Thursday, September 22, 2016

Krista's Impromptu Critique Contest

If you didn't make it into Pitch Wars, if you know your manuscript needs something but can't quite pinpoint what it is, if you just want another set of eyes looking for plot holes and inconsistencies, then this contest is for you. I'm between projects at the moment, so I have some time to critique someone's full manuscript.

If you want that manuscript to be yours, you must meet the following conditions:

1. You cannot be a 2016 Pitch Wars mentee. I want to give someone else an opportunity to receive the same kind of critique.

2. Your manuscript must be rated PG-13 or less. I'm open to virtually any category or genre as long as the content isn't overwhelming. (If in doubt, you're welcome to enter, but know that if I select your manuscript and find the content too uncomfortable, I may stop reading and only send you a partial critique.)

3. Your manuscript must be complete and ready to send by the first week in October. You're probably going to get more out of this experience if you don't send me a first draft, but since you know your process better than I do (and since I can't really police it), I'm also not going to say that you can't send me a first draft.

To enter, please leave a comment on this post that tells me something about your manuscript, its approximate word count, and an e-mail address I can reach you at. (For instance, copying and pasting the summary from your query would be perfect.) I'll leave the comments open until Friday, September 30, at 11:59 p.m. EDT, then announce a winner sometime the following week. One entry will receive a full critique, but I may offer to critique some partials if I feel so inclined.

Can't wait to find a great story to dig into!


P.A.T. said...

Hi Krista,

DOG TAGS is a 94,000 word adult contemporary novel with a touch of magical realism.

Wounded veteran Marty Johnson just wants to be left alone. Back from a third tour in Afghanistan, his survivor’s guilt pushes him towards suicide while his PTSD prevents him from seeking help. With no friends or family, he drives the roads of the Pacific Northwest searching for the father he never knew. But a special dog, with a magical tag that displays changing messages, interrupts his journey. She adopts him and helps him try to reintegrate into everyday society.


P.A.Thompson (Pat)

Unknown said...

Hi Krista!

I would like to submit THE BLACK ROSE, my YA high fantasy novel, for your consideration. It is complete at approximately 140k words. It follows ALEXANDRA GLACE and WILLA VALE, eighteen year old students at Rishi's Orphanage. Hunted for reasons unknown, Alex and Willa discover a rebellion called the Whispers. The choice they must make is clear; trust the Whispers and turn against their king, or risk the lives of their friends for the sake of an army that might turn the tide of an incoming war. The book was inspired by countless hours spent playing FINAL FANTASY and DRAGON AGE, and further hours falling deep into series’ such as THRONE OF GLASS and THE FARSEER TRILOGY. My soundtrack has consistently been the music of TWO STEPS FROM HELL. It is the first in a quartet. The second book is planned in detail, while the third and the fourth have been plotted out.

Over three hundred years ago, Limenia was split into three Royaldoms that ushered in an age of peace. When the first Eleca mine was discovered, the knowledge of the mysterious stone was shared. Now, there are rumblings of discontent. It is rumoured that Gormdal have found a way to use the Eleca to create an army of super soldiers. This discovery may shatter the centuries old peace.

Alex and Willa have lived at the Orphanage since they were ten years old, and have always known that they would serve the king of Ashia until the day they die. An assassination at the Orphanage and a murder during their field exam send Alex and Willa fleeing from their home and into the arms of a growing rebellion in the city of Ash. The rebellion is led by Alex's hero - Captain Arturio Bale - and Alex and Willa quickly learn that the world is much larger than they were taught. The Whispers plan to stand against the king who wishes to use the Eleca as Gormdal have. With war looming, they begin to realise that a life of servitude may not be all that they dreamed, and that a world in which magic exists may harbour further secrets hidden in the shadows.

Emily Pichardo said...

THE PORTAL is a 96,000 word, young adult fantasy novel, full of fairy tale & mythological influences with a heavy sprinkling of sarcasm.

When Quinn is caught trying to escape imprisonment, she is offered up as maidenly sacrifices to fulfill a magical bargain with another world.

Bereft after losing her cousin six months prior, Quinn goes along with the ceremony and steps into the magic mirror portal to her death. Even she admits, it wasn’t her brightest idea ever.

Instead of a horrific death, Quinn is met by a sacrifice-rescuing renegade named Jack and discovers that a parallel universe exists on the other side of the Portal. Before she can absorb her new reality, Jack sweeps her into a world of sarcastic wolf-commanders, poorly educated giants, and feisty magical sprites.

Quinn realizes she’s not the first girl Jack’s people have rescued from the Portal. Which means there’s a chance Harley is still alive. Quinn’s determined to find her cousin and to free her new world from the Coven’s hold. But her journey is threatened when she learns the Coven is hot on her trail. If she falls into the wrong hands she could end up as a slave to the Coven’s deadliest assassin.

Unknown said...

Hi Krista,

When Keana Milfort denies a cozy mammoth ride to her grandmother's unfuneral and strides five miles through a violent blizzard instead, her family thinks the fifteen year-old's just acting out again.

After all, it's awakening week, and every single kid her age has received a badge to try out for Landon Academy, an elite military school for the supernaturally gifted. Every single kid, except for her.

Keana has a clue as to why she was overlooked - and she's pretty pissed off about it.

Her father is a war veteran who was once sent beyond an ancient truce line, to track down a legendary citadel in the middle of the scorching desert, rumored to be infested with powerful blood-feasting shamans.

What Captain Milfort found instead was a newborn girl, abandoned to her own luck, at the verge of being ripped to shreds by a pack of famished sabre-tooth-tigers. The captain aborted his mission and flew straight back to Landon with the baby in his arms, only to be struck with inexplicable catatonia the moment they made it home.

