oak tree growing behind the school. It didn’t work of course, it never did, but she couldn’t help but believe that the next time it just might.

Magic hadn’t solved her problem, and Selina was fresh out of any other ideas. She took a deep breath of air, gripped the sides of her desk, and let out the most forceful scream she could muster. It wasn’t the most obvious tactic to get out of the spotlight, but it had worked before.

“Detention! Right now young lady and don’t dawdle on the way,” squeaked Mrs. Riley, taking Selina by the elbow and leading her outside.

Selina looked up at her teacher, thankful to be sent away.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I've extended the end time, just in case this doesn't fill up by 5.


Serious Problem :(

I accidentally set the maximum entries at 50 instead of 100.  So the contest filled up in 6 minutes and folks have started receiving CONTEST FULL messages.

The contest is not full!  I reset the numbers and closed and reopened the contest, but for some reason it's still spitting out the CONTEST FULL messages.

DON'T GIVE UP! I have to wait until Michael wakes up to beg him to fix things for me (he's on the west coast).


Baker's Dozen Submissions Today

Submissions open at 9 AM EDT.  They will remain open until 5 PM EDT or until 100 entries have been received.

Today's submission window is for ADULT FICTION, all genres except erotica.


Good luck, everyone!

(For those of you who wish to donate to the contest without entering, please click on the DONATE button on the sidebar.  Remember to label your donation either "BOOKS" or "ADMIN."  Many thanks!)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Winners for October Secret Agent

Winning numbers have been drawn for October Secret Agent and the owners have all been emailed their entry numbers.

If you didn't get an email, that means your ticket number wasn't selected.  I'm sorry!

Here is the complete list, so you may double check:
  • YRB6WUUV as ENTRY #1
  • S9MK49SK as ENTRY #2
  • 0U0IJO9S as ENTRY #3
  • PFL1DBRI as ENTRY #4
  • X3QP2L10 as ENTRY #5
  • F569DJSE as ENTRY #6
  • ILB3KNDS as ENTRY #7
  • E2H00WA3 as ENTRY #8
  • COOBA03T as ENTRY #9
  • LWVAGN7A as ENTRY #10
  • D8JUEVUY as ENTRY #11
  • HG6VFDNH as ENTRY #12
  • MNUDO816 as ENTRY #13
  • 9RLW9LAJ as ENTRY #14
  • 2ATHV9OH as ENTRY #15
  • MDS089NU as ENTRY #16
  • G823PQTU as ENTRY #17
  • AKCAUU5Q as ENTRY #18
  • 6QG4Y3H7 as ENTRY #19
  • 3425F6J3 as ENTRY #20
  • LRKRR2QZ as ENTRY #21
  • HGVVVFR3 as ENTRY #22
  • SZP8C7F0 as ENTRY #23
  • 0V7M37QD as ENTRY #24
  • 6UZD03NG as ENTRY #25
  • C1O6PB83 as ENTRY #26
  • 4LN9H3Q7 as ENTRY #27
  • NL4FLH3E as ENTRY #28
  • V4H6NBVA as ENTRY #29
  • J86ZDEOF as ENTRY #30
  • PHJ8FTTJ as ENTRY #31
  • U690IW16 as ENTRY #32
  • 9TXZE48J as ENTRY #33
  • R0UPG9UV as ENTRY #34
  • 6DJX1M7J as ENTRY #35
  • Z9JQFDI9 as ENTRY #36
  • 7RXI3MCH as ENTRY #39
  • HWKJ4SVM as ENTRY #41
  • KJA1WE9P as ENTRY #42
  • HO5HZM8Q as ENTRY #43
  • IA1TV9XE as ENTRY #44
  • LEMCEEW2 as ENTRY #45
  • Y8K8QRIB as ENTRY #46
  • 067IY5DO as ENTRY #47
  • 49T2JJAN as ENTRY #48
  • 2A6FZKUA as ENTRY #49
  • ZX6U0ENV as ENTRY #50
The alternates are:
  • J2IOBQB0 as ENTRY #ALT-1
  • C2V5B3W7 as ENTRY #ALT-2

Deep Breath...Big Week!

So let's make sure we've got everything straight. *happy-n-confident smile*

1.  SECRET AGENT submissions are TODAY.  This is a LOTTERY, which means you can enter any time between 9 and 5 EDT, and the bot will randomly choose the 50 entries and 2 alternates once the submissions have closed.  YOU MAY ENTER TODAY'S SECRET AGENT CONTEST AND STILL ENTER THE BAKER'S DOZEN.

2.  BAKER'S DOZEN ADULT SUBMISSIONS are TUESDAY and THURSDAY.  This will NOT be a lottery, but will be first come, first served, to a maximum of 100 each day.  Please refer to the OFFICIAL RULES.

3.  If you never got a chance to get your logline critiqued, there's still time to send it to K. T. Crowley.

I'll try to stay as present and available as possible this week.  Please leave your questions in the comment box.

And so the fun begins!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Special Offer for Round 3 Entrants!

Here's a chance for Round 3 logline entrants to receive feedback on revised loglines!

