Monday, January 30, 2012

Blind Speed Dating info coming this week.....

Just so you all know what to expect this week:

Participating judges will be announced.
Participating agents will be announced.

Then, entry windows 1 and 2 will be opened at the end of the week. 50 make it into each for a total of 100. Query and first 250! Get them all shiny and silky and glittery and perfected!

I'm going to probably say this twice this week...

When you submit your entry please make it very simple:

No tabs or double spacing. I want it email style. Single spaced. One space between paragraphs. No tabs!
Just the meat of your material. No dear so and so. Or I chose you because.... Just the meat of the query and first 250. You may add your credentials as well at the END of your query.

Your entry will be like this:

Genre: Genre of your book
Word Count: Word count of your book


Your query formatted correctly.

First 250:

Your first 250 formatted correctly.

(Look at January's entries for further example)

AND!!!!!! I want you the subject of your email to be: TITLE - Your Name

Got it?

This makes my life A LOT easier, so THANK YOU!!!!!

Now go get to work on those entries!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Love Triangle Winners!

Whew! I hope you all had as much fun as I did!

Once again, a huge thank you to Vickie and John for participating and being more than awesome! This not only met my highest expectations, it surpassed them. And I want to thank all of you for participating, reading, watching from the sidelines, following... I could go on and on with the thanks. You guys all rock!

I really want to say how exceptional all the entries were. I had no idea there was so much amazingness out there. And if your work was not chosen, please remember it's a very subjective business. I cannot emphasize that enough, and I've experienced it time and time again with my own work. Trust me, I've been there.

Now our winning entries!!!!!!  *applauding* 

#2 HOW TO DATE A NERD - Full (Vickie)
#5 COGLING - 100 pages (John)
#6 WHERE ARE BOYS FROM, URANUS? - 100 pages (Vickie)
#7 HALF-SOULED - Full (John)
#8 SON OF A (HIRED) GUN - 100 pages (Vickie)
#9 TIME BOUND - 100 pages (John)
#14 BEGGING TO BREATHE - 100 pages (Vickie)
#15 KILLING KESSLER - Full (John)
#18 LAVENDER BOYS - Full (Vickie)
#20 JEREMIAH COPPERPOT - 100 pages (Vickie)
#21 FRACTION OF STONE - 100 pages (Vickie)
#23 THE END WORLD - Full (John)
#24 CRACKED - 100 pages (Vickie)

The agent next to each listed above get these requests for TWO WEEKS before the other agent can ask for it. Note: Two weeks from when the manuscript is received by first agent. *I know for sure Vickie is interested in seeing #15 and #23 after the two weeks.

For instructions on how to send your request in please email me: cupidslitconnection(at)yahoo(dot)com Please put "Love Triangle Winner" in your subject when you email me. Thank you! I will then email you back with everything you need to know.

Now we gear up for February's "Blind Speed Dating" Event. Guest judges. A whole line-up of agents. Undercover names. It's going to be epic! Remember, even if you sent an entry in to "Love Triangle" you can still participate in February. In fact, I encourage you to do so, because this is so VERY SUBJECTIVE. There quite possibly may be an agent next month that will go crazy for your work.

More details and announcements go up next week, so check back then!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Before we begin...

Remember contest officially closes at 4pm EST today. Get ready for the big FINALE where agents can use one more FULL request after it closes. 

A few things to remember:

- Agents are making one FULL request on Wednesday. One FULL request first thing on Thursday. Then one last FULL request after it officially closes Thursday at 4pm EST. 
     *Now when I say Wednesday and Thursday, I mean ANYtime when it is officially Wednesday/Thursday EST. Which might just mean requests could start coming in tonight at midnight EST!!! Eeeks!
- Partials can roll in at anytime during the contest. If one agent requests a partial the other agent can only use one of their few FULLs to steal it away. 

- Agents can comment on any entry to give feedback. If they are interested they will use the word PARTIAL or FULL in their comment.

- I will post an official winner announcement on Friday with instructions for requested materials. 