Fed up with standing out all her life because of the darker skin and slanted eyes no one could explain, Keana cheats and lies her way into the ceremony, hoping to finally blend in if she can become a telepath or an airbender; perhaps even a firestarter or shapeshifter if she's not as lucky.

What she becomes instead is a catalyst for catastrophe: any form of magic is now suddenly switched off whenever she's near.

The Stone Age paradise soon begins to crumble, one piece of flint at a time, and the only way Keana can stop it is to outsmart the oppressive Wise and find a way out of the most secluded fortress in the entire frozen tundra.

She will rely on air-bending cousin Jaime, if he can stop focusing on her newfound adolescent curves, and on telepathic cavegirl Flora - if she can keep her ears off of Jaime's private thoughts in awkward attempts to win over his heart.

It's only a matter of time before every last man, woman and child in Landon figure out danger has finally found their hiding-place and rebel forces threaten to topple the reign of Flora's grandfather, Wise Minister Quentin Vellaskey: an ice-hearted neanderthal who once let his pregnant wife bleed to death so as not to stray an inch away from a premonition that led him to the throne.

Vellaskey knows ordering a manhunt on the shamans was the most dangerous mistake of his career. He thought the broken truce remained a secret with Captain Milfort's catatonia: until the man begins to secretly regain consciousness.

Now, the last remaining loose end is a fifteen year-old girl with an uncontrollable temper, venom in her eyes and hungry for the truth.
LEGENDS FROM THE LAST INTERGLACIAL is a prehistoric fantasy novel complete at 120,000 words, and is the first in a planned series. The manuscript is available, in part or full, upon request.

Thank you for considering my work. I appreciate your time.

Jamie Krakover said...

Thank you Krista for this awesome oppotunity!

As a twelve-year-old human about to change into her hybrid dragon form, Sasha lives with her ice dragon mother isolated from other dragon changelings. If Sasha’s pending dragon transformation isn’t horrific enough, the half-fire, half-ice hybrid form she’ll shift into is sure to be a full on catastrophe.

As Sasha fights her change, the fire clan attacks and kidnaps her mother. Alone and unable to return to her human form, Sasha meets Griffith, a dragon from another rival clan. Despite being sworn enemies, he attempts to teach Sasha to control her dragon instincts. But the real reason for her isolation quickly becomes clear-—hybrids are forbidden. It's only a matter of time before she develops her unique hybrid powers and kills someone.

Now that Sasha roams the world, the clans won’t stop hunting for her abilities, and her limited training might not be enough to outrun the clans. If Sasha can find her fire-dragon father, who she’s never met, she may have a chance to tame the scaly abomination inside her. But Sasha now sits in the middle of the clans’ brewing war as the most powerful weapon alive. And if she's caught, whatever clan wins control will enslave Sasha and force her to fight, even if it means killing one side of her family or the other.

BLAZING FROST is a middle grade fantasy complete at 39,000 words.

Contact: (first and last name at gmail)

Brekke El said...

This is awesome!
All Rini McIllroy wants is to apprentice as a healer in her werewolf pack. But as the American Civil War encroaches upon her remote Tennessee village, it becomes clear that wolfkind cannot escape the wars of humankind. In an attempt to save a young girl from an attack by a deserting soldier, Rini’s rage unknowingly looses an ancient curse upon herself and her Pack. Now Rini is hunted through her dreams by a shadow with a voice like the drums of war. The curse upon her makes her lust for blood and power, even while she is learning to heal what is broken. With the return of one of her Pack from the battlefield, his body and soul mangled by violence, Rini is tested to her limit: will she give in to the curse and the lust for blood? She must draw strength from her friends to confront the ancient terror if she is going to save her Pack and herself, or be lost to the curse forever.

This is a complete Manuscript at 78,000 words :)

AllBrevityWit said...

Krista, thank you so much for this opportunity.

The invaders came. Blocking the light of the stars in ships like black holes. Launching world evolving mists. Strangling. Growing. They came to cover her white world in green. Make it. Theirs. Aev has lost everything. Her family. Her home. Her planet. Now she has a choice. Survive. Or die.

Once. Soft. Round. With wide eyes and comfortable hands. She trained, like her father, like her grandmother to be an Architect. One of the middle-class families. A family of quiet hardness. And little tenderness.

Aev now hides underground with her people as the invaders hunt. Raid. Killing anyone they find. In white. Blasts. Surviving, she scavenges for food, water, a place of her own. As her people burrow deeper, she knows the only way to survive is up. She has to get off the newly terraformed planet, or end up as a part of the green world the invaders create. She must survive. At all costs.

LOST PLANET is a science fiction story with a unique narrative voice complete at 60,000 words.

Thank you for your consideration. You can contact me at AllBrevityWit (at) gmail (dot) com.

Best Always,
Angela Super

K. said...

Hi Krista! Thank you for this opportunity. :)

Seventeen-year-old Prince Vael meets his long-lost brother, Mordred, for the first time, only to discover that they’re destined to become enemies.

After years with only swords and tomes as companions, Vael finds his first true friendship with the arrival of his surly half-brother, Mordred—a boy even more familiar with rejection and loneliness than Vael. However, an ancient prophecy haunts Mordred’s footsteps―he is destined to kill their father, King Arthur, in a battle that will destroy Britain. Vael may not believe in fate’s power, but that means little to the superstitious kingdom that wants his older brother dead.

When Mordred’s sorceress mother gathers an army against Camelot and plots to use him as her pawn, Vael vows to show Mordred that destinies can be chosen, even if it means challenging the fearsome sorceress himself. If Vael cannot free Mordred from the sorceress’ twisted grasp, he will have to watch his father and Camelot fall or defend his home from the only friend he’s ever had—his brother.

