R-12: THE MEASURE OF SILENCE

Title: THE MEASURE OF SILENCE
Age Category: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Word Count: 129,000

Pitch: In Renaissance France—where a woman’s selling her words is as scandalous as selling her body—one poet’s groundbreaking quest for publication ignites a deadly frenzy of recrimination and revenge.

First 250 Words:
It has been mine for two months, but still this name confounds me: Giuseppina. Giuseppina Guillaume. My tongue stumbles over its unfamiliar syllables; my hand, as I sign, hesitates, threatens to trace instead the pattern of my other name, my other self. My husband calls two, three times before I respond; my ear, accustomed to the harsh staccato of my childhood name, catches not the languid softness of this new one. Giuseppina.

Not for me, the simple exchange of family names, father’s for husband’s. The name bestowed on me at baptism, the standard of my shriven soul, was token for this trade. In its place a rustic pennant droops, spattered and besmirched. I drape its folds about me, but it does not hide my shame.

Far from home, I bear the name of the patron of the hearth. San Giuseppe, protect me, sinner though I am! Each dawn the graying light scrambles the fragments of my foolish dreams. The stranger beside me stirs and wakes; the sight of my swollen belly spurs him, clumsy and discomforted, from bed. Tomaso, too, has paid a heavy price for his devotion. Was it greed or pity that prompted his assent to these neat plans? Pity is but another stone hurled at my head; greed, at least, makes us equals in disgrace. Would that he felt something more, that I might slip love’s uncertain chains! But duty holds his passions fast. In truth, I should welcome his stiff courtesy.

I call my husband stranger, yet it is I who am unknown, foreign even in this city of nations.

R-11: HONEY AND LEMONS

Title: HONEY AND LEMONS
Age Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Word Count: 84,000

Pitch: Trans, broke, and miles from home, Aldonza makes one stupid mistake (well, okay, four) and gets her family cursed. To undo it, she must finish an investigation that someone’s trying to stop. With bullets. Great.

First 250 Words:
The way folks in town went on and on about the Edwards, you’d think their mansion would be harder to break into.

I gripped the ivy on the gate, half-expecting the leaves to turn to dust and the vines to snakes. Or for the whole plant to be an illusion—who actually has gates twined with ivy? But the vines held firm. The leaves were slick with rain, but steadier than my cold-numbed hands. On second thought, maybe ivy was how mistreated servants helped thieves.

I got one leg over the top, then the other, and teetered. The grass was too overgrown for me to tell if I was in for a soft landing or a tangle of thorns. All the plants in the garden had spilled out of their original places, now too tall or too old or too dead.

I forced my fingers to unclench and dropped, aiming to land in a crouch. Instead, I ended up with my nose in the grass and my hand caught on a thorny branch. Cat burglary: maybe not my calling.

The stinging from the thorn cuts sliced through the numbness of my hands as I spat out a wet leaf and clambered through the garden. The plants that weren’t shriveled and brown gleamed green-black. Colors in New England looked wrong in the daylight, without the gold glimmers the sun cast back home, but everything looks similar in the dark.

When I reached the carved wooden door, I shivered. From the cold, mostly.

R-10: FALLOW REIGN

Title: FALLOW REIGN
Age Category: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction (Diverse, LGBTQIA)
Word Count: 93,000

Pitch: Three months ago, Jane Deu had her memories voluntarily erased. Tonight she has a lightgun in hand once again, but her target is begging her to pull the trigger. THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS meets JUPITER ASCENDING.

First 250 Words:
It was finally over. The choice didn’t matter.

One of them would murder him tonight.

Pietro crouched behind a buckling brick beam, hands buried in a mix of soot and snow as he waited, listening. All was silent that night in Third Quadrant, along with the rest of Old Glasgow. There were no cars, no sirens, nothing—nothing but the falling snow, Pietro, and now three Exterminators. With his cheek to the sidewalk, he peered beneath the beam.

“I’m told this is the second field orientation for the both of you. Or is it?” asked the Instructor, a pint-sized girl a head shorter than the other two. The blond boy flashed a hand at her, raising four fingers in reply. “*Oh?* Well then, Lancaster. Repeat the rules for us.”

