Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Fricassee

What a fun week!

Our first Baby Slushpile seems to have been a hit.  Please share your thoughts on it, as I always like feedback on new ventures.  Right now, I'm thinking we definitely need to make this a regular feature.  Let me know!

What makes this EVEN BETTER is that I'm already getting requests from lurking agents!  Which is why I encourage you to always send in your BEST and be prepared, because you never know.

I'm thrilled, too, because some of my winning entries have gotten requests, which makes me feel like I'm sort of on the ball.

For those of you who asked (and those of you who didn't, but want to know, anyway):  I received 125 queries during the submission window.  That's a lot of queries in one day, and it reminds me of what things can look like on the agent's side of the desk.  I'm glad I only had to read 20 of them, but I'm also a bit conflicted about the ones I didn't get to see.  I mean -- queries are meant to be read and considered.    So, yeah.  This is probably another confirmation that we need to have more Baby Slushpiles.

A big thank you to everyone who has taken time to leave comments on the queries!  Your input is the lifeblood of this exercise.

And there you have it--MSFV is back to its full-time swing.  Next week:  Another success story and a peek at what's coming up in July.

Have a glorious weekend!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Winners -- And My Reasons For Choosing Them

I'll admit -- this was FUN!

Here are my 5 favorites:

#1 -- Amelia and the Other Worlds

I read the query and fell in love.  I'm a sucker for parallel words/alternate realities, and this query is so tight that I'm sensing the story arc is tight as well.  If I were an agent, I'd have asked for the full immediately.

#2 -- Coveted

This query was a tad on the wordy side, but the potential for a great voice shone through.  Also?  You had me at "But the Sins have information Caleb is willing to pay any price for: they know what happened to his family." Great stakes.

#4 -- Lost Stars Broken Galaxy

So I love pirates.  Beyond that, this is a clear, well written query, and I love that Violet will have to make such a difficult choice.  (Did I mention I love pirates?)

#16 -- Moonsilk

This query isn't as tight as it could be; fewer details would help the plot to shine through a little better.  Still, I am intrigued by the premise and by the Asian setting for this Rapunzel-like tale.  If I were an agent, I'd have asked for the first 3 chapters.

#17 -- Sol of a Gladiator

This query needs a little work.  Epic fantasy is likely one of the most difficult genres to distill into a brief, impact-punching query.  Despite this, my love for fantasy has won out, and I'm eager to see how this author's writing brings this tale to life.  The plot details in the query were clear enough to spark my interest in the main character, and in how he will deal with a conflict unlike any he's yet encountered.  In fact, this is probably the sentence that won me over:  "For the first time Sol must battle an opponent beyond the reach of his sword..."

And there you have it!  WINNERS:  Please email me your first 500 words at facelesswords(at)  I will post your excerpts on Monday for public critique.

Baby Slushpile #20

TITLE: Darkbeast
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Dear Agent Authoress,

I am seeking representation for my YA fantasy DARKBEAST which is complete at 97,000 words.

Panza is evil by birth. As a barghest, a mythical dog with a howl that can raise the dead and a bark that can lay them back to rest, her powers are dark and mistrusted even though she tries to keep the black magic and murder to a minimum.

When she saves Spike, unicorn and reluctant prince, from death by dragons, she feels an instant connection. But the unicorns of Spike’s herd won’t stand for their friendship, nor is Panza as lonely as she first thought. There’s a new barghest in Whitwer: Mang. He plans to take back the world for the denizens of death, and he wants Panza fighting alongside him.

Panza’s place is with Mang, but her heart is with Spike and those few mythical creatures to accept her. She chooses the unicorns – but the part of her that is barghest may yet lead to blood.

DARKBEAST thinks on four paws and portrays a society saturated with magic and full of dragons, griffins, trolls and sphinxes. The fantastic setting is a backdrop for characters human in all but shape and struggling with issues of identity and inclusivity. It will be my debut novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

The Author.

Baby Slushpile #19

GENRE: Paranormal

Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for MARGARET’S CURSE, a paranormal novel, complete at 104K words.

Practical Magic collides with Romeo and Juliet in MARGARET’S CURSE, a modern love story where witches time travel, jaded ghosts misbehave, and young love is tested with the ultimate sacrifice.

Execution for the crime of witchcraft is a thing of the past. Still, in these modern times, Ophelia and her family of witches shroud their identity. A silence that has held Ophelia safe, until now.

Ophelia’s family has done well to hide their secret. So well, they’ve lost touch with the ways of the witch, Ophelia’s lack of powers a testament to their detachment. But their past pursues them. A dead relative is tracking Ophelia, the same witch who, by cursing another coven, forced Ophelia’s family go into hiding centuries prior. Margaret, the spirit, visits with a purpose: To protect Ophelia from a killer.