THE PENDRAGON’S SON is a standalone YA fantasy complete at 94,000 words with series potential.

Katherine T. said...

Thank you for offering us a chance to enter this!

Fleeing her village after a false accusation of witchcraft, Ebba stumbles upon a demon lying in the forest with his heart ripped out.

Not quite dead, he demands her heart as a replacement—promising her gold, sorcerous powers, and even rulership of the world. Ebba knows better than to believe a demon with a pretty face, but she’s dying from an infected injury, so she takes her only other option.

Ebba wakes up with nothing beating inside her chest. The demon, self-styled as “Kryptos of the Crimson Flame,” has resurrected her—not out of gratitude, but as a replacement for his late servant. And he’s conscripted her into a death match with eleven other champions of hell.

Between coping with side-effects from her missing heart and trying to master the magical fire she’s been granted, Ebba learns that the prize of hell’s tournament is leadership of an upcoming invasion. Horrified at her own complicity, she tries to find a way to banish the demons back to hell.

But Ebba comes to rely on Kryptos more with each one-on-one match, and sees another side of him when she accidentally initiates a courtship. How was she supposed to know that throwing a severed head at him would be taken as a proposal of marriage? Kryptos turns out to be charming, handsome, a little bit awkward—and also utterly dedicated to world domination.

Which should be a deal-breaker. But without anyone left in her village cares about her, it becomes harder and harder to contemplate betraying her only friend.

Although between the shadow-wielding knight, the witch who sees the future, and the God-King, she’ll probably be dead long before it comes to that.

THE WITCH AND THE DEMON is a 70,000 word young adult fantasy novel with series potential.

YolondaS said...

Dear Krista,

For years humanity raced to find the cure for cancer, most never considered the negative consequences of its engineering, now, over 300 years after its discovery; sixteen-year-old Brinya Greyson is about to embark on a journey that will teach her there’s a price to be paid for every scientific breakthrough.

In Zavalla, every citizen is created and born into a perfect, pre-planned life. Everyone has the same forced smile and the same impeccably mundane life. Everyone that is, except Brinya, who possesses traits erased from her kind and has been hiding this fact for years. Her survival depends on her ability to keep her secret.

Now, just weeks before she faces her perfection accreditation testing, she will either have to expunge her flaws or deceive the test. Her search for the meaning behind her imperfection leads her into the city’s central lab, where her parents are prominent scientists. When she finds what look to be developing embryos, she discovers a startling truth hidden that will help her discover who she is and what she believes in. It will also make her wonder if having a few flaws is a good thing, especially when it comes to her heart.

Anomalous, complete at 82,000 words, launches Brinya’s journey in The Cure Chronicles, a science fiction series for young adults. While this book will appeal to fans of Richard Matheson and Karen Sandler in the 16-25 age-range, Anomalous is unique in that it’s grounded in scientific research. This books offers insights into some of the most controversial issues of our time—genetically modifying the human genome and altering viruses with the intention of developing cures for diseases.

Warm regards,
Yolonda Sweitzer

Candice Conner said...

Hi Krista, what an awesome opportunity, thank you!

Twelve-year-old Marvel is burdened by her misleading name. If she was marvelous, her best friend wouldn't have replaced her, her dad wouldn't have sent her to stay with a nowhere-to-be found aunt, and most importantly, her mom wouldn't have escaped on a Mardi Gras parade horse, running off to Key West. Without Marvel. Marvel is, simply, marvelless.

Then she and Happy meet. Unbeknownst to Marvel, Happy is a Sirenean--like a Selkie, but she can change to manatee-form rather than seal. On the run from a poacher who is trying to steal her magical manatee skin, she feels safe in Marvel's presence. With their growing bond, they both think they might have found a home.

But Marvel will do anything to get to her mom. So when a strange man asks for a specific brand of coat in return for bus tickets, she thinks it's a good deal.

But the creepy guy wants a Sirenean brand coat.

And Happy mysteriously disappears soon after Marvel gets her tickets.

With the help of a pelican, a boy on his own hunt for Confederate gold, and Marvel's ex-best friend who might not be so bad, Marvel sets out to find Happy. When she realizes what she did, she'll need to prove to everyone, most importantly herself, that she can rise up to marvelous.

HAPPY & MARVEL is a middle grade magical realism complete at 46,000 words. My email is camarley2001(at) yahoo(dot) com

Thanks so much!

Unknown said...

Wow, what an awesome opportunity! Thank you so much
Genre: YA historical fantasy
Word count: 92,000
Email: creativeheart5110 @

Eighteen-year-old Callum has been taught to never trust anyone who comes from the sea. But when a young woman washes ashore near his home, Callum befriends her anyway.

The girl, Murron, is a selkie, a mythical creature who can transform from a seal into a human. With no memory of her past beyond her faerie nature, Murron falls in love with Orkney’s vast skies and sweeping landscapes. Callum attempts to silence his village’s concerns of a selkie in their midst.

And then nature begins to unravel.

Gales batter the fishing village, threatening not only Callum and Murron’s budding romance, but all of Orkney. Villagers blame Murron, and she’s frightened they might be right. A selkie on land could tear the delicate balance weaving the Otherworld and human world together.

Callum and Murron discover the faerie ruler Teran, lord of winter and chaos, is gaining power over the seasons and seas, and these storms are just the beginning. Murron’s memories hold the key to stopping Teran, but magic rips the young lovers apart during their search for her past. Callum and Murron must battle the treacherous seas and reset Teran’s magical imbalance before the storms destroy the human world and trap Murron under the sea forever.

Candace Davenport said...

Hi Krista- Thanks so much for this opportunity.