Lancaster threw his white-gloved hand up in salute, straining against the seams of his ill-fitting uniform. With his Instructor’s help, he stuttered through a numbered list that sounded straight out of a textbook, turning beet red all the while.

Pietro didn’t need to hear their rules. He knew them well enough. Don’t go out unarmed. Don’t leave your team. Altercations with civilians are an instant failure. Never forget who the real people are.

Pietro wasn’t “real people,” not to them. That was the price of being born somewhere else, outside their world. All his life with Viola he lived in panic, knowing a bunch of green-clad, thunder-booted murder machines could tear down the door at any moment.

R-9: LOVE AND OTHER ABSTRACTIONS

Title: LOVE AND OTHER ABSTRACTIONS
Age Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Word Count: 55,000

Pitch: When seventeen-year-old adopted Liberty learns she may have ALS and might have to give up her art, she sets out on a secret road trip to find the brother she lost.

First 250 Words:
Everything changed at 6:42 on a Tuesday night. Pat Sajak woke me out of my TV stupor when he attempted a lame joke, telling that malnourished Vanna White he wasn’t a primate. Um, Pat, I wanted to shout at the TV. Humans are primates! My right thumb, poised to turn the channel and flee the spinning wheel, lost strength when I tried to push the button. If my digit were battery-powered, then the Energizer Bunny chose that second to stop beating its bass drum. My thumb twitched as if possessed, and I watched with mild curiosity. Not a big deal under normal circumstances. But after the letter I found from my birth mom concealed in my mom’s underwear drawer, it possibly means the end of me. For twelve years I’ve managed to lock my birth mother away, but here she is again, forcing me to slip back into a past I want to forget.

Now I sit cross-legged on my bedroom floor in front of my mirror, my dad’s clippers in hand. Today is the last day of junior year, and there’s no way I’m going to waste it worrying about shit I can’t control. That will come later. Or sooner. I have no idea. I raise my right arm toward the ceiling and stare at my hand, wiggle my fingers, pretend I’m holding a paintbrush as I swipe an imaginary canvas. I’m healthy. I’m fine. Breathe.

But what if…

R-8: STATUS: POSITIVE

Title: STATUS: POSITIVE
Age Category: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction/LGBT
Word Count: 89,000

Pitch: As the daughter of its two male leaders, 17-year-old Blue’s life revolves around maintaining the safety of her LGBT Compound. When the guards suddenly invade, she finds herself juggling stray bullets, raids, and angry mobs.

First 250 Words:
I was born to a woman who never loved me. I’ve pictured her many times, stumbling into the Children’s Bank with the residue of my afterbirth still clinging to her leg. I can ignore how she turned me over only hours after I was born. It’s the fact that she didn’t bother to give me a name which made me resentful. But no child with big blue eyes stays an orphan forever. Baby 214 was adopted within days. My life was forever changed by my new parents and the name they gave me; Blue Stevens. For five years, we lived happily in our little green house in the Pink District.

Then, they came for us.

If I close my eyes, the events of that night return to me in slow motion. They’re always there, in the back of my mind, ready to make a reappearance. It was the lights that first woke me. They crept along the walls in blues and reds, smashing together to form momentary purples. My little fingers poked through the holes of my crochet blanket. Even at five-years-old, I knew if the sirens started, we’d have to hide in the basement. It would be a pathetic attempt to avoid them. The officers took what they wanted. Three pops and a puff of smoke was all it took to make my little adoptive family disappear forever.

Footsteps trotted up and down the hallway. White light danced against the black darkness of the ceiling as people moved outside bedroom.

R-7: RIVEN

Title: RIVEN
Age Category: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 90,000

Pitch: They made her run, made her hide, murdered her parents, kidnapped her sister. With fake ID and genetically engineered animal spirit, twenty-two-year-old Asha arrives in Mumbai to dismantle the lives of those who decimated hers.

First 250 Words:
Of all the costumes I’ve donned since my thirteenth birthday, the lace and sequined confection squeezing the air from my lungs was the torturous culmination. The new kid, the orphan, the outsider, the genius, the rich-bitch; I’d spent nine years blending those personalities, creating a new background, a new history for myself, in order to return to the country where my life had first gone wrong.