- And I love you guys! Have fun! And good luck!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Love Triangle Entry #25

Title:  The Secret Life of Mindy Palmer
Genre: YA contemporary thriller
Word count:  60,000 words


THE SECRET LIFE OF MINDY PALMER is my YA psychological thriller set in the social networking world where making the wrong connections can prove fatal.

17 year-old Lia's life is shattered when her champion swimmer sister drowns in an apparent accident witnessed by two people who can't provide answers; comatose Aaron and Josh who has severe amnesia. Lia looks for clues in the Teenangst chat room where she discovers Mindy had a secret identity. As Lia delves deeper into her sister's social networking world, she realizes the killer is on her trail and more lives are at risk. She is torn between loyalty to her dead sister and her living family members. Lia must bring a killer to justice and step out from behind Mindy's shadow to become her own person.

My debut young adult novel, Letters to Leonardo was released in 2009 by Walker Books Australia. It has been widely reviewed and has more than earned out its advance. I am also the author of three books for younger readers, Hope For HannaA Duel of Words and Harry's Goldfield Adventure.

First 250:

They said it was time for me to move on, that three months was long enough to “get over what happened” to my sister.

But grief isn't something out of Goldilocks and the Three Bears — 'too much, not enough, or just right'.

You can’t measure sadness in a cup, or weigh it on scales. You can only count the days, weeks, months or years between the time it takes for one person’s heart to stop and another person’s heart to mend after losing them. 

How could there be a ‘right way’ to cope with Mindy's death, and the fact that I missed her like crazy? And how was I supposed to deal with being the only person in the universe who believed she was murdered?

People like Mindy don't just drown, not when you can swim 100 laps without stopping, not when you can stay underwater for more than a minute without taking a breath.

Maybe I could have stopped it. Maybe I could have convinced whoever did this to her that Mindy should live, that we needed her to keep our family whole.

After my sister died, there was nobody I could talk to. Nobody who really knew Mindy and what she meant to me. It wasn’t the sort of stuff I could discuss with friends; especially ones who reckoned my sister thought she was “too good for everyone”.

Mindy wasn’t like that, though. It was just that she preferred to keep things real, to cut through the crap. 

Love Triangle Entry #24

Genre:  YA Urban Fantasy
Word count:  66,000


At seventeen, Meda Melange is already an experienced serial killer.  It's not her fault, she doesn't do it because she likes it (though she does). Meda eats souls, and there's really only one place to get themand it's not the Piggly Wiggly.  Then Meda learns she's not the only soul-eater; she's actually part demon, and the other demons are out to get her.

Fortunately, Meda finds the perfect place to hidein a community of demon-hunters.  The modern Knights Templar are dedicated to fighting demons and protecting Beacons, people marked by God as good for mankind. Because the demons are determined to kill her, the Templars are convinced Meda is a Beacon trying to fulfill her destiny.  Meda's goals are far less saintly.  She just wants to find out why the demons are out to get her and, well, that's easier to do with back-upeven if her back-up would kill her if they knew the truth.  

A blend of horror and humor, my YA urban fantasy CRACKED is told from the point of view of the ethically-flexible Meda as she navigates the equally dangerous battlegrounds of Good vs Evil and human teenage relationships. It's fast-paced and humorous, but the real story is the relationships between the characters as described through the lens of the unreliable protagonist—who's a lot more human than she likes to think.

First 250:

There are some people you know you ought not anger because it isn’t right. Like your mom—if she’s the nice sort. 

There are other people you know you ought not anger because they have the authority to punish you. Police officers, politicians, insane asylum wardens, your mom—if she’s the bad sort. 

But there are some people you ought not anger that you don’t know about, because no one ever survived to warn you.

I’m the third kind.

I eat souls. The packaging can be tricky, but fortunately I am blessed with special skills to pry my meals from their pesky shells. My teeth rip skin, my jaws snap bones. I am fast, lightning-fast, snuff—oh-was-that-your-life?—fast. I try to stick to bad souls, in the memory of my own mom (who was the nice sort). There were other reasons, reasons I used to understand, but they are reasons for a good person. I am not that

That might be why I feel so at home here. 

Small rooms, thick walls. Hushed whispers and ear-grating wails. A symphony of misery set to the beat of beatings. An insane asylum, prison of the cracked and grey.