When Ophelia falls in love with Elwyn, she has no idea that he too is a witch or that their families share a dark history; The curse cast by Margaret is slaying the men in Elwyn’s coven, leaving him the last of his line. Knowing death pursues him, Elwyn has come to town on a mission – the remedy to the hex lies in the killing of a witch, little does Elwyn know, Ophelia is that witch.

When the truth is divulged, Ophelia faces a curse of her own: A choice that risks condemning a dead woman, murdering Elwyn, and ending her own life.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,

Aspiring Author

Baby Slushpile #18

GENRE: YA Fantasy

Every night when the houselights go down, seventeen-year-old kinetic Charlie Brimm is the first on the dance floor. Among the crush of bodies packed against the stage, he secretly feasts on the brilliant auras of the human crowd around him. The music brings out their energy, and that energy keeps Charlie alive and healthy—if not completely satisfied.

When Charlie meets bard-faery and rock singer, Len, one taste of her silver aura satisfies Charlie’s appetite for energy like no human aura he’s ever absorbed. Charlie likes Len for more than just her energy. But, as he's getting close to her, he discovers the fae band is kidnapping the most troubled teens from their shows in preparation for a sacrifice to an ancient faery. The ritual also calls for a kinetic vessel, and Charlie’s voracious appetite makes him the perfect candidate. If he can be kept from Len.

The more of Len’s aura Charlie absorbs, the less energy he needs to recharge. That’s bad news for the band, but Charlie creates another kink in their hopes for power and glory. Len’s falling for him. The closer she and Charlie get, the more defiant she becomes about gathering the city’s teens for the offering. And an empty vessel won’t do.

Charlie doesn’t want to drain the teens of their energy or to be eaten in turn. If he wants to save himself and the kidnapped teens, he needs to avoid the band until the fall equinox. But that means letting Len go and returning to a life of nightly feedings and an insatiable hunger.

Baby Slushpile #17

TITLE: Sol of a Gladiator
GENRE: Epic Fantasy


I have recently completed an adult epic fantasy novel entitled SOL OF A GLADIATOR complete at 84,000 words and I would like you to please consider it for representation.

In the heart of tyrannical Astrolian Empire, deep in the bowels of the Coliseum, the orphan Sol is raised by a makeshift family of sympathetic guards and fellow slaves to become a legendary gladiator. With his partner K’nal, a yeti-like giant from the frozen south, Sol must battle cunning warriors and exotic beasts to delight the crowd and stay alive.

When Korra, a captured member of the Resistance, is forced into Sol’s cell as a sex-prize, her words of rebellion compel Sol to question his long-accepted fate as a slave. Outside the Coliseum, an unknown bard’s tales transform Sol into a symbol of defiance and inspires an oppressed populace hungry for a hero. The streets fill with talk of revolution and the Empire decides the fighter must fall.

Lysik, Astrolia’s most ruthless assassin, is sent to quell the potential insurgence. Rather than martyr the slave, Lysik plots to turn the crowd against their hero, freeing the assassin to finish Sol as he sees fit. For the first time Sol must battle an opponent beyond the reach of his sword and the gladiator knows, whatever the outcome, his friends will share his fate. Sol must win over the crowd and best the assassin if he is to save his friends and do what no slave has ever done: escape the Coliseum and the only home he’s ever known.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit to AGENCY X. I am seeking your representation because you said you are looking for high-concept fantasy that incorporates a unique twist on an existing history and I believe that’s what I have to offer.

I have included the first five pages of my manuscript below. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Baby Slushpile #16

GENRE: MG historical fantasy

Dear Ms. Authoress,

I am writing to see if you might be interested in my middle-grade novel-in-verse entitled MOONSILK. It is an Asian Rapunzel story set in a mythical ancient China and mixes both fantastical and historical elements from that culture.

For fifteen years, Moonsilk, who was born with albinism,  was locked away in isolation in her wealthy Ch'in family's granary tower because of her strange violet eyes, her sun-sensitive skin, and her long silver hair. That is, until one day when her family discovers she has magical powers that can bring silk weavings to life. They then send her away to join the Imperial Order of Silk Sisters--a special group of weavers who make royal robes and army clothing for the Palace.

When the weavers begin to disappear mysteriously one-by-one, some blame the albino Moonsilk for bringing bad luck into their midst. Moonsilk sets out to look for the missing girls as a way to clear her name, but finds herself trapped, too, in the kidnapper's lair.

When the kidnapper--an evil Imperial minister--forces the weavers to work on a horrific "Loom of Doom" as part of his plan to overthrow the Emperor, Moonsilk finally realizes that her "difference" may be her greatest asset after all--and possibly the only way to save herself, her silk sisters, and her country from impending war.

In case you are interested, an earlier prose version of MOONSILK was nominated for the Sue Alexander Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Since then, I have rewritten MOONSILK as a novel-in-verse. The verse format allows me to capture better Moonsilk’s intense emotions and reflects aesthetically the issue of black vs white that so profoundly affects her life.

The full manuscript contains 72 poems based on the divisions of the Chinese solar calendar and runs 25357 words long.