I passed my lace and gold embellished invitation into the hostess’s perfectly manicured hands, stood still while she tap-tap-tapped her rings against the sapphire glass. With a quick glance she judged the Louboutins killing my toes, the fist-sized fire opal caught in a net of silver and gold threads against the open back of my dress, my expertly coiffed dark hair.

Most people didn’t notice my deep brown contact lenses. They couldn’t guess I wore smoke lensed glasses to smother the unnatural iridescence of my hazel eyes. They saw a taller than average girl wearing a designer dress, showing some leg, and wearing an expensive jewel because that’s all they wanted to see. They didn’t know that beneath those yards of silk was evidence of the animal genetically engineered to share my body.

My parents called the dragon-shaped stain on my skin Vahana’s mark: a symbol of my animal spirit, my totem, my “spiritual guide.”

More like my constant pain in the ass. The beast hadn’t ceased grumbling on the nonstop from New York to Mumbai.

Just one more minute, beast, and she’ll pass me through the gates into hell.

R-6: BOTTLED

Title: BOTTLED
Age Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Word Count: 81,000

Pitch: A sly black-market trader with the ability of creating bottled emotions embarks on a spy mission in the jungle with the arrogant cadet who arrested her for selling euphoria.

First 250 Words:
The thick string of dark red fury slips out of my fingertips in quick waves. The flame inside the oil lamp next to me flickers, its light glimmering in the rope of emotion snaking inside the bottle. Pure perfection. The fat streak fills the tiny vial in seconds, and I slide my finger over to the next one before it overflows.

A knock on the door interrupts me, and I set aside the vials before answering. The wind of the sea lightly strokes my skin, and a stray dog’s barking breaks the silence of the evening. Niol stands on the doorstep, his white shirt contrasting nicely with his rich brown skin.

“I’m almost done,” I say, leaving the door open for him and going back to cork the bottles. “How many orders for today?”

He snakes his arms around me from behind, his fingers gently brushing the sides of my hips. “Oh, Kia, always business.” Spinning me around, he unties the tidy bun sitting atop my head and runs his fingers through my loose hair. “Relax a little.”

“I don’t have time to relax.” I brush him away, turning back to my working station. He follows me right away.

“Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for this?” He strokes my naked arms, sending shivers down my spine. My olive skin looks almost pale compared to his. He cups my face between his palms. “Look at these warm eyes. One would actually think you have a heart.”

R-5: INGRID BAKER’S ALTERNATE ENDING

Title: INGRID BAKER’S ALTERNATE ENDING
Age Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Word Count: 75,000

Pitch: When her dead father is linked to a missing actress, a lonely teenager heads to New York to find the parallel world they’re hiding out in. At least that’s the story she’s telling people.

First 250 Words:
It all happened on the same day: Will Friese appearing, Claire Harlow going missing, and the hard, painful bump on my chin that was likely to erupt into a giant zit by evening. The third thing maybe wasn’t so important, but things happen in threes is all I’m saying.

While I weighed the pros and cons of going to class or blowing it off to put lemon juice on my face, my dad’s voice echoed in my head. “A hatchling, Ingrid. What are you going to do with it?”

A hatchling sounds like something wet and squawking and covered in slime with bits of shell stuck to it, but it’s actually a split in time. At least according to my dad. There are always options. We choose one and live with it, but what about the others, the ones we didn’t choose? They go on without us. So, in this reality, while one Ingrid goes to class, in another, different world, Ingrid skips class and enjoys a relaxing afternoon watching an entire season’s worth of television while drying out her chin. And each Ingrid, each world, never knows of the other’s existence.

Most people thought my dad was crazy. But he’d made a whole career out of trying to prove these other worlds exist. Until he was murdered last year. Vehicular homicide. That’s what it’s called when the murder weapon has four wheels and an engine. But it is murder nonetheless. And for six long months I’d been left alone with just my mom to wonder what he was doing crossing the street in New York when he should have been at home in Toronto.