Cracked windows, cracked walls, cracked minds. Don’t make them angry or there will be cracked skulls.

Grey-painted walls, grey-tiled floors. Once-white nightgowns, now grey. The skin of the inmates. Grey. The metal-framed bed. The bedding. Grey, grey, grey. The bars on the window…

Black. Imagery ruined. Correction—prison of the cracked, grey and black.

Love Triangle Entry #23

Title: The End World
Genre: YA sci-fi
Word Count: 66,000 


Eighteen-year-old Lana would do anything to honor her father, killed the day he discovered The End World, a devastated parallel planet. So, when Earth calls for prodigies to study and rebuild The End World, Lana packs up her kick-ass attitude and F-bomb slippery tongue to become a Spinner, traveling between the two worlds and escorting researchers throughout the devastated landscape.

One problem: the survivors consider them invaders, and one screw up could spark an inter-dimensional war.  

Appointed as the youngest Headsquad, she agrees to set up a truce with the survivors' leader, but when she learns he’s the one who killed her father, she’s faced with a gut-ripping choice: follow her orders and develop peace, or avenge her father’s death and risk war.

First 250:

If Mortimer had told me three years ago to go climb a three story building in eighty-degree weather, I would have told him to fuck off. By now, I had learned to say yes sir like any good Spinner and would’ve climbed a skyscraper if I had to. Today, however, was only a three story building.

The faded theater sign stood on side of me, most of its plastic letters lost in time. There was no telling the last movie that was playing before The End World went to hell. Finding similarities and differences between Earth and this dump was a pastime of mine. Researchers said the comparison ratio was about seventy-three percent. Who said I had to take their word for it?

I grabbed the rough cement ledge above me and hauled myself up. Across the street, Sal was already lying down, scanning the street with his own NF P90.

Damn, he is fast.

His voice crackled in my earplant. “Need to lose a few pounds, girlfriend. Soon you won’t be able to climb a speed bump.”

I gave him the finger.

“Love you too, Lana.”

“Just focus on our mission, will you!” I hissed in my vocollar, taking his silence as agreement.

Control programmed our earplants and vocollar on the same frequency before a mission. I squirmed at the idea of getting the implants bored into my ear canal but I had to admit, they prevented more than one sticky situation.

Love Triangle Entry #22

Title: Daphne's Book
Genre: Bildungsroman within the YA genre
Word Count: 100,000


Daphne's Book is the story of Daphne Chase, a melancholy 18-year-old girl obsessed with writing her first novel. Against her father's will, she moves to the town of Middleton to study creative writing at McAdams College. Abelard Chase, an established author of Byronic nature, doesn't believe that studying writing will help his gifted daughter become the writer she wants to be. Although leaving her house means stepping out of her comfort zone and exposing herself to others, she decides to fight her social anxiety in order to find a writing environment away from her father's alcoholism and stubbornness. Adjusting to life in Middleton and managing to develop the plot of her book, however, proves to be harder than she had expected. Daphne drifts from innocent reverie to dangerous delusion as she stumbles upon a series of misfortunes that range from being ostracized by those who mock her social awkwardness to the death of someone dear to her.

An introvert suffocated by a world that demanded from her an open, vibrant behavior, Daphne finds herself clashing with other students and her neighbors at the Franks' Inn, where she lives. On an attempt to survive and find inspiration, she is gradually more inclined to long walks in the woods where Esther, The Witch, hides. Her only friend and companion is the Masked Man, a mysterious young man who silently follows her wherever she goes.

As life becomes more difficult after disappointments and one frustrated attempt at falling in love, Daphne fully withdraws from society and immerses herself in writing. She is constantly visited by her characters and other creatures that inhabit her imagination. Daphne soon realizes, then, that a complete downfall to madness seems to be the only way she could ever be able to finish her novel. But, letting her mind wander away to accomplish her only ambition in life also meant risking losing herself forever. 