Thank you so much for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing from you.


Teeny Wolf

Baby Slushpile #15

TITLE: Drifting Into You
GENRE: Contemporary YA

Watching him, I have this unexpected flash of that girl at Starbucks—the one at the drive-thru—her face all giddy, seemingly incapacitated by Jere’s looks. What a crazy thought to have. Jere is just Jere. Right?

The senior party out at Devil’s Cove was supposed to be sixteen-year-old, Annley’s chance to jump the cliffs. But ever since she left the edge, and Kyle Garrett decided to jump in after her, she can’t seem to get her head back above water. Kyle isn’t the boy Annley used to daydream about. He’s arrogant. He’s manipulative. He’s overpowering. And now he’s causing Annley to drift further away from everyone she loves—her comatose sister, her self-centered mother, her selective mute best friend.

But just when Annley thinks she might sink, her sister’s boyfriend, Jeremy, offers her a hand and a ride that could change everything. Jeremy’s nothing like Kyle. In fact, he’s a gentlemen and just what Annley needs to get her through all those grief-stricken nights. But when a simple drive turns into something more, Annley has to decide what’s more important…her sister or a boy.

Baby Slushpile #14

GENRE: YA contemporary

High school graduation: Check. College Apps: Check. Actually deciding where to start the rest of your life: Uhhh.

For Ryan, deciding where to go to college is easy: he lets someone else choose. His girlfriend Marcy’s the planner, not him. And he’d rather not think about all the changes graduating and leaving home will bring. Then their chosen school, Texas Central, cuts their soccer program. One more thing he’ll have to give up now that high school’s done. But he doesn’t think there’s anything he can do about it. He’s already committed to both TC and Marcy.

His neighbor Summer learned the hard way that avoiding decisions doesn’t make them go away. Like last June, when she missed her chance to cross the friends’ line with Ryan. She’s spent the last year avoiding him, denying the mistake she made—but that has to stop. She has one more of year of high school, but Ryan’s leaving soon. It’s time she let go of the past and fixed their derailed friendship—especially since she might be the only one who can help him figure out what he wants from the future.

If Ryan and Summer can’t learn to start calling the shots in their own lives, they’ll never reach their goals—and they’ll all end up where they don’t belong. UNDECIDED, complete at 60,000 words, should appeal to fans of Susane Colasanti and Jenny Han.

Baby Slushpile #13

TITLE: In Genevieve's Grotto
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Jemma’s parents have always had one rule for her: don’t get caught. So when she nearly drowns an entire school and everyone in it, they flee to their hometown, Pequot Woods, Minnesota. Only, in Pequot, Jemma isn’t the only one with a secret.

The town is run by an underground society focused on the education of Elderlings, people with a gift for controlling the elements. People like Jemma – sort of. The thing is, she’s not even normal for an Elderling. The telepathic link she shares with her new neighbor, Cole isn’t supposed to exist. Even weird has its limits.

It’s probably the worst thing that could happen to her, having to share her head with a guy. Let alone one that – erm… looks like Cole. But their connection proves pretty useful when she’s attacked. With his help, she sets out to uncover the reason this cult of masked psychopaths wants her dead. When she learns that they believe she’s connected to a hell-bent dictator, and that somehow, her death could prevent his rise, she wishes she could go back to just drowning schools. But when her hunters turn to destroying the things – and people – she’s come to love, she realizes that there’s no going back. To save her friends, her family, and the life she’s come to know, she’ll have to figure out how to convince this cult that she isn’t the enemy, and that she’s no ally to this tyrant. Unless of course, she discovers that she is.

Thank you for your time and your consideration. The completed manuscript is available upon request. I look forward to hearing from you.

Baby Slushpile #12

GENRE: Upper Young Adult Urban Fantasy

Plans to attend a killer concert are derailed when Syxx learns that the Fae Council has manipulated her into coming to the city to participate in a breeding ceremony called The Sowing. There aren't enough o's in 'hell no!'

But Syxx is not alone. The Fae Council has glamoured hundreds of reluctant Fae into coming to the city to participate in The Sowing. Syxx discovers she’s a Moondreamer: A rare type of Fae that can make wishes come true, and will things into being.

As a Moondreamer, Syxx may have the power to overthrow the corrupt Fae Council, and end their horrifying glamour. With her new friends - a sexy half-incubus and a sweet leprechaun pushing her forward - she reluctantly steps into the role of revolutionary.

Beating the eight Fae council members is the least of her worries. If she's discovered, she risks death. If she fails, she'll become a forced participant in the breeding ceremony.

MOONDREAMER: THE SOWING, an upper young adult urban fantasy with a romantic twist is complete at 62,000 words.

Baby Slushpile #11

TITLE: The Stone Pillar
GENRE: YA Fantasy

My completed Young Adult novel, THE STONE PILLAR, is a 100,000 word fantasy which is focused on Nathaniel D’Arnor’s journey across Gaia. After witnessing the murder of his friends and comrades, Nathaniel realizes that true purpose of the Academy is not to train guardians, but to breed sacrificial lambs. He becomes a fugitive hunted by the very instructors who trained him, seeking safe refuge in a world he has seen only in maps.

