Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ms. Smith's Winner and Runner-up

I know you're dying to know, so I won't keep you in suspense. Ms. Smith's winner is #21 APART AT THE SEAMS, which wins a 50-page critique (as well as the possibility of a full request)! Please e-mail me at kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com for details on how to submit your partial to Ms. Smith.

Also, Ms. Smith's runner-up is #16 POTHOLES ON THE ROAD TO NIRVANA, and she'd love for you to query her formally at query(at)dunhamlit(dot)com.

In addition, if Ms. Smith recognized your entry from her query inbox, she didn't consider it to win the prize. However, you might still get a request at some point in the near future, so don't give up just yet!

Last but not least, you should know that another agent was reading along and expressed interest in a few entries, so I'll contact those writers later today to let them know how to submit their materials!

As always, thank you, thank you, thank you for entering, critiquing, and just reading along. These contests require everyone's best, and I appreciate the time and effort you put in. And of course, the biggest thank-you to Ms. Smith for agreeing to judge a round and leaving such insightful comments. Without you, the stakes wouldn't have been nearly as high, and we're all about high stakes. We are writers, after all:)

Until next month!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Amy's Book Sold!

When Amy and I connected on Kiersten White's blog a while back, I knew right away that she was going to be special. Her prose was smooth and lyrical, and she had a knack for writing characters I genuinely cared about.

Of course, just because I knew she was going to be special didn't mean she had an easy road; as I'm sure you're well aware, this industry isn't big on doling out warm-fuzzies. But when she signed with Kate at the end of last year, I started to hope, and now I'm thrilled to announce that her MG novel-in-verse, RED BUTTERFLY, sold to Christian Trimmer at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers!

For all the juicy details, check out Amy's announcement as well as last week's rights report on Publishers Weekly. I can't wait for you to meet--and fall in love with--Kara.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

And We're Off!

Here we go! Check out the entries, then leave some feedback in the comments if you feel so inclined. (ENTRANTS, PLEASE REMEMBER TO CRITIQUE AT LEAST THREE OTHER ENTRIES!) And I'm sure this goes without saying, but please keep your comments constructive (i.e., not rude or mean-spirited). If you want to think like The Agent, you might consider the question, "How much of the entry did you read, and if you didn't read it all, why did you stop?"

Blogger's having one of those days, so if you can't see all the entries on the first page, don't forget to check out the other entries on the second. I'll do my best to fix it, but unfortunately, I don't always control these things...

I'll announce Ms. Smith's winners and prizes at the beginning of next week, but until then, have at it!

(Also, just so you're aware, I always take out profanity when I'm formatting the entries. In other words, any asterisks you see in the entries are mine, so you don't need to point them out to the entrants. I just prefer to keep things as PG-rated as possible on the blog:) )

An Agent's Inbox #30

Dear Ms. Smith,

I think your love of fantasy and world building would make you a great advocate for WHERE ALL THE MISSING PIECES GO, my YA fantasy set in a world that’s a mix of steampunk and fairytale and complete at 74,000 words.

A recently orphaned and vulnerable Jane Fisher is imprisoned by the High Sorceress, Madame Viola Grandosia, and tricked into performing the deadly ritual of painting the stars. Except that the ritual doesn’t kill her as the Sorceress hopes. Instead, it steals a piece of Jane each time she performs it, creating living, breathing stars that take the shape of glimmering nymphs.

All because of her locket. It’s the key to controlling a young wizard whose mysterious heritage could tip the scales of power between Gael’s Magical and Mundane communities--in whichever direction the necklace’s owner chooses. But Jane doesn’t want to control anyone, especially not this wizard. She feels an intense draw toward him, and not just because the locket flutters at her throat whenever he’s near. But having Jane control him was never the plan. Though Jane is a Mundane and immune to Madame Grandosia’s usual, mess-free murder-by-magic, she’ll have to figure out a way to kill her somehow. She can’t wield the locket’s power while Jane lives.

With the wizard’s help, Jane escapes, determined to track down the stars that stole her voice, vision, and memories, which are now running wild across the kingdom of Gael. Finding them is the only way she’ll be strong enough to keep Madame Grandosia from the locket that’s trapping the heart of the wizard she might be falling for.

WHERE ALL THE MISSING PIECES GO is a YA Fantasy that will appeal to teens who enjoyed Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle and the vibrant world building of Seraphina by Rachel Hartman.

I’m extremely dedicated to my writing career and always working to improve my craft. I’m a two-time attendee of DWF Writers Conference and Midwest Writers Conference, and a member of SCBWI.

The completed manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Waiting in front of Lord and Lady Crocket’s dining room, I could only think of one possible explanation for why I’d been summoned. They were kicking me out.

Mrs. Cowl had her hands clasped behind her back as she stood beside me staring at the doors. Sunlight flickered down through the glass ceiling, casting a rainbow across her gray-streaked bun. She didn’t have to be here, waiting with me. As head housekeeper, I knew she had a million other things she needed to be doing instead. So she probably knew.

Thirty-three days. That was how long it’d been. I’d lived here my entire life, and while I didn’t expect to live here forever, I guess I didn’t think they’d actually kick me out. This was my home.

The footman appeared from behind the door and held it open for me. “Her Ladyship will see you now.”

After one last glance at Mrs. Cowl, I stepped inside and squinted. Of all the airy rooms of the solarium, this had always been my favorite. Arching stained-glass windows lined the outside wall, their sun-warmed scenes drenching the parquet. Combined with the glass ceiling, it sometimes felt like I was standing inside a kaleidoscope.

They were all at the table. Lord Crocket was reading the paper, Lady Crocket was swirling a biscotti in her coffee. Only Sari and Stella looked up as I approached.

“Our petition to ban Magicals from Picadell was denied,” Lord Crocket said, shaking out his paper and turning the page.