My name is Rebecca Carvalho and I'm a 23-year-old Brazilian author with work published both in Brazil and in the U.S. I have a B.A in English from Lawrence University, and I currently live in Madison, WI, where I work as a freelance journalist and writer. My most recent published piece was a contribution to the war memory anthology Operation Legacy, edited by the NGO Old Glory Honor Flight, and currently available on My work often covers the boundaries -- or, rather, lack of boundaries -- of creativity and what happens when one can't separate delusion and reality. I'm also devoted to everything that has to do with what I'd call "the voice of youth." I keep a blog where I regularly discuss writing, and where I also interview teenagers and young adults about their frustrations with today's society, their goals and ideas on how to be more active in the present. 

First 250:

A man was standing behind the oak tree on the other side of the river. He had been doing that for nearly a year now, tirelessly watching the Chase family's house, without food or water, without rest.

He was no more than a vulture -- His face anonymous, his intentions hidden. But Daphne knew he wasn't someone to be feared. At least not yet. Being the daughter of Abelard Chase had taught her that even shadows, when properly tamed, could be helpful and surprisingly friendly.

Daphne craned her neck from behind a curtain and peeked at him like she did every morning right after getting up. She sighed. It was almost comforting to find him there every day guarding their grounds.

He always stood straight like a good soldier, but this time he leaned on the tree trunk. Daphne instinctively knew there was something wrong with him, and wondered whether he knew she was leaving later that day. Was it possible he knew she planned on never coming back home?

She walked away from the window and stood by her desk, where her notebook still laid open from her previous attempt at writing. She lazily stretched and tried to adjust her thoughts before breakfast. That was an important day for her, and she was nervous. It was still very early, and she thought of meditating. But, instead of hearing the ticking noise of her alarm clock, she heard music. Her heart skipped a beat. It was Heitor Villa-Lobos' Fifth Bachiana. 

Love Triangle Entry #21

Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 65,000


There is only one among the Tarmack nation with the ability to wield magic, eighteen-year-old Rydan Gale. He lives like a prince, cherished for his talent to bend the fabric of the universe to his will. In the war against the Liasam, he is their ultimate weapon.

The Liasam have their own source of magic, but Akara’s mastery of her power is rudimentary at best. With a brilliant display of fire-rain Rydan’s side wins the war and Akara is sentenced to death. If there’s only one life taken after the slaughter on the battlefield, Rydan can live with that. Until he discovers the girl has the same symbol as he, tattooed on the back of her neck. Rydan must decide whether to betray his people and save the girl, or let Akara leave the world in a burning inferno.

For if she dies, the mystery of the tattoo and answers to a past shrouded in deceit go with her.

FRACTION OF STONE is told in alternating POV. Readers who relished in the lyrical writing of Laini Taylor’s DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE and immersed themselves in the contrasting world views of June and Day in Marie Lu’s LEGEND will find themselves drawn to this tale.

First 250:

The chains around her wrists jingled, echoing off the stone walls, a cheery sound out of place. If she closed her eyes and moved her arms again it would be as if she were listening to a wind chime, twittering in the breeze. But the cold metal was not a wind chime. It was a tether, a leash, holding her captive in the belly of her city. 

She could have called it her room, for it was where she slept, where she ate. The situation would seem more bleak once the drugs wore off, sending her into a depression of why she even bothered to live.

She had no choice, that was why. They needed her and refused to let her die. They kept her down there in an almost comatose state until it was time for her to work her magic.


The cell swayed and whirled, like a small boat in the ocean. A state she was so used to it felt more real than normal. She never smiled. That had been stolen long ago. But if she did it would be in this dreamlike existence.

Scraping of the heavy wooden door down the hall caused her head to float up, searching for the person among the sea of swirling colors. The large blur was who she expected and though she knew she should feel something, she was unable to summon emotion.

“It is time again, girl. Your people need you.”