The Inhikiod, a winged race living high in their mountain cavern hives, never bother to look down. Their life is flying the skies. As a star competitor in the Inhikiod flying competitions, sixteen-year-old reckless and self-centered Hikala wins accolades and gold for her Inhikiod family. After her challenge results in a flying injury to a higher-ranked Inhikiod, Hikala is banished to the planet’s surface for a year, forbidden to fly.

Never having set foot on land, Hikala must learn how to survive the bi-annual flooding of the surface while befriending the indigenous, non-winged Dawk — a race enslaved by the Inhikiod millennia ago. Only knowing the Dawk as servants in her hive, Hikala is challenged by her ingrained beliefs as she struggles, and sometimes fails, to reconcile the hatred shown her and the indifference she portrays towards the Dawk.

Ker, her new best friend and Tid, a love-interest, help Hikala navigate the surface predators while entangling Hikala in Dawk secrets. The beginnings of a revolution grow and her friends want Hikala to become a linchpin in their fight to free themselves from their Inhikiod masters. But if Hikala stays to help, she must give up flying forever. If she returns home, she’ll abandon her new friends to the vengeance of the Inhikiod.

Complete at 98,000 words, FIRST5 is a YA epic fantasy that will appeal to fans of James Cameron's Avatar with the voice and tone of Sarah Maas’ Throne of Glass series. Although a stand-alone, FIRST5 has series potential.

Thanks! Candace Davenport candace at candacedavenport dot com

Christi said...

MORT ADDENDUM is an 85,000 word upmarket novel with speculative elements.

While browsing an estate sale with his friend Edith, obsessive collector, Henry Davis, thinks he’s found his new collection, vintage Kool-Aid packets. He gets into a one-sided bidding war over a cherry-flavored packet where a strange gentleman named Xavier (X) keeps upping the ante. However, Henry won’t be moved and takes home the packet. Then, things get creepy when X begins stalking him. To spite him, Henry drinks the Kool-Aid. Big mistake. The stalking doesn’t stop and X reveals that he's in the assisted dying business, and the packet contained time-altered flavor crystals that ended the misery of his previous client. Henry has one week left to live.

X has an antidote, but to earn it, Henry must become his apprentice — a move that challenges his beliefs about quality of life. After a crash course in how to run the business, X turns up dead and Henry discovers he has other, less savory business partners after him. They want the secret to growing more flavor crystals. With Edith now involved, the pair are soon caught in a web of extortion, kidnapping and the kill-for-hire business. They must re-examine how they relate to death, how it impacts the way they choose to live, and whether they want any part of the assisted dying business.

You can reach me at christi.r.suzanne at gmail

Jules said...

Thanks for offering to do this! It's very generous of you. Here's the rundown:

September Jones has never met a question she didn’t want to answer. When she encounters a ghost in an arcane university library called the Tower, she won’t stop until she discovers its identity. But the Tower is not as exanimate as it appears, and it doesn’t tolerate curiosity.

Finding the ghost means exploring the Tower’s medieval history, and so September delves right into it. Or rather, she would if any record of its history existed. The librarians assure her that the Tower simply is, but September’s pretty sure that platitude is a poker-faced lie. As the questions add up faster than overdue book fees, all September knows is that the Tower is anything but simple.

But September doesn’t know the Tower is made of more than stone and stained glass. She doesn’t know the Tower has its own infernal purpose. She certainly doesn’t know that every time she enters the Tower she risks not coming back out. And what September doesn’t know might cost her soul.

TOWER OF MIST AND STONE is an adult paranormal mystery complete at 78,000 words.

You can reach me at jgraham1066 at gmail. Thank you!

Unknown said...

SOUL RIPPER, a 75,000-word young adult speculative novel with thriller elements like A Drop of Night and the international thriller of The Conspiracy of Us.

A high school dropout working as an antiquities courier in Rome gets embroiled in an underground soul-trafficking syndicate when her wonky gift of psychometry senses sentient beings trapped inside objects and she must decide who to trust in order to free the souls and save herself.

Thanks for the opportunity!


Michael said...

Thank you for doing this Krista.

THE WONDERBORNS is a 43,000-word middle grade adventure. It's a wink to the movie ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN

Geeky and she knows it, Twelve-year-old Sarah Delfina is fed up with being teased for her passion about UFOs. So she thinks it's awesome when thousands of spaceships burst through giant sparkling rings in the sky. It's even cooler when one of the beings arrives at her doorstep saying Sarah's the leader of a special group, the Wonderborns, chosen to elevate humanity. But the fun-factor plummets to zero when the being informs her she has ten hours to stop a viral madness from ripping apart everyone's mind.

Desperate to stop hallucinating, Sarah and her only true friend Theo sneak out to stop the spread of insanity. Soon they become the target of a massive witch-hunt by government goons. The government sets a trap for Sarah by capturing her parents. Heads swell with hallucinations, roads swarm with kids-gone-mad, and now Sarah must choose between saving her folks or stopping a split-personality epidemic that will fracture reality to bits.

I appreciate your intention for this contest!


Unknown said...

Hey, Krista!
I'm sure you remember this from both Agent's Inbox. :)
I've been rewriting constantly and am just about to submit it to Cedar Fort. I would love a pair of professional author eyes if the story interests you. its kinda ginormous so, no hard feelings if you pass - 120k words :) If the length is the only issue I can send you the 92K word version but it's not as good.
16-yr-old Travis wants to get married. Alas, there aren't enough lasses to go around.

Stupid genetic apocalypse.

To satisfy his nuptial needs, Travis enters the Husband Trials. Within three years he must prove himself worthy of the object of his affection and then get busy repopulating the earth. Unfortunately 500 other lads have similar plans for Wendy.

Despite rigid tournament rules, high-ranking "Alpha" suitors are enforcing some of their own. Those lads they see as threats are neutralized in "shaving accidents" or "random toilet viper attacks".