An Agent's Inbox #29

Dear Ms. Smith
Who knew that national parks could save a person's life?  Certainly not eleven yearl old Mason Davis.  But Mason soon discovers that junior ranger badges have a secret power that will help him defeat his evil Uncle Ted.  Now Mason and family have less than two weeks to strenghten their nephilim powers, find the stone of storms, and rescue their cousin all before their uncle comes for them too.  Mason isn't so sure they can do it though.  His two younger brothers are so annoying that he would rather face down a band of blood thirsty pukwedgies than put up with their antics--like when Reese mooned a werewolf--now that was embarrassing!  Never moon a werewolf by the way!  Really not a good idea!  Mason realizes that if they are too be successful, then they need to learn to work together.  Not an easy task.  The fate of the world rest not only in his hands, but also in the small, but often times sticky hands of his gross little brothers.  Heaven help us all.  Connor can't even tie his own shoes and the only thing Reese is good at is burping his ABCs. 
Mason Davis and the Rise of the Storm Makers is a 50,000 word middle grade urban fantasy adventure with a touch of coming of age boy humor.  It is a Percy Jackson meets Good Luck Charlie kind of book that celebrates all things boys like how they smell so bad that no self respecting monster will come within ten feet of them.  Who needs garlic when you've got BO?  By no means are the characters angels, but they do all have good hearts and are ready to save the world.  Watch out because the littlest one even has a pretty lethal left hook.  Thunderbirds, windigos, and even Bigfoot have no idea what coming to them.
I am a stay-at-home-mom of three boys, thus I am all too familar with my target age.  I have also taught High School English.  I have a BA in anthropology from Baylor University and I even co-authored an article with my religion professor.  The article was published in Biblical Illustrator.  My thirteen year old son co-authored the book.  He is heavily involved with Boy Scouts, football, Tae Kwon Do, and theatre.  He even had the lead in the last two school plays and was in the paper for his part in helping with a school fundraiser.
We have self published our story and it is available online at Amazon.  If we can raise enough money, we'd like to donate money to the Red Cross in order to help victims of storms.  We are currently working on books two, three, and four of the series.
Thank you for your time and consideration.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
K. and M.C.


Chapter One: Connor talks with Dolphins.
Since my family and I have unusual powers, odd things happen to us. Sadly, it is just part of my life. Still, I wanted to die from embarrassment when all the dolphins at Sea World's petting zoo in San Antonio swam over and started yammering at my little brother.  I didn't understand a word of what they were saying, but apparently Connor did. I stood in horror with my hand slapped to my head as I watched Connor lean in closer to the tank and nod at different dolphins.  I was uncomfortable because everyone was staring at us.  They didn't understand anything either, but it was still weird that dolphins would swarm a five year old boy.
Strangers pointed at us and said things like "How did you do that?  Are you guys trainers?"
I didn't know what to say, so I merely shrugged and fidgeted with the end of my shirt.  My fingers sparked against my sweaty palms like they sometimes did when I got nervous. I could smell that sulphery odor that comes after a storm and I knew my electrical powers were running amuck.  I could feel the uneasiness in the pit of my stomach.  I sucked it up though and tried to act normal.  What else could I do?

An Agent's Inbox #28

Dear Ms. Smith:

Kendra feels like she has her life figured out, as much as 6th grader can, anyway. She can't have a dog, but she can volunteer at the animal shelter. She has a "special" hand, but she has her hoodies with nice deep pockets, and when things get to be just too much, she gets a strawberry-blended lemonade from Starbucks and she deals. So when her parents move her from Seattle to rural California, where she has no friends, no animal shelter, it's too hot for hoodies and the nearest Starbucks is 30 minutes away, her parents finally cave on the dog situation. She adopts Nigel, a big white pit bull with freckles on his nose and an unhealthy fear of cats. And he's perfect. She teaches him to sit. He teaches her to swim. And he comes with a trainer, Teo, who might be Kendra's first, real two-legged friend. Thanks to both of them, Nigel's just overcoming his doggy depression when Kendra sends off for his license. 

That's when she finds out that a breed ban has been proposed. If it passes, all pit bulls will be deemed dangerous dogs, and they'll be rounded up and euthanized.  She tries to register Nigel as a cattle dog, but her next door neighbor has already seen him, and she's the one behind the ban. It doesn't matter that Nigel doesn't have enough prey drive to chase a tennis ball, and he's only dangerous if you're allergic to slobber. Her neighbor will make sure Nigel gets counted.  Her parents want to help, but between the move and her sister's issues, it's clear to Kendra that they won't take on the town for her. The only other person who cares enough is Teo. But if he speaks out, he could be rounded up and rehomed for completely different reasons.

Kendra thinks maybe it's time to take her hand out of her pocket and do something.

Talk to the Paw, a middle grade contemporary manuscript, is complete at 44,000 words. I have been published in Relevant Magazine and Nintendo Power Magazine, and am a member of SCBWI. I have pasted in the first 250 words, below.



Slow down when you hit the gravel, I reminded myself. Some lessons stick with you. The first day I started volunteering I was nervous, just like today, and didn’t realize that a bike tire plus speed plus gravel meant spending your whole first day with funny red spots all over your face--not to mention the occasional embedded piece of rock. The dogs didn’t care, but I kept trying to hide my face in the recesses of my hoodie. A face is a hard thing to hide, so today I hopped off my bike and walked--okay, I kind of ran--with it to the front of the building. I locked my bike to a rack and hurried up the dusty front steps.

“Is Snoop still here?” I asked as soon as my face was in the door.

Elise was working the desk today. She gave me a sympathy smile.

“No! Really?” I slumped into a plastic chair, still breathing hard. I’d been so sure. How could they not want her? I would want a dog just like Snoop. I mean, how could they resist stuff like, Snoop’s been looking for her forever home after losing her family in a house fire. She loves kids, cats, and bunnies, but growls at the color blue. She had a great bio. And that family seemed so sure they wanted her.

“She’ll be glad to see you, though,” Elise said, trying to encourage me. She nodded back toward the dog room.

An Agent's Inbox #27

Dear Ms. Smith,

Since you represent historical YA, I thought you might be interested in my novel, PIRATE JENNY, a 50,000 word historical YA novel set in the 1500s during the time of Henry VIII.

Seventeen year old Jenny was left on the doorstep of a tavern when she was an infant. She was wrapped in a scarlet cloak pinned together with a brooch in the shape of a Tudor rose. Raised as a servant, she longs for a more adventurous life until one day she gets what she asked for. 

A female pirate dressed in a scarlet cloak enters the tavern and introduces herself as Jenny's mother. Known as the ruthless Red Lady pirate, she is wanted for murder and treason against the crown. She wants two things: Jenny to join her on her pirate ship and the brooch. When Jenny discovers that the brooch belongs to the king's consort, Lady Anne Boleyn, she pledges to return it to its rightful owner even if it means betraying her mother. 

PIRATE JENNY is based on the true story of the Red Lady pirate who was active during the time of Henry VIII. She was known for her beautiful singing voice which often served as a distraction while her pirate crew began their attack. 

I am a published author and my latest novel, a YA contemporary, How to be Almost Famous in Ten Days was released by Gypsy Shadow Publishing in March, 2013. Please let me know if you'd like to see more of the manuscript. I am enclosing the first 250 words.



The black ship stole into the harbor just after dark. I happened to be looking out the upstairs window at the full moon and its reflection on the blue black water. I liked how the image wavered back and forth as the waves moved. Was the ship a reflection of the light? I blinked and the image vanished. Thinking I had imagined it I turned back to the room with the cleaning rag in my hand and jumped. Meg watched me from the doorway.

