Tuesday, August 31, 2010

40 Making the Most of Criticism

Writing isn't something I do in public. Mostly I do it in in the night or early morning, in hours I am conscious of stealing from my children and spouse, or borrowing from time I could have spent working for clients or--groan--cleaning my house. I kept it secret until I was almost done with the first draft of my novel. But once those hours had coughed up a certain number of pages, I started craving feedback. Was it horrible? Was it wonderful? I had no idea, and part of me was afraid to find out. What I needed was someone to critique my work, so I started to look around online, and I joined SCBWI, went to a couple conferences, and gradually started putting together different people to help me get a handle on how much work my manuscript still needed.

I don't even want to say what number draft I've just finished, but I've come to the realization that critiquers come to you in different stages during your journey as a writer. There is value in every one of them. You just have to recognize them for who they are and what they offer.
  • The Cheerleader: She reads your work and loves it. Loves it so much she is willing to read it multiple times and love it even more each and every time. She's the one who keeps you believing in yourself and your story. Unfortunately, she is new to writing and often knows only as much as you do, so she can't help you understand that--while your story is worth loving--it also needs serious help. Or possibly she knows there's something wrong, but doesn't know how to help you fix it.  Still, without her, you might not survive the second draft, much less the eighth.
  • The Alpa Reader: She is who you need in an early draft, someone who can read the whole book without cringing and offer honest feedback about what works on a grand scale and what doesn't. She knows how to read attentively for pace and plot and character, and she knows how to pick out the good things as well as those that still need work. She doesn't line edit but gives you a road map for your next revision.
  • The Writing Partner: She is developing her craft on a parallel trajectory to yours. She knows almost as much as The Author--if you're lucky, she may even be The Author--but she is willing to stick with your story through all the drafts and help you look at a different layer of the manuscript in each. Eventually, she helps you line-edit your manuscript, not by rewriting it in her own style, but by pointing out a problem, explaining why it's a problem, and letting you find your own solutions.
  • The Author/Mentor: She is published or on her way to being published, and she's worked with enough editors to understand the limits of what can or should be said to encourage someone's writing without destroying its integrity. She doesn't line edit until the narrator has a voice, the plot holes are fixed, the characters are likable and distinct, and the pacing keeps the reader reading. She may pick up on your common crutch words, comment on specific phrasing that pulls the reader out of the story, or say things like, "cut this scene in half, it's dragging the story down" that leave you scratching your head. This is only because you haven't learned enough yet to see beyond your words to the various elements of craft. But once that light bulb comes on, her comments are like 24k gold. You listen to them, and revise, revise, revise.
  • The Beta Reader: Ideally, this is someone who would ultimately buy your book. She doesn't need to know everything there is about writing, because you've already written the best book you and your various critiquers can coax out of you. She can--and should--point out typos; places where she doesn't understand or believe something; and parts of the story where her attention wanders.
     
  • The Professional: Once your story reaches a certain level, you get lucky and have agents or editors start commenting on your work. Sometimes they are like The Author, and the comments seem undecipherable. But if you research what they've said, really think about it in context of your story and writing, the sentence or two of advice they give you can be enough to transform the whole manuscript. A positive rejection can make your day, or even your week, because you know you're getting close. And that's when you keep submitting. Unless you're getting some positive comments or suggestions from the professionals you submit to, you need to go back to the drawing board and visit with some other types of critiquers.
Critiquing, like writing, is a process, and it's individual. It's up to us as writers to learn everything we can about the craft and business of writing. Someone the other day wrote about the DIYMFA that writers have to earn. I've also read that most writers need eight to ten years of writing to get good enough to be publishable.

Few of us are patient enough to wait that long before submitting. I sure wasn't. I've made every rookie mistake agents tweet about and rant about. (Okay, maybe not all of them, but I've made a lot of mistakes.) My biggest was submitting too early, and that's not because I didn't bother to have my work critiqued. I did. I just didn't ask the right critiquer at the right time. I didn't even know enough to know what I needed in a critique.

Don't give your first, or even your second draft to a Cheerleader or a group of Alpha Readers and expect it to be ready to query because they said it was great. They can tell you whether the manuscript is worth pursuing though. With that confirmation under your belt, look for a Writing Partner or Mentor who knows as much or more than you do about the craft. Read craft books and craft blogs. Critique other people's work. Read fiction with a writer's eye. Study what works and what doesn't. Understand why you like some things and not others. Listen to what your Writing Partners or Mentors have to say. Then get a number of different Beta Readers. Don't try to take every piece of advice that's offered. Learn to sift through it. Look for common denominators where they find problems, not just what problem they think they've identified. Revise, revise, and revise some more. Then query. (After taking time to write the best query letter you can and doing your market research on your comps and which agents or editors might like your story.) Submit if requested.