If the Alphas discover Travis was Wendy's best friend growing up, they'll kill him. But if she never learns Travis is there, he's just another faceless contestant. With no athletic ability. Or experience in hand to hand combat.

His only chance is to make it into the top twenty, earn a private dinner with Wendy, and warn her not to give away their history. No big deal. He'll only have to beat 480 genetically improved sixteen-year-olds in dozens of deadly challenges. While hiding from the girl he loves.

Good thing he's got inside help.

You know my email :)

Unknown said...

When Taylor and her two best friends are zoned to attend three different middle schools, the girls are separated for the first time ever, and have to figure out life without the others. To stay connected, they decide to become mascots at their respective schools, and document their adventures on a Google doc letter.

With secret identities, giant armadillos, crying babies, and puking co-mascots, the girls discover the life of a middle school mascot is anything but boring. Too bad life apart is harder than they expected. When the distance threatens their lifelong trio, Taylor has to find a way to save the friendships, or she risks losing them for good.

YOUR FAVORITE MASCOT is a 26,000 word contemporary middle grade novel set in present day San Antonio, Texas. The story is told through a combination of letters and Taylor’s perspective.


Jeanette Dover said...

FINDING ATLANTIS is a middle grade fantasy complete at 48,000 words. This novel is uniquely told using multiple POV’s. The story will continue into the YA genre with two more books in the series delving deeper into the mystery behind Atlantis

Atlantis, Earth’s fabled land, exists—only now it is in another dimension. It is a world with powerful forces drawn from nature, unexplained prophecies, talking crystals skulls, and a fluid space-time continuum. Dark energy is seeping in, putting Atlantis at risk of annihilation yet again.

Sand squished between Adam Danburg’s toes, and a sensation like a gentle surge of electric current flowed into his feet. He felt connected to the universe. The warm vibration moved up his legs and through his body. Adam sighed when the feeling reached his brain. He didn’t understand this strange force but for a fleeting moment, the rest of the world didn’t matter.

Twelve-year-old Adam’s weird connection to nature leads him to Atlantis. He discovers his strange skills are a respected talent in this world, and to find a way home he must help Atlantis. The cloud of dark energy moves ever closer to destroying the ancient city, and Adam struggles to control his powerful gift while blocking attempts to get rid of him. Can Adam save Atlantis and save himself?

Jeanette Dover

Katherine T. said...

P.S. My email was submitted with my comment, but in case you needed it separately too, you can reach me at

Raina Xin said...

Thanks so much for the opportunity! Here's my query:

A visit to Santa’s workshop is supposed to be fun, but all Angela gets is a global conspiracy and a lousy candy cane.

Twelve-year-old aspiring journalist Angela Xue has believed in Santa her whole life. After all, he’s been one of the most beloved public figures in the world ever since he revealed his existence to humanity twenty-two years ago. And who cares if Santa’s probably—okay, definitely—keeping some secrets underneath his red and white hat? You just don’t question the guy handing out free stuff.

But when an off-course tour tram on a school trip to the North Pole leads to a jaunt through a restricted area, Angela begins to question how nice Santa really is. And if seeing spy cameras and audio bugs hidden in the homes of supposed naughty kids isn't enough to arouse her suspicions, their tour guide also tells them to forget what they saw—and everyone in the class mysteriously does two hours later. Everyone except her.

And all that’s before Santa’s elite elven hit squad shows up on her doorstep.

Joined by her two best friends, Angela launches an investigation that takes her from the suburbs of Edmonton to the North Pole, into the paths of drugged candy, flying reindeer, magic sand, and secret bunkers. But when her search for the truth turns into an obsession, destroys her reputation, and gets her friends hurt, Angela begins to wonder whether it’s really worth it all to bring Santa down. And how bad are Santa’s tactics—spying, lying, and drugging people—really? Because she’s started to use them herself. But one thing is clear: she needs to decide what she really wants—and what she’s willing to do to get it—before Santa Claus comes to town on Christmas eve, or he’ll decide for her.

THE CANDY CANE CONSPIRACY, complete at 83,000 words, is an upper middle-grade fantasy adventure. Its magical elements and retake on classic folkloric figures should appeal to fans of THE GUARDIANS OF CHILDHOOD series by William Joyce, its blend of science and magic to lovers of ARTEMIS FOWL, while its snarky, spirited protagonist should appeal to Rick Riordan fans. It is an ownvoices story.

Raina Xin

Spring said...

Hi Krista! Thank you for being so generous with your time! As you can see from all of us clamoring for your attention, we really appreciate it!

I'd love to have you take a look at my YA Fantasy, UNTIL THE STARS BURN OUT. It is complete at 83,000 words. UNTIL is post-apocalyptic, but technically not dystopian. Like Emily St. Mandel’s STATION ELEVEN, it leans towards literary fiction, rather than action/adventure, though it does have a splash of action – just enough to keep things exciting!

Amalthea McDaniels has more reason than most teenagers to complain that her life isn’t fair. After all, she was born three years after the world ended, in the ruins of St. Louis. Thea aches for more than her life of subsistence farming and drudgery. Then a shiny, silver bus drives into town. The men inside claim to be part of an old government plan to bring back civilization. They promise a return of electricity and travel. One of them looks like he stepped out of the pages of an old fashion magazine – quite a step up from Thea’s friend, Lyle, the only guy her age in Riverside. Spencer’s smile makes Thea forget her own name, and when she realizes he’s interested in her, too, a whole new world of possibilities opens to her.

But not everyone in Riverside is excited. Some are suspicious of the newcomer’s intentions. Some don’t want technology back. Demonstrations of restored technology end in sabotage, and both sides suspect the other. Between bandit attacks and the escalating violence in town, Thea has to make a choice before the before the strangers are run out of town. She can either stay with her family and friends in the ruins of civilization or risk everything in hopes of finding a new life with Spencer.