R-4: THE FALCON QUEEN

Title: THE FALCON QUEEN
Age Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Word Count: 82,000

Pitch: Victory should mean peace, but for asexual knight Lavie it means fighting PTSD and trying to avoid court life. When assassins attack, she must discover who is undermining the new reign before it crumbles.

First 250 Words:
The darkness at the bottom of the dungeon steps ebbs like water. It’s safe, I remind myself. The war is over. He can’t do anything more to us. An itch crawls up my spine as I turn away, memories of the battle skittering through my mind. I turn back. I need to understand why he did what he did.

The steps disappear, eaten up by gloom. My foot slides on their damp surface, slowing my descent to a crawl. Dank air swirls around me. I wrap my arms around my chest to smother my shivers.

“Who goes there?”

Hurried footsteps accompany the voice and a guard emerges. His hand drops from his weapon and he smiles when he sees me.

“Oh, it’s you, Sir.”

As our army grew, what to call me caused some consternation. Lavie was too informal for one so close to the prince, but any man who called me Lady would earn a swift kick for his trouble. So they call me Sir, or sometimes Sir Knight, after Prince Brendan touched my shoulders with his sword following the Battle of the Bloody Waterfall. It’s more than a title. It’s who I am. No longer a girl playing with a blunted tourney sword, but a practiced killer.

The first time I killed a man, the very sound of it made me retch. The second one turned my stomach, but I’d kept down my food. Same with the third and fourth. Somewhere along the way I stopped counting and stopped caring.

R-3: HINTERLAND

Title: HINTERLAND
Age Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Word Count: 96,000

Pitch: A girl with ever-changing tattoos must navigate an enchanted forest to save her town from a force that’s reversed the clocks. If time stops, so will every heart in Weir.

First 250 Words:
Every town has a tradition. In Weir, they give us keys.

Crafted from iron, they are called watchkeys, and we don’t keep them on rings or buried in our pockets. No one ever loses a watchkey because they are strung on necklaces that are fused and clasp-less. The pendants only come off for the coffin.

Iron is important. It absorbs magic, which is forbidden, but the keys don’t protect us. Instead, they act as individual barometers that tell the key-checkers if a wearer has been in the presence of magic. I’ve worn a key for eighteen years and I used to like it back when I thought it was jewelry. Way back when I wore my hair in pigtails.

I don’t wear pigtails anymore.

Nerves flare as hot and unpleasant as vomit, but I’m used to them. For the last few years I’ve had to worry about every key check. Every person. Tension is part of who I am. Even my heart skips ahead of my footsteps as they make their way down the Hinterland Road. Hardly anyone travels this pitted mess. Roots have risen above the dirt and there are crowns of flat-topped boulders. The woods on either side are just beginning to sprout leaves. Soon they’ll grow big and shiny, and there will be enough of them to hide almost anything.

The road stretches, deserted and thin. It joins my house to Weir proper and I’m only on it for one reason. The sign nailed to that sawed-off oak.

R-2: MAPMAKER

Title: MAPMAKER
Age Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Word Count: 57,000

Pitch: Sam creates worlds with each map he draws—worlds he can step into. Fantastic. But when another mapmaker threatens to kill Sam’s sister and friend, Sam must use his mapmaking skills to save them.

First 250 Words:
It only took Sam three seconds to annihilate the whole town. He’d timed it. That’s how bored he was. He flicked eraser dust off the page. At least the Badlands looked better. Badlands should be bad. Barren. They shouldn’t have a dinky town plopped in the middle.

He set down his eraser and pushed away from the awkward, built-in desk. This wasn’t a map-drawing desk. The one he’d had back in Los Angeles was big enough to spread out his largest maps. Even though it was only a piece of plywood on cinderblocks, it had been perfect. But his dad said it made no sense to bring pieces of junk like that with them—especially when there was a perfectly serviceable desk built into this room.

Sam kicked one of the desk’s legs. Serviceable. What a dumb word.

He smoothed the edges of his map of Rior. Usually working on it was his favorite thing. Rior was his world. His. Every tree, mountain, city and stream he’d thought of and drew.

What would a face on the side of a mountain look like? Interesting maybe. He was putting tiny crosshatches on the ocean-facing side of Mount Junda, when the bedroom door banged open, making his hand slip. Instead of a face he had a big fat crevice. “Sasha!” he yelled at his sister.

