Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And We're Off!

The September round of "An Agent's Inbox" is now in full swing, with all 50 entries up and ready for your feedback. Remember, ENTRANTS, YOU MUST CRITIQUE AT LEAST 3 OTHER ENTRIES; everyone else, feel free to critique however many you'd like. You might look for those that haven't gotten as many comments, just so we spread the critiquing love around. And please, please, please keep the criticism constructive. We all want to know what's wrong with our writing, but it's always easier to accept--and incorporate--advice that's gently given.

I'll reveal The Agent's identity next Tuesday, October 4, along with his or her winners and prizes. Until then, have at it!

An Agent's Inbox #50

Dear Awesome Agent,

On Annika Fitzsimmons’s eighteenth birthday, she learns she is a Traveler--someone born with the ability to move through Past Events and to change the future for the better. That explains the vivid, excruciatingly painful visions she's had since she was eight years old, but not the same blue-eyed boy she sees in each one.

When Nik arrives at the underground compound of Traveler's City for initiation, she discovers her ability to move through time without the aid of computers or coordinates is rare--the stuff of legend. Only one fellow initiate can do the same: Davis, the boy from her visions. Nik and Davis soon discover they are Bonded, born to Travel together no matter what.

But Traveling is dangerous, and sometimes people die. That’s what happened to the husband of the charismatic Director of Traveler's City--he accepted a Final Mission when he learned his death was the only thing that could convince a key witness to testify against the mob. When Nik and Davis are repeatedly pulled, against their will, into the same treacherous Events that caused his death and see the Director there every time, they realize that she’s trying to bring her husband back from the dead, and it’s their job to stop her. Now, Nik and Davis must risk their own lives to keep the Director from killing them, violating Traveler’s Law, and changing Current Events as they know it. As they discover even more about Traveler’s City, the Bond, and what they truly mean to each other, they’ll learn just how far someone with power will go to save the one they love.

THE TRAVELERS is a Young Adult light science fiction novel complete at 81,000 words and stands alone, with potential for a sequel. Thank you for taking the time to consider my submission.



Nik forced her eyes to open and flexed her jaw against the rough carpet fibers of her bedroom floor, wincing when it popped.

Ten years since her father died, and ten years since she’d been having these episodes, or visions, or whatever they were. Sometimes once in a month, sometimes twice a week.

They all had three things in common. They only happened at night. They wracked her body with piercing, all-consuming pain. And in them, she saw the boy with the blue eyes. Every single time.

She always felt his presence an instant before she saw him. A thrill ran through her, followed by a delicious warmth. No matter how terrifying the vision, when she met his gaze, she felt calm, confident, strong.

Too bad she’d never seen him in real life. In the end, he twisted, confused and distorted, together with the asphalt or dancing candlelight or sounds of police sirens, into the same thing.

Pain, stabbing at her skin from the inside and invading every inch of her body, so intense that nothing else mattered.

Nik dragged her still-pounding head from the floor and glared at the useless pile of medical textbooks that sat on her desk, mocking her cluelessness. For years, she’d been trying to figure this out. Her blood pressure and sugar tested fine. No anemia. Three separate EKGs had shown her perfectly functioning heart.

Narcolepsy could strike at any time of day, but didn’t cause pain. Epileptic seizures could be painful, but they happened any time, too. Besides, the MRI had come up with nothing.

An Agent's Inbox #49

Dear Agent,

I have completed an 88,000 word science fiction YA novel entitled LOVELY, PERILOUS THINGS, and I think it might interest you.


Just the name of the mythical sea monsters strikes fear in the heart of every sisterling at The School for Sisterly Studies. But one-day-shy of sixteen, Clementine has bigger things to worry about than imaginary squidbeasts lurking outside of the island walls of Rivanna. Like that tomorrow is her Choosing, and she’ll just die if handsome Beau Langford doesn’t pick her to be one of his brides. And that her snobby sisterling Esme thinks they’re all being watched. (And she might be right.)

So what happens when weird Gideon Langford with his ugly birthmark chooses her instead? And Clementine finds a mysterious amulet and a torn up book by a missing girl that says the Saresyn are real? Inside the opulent city of Eastlanta, she learns the true price of her privilege and discovers dangerous secrets about the fate of her sisterlings and the origins of the island itself.

But when one little island is all that’s left, sometimes a girl has to take a leap of faith.

And swim for her life.

I hold an MFA in fiction from New York University and I have taught high school English and college writing. My novel can stand alone but is intended to be the first of a trilogy.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.



A cheetah crept by me in the high grass, stalking an ostrich off in the distance. The awkward bird was strutting aimlessly, its feathers plumed and totally unaware that it was so close to death. I could hear my breath, and I felt the tension in my body rise as the cheetah pounced, it’s long, powerful torso undulating into movement as it ran, fast, now faster, hunting its prey.

The African heat barreled down on me, and I wiped the sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand. I tried to keep up, wanting but not wanting to see the end of the chase. The ostrich craned its long neck and it’s legs pounded against the ground as it tried to escape. I could feel the vibrations, hear the distressed calls of the bird and the eerie silence of the big cat, as it leaped, heavy but graceful, turning this way and that, preparing to grab onto the ostrich and…

Ooomph. I stumbled, and the next thing I knew I was picking my face up from the hard rubber floor.

“What the?” I cradled my sore nose in my hand. There was only one reason the treadmill would stop in the middle of a simulation. One of my stupid sisterlings had ignored the Occupied sign. It would be just my luck that the day before the Choosing I’d break my face. Not even the medical bots could fix it that fast. And what man would choose me for a wife with a crooked nose?

An Agent's Inbox #48

Dear Agent:

Lucy's always wanted a horse and a big sister. Now her mother's remarried and she has both. But her sister is a Little Miss Perfect and is always bossing Lucy around. And she doesn't even like horses!

Lucy's new horse is the love of her life. But she only has him on a thirty day trial. If her parents find out her horse ran away with her, they'd take him away. Lucy has to find a way to make Valiant behave. Maybe her new sister, the animal behavior 'expert', could help but Lucy's not sure she's that desperate yet.

I am a published author and librarian.

LITTLE MISS PERFECT AND ME is a contemporary middle grade complete at 20,000.

Thank you for your time.



My Perfect Plan was a bust. Mom and Mike said, “No way!” when I wanted to go to the barn after dinner.

And I said “No Way!” to staying home when my new horse was arriving at Aunt Margaret’s barn any minute. Of course I didn’t say it out loud.

Perfect Plan B: Operation Sneak Out.

I was ready. Dark blue T-shirt, dark blue jeans--I’d blend right into the shadows.

I eased open my bedroom door and listened. No sound from Charlotte’s room. Probably doing homework. Being Little Miss Perfect as usual.

I picked up my barn boots and tiptoed to the stairs. I listened again.

“M! Pick an M!” I heard my stepfather say.

“No, Mike,” Mom said. “He needs a D.”

I smiled as I inched my way down the stairs. Mike really loved those TV game shows. He and Mom probably wouldn’t even notice I was gone.

One step, two steps, three! Duck into the dining room. Dash into the kitchen and...

Charlotte!” I skidded to a stop inches from Charlotte’s backside.

“Watch out, Lucy.” Charlotte straightened from the refrigerator, her long brown braid swinging across her back. “You almost made me drop the pickles.”


“Why should I shush?” Charlotte eyed the boots in my hands. “You’re sneaking out!”

To think I’d been happy when Mike married my mother, and Charlotte moved in with us. A big sister! Someone to talk to and share secrets with.

But instead of my dream sister, I got bossy Charlotte.

An Agent's Inbox #47

Dear Agent,

Getting into a car accident was the second to last thing Maggie Lyons expected on prom night. The last thing she expected? Finding out she’s part machine.

Turns out, there are a lot of things Maggie didn’t suspect. Like the fact she almost died when she was four. And her parents let a stranger replace her broken parts with technology more advanced than anything on the Syfy channel. Or that her geekoid next door neighbor, Tommy, is hiding in the backseat of her car when she runs away in the middle of the night.

But that’s just the way her weekend is going.

Now Maggie and Tommy are on the lam in a stolen car, running from the police, the doctor who might be on to her condition, and the bald dude with a seriously bad attitude tailing them. Tommy would give anything to have her newly manifested strength, but Maggie’s not so keen--even a simple tickle fight could turn deadly. All she wants is to find her Maker and get her human parts restored. As they follow clues on a cross-country road trip, Tommy totally cramps her style, but he is beginning to distract her from the guy who wrapped his car around a tree on prom night. That’s problem in itself--geek love is definitely not a part of Maggie’s plan. If only she can find her Maker, maybe, just maybe, she can go back to life as normal.

