Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Best Christmas Present Ever

Stealth isn’t usually one of Honey Bear’s strong suits, especially when it comes to presents. I always manage to figure out what he’s giving me, even though I don’t make any particular effort to do so. I guess I just know how his brain works. After all, we’ve known each other for nearly half of my life.

So imagine my surprise when he put the last present under the tree this year and I had no idea what it was.

He even warned me this was coming. Last December, he told me that there was something he wanted to give me but that he wouldn’t be able to give it to me that year because it was going to take some time. I thought that sounded interesting, then promptly forgot about it. But Honey Bear didn’t forget. In fact, he started working on this gift on January first.

Fast-forward to this Christmas morning. As soon as I picked up the mystery present, a small, book-like package, I knew exactly what it was. I’d seen him writing in it pretty much every day for the last couple of months. (He’d kept it hidden from me before that.) I’d assumed it was a journal, and it was. I just hadn’t realized it was all about me.

This journal has an entry for almost every day, and in every entry, Honey Bear expresses his love and appreciation for something specific I did that day. On one day, he wrote about how much he enjoyed seeing a movie with me in the theater. On another, he told me thank you for taking care of the kids all day while he did homework and went to school. And on another, he expressed how beautiful I’d looked that day.

It is, without a doubt, the best, most thoughtful present I’ve ever received. The small journal itself--and the acid-free pen he bought to write in it--aren’t worth more than a few dollars, but this will be a gift I treasure for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December's Winners!

Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Without further ado, I give you Mr. Sherman’s picks!

Runners up:


These entries win a request for the first 3 chapters and a synopsis!


KILLING KESSLER wins a full request!

Congratulations to the four of you! Please e-mail me at kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com for instructions on how to submit your materials to Mr. Sherman. Here’s hoping all four of them turn into offers!

UPDATE: In addition, if Mr. Sherman mentioned that he'd be willing to read more of your entry, feel free to query him at brooks(at)fineprintlit(dot)com with a REVISED query and the first 5 pages of your manuscript. With any luck, a few more of these contest entries will turn into requests!

Last but certainly not least, a big thank-you to Mr. Sherman for taking the time during the holidays to give the entrants his thoughts, and a big thank-you to all of you for contributing your feedback and advice. I really appreciate your support, as these contests wouldn’t work without you.

Have a great Tuesday!

The Agent = Brooks Sherman of FinePrint Literary Management

December’s agent was Brooks Sherman of FinePrint Literary Management! FinePrint is in the process of overhauling their website, so Mr. Sherman’s profile isn’t available just yet (although they expect to have their revamped website up and running after the start of the new year). In the meantime, if you’d like more information about our esteemed agent, you might check out these links:

Mr. Sherman’s Twitter page
Mr. Sherman’s profile on the Guide to Literary Agents blog

And from that profile: “He is seeking: On the adult side, literary and upmarket fiction running the gamut from contemporary (with an eye toward multicultural or satirical) to speculative (particularly urban/contemporary fantasy, horror/dark fantasy, and slipstream). Brooks also has a weakness for historical fiction and a burgeoning interest in crime fiction. For nonfiction, he is particularly interested in works that focus on current events, history, and pop science/sociology. On the children’s side, he is looking to build a list of boy-focused Middle Grade novels (all subgenres, but particularly fantasy adventure and contemporary), and is open to YA fiction of all types except paranormal romance.

Brooks is specifically seeking projects that balance strong voice with gripping plot lines; he particularly enjoys flawed (but sympathetic) protagonists and stories that organically blur the lines between genres. Stories that make him laugh earn extra points. Recent favorites include WHITEMAN by Tony D’Souza, THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger, the Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey, THE THIEVES OF MANHATTAN by Adam Langer, and HORNS by Joe Hill.”

Winners coming up in a few hours...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ding! Round Six!

The entries are up, The Agent is here (or will be shortly), and the critiques are flowing in! Entrants, please remember to critique at least 3 other entries; everyone else, critique as many as you want. If you want to think like The Agent, you might consider the question, "How much of the entry did you read, and if you didn't read it all, why did you stop?" as you give your feedback, but I'm sure the entrants would love to hear anything you have to say (so long as it's constructive, of course).