“What?” Sasha tried—and failed—to look innocent.

“You made me—” Sam didn’t bother finishing. He stared at the mistake wondering if he should leave it or erase it.

R-1: THE ROAD TO DUSTY DEATH

Title: THE ROAD TO DUSTY DEATH
Age Category: Young Adult
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Word Count: 82,000

Pitch: Revenge goes awry when two seventeen-year-olds team up to take down a Christian camp with unholy means of “reforming” gay teens. They must outwit a twisted, self-righteous older brother—or risk being sent away permanently.

First 250 Words:
PARKER: AFTER

The video is a form of torture, but I watch anyway.

It begins with white words superimposed on a black screen. Cue soulful music, voice-over, fade-in, and here we go:

Parker, please come home.

My brother is perched on the edge of his desk. An American flag, framed photographs, and medals and mementos from his Iraq War days blanket the wall behind him. A slice of Research Triangle Park shimmers through a far window. Anderson clutches a picture of himself as a cadet at Oak Ridge—he’s kneeling and hugging seven-year-old me.

As if anyone needs a visual. My photo has been splashed across social media and fronted news programs for months. Even I’m sick of my face.

We don’t care what you did. We forgive you. Please come back.

He forgives me? When I’m not dodging Mexican street gangs and avoiding California surftards, I’m enduring endless days of boredom. Never-ending nights. Loneliness.

Gotta hand it to him, though. My brother nails it—an Academy Award-winning performance. The camera zooms in, capturing his anguish, then pulls back to focus on the big, bad, camo-clad soldier.

Parker, we just want the family to be together again. We miss you.

Since losing it and screaming at the screen won’t help, I relax the chokehold on my bottle’s neck and calm my breathing. I picture…Ella, my wicked wallflower. Yeah, that’s better.

It’s been hard for us.

Anderson’s voice cracks. He sounds genuinely upset.

I squint at the screen—nope, still faking it.

#PitchMadness Mario Kart Edition: Submission Form Is Now Open!

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Pitch Madness 2016 MARIO KART Edition!

The submission window is now open!

To submit your MS pitch into the contest, enter your information in the form below.

What is Pitch Madness?

It’s a contest to win a request from one or more of the participating agents. (See who they are here.)

The submission window is open from NOW and until 11:59PM EST on February 26th. You should have plenty of time to get your submissions in. Make sure to perfect your entry. If you make an error, you may not resend. What do you need to enter? A 35-word (max) pitch and the first 250 words of your finished manuscript. If the 250th word falls in the middle of a sentence, go to the end of the sentence.

There will be 60 finalists moving onto the agent round. Pitch Madness will accept Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult (never before published) fiction only, novel length (no novellas) completed and polished manuscripts only. All genres (i.e. fantasy, contemporary, sci-fi, and so on) are welcome to enter. This time around we will not accept non-fiction. Only one entry per writer.

Pitch Madness will be on four blogs:

Rainbow Road Team on Summer Heacock’s site

Bowser’s Castle Team on Rebecca Coffindaffer’s site

Moo Moo Meadows Team on Sharon Johnston’s site

Yoshi Falls Team on Brenda Drake’s site

Each blog host will have a co-host helping them choose their top 15 entries. We’ll have a team of first readers who will check for formatting, grammar, and content and put their top picks through to the hosts.

This year’s first round readers can be found here.

All the twitter fun will happen on the hashtag #PitchMadness!

 

TO ENTER PITCH MADNESS ENTER THE FORM ON BRENDA DRAKE’S SITE HERE.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

#PitchMadness Mario Kart Edition: Rules and Instructions

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Pitch Madness Mario Kart Edition!

The Pitch Madness submission window is at the end of this week — Friday, February 26th!

What is Pitch Madness? It’s a contest to win a request from one or more of the participating agents. The submission window will be open for 24 hours from 12:01 AM EST until 11:59PM EST on February 26. You should have plenty of time to get your submissions in. There is no limit of how many entries will be accepted. All entries sent before or after the allotted times will be deleted. Make sure to perfect your entry. If you make an error, you may not resend.