Then Maggie meets the others like her. Turns out, there’s a lot more to be afraid of than winding up under a microscope.

I’m seeking representation for CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE CYBORG, a YA science fiction novel complete at 71,000 words. I have a MS in Arts Administration from Boston University and as the former marketing director of a professional theatre, I can actively promote my work. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.



Weightlessness is a funny thing.

One moment ago, Dean and I were joking about the stupid, lime-green dress his ex-girlfriend wore to prom. His cheeks dimpled when he laughed.

Now his car skids over the embankment. Our bodies are a blur of pink satin and black tuxedo. My insides lurch and jerk, like knots trying to untie themselves. Dean’s face is a blank sheet of confusion and me, well, I don’t know how I look but I’m sure it isn’t pretty.

The free fall ends when we hit the tree. All that remains is pain and panic. And noise. All kinds of noise. Screams, creaks, and cracks from all sides. I can’t feel my legs or arms, but I’m standing and screaming and tugging at the crumpled car door.

Dean’s stuck. I have to get him out.

Gas fumes sting my nose and burn my chest. I tear the door off the car and nearly tear Dean’s arm off, too. He tumbles out and I drag him toward the field. The car explodes, flames consuming it in a burst of red and orange. The force throws us back from the wreck. I sit in the long grass in my tattered dress, barely aware of the hot metal in my hands or Dean unconscious at my side.

I can't tear my eyes away from my left arm.

It’s ruined.

The skin is ripped open, gaping from wrist to elbow, but I hardly bleed. I try to make sense of it, but my arm isn’t right.

An Agent's Inbox #46

Dear Agent,

Sixteen-year-old Jessica Jacobs is a super spy, a famous actress, and a princess.

Okay, not really. But she likes to daydream she’s all of those things and more. So when she wakes up with a medieval knight aiming his sword at her throat, Jessica thinks it’s just another daydream. Until she realizes that, 1- dude is actually causing her neck to bleed, 2- her dress is so hideous she never would have daydreamed herself into it, and 3- Zac Efron is nowhere in sight.

After pondering her sanity, Jessica is left with one option: ride out her time in Crazy Medieval Land until she can figure out a way home. Unfortunately, that means working for the Count’s horrible daughter and doing her best to avoid Lord Pervy’s wandering hands. It sucks being the peon instead of the princess.

Enter Lord Alric, AKA: knight-in-freaking-hot-armor. It would be easy to let him protect her, but Jessica refuses to be a damsel-in-distress. Instead, she convinces him to teach her to swordfight. Somewhere amidst the grueling hours of training, she falls for his chivalry and playful smile. Could time have brought them together? And if so, why are so many people conspiring to keep them apart?

Happily ever after was so much easier in her daydreams.

Daze and Knights is an 84,000 word YA novel about an average girl facing the kind of adventures she always imagined. I have almost completed a sequel where Jessica finds herself in Virginia during the American Revolution.

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



Chapter 1: Blake The Snake

He was supposed to be my knight in shining armor. My prince charming. The guy who would sweep me off my feet and trot me away from my boring life on the back of his white horse.

He wasn’t supposed to be the guy who kicked me out of his car four blocks from my house before speeding away without looking back.

Worst. Date. Ever.

I daydreamed about Blake Chapman asking me out since middle school. His sandy blond hair and cocky smile were enough to make me woozy. In a good way.

Too bad he didn’t actually like me. He only asked me out to make my best friend jealous. When I wouldn’t dish the dirt on Dani, pay for dinner, or give him any (in that order), he dumped me on the side of the road. Now he makes me woozy in an I-want-to-vomit kind of way.

“I can’t believe he would do that!” Dani whispered during Algebra the next day. “He always seemed like a nice guy.” Her eyes flicked to Blake who sat with his head down, texting underneath the desk.

“He probably wouldn’t do that to you,” I whispered back, trying to keep the bitterness from my voice. Plucking at the pages of my textbook, I avoided looking in his direction.

“Oh Jess, I would never go out with him. What a jerk!”

I couldn’t stop my gaze from straying towards him. “Yeah.” He looked up then, noticed me looking, and smirked. Crap.

An Agent's Inbox #45


An Agent's Inbox #44

Dear Agent,

People are disappearing in the city of Ninurta. Like the rest of the citizens, seventeen-year-old Kai pretends not to notice. With her own survival to worry about, she doesn't have much concern to spare. But when her brother vanishes, Kai will do whatever it takes to find him, including using the ability she promised her brother to keep secret--Kai can see the threads of time and manipulate them.

With the help of an annoying and distracting friend--distracting because he's beautiful, and annoying because he knows it--Kai discovers a secret war between Ninurta and a rebel named the Black Rider. The Rider has been kidnapping Ninurtans and transforming them into cybernetically enhanced soldiers called Golems.

Kai sets out to find the Rider and discovers a shocking secret: the Rider is actually the Harbinger of Famine. And Kai? Not as human as she thought. Now, Kai will have to face down the Harbinger and uncover the link between herself and the secret war before her brother gets sent for dehumanization.

Equal parts scifi and fantasy, HARBINGERS is a YA cyberpunk fantasy complete at 68,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.



Death lived in a high-rise penthouse at the center of the South District. I could see it from anywhere in the city, and it cut the skyline like a blade. Death--she probably had a real name, but I didn't know it--was Governor Ninu's right hand and his personal executioner.

Or, at least, that's what the rumors said. I didn't really care if they were true so long as it wasn't me on the chopping block.

The governor's executioner living in the most impressive building in the city wasn't the only reason the South District unsettled me. It was just too weird here. Even though I never went any farther than the barracks along the inner wall, the vadverts were large enough that I could see the images flicker at every street corner. At least half of them were promotions for the upcoming Tournament.

We called the South District the White Court because the buildings were pristine. It made me wonder if the residents were afraid of dirt. It was just as well. We'd have to call it the mostly-white court.

The strap of my messenger bag dug into my shoulder, and I hoisted it up as I reached the South Gate. The White Court was separated from the rest of the city by twenty-foot walls, and only people with the right permissions could pass through. As a carrier for the District Mail Center, I had access during work hours.

"See you tomorrow, Kai." The Watchman on duty waved me through.

An Agent's Inbox #43

Dear Agent,

Somniloquy isn't uncommon, but what Abby's saying in her sleep certainly isn't normal.

Soon after seventeen-year-old Abby moves from Memphis to Heraldsgreen House in the Scottish countryside, she starts walking and talking in her sleep. Every night, Abby's words are captured by the voice recognition software on her computer. Every morning, Abby wakes to read a new chapter of a story about an artist who loses the woman he loves and tries to find love and inspiration once again. And if dictating a story isn’t strange enough, the style of language Abby uses is from two hundred years ago.

The complex world of Regency England comes to life with every chapter of her dictation, but Abby’s own world is falling apart. Heraldsgreen is getting creepier every day and her father looks at her like she might be a little crazy. Only Liam, the apprentice stonemason with the hypnotic Scottish accent, is a bright spot of normal in Abby’s life.

When Abby's nocturnal behavior escalates from the strange to the dangerous and she burns herself in her sleep, her father is convinced she needs some serious medical help. With Liam’s assistance, Abby must find out what the story is and why she is telling it. If she can’t prove to her father that it is something in the house--and not in her head--causing her strange actions, they're headed back to Memphis and she’ll lose both Liam and the home she loves.

SOMNILOQUY is set in two time periods, present-day Scotland and Regency England, and is complete at 78,000 words.



I eyed my pillow like an enemy. It beckoned, white and smooth, the promise of oblivion. And yet I dreaded sleep. The fear that it could happen again, that I might wake up wandering somewhere in the house, or even worse, outside on the grounds, kept me from closing my eyes.

From my perch on the window seat, I turned to stare out into the fading day. Though it was well past eleven, the last threads of light lingered on the gardens and the flat green lawn surrounding Heraldsgreen House. In Memphis, it would have been dark by this time, but June nights in Scotland were so short. And yet they seemed so long.

Five nights of interrupted sleep. My head, heavy and leaden, dropped against the window and I rolled my forehead on the cool glass. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how many books I nodded into or songs I blasted through my headphones, I couldn’t stay awake forever. I unfolded the massive wooden shutters across the window, struggling against hinges gummed up by centuries of paint.

When I crawled beneath the covers, the bed was cold, the sheets slightly clammy. The glow from my laptop screen lit my room, which still looked wrong and unfinished. I stretched out, lying rigid with my fists clenched, fighting. But exhaustion won in the end.

The sound of screaming woke me from a deep sleep. And then I realized I was the one making that terrible noise.