Send out 5-10 queries and stop to assess what's happening. If you have sent out your query letter without sample pages, and you're not getting submission requests, it's time to rewrite your query and have another look at your concept. If you have sent out sample pages and you're not getting requests, it's also time to check your writing. Find the right critiquer for where you are in the process, or hire a Professional or an Author. Enter contests. Repeat ad nauseum.

Don't give up, but don't just keep sending out the same old thing. Because guess what, all those stories about authors getting triple digit rejections before getting accepted? They weren't necessarily for the same book or the same version of the book. Just because one draft doesn't sell doesn't mean the next one won't fix the problems that hold it back. Or maybe there's a different way to look at the story. Or a better story you can tell using the knowledge you've acquired while writing this one.

So that's my two cents. I want to take this moment to say that I've had help from amazing Cheerleaders, Writing Partners, Alpha and Beta Readers, Authors , Mentors, and Professionals. For their unwavering patience, support, kindness, and expertise,  they deserve more gratitude than I can possibly express.

As for my Marissa, who has been everything to me, I can only hope to give back a fraction of what she has offered so generously. Consider this a marker, M. I owe you BIG.

Martina

Monday, August 30, 2010

18 In Stores This Week (with Interviews & Giveaways)

It's another exciting week for YA fans! Now that MOCKINGJAY has dropped, we're making way for book releases that have been buzzing in the blogosphere for months.

Thanks to Keri Adams and Stefan Hayden of YALit for providing weekly updates on new YA releases. You can follow them on Twitter at @yalit_com.

Scroll all the way down to enter the giveaways and read below for an interview and book summaries!

This Week's Interview

From Goodreads: Lucy Sexton is stunned when a disheveled woman appears at the door one day... a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lucy's own beautiful mother. It turns out the two women are identical twins, separated at birth, and raised in dramatically different circumstances. Lucy's mother quickly resolves to give her less fortunate sister the kind of life she has never known. And the transformation in Aunt Helen is indeed remarkable. But when Helen begins to imitate her sister in every way, even Lucy isn't sure at times which twin is which. Can Helen really be trusted, or does her sweet face mask a chilling agenda? Filled with shocking twists and turns, The Twin's Daughter is an engrossing gothic novel of betrayal, jealousy, and treacherous secrets that will keep you guessing to the very end.

How long did you work on this book?
I don't know exactly but I can say I spent longer writing the first draft of The Twin's Daughter than any book I've ever written. I've been known to write at breakneck speed when a story is clear in my head - or maybe I should call that break-wrist speed - but The Twin's Daughter somehow demanded I slow down and take my time.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Again, I don't know exactly how many rejections but certainly enough to paper the walls of my office. It took me eight years, during which time I wrote seven novels, before I finally sold a book. Eight years is a fairly long time to consistently hear the word "No" and still keep moving forward. Since 2003 I've sold 23 books, however, so I like to think I've made up for it.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Read, read, read - read everything you can get your hands on because you can't be a good writer without being a good reader first. And always remember: the only person who can ever really take you out of the game is you.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
That the worst and the best of it never changes no matter where you are in your career. The worst, rejection, still comes only it comes in different forms. But the best, the joy in the actual act of writing something new, endures.

We cannot thank you enough for this wonderful opportunity.
And I thank you!

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1) by Cassandra Clare
  • From Goodreads: Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still. When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: Jem, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all. 
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
  • From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Evie's job is bagging and tagging paranormals. Possessing the strange ability to see through their glamours, she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. But when someone--or something--starts taking out the vamps, werewolves, and other odd beasties she's worked hard to help become productive members of society, she's got to figure it out before they all disappear and the world becomes utterly normal. Normal is so overrated.