Love Triangle Entry #20

Genre: YA Fantasy
Word count: 80,000
When a fifteen-year-old noble’s life is shattered by murder, she reinvents herself in order to exact revenge and save a kingdom she’s never truly known.
Noni Winthrope, the isolated daughter of the King of Doorish, believes her father was just murdered by Renart Duchamp, the same man who will be crowned at next month’s Coronation. Rather than being forced to silence in a nunnery, Noni runs away and takes up thieving and vandalism, hoping to cause discord for the false King-to-be. Years of playing her mother’s mysterious games filled with accents and disguises are about to come in handy, as will her un-royal habit of climbing anything and everything. Slipping in and out of identities, she depends on stashes of money and a costume trunk to keep alive and unnoticed.
After taking shelter with a clever dockboy and his friends, she finds out a truth more sinister than the price being offered for her dead-or-alive return. Duchamp is setting up an alliance with a group from the unknown East, and his plans for Doorish have more to do with his military background than loyalty to the Kingdom. Setting aside personal mourning, Noni must decide whether or not to save the land she was meant to inherit. To do that, she’ll need to sift through disguises and find an alias that will inspire Doorish to resist the incoming King. And by becoming Jeremiah Copperpot, a rebellious peasant boy, Noni may come to know her true self and learn that she was never alone at all.
JEREMIAH COPPERPOT may appeal to fans of Shannon Hale, Janice Hardy, and Jessica Day George. This is a standalone novel with series potential. I am a member of SCBWI.
FIRST 250:
By the time the final words at the King’s funeral were spoken, I felt nauseated by incense and overwhelmed by the urge to become a trespasser.
And a thief.
And a vandal.
When Renart Duchamp, soon-to-be King of Doorish, interrupted the eulogy to declare that everyone should paint their doors black in honor of the royal passing, I almost choked on the thickness of his insincerity—of the betrayal that nobody else could sense.
Perhaps it was because I was the lone mourner in the first row, and those fifteen extra inches rendered them deaf and blind. Perhaps if I had someone sitting beside me to coo, pat my hand, and whisper the correct words of gratitude for such a gesture, I would feel differently. Whatever the reason, my broken heart did not melt at Duchamp’s speech, nor wither with sorrow. Instead, it burst into flames of anger.
And of plans.
Even as Father’s closed casket was anointed with olive oil and wafted with holy smoke, I considered my approach. I would run that very night to a paint shop in Main Square. I would break glass or bludgeon locks, whichever it took to get inside. It would not be black for me. Nor dull grey or navy. Nor soft brown or pale sage, the traditional colors of Doorish. No, I would take brilliant blood red, pagan green, and shocking blue—the shade of the brightest sky in Springtime.
I would paint every traitorous door in Doorish, starting with the one belonging to Renart Duchamp—the man who murdered my father.

Love Triangle Entry #19

Genre: paranormal romance
Word Count: 75,000


Trouble doesn't find Tee Sutton, she seeks it out.  For ten years, she's masked the scars of her mother's abandonment with adrenaline.  Being numb is better than being broken.  When Tee gets busted for breaking and entering and underage consumption, her life turns upside down.  With the threat of expulsion and her senior year looming in the distance, Tee’s principal sends her to Destination Exploration, an outdoor camp tucked deep in the Blackfeet territory of Montana, in hopes of mending her broken conscience.  Banished from everything she knows, Tee views camp as her own personal jail… until she meets Keme.

Striking and mysterious, Keme rebuffs Tee from the moment they encounter each other.  Frustrated, yet inextricably drawn to him, she fights to keep her distance.  When Tee's life is put in jeopardy while white water rafting, Keme is forced to intervene and expose a secret the Blackfeet tribe has fought years to protect.  Being a twin, he carries the burden of the Gemini, an ancient ring possessing the healing power of the stars and the immortality of the Sky Country.  But being a Protector means he’s hunted and anyone he loves becomes bait.  Hundreds of miles away from Detroit, Tee finds she’s deeper in trouble than ever before, fighting for her life and a love she’s desperate to keep.

HELIACAL RISING fuses Blackfeet legend with classic Greek mythology to create a mystical story of a young girl discovering what makes her come alive.

In my twenties, I was a high school English teacher in New York City and Boston.  Now in my thirties, I’m a mountain mama living at 8,000 feet and trying to show my kids that having a dream and working hard at it go hand in hand.

First 250:

In the dark, his lips are hard to see as they move toward mine.  It’s always cloudy here.  Even at night.  When I was younger, it didn’t bother me.  Kids can play in the rain.  Now, it’s just depressing. 