An Agent's Inbox #42

Dear Agent;

Sixteen-year-old Sayra Nieves loves seeing the future through her dreams, especially when they foretell embarrassing situations for her classmates. The night Sayra dreams of a man being murdered by a gang of masked attackers, she has no idea how to handle it. This is her first violent dream, and because it manifests after the new student, Chaz Bishop, accidentally knocks her off her bike, she wonders if that’s what caused the dark turn in her dreams.

Chaz instantly lands on Sayra’s bad side with his snarky attitude, gloved hands and freakish aversion to being touched. He’s cute, but to Sayra, cute isn’t enough to overlook those weird gloves and his oddball behavior. When Sayra identifies the doomed man from her dream she’s horrified to discover it’s Chaz’s dad. Great, now she has no choice but to enlist Chaz’s help, and they, along with her two best friends, begin their own amateur sleuthing. It doesn’t take long for Sayra to realize she and her friends are in over their heads. Chaz’s dad is a powerful man with powerful enemies. What if he’s just as bad as the men who want to kill him? It doesn’t matter to Sayra. Her growing feelings for Chaz has her all the more determined to identify the masked men and keep his dad alive. If Sayra doesn’t stop sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong, no amount of psychic dreams will help her out of the dangerous situation she’s stumbling toward.

PLATINUM DIARIES is a young adult paranormal, complete at 76,000 words. I believe fans of Lisa McMann’s Wake series and Alyson Noel’s Immortals series will enjoy my novel. I majored in English at the University of Maryland, where I studied media arts and creative writing. The full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.



I took the steps to school two at a time, trying to catch up with the new guy. Around me, students hung about the main entrance, gawking like I’d just stripped off my clothes and did a dance. My cell buzzed with three rapidly fired texts from Penny.

--what r u doing?
--stop chasing him!
--do u knw who he is? Chaz Bishop!

Nope, no clue who Chaz Bishop was, other than the jerk who’d gotten my assigned parking space. I was the one who stood in line for three hours last year, not him. But he waltzed in, two weeks after start of term, and was simply given my spot. No way was I going to let that fly. Just as I reached the front doors another text from Penny came through.

--Chaz Bishop + Harlan Bishop = $$$

If Penny was trying to calm me down, telling me this guy’s father had mega bucks was not the way to do it. By the time I ran up to the administrative office, I had all kinds of theories about my stolen parking space worked out in my head. I burst through the door like a lunatic. What was I going to do when I caught him? I hadn’t even thought it out.

Mrs. Minnis, the headmaster’s assistant, was in the midst of handing the new guy his schedule. Her welcoming smile turned into a nostril flare when her eyes met mine.

An Agent's Inbox #41

Dear [Agent],

When seventeen-year-old Amity Hager unwillingly becomes host to an alien known as the Watcher, the Government tells her she’s the only one on Earth who can kill the infamously bloodthirsty, immortal pirate captain Damien Faust. Faust killed Dirt, the boy she loved, and she would gladly return the favor if it weren’t for the fact that in looks, Faust and Dirt are nearly identical.

Damien’s immortality comes from his own alien weapon, the Scarecrow. The Scarecrow and the Watcher are anti-matter twins--polar opposites--and because of this, Amity and Damien cannot be harmed by anything but each other. The Government offers her Dirt, who may still be alive, in exchange for Damien’s death. A simple task, Amity thinks: Damien’s looks don’t negate her stockpile of hatred for him. But Damien isn’t the murderer the Government made him out to be. He does everything in his power to keep her safe, even though she’s the one obstacle in his path to defeating the Government once and for all.

Amity must choose who to trust in the oncoming war--the Government that promises her the past, or the pirates that promise everyone a future. Damien has to decide if protecting her is worth risking everything he’s ever worked for. And the Scarecrow and the Watcher will do whatever it takes to remain together.

THE NOCTURNIAN is a YA science fiction novel complete at 90,000 words. A full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.



If they give awards for raging paranoia, I should win them all.

Amity forced the thought to the back of her mind and focused on where she was putting her feet. Indulging her paranoia wasn’t worth a twisted ankle. The ruptured flagstones flew beneath her. Running like this, one dark-haired boy in front of her, one behind her, she almost felt free of the feeling of being watched. The dilapidated houses on either side of the street shrank away from the stark orange glow of the midday sun at Amity’s back. The thick cables strung across the rooftops glowed as if on fire.

“You guys still there?” Dirt called over his shoulder to them.

“Unfortunately,” said Splash, behind her.

Amity laughed breathlessly as she narrowly dodged a wide hole in the street.

“C’mon, Splashy, you know you like the hunt,” Dirt said playfully. As he said it, he spun around and began running backwards, a maneuver that always set Amity on edge. But Dirt never got hurt, never fell through the street. Even with his rusty sawblade-sword strapped to his back, he kept his balance and his pace, and had enough time to flash Amity a smile before he spun around again and ducked behind a mountain of supply crates stacked on the side of the street. Amity and Splash huddled behind him.

“Almost there,” Dirt said. The sun’s dull light washed out his already white-blue eyes. His whole face lit up with exhilaration.

An Agent's Inbox #40

Dear Agent:

Seventeen year old, Sophie McConnell lives in a world of truth, sense, and logic, right up until her dead mother shows up for soup and a bit of a chat.

But, Sophie’s fine. Really.

It doesn’t matter that her father takes them away from their place by the sea.
It doesn’t matter that she never seems to sleep, or that she’s starting to act this side of crazy.
It doesn’t matter that she’s forgetting how to be Sophie.

But when some mysterious guy shows up on her doorstep--under the strict instruction of her mother--to take her back where she came from, it matters.

Going back conjures up images and truths she’s not ready to face of a place begging her to remember. But if she remembers, then she’ll know her name isn’t Sophie. She’ll know her mother and her ran away from their history, their belonging, their real life, a long time ago.

She’ll know there’s no logic or sense left, just facts. And the fact is, she’s a lie.

Sophie follows a trail of truths amongst a land that remembers, where the past lifts the edges of the present and slides itself underneath. She stands before the people of the land as their chieftainess returned to them, and she’s trying to remember that person, when all she really knows now is how to be Sophie.

Two worlds. Two Sophie’s. Which world to stand in? Which girl to be?

KORU, complete at 82,000 words, written for the upper end of the YA market, touches on magical realism through the influence of Pacific Island mythology. Comparative titles based on their emotional landscape, would be ‘Jellicoe Road’ and ‘The Sky is Everywhere’. And as an alternative positioning, playing on KORU’s magical realism elements, I’d pull on ‘Imaginary Girls,’ by Nova Ren Suma, or ‘Evermore,’ by Alyson Noel. Of course this is all work I greatly admire.

I have included the first 250 below and should you wish to see anything further, please let me know. Thank you very much for your time.



Fact One

Possibility died. Logic, sense, they were the next to leave, and I started my slow claw to something else--someone else. It should’ve been easy for someone like me. I’m the product of lies. I am a lie.

But, the facts.

It was Tuesday. The sun shone, the sky blue. I got home early--Tuesday being my cruisey day, if anything could be cruisey about senior year. The wind started picking up, pelting my legs with black sand. I bolted for the back door, fiddled my key into the lock and swung myself inside, but as soon as it clicked shut, I felt it.

Something wasn’t right.

The seashell chimes tinkled in the window. Mum made me take them down, said it pained her hear them, but there they were after weeks of only a bare string whipping in the breeze.

I stepped in further.

The curtains breathed against opened windows, the room full of blinding light. I do not come home to light filling in spaces, or the smell of sea air forcing out the staleness of a house locked up in goodbyes. I come home to a cocoon of darkness, stillness--a careful-how-you-walk kind of quiet, one that’s touched the edges of death.

I slid my backpack off my shoulder and beyond the thud of it hitting the floor, I heard her. ‘Hey, Soph.’

Her voice sent a jolt straight through me, a shock that riddled me with pain and something else--longing.

And she sounded so…normal.  So very normal. So very Mum.

An Agent's Inbox #39

Dear Mystery Agent,

I'm delighted to participate in this round of Agent Inbox, and offer my submission for your slicing and dicing pleasure.

On the eve of their 13th birthday, Drew and Liz Raven can only guess what their father really does for a living. Drew thinks he might be a real-life James Bond. Liz isn’t sure she wants to know. Neither of them is ready for the truth. By sunrise on their birthday the twins have been initiated into a secret magic society, witnessed Mom offer herself (and their birthday cake) as a sacrifice to a demon, and been forced to watch as Dad was dragged off by a special forces team of Enclave magicians. And supposedly the Enclave are the good guys.