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
  • From Goodreads: Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Venus Cove. But everything changes when three angels are sent from heaven to protect the town against the gathering forces of darkness: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. They work hard to conceal their true identity and, most of all, their wings. But the mission is threatened when the youngest angel, Bethany, is sent to high school and falls in love with the handsome school captain, Xavier Woods. Will she defy the laws of Heaven by loving him? Things come to a head when the angels realize they are not the only supernatural power in Venus Cove. There′s a new kid in town and he′s charming, seductive and deadly. Worst of all, he′s after Beth.
Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
  • From Goodreads: Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look. Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life. As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares. His life depends on it.
TimeRiders by Alex Scarrow
  • From Goodreads: Liam O'Connor should have died at sea in 1912. Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010. Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2029. Yet moments before death, someone mysteriously appeared and said, 'Take my hand ...' But Liam, Maddy and Sal aren't rescued. They are recruited by an agency that no one knows exists, with only one purpose - to fix broken history. Because time travel is here, and there are those who would go back in time and change the past. That's why the TimeRiders exist: to protect us. To stop time travel from destroying the world...

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
  • From Goodreads: Haven Moore can’t control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan, and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother’s house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is, and who she was. In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept into an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Iain is suspected of murdering a rock star and Haven wonders, could he have murdered her in a past life? She visits the Ouroboros Society and discovers a murky world of reincarnation that stretches across millennia. Haven must discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves¸ before all is lost and the cycle begins again.
The Haunted (The Hollow #2) by Jessica Verday
  • From Goodreads: After a summer spent reclaiming her sanity and trying to forget the boy she fell in love with by the bridge where her best friend drowned - the boy who must not exist, cannot exist, because she knows that he is dead - Abbey returns to Sleepy Hollow, determined to leave the ghosts of her past behind. She throws herself into schoolwork, perfume-making and her friendship with Ben, her cute and funny lab partner, who just might be able to help her get over Caspian once and for all. But Abbey is never going to truly be able to move on from Caspian and Caspian has no choice but to return to her side: for Caspian is a Shade and Abbey is his destiny. The two are tied not only to each other, but also to the town of Sleepy Hollow and the famous legend that binds their fates - a legend whose true ending and dark truths they are only just beginning to guess...
Vanished (Private #12) by Kate Brian
  • From Goodreads: The latest mystery in the New York Times bestselling series, Private.




Giveaways

And now for a contest! One lucky reader will win an ARC of PARANORMALCY courtesy of Martina. Another reader will win a copy of the newly released MOCKINGJAY courtesy of Marissa. Enter for a chance to win by leaving a comment and filling out the form below. Please indicate which book you would like to win. The contest closes on Friday, September 3rd at midnight EST and is open to U.S. residents only. Winners will be announced Saturday, September 4th.

Happy Reading!

Martina & Marissa

Saturday, August 28, 2010

8 In Stores This Week: Contest Winners!

We are thrilled to announce the winners of our newly released YA contest! Drumroll please...

The winner of Inara Scott's THE CANDIDATES (DELCROIX ACADEMY #1) is...


Lisa Gibson!!!

The winner of Charles Benoit's signed manuscript page from his book YOU is...


Jessica Tudor!!!

The winner of Beth Kephart's DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS is...


Lisa Potts!!!

Congratulations, ladies! Thank you to all who participated and entered. And a BIG thank you to Inara, Charles, and Beth. We wish you all the best in the success of your new releases!

Happy reading!

Martina & Marissa

P.S. We hope you stop by Monday for more new releases, interviews, and chances to win fabulous YA books!

Friday, August 27, 2010

21 Best Articles! This Week for Writers 8/27/2010

Inspiration
Craft of Writing
Self-Editing
Critiquing
Contests
To Market
After the Sale
Twitter, Blogging & Social Media
Issues and Trends
Book Reviews
Congrats!
Just for Smiles
 Other Weekly Round-Ups:

Did we miss anything? Anyone? Please leave a comment!

Happy reading and joyous writing,

Martina & Marissa

Thursday, August 26, 2010

3 The Pitch Workshop Is Now Open

The entries for our Pitch-to-Query contest are posted below. Each of these entries were assigned to our panel of mentoring authors last Thursday, and the mentors have been reviewing them. They will be adding their comments over the next few days. In the meantime, contestants, now is the time to do your part. Please critique a minimum of five entries, and try to space them out so that everyone receives a roughly equal number of comments.

Not a contestant? We invite you to offer your courteous, helpful comments anyway. This is a learning opportunity for all of us.

Curious who your mentors are? Check below:

Note: There are 51 entries instead of 50 due to an invalid disqualification due to an overzealous spam filter.