He is captured by Annalise Nis’al, the daughter and heir of the The Dragon King. Sora, her servant, is a powerful witch and the King’s deadliest weapon; it is she who discovers Nathaniel has a talent which is hidden even from himself, an unnatural immunity to magic. His impressive combat skills and immunity to Sora’s power make him a potential threat to her father, one Annalise intends to eliminate. Her father, The Dragon King Rama Nis’al, has his own plans for Nathaniel’s talents and coerces him to cooperate by threatening the lives of the tribe who first sheltered him, some of whom he has grown to love.

While in the palace of the Dragon King, both guest and prisoner, Nathaniel discovers an imprisoned dragon who tells Nathaniel about the Elder Dragons, the powerful avatars of Gaia’s magic. With their help he could acquire the power to shatter The Stone Pillar and end the sacrifices forever. Meanwhile, Sora’s strange and adoptive father charges her with a mission, she must betray her mistress and assist in Nathaniel’s escape. She must accompany him on his quest and seek out the answers behind Nathaniel’s hidden talent and its connection to the Pillar.

There is more at stake than the destruction of Pillar; it is merely the first step to restoring balance to a world spiraling ever closer to chaos. The choices they make could alter the very fabric of the world as they teeter between justice, vengeance and the very hazy line between them.

Baby Slushpile #10

TITLE: She Came From the Hill
GENRE: YA Gothic Fantasy

Clay went to Strawberry Hill for the camping, not the ghost hunting. His friends’ stories about a dead little girl and her fairy friends are not exactly the stuff nightmares are made out of. Not wanting to spoil the fun, Clay goes along with their plans. He even carries the EMF detector, which can double as a football on a long boring night.

They find the ghost girl, but her friends aren’t cute little fairies. They are creatures made of earth and shadows, anciently known as the fey. They want Clay to help them get past a bloodthirsty shadow that keeps them tied to Strawberry Hill. Many have been coerced into trying. All have died.

When his crush is hit by a car, Clay agrees to help the fey in exchange for her life. He may never get up the nerve to talk to Song Lei, but saving her life is a no-brainer. Clay only has a few weeks to learn about the fey before he has to return to Strawberry Hill. One thing he knows for sure is the fey do not like to be crossed. If he fails their task, like so many before him, both he and Song Lei will die.

A classic ghost story with a twist, SHE CAME FROM THE HILL is a YA gothic fantasy and is complete at 57,000 words.

Baby Slushpile #9

TITLE: Gamer Daddy
GENRE: Humour

Dear Miss Snark’s Lottery Bot,

Jason has everything he needs for a full-blown midlife crisis. His wife left him, his obsession with video games has kept his social life at bay and now his job of twenty years has been axed. Faced with the prospect of no prospects he does what any self-respecting man would do; he goes on a booze and video game bender and applies to University while drunk.

While recovering from a disastrous holiday Jason not only lands a place as a mature student, he also discovers his wife is pregnant. His old friends think he has lost the plot, his new friends are young enough to be his kids and the shipping date of his favourite game has been put back again. The only things that could make his situation worse would be if he started work at a fast food place, threatened a customer on his first shift and ended up kissing a teenager under the mistletoe while his pregnant wife is waiting for him at home.

With his whole future hanging in the balance, Jason has to decide whether he is going man up, or ship out.

“Gamer Daddy” is complete at 80,000 words. The author has written several well-received web series and her play “[title]” is currently being produced by Radio Slovenia.

Thank you for taking the time to read this query and I hope to hear from you soon.

Yours truly,

Baby Slushpile #8

TITLE: The Spell of the Black Magic Key... A Black Magic Trance
GENRE: Middle Grade Action Adventure Fantasy

Tarot Card Readings… this way if you dare!

Dear Agent:

The Spell of the Black Magic Key… A Black Magic Trance is my 30,000-word middle-grade novel, my first book in a three-part trilogy. It is an action-adventure fantasy that weaves together the world of the enchanted with the mysterious and predominantly hidden realism of modern magic… the Tarot.

The Rickety Old Hag has resurrected the Wizard’s spell… the Spell of the Black Magic Key. It’s up to Bartholomew Berman to defend the world against the key’s evil! He has been called upon to answer to his father’s oath! As long as the powers of the key still exists no one’s safe! Questions need answering and, Aunt Bertilda, a Circe, insists that Bartholomew go see Madame Hecate, for a tarot card reading. Fearing what his future has in store, Bartholomew cautiously picks from the deck ultimately discovering that his adventure was predetermined by the Tarot cards that he… so warily… chose.

Thank you for your consideration and your time. If you would like to review a copy of the entire manuscript, please feel free to contact me.