The Raven twins are thrust into a world of bewitched hair, soul-sucking leeches and beetlebum fart bombs, where betrayal and friendship await in unexpected corners. In their quest to clear Dad’s name and save Mom’s sanity, the twins discover a truly compelling need to toilet paper a local Enclave magician, and make a quick exit via zipline from an illicit magic bar where they’re no longer welcome. But saving their parents will require more than just taming their unpredictable magic and unlocking the family secrets. They have thirteen days to destroy the demon who framed their dad and possessed their mom, before he turns the world into a fiery hell and grills the twins up as his favorite snack--Ravenburgers.

13 Demon Days is a middle-grade urban fantasy novel, and is complete at 75,000 words. It has been written as a standalone, but my characters are clamoring for a series. It will appeal to readers who love the whimsy and magical wonder of Fablehaven and the dark family heritage of Artemis Fowl.



Liz Raven snuggled into her jacket as a cold wind blew up her spine. It was October, and almost midnight--even the stars were shivering. This birthday-under-the-stars thing was Mom’s idea, but Dad had jumped on the plan. Her parents would be thrilled to live in tents in the Amazon, but in her opinion, parties belonged inside. They were lucky it wasn’t raining.

Behind her, the kitchen door banged open and Liz’s twin came out. He dropped a present onto the patio table in front of Liz, then dropped himself into the seat next to her.

“It took forever to wrap,” Drew said in a voice of long-suffering. “I had to cleverly disguise the shape.”

Liz laughed. The present was clearly a book, and nothing but a book. “You’re obviously not getting this whole teenage deception thing. It takes a little more work than that.”

“You’ve always been the better liar--I'll let that be your special talent,” Drew said. “‘Sides, I was busy making the tag.” He reached over and nudged the tag into the light from the kitchen window. It read, ‘For my big sister, on the day she turns into a true teen and gets her first zit.’ Under the words he’d drawn a smiling face with a birthday crown and an arrow pointing to one lonely zit on its chin.

“Ha ha, Drew. Very funny.” Liz punched him in the arm. Truth was, she’d been getting zits for at least a year. A really long year with her emotions flying all over the place and Drew’s face perfectly clear.

“You’ll turn thirteen two-and-a-half minutes after me,” Liz said. “It’ll only be fair if a whole year’s worth of zits erupt in a giant zit-plosion.”

An Agent's Inbox #38

Dear Agent,

Fifteen-year-old Leigh Baxton is terrified her mom will comeback from the dead--just like the prom queen did.

Afraid the local cemetery might be something out of a Stephen King book, she buries some of her mom’s heavy things in her grave to keep her there. When the strange, but kind of beautiful, caretaker warns her not to give gifts to the dead, Leigh jacks up her punk music to drown him out, and keeps digging.

She should have listened to him.

Two resurrected sorceresses discover what Leigh has done. Apparently giving gifts to the dead is an offer to join the sorceresses inside the prom queen’s magical, and now empty, grave. Which means death, resurrection, and enough dead sorceress power to break open the prison inside the earth. But Leigh isn’t the only one who has gifts for the dead. Her sister does, too, and the sorceresses find out. Now Leigh must make a choice: lose another loved one or give the ultimate gift to the dead--herself.

THE GRAVE WINNER is a young adult dark fantasy complete at 64,000 words.

My short story “Alpha Female Office Wolf” was published in the May 2011 issue of Work Literary Magazine. Two of my horror short stories will be published in future issues of Weirdyear and The Red Asylum.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Dad, Darby, and I stood rooted in place long after Mom’s funeral. The weight in my chest threatened to suffocate me if I looked at the lid of her gleaming casket any longer. Instead, I focused on the black birds cutting across the sky in a sharp V formation. They pressed on until the clouds took them from me.

A different flutter in the corner of my eye pulled me back to earth. The movement took a few seconds to penetrate my numb brain. It was a girl. She crept in and out of the crumbling headstones, her body thick with mud and grime. Torn scraps of what looked like a prom dress hung from her scrawny frame. Her mouth sagged open like she was about to scream.

A shudder raced across my shoulder blades. I shook my head, afraid I might be dreaming. Darby stood next to me, and I reached out to touch her. She was real. Her ache was real. I felt it in the quiver of her bony body. But beyond her and the heaviness pinching my lungs, I couldn’t be sure of anything.

Inky black footprints tracked behind the dangling hem of the girl’s dress like a trail of burnt breadcrumbs. She stopped beside a tree and leaned her back against it. More darkness pooled at her feet and crept up the trunk behind her.

Sweat trickled down the back of my dress. What was this girl doing? And what was all the black stuff dripping underneath her?

An Agent's Inbox #37

Dear agent,

I’m querying my upper middle-grade novel, BEING THE QUEEN. When thirteen-year-old Sabrina Tate finds out she can compete to be crowned queen of her school’s medieval feast, she thinks this might be the chance she’s been looking for: away to stand up to mean girl Kayleigh Andrews, a way to show her parents she’s just as talented as her big sister Audrey, and, possibly, an opportunity to talk to the cute boy in her English class, Jameson Bradley. After all, the competition only asks her to read books, watch movies, and show up to a few rehearsals--how hard can that be?

The competition isn’t as straightforward as Sabrina thinks. Kayleigh’s also set her sights on the crown, and what Kayleigh wants, she gets. Jameson seems more interested in Kayleigh than he is in Sabrina, and other students might be cheating to get ahead in the competition. As Sabrina reads more and more about the Arthurian legends that inspired the feast, she finds herself increasingly identifying with her research subject, Elaine of Astolat, an outsider to Camelot. Sabrina can’t help seeing her own fate as an outsider reflected in Elaine’s story, and she worries that she’s not brave enough, smart enough, or creative enough to win this competition. However, she desperately wants to win, believing that winning will be the sign she needs to show herself, Kayleigh, and her family that she’s important and that she matters. Although the competition to be queen doesn’t turn out entirely as Sabrina expects (or hopes), in the process of competing for the crown, Sabrina discovers that stories--including her own--aren’t always straightforward, that revenge doesn’t always work the way you expect, and, finally, that she can be braver than she thinks.

As a junior high student, I participated in a similar medieval feast. Although the characters and most of the events in this story are fictitious, the backdrop for the story stems from real experience.

This story is complete at 61,000 words. Thank you for your consideration!



Looking at me, no one would have thought that I had anything in common with historic royalty. But I did. Take, for example, King Arthur. He was an unknown boy called Wart when he pulled a sword from a stone and became king. Or Queen Elizabeth. She was an overlooked second daughter until she faced her father’s court armed with nothing more than words and her father’s red hair--and became queen. And while my dad didn’t marry my mom after killing her first husband (Arthur) or marry six different women (Elizabeth), like Arthur and Elizabeth, I was tired of being ignored. I wanted to matter. Winning a crown seemed like a good way to do that.

Arthur’s story started when he went to London for a tournament. Elizabeth’s started when her sister Mary got sick and died. As for me? My quest for a crown started the first day of eighth grade, the day I hid from Kayleigh Andrews in the girl’s bathroom. I don’t usually hide in bathrooms. I’m much better at hiding in plain sight. It’s amazing how easy it is to disappear when you simply don’t get noticed. Why was I hiding in the girl’s bathroom on the day that would launch me into the biggest quest of my life? Well, as I said, it was because of Kayleigh. And my hair.

It started like this. On Saturday, my mom took me to get a back-to-school haircut.

An Agent's Inbox #36

Dear Agent,

When her best friend's house is threatened with foreclosure, ten-year-old Annie Jenkins is full of ideas to save it: selling her appendix on eBay, winning the lottery, facing down the bankers…anything to keep Jason from moving.

Problem is, Jason's out-of-work dad blows up at the smallest things. One little trip to the ER, and they're grounded from each other for two weeks. Still, Annie is determined.

So when she tracks a lost treasure to Jason's backyard (smack dab in their turkey pen), she's certain it's the answer to all their problems. Now all she has to do is convince Jason to ignore his father's short fuse and overcome her own paralyzing fear of turkeys. It should be a snap. But when her plan goes terribly wrong, Annie discovers there are worse things than your best friend moving away.

THE PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY FRIENDSHIP is a 41,000-word contemporary middle grade novel about the stickiness of friendship. Fans of Beverly Cleary's RAMONA and Megan Macdonald's JUDY MOODY will appreciate Annie's spunk.

I am an active member in an SCBWI-sponsored critique group, and have a BA in English and an MA in French literature. Thank you for your time and consideration on this multiple submission.



Annie eavesdropped from the top of the stairs. Her brother Matt and a friend droned on about healing plants for Boy Scouts. That'd keep him out of her hair.

She tip-toed down the hall and peeked in her mom's room. Busy with bills. And Kate was out of the house. Perfect.