“Girl? You dreaming again? Get to work before I whip you,” Meg flew at me with her hand raised and I ducked scurrying out of her way running down the stairs taking two at a time. “Get back here, girl.” Meg was old and had a substantial girth so I knew she would not be able to catch me. I giggled as I rounded the corner and ran smack into Thomas who carried a full tray of mugs filled to the brim with ale. Of course they spilled all over him, me and the floor. I landed on my bottom, my dress soaked. He glared at me. 

“Fetch me six mugs of ale and take them to the table by the window,” he snarled. He shook himself like a dog would sending more droplets of the nasty smelling brew all over me.

“I smell like ale,” I wailed wringing out a handful of hair dripping with the stuff.

An Agent's Inbox #26

Dear Ms. Smith:

A seemingly familiar tale: a demi-god, Pegasus, Medusa’s severed head--but legend is vastly different from the truth. Perseus isn’t exactly the son of Zeus; in fact, he doesn’t even believe the gods exist. If they do, they certainly don’t care that Perseus’ mother has fallen into the clutches of a greedy king. On the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, Princess Andromeda refuses to be monster bait to appease a vengeful goddess after a wedding-turned-nightmare. When their paths cross, Perseus and Andromeda find they must work together to change their fates--all while the Egyptian gods attempt to use them in their scheme to destroy the Greek pantheon forever.

“God Haunted” is a YA retelling of the Perseus myth, set in the ancient world, and complete at 80,000 words. Though the basic tale will be familiar to many readers, they’ll find there is much more to the story than the original myth records.




Today is my sixteenth birthday. It’s also the day of my husband’s funeral.

Two young men, clothed in mourning colors, lower the bundle that contains Xenres’ body into the small grave. I feel like a part of me is being lowered into that dark hole with him, but it’s a part of me I’m glad to lose.

My late husband’s brothers, sisters and children from his first wife glower at me through their tears, as if they blame me for their loved one’s sudden death. They probably do. But fishermen found Xenres lying face down in the mud near the eastern banks of the Nile just a few days ago without a mark on him. I had nothing to do with it. Though I may or may not have prayed to the gods to take him away--every day since our marriage three years ago.

Not that I think his death had anything to do with that. The gods never paid me much mind before, at least when it comes to giving me things I want. Xenres’ death had been because of a bad heart, most likely. He had been old. Of course our age difference had not been an issue when my parents agreed to ship me off to Egypt to be his bride. I was a bribe. Here, take our daughter and keep your Persian armies away from our country. I just wish I had gotten sent off to a breathtakingly handsome prince instead of a military man long past his prime.

An Agent's Inbox #25

Dear Bridget Smith,

When others bow out, heroes step up. Milo Minor, like any other child of superheroes, knows the code, even though most heroes no longer live by it.

Fourteen-year-old Milo can’t tell his parents about his powers, and the Superhero Assembly chairman won’t admit they exist, shutting the boy out of the life other heroes enjoy. But when Milo’s parents disappear and the superheroes can’t stop the Phantom from causing disasters all over the earth and discrediting the entire hero community, Milo must step up and confront the menace with the help of the only two people who believe in him: one girl with superpowers and another with no powers at all.

My 57,000-word young adult novel The Mighty Milo should appeal to anyone who appreciates an adventure story or the struggles of a teenager trying to prove to everyone--and to himself--that he belongs.

The best comps for The Mighty Milo are probably Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 and Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series. Suzanne Collins’ Underland Chronicles and Hunger Games books also come to mind.

For the last 20 years, I’ve honed my craft as a writer and editor for newspapers, magazines, and newsletters, along the way winning several journalism writing awards. I’m a member of SCBWI, and I’ll market The Mighty Milo aggressively. Blogs, book signings, speaking to groups, interviews, whatever it takes to build the brand.

In an interview with Writers Digest, you said you’re looking for a fresh twist. The Mighty Milo brings you a boy from a hero family who hides his own superpowers, and who suffers because of old grudges nursed by adults, both hero and mundane. In another internet interview, I read that you’d like to see more awesome girls doing awesome things. In that case, you’ll love both of Milo’s co-conspirators--his best friend, who doesn’t let her lack of powers keep her from becoming the team’s secret weapon, and the heroine he’s loved since kindergarten but who now won’t speak to him.

As per the contest guidelines, I’ve pasted the first page below. If you’d like to see more, please e-mail me at [redacted] or call [redacted].



“We were made to be courageous …”

The bass line burst into my ears like a gunman kicking down a door. But it came too late to wake me. A catfight in the alley behind the apartment did the job an hour ago. With all that snarling and banging trashcans, they must have been lions. Or at least leopards.

I took a deep breath, rolled over, and shut off the alarm.

That song and a dozen more like it were my parents’ brilliant idea. Ever since they discovered I don’t have superpowers, they’ve worked hard to convince me I can still be a hero. So every morning I wake up to a song on my Moto X phone designed to empower me, as Mom likes to say.

But here’s the problem: I don’t need empowerment because I do have superpowers. I just can’t tell my parents--or anyone else--about them. All the encouraging songs in the world won’t change that fact.

This morning I didn’t have the patience to go down that road again. Instead, I tossed my phone on the bed and opened the door. Where a dark hallway swallowed me.

No light, no movement. Like a ghost town.

No Dad singing in the shower, no clinking plates with Mom pumping iron in the gym.

Never, in all of my 14 years, have I awakened to a dark, empty apartment. I rubbed my arms, cold inside and out.

I walked from room to room, calling out, “Hello? Mom? Dad?” Turning on the lights didn’t help much. “Mom? Dad?”

An Agent's Inbox #24

Dear Ms. Smith,

I see that you are seeking books with minority characters. While my main character is Black and his best friend is Hispanic, the book isn’t about race. Instead, it shows these boys as boys, enjoying the mysteries of the world around them.

Eleven-year-old Mike is determined to become NASA’s youngest astronaut. He daydreams of being a superhero and saving colonists from space monsters. But in reality, he tiptoes through the halls and hides from the school bully.

Then he meets Grimon, a blue alien wailing over his doomed job because he’s been called home and can’t complete his research. Figuring experience with real space creatures will guarantee a NASA job, Mike offers to help. Candies from a shiny red dispenser will show what planets humans could visit without turning orange or hiccuping forever, but they come with a side effect of temporary superpowers. Maybe even bully-stomping superpowers.

Speed, strength, and invisibility--sweet. Frog legs and belching zoo-animal noises, not so cool.

Mike records the results until creepy Federal agents show up. As a frogboy, Mike spies on the agents morphing into extraterrestrials determined to capture anyone who knows of their existence. If he wants to become a real hero, Mike must overcome his urge to hide and save his friends--and worst enemy--from a four-armed, snout-faced alien wielding the Interstellar Remote Control of Everything, or they’ll all end up frozen in a stasis field at the bottom of a haunted mine.