His lips look like a full moon.  Round and pouted, dimpled around the edges.  Lips that are rumored to have kissed Meredith Salinger in the bathroom after she barfed at Winter Formal.  Ignore that thought

He just licked them.  Are my hands shaking? It’s not like this is my first time kissing a boy, but it’s warm, really warm.  Too warm for spring.  It makes my breath short.

Bottles clink around us.  His foot hits one, sending it rolling off the roof.  Don’t look down.  He might get distracted.  It smashes on the ground and shatters into pieces. 

“This has been cool,” Tim says, brushing my hair behind my ear.  His fingertips are wet and smell like beer.  Ignore that, too.

“Yea,” I say.  A door creeks.  Or maybe it’s the roof buckling under our weight.  I can’t focus with his mouth so close to mine. 

He’s breathing heavy.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.  Probably from the cigarettes.  My grandma died of lung cancer.  She sounded like Jabba the Hut every time she inhaled.  Whatever, cigarettes are sexy.  And taste good. 

“Maybe we can do this again,” he says. 

I nod in the dark, but before I can say anything, his lips touch mine.  They’re soft, coated in Chapstick for optimum moistness.  Butterflies flutter in my stomach, little wings tickling my insides, and I try not to giggle. 

Love Triangle Entry #18

Title: Lavender Boys
Genre: YA contemporary
Word count: 80,000


Dumbest thing to do when you meet the girl of your dreams?  Introduce her to the boy of HER dreams.

Adam has loved his best friend Brynna for years.  He’s brave enough to sit with her in the hospital after multiple heart surgeries, but too chicken to confess his true feelings.  When hot new quarterback Beckett makes a play for Brynna’s heart, Adam, the unwitting matchmaker, fears he’s missed his chance to be with her.

This is no love triangle. Brynna loves one of the boys. She is in love with the other. Adam and Beckett each sit on the fence, teetering back and forth between friendship and enmity.  

The fight to share Brynna’s life comes to a head on a snowy Ohio night. One boy would give up his life in order to save Brynna; the other would give up his future to be with her. This is the night Adam and Beckett must finally decide: Friends or enemies?  It is the night that changes everything.

LAVENDER BOYS alternates in points of view between main characters Adam and Beckett. Its humor and heartache are reminiscent of Gayle Forman's If I Stay and Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere.

This story is from my heart – literally. As a teen, I had cardiac surgery and experienced all the drama of life and love in the hospital. Now I am a nationwide in-demand speaker and writer for the American Heart Association and numerous non-profit organizations. I have been filmed for a reality pilot episode which will be presented to networks in the spring. I have recently been interviewed for a single episode spot on a nationally syndicated television show. I am a current SCBWI member.

First 250: 


I love her.



There it is.

Right in the middle of the bulletin board on the wall of Coach’s office.

In plain view.

The article.

The one about me.

I can’t help reading it every time I see it. Just like I do with every newspaper article about me.


But…she doesn’t love me.

Not the way I want her to love me.

It pains me to lie in bed with her.

So close – touching her, loving her.

Knowing we are just friends. Best of friends. Forever friends. Nothing but friends.

God she smells good.

Brynna rolls over and her long copper hair slides across my arm. I resist the urge to run my fingers through it. I could if I wanted. She doesn’t mind. She actually likes it when I play with her hair. But today, I can’t. There are days when I must control my urges. There are days when I can’t control my desires. On those days, I don’t want to touch her…because I WANT to touch her. Today is one of those days.

Brynna and I are lying on my bed.

Watching the worst supposed-to-be-scary-but-is-not-at-all-scary movie ever made.

Lying next to her is magnificent. It is also complete torture. Self-inflicted torture. Obviously, I am a masochist because I enjoy putting myself in these types of situations.  Here I am with her, so close I can feel her body parts against mine. Everyone knows being this close to a beautiful girl will eventually drive even the most restrained eighteen year old boy batshit crazy with hormonal desire. 