The rules for formatting your submission will be posted tomorrow, Wednesday, February 24th.

To see the list of amazing agents, click HERE.

To meet our Round 1 readers, click HERE.

The four teams are . . .

Rainbow-road-n64

Rainbow Road on Summer Heacock’s site

 

 

 

Bowsers Castle

Bowser’s Castle on Rebecca Coffindaffer’s site

 

 

 

moo moo meadowsMoo Moo Meadows on Sharon Johnston’s site

 

 

 

Yoshi Falls on Brenda Drake’s siteYoshi_Falls_Overview_-_Mario_Kart_Wii

 

 

 

And the agent’s rules for our Mario Kart race . . .

The agent round is March 9-11, 2016. This year’s agents are so amazing, the competition is fierce!

Rule 1) Each pitch can only end up with one full request (see exemptions below).

Rule 2) Any requests before or after the scheduled time will be null and void for the game (Though it won’t count in the game, we will forward the request to the owner of the pitch).

Rule 3) If the full request is made by two agents for the same pitch, they will both be notified by email and Twitter that they have entered the challenge round (see below challenge round for details).

Wait. There’s more! To show our appreciation, the agents aren’t only competing for requests, but for gift cards, too! We figured that it’s a lot of work playing a game, so we decided to reward the winners as an extra incentive and bragging rights. The winning agent will receive a $25 gift card from Starbucks with two runners-up receiving $10 gift cards. There will be a drawing for the gift cards. Just for participating agents will automatically get an entry into the drawing. For each win, the agent will get another entry into the drawing.

 

All racers please come to the starting line . . .

mario kart 3From 12:01 AM EST on March 9th to 12:00 PM EST on March 10th the racers (agents) will speed around the courses (the host blogs), read the entries and throw their items at the pitches they want.

The comments will be on moderate so that agents won’t see what the other agents are requesting.

 

Racers (agents) can only make one request per entry. All racers (agents) will have an unlimited supply of these items to make requests . . .

mushroom

The Mushroom: Gives the racer the query and first chapter of a submission.

 

 

star

The Star: Gives the racer the query and first three chapters of the manuscript.

 

 

gold coin

The Gold Coin: Gives the racer the query and first one-hundred pages of the manuscript.

 

 

mega mushroom

The Mega Mushroom: Gives the racer the query and full manuscript.

 

 

 

bullet bill Bullet Bill: In exchange for a ten page critique, the agent will rocket down the entire track at very high speed on auto-pilot and have the full request of any manuscript (with query) they desire. Agent has three bullets. If more than one bullet is used on an entry, all agents who threw a bullet will get the request and won’t have to go to the challenge round. (Yes it breaks Rule 1. It’s a bullet.)

 

POW block

POW Block: In exchange for a query critique, the agent will cause the ground to shake and get whatever request they desire. Agents have three POW Blocks and if more than one is on the pitch, all agents get the request and won’t have to go to a challenge round.

 

 

 

If the agents choose to perform the Bullet Bill or the POW Block stunts, we will have a giveaway for those who participated in this year’s Pitch Madness 2016 Mario Kart Edition!

From 12:00 PM (NOON) EST on March 11, there will be a challenge round.

March 11 at 12:00 PM EST (Noon) the agents requests are revealed, and right afterward is the tying agents challenge round. This year the agents will have 24 hours to respond to challenges (tie-breakers).

The comments will be on moderate so that agents won’t see what the other agents are requesting.

If more than one full submission is requested for the same manuscript, the two competing agents will be allowed to use the following challenge items:

 

bananaBanana: The agent who throws the banana will cause the competing agent to slip down to the next highest request made on the entry and win a full manuscript plus query. Only three Bananas per agent for this leg of the race.

 

 

spiny shellSpiny Shell: This shell can be thrown at any racer and explode, making them give up whatever item the racer who threw the shell wants. The losing racer will then receive the next highest request on the entry. Only two Spiny Shells per agent for this leg of the race. Spiny Shells beat Bananas when thrown.

 

 

blooperBlooper: Squirts (symbolic) ink on another racer’s requested manuscript, obscuring it, winning a full manuscript with query request. Only one Blooper per agent for this leg of the race. Bloopers beat both Bananas and Spiny Shells when thrown.