Baby Slushpile #7

TITLE: The Boyfriend Plague
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Dear Authoress,

#insert well researched reason for picking agent here# I thought you might be interested in my 84 000 word novel, THE BOYFRIEND PLAGUE.

Things at home are rough for fifteen-year-old Livvie Quinn. Jules, her beloved older sister is sick again after being cancer free for almost ten years. Her mom becomes more frantic and unapproachable every day. School isn’t much better. Just when she needs them most, her closest friends get boyfriends and have little time for Livvie – except to set her up on a series of disastrous blind dates.

Livvie seeks refuge in the art room - the one place her synesthesia helps rather than hinders - and finds Bianca, the school ‘freak’. Free-spirited and confident, Bianca is everything Livvie isn’t. Shaken by her mom’s desperation, her sister’s deteriorating condition, and abandoned by her friends, Livvie finds comfort and an attraction she never felt before with Bianca.

When their relationship is discovered, Livvie and Bianca become victims of persecution and bullying. School authorities won’t help and even forbid the pair to attend the Winter Formal as a couple. If Livvie defies them and goes, she risks expulsion and further ridicule from her classmates. At home, her mother’s behavior escalates to new levels of crazy and Jules is begging for help to end the pain once and for all.

While searching for the strength to make her life her own, Livvie must decide how far she’s willing to go for the people she loves.

Per your submission requirements, you will find the first XXXX pages below. I would be delighted to send you further sample chapters at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.



Baby Slushpile #6

TITLE: Agenda 21
GENRE: Dystopia Horror

I am seeking representation for my completed 70,300 word novel, Agenda 21.  The United Nation’s adoption of Agenda 21 was well intentioned. But it put power in the hands of a few and the one world government changed society.


“The Enforcers took Mother away today,” Maria said. And thus begins the story about the world she lives in created by Agenda 21.

In this world Citizens must walk friction boards to create energy. In exchange they are given nourishment cubes, water and grim, basic housing in fenced, guarded compounds.

The Authorities select Maria’s first partner who, along with her father, dies in a mysterious accident. She gives birth to a daughter she can never hold because the Authorities take the child to the Children’s Village. Her arms ache to hold her child. That desire drives her actions.

Her second partner, also selected by the Authorities, is a dysfunctional product of Agenda 21 and is responsible for her mother being taken away. But he tries to escape his duties at the Recycling center and is exiled to the farm co-op.

Against all odds, Maria falls in love with David, a Gatekeeper who breaks the law by picking flowers for her. Together they manipulate the system to get Maria a job as Caretaker in the Children’s Village. At last she will hold her child.

At the Village she learns the brutal, killing history of Agenda 21. She realizes no one is safe. Not her, not David and least of all her daughter. She knows they must risk their lives to escape to the other side of the fence.

Before they escape, Maria creates chaos by setting the Social Update meeting stage on fire. The chaos is a diversion and, as they slip under the fence, they hear gunshots, see the ever growing flames and smell the charred smoke.

They have escaped from one difficult society. But now they will have to face whatever or whoever is on the other side of the fence.

Baby Slushpile #5

GENRE: Women's Fiction

I’m dying to see you. We’ve all casually said that at one time or another, but for Allyson Kiley, seeing her childhood friend one last time means just that...

From the moment Allyson and Valene had exchanged smiles at the age of ten, the two girls seemed inseparable—but life had a way of rearranging itself. The steadfast friendship they once thought would endure a lifetime was severed, and their lives took different paths.

Diagnosed with cancer at age 38, Allyson intends to conceal her illness and handle her impending fate on her own terms. With time running out, she attempts to rectify a situation that has besieged her for years—to mend the rift that exists between her and her best friend.

Valene Del Monaco likes her life in New York just the way it is—simple and ordinary. Determined never to revisit her troubled past, everything changes when she receives a cryptic letter from her former best friend after a 22-year estrangement, urging her to come back to California.

Their emotional reunion is spent sharing stories of their adolescence, both women wishing they could change the past, only to realize the past had changed them. And now, as their hearts begin to mend and regain harmony, Allyson must choose whether or not to reveal that their rekindled friendship has an expiration date stamped on it—a date of her own choosing.

WAITING FOR SOMEDAY, complete at 91,000 words, intertwines the stories of two women whose friendship comes full circle. It is a poignant journey in women’s fiction containing subject matter certain to question readers’ attitudes on controversial themes (e.g., physician-assisted suicide), yet proves that even with the darkest cloud looming, silver linings really do exist.

Baby Slushpile #4

GENRE: YA Fantasy/Science Fiction

(removed by request of author)

Baby Slushpile #3

TITLE: Broken
GENRE: YA Dark Contemporary

Sixteen-year-old Dylan Halstrom was consumed by guilt when her older sister and dad died in an accident that she could have prevented. Three years later, Dylan will do anything to forget the accident and stay numb; she snorts Oxycontin, cuts her thighs, and settles for the boyfriend she’ll never love. Nothing keeps the deaths of her dad and Lily out of her mind. When her dealer, Matt, introduces her to heroin, she finally feels happy without the debilitating guilt waiting in the shadows. She’s instantly hooked.