MIGHTY MIKE AND THE ALIEN PEZ DISPENSER is a MG Sci-Fi/Adventure, complete at 44k. It should appeal to those who enjoy the quirky humor of Nathan Bransford’s Jacob Wonderbar series.

I have a degree in Physics (both Mike and I would have loved to participate in the NASA microgravity experiment) but currently train endurance horses in beautiful Colorado.

Thank you for your time.



Mike crammed his Space Camp application and “C-” history quiz into the Tweety Bird backpack that would never be as cool as The Avenger’s Hawkeye, no matter what Mom said. The zipper jammed on the pages, so he flung the half-closed pack over his shoulder and sprinted from the classroom before the bell finished ringing. He burst through the front doors and dashed toward the community park.

Chest heaving, Mike slipped into the woods. He skidded down a bank covered with last year’s leaves and plunked onto a half-rotted log behind a massive oak tree. Pebbles followed him and splashed into a puddle.

Mike stared at the ripples. Hiding like a wimp sucked, but it was safer than being found by Brutus and his gang. The sixth-grader kept The List of Chumps to Be Pounded After School. Thursday was piƱata-Mike day.

Only outer space would be safer than Space Camp. Two more months and he’d be on his way: Space Camp, then on to becoming NASA’s youngest astronaut. Bullies wouldn’t be allowed in space, right?

After the science-fair judge labeled his zero-gravity omelet-maker as brilliant and called Mike the next Einstein, Brutus chanted Afro-Einstein for weeks. This totally baffled Mike since his close-cropped hair didn’t look anything like Einstein’s wild tufts.

The pool stilled into a mirror. A shadow loomed over Mike’s watery reflection. He leapt to his feet--right into the puddle--ready to block Brutus with his backpack.

Except it wasn’t Brutus.

Mike stumbled backward.

An Agent's Inbox #23

Dear Ms. Smith,

Fleeing with bloody hands and a stolen BMW, Leah must escape charges for a murder committed by shadow creatures only she can see. At least she thought she was the only one. Running from the cops, she stumbles onto a small group who share her ability, only they’ve learned how to fight back.

Leah jumps at the chance to join the group, especially if it means she gets to fight with the hot shadow hunter Adam. They’ve all noticed the shadows are up to something even more sinister than forcing people to act on their darkest, most violent thoughts. The shadows are banding together and tracking down the hunters, and everything they thought kept them safe is no longer secure. When the hunters piece together that the shadows are from another world and have big plans that make an invasion look like a tea party, they know it’s up to them to stop it. Leah will risk her life--and the lives of the hunters--to keep the world from being lost to darkness forever.

AN ABSENCE OF LIGHT is an upper Young Adult Sci-Fi, complete at 75,000 words. I believe it will appeal to fans of Julie Cross’ Tempest series. My novels, Colors Like Memories and The Chemistry of Fate, were released through MuseItUp Publishing. I am a molecular anthropologist (translation: I sequence dead people’s DNA) and am currently teaching at the University of Montana.

Thank you for your consideration!



The dead don’t blink. My father’s blank stare seemed to follow me around the room. My mother beside him had a narrow-eyed glare that made me flinch.

I couldn’t bear to look at my sister.

The wail of a siren in the distance settled reality around me like a heavy shroud. I’d called 911 when I saw the front door ajar. I hadn’t expected to find this inside. Now I had to get out before anyone saw me.

Blood, cool and sticky, seeped through the knees of my jeans. Hitching back a sob, I pressed my lips to the forehead of each of my family members. A silent goodbye that should have been so much more.

With stumbling steps, I hurried through my darkened house. They’d made sure not a single bulb worked, which pissed me off enough to worm through my grief. Out the back door, I hurried out the gate to the side yard as the police siren cut off out front.

I couldn’t be there when they arrived. I couldn’t explain to the police what happened. They wouldn’t believe me when I told them strange, horrible, shadowy creatures created the carnage. No one ever believed me when I mentioned them.

Hurrying down the darkened street, my wet jeans slapping against my skin, I succumbed to my tears. The overwhelming grief ate at me from within, taking too-large bites from my soul.

I didn’t care where I ended up, so long as it was far away from here.

An Agent's Inbox #22

Dear Ms. Smith,

As your agency website states that you are seeking genre-bending young adult fiction, I thought you might be interested in my dark fantasy novel for teens, A MURDER OF ANGELS.

Seventeen year-old fugitive Alex is contemplating her inevitable, grisly end. Targeted by the Hunters, the militant nephilim sworn to destroy the sinful members of her kind, she knows exactly what her chances of survival are. She’s watched them destroy her home and butcher her mother, and she knows that the same end is waiting for her, too. Alex lost the point in running and hiding like a terrified animal a long time ago, and after years of being a liability to her foster family and her best friend, Eidean, she’s given up hope on the idea that she’ll ever escape. While hiding in a small town deep in the Carolina foothills, Alex decides that it’s time to stop running and finally face her death.

There are worse things than death, though--things like the divine entity the Hunters are so desperate to find. When it awakens to save her and Eidean from a Hunter attack, Alex discovers that she’s the host to an angel charged with bringing the war between the nephilim to a final end. The price? Her life--and this time, Alex isn’t being given a choice.

With the Hunters stalking her at every turn and a bloodthirsty angel threatening to take over her mind, Alex will have to face the reality of her own sacrifice. Dying for a cause might have seemed easy before, but she’s starting to have her doubts. As tensions rise and her people rally behind her, Alex will be forced to act quickly--or the angel inside her will decide her fate instead.

Told from the perspectives of three characters, A MURDER OF ANGELS is complete at 82,000 words. With its monstrous interpretation of fallen angel lore, elements of psychological horror, and deeply flawed characters, I believe the novel will appeal to fans of Brenna Yovanoff's THE SPACE BETWEEN and Brodi Ashton's EVERNEATH. It is my debut. I have won awards for my short stories and poetry, and my work has previously appeared in A Near Miss, Southern Voices, Writers INC, and Young Emerys Journal. As per the contest rules, I have included the first 250 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,



Before tonight, I never understood why our people were forbidden to say goodbye.

Now--standing before a funeral pyre, watching sparks and ashes dance on a cold wind--now, I finally do.

Goodbye. Such a kind, soft word, as though a separation like this could be anything less than painful, as though it was a word anyone could survive. I'd never fully understood before why something so common in human speech was so taboo in ours. In all the books I'd ever read, it was customary, expected; almost an assurance that the two parties would meet again.

Among Watchers, "goodbye" is a word that means they never will.