Still, to be safe, she sneaked the phone into the hall closet where her sister's faux fur parka would muffle the sound. She speed-dialed 7 and let it ring once, then hung up and called again. Their secret code. It rang twice before Jason answered.

"It's me." Annie was all business. "I've got a body count."

Jason hedged. "I don't know. My parents are talking to this lady, and…"

"Jason, you're ten. Find a way. This is important." Without waiting for a response, she hung up.

Jason wouldn't find a way. Annie knew. She'd just have to go to his house and get him, like usual.

After listening at the door for several seconds, she slipped out of the closet and replaced the phone. Silently, she extracted the pre-packed bag from under her bed then ran down the stairs.

"I'm going outside, Mom!" She bounded out of the house before her mom could protest and ran smack into Kate.

"Watch it, squirt!"

For a split second, Annie thought she might escape her sister's usual torment, until Kate's mouth twisted into a grin. "Where are you going, anyway? To your boyfriend's?"

An Agent's Inbox #35

Dear Agent:

In Shakespeare on the Lam, middle school siblings, Jared and Athena Hearne, find a magic orb that allows them to hear voices from the past. And the first voice they hear is that of a teenage Shakespeare, pleading to be rescued from execution.

The siblings can’t just let Athena’s favorite dramatist be hung, drawn, and quartered. Using the orb, they zip to Elizabethan England and spring Shakespeare from his cell. But talk about a comedy of errors. Shakespeare hijacks the orb and returns to modern times with Jared, leaving Athena stranded in the sixteenth century. Then, thrilled with this brave new world, the Bard goes on the lam. He “borrows” the high school quarterback’s Mustang, shoots 'em up at Laser Tag World, and asks the immortal question at The Burger Barn: "Wherefore dost thou shake thy milk?"

Jared gives chase, desperate to herd the problematic poet back to 1582 and save his sister. Until, that is, the orb is stolen. Now Jared has a new mission: to hunt down the thief. Or else, Shakespeare’s marauding through high school next semester. And Athena’s history.



A ghost lurked in his house; Jared Hearne was sure of it. A ghost who prowled the corridors, muttered in strange voices, cackled. Sometimes, the ghost flitted around the dinner table. Sometimes, it sneaked into the family room when Jared was watching TV, coming so close he could feel its eyes fastening on the back of his neck as it readied itself to pounce.

Nobody else seemed to notice, that was the weirdest thing. Mom, Dad, his sister Athena--all of them slurped their soup, or yawned on the couch, or yakked on their cell phones without even a furtive glance or a frightened tremor. While Jared could practically feel the thing poking him in the ribs. Like right now, at 5:30 on a dark, rainy Oregon morning. The ghost was once again on the move. The chills running down Jared’s spine proved it.

He shivered as a spatter of rain hit his bedroom window. Taking a deep breath, he switched on Dad’s camcorder. If he got this ghost on camera, he’d be famous. It would be on TV, all over the internet. Kids at school would gape when he walked past.

One final check of his equipment. The strap of his bicycle helmet pinched his chin. His swim goggles were vacuum tight. Whoa, epic eyeball bulge. Excellent. No way would the ghost now be able to yank out his hair or claw out his eyes. He was ready for action.

An Agent's Inbox #34

Dear Agent,

In WANDERING STAR, seventeen-year-old Evee Ciboure has given up everything for a mission she couldn't care less about. Evee’s been chosen as Earth’s first goodwill ambassador to another planet, which means she’s saying good-bye to her home, language, and Charlie, the only boy she’s ever kissed. It doesn't help that her only companion on this trip is her ambitious mother, a woman who excels at two things: discovering interstellar life and ignoring her daughter.

Evee expects to spend the next decade faking smiles for the camera while her mother gets lost in work, but the day their ship is scheduled to land, a bomb rips through the bridge, and Evee is kidnapped.

As Evee fights her way back to her mother, she gains an ally in Rem, a handsome and human-looking space pirate who doesn't mind bending a few laws to give Evee a hand. Rem’s charm sets Evee at ease, but when she discovers a king's ransom on her head and a score of hunters on her trail, she begins to doubt her new friend's intentions.

Unsure of whom to trust, Evee mines her past for answers and uncovers the greatest threat to the galaxy's survival: a code locked inside her own genes. Before her pursuers close in, Evee has to figure out the truth of what she is and decide who's out to save her--and who wants to stop her.



A blue dot. I press my finger up to the glass and when I pull it away, the dot is in the center of my print, a faded blue freckle. Earth. Everyone I've ever known or cared about or hated, there on a rapidly-shrinking point of light. I hold my gaze, focusing on the light even as my vision blurs. If I close my eyes, I think, it'll disappear, and then what am I supposed to do? I hold the image until my eyes burn, I blink, and it's gone, vanished or indistinguishable from the million other specks that surround me, and that’s when I know, I’ve made a mistake.

Adrenaline thrums through my veins, prickling my skin. I close my eyes, hold my breath, count to one hundred, but when I open my eyes again and stare out the window into black nothingness, panic floods me, fast and heavy, and I want to claw my way through the glass and kick out through space, back to my home.

My breath fogs the window as I let my air out in a rush, and I lean my sticky, sweating face against the cool glass, feeling the ship’s vibrations shake through to my brain. I breathe in and out, heaving gulps of breath, and I pull my knees close against my chest. I’m curled up like a baby against the circular window, almost inside the window, which sticks out from the side of the ship like a great glass fishbowl.

An Agent's Inbox #33

Dear Secret Agent,

For sixteen-year-old Emma Hawthorne, a touch is never simple. Even brush of skin can draw emotion from another person, like drawing poison from a wound. Only one person has ever been able to keep her empathic abilities in check--and Gabriel left four years ago. Now that her best friend is dead, a death that wasn't an accident, she needs Gabriel more than ever.

When Gabriel comes home for the summer, their connection to one another is stronger than ever and his calm presence helps Emma regain control of her life and her abilities. Just as their childhood friendship kindles into something more, Emma captures the attention of Patrick, a Soul-Eater who promises to free her from the constant bombardment of extrinsic emotions. The cost? Everything that makes her human.

Gabriel steps in to protect Emma, revealing that he is a Guardian, dedicated to hunting and killing monsters like Patrick. But with Gabriel and Patrick h***-bent on destroying each other, Emma realizes she is the only one who can end the battle--and only if she embraces her abilities. Faced with a choice between an immortal, yet soulless existence or fighting for a single lifetime of danger and heartache, she must figure out what she really values and if she is willing to pay the price for her decision.

RIVERS UNDERNEATH is a 63,000 word YA urban fantasy. I have included the first 250 words with this e-mail as requested in your submission guidelines.

I earned my B.S. in journalism from Kent State University. I have also co-written two independently produced short films. I live in Los Angeles, where I work as a grant writer for Sound Art, a non-profit organization that teaches music in inner-city neighborhoods.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



A shiver ran down Emma’s spine as she watched a cluster of mourners gather around the fresh grave below her. They clung to one another, finding comfort in the knowledge they did not mourn alone.

On either side of her, dark pathways wove between twisted trees, dividing the cemetery into irregular sections. Name etched in soft, malleable limestone endured as faded reminders of mortality, while glossy marble monuments stood in polished defiance of the strains of time.

Emma shifted her feet and the frozen dew clinging to the grass crackled under her. The wind shaped her dark hair into softly waving tendrils and she brushed it away from her face with the back of her hand. She knew she should join the other mourners. She knew they expected her to share in their public display of sorrow.

And she knew she couldn’t.

She felt numb. Far too numb to grieve. The slightest touch, the slightest betrayal of emotion and she would lose everything.

She remained frozen, a silent witness to their grief. She saw every detail in stunning clarity. The lurid green of the indoor-outdoor carpet covering the hole in the ground and the cold, dead smoothness of the coffin that contained the mortal remains her best friend. The hardened ground and dull sky burned in her mind. Overwhelming sorrow surrounded her, but she felt none of it.

She knew her parents were worried. Not that she blamed them. She’d never handled loss well. She’d nearly self-destruct when Gabriel left.

An Agent's Inbox #32

Dear Ms. Super Secret Agent,

Sixteen-year old Megan Benson never considered herself a con artist. More like a con doodler. After all, her antics are nowhere near the calibers of her mother’s heists. But even she has to pat herself on the back when she lands them a place living at the Keller mansion. All Megan has to do now is play big sister to Cammy, while her mother works her magic on Mr. Keller, the wealthy owner (and widower) of a successful catering company. Then they’ll be set for life.

Easier said than done. Mr. Keller not only seems immune to her mother’s charms (and curves), he spends all his time doting on Cammy, his only daughter. In turn, she hero worships Megan, making her feel like scum for using them. The guilt grows stronger when she is confronted by Ian MacMillian, the Keller’s cousin, who sees right through her act. Yet strangely enough, despite his sarcastic comments, he's the only one who understands Megan. Even better then she understands herself.