Thank you for this opportunity!
Spring Paul

Unknown said...

Hi Krista,

HARVEY THE BEDAZZLER is a 37,000 contemporary MG novel, with speculative elements.

Eleven-year-old Sydney thinks her only problems are losing her best friend to the most popular girl at school and overhearing her parents say something about a divorce. But when her family travels to Amelia Island, Florida to attend the funeral of a grandfather she barely remembers, things really begin to unravel.

For the first time, Sydney hears stories about Grandpa Harvey’s too-incredible-to-be-true adventures. Like the tale about how her grandpa was rescued by a giant turtle in Vietnam. And one where her grandpa entered a pig in a dog show—and won. And another about how he made repairs on a witch’s house in exchange for a map to find his way out of the swamps. But Sydney’s dad, who’s still holding a grudge, thinks they’re all lies and wants to bury the stories with his father.

Sydney, with the help of her new friend, Nick, has only days to find proof and convince her dad that the stories are true. Along the way she might find the courage to have an adventure of her own and finally get to know her grandfather. And just maybe she can help fix the hole in her dad’s heart and save her family from falling apart.

Thank you!
Dana Edwards

Unknown said...

Hi Krista,

Thank you so much for this, it is very generous of you. There is so many great queries here, I don't envy you your choice.

More than anything in the world, twelve-year-old Starlee, wants to be a Dragon Rider. Her father is the greatest Dragon Rider in all of Talon, and for as long as she can remember she has wanted to be a Rider too.

But girls can’t be Dragon Riders. Only boys can put their blood in the dragon flame on the night of the Calling to see if they are worthy.

Starlee and her twin, Current, are inseparable, and now he is of age, no one doubts he will be Called to be a Rider like his father, and the thought of separating from him feels akin to death. On the night of the Calling, Current is indeed Called to be a Rider, and despite the impossibility of it, so is Starlee.

Everything she has ever dreamed has come true. But the boys at the academy think she wasn’t really Called and don’t take to a girl being among them. Starlee must prove that she really was Called, and that girls can Ride just as good as boys – if not better.

But a dark force is moving in, gathering slowly, and dealing with the boys at the academy will be nothing compared to the darkness that is coming.

The Dragon Riders Academy is a middle grade fantasy complete at 55,000 words.

Thank you for your time,

Rochelle Sharpe.

Sharpewords (at) gmail (dot) com.

Ariane said...

Hello, Krista!

It’s easy to believe in nightmares, especially in a world where they prowl the streets like wolves. As an orphan trapped on the city floor of Deepest Sleep, Ransom struggles to protect his makeshift family of friends. It’s much harder to believe in dreams. Ransom has none, but he tells himself that it’s okay. He’ll hide his doubts, and no one will know he’s about to break.

Then Ransom’s reality shatters. The Insomnus, shadowy monsters he thought existed only in stories told to scare children, attack him. When these sinister beings kidnap Cinder, the youngest in his family, Ransom resolves to steal the boy back. In the abandoned heart of the city, he must face nightmares to keep his family, and himself, from being torn apart. For the first time, he has to answer the question of who he is and what he needs to do, not simply to survive, but to live. If it’s honest, that answer could destroy monsters—and save him.

STILL DREAMING is a young adult fantasy novel at 84,000 words.

Thank you very much for your consideration!

Ariane Peveto

Ariane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Hi! Thanks so much for this opportunity.

The year is 1851, and the world is steeped in tea. Seizing one last chance to make her living abroad, young American photographer Madeline Bird travels to China, the heart of tea country. Here in the focus of the world’s attention, she hopes to capture people’s stories through pictures. International obsession with tea brews all kinds of intrigues—bandits, rumors of poison, abduction—and with one click of the shutter, Madeline stumbles into the increasingly dangerous business of Darjeeling and Earl Grey. And every move she makes is shadowed by the subject of a photograph she was not supposed to take.

Along with her fellow sky ship passengers, which include an inscrutable tea investigator and her close friend Anne Hennessy, Madeline navigates a maze of half-truths that foreshadows the complex rivalry she discovers between tea barons. With lives and her business at stake, Madeline doubts her future and even worse, herself. She has a choice to make: remain an observer, just a girl with a camera, or step into the action and change how she thinks about herself.

A photograph got her into this, but another photograph might prevent international war.

FORTUNE DAYS is a complete 85,000 word porto-steampunk novel.

K.E.Mullane said...

Hi Krista,

When a mysterious lady moves into the ramshackle leftover farm in the woods, 12-year-old Evie cannot believe her luck. Suddenly, there are horses on the edge of her suburban neighborhood. Evie decides that she is going to ride one of the horses if it’s the last thing she does. She hooks her best friend Oliver into helping her sneak a ride.

As seventh grade comes to an end, Evie thinks of nothing except learning to ride. Well, maybe Oliver is popping up in her thoughts too. Lately, she is not thinking of him as just a friend.

Turns out the lady at the farm is more than mysterious. When Evie secretly witnesses what she suspects is the horse lady bringing a bird back to life, she strikes up a friendship with her. Her name is Jemima Blaze and she allows Evie to hang around the barn. It becomes Evie’s favorite place to be, especially when Oliver starts ignoring her in favor of his baseball team.

Jemima and her history grow more fascinating to Evie. Although she explains it away, animals seem to heal in seconds flat after she gives them a little encouragement. As her friendship with Oliver seems to slip away, heartbroken Evie escapes to the barn and Jemima. She finds that a little magical healing works wonders.

MY SOMETHING AMAZING is complete at 31000 words. It is contemporary about a childhood friendship evolving into something different and perhaps more. In the vein of FLIPPED with a touch of magical realism.