Eidean's hand tenses around mine as we watch the flames. His features--sharper now, since he turned fifteen--are solemn and concerned as he glances at the sandy-haired man to my left. Liam doesn't notice, though, doesn't see anything but the fire. Its reflection gilds his wet cheeks, burns in his eyes as though it is inside him, as though he is the one being incinerated by its flames.

And in a way, he is.

For three weeks now, the Hunters have been destroying our safe houses. No one knows how they finally found us or why they're attacking. All anyone knows is that they won't stop.

An Agent's Inbox #21

Dear Ms. Smith,

Please consider representing my character-driven YA contemporary, APART AT THE SEAMS, which features a multi-cultural cast and a complex LGBT character.

After Brooke Hardy’s father returned from his third deployment to Afghanistan six months ago, she endured his fierce waking nightmares by recalling her family’s picture-perfect past, telling herself the stern but kind man who once coached her soccer team would reappear any day. While her mom explained away her dad’s increasingly intense episodes as part of his “reintegration process,” Brooke took shelter under the wing of her older sister, Audrey, becoming her seamstress sister's assistant and picking up hand-me-down skills along with an unhealthy dependence on her controlling older sibling.

When classmate Mira--a girl with a murky past and a reputation for her own volatility--urges Brooke to break free from her sister's power once and for all, Brooke begins to imagine a life for herself beyond Audrey’s shadow. But as their mother wrestles with her own demons, Brooke knows defying her sister will mean fending for herself in an increasingly hazardous household. Then Brooke joins her crush, Jonah Oliver, in extracurricular activities that further threaten her ties to her military roots. As Brooke breaks the chain of command to seek love and her own voice, she and her family are torn apart at the seams. And she's not sure she'll ever be able to stitch them back together.

I am a member of SCBWI and a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.A., English) and Boston University (M.Ed.). My non-fiction pieces have appeared in the high school textbook series Opposing Viewpoint; a college textbook published by McGraw-Hill; as well as several print and online news publications, such as the Sacramento News & Review. As a former teacher who worked with emotionally disturbed students for many years, I endeavored to portray mental illness compassionately in this novel. My research for the military aspects of the story included interviews with veterans and social workers familiar with the effects PTSD.

APART AT THE SEAMS is complete at 68,000 words and is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.



Through the shifting yellowed loosestrife stalks, I could make out his form, rifle at the ready, as he stood rigid on the porch. His pinned-together hand supported the fore-end. A finger from his good one rested near the trigger. Audrey and I huddled against an oak tree out on the windbreak, fused at our sides like the core of a rock.

"Colleen!" my dad barked. He wore the gray knit hat Mom had made him years ago and which he rarely removed. The morning he'd left Kabul it was 29 degrees; he'd complained of a chill ever since.

What exactly my mom had said at the table, before the flash of flying silverware and the hollow clop of an upturned salad bowl as it trapped air and scattered lettuce leaves, I couldn't remember. Whether my dad was standing guard, whether he was on the attack, or what it was he had taken arms against, you couldn't say, either. When he got like this, you looked for somewhere to hide. When he was done, you looked the other way.

I ducked into Audrey's shoulder, plucked a crimson thread from the collar of her jacket, where it had somehow migrated from the dress she'd been hemming before dinner, and flicked the disembodied stitch into the wind. Icy air sliced the skin between the bottom of my too-small sweatshirt and the waistband of my jeans. My dad shouted my mother's name again.

An Agent's Inbox #20

Dear Ms. Smith:

Sure, eleven-year-old Rell dreams of doing bigger things than weeding the corn field. He means being allowed to go all the way to Marketown by himself like his big brother, not becoming a mage.

A mage storm, destructive remnant of the Great Mage War, rages across his home and catches Rell too far from shelter. Rell thinks he's going to die, instead, the storm infects him with magic. That's big all right, but it's not so good. Angered by his brother's taunts, he almost sets the family barn on fire. He needs help learning how to control this magic. So Rell sets out alone to find someone who can teach him.

That's a problem when all the mages were supposedly killed in the Great Mage War. It's an even bigger dilemma when the first teacher he finds turns out to be a homicidal charlatan. Becoming a real mage is going to be a challenge. But it's only the first of many as a new idea grips Rell: a new mage might just be able to repair all the things magic once destroyed.
MAGE STORM is a 55,000-word middle grade fantasy and potentially the first of a series. Readers of John Flanagan's RANGER'S APPRENTICE series will enjoy MAGE STORM.

At the flicker of green light, Rell raised his head from the row of corn he'd been weeding and glanced up across the open plains. Maybe it was nothing, just a trick of the light or a reflection. Everything was some shade of green or yellow in that direction except the line of clouds on the horizon.
In the next row over, Da said, "Back before the war, we'd have had a mage spell the seeds before we planted. Then the corn would grow faster than the weeds and choke them out. Things were easier then."
Rell grimaced. Once Da got started on what things were like before the war, he could go on all day. Weeding the fields was boring enough without that. "Yeah, well, all the mages are dead," he muttered under his breath. He glanced over toward the blackened stumps of what used to be the family's orchard. And a good thing, too. He knew better than to say that out loud, though.
Rell caught another flash out of the corner of his eye. Orange. He'd swear to it. There were a lot fewer things on the plains at this time of year that could be that color. He jumped to his feet, brushing the heavy clay soil from his hands and tossing his head to get the unruly brown hair out of his eyes.
A bolt of red lightening forked down as Rell watched. He waited for it, but there was no thunder following the flash.

An Agent's Inbox #19

Dear Ms. Smith,

Chris Chappell is doomed to life as a Norm--a normal 17-year-old, that is--until his wizard father develops an amulet that grants even the most un-magical of people wizard powers. After years of being the family pariah, Chris has the power he always wanted and his father is finally proud of him.

Since Chris is finally a wizard, he's eligible to attend Southeast Paranormal High School with his siblings and best friend, Jeremy. At Para High, popularity and power are intrinsically linked, and after Chris saves his classmates from attack by a vicious spirit, he takes his place as the most popular student at the school.

When Jeremy discovers Chris's powers are unnatural, he demands that Chris give up the amulet, because it puts Chris outside of Para law as he is technically still a Norm. But Chris will not go back to his previous life: being a reject in his own family and a second-class citizen. With the amulet he's the most powerful wizard to ever live, and he will do whatever it takes to keep his power.

After all, what's a little mind control between friends?

THE DESCENT OF CHRIS CHAPPELL, a contemporary fantasy complete at 87,000 words, is a villain origin story told from two viewpoints. It is a standalone with series potential.

Your bio stated that you once worked on a project in microgravity at NASA. I am insanely jealous. Though I’ve been inside the space shuttle (on the ground, not in space), I have never had the chance to ride the vomit comet. As an engineer with a Master’s in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech, I find space and everything space related fascinating. I put myself through college by working at Kennedy Space Center, and I currently work on satellites at the Air Force Research Labs in Albuquerque, NM.