From K. T. Crowley:

From Sunday Oct. 16 at 12:00 PM EDT until Monday Oct. 17 at 6:00 PM EDT, I will accept submissions. I will post them that night at KTCROWLEY.COM for critiquing.

In the subject, please state “LOGLINE”.

Please list title and genre above the logline (format it the way you normally would).

If you would like to include a link to your previous logline or if you want to include the # of your previous entry, I will include that. Otherwise I will post as it’s received.

Please send submissions to crowleykt [AT]

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Fricassee

Happy Friday!

So, let's talk Baker's Dozen.  I've been saying all along that submissions will be as they have been recently -- both email and web form.  However, in chatting with Michael, I've learned that it will be easier to administrate the contest if we go to webform-only.

That's what we're leaning toward.  And unless there's a huge public outcry, we'll move forward.

*waits for huge public outcry*

Seriously, tell me your thoughts.  (Thoughts like "I can't submit with a webform because I'll be at work" are easily remedied by having a friend or significant other submit for you.)

Michael tells me that almost 80 percent of you are currently using the webform during our critiques and contests, so I'm thinking this won't be a huge issue.

Second topic: DONATIONS.

I've asked that those of you who are NOT planning on entering the Baker's Dozen but who would like to donate to the effort mark your donation either BOOKS or ADMIN so that I can correctly allocate the funds. I've also told you that, if the donation isn't labeled, I'll put it toward BOOKS.

So I wanted to tell you about the book thing and why I'm doing it.

We have a beautiful library in our town; it's only a few years old and it's spacious and clean.  On the second floor, there is a large room with a rotunda -- I love writing there, especially when it's raining! Just off the rotunda room, there is a way-cool YA ROOM.

Did you hear me?  A YA ROOM!!  It's closed off with glass doors and windows, and has several mod-looking desks with PCs on them (not that I'd sully my fingertips on a PC, but still).  All the YA books are shelved in there, so that's where you have to go if you want to check out a YA book.

There's just one, tiny problem.  THERE ARE ALMOST NO NEW BOOKS IN THERE.  And when I checked the card catalogue, I discovered that it wasn't just that the books were checked out.  They weren't there at all.  And there is no "NEW RELEASE" display for YA (or MG) books anywhere in the library.

Naturally I'm passionate about YA because, well, I write it.  But I also read it -- and I want to know that the fabulous array of awesome books out there is available to the teens in my community who rely on the library rather than the bookstore for their reading choices.

I could pass along my already-read books to the library.  But...I LOVE my books!  I don't want to part with them.  I want to be able to reread them whenever I feel like it.  (Except the ones I don't like.  Those don't stay.)  I want to be able to caress their spines while they sit on my bookshelves.

Yeah.  Booklove.

So when I finally made the decision (after much coaching and encouragement) to charge for this year's Baker's Dozen, I realized what a wonderful opportunity it was to give back to the book community where I live.  Because they desperately need it.  (Not sure why a multi-million dollar building doesn't have the funds to keep up with new YA releases, but there you have it.)

And, yes, I'll be donating the books anonymously.  My way of saying "thank you" and also "your YA book selection sucks so I'm making it better" to my local library.

Anyway, if you choose to donate toward the books, that's where the money's going.  YA (and a few MG) books for my local, new-book-deprived library.

And if you choose to donate toward "ADMIN" instead...thank you.  That's equally appreciated!  I don't have to tell you how much work goes into this auction.  And I do have monthly hosting fees, too.

That's it for now!  Next week:  SECRET AGENT on Monday and BAKER'S DOZEN SUBS on Tuesday and Thursday.  Whew!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One More Chance for Logline Critique

This morning, I offer you another example of why THIS COMMUNITY IS SO WONDERFUL.

Linda McLaren has graciously offered to accept up to 30 loglines on her blog.  This offer is for THOSE WHO TRIED TO GET IN HERE BUT WERE NOT CHOSEN BY THE BOT.  In other words, this is NOT for folks who made one of the first 3 rounds.

This is for the ones who didn't make it and still want a chance at feedback.


Linda will take the first 30 entries received.  Now's your chance!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Logline Critique, Round 3 #40

TITLE: The Umbrella Men
GENRE: Literary Fiction / Banker bashing

Bankers behave badly. It's in their greedy genes. The Umbrella Men is a story about them, their crisis and their victims.

That means you.

Logline Critique, Round 3 #39

TITLE: Dream Weaver

Seventeen-year-old orphan Megan begins dreaming for the first time which triggers events that only she seems to remember. Her life begins to unravel around her, and it isn’t until she meets uber-hot new guy Mason that she learns the truth: she has the power to make her dreams a reality, and there are people who will stop at nothing to make this power their own.

Logline Critique, Round 3 #38

GENRE: YA Historical Fantasy

When a suburban teen accidentally travels backward in time to 1895 Paris, she is mistaken for an affluent Jewish girl and falls for a man meant for another. If Sophie doesn’t unlock the secrets of her mother’s gold medallion and find a way home, she will destroy the life of a friend.