MENTORING AUTHORS
  • Entries 1-5: E. M. Kokie's debut novel, Personal Effects, will be published by Candlewick in 2012. After spending most of her life on the East Coast, she now lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her partner and their imaginary pets. Eventually, she'll have a fully functioning website, but for now she can be found on twitter at @emkokie or hanging around the Absolute Write Forums. She is represented by Chris Richman of Upstart Crow Literary.
  • Entries 6-10: Tahereh a.k.a. T.H. Mafi works as a graphic designer. Her blog Grab a Pen consistently entertains the masses. She writes YA novels and is represented by the ever-fabulous Amy Tipton of Signature Literary Agency.
  • Entries 11-15: Lisa Green is not a demon, ghost, vampire, fairy or shape-shifter*. She has, however, enjoyed reading and writing about them since the age of seven. Her short stories and poems have been featured in several online magazines and her manuscripts are represented by the amazing Rubin Pfeffer of East-West Literary. *Please note that the exclusion of werewolves above is strictly coincidental.
  • Entries 16-20: J.A. Souders was born with an overactive imagination and an abundance of curiosity that led her to befriend the monsters under the bed. When she grew up, she decided to put her imaginary friends to work and started writing. She lives in the land of sunshine and palm trees with her husband and  their two children, and is an active member of the RWA, CFRW, and the SCBWI. She is represented by Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
  • Entries 21-25: After a successful career in journalism, Debra Gersh Hernandez works with press and media advocacy groups as an independent communications consultant. Her first picture books  "The Sneaky Snackers," illustrated by Eric MacDicken, features furry, funny monsters and an easygoing lesson about tolerance. She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero at the L. Perkins Agency.
  • Entries 26-30: Nikki Katz is a freelance writer, author, wife, rocket scientist (aerospace engineer), mother of three, friend, daughter, sister, and often-times more. She lives in San Diego, CA where she works from home as the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld blog. She has published four nonfiction books, and her first novel, a young adult urban fantasy, is represented by Bree Ogden at Martin Literary Management.
  • Entries 31-35: A.E. Rought's love of fantasy started with listening at her mother's knee and turned to writing after she got married and had two beautiful kids of her own. Her work includes children's fiction as well as adult fantasy and paranormal. Her first novel, Nuermar's Last Witch, which has been called a 'spellbinding fantasy,' was published in 2007, with a number of other books published since and more in the works. She is represented by Gina Panettieri of Talcott Notch Literary Services
  • Entries 36-40: Elana Johnson's debut novel, Possession, will be published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster) in Summer 2011. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for download. School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or her website. She also co-authors the Query Tracker blog, the League of Extraordinary Writers, and What Writers Read. Elana is represented by Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary.
  • Entries 41-45: Hilary Wagner lives in Chicago with her husband, Eric, two crazy kids and her dog Louie, who sometimes thinks he's human. Her debut novel, Nightshade City (Holiday House) releases October of 2010, with Book II of the Nightshade Chronicles releasing next year. She loves classically written stories with a creepy slant and knows she's read a good book when she's sad she has no more left to read! Her guilty pleasures are bad reality TV, candy corn and Cheetos!
  • Entries 46-51: Gretchen McNeil is a classically trained soprano turned television producer turned writer. She is repped by Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown and her YA urban fantasy BANISH debuts with Balzer + Bray in Winter 2012. Gretchen is a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels and blogs with the Enchanted Inkpot. She is the voice of Mary on G4's "Code Monkeys" and she currently sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk.
Happy critiquing, everyone!

Martina & Marissa

11 Pitch Entry #1: Jessica

Title: TAG-19

Genre: YA thriller

Sixteen-year-old foster-care veteran Kae Ringer is already having a bad week, when she looks in a Philadelphia newspaper and sees her face under a murder headline. The victim’s name and hair are different, but the face is hers. Within a day, she goes for a run and returns to find her latest family brutally murdered. Kidnapped and taken to Switzerland, she learns her secret twin was a student-employee of a special school. Liberta is a residence and training ground for operatives known as Technical Assistance Guides; her sister Charlotte was known as TAG-19.

The Headmaster covers up Charlotte’s death from the rival agency that ordered the murders, and wants to train Kae to take over TAG-19’s duties. In mourning and danger, Kae cooperates. With a newfound sense of identity and purpose, Kae begins to investigate clues about her birth and plan revenge on the killers. Small problem—with Kae walking around, the spy who killed her twin thinks he missed his target. Now he’s waiting for the right moment to finish the job.