Thank you,


My shoulders hunch under the weight of my backpack as I near the front door, and I tighten my grip on my trumpet case. I shouldn’t stress. Odds are no one will notice me slipping into the house. Dad’s probably in the basement. Mom’s car isn’t even here so she must be at work. And the twins know better than to get me in trouble--especially about this.

And yet my heart beats unevenly. At this moment, I would sell my soul for the ability to know if anyone stood on the other side of the door.

I reach for the knob, but the door opens before I touch it. I stumble back. My father stares down at me with his magical, silver eyes, catching my gaze before I can look away.

At first my dad’s expression is worried, but then a scowl replaces fatherly concern. His hand shoots out, pulling me inside before I can think to protest.

“Chris! Why aren’t you wearing your contacts?” he demands, the door slamming shut magically behind me. I imagine a normal father would show concern about my bloodshot eyes, questioning whether I’m getting enough sleep, if something is stressing me, or if I’m on drugs. Not my father. His only concern is that people might have seen my normal, gray eyes. That someone might know the truth he’s so carefully hidden for over a year now.

I am not a wizard.

An Agent's Inbox #18

Dear Ms. Smith:

On a dark and rain-slicked road, there's a car crash, one that changes the lives of three teens forever.

Seventeen-year-old Hailey Steele killed her boyfriend in a car wreck, which fills her with guilt and self-loathing. So when Eli Carter enters her life, Hailey persistently denies her attraction and developing feelings for him. It is wrong to like someone else when your boyfriend is dead. It’s easier to cope in other ways, like changing schools and using alcohol.

Meanwhile, Jeremy McClure--not realizing he’s dead--waits in the cemetery for his girlfriend to arrive. He’s certain they agreed to meet here. The last time Jeremy saw Hailey they were cruising a dark and drizzly road after an underage party.  What he doesn’t expect is an encounter with someone else.

Eli Carter has a jaded past. His junior year was full of skeletons, and his closet thrown wide open for the entire high school to see. But he manned up, and still got burned. With new girl Hailey, Eli has the chance for a fresh start, someone who knows nothing about his past. That is, if she’ll ever give him the time of day.

HAUNTED, my young adult contemporary novel--complete at 83,100 words--shows the intersecting lives of three teens who are trapped in the most unusual of love triangles--one that crosses the boundaries of death. Told in alternating points of view, the novel poses the questions: Can we continue to maintain love through the boundaries of death? And, can new love find us after loss?

To date, I have written and published three novels, along with a book of short essays. Additionally, I have been published at The Fertile Source, in Cliterature Journal, and online at The Daily Beast. In 2009 and 2010, I worked at Inside/Outside Magazine, penning the magazine’s “With the Kids” column. I co-write the YA blog, Moxie Writers, with fellow young adult novelist, Rebecca Green Gasper. I recently completed a travel memoir about my family’s year on the road and my unexpected pregnancy, the marital strain that resulted from the news, and the devastating birth of our youngest son during the trip.

Thank you in advance for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.




It’s raining, so I shouldn’t have agreed to be the designated driver. But here I am. There are no alternatives. I take the keys from Jeremy and dash toward his Subaru. The earthy smell of water soaking into the dirt and pavement rises around us. Jeremy ducks down as if walking between the raindrops, as if he will live forever within their spaces.

“Let me drive,” he says, though his speech is drowned in grogginess.

“I’ve got it,” I say as we scramble for the car. “Just relax. Get some rest,” I say even though I teeter on the edge of sleep, too. But I want to take care of him.

I fire up the engine and crank the heat. Jeremy slips into the passenger’s seat, pulls his door closed, and immediately turns the stereo to our song. Before taking off, I eye him briefly: his bangs hanging limply in his face as he tugs his plastered shirt from his chest. He pushes his head into the back of the headrest and closes his eyes.

As the music plays, Jeremy lifts his lids and reaches out to finger the ends of my hair. His eyes mingle with mine for a moment, then he grabs my hand. “Love you, Hailey.”

“Love you, too.”

“I’m so drunk.” Then he lets go and balances between sleep and wakefulness.

I turn on the wipers and try hard to focus on the blurry road ahead.

An Agent's Inbox #17

Dear Ms. Smith,

Beauty can hide the ugliest of creatures. In this fairytale makeover, Beauty and the Beast takes the road not yet traveled. This time, it’s the village heartthrob’s mistrust of women and thirst for adventure that lands him in permanent servitude to a hideous creature. Aileen’s temperament is almost as ugly as her appearance, but Christopher Soirose is her last chance at humanity.

MONSTROSITY is a YA Fantasy novel complete at 80,000 words. 

Seventeen-year-old Christopher Soirose longs for adventure. When a winking cat leads him to the base of the Castle Dubois, Christopher is drawn to the apparently empty structure. When his guardian is taken into the castle by the beast within, Christopher offers himself in his place, promising to stay until he dies.

Princess Aileen Dubois has suffered her curse with little grace and a growing hatred for the male species she needs to break it. Christopher is the handsomest of any she’s seen, and time is running out. If she can’t make him love her, she’ll spend the rest of her life in her monstrous form.

When the roles are reversed, can a man see past the monster to find the woman within?

Thank you so much for considering my query. I am immensely grateful!

All the Best,


The sweet scent of lavender wafted through the bakery, tickling Christopher’s nose. He stopped midstride, struck by the familiar tug at his heart immediately followed by a chill running down his spine.

He could still see her, waving that silly monogrammed handkerchief over another man’s shoulder as she rode off into life without him.


His guardian’s voice snapped him back to the bakery.

“Huh? What?”

Richard twisted his black mustache, a sure sign of his concern.

“I asked you to deliver these cakes to Madame Harmon before your appointment at the bookshop.”

“Of course.” Christopher accepted the wrapped package. Richard’s frown deepened.

“Everything all right, m’boy?”

“Yes, just lost in thought.”

“About Faline?”

“I’ll get these to Madame Harmon right away.” Christopher forced a smile and darted through the door before Richard could pry further.

The bustling streets of Chardeau, Champetre met him with mingling smells and colorful sights. Vendors sold goods, servants followed their mistresses with hatboxes and garment bags in hand, and horses clopped purposefully down the street.

Jostled from behind, he fell out of step. His boot caught under the foot of another villager and pulled clean off. With an awkward hobble, Christopher moved out of the way to readjust his footwear, balancing against a cobblestone ledge in a nearby alley.

With his boot firmly in place, Christopher straightened and gave a small start of surprise.  Upon the ledge sat a black and white cat watching him.

“Hello.” He said, leaning forward.

The cat winked in reply.