Thanks for this generous offer!

Amy said...

What a kind offer! I don't know how you'll choose--these manuscripts sound intriguing.

Mine is an 84,000 YA historical fantasy about a poisoner with ancestral memories who goes to Peter the Great's court to find the Russian who murdered her parents.

amyjaywrites at

Blazer67 said...

Thanks for the opportunity, Krista!

Short but witty thirteen-year-old Jared Hoover has been best friends with Cassie Arnold since their sand-eating contest the summer they turned five. They’ve shared family camping trips, screamed their way through Disneyland’s scariest rides, endured obnoxious classmates, and even survived their parents’ divorces.

But as they enter seventh grade, Cassie starts changing. She’s foregoing kickball sessions at lunch for braiding friends’ hair, wearing glitter nail polish instead of overalls, and shopping at the mall instead of playing video games. Plus, Jared’s getting the weird feeling that something *between* them is changing. Jared’s not ready for that. So when his arch-nemesis, Butch, drops the bomb that *he* wants Cassie to be his girlfriend, Jared fears the world as he knows it will come to an end. His world is further disrupted when he’s diagnosed with scoliosis. In the midst of numbing emotion and stupefying situations he’s confronted with an important question from Cassie and his answer leaves her in tears.

Jared doesn’t understand this new Cassie or what his future will be like wearing a back brace. He wants his best friend back, a possibility if he’s willing to beg for forgiveness and consider becoming boyfriend material—something he’s really not ready for now. With Cassie ignoring him, Jared’s grades dropping faster than a meteorite and Butch’s constant gloating that Cassie is “with” him, though, Jared must figure out exactly how he feels about Cassie, himself and dealing with a possibly social life-killing diagnosis—or risk losing his best friend forever right when he needs her the most.

kraftka (at) frontier (dot) com

Unknown said...

Hi Krista,
Thank you for considering my middle-grade manuscript, “The Last Energy Seeker” for a critique. This science fiction book is complete at 60,000 words.

What do you call the weirdest day of your life when you are a Cowanite living on Earth’s twin planet, Gemina? Not the day you spend secretly tracking energy grids with your Grandfather. Not the day you spend scrambling up the purple Crystallite Mountains near your home with your brothers. Not the day you spend riding past the farm’s rapa fields on your seven-foot-tall St. Bernard, Greer.

For Aiden – the youngest in the family, the dreamer, the tinkerer – the weirdest day in his life is the day Grandfather disappears, leaving Aiden with treasures to guard, a mystery to solve and an Empress who needs his help.

Aiden knows the Empress only recruits him because he is the last Energy Seeker – aka the only one who can do the job. He also knows Grandfather’s disappearance is somehow connected. He believes helping the Empress will give him the opportunity to find Grandfather, and figure out the truth.

But, as Aiden embarks on this task, he realizes things will never be right in his world again. He quickly uncovers secrets that will tear his family apart. Even worse, he now fears that his planet’s safety is at risk and he is the only one who can save it from destruction. What will Aiden find? And if he has to choose between his family and his planet, what will he decide?

Carrie Scott

Olga said...

Hi Krista,
Thank you for offering your time to help us improve our manuscripts!

It’s summer break in Madrid and twelve-year-old Antonio Mora is flying to visit his grandparents in Florida. With an old silver coin in his pocket, and a plan to dig for more, he dreams of finding a treasure that could help his unemployed dad in Spain and maybe bring his parents together again.

Antonio’s backpack is loaded with optimism, but once in Clara Springs he realizes treasure hunting is not only a lot of work, it’s tricky—especially with suspicious new neighbors, and a long to-do list from his grandpa. But Antonio is determined to find the coins and be a hero for his dad, and not even a tropical storm heading their way will stop him.

Just as he discovers his coin is an old peso from the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet, Antonio learns his dad has left Spain for good, and his plan and world fall apart. Even with Julianne, his encouraging friend by his side, Antonio must decide if looking for the treasure is still worth it.

THE LAST DOUBLOON is complete at 36,000 words.

Have a great day,

Lucy Unwin said...

Hi Krista,

What a very generous gift you’re offering here, thank you.

I could do with some wise eyes on ONE IS FOR SORROW, my 101k adult contemporary novel of superstition, fate, and the fight to make your life your own.

23-year-old KYA feels suffocated by her stalled life. Living and working with her dad in his shop, and crippled by depression, she can only see one way to escape - suicide. Then the thread of an idea offers an alternative path out. The more she longs for something, the less it seems Fate will let it happen - so, what if Kya starts to list her fears every day instead: “I will die today. I will be hit by a bus.”? Surely fate will be as reliable denying her the worst things she can imagine, as it is in denying her the best?

While Kya becomes obsessed with her new superstitious mantras, a couple of hours north RIO is battling superstition of another kind. He has just discovered his 7-year-old brother is likely to die young. If it were Rio, he would want to know; to fill every day with beauty. But his Catholic parents are still resolutely praying for a miracle. He tries to follow the path his mum and dad set out for him, but can he shirk the responsibility to tell his brother the truth?

As Kya and Rio each try to wrestle control of their destiny - both characters’ beliefs are shaken. Kya’s negative new mantras seem to work at first, but then the bad things on her list start to happen. And while Rio struggles to extend his pragmatism to his own future, as well as his brother’s, his parents’ prayers seem to pay off.

Your help would be much appreciated.

Thanks again,


Katie said...

Very cool! Thanks for the opportunity, Krista!

Down-on-her luck pastry chef Brandy Taylor is having a rough week, the kind that ends without a job, apartment, or boyfriend. Strapped for cash, her dreams of achieving TV chef stardom have never seemed further away. How can she launch her own line of cookware when she can’t even pay her cell phone bill?