 

 

gold coinCoin: If agents run out of challenge items, they can toss a coin at the challenged entry. If no challenge items are thrown at a tie and both agents toss a coin, the agents will both get the request, but won’t get an entry into the drawing for the agent gifts. Each agent has an unlimited amount of coins.

 

 

We will notify the agents on Twitter of who is throwing which item at each agent, and they can respond throughout the day.

Come back tomorrow for the Formatting Rules and Submission Guidelines!

The Pitch Madness window opens this Friday, February 26th, from 12:01 AM to 12:00 PM EST!

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On the Eve of Change

I think it’s safe to say that January 2016 didn’t go quite like I expected. At the start of the year, I invested in a few hours of childcare every week so I could better keep up with work and direct more energy toward my writing. I had a general idea of where I thought this energy would go.

  • I would finish querying my SF novel.
  • I would work on developing my productivity and building my “backlist” of projects.
  • I would research and begin establishing a career as an indie author.

And that was how it would go.

Except it didn’t. Except, all of a sudden, I got an email from an agent who wanted to have The Call. Except, when I sent out nudges to outstanding queries and manuscripts, I had other interest, other requests…

…and another Call.

I was flattered. I was overwhelmed. Quite frankly, I was skeptical. I didn’t think I’d ever be agented again. I’d kind of resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t probably going to find an agent who “got” me. And out of nowhere, just when I was turning my eyes elsewhere, there was more than one and they were passionate about the book — MY book.

I did every bit of research I possibly could. I talked to their clients. I asked a ton of questions and then a few more. I looked over the potential paperwork and agency information and compared, compared, compared for two weeks.

And while I think I was in the blessed position where there wasn’t really a *bad* choice here, I did still have to make a choice. And I’m ridiculously happy to announce that I’m now represented by Lara Perkins of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

I’m completely blown away and I have no idea what is around the bend, but I’m excited for it and I know Lara is going to be a great advocate and partner for what’s ahead.

 

In the Wake of 2015…

Toward the end of February 2015, four weeks after Nerd Baby was born, I was looking at my first week alone with a small baby — not just on maternity leave but beginning a brand-new chapter as a full-time, work-from-home parent and freelance contractor. It had been a blissful four weeks and I legitimately thought the biggest issue I would have once Nerd Boy went back to work was finding things to do. I sat down and made a list of all the things I would get done around the house.

Not two weeks later, I was staying at my parents’ house and telling this story to my mother as she helped me pick up my mental and emotional and physical pieces. She laughed. I laughed (and cried). We both patted past!Becca on her sweet, naive head.

To say 2015 was an intense year is a bit of an understatement. It was a year of upheaval and transformation to a degree that I was absolutely not prepared for. I stepped aside from the career I had been in for ten years to be the primary caretaker for our daughter. I started a contracting business for advertising copy editing and writing, in addition to my previous work as an editor for authors. I developed a postpartum mood disorder and fought my way back out of it. I struggled with massive feelings of inadequacy, loss of self-confidence and anxiety.

I basically had all the pieces of me broken apart, tossed into a bucket, shaken up and then dumped back onto my lap. I didn’t know what to do with them. I didn’t know who I was anymore. And it’s only now, at the beginning of 2016, almost a year later, that I’m starting to get the vague shape of things again.

The journey is absolutely not finished. I am on firmer footing, but it’s a hella work in progress. So, with all that in mind, I’m not going to assess how I did with my 2015 New Year’s resolutions. I’m not going to make 2016 resolutions either. I’m going to do that thing where I choose a word to guide me.

DISCOVERY

2015 took me down to the base and made me rebuild. 2016 is about blowing the dust off the bones and seeing what we’ve got down there.

My Name Is Becks and I’m Officially a #The100 Addict

At many points it feels like half of my Twitter feed is fangirling about the CW show THE 100, so I put season 1 in my Netflix queue probably a month ago, telling The Man, “Hey, we should probably watch this someday.” Well, thanks to a cold and nine months of pregnancy, last week we blew through all 13 episodes in a few days, and yes, I am hooked. And, of course, because it’s me, I have a few observations/opinions.