12 Pitch Entry #2: A Grey

Title: Amarok and the Gone Missing Girl


Genre: Young Adult

What would you do if something that frightened you more than anything, suddenly became someone you didn’t want to live without? Ansel Whitetree is an introverted albino Athabaskan Indian who’s more than happy to stay out of the public eye. But when a delirious runaway girl shows up in his parents storage shed, he’s forced to choose between letting her stay, and calling the police. What starts out as an act of kindness quickly turns into a personal crusade to help a girl he doesn’t know but is already beginning to love.

Determined to save the girl, who he’s nicknamed Catskin, from her lingering demons, Ansel soon finds himself in a struggle between what’s always been, and what might be. In doing what’s right for Catskin, he’s forced to face what has always frightened him the most. No one ever said love was easy, but Ansel knows that love is worth fighting for. If, of course, he and Catskin can survive the changeover from who they were to who they’re becoming.

8 Pitch Entry #3: Phoebe

Title: Seas Run Dry


Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

When eighteen-year-old Irene meets Loril Walker at the boardwalk diner where she works, she’s struck by his sparkling eyes and exotic accent. But she’s shocked to find out that he’s more than foreign—he is, in fact half-merman. He’s come to the boardwalk because he faces a choice: spend the rest of his life at sea with his dying pod or settle down in the alien world of a father he’s never met.

Irene’s been facing hard choices, too: breaking up her band, leaving her friends behind to go to art school in New York City. She’s even been considering ditching college completely to stay in the seamy seaside town she loves. Falling in love with Loril makes these choices a little more complicated. But his pod waits for him, hoping he’ll one day take his place as their leader. And soon the couple will discover the terrible truth about Loril’s human family—when one of them threatens Irene’s very life.

8 Pitch Entry #4: Monica B.W.

Genre: YA paranormal


Title: Out of My Body

Whenever her soul feels like going out for a float, sixteen-year-old Tanya Reinhart finds herself hovering over her limp, drooling body. Sure, you’d think astral experiences are fun. But they’re definitely not fun when you faint in class—or, crap, fall on the lap of Tanya’s high school crush.

One awful night, after finding her mother unconscious, Tanya realizes being a drooling freak is nothing. Because, according to an ethereal stranger who sifts through the door, her mom has left her body—as she’s done for years, serving the Government. Only tonight, her soul is MIA. The stranger cooks a deal with Tanya: if she becomes an out-of-body spy and discovers a traitor in his agency, he’ll get her mother’s soul back. But what could be worse than working undercover while pretending to be a normal high school student? Well, finding out you’re actually helping the bad guys. And that the traitor not only is the good guy, but he’s your crush. Now, if Tanya doesn’t turn him in, she won’t see her mother again.

10 Pitch Entry #5: Melissa Gill

Title: ZOMBIE RABBIT

Genre: Middle Grade/Adventure

Milo Thimbleberry is a rabbit turned into a zombie because he failed to live up to his potential in life. He wants to move on to the Misty Meadow where good rabbits go when they die, but he’ll have to perform a dangerous task to do so. If he fails to complete the task by the next full moon, or if he dissentigrates completely before he completes it, he’ll have to go to The Hot Place, where he’ll be hunted by predators for eternity.

His task is to lead a group of zombies on a mission to rescue a rabbit from an animal testing lab. They have to overcome a series of challenges inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, only for woodland animals. They also have to defeat the Lady in Pink (the LIP) who runs the lab and wants to use zombie animals in her testing. In the end they succeed through team work and sacrafice. Milo goes from loafer to leader and gets the chance to move on.

12 Pitch Entry #6: Meagan Spooner

Title: THE IRON WOOD

Genre: YA Dystopian Fantasy

Sixteen year-old Lark Ainsley has never seen the sky. Her world ends at the edge of the vast domed Wall enclosing all that's left of humanity. The city harvests every child's innate magic at adolescence to sustain the Wall that keeps out the twisted remains of the world. When it's Lark’s turn to be harvested, she finds herself trapped in a nightmarish web of experiments and learns that she is that rarest of things: a Renewable, able to regenerate her own power after it’s been stripped.

If she stays in the world she's known, she's doomed to a life of agony as a human battery powering the city. Now, the girl who has never seen the sky must fight her way across the terrible and beautiful ruined landscape beyond the edge of the world in search of a place she can be safe. To guide her, she has only the knowledge that somewhere out there are others like her, and that she must find them in the Iron Wood.