But with an empty bank account and nowhere else to go, Megan has no choice but to continue the con despite her feelings for the family--especially Ian. Even if it means everything she does and says is a lie. It was either go big or go to the homeless shelter.

JUST A CON is a YA contemporary romance (55K words) that is a standalone with a sequel potential. The first page is below. Thank you again for your time and I look forward to your response.



Alex Harper was going to catch h*** from Coach today.

After glancing at his watch for the twentieth time, he studied the burger menu above him, mentally urging the middle-aged cashier to hurry up with the orders. G**, he was starving.

If he were late for soccer practice again, he’d get kicked off the team. Or at least that’s what Coach Wilkins threatened every other week. It was the coach’s fault though, for having practice so early. Didn’t he know that teenagers weren’t supposed to get up before twelve in the summer? It was practically a law of nature.

A smirk crossed his face. Still, he knew Coach would never actually kick him off the team. Not if they wanted to keep winning. Alex was the best sprinter on the field. No lie.

He could also mention that he knew Coach was sleeping with his stepmother whenever his dad was out of town. He knew she brought more than just snacks to practice.

Thank G** for adultery.

Looking away, Alex noticed the girl in front of him, wiping her eyes on a Kleenex every few seconds like her rabbit had been run over right in front of her.

Wondering if she was sick or just plain crazy, Alex started to back away when she reached into her pocket and pulled out a silver cell phone. She swept her dark hair over her shoulder and held the mobile to her ear.

“Hello? Damon?” Her voice cracked and she held the phone closer to her face as though she couldn’t hear very well. “Where have you been? You haven’t been returning any of my calls and--” She paused and looked over her shoulder. Alex immediately looked away, pretending to be absorbed in the menu again. “--I thought that after that night we would be officially a couple,” the girl continued in a softer tone. Another pause. “What do you mean you don’t have those feelings for me? But we--no, I don’t want to talk later! I want to talk now! Hello?” She slammed the closed and glared at screen. “S***.”

An Agent's Inbox #31

Dear Agent,

They say not even Death can get in the way of love…but this is exactly what happens when seventeen-year-old grim reaper, Xia, falls for a human boy.

Since Xia’s job is to collect dead souls, she has to follow the three Rules of Reaping to protect the world of the living:

1. Do not interfere with someone’s death.
2. Do not become emotionally involved.
3. Do not show yourself to the living.

The last Rule doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to Shilah, a mysterious Native American boy who can see reapers. Xia is irresistibly drawn to him, curious to know the background behind his unnatural ability, despite the trouble she can get into. She has never been a stickler for rules anyway, as she’s always being punished for something. Still, she is caught off guard when she starts breaking Rule Two, since she isn’t familiar with human emotion. Xia’s feelings for Shilah frighten her, yet she keeps seeing him, even though she has to leave his side often to respond to someone’s death. His suspicions lead her to admit she’s a reaper, but he accepts what she does. He even refuses to let her push him away when she is forbidden from seeing him. However, when her father, the Angel of Death, claims Shilah’s soul, it puts their relationship to the ultimate test. With Shilah’s life now on the line, Xia is willing to break the most important rule and answer the age-old question: can Death be stopped?

Grim Crush is a YA paranormal romance novel that shows how love can transcend the boundary between life and death. This novel also has series potential. I have been a finalist in many writing contests, such as ones for best pitch and best novel beginning, and I have a short story published in the Without Title anthology.

The manuscript is complete at 60,000 words and available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.



He was taking too long to die.

Sometimes it seemed like these things took longer than usual. I guess I shouldn’t be too eager to collect a person’s soul, but the waiting and anticipation drove me nuts.

I stepped up to the precipice of the cliff until the tips of my boots hung off the edge. Leaning forward, I stared down the fifty or so yards to the ground below. When I shifted my feet, tiny rocks tumbled down the red-orange crags of the cliff face.

Yep, a fall from here will do it all right.

Sighing, I stood up straight and crossed my arms, staring off to my left. I hated that I had to be here early. Death had some pretty stupid rules. I could be doing something else rather than waiting for this guy to kick the bucket.

He was probably in his mid-twenties. A guy of average build, with black hair like mine. He had on a backpack and held a camera in his hands; an expensive one with a large lens like what photographers used. He was taking pictures of the birds in the trees, while standing way too close to the precipice.

A nature buff. Great. I’d picked up another one of these last week. They needed to learn to be more careful.

The nature guy took another step back, his foot inches from the cliff edge. He continued taking pictures without paying attention to the sheer drop behind him.

An Agent's Inbox #30

Dear Agent,

Lana is meant to be good at one thing: following orders. She joined The Program, the rebuilding project of a devastated parallel Earth, to honor her father who died discovering the parallel world.

Her job description is simple: keep the Researchers safe, even if that means having to trank a survivor or two.

When her team is sent to neutralize one of the survivors’ leaders, Lana doesn’t know whether to comply or flip her leader off. She is scared out of her camouflage panties that she won't pull through. It's not like "assassination skills wanted" was on the job application.

If being led by Alex, a survivor with a cute butt and mad fighting skills, isn't enough to distract her, discovering her father is alive sure does, big time. When she finds him hiding amongst the survivors and learns her people caused the planet's devastation in the first place, she has to choose: be loyal to her father or to her home world.

THE END WORLD is a 65,000 word young-adult science fiction novel about learning to choose between what is said to be right and what is felt to hold true. You will find the first 250 words pasted below.

Thank you very much for your consideration,


My first trip to the End World should have scared me s***less. Instead, it made me realize just how important the role of a Spinner really is. If I had been as scared as other newbies during that same trip, my butt would be sitting in one of the comfy chairs of the control room, orchestrating spins.

That’s what they called it, those same Researchers in those same control rooms, spins. I often wandered who came up with the term.

Spinning back and forth between Earth and The End World was the easy part of the job. Most of the time, we were making sure Researchers didn’t get themselves killed in the field. I guess having a high IQ didn’t gift them with common sense.

I slipped past the faded theater sign, grabbed the cement ledge, and hauled myself up. My labored breathing and sweaty back reminded me to lay off my allotted calories at dinner. I flattened myself against the hot roof and rested my rifle against the front ledge as I focused through the scope.

Across the street, Sal was already lying down, scanning the street with his NF P90.

Damn, he is fast.

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

I gave him the finger.

“Love you too, Lana.”

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

An Agent's Inbox #29

“Dear Competition Agent,

My name is Alek Warrick, and it is in my hands to save the realm against Rastaban’s plans to burn it down. His followers are growing, as is his reward for catching me. If I am found before my purpose is fulfilled, the realm will have no hope left.

I have been chosen to lead my allies to Avechrea (yes, this lost land is more than just a myth) to form a plan of retaliation, and to find three objects along the way. In Rastaban’s hands, these objects will make him invincible. In my hands, they can destroy him. I am telling you this so you know, despite the rumors, there is still hope.

You have chosen to remain neutral in this war. You have chosen wrong. Pick a side, good or evil, but do not avoid committing because the temptation of peace is greater than the burden of responsibility.

I realize following me isn’t an easy decision, especially since I’m only fourteen years old. I didn’t even know what to think or believe in the beginning, but that was before I watched Rastaban walk through the forest. The path rots beneath his feet, and the trees singe at the very sight of him. He will destroy your land, taking the magic of your ancestors with him. This is not a threat. It is a reality. If you don’t fight, if you don’t help to bring him down, you will lose everything.

When I find Avechrea, I’ll send word for you to join us. I hope by then, you will have re-examined your loyalties. Until I contact you, be on your guard and don’t trust anyone.

--Alek Warrick”

I am seeking representation for my novel, Saving Nyliadore, an 85,000-word fantasy geared towards teens and young adults. It is the first in a series of four. If you would like to read sample chapters, a synopsis, or look over the manuscript in its entirety, please, just let me know. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Alek’s hair flickered blue, as it always did when he was nervous, and Maia’s terrified face wasn’t helping him control it. Maia was a mute, but her trembling pen moved across the paper almost as fast as any talker. He tried to read over her shoulder as she wrote, but her arm was blocking the words.

“Move your arm,” Alek said.

Maia looked over her shoulder, her head darting back and forth, her black eyes searching the lightly-wooded forest of Hillsborne. Her straight, black hair was tucked behind her ears, with a couple of lifeless strands falling in front of her face. The thing about her not being able to talk was it took her a lot longer, especially when she was frantic, to tell him what she needed to tell him. And the longer it took in situations like this, the more anxious Alek became. She could just use her hands to tell him, but she refused to learn any type of sign language because she didn’t want people to know she was different.