An Agent's Inbox #16

Dear­­­ Ms. Smith,

Jon Doe Zane (aka J.D.) wants to get a real life. He’s spent his first sixteen years living in the shadows of an older brother who killed himself on the day J.D. was born, leaving J.D.’s mother catatonically depressed, and his father… well, if he knew where his father was, life would likely be very different.

When a card arrives in the mail three days after Christmas, J.D. finally has a clue as to where dear old Dad has been hiding. If J.D. can track him down, and if his father is ready to come home, maybe J.D.’s dream of going off to college and living outside of the shadows isn’t so entirely stupid after all.

Jason, also sixteen, wants to end his life. He no longer fits into Happy Family Land; not since last year when he met his rock idol, Kurt Cobain, at an airport--three days before Cobain blew his own brains out with a shotgun. Now Jason can’t help but wonder: what if he’d done something differently that day at the airport? What if he hadn’t treated Cobain like a freak celebrity? What if he’d managed the simple word ‘hello’? Would Cobain still be dead?

All the what-if’s in the world won’t change the fact that Jason didn’t say anything, and Cobain did die. And now Jason’s moods swing wildly between a manic need to visit Cobain’s hometown one moment and a crushing desire to jump off the nearest bridge the next.

Both guys grab their closest “friends” and take to the road, each hoping to outrun the long-term side effects of suicide. When their two worlds collide in the middle, nothing turns out as expected.

Told in alternating points of view, Potholes on the Road to Nirvana is a dark, YA, road-trip comedy with rock & roll flare and an unexpected twist. It is complete at 63,000 words, and I would love to send the full manuscript for your consideration. Please find the first 250 words pasted below per the contest entry guidelines.

Given your interest in contemporary YA, I believe Potholes on the Road to Nirvana could be a good fit for your list. I look forward to your response!



Mom was awake, if you could call it that. The sun had barely broken over the roof of our trailer, but from where I stood in the yard, I could see her through the kitchen window gearing up for another busy day. She sat at the table with her ratty nightgown on, her a** planted squarely in her usual chair. She was breathing, not only in but also out. Yep. That was one packed schedule she was working on for sure.

I immediately closed my eyes and shook my head. I couldn’t allow this stupid sarcasm to follow me into the house. It wouldn’t help. And besides, I’d sworn to myself just this morning I was going to be a better person than that. If I’d broken my promise already, I was even more hopeless than I thought.

I climbed the steps to the porch, shifted the grocery sacks to one side, and then fumbled with the lock.

“Mom, I’m--” Before I could get the rest of the sentence out, the toe of my boot caught on the loose threshold I’d been meaning to fix for ages. With all the grace of a two-legged giraffe, I stumbled into the living room, slamming my elbow hard against the wall in the process. Three boxes of mac and cheese tumbled out of one of the overstuffed sacks, but I somehow managed to stay upright without dropping the eggs or smashing the bread.

“--home,” I finished with a manly whimper, kicking the door closed behind me.

An Agent's Inbox #15

Dear Ms. Smith:

Thirteen-year old Luke knows how to repair cell phones, tablets and laptops so the other kids in middle school remember he’s worth keeping around. He understands how to reprogram any piece of electronics to make it work faster and more efficiently. But all his technological skills still can’t tell him how to deal with the new prototype cell phone his father had recently asked him to test.
With a faster chip, ultrafast Internet, better games and apps, crisp and lifelike display, and the concierge interface P.H.I.L. summoned with just a press of a button, the phone is everything that Luke could have ever dreamed of...until he discovers its secret. P.H.I.L. can grant wishes...but with autocorrect, even the simplest wish can have catastrophic consequences.
My MG magical realism ms, UNLIMITED WISHES is 41,000 words of Aladdin, if Aladdin were a thirteen-year-old, game playing, app-using, tech-head with autocorrect-fail and monster issues.



And then there was a resounding crash.

I lurched backwards, barely escaping the plunge of the huge, over-sized box of spare parts I salvaged from the computer lab’s Annual Spring Cleaning. Only after lifting it off the ground and carrying it for several blocks, did I realize I had greatly underestimated both its weight and my ability to carry it. I stayed on my knees, watching helplessly as the box fell in slow motion. In the moment it took to hit the ground, all the painstaking work I had done sorting the smaller parts into glass jars was lost, as they exploded in a thousand razor-sharp shards upon impact and scattered across the sidewalk. I froze, waiting for the tinkling sound of broken glass to stop before I dared move again.

My name is Luke Price, I’m thirteen years old, and I’m waiting, sometimes rather impatiently, to be . . . older. Having lived in the small town of Claxton, North Carolina for my entire life I’ve been both very comfortable, and exceptionally bored, but encouraged by the fact that I know it can’t last forever.

I have blond hair, blue eyes, and I’m a little smaller than I would have hoped for, but I make up for it with my roguishly good looks and my ability to fix anything with a mother board. I’m funny, a die-hard tech-head with a limitless imagination, and I’m hopeful.  Unless you have a miracle or a magic wand, these three qualities are an essential combination to survive any given day in middle school.

An Agent's Inbox #14

Dear Ms. Smith,

I chose to query you because of your interest in new MG that is fun and fresh. DAX PELUSO: AWKWARD. APPREHENSIVE. AND COMING TO SAVE THE DAY would likely appeal to fans of Rick Riordan, Christopher Paolini and John Flanagan. I believe you’ll appreciate Dax’s humor and his depiction as a “real teenager” as he awkwardly stumbles his way through a magical world.

Daxinthian Peluso died on the day he was born. So you might say he was off to a rough start. And then, as if his life were destined to be an exhibit in a museum of the bizarre, a parade of oddities permeated his childhood:  teachers suddenly began calling him the wrong name (weird); his classmates ignoring him altogether, like he didn’t exist (weirder); and there was the thing about him resurrecting dead animals (weirdest).

Running through a gauntlet of the peculiar--like being scolded by a pompous porpoise and almost eaten by a pair of feathered dinosaurs--15-year-old Dax finds out he is actually from another world, where he is heir to the throne, which might be kind of awesome if his super evil uncle weren’t sitting on it. The no-good, greedy king has found a new way to terrorize his hijacked Kingdom, and this time the consequences are deadly. He’s learned how to steal power from the land itself, leaving an eerie gray fog that is spreading slowly, killing everything in its path.

And as if that weren’t enough for Dax to deal with, it turns out that his childhood dog and the high school quarterback (whom Dax can’t stand) show up claiming to be his sworn protectors. Then after an awkward first-meeting with Dax’s royal servants, his long-awaited return is cause for a great celebration in which Dax must learn a few new dance moves, wrestle a chicken, and sport a fitted...a little too fitted...pink jumpsuit.