Love Triangle Entry #17

Genre: YA Romance/Mythological
Word count: 75,000


When Princess Helen of Sparta, the world’s most beautiful maiden, enters the marriage market, everyone’s interested, including the tactician Odysseus. Wily and confident, he’s certain he’ll beat the competition – until he unwittingly insults Penelope, Helen’s unassuming cousin. A private feud ensues, and as Odysseus strives to keep Penelope’s grudge from undermining his standing as Helen’s suitor, he discovers something entirely unexpected: a girl with a mind and spirit to match his own. Told from Penelope's and Odysseus' perspectives, Before the Odyssey brings mythological Greece to life as it unveils the beginnings of the love immortalized in Homer’s epic. 

250 words:

Antilochus was driving at a brisk clip. Too brisk, if you asked me. Every time we hit a rut on the alpine trail, I thought the chariot would shatter beneath our feet. Still, I could understand my friend's impatience. After two months of travel over sea and bandit-ridden roads, we were nearing our destination at last, and my heart pounded with anticipation as I spotted the final landmark.

"Swing right at the herm!" At my shout, Antilochus veered at the blocky crossroads marker. The horses clattered to the top of a steep rise, and I yelled, “There it is! Sparta, dead ahead!”

The sweating team halted, and we took in the sweeping view. Below the piney heights, songbirds winged over rustling olive groves, and bleating flocks grazed upon grassy slopes. Lower down, a river meandered through fields rippling with wheat and clover. And shining in the center of that valley like a gem in a crown was the city of Sparta.

Antilochus held out a hand. "Odysseus, you're a good friend and navigator, but it's every man for himself now."

I shook his hand firmly. We’d first met on a campaign my father sent me on shortly after I turned fifteen. Two years and countless escapades later, Antilochus and I were as close as brothers, ever partnering on one adventure after another. But this time, we'd be rivals. "Likewise,” I said. “So don't hold it against me when I win."

Antilochus snorted. "That's my line —"

Shouting broke out, cutting off his words.

Love Triangle Entry #16

Genre: YA Dystopian/Sci Fi
Word count: 63,000


Kids are killed off at twenty on the planet Surface, but at sixteen, Clementine is one of the lucky ones picked to stay alive.

When she impresses the testers on Extraction Day, her prize is a transfer to the underground colony in the Core. Down there, she doesn't have to be afraid—not of hunger, officials, or the moon's poison. As an Extraction, Clementine receives training that raises her intelligence, loyalty, and Promise, an elusive quality that makes her worthy of safety. She's supposed to forget the way life was back in the Surface slums, but no matter how much better life is now, she can't forget Logan, the boy she loves but left behind. The boy who will die at twenty if she doesn't break him free.

When she learns Logan is in danger of a fate far worse than simple death, she must find a way to save him before the planet leaders take something else she can't afford to lose: her freedom of mind.

First 250:

When Logan arrives, he's holding a flower that could kill me.

I like to think I'm one of the braver kids. Sure, some days the whippings and beatings make me wanna curl up in a ball. When I dream of Logan getting carted off to quarantine, I wake drenched in sweat and trembling, but I master it pretty quick. I get over it. I have to be good at ignoring my fear, 'cause how else will I ever prove I deserve to escape it?

This flower is different.

My feet move, then my back slams into the windowsill of our shack.

I stare at the green stem as Logan twirls the flower, at the petals glinting silver like metal. It's been eleven years since I've seen this kind of petal. Silver aster flowers are supposed to be calming for the mind, but they do something else to me.

“What were you thinking?” My voice is hoarse.

Logan starts laughing.

I snatch a rock from the ground and throw it at his shoulder. Hard.

He ducks to avoid it. “Jeez, Clementine.” With a calloused hand, he tears the petals. Thin silver wrappings fall away, leaving behind the blackening blue of a common aster—a flower that will definitely not kill me. It's grimy, of course. Everything's covered in grime on the Surface.

Nothing can stop the heat from spreading through my cheeks. “So funny, Logan.”

He grins. “I didn't think you'd believe it.”

Love Triangle Entry #15

Genre: YA sci fi
Word Count: 60,000 words


Sixteen-year-old Tabby Weber doesn’t want to murder anyone, but in Griffin Kessler’s case she’s willing to make an exception.