15 Pitch Entry #7: Jen Armentrout

Title: Half-Blood


Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

There’s nothing like crushing on the hot and totally forbidden Daemon to take Alexandria’s mind off training to kill her mother.

In a world controlled by pure-blooded demigods, seventeen-year-old half-blood Alex must defy her growing attraction to her Instructor and commit her life to killing those who have turned into murderous Furies. Falling for Daemon is not a complication Alex needs right now. Relationships between halfs and pures are strictly forbidden. Why? The Gods forbid it. Yeah, even Alex thinks that’s a crap excuse. The more time she spends with him, the more she is willing to take that risk. One perfect night with Daemon could be worth a lifetime of servitude, the only other option suitable for a half-blood. But when she discovers that her mother has become what Alex hates most – a Furie, she faces a heartbreaking choice: kill her mother or risk becoming a Furie herself.

10 Pitch Entry #8: Sarah N. Fisk

Title: MIRANDA’S FIRE


Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Miranda Dakin is the most powerful Fire Mage alive and could win this year’s annual Tournament – if she were three days older. Mages must be at least sixteen to attend The Tournament, the paramount event for the secretive modern-day Mage society. Waiting another year to compete becomes the least of her worries when a horde of supposedly-extinct demons attack The Tournament, killing or kidnapping every adult Mage – including her Psychic Mage mother.

After receiving a message from her mother, Miranda must rescue the surviving Mages from a place she was told doesn't exist. She sets off on a cross-country rescue mission with three others: a strange young Holy Knight, her Witch of a best friend, and a powerful Water Mage she's known since birth.

Miranda grapples with a seductive ancient knowledge while discovering most of what she’s been taught about her magic is a strategic lie. An intimate betrayal, public demon attacks, and an unexpected affection complicate matters when all Miranda wants is her mother safely back at home.

13 Pitch Entry: #9: Janice Foy

Title: Salvation


Genre: YA (Dystopian)

Kerry Adams is a genetically perfect seventeen-year-old whose life was mapped out before she was conceived. She has never questioned the rules that govern her future - when she turns eighteen she’ll commit to her life partner and have perfect babies to strengthen a weakened human race.

Kerry’s life is going to plan until her reckless older sister goes missing. Kerry’s search for her sister takes her beneath the streets of New York – where feral societies live their lives without rules or surveillance. It brings her into the arms of Finn Connors, who knows more about her life than he pretends and it will help her discover the truth about herself and the freedom of choice.

10 Pitch Entry #10: Natalie Aguirre

Title: THE THIRD TOWER


Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

When twelve-year-old Jasmine and her best friend Austin follow a talking doorknob into the land of Myrrdin, they’re shocked to learn everyone believes she inherited her adoptive great-grandmother’s ability to perform spells. That’s impossible. She was adopted from China as a baby. Soon, their lives take a dangerous turn after they discover Glazdick, an evil man out for revenge, is desperately searching for a wand-like weapon he needs to destroy Myrrdin’s magic and become king. But he can’t use it without Jasmine’s magical powers.

The clock is ticking for Jasmine and Austin to find the magical weapon before Glazdick steals it. But finding it is not enough. Glazdick is hunting for them too. And he’ll stop at nothing—even utilizing Austin as a pawn—to make Jasmine help him. Now Jasmine must discover how her adoption unlocks her newly found magical powers or face a terrible choice: cooperate in Glazdick’s evil plot or lose Austin forever.

14 Pitch Entry #11: Marilyn Peake

Title: Mermaid in the Summer of Burning Water


Genre: YA Fantasy

As fires lick the floor of heaven and turtles burn in the dark of night, three teenagers sneak past the military guards and find an unconscious mermaid washed up onshore. Coated in seaweed and the black crude of the recent oil disaster, she’s barely breathing. As the teens touch her shimmering scales, their senses intensify. Over the next few days, they develop the ability to see a web of connections among events. They gradually understand some rather troubling events within their families, including a father's spiraling descent into alcoholism when his fishing business is ruined by the oil spill. Able to see beyond the immediate, they recognize tendrils reaching out from the past, sources of addiction and violence that occurred long before they were born. When the mermaid awakens, she offers them a chance of redemption.

8 Pitch Entry #12: Dawn Malone

Title: The Upside of Down


Genre: Contemporary middle-grade

Hobo Crane’s life is the pits. He’s the star player on his eighth-grade basketball team though he hates playing. Then there’s the nosy neighbor girl with a Jupiter-sized crush on him who invades his kitchen after school every day to help with the Crane family catering business.