  • Everyone hates Finn. That’s the general consensus I got from Twitter before I even started watching, and yet…I don’t. I mean, the love triangle stuff is bullshit for sure, and I don’t really ship him with anyone because he’s kind of a moppish woodland nymph. But on the whole, his character is that idealistic, diplomatic type a la Lee Adama, and I had a soft spot for Lee Adama the whole way through Battlestar: Galactica. So either I just haven’t hit the part that made everyone hate him, or he’s gonna be the Lee Adama of this show for me.
  • The subtitle of this show should still be Bitches Get Shit Done. And that’s probably my favorite part of it so far. It’s not that the male characters don’t do anything; it’s just that it’s so refreshing to see a show where so many female characters are so active, decisive and leading the way. Clarke, Raven, Abby, Octavia — they’re hardly flawless, they screw up a lot, but dammit if they don’t know what they want and what they can do and fucking DO IT. It’s bad ass.
  • I’m impressed with the punches that aren’t pulled. Look, it’s the CW. Due to the nature of the network, I don’t generally expect them to get to ballsy. Pretty people? Yes. Romantic entanglements and sexytimes? Of course. The consequences of tough choices in a desperate survival situation? Not so much. But they’ve thrown some intense curve balls into the mix, made the characters deal with some heavy shit. It’s often reminiscent of BSG in terms of tone — not quite so heavy or mythology-intense, but still fairly impressive.
  • Octavia is the luckiest person on the show. Because this:
    lincoln

What I’m Planning for 2015

People usually post all this right on New Year’s Day or close to that, but I found myself up to my eyeballs in copy editing projects around that time and figured I’d wait until I could sit down and have a think on it. And I finally managed to come up with some big-picture resolutions, plus some specific ones for the first half of the year.

RESOLUTIONS FOR THE YEAR

  • Rediscover my voice: I used to blog a lot. I used to post my vehement opinions on pop culture-y and publish-y things. I let that fall by the wayside, and although I don’t see myself going back to what I had been doing, I do miss having a voice beyond Twitter. Hence this tumblr and my plan to start using it beyond the sporadic bouts of reblogging.
  • Read 24 books: For the record, I realize that this is a pretty low bar. The thing is, I’m a pretty slow reader in my adulthood — as opposed to my voracious reader appetite from back in my childhood. I could spout off a myriad of reasons, but instead I’d rather start setting goals to change that. Part of this also means ensuring that I seek out books from diverse authors and/or featuring diverse characters.
  • Finish a video game: This one might seem rather silly, but I am terrible at seeing a video game all the way through, even ones I love. I’d like to change that this year — preferably with my shiny new copy of Dragon Age: Inquisition.
  • Pimp more books: Sometimes you’d never know I love books because I let myself get so freaking up in my own head about talking about them. I worry about hurting feelings if I pimp out this one book but not about another and that sort of thing. But that’s hardly fair and I feel like I’m suppressing my inner fangirl too often.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY

  • Have a baby: Let’s be honest — of all the resolutions I have here, this is pretty much the only guarantee. I’m due…quite soon.
  • Re-condition my body: This one could have to wait an extra six weeks if I end up needing a C-section, but right now, it’s going here. I don’t expect to get my old body back, but I miss working out hard and am looking forward to getting back to that.
  • Pick a new project or two to work on: I’ve been pushing ideas around my plate for two months now. I’m going to settle on one already.

MARCH/APRIL

  • Start new economic venture: My work situation is changing post-baby, so I’ll be embarking on a new adventure career-wise in addition to motherhood.
  • Find places to cut spending: Related to the above. Not that we’re extravagant people to begin with, but I feel like there are ways I can make our budget stretch further.
  • Reopen R.A. Weston Editorial: I’m taking some time with a clear-ish copy editing schedule while I see when this kiddo decides to show up and adjust to his/her arrival, but I should be back in business by March 1st!

MAY/JUNE

  • Run a 5K: Because running is still my exercise nemesis and, while I have no plans to be a marathoner, I am determined to semi-conquer this.
  • Complete one of the aforementioned projects: It’s not enough to decide on one. I need to try to get a draft finished, too.