In the year 2018, nineteen-year-old science prodigy Griffin Kessler created a virus that nearly wiped out the human race. A decade later, survivors are imprisoned in concentration camps while brutal gangs roam the deserted cities. Tabby, her siblings, and her best friend, Murphy, live in hiding while they complete her father’s time machine. Their goal is simple: travel back in time and kill Kessler before he can finish his virus.

When Tabby and Murphy return to 2018, Tabby meets Kessler, who isn’t the monster she imagined at all. She soon finds he’s smart, sexy, and as desperate to protect the virus as she is. As Tabby falls for Kessler, Murphy confesses his own feelings for her. But Tabby’s love life is the least of her worries. With Murphy still determined to kill Kessler, she doesn’t know how to stop him, or if she even should.
First 250 words:

Our hiding spot is less than ten feet from the boy. An overhead floodlight blazes against the predawn sky, so bright I see the sweat falling from his wavy black hair and the clumps of dirt on his shovel. He has stubble on his jaw and a muscular chest and arms, but he looks young, maybe sixteen like me.

I glance at Leila. My sister’s full lips are stretched into a wide smile. I reach out to her with my mind. Forget it, Leila, I think. He’s locked in the Village.

We’re watching him through the witch hazel bushes outside the Village fence. The electric fence, twenty feet of razor wire crowned with another five feet of spiked coils, surrounds Pitman Air Force Base. The base was once the heart of Wexler Falls, until Alexander Zika’s henchmen transformed it into the concentration camp we know as the Village.

Leila’s expression doesn’t change, but I know she heard me. We can shut off our thoughts as easily as closing our eyes, but if she were blocking me out, I would feel it.

Seriously, it’s not like he’s going to break out of there and take you on a date, I add. Leila knows this, of course, but that won’t stop her from doing something stupid. She turned fourteen last month, and all she thinks about is boys. 

Love Triangle Entry #14

Title: Begging to Breathe
Genre: YA mystery
Word count: 50,000


When her archrival Julia winds up doing a literal dead-man's-float in the pool, Tessa Crichton must clear her name from the police--and from herself.

Ever since a near-drowning caused permanent brain damage, Tessa has had memory blanks, episodes where she wakes up and can't remember certain hours. She wishes her brain would erase yesterday's painful loss to Julia, but because weaknesses are never convenient, the hours around Julia's death are empty as Tessa' gold medal case from the day before.

All Tessa wants is to swim, to win, but with most of the suspicion on her, nationals is more stressful than ever. As the last day progresses, she takes it on herself not only to win all her races, but also to find the real killer. Sleuthing is harder than the 200 butterfly, though, and she finds herself with an entire team of suspects--including her boyfriend, her best friend, and her nemesis.

As Tessa investigates the deeper connections between Julia and her teammates, she finds every secret except the one she needs. But this digging is getting dangerous, and if Tessa doesn't clear her name soon, she might uncover another secret for which someone is willing to kill.

First 250:

I used to wonder what killing someone would be like. But then, I used to wonder about a lot of things. For a while, I wondered about being a sixteen-year-old college freshman. About whether boys really were as sexy as the movies made them seem. About living on shitty cafeteria food.

But mostly I wondered about killing someone.

I pictured it in so many different ways—an axe splitting the skull with blood gushing like a chocolate fountain onto my shoes. A rope squeezed tightly around a neck as limbs twitched around me. Even the quiet ways, like a meal where the mouth froths before the poison registers. Horror in the eyes. Accusation. Finally, grudging admiration. Because I won.

It happened differently.

And I didn’t like it half as much as I wanted to.

Chapter 1:

It’s six AM, and I’m crawling out of bed. The junior next to me doesn’t stir, even though I’m not trying to be quiet. After two seasons together, sharing hotel rooms, she’s pretty used to weird sleeping habits. Especially mine.

Swimsuit. Cap. Goggles. Check, check, check. Water bottle and power bar. I step into a pair of way-too-tiny shorts and pretend I don’t know that half my ass is falling out. Big baggy sweatshirt on top, and suddenly I’m more frump than tramp.