When Hobo discovers a runaway named Up living in the giant blue spruce on an overgrown city lot one afternoon, things get interesting. Up is a sneering, sarcastic shrimp boat. He’s also well-read, carries a jar full of mysterious buttons, and has a past he’d rather not talk about. Through several chance meetings, the boys form a tentative bond. Each sees in the other what they crave most – for Hobo it’s a life without boundaries and for Up, it’s someone to trust.

Soon Hobo decides it’s up to him to change Up’s desperate situation. Throughout THE UPSIDE OF DOWN, Hobo risks losing friendships, his parents’ trust, and his status on the team as he helps his unlikely friend continue a cross-country journey to find a family member.

8 Pitch Entry #13: Vincent Kale

Title: Blackwatch: Order and Chaos


Genre: YA/Sci-Fi

When fifteen-year-old Lamarr Jeffers messes with a funky watch he finds in his Uncle’s pawn shop, he unknowingly stops time and causes a tear in the fabric of order. While the world he knows is frozen motionless, scores of nightmarish demons pour through the rift, overwhelming the warriors put in place to defend it.

With the original Guardians now dead, Lamarr and his best friend Tinka are recruited by a leather-clad biker duo wielding samurai swords and high-tech devices. They are trained in the ways of the Blackwatch, a timeless society of warriors that fight the eternal struggle against creatures from the savage, ash-covered jungles of Chaos. Now it’s up to Lamarr and Tinka to learn fast, train hard and stay alive. If they succeed in ridding their world of the abominations of Chaos, they will earn their ranks among the Blackwatch. If they fail, their world will be annihilated. No pressure.

Blackwatch: Order and Chaos, complete at approximately 60,000 words, is a sci-fi novel for young adults.

7 Pitch Entry #14: Suzie Musin

Title: Time Will Tell


Genre: Young Adult

Since age three, Vera’s lived within a secret time traveling guild. When an agent rushes up to her in the ancient Roman market, he claims they’re good friends in her future. Problem one: whether to trust him. Problem two: Ethan’s on the run from a murderer who opposes everything the Guild represents.

When they’re attacked, her traveling powers activate without warning. She’s flung into the driver’s seat for the first time at an age too young to handle it. Because of her inexperience, something terrible happens to Ethan. She’s only starting to cope with it when she meets a confrontational boy with sharp intelligence...named Ethan. This time he’s her age and he can tell she’s hiding something. As Vera tries to figures out what she owes him, besides his Guild-mandated right to live without knowledge of his own future, she searches for answers on what sparked her premature abilities. She uncovers family secrets which force her to question everything she knows about her identity and the Guild which runs her entire life.

12 Pitch Entry #15: Shelley Watters

Title: BLUE LOTUS


Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

When seventeen-year-old Anna Caerulea travels to Egypt to work alongside her father on an archeological dig in Egypt, she meets the man of her dreams and finds herself caught between sides in an ancient war between Osiris and Anubis.

As the Great Pyramids rise up from the scorching desert sand before her, Anna’s dreams have come true. But when statues whisper to her and touching mummies cause her to collapse with hallucinations of ancient Egypt, she wonders if coming to Egypt was a good idea after all.

Together they explore an ancient tomb, narrowly escaping booby traps and thwarting tomb robbers. After a near-death experience, Anna remembers a past that she didn’t know she had and she discovers that Alex is not what he seems.

It is up to Anna to decipher the clues that lead to the location of Osiris’ tomb before the armies can unleash Osiris on Egypt. Her life, her relationship with Alex, and the fate of the Egypt lay in her hands.

15 Pitch Entry #16: Brenda Drake

Title: Library Jumpers


Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Gia Kearns would rather spar with boys instead of kiss them. That is until an out-of-place rebel hottie in the pretentious Boston Athenaeum intrigues her. When he disappears in the space of a distracted glance, Gia's search for him leads to the book of world libraries he was reading before he vanished. While flipping through the pages, Gia speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into the National Library of France. The rebel, Arik, and his multicultural gang of magical Paladijns rescue the three from a demonic beast in the library.

Gia learns she's a missing Paladijn destined to protect humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books. The fact that she must train to be a Paladijn with her deadbeat father, a man she fears is an unstable individual, makes her uneasy. Now to prevent an exiled wizard from releasing an apocalyptic force, Gia must unleash her suppressed magic to stop him.