As her addiction rages, she becomes aware of her feelings for Matt, and she can no longer bury the intimacy she craves with him. He’s the only one who doesn’t try to fix her and he doesn’t judge her, even after he sees the cuts on her leg. Dylan allows herself to grow closer to Matt, no longer using sex as a form of currency, but as a way to feel connected. But Matt gets too close and Dylan pushes him away for fear that he might find out her darkest secret: that she’s unlovable.

When Dylan hallucinates Lily during a bad trip and her baby sister winds up on life support as a result of her negligence, her addiction spirals further out of control and she abandons all of the rituals and safety precautions that keep her alive and keep her secret hidden. Now, Dylan must decide if she’s strong enough to quit heroin and face the emotional crap she’s avoided for three years. Because if she’s not, the heroin will destroy her, and she’ll end up just like the family she loved--dead.

Baby Slushpile #2

GENRE: Young Adult Urban Fantasy

Dear Authoress,

Seventeen-year-old Caleb Dunnelly spends his weekends searching the net for clues about his parents’ disappearance. Which is why his best friend has to trick him into going out one Friday night.

The two end up at Confessions, local hotspot and—apparently—the perfect place to be ambushed. When a couple of freaks in robes set the club on fire, Caleb pulls his friend to safety, and smack into the middle of an ancient war being waged on modern streets. A group of religious radicals believes Caleb possesses powers capable of enslaving mankind, and wants him dead. He doesn’t want to ‘enslave’ anyone, but try telling that to the lunatics with the glowing swords.

While running for his life, he crosses paths with the literally explosive Scarlet, who’s fiery hot, but also eight kinds of crazy. She says he can raise the dead, which makes him a target for any number of supernatural forces, including the Seven Deadly Sins. The Sins haven’t been topside in a millennium, but they’ve crawled their way out of the pit just to pay him a visit. Between Hell’s generals and a murderous secret society, Caleb just wants to make it to Monday with his soul intact (and possibly ask Scarlet out). But the Sins have information Caleb is willing to pay any price for: they know what happened to his family.

COVETED is a young adult urban fantasy complete at 82,000 words.

I am a published poet and a former columnist for Writer’s News Weekly. I am a member of Novel Clique, an established group of professional writers, and an Affiliate Member of the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc.



Baby Slushpile #1

GENRE: MG Fantasy

An upper middle grade fantasy, AMELIA AND THE OTHER WORLDS is complete at 60,000 words.

When another version of herself gives twelve-year old Amelia a pendant allowing her to travel between parallel worlds, she thinks it’s the greatest thing ever. She visits her dog (dead in her world), explores an underground city, and attends a version of her middle school with the motto “all fun all the time.” The fact that the alternate-reality Amelias take her place while she’s gone seems a fair price to pay—even when they start messing up her life, getting her grounded, and promising her mom she’ll try out for the cheer team.

It’s only when an alternate version of her family dies in a parallel world that she realizes the pendant was given to her for a reason. The mystery is further complicated by her suspicion that Seb—the boy she keeps meeting in the other realities—is connected to the deaths. Whole realms are dying, and if Amelia can’t figure out the cause, the next world destroyed may be her own.

Baby Slushpile: How to Comment

20 queries await your eager eyes!

When leaving your comments, please keep the following in mind:

  • Pretend you are an agent.  Say YES or NO as to whether the query hooks you, and briefly explain your answer.
  • Please DO NOT LINE EDIT or give detailed critique.  Clear but broad suggestions are most helpful, such as "too many characters mentioned" or "no real hook" or "hard to follow."
  • Pointing out the positive is helpful, too!
  • As always, be honest yet tactful.
Have fun!  I will announce my winners later today (I'm still debating!!)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Winners for Baby Slushpile

Winning numbers have been drawn for Baby Slushpile and the owners have all been emailed their entry numbers.

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

Here is the complete list, so you may double check:
  • JSG94ZA8 as ENTRY #1

  • YDVXNVT9 as ENTRY #2

  • FEQ9DPJJ as ENTRY #3


  • CN4VMBLU as ENTRY #5


  • GY156PFM as ENTRY #7

  • 8UGX1Z9I as ENTRY #8

  • YEW7QATC as ENTRY #9


  • OUN52I3D as ENTRY #11

  • NHGY32CT as ENTRY #12

  • IJL5VFTC as ENTRY #13

  • F5Q9MFJA as ENTRY #14

  • ATW1G69U as ENTRY #15

  • 8CYT1DJQ as ENTRY #16

  • TRQKQW8E as ENTRY #17

  • A5IVACRY as ENTRY #18

  • LQVB1UT1 as ENTRY #19

  • 3SD9MGXR as ENTRY #20
The alternates are:

  • T4C3QA6V as ENTRY #ALT-1

Introducing: Baby Slushpile!