Out of options, she’s forced to move back in with her parents at their country home and finds herself smack in the middle of a marriage that’s falling apart. Hitting rock bottom forces Brandy to take stock of her life and put her cupcakes where her mouth is. With her sister halfway across the world, and the new man in her life hours away in the big city, it’s up to Brandy to save her family and rescue her career.

LET THEM EAT CAKE is a contemporary women’s fiction story complete at 73k words. It has a comedy-of-errors feel that will appeal to fans of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series who are looking for something with a little more bite.

Katherine Laurin

Julie said...

Dead at seventeen, Prea Río knows she doesn’t quite fit into Heaven. For one thing, she doesn’t glow as much as the other souls. She’s not blissfully happy all the time, either. But in spite of her moments of discontent, life is way better in Heaven than back on Earth. She has a boyfriend, and she’s about to find her mom, who died when she was a baby. So when Prea discovers she may have accidentally taken another person’s slot in the afterlife, her nearly perfect world is destroyed. If she has to leave Heaven, she’ll lose her mom, but if she stays, she’ll be stealing someone else’s paradise. Her only hope is to find some way to bring Heaven with her back to Earth.

HEAVEN is YA speculative fiction, complete at 55,000 words. My email is juliechristensen at Thank you, Krista, for your consideration. I really loved THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING.

Vanessa said...

Hi Krista! Thank you for this opportunity! You have so many entries! Good luck to everyone!


In 1880, sixteen-year-old Queen Adrianna’s life’s in danger. As the only heir she is vulnerable to threats from her Bolivian cousins. After another threat, for the security of her nation she flees to Brasilia where her fiancée Marcelo awaits. Too bad he doesn’t want her, leaving Adrianna fearful for the alliance.

Adrianna’s ladies devise a plan keep the alliance strong; she needs Marcelo to fall in love with her so his family can’t break the alliance. As she tries to make Marcelo fall for her Adrianna begins receiving mysterious notes in her room, warning of danger to come. Strange things happen at court, and threaten the alliance with their frequency. While scheming to steal Marcelo’s heart, Adrianna understands the connection she has to Marcelo’s older brother and the King’s illegitimate son, Rafael, who has many dangerous secrets of his own. Her heart is supposed to lie with Marcelo, but how can she when Rafael has more feelings for her than her own fiancé.

With rumors traveling around court of Bolivia’s desire to begin another revolution, Adrianna knows there’s no time to waste. She needs her ladies plan to work fast because Peru is depending on her. If she can’t put aside her feelings for Rafael and secure the alliance with Brazil, her entire reign will be in jeopardy. When things finally turn around the castle seer tells her otherwise.

A YA alternate historical at 68,000

Unknown said...

I can't resist a chance for a Krista-crit! My email is now

Triple-threat friends Anne Margaret, Stella, and Macy live in the same Alabama hicktown, but they’re headed in drastically different directions. Anne Margaret is ticking off the months until she heads to Vanderbilt – there maybe she won’t want to puke every time she sees Birch’s name pop up on her phone screen. Stella, who’s been stuck living with her television-addicted Gram ever since her mother ditched her, is itching to move anywhere that doesn’t smell like cat fur and Spaghetti-Os. And has-been cheerleader (and closet songwriter) Macy is sitting in post high school limbo until her younger quarterback boyfriend gets his own diploma.

But when a late-night game of Junior/Senior Wars turns into a court date and a set of matching community service sentences, the three girls begin to realize that their last semester of high school -- and everything beyond it -- could be more bizarrely amazing than they ever thought possible. Only a judge’s orders could force Anne-Margaret to stand up to a jerkface volunteer fireman, Stella to burn her duck tape prom dress, and Macy to consider that maybe, just maybe, love is bigger than the boy next door.

BLUE SKY AND BLACK is SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS meets “Hart of Dixie”. Told in alternating viewpoints, it is a YA contemporary complete at 65,000 words.

Unknown said...

What an awesome opportunity! Thank you for offering this!

I'm getting in in the nick-of-time (I know), but I'd like to submit my 102K Adult High Fantasy: ASCEND. (Definitely within the PG-13 parameter.)


Princess Allisane Kent is done struggling to earn the respect of her uncle, the King of Æled. She's spent years training on her winged horse, yet the King bars her from his council, preferring the advice of his gutless lords as a powerful empire hunts down Æled's winged horses. Allisane's people lost their fire magic generations ago, a secret they've kept from the winged men of Voluce. Taming the winged horses is their only protection, but the King does nothing to keep the Volucian Empire at bay. When Volucians massacre a wild herd on Æled land, Allisane forces her way into the King's council, determined to keep her horse safe and prove she can lead.

Captain Damien Ardeo struggles to earn respect as the only common born officer in the Volucian military. His people rule the skies with their wings and the land through their huge numbers. They only fear Æled's control of fire—but not for much longer. Damien's glory-obsessed commanders hurtle the empire towards war, intent on exterminating Æled's winged horses and pushing the fire-wielding Æleders off the continent. Damien pushes his commanders to stop the killings, but his bloody nobility doesn't give a damn. When tensions escalate, Damien tries to get his family out of the capital before war erupts. But he's too late

When high-born Volucian soldiers attack Princess Allisane during her training, tensions ignite into war. Damien's commanders order his division to invade Æled's capital and eliminate the rest of the winged horses. Following orders means killing innocents - and keeping his family safe from Æled's retribution. But Allisane's not about to let anyone hurt her horse or threaten her people - even if it takes defying the king and leading troops against the Volucians.

Caught between duty and protecting those they love, Allisane and Damien's paths collide as their nations spiral into bloodshed.

Rachel Chaney

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thank you for sharing all your amazing stories with me! I'll announce a winner sometime next week.