Maia was still writing when her father rounded the corner of the path, on the other side of Radnor Creek. Maia stiffened and her pale face whitened even more. Her fingers clawed into Alek’s arm, her nails digging into his flesh. Before Bergert could see the paper, Alek crumpled it into a small ball and clenched it in his hand.

An Agent's Inbox #28

Dear Agent,

After 18 year old King Zuku successfully defends his planet against the attack of the High Lord Sultan, he doesn’t want anything more to do with the Sultan or the Sultan’s family. So when Zuku sees the broadwave requesting help to save the Sultan’s daughters, Zuku ignores it. He tells himself he doesn’t care about the 12 princesses trapped in a malfunctioning starship, and he certainly doesn’t want to marry one of them as a reward.

But…Zuku is an engineer at heart, not a politician, and he can’t resist looking--just a little--into the problem. The more he researches, the more involved he gets, and the more he thinks that a marriage alliance with the Sultan, and its accompanying peace treaty, might not be a bad idea. Zuku refuses to admit it has anything to do with to the Sultan’s feisty daughter, Rana.

He enters the contest only to find out he’s last on a long list of men wanting a closer connection to the Sultan. He’s told to wait for his turn, but the longer Zuku waits, the worse the effects of dimensional slippage will be for the princesses. Fortunately, Zuku’s a king and not used to taking orders from anyone, not even High Lord Sultans.

Told from the point of view of both Zuku and Rana, SLIPPERAGE is a YA science fiction retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” complete at 67,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



The sky turned pink and Rana’s head jerked up in surprise. She squinted at the sky, but no matter how she looked at it, it remained blindingly neon pink. The sky only changed to that particular shade during the noon hour when the sun’s rays hit the palace shields directly, which meant Rana was late for lunch. Again. Someday, she thought, she’d be on time and get to eat something normal for a change instead of being stuck with the chef’s experiments. There was never anything else left after her family went through the buffet lines in the dining hall. Yesterday, the chef had experimented with watermelon and okra wrapped inside a pita with a side serving of eggplant yogurt. Neither had been very edible.

Even knowing she was late, Rana paused to look at what she’d drawn on her tablet. She’d been doodling absently and ended up drawing a self-portrait. Her smiling face was surrounded by her mother, her father, and several of her sisters, all of them beaming and obviously happy to be together. Rana snorted and deleted the picture. As if that would ever happen.

She shoved her tablet and stylus into her bag, slung it over her head and shoulder, and hurried back toward the palace for lunch. Rana passed through a pagoda leading from the serene Oriental Gardens and into the squared symmetry of the terraced Persian Gardens.

The pinkness disappeared.

An Agent's Inbox #27

Dear Agent,

For as long as anyone could remember, the kennels of the sky planet Rem have always supplied the great military fleets with pilots bred to be sharp enough, fast enough, and psychic enough to fly the two-man fighters needed to defend their world against the forces of the rogue planet Rom.

A Dog of War at the top of his line, Oz was ready for the latest wave of a thousand year war, when a crippling injury ruined his chances of a brilliant flying career.

Now serving as a medical officer on a rest station, a second chance comes to Oz in the form of Akita: the sixteen year old veteran of Rem's most decorated fleet; a top-bred pilot haunted by the death of his previous partner. Volatile and damaged, Akita has refused three previous replacements, but Oz is determined to fly again.

As Rom draws closer, the Dogs of War are expected to fly, but there is more to Akita than just shell-shock, and more to the kennels than Oz has ever been told. The next invasion may come sooner than anyone expects.

CRY HAVOC is a 100,000 word young adult science fiction novel inspired by an interest in WWII ace pilots and a love of the common dog. I've enclosed the first 250 words of the manuscript. Additional materials are available upon request. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks again,


The launch ship tore through the upper cloud level and downwards, a silver line against the swirling purples and reds of Rem’s greatest storm. Ahead of them, the enemy was just a dot against the next layer of clouds, some thousand feet down. Through the slim strip of his windshield, Akita could catch only the barest glimpse of their exhaust plumes, but he knew he could catch them. He adjusted the thrust with one flick of the burn switch. Beneath him, the launch came alive from out of its sleeping dive. The vents roared. The burners rumbled. The cockpit jolted and jounced like it was ready to come apart, but like any Dog of War worth his contract price, he knew his ship. Noreaster fell like a comet from the sky. The enemy plunged into the next strip of cloud and Akita plunged with them. The world through the plexi became nothing but a red and purple mist.

“Shiba, what have we got?”

“They’re four lengths ahead of us,” said his Shepherd, priming the charge cannons with a flex of her hands. She sat in the rear Shepherd’s seat. In the mirror set up beside his console, Akita could see the sharp, distant look in her eyes and the gleam of her psychic dampeners as she gazed out past the walls of the cockpit and into the skies beyond. It was said that a well-bred Shepherd at their peak could see a stretch of sky ten miles out from their starting point. Shiba was a fourth season vet, like Akita, and very close to it. “Three and a half lengths. Akita, we’re not maxed. Put on some thrust. We can take them.”

An Agent's Inbox #26

Mr. Agent Name,

I know that you are looking for [personalized info here]. BLACKBIRD is a YA fantasy thriller complete at 90,000 words that is best described as "Mission: Impossible with magic."

It's always hard to fit in at high school, but especially when you're a powerful half-elf whose very existence is illegal. So when Taylor Keaton's ability to control all four elements lands her a spot at an elite school for magical espionage, she prays her years of running are finally over. However, sorcerers kill Taylor's recruitment team before she can even reach the international training school, making it clear things haven't changed a bit.

But why do the sorcerers want Taylor dead? The answer may lie in her recruitment team's final mission, a mission she's left to complete: find out what the sorcerers are trying to steal...and then break in and get it first.

The mission will require hacking the code behind a suspicious online video game, gaining entrance to a room full of secure servers, and bypassing one of the best magical security systems in the world. It'll also mean bridging cultural gaps to make friends--possibly the hardest task of all--because she can't do these things alone.

BLACKBIRD can be a standalone novel, but is also the first in a planned series. I also have a master's degree in English. You can find more information on my website. Thank you for your time.



Chapter One: A Not-so-smooth Criminal

After the years of hiding, all it took to bring me down was one slipup and an idiot with a camera phone. As the final minutes of my life ticked away in first period Bio II, I pondered the absurdity of this, my guitar pick scratching out a tuneless riff against my pants leg.

I gripped the pick, digging it into my palm until my fingers turned the color of my chipping purple nail polish. I shoved the pick into my pocket. James Loeper could be stopped--if I got the phone. I stood up, slipping a test tube and a couple petri dishes into my hoodie pocket as I did.

Getting out of class was the easy part. Mr. Mueller, like most guys, was scared to death of "girl stuff," so I just grabbed a not-quite-concealed tampon, went up to him, and said, "Umm...Mr. Mueller, can I go to the bathroom?"

Poor Mr. Mueller. Ears going pink, he mumbled to somewhere above my head, "Sure, Taylor. Fine. Take your time." I stuffed the tampon into my hoodie and walked out.

I should have been relieved, but the knot in my stomach just tied more kinks. Still, I walked down the grey and white hall as confidently as I could. The key to not getting caught was acting like you knew what you were doing. And though I had no freaking clue what I was doing, I couldn't get caught. My life depended on it.


An Agent's Inbox #25

Dear Agent,

In the kingdom of Orkeia, a birthmark on your shoulder marks you for death--it is the mark of a witch. But Kenna’s mark is anything but ordinary; from its placement on her thigh to its peculiar heart shape, its true meaning remains a mystery to her. What power does it represent? Is she truly a white witch, someone who can communicate with spirits, as she’s grown to believe?

But there’s no time to dwell on these questions. While she’s out gathering, her clan is murdered by the bloodthirsty knights. Kenna has no choice but to search for a new family. She’s convinced she can never find ‘home’ as she did with her previous clan, but Gideon Grison proves her wrong. Their friendship blossoms into something she can’t ignore, no matter how hard she tries.

He too has a peculiar mark--a circle--and is convinced he will never amount to anything as a sorcerer. Together they search for answers, discovering that Gideon is not only extremely gifted, but he has the rarest gift of all: power over the planets.

But when the captain of the knights invades their home and Kenna is captured, it seems they will be separated forever. The placement of her mark allows her to disguise herself as a citizen of the kingdom, however suspicious Captain Lewin might be. To her surprise, she finds herself in the king’s castle, a member of his royal court--and the woman he intends to marry.

Maybe it would be better if she was dead.