But as it turns out, being the legendary Chosen-One/ Long-Lost-Prince/ Only-One-to-Save-the-World (no pressure, right?) is not all fun and games. In order to save his people, Dax must do the unthinkable. With the help of his quirky and loyal sidekick trio, the reluctant (and often awkward) Prince Dax must find a way to stop his Uncle before there’s nothing… and no one…left to save.

DAX PELUSO is 85,000 words of MG fantasy. This is my first novel, though I do have ideas for a possible series, and I'd be absolutely thrilled if you would consider it for representation. Thank you very much, and I hope to hear from you soon.



Kadin Tarak wasn’t your typical alien, if there was such a thing. He wasn’t green or slimy or scary, and in fact seemed very much like an Earthling, which was the whole point of course. Because Kadin wasn’t from Earth. He was from Tarak, which was a planet and not really his last name. But he could do alien things: if he wanted to, he could run really fast, use his super strength, and control people’s emotions.  Oh, and he could read minds. Well, kind of. Okay, he could almost read minds. But he was getting pretty good at it.

Other than that, he really looked like the average sixteen year-old high school boy. (Though he was actually forty seven years old, considered a very young age where he was from, thank you very much). Indeed the fact that he was ridiculously handsome--with his tan skin, dark hair and bright blue eyes--and extremely popular was of no interest to Kadin. He simply was these things because he had to be. How else could he do his job so well?

“Hey, Kadin!” Dustin, one of Kadin’s classmates called out to him, a soccer ball under his arm. “We’re going to go kick the ball around. Want to come?”

“Sure,” Kadin replied, though kicking a plastic inflated sphere was the last thing Kadin wanted to do at the moment. However, he knew Dax was out by the soccer field reading a book, and this would be a perfectly acceptable excuse for Kadin to go check on him.

An Agent's Inbox #13

Dear Bridget,

Samantha Silverwood is the key to protecting the galaxy, or bringing about its end.

Sixteen-year-old Samantha will be training at Kungorum Academy to be a Weaver, a psionic protector of the universe. Unfortunately she is not sure how she got into the Academy in the first place with her crippling shyness, unique looks that get her bullied and Weaver abilities that are sub-par at best. Overall she does not truly believe she can even protect herself.

That is until an Imperial shuttle crash lands directly into her classroom bringing with it an ancient enemy that may or may not just be in her imagination. While trying to discover the truth she learns a secret about her past that changes everything she knew about herself and her deceased parents. Then her and her friends are attacked by a creature only she can see and must stop it from getting to a special crystal at Kungorum, one of the few remaining that still have the power to protect the galaxy.

And this is just her first year at the Academy.

I am seeking representation for my manuscript, complete at 50,000 words with a working title FORGING SILVER: EMERGING DARKNESS. It is my first novel and the first of a YA Science Fiction quadrilogy that should appeal to young and adult readers alike.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



In the cold vacuum of space, where distance is measured in time, a small shuttle sat motionless. Pin point lights of distant stars and galaxies filled the darkness and reflected brightly off its smooth white hull. A massive nebula hung in space to the ship's starboard like an artist's canvas swirled with amazing colors. Intent with the task at hand and having had seen such sights so often before, the beauty and majesty of the scenes before them were lost on the occupants within.

“Once again, this is recon shuttle Ryder from the Bowen Imperial Union. Can anyone at all in the Penumbra Confederacy read me?” The young officer looked over at his companion and shrugged.

“That’s the tenth call out you’ve made, Mitch. I don’t know why the outposts in this sector aren’t responding, but I don’t think we need to keep trying.” The older of the two officers leaned back in the chair and propped his hands behind his head.

Sighing, Commander Mitchell agreed. “Alright Gaines, you win. I’ll call up Central Control; let them know we still can’t get a hold of anyone. I wonder if any of the other shuttles have had better luck.”

“I doubt it. If Control can’t get through with their Weavers, I don’t know why they thought sending shuttles to the boarders would make contact easier.” The older spacer leaned forward again and keyed a few commands into the console, then nodded to Mitchell. 

An Agent's Inbox #12

Dear Ms. Smith:

I understand you are looking for contemporary young adult, science fiction and romance featuring minority characters. I hope you will enjoy a blending of these genres in FIRE IN THE WOODS.

When a plane crashes in the woods near Jess’s home, the boy of her dreams falls out of the sky--literally, since he’s from another planet. But David’s not here to find a girlfriend, and if Jess can’t help him get back to his ship, he’ll be stuck on Earth with nothing to look forward to but a military lab and the pointy end of a dissection scalpel.

Racing through the woods with the army and the air force one breath behind them, Jess and David cling to each other for survival and form a bond stronger than either of them bargained for. But David has a genocide-sized secret, and one betrayal later, Jess is in handcuffs and alien warships are positioning themselves around the globe. Time is ticking down to Armageddon, and Jess must think fast if she's to save the boy she's come to care about without sacrificing Earth--and everyone on it.

FIRE IN THE WOODS is a 68,000 word stand-alone novel for young adults. My story LAST WINTER RED is published as part of the Make Believe Anthology. PAPER WISHES will be released in August, 2013 from Astraea Press, and my story THE FIRST DAY OF THE NEW TOMORROW will be available in late 2013 from Muse It Up Publishing.

I am an active member of South Jersey Writers, The New Jersey Author’s Network, and South Jersey Women Authors.

Thank you for your time and consideration.  Please find the first page of my novel attached.



My mattress vibrated beneath me as the scream of jet engines ruined a perfectly good daydream.

“Dad! The stinking Air Force is flying over the houses again!”

I turned up the volume on my MP3 player, leaned back on my pillow, and lost myself in musical bliss--until Dad’s heavy footsteps jolted me back to reality.

He plucked my pink earphones out of my ears. “I said, what do you expect me to do about it?” Dad dropped the earbuds on my lap and folded his way-too muscular arms.

“I don’t know. You’re the Army, aren’t you? Go invade them or something.”

His lips set as his eyebrows rose, twitching the spikey hairs where a normal person’s bangs would be. “Invade them?”

“I don’t know. Do something. It’s annoying.”

A smile almost crossed his lips. “How about we…”

The walls shuddered as the engines of another plane throttled overhead, followed by another. Dad crouched as if ducking, his six-foot body folding with military precision.

I grabbed my pillow and clutched the warm case to my chest. “What…”

“Shhh.” His hand shot out, silencing me as a rattle broadcast through the clouds. “That sounds like…” His eyes widened. “Jess, get down!”

The pictures on the walls shook as a deadening boom carved through the neighborhood. Dad’s hand gripped my arm, pulling me to the floor as he shielded my body with his own.

The ground quaked as if a thousand tractor trailers passed the house.  A soda can shimmied off my dresser, crashing to the floor and fizzling Coke all over the carpet.