Ready to whet your querying and critiquing weapons?  (Oh, wait. That sounds pejorative.)

At any rate, let me preface the shiny-new BABY SLUSHPILE by disclaiming that my views on public query critique remain the same.  An over-shopped query IS NOT a good query!  So please read the rules carefully.


  1. Submit your POLISHED and AGENT-READY query letter via our WEB FORM.  The word count is set at 350, which is more than reasonable for a 1-page query.  Starting now.  All genres except erotica.  DO NOT INCLUDE ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION.
  2. The submission window will be open until 5 pm EDT.  One query per person.
  3. This is a lottery.  Our illustrious bot will choose 20 queries at random to post on the blog.
  4. Everyone may read and comment on these queries as follows:  Pretend you are an agent.  Say YES or NO as to whether the query hooks you, and explain your answer.  NO LINE EDITS or DETAILED SUGGESTIONS.  Remember, you don't know the novel or the author's voice.  Point out things like "too many characters mentioned" or "no real hook" or "hard to follow".  
  5. AGENT AUTHORESS will then choose what she feels are the 5 STRONGEST QUERIES.  The authors will be invited to submit their first 500 words for public critique on the blog.
  6. The 5 excerpts will post on Monday.  Critique may begin immediately.
Please remember the subjectivity of this exercise.  The choices I make will in no way be indicative of each query's potential success in the querying process.  Truth be told, I'm interested to see how my opinions lines up with the general consensus for each entry.

Are we ready to roll?  Post your questions below!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jumping Right In With Another Success Story!

It's wonderful to come home to happy announcements, and I'm pleased to share the following success story with you!

Hi Authoress! I can't thank you enough for hosting all your Secret Agent contests. I have learned so much from them -- from both the contests I've entered and the ones I've simply stalked :) I entered my first Secret Agent contest in January 2011 with my first manuscript, and even though the SA didn't pick me as a winner, she said in her comment that she liked the voice. I shelved that manuscript soon after, but the comment made me think that I wasn't totally crazy to be attempting this whole writing thing. A huge thing for me at that stage of the game!

By August, I was ready to start querying my second manuscript, and I got into another SA contest. I didn't get picked as a winner for that one either, but somehow the agent missed commenting on my entry. I asked you about it, and you contacted the agent. Not only did she comment, but she asked for the first 10 pages. I sent it, ended up for a request for "a bit more," and another e-mail entitled "time to send the whole thing." She ended up passing, but again I felt like I had to be on the right track and just needed to keep writing. I did and had another manuscript finished by April. My new years resolution was to let this one sit for longer than I'd let the other ones sit, so even though it was all revised, beta-ed, revised, beta-ed again, and polished, I was trying to do everything I could to keep from querying! But I figured I could at least enter a contest -- for feedback only, of course! :)

I was pretty sure I wouldn't be picked as a winner, and if by some chance I did, it'd be an honorable mention or something, and I'd only end up with a partial request. I was going in with the right attitude, right? Low expectations, focus on the feedback, don't get carried away. But then, something changed when the agent started posting her comments. With each comment I read, I was completely falling in love with this agent. She was so insightful with entry after entry and was able to bring this incredible perspective to each one -- not to mention that she did so in a way that was super respectful of each writer's abilities. By the time I found out the agent was Tricia Lawrence, the new agent at Erin Murphy Literary Agency (an agency I had been salivating over since the beginning of my querying journey), I was totally smitten. And when I found out that I had been picked as one of the winners and that she wanted the full manuscript, I was...uh....crazy excited, to say the least.

Of course, that level of excitement was nothing compared to how I felt when I got that e-mail a month later asking when we could talk on the phone. And even that didn't compare to how I felt when I got off the phone, having spent an hour and a half talking to someone who was exactly what I wanted in an agent: someone who loved my book and had the same vision for it, someone who I could brainstorm ideas with, and someone who I trusted completely. 

 So, thank you, Authoress! You've helped make yet another aspiring author's dream come true. May the good karma come back to you in the form of lots of book deals and lots and lots of chocolate! 

Ann Bedicheck Braden

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Writer Refreshed

Hello again!

I don't think I've ever NEEDED a vacation as much as I needed this one.

Thing is, I wasn't really aware of the refreshment process as it was going on.  I was actually worried that I wasn't getting refreshed.  Kept checking and re-checking to see if I, yanno, felt like writing.  Because SURELY that's the refreshment litmus test for a writer, right?

No, I didn't feel like writing.  But I did have a sort of beach revelation (the ocean does things like that).  More on that in a bit.

This vacation, like all vacations, was peppered with Extra Happy Moments.  And the first of these was meeting up with
Jodi Meadows.

Yes, this is Jodi with Holly the Yorkie on her head.  (What?  You don't know about Holly?  Ask Holly Bodger, who is immeasurably thankful to have a stuffed dog as her namesake.)