A story of war, acceptance, and a whirlwind romance, OPEN EYES is a young adult epic fantasy complete at 98,000 words. It is the first book in the VICTIM OF PROPHECY series, and only the beginning of Kenna’s heart-breaking adventure.

Thank you for your consideration and I hope to hear from you.



My feet flew across the ground, oblivious to the sand and rocks beneath them. Ahead of me, my clan’s stone shelter caved in on itself, in ruins. Bodies scattered the ground outside the entrance, cold bodies of the knights who’d attacked my clan. No visible movement came from inside the shelter, and my heartbeat quickened at the stillness. I prayed silently to God as the scene grew steadily closer, pleading that my clan family was all right--

I stumbled through the door, tripping over a knight’s arm. My bag fell to my side and I stopped short.

They were all dead.

A sob escaped my throat and I collapsed to the ground. No, no, no…

Elizabeth. The woman who’d raised me as her own daughter lay a few feet away, a victim of the king’s ‘Great War’--the Slaughters. Her eyes stared blankly into the stars through the fallen ceiling. I crawled over the bodies separating us and took her lifeless body in my shaking arms. Not Elizabeth

A seal barked on the beach, but my wails drowned the noise. Though Elizabeth’s dress was stained red, my skirt remained free of blood. It was dry--she’d been dead at least a day. A whole day. And I hadn’t been here.

I took a deep breath and glanced around the room. Everything was gone. Our cauldrons, candles, talismans, even our cooking pots. What was once a home was now a burial chamber--four thick, crumbling stone walls surrounding this massacre. Their deaths wouldn’t be remembered, forgotten, or even noticed. All we’d had was each other.

But now I was alone.

An Agent's Inbox #24

Dear Agent:

When Katherine Brandt, newly nicknamed Sparky, comes to America in 1938, her dearest wish is to become a real American girl. Before she can realize her dream, though, she’s going to have to learn the ins and outs of the unusual town and group of friends she’s joined.

Sparky is taken under the wing of Cinnimin Filliard, the youngest child of the man who helped the Brandts immigrate. Cinni teaches Sparky a thing or two not only about American life, but also the strange town she’s come to. Cinni and her friends look, act, and talk like they’re at least five years older, all because of an esoteric, radical secret society of sorts that has been passed down for over a thousand years.

Sparky will do almost anything, as she navigates her way through American life, to become a real American girl and stop giving herself away as a greenhorn. Anything, that is, but compromise her faith. Will she ever be able to pull off being Sparky to her friends while remaining Kätchen to her family and staying true to her values?

THE VERY FIRST, a work of YA historical fiction, is complete at 43,000 words. The first in a series spanning 1938-41, it also works as a standalone. Thank you for your time and consideration.




In the year 233 of the Common Era, a girl child whose name had been lost to the many succeeding generations who followed her teachings was born in present-day Holland. For hundreds of years, the details of her life and the teachings and rituals she prescribed for the total liberation of the human race were passed on by means of chanting, singing, and word of mouth, mostly by women, her direct descendants, who passed them on in Old Dutch. When the Dutch people began slowly to evolve into speaking Middle Dutch, the Old Dutch information was passed on along with Middle Dutch chants and songs. The same thing happened when the nation began to speak modern Dutch, bit by bit, slowly. It became a highly esoteric path to follow, loved and cherished by everyone who was brought up to practice it but fully understood by very few. Only the most devoted few, even among the missionaries who went to distant lands to spread the word and to give new names to the woman who had started it all, knew the innermost secrets of what became known in America as WTCOAC, We the Children of Atlantic City. That was not the original name of the set of teachings, but they thought it came mighty close to what had perhaps originally been called We the Children of Amsterdam City.

The woman who had begun this became known as WTCOAC Woman. According to what had been passed down, it all started in 245, when she was twelve years old.

An Agent's Inbox #23

Dear Wonderful Agent Willing to Participate in this Contest:

My middle grade novel A Sketch in Time will be published in May 2012 in Catalan by the Barcelona publisher Cruïlla. I am eager to secure representation so that I may also publish in the U.S., and I am hopeful the novel will appeal to you. Set in contemporary Barcelona and in the Catalan countryside of the 1930s, it blends historical fiction and time-travel adventure.

Micah hates Barcelona. He hates that he has to go to school in a foreign language--who’s ever even heard of Catalan?--and he hates how nearly everything is different here. He can’t fathom why his parents dragged him and his seven-year-old twin brother and sister on this so-called adventure of a year abroad. But the difficulties of adjusting are nothing compared to the adventure that begins when his sister finds an old pen that draws windows into the past, and Micah and his siblings tumble into 1938. Suddenly in the middle of the Spanish Civil War, they face hunger, violence, loss and the tragic bitterness of their great grandmother.

I wrote A Sketch in Time while living in Barcelona, and it is grounded both in my experiences as an American in that city and as a member of a large Catalan family with many stories of the Civil War. When not on sabbatical abroad, I am an Associate Professor of English at Bucknell University, where I teach young adult fiction and Victorian literature. I have published an academic monograph, Excavating Victorians (SUNY 2008), and several articles, many of which address themes of time in literature. I am also a member of SCBWI.

The manuscript is complete at 54,000 words. I would be happy to provide some or all of it for your consideration. While A Sketch in Time can stand on its own, I have also written the first few chapters of a sequel, which I hope to finish in the next few months. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Wishes,


One: Celia’s Picture

“Hide this!” Celia tosses something onto my bed and scurries away.

“Where’s the pen? Ce-li-a!” Jamie punctuates each syllable with a shove. “It’s not yours!”

“I found it!”

I pull my door closed to dampen the sounds of the scuffle and look down at an old fashioned pen and small bottle of ink. Where did she get these? I tuck my book under my arm and pick up the bottle. Crusty black ink flakes away from the lid and drifts onto my bedspread like black snow.

When I grasp the pen, its sharp tip stabs into my thumb. I shift my grip to the carved metal handle that encircles the smooth wood of the pen. It settles into my hand, heavy and balanced, poised for the page.

“Micah!” My mom wants me to brush my teeth, but if I hurry, I can try out the pen.

“One sec!”

I set the pen and ink bottle on my window sill and open my book to the blank back cover. The stopper comes out of the bottle with a gentle pop. I dip the pen and then study the drop of black ink quivering on the nib. It looks alive. When I press the pen to the page, the ink spreads into a circle, sinking into the imperceptible layers of the paper.

An Agent's Inbox #22

Dear Agent,

London isn't referred to as the City of Love, City of Broken Promises or City of Dreams.

But for seventeen-year-old Natalie, London embodies all these names, as well as the City of Freedom.

Determined to shed her naïve skin, Natalie joins her senior class for their final rendezvous across the Atlantic, desperate to abandon her shy exterior, her nickname that's turned her into a social pariah, and her mom's constant watch. What she doesn't expect is to meet Brant--a tousled hair guy who literally wears his musical tastes on his sleeves--who appears to have it all, even, unfortunately, a girlfriend. But girlfriend aside, their attraction is magnetic. And soon Natalie will realize that the freedom she desires isn't necessarily geographical, but stems from her heart. And sometimes, the hardest thing is opening up to the one person who matters. Can Natalie, a girl who's stayed in the darkness for far too long, do what she set out to do, and manage to find true love before the sun sets on her vacation in England? The 69,000 words of my contemporary, young adult novel HERE COMES THE SUN follows Natalie's often humorous, eye-opening journey as she tries to answer this question.

I have had one short story published in a multilingual publication during my tenure at Benedictine University, where I majored in Writing and Publishing with minors in Film Studies and Communication Arts.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope I'll have the opportunity to share the complete manuscript with you soon.



Road kill.

Does it exist in the sky? Because if it does, I think my plane just hit a deer. Or an elephant, not that they're necessarily road kill. Not in Chicago, anyways. But as my stomach flies into my throat and my white knuckled hands knead the arm rest, I'm convinced we hit something. And now, before I even get to experience my week of freedom in England, we're about to plummet towards the ground. And I don't want to die in Indiana, assuming of course that's what we're flying over right now. Indiana is just such a boring state filled with corn, casinos and firework vendors. Not that there's a right place for a plane to crash, although the survivors of Lost seemed to have had a fantastic time.

And why am I the only one freaking out? We hit bumps in the sky for freaks sake. And everyone around me is jabbering on about Teen Mom and prom and some show called 1000 Ways to Die. Ug, I don't need to think of a thousand ways to die since I'm currently living out the number one crappiest way to die: plane crash.

I shut my eyes, my eyelashes tickling my cheeks, and pray that this bird stays high in the sky. Because if this plane crashes, I am responsible for the escape door, or whatever the flight attendant called it during our little one-on-one chat before we took off.