17 Pitch Entry #17: Jessica Tudor

Title: MERCY


Genre: YA magical realism

The first time, Madelyn drowns accidentally. The second time, her twin sister Camilla lets it happen, a choice that could pull her under.

Eighteen-year-old Camilla Jay can rewind each day if she chooses. After Madelyn’s death, getting through the day is hard enough once. Then she finds notes hinting that Madelyn knew what would happen. As though Camilla’s guilt wasn’t strong enough. She’s flooded with doubts about her ability, their relationship, and her identity. The only way she can find peace is to answer Madelyn’s question: Why did Camilla go back if she wasn’t going to save her sister? Even she doesn’t know, but she’s determined to figure it out.

10 Pitch Entry #18: June Goodwin

Title: Paying for the Sins of My Father


Genre: YA

When fourteen year-old Sky moves to South Carolina, she learns that some of the inhabitants of her new hometown are not what they appear to be—and they have plans for her.

Sky’s father bilked a lot of people out of a lot of money, but one woman is not going to let him get away unscathed. She has connections, but they’re not of this world. That’s where seventeen year-old Ryan comes into play. He’s part of an evil immortal network and they owe this woman. What better way to make a father pay for his sins than to destroy his daughter? There’s just one problem—Ryan doesn’t want to do it. And he’s falling in love. That is definitely not part of the plan. The network is not going to let allow this. Sky and Ryan struggle to find love without losing lives.

12 Pitch Entry #19: Jared Larson

Title: I'm Here to Save Your Day: The Adventures of Bo Wolf.


Genre: MG Adventure/Fantasy

Bo Wolf is just your average bully-slaying fifth grader. Sure, the other kids tease him about his arms looking like flexi-straws, and they tell him to go back to his home on Dweeb Island, but Bo doesn't care. With his mad fencing skills and soon-to-be ravishing good looks, he's convinced he's on the way to the pinnacle of his awesomeness.

After impressing a school yard gang by defeating their leader in a broomstick combat, Bo agrees to help them take on the meanest, ugliest, and biggest bully known to man– Grendul– who's taken the playground jungle gym for his own.

However, when Bo puts the smack-down on Grendul, he finds a much more powerful adversary in the bully's mom, the school lunch lady. Angered by her precious son's defeat, she plots to poison the entire school with her irresistible ginger snaps. When Bo discovers her diabolical plan, he must find his courage to save his friends and the new love of his life, Reagan, from an imminent cafeteria induced death.

13 Pitch Entry #20: Andrea Pelleschi

Title: THE CASE OF THE CAROUSEL GHOST


Genre: MG/mystery/paranormal

Fourteen-year-old Kate O’Reilly takes on a new ghost case at the local amusement park. At first it looks like a simple poltergeist, but when Kate rides the new carousel, she finds herself transported back in time and into the body of Isabelle, a ghost who died 80 years ago. In fact, each time Kate rides the carousel, she relives another snippet from Isabelle’s life. Rumor has it that Isabelle’s husband, a famous carousel carver, murdered her and put her body inside one of the horses.

It’s Kate’s most complicated case yet, but it’s still easier than dealing with real life where her best friend is ignoring her and the most obnoxious boy in school won’t leave her alone. Luckily Jack, a ghost and former vaudeville performer, is always there to lend a helping hand or a wry comment.

Kate rushes to solve the case before the carousel horse is put in the park museum. Otherwise, she won’t be able to collect her fee and Isabelle will be doomed to haunt the carousel forever.

8 Pitch Entry #21: RC Shivers

Title: Maddie & Mook and the Message in the Bottle


Genre: Middle Grade

Twelve year old Maddie is a dreamer. Throughout the day she dreams of the ‘far away’ places her photographer mom gets to visit and take pictures of. She is a smart young lady that fills her need to explore by searching the beach near her house, with her crazy little puppy Mook. The note in the bottle floods her mind with thoughts of who wrote the note? Where did the bottle come from? What do the initials on the note mean?

Maddie searches, with the help of her mom and the companionship of Mook, for the place the old bottle came from. The internet and detective work help the team decipher the message. They start on an adventure that takes them across the ocean and down into the tropical islands of the Caribbean. Maddie and Mook are on a quest to find the writer of the message in the bottle, but first they must find island where the mysterious bottle started its’ journey.