So Jodi and I had pizza and lots of chat, and then she came back with us to Mr. A's relatives' home, where we had Even More chat (but not more pizza, since the take-home box was in Jodi's car).  And I was reminded all over again of the magic of the Internet in bringing kindred spirits together.

It's both ironic and fitting that Jodi and I met on Twitter.  My first words to her were something like, "Hey, you rejected me twice!" Her response?  "This is a tough crowd!"  The rest is quintessential history.

One of these fine days, I will be able to post a REAL picture of the two of us.  But for now, we've got a Jodi-hugging-a-ghost picture.  (Cool superpower, that.  Can you morph yourself into a non-corporeal blob?)

As for the beach revelation?  In part, it's thanks to you.  Remember a few weeks ago when I asked you whether you wrote for your heart or for the market?  The overwhelming response was HEART.  So I was all, "Hmm!" and didn't, perhaps, mull it over the way I should have.

Then, with the ocean in my ears and lungs and soul, it struck me.  I'd set aside a project about which I was passionate.  My reason?  The market!  In thinking ahead and always trying to plan for what's next, I'd convinced myself that the story I was revising needed to be retired.

My goal, of course, was to come up with something sparkly and new.  And...marketable.  Yeah, that's the way the creative brain works, right?  Force it to spit out something within certain parameters--and within a certain time frame.  (That's what I was doing.  Seriously.)

The truth swelled with the surf, and I realized that I need to return to the story and finish the revisions.  Then, I think, my spirit will be satisfied and I can move on to the next thing.  (Which will probably bubble to the surface on its own, right in the middle of the revisions.)  Of course, my immediate response was to attempt to begin immediately.  So I curled up with Beatrice in a wee sandwich shop and opened Scrivener.

And remembered that I'd left all my revision notes at home.  Because, um, I was supposed to be on vacation.

It was fine.  Because I really didn't feel like writing, anyway.  I shut my laptop and went merrily along my way, trusting that I'd be ready to dig in when I got home.

I was right!  I'm ready.  And I'm starting today.  So THANK YOU for your collective wisdom (and honesty).  And thank you for being here upon my return.  It's like coming home to a huge, extended family.  Without the dysfunctional part. *grin*

And, yes.  I want to live here.  The ocean is the one thing that's missing from my life, and I'm not sure why we don't live near it.  I'm at my best when there's sand between my toes. are you?  Give me all your good news and happy thoughts and met goals!  I've already gotten wind of some good stuff that happened while I was away.  Bring it on!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

'Til We Meet Again

You know I couldn't leave without saying good bye (3 cheers for Blogger's schedule-a-post feature).

Know what would make me happy?  If you'll just start up a conversation in the comment box and keep it going while I'm gone, it would be an amazing thing to return to.  There is so much life in your words to each other (and sometimes laugh-out-loud humor).

You could, yanno, start a serial story.  Or discuss your plans for taking the book world by storm.  Or cheer each other on.  Or take wild guesses about Authoress's real identity.  Or chip together to buy me a small Caribbean island close to Johnny Depp's.

Anyway.  I love you.

One more thing:  Long-time community member Kirk Kraft has graciously interviewed me on his blog.  You can read the interview HERE.

Have a wonderful couple of weeks!  I'll see you when I get back.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Fricassee

This is my last Friday Fricassee before THE BIG SHUTTING DOWN.

Okay, that was dramatic.  I'm leaving for vacation next Wednesday morning, and maybe it feels a tiny bit wonderful to gently lay aside this blog for a while.  At the same time, I do get a bit twitchy thinking about the days passing with no new blog posts.  Because I think I'm addicted to this place.  To you.

So many of you have shared with me how much you've gotten out of this community.  Well, it works both ways.  And despite my serious need for a break, I will miss you.

To those of you who lovingly admonished me in yesterday's comment box:  My "rest" begins next week.  It's the writing I've already set aside, not the blog.  And believe me, the not-writing has been good.

Though not right away.  For the first four days of my Official Writing Hiatus, I thought I was going to go mad.  Seriously.  My days felt like they had a huge hole in them.  And my brain felt the same way.

But I've adjusted.  I'm learning to actually RELAX about the not-writing.

And, um.  I've started scribbling notes for a new story.  BUT THAT DOESN'T COUNT.

*clings to her notes*

So, what's your favorite way to refresh?  For me, it's always and forever the ocean.  Several times a year, I lament to my husband, "Why don't we live by the ocean?" It's one of the things about myself that I'm certain of: I need the ocean.  And once a year (or less) doesn't cut it.  When I'm on the beach--especially early in the morning--I feel clear-headed and alive and peaceful.  I can THINK and CREATE more easily.  I can WALK long distances without feeling tired.  I can BREATHE.

Sure, I love a jaunt to NYC or a hike through beautiful terrain or the sound of leaves rustling as a storm gathers strength in my own back yard.  But the ocean trumps all.

That's me.  What about you?