I'll reveal The Agent's identity and announce his or her winners and prizes sometime next week. (Since Christmas sandwiched itself right in the middle of this month's round, I thought The Agent deserved a couple of grace days.) Until then, critique away!

P.S. Entrants, if you notice any problems with your entries, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail so I can fix them.

An Agent's Inbox #20

Dear Mystery Agent,

Before Mia Tanaka decides to attend Vega Preparatory Academy, the hardest decision in her life is choosing what college to go to; after she gets to Vega, she has to choose between her dream of becoming a time traveler and saving the world.

Vega Preparatory Academy is a place shrouded in mystery. Even the brochure Mia is offered by Vega representatives Rhys and Jesse, who happen to be beautiful, at her school’s college fair doesn’t provide any helpful information. Mia gives the school no real thought until Rhys impresses upon her how much Vega needs her, and in turn, how much she needs Vega.

Later that day, when Mia arrives at work, a strange woman grabs Mia and warns her that she must not attend Vega Preparatory Academy, and if she does, there will be grave consequences. Despite the warning, Mia feels drawn to Vega and decides it is where she wants to go.

During Mia’s first day at Vega, she is reintroduced to Rhys, who seems to be interested in her romantically. That would be great if it weren’t for Angelica, the mean girl who decides to make life miserable for Mia because she has it in her head that Rhys is her man, and Jesse, Rhys’s handsome and mysterious cousin who Mia can’t help but have a crush on.

Vega continues to intrigue Mia as bits and pieces of its secret comes out. When Mia finally learns that Vega Preparatory Academy is the training ground for time travelers, something clicks inside of her. This is what Mia is meant to do. The only problem is there is just one lone female time traveler spot open, so Mia will have to fight for the position. Mia has never had to fight for anything in her life and isn’t sure that she has enough in her to get past Angelica’s conniving ways, the strange woman from the diner who attempts to shut down Vega forever, and most of all, her own insecurities.

VEGA is a YA Fantasy novel complete at 100,000 words.

Growing up on the sunny shores of Kailua, Hawaii, I avidly read books like A Wrinkle in Time, Tennis Shoes among the Nephites, and Anne of Avonlea. These books opened my mind and prompted me to dream of traveling to long lost times and being a part of different worlds. As I grew up, I realized that dream was impossible. VEGA is, in a way, my rebellion. After gaining my Bachelor of Arts in History from Utah Valley University and learning even more about the times I yearned to be a part of, I decided that if I wanted a world in which I could time travel to exist, I needed to create it.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.



Normally the last place I would want to be at 8 AM on a Saturday morning was at school, but here I was. The cafeteria was not as stuffy and stale as usual. The smell of yesterday’s tacos was still lingering, but at least it was a less nauseating smell. It took a back seat to the hope that could be felt in the air; it was almost tangible. There were fewer tables than normal, and they were all pushed along the periphery of the square-shaped cafeteria. The college reps sat against the wall so that the students could gather on the other side of the tables.

It was the annual college fair, and Principal Mayner had talked it up so much that I was actually kind of excited to be there. James Adams High School had not only received the highest test scores in the state this year, but we also had a state championship football team. That kind of prestige brought in lots of interest from the surrounding universities and colleges. My parents and in turn I had always assumed I would go to Boise State like both of my parents did, but now the idea of not following in their footsteps, seemed rather appealing.

I didn’t notice that my best friend Jenna had come up beside me and she startled me when she said, “I still can’t believe you dragged me here on a Saturday morning. What’s the point anyway?”

An Agent's Inbox #19

Dear Agent:

I am pleased to submit for your consideration the young adult novel, THE SPARK. At 81,500 words this fantasy combines astrological and astronomical elements, but rooted in the modern world. When seventeen year old Ellie Hawkins wishes that the printed words in her favorite novel become real, sparks fly between her and otherworldly, Elan Channing, but danger accompanies their romance and they must fight dark forces to preserve their love and ultimately save the world.

After Ellie moves to a new school in a small New England town, she finds escape from her loneliness in books, dreaming of a life filled with the adventure and romance found within the pages. On her birthday she unwraps the newest release by her favorite author which promises to provide her with hours of fun filled fantasy. As Ellie blows out the candles on her cupcakes, she wishes the fantasy she holds in her hands would become real. In the moment the last flame darkens she sets something in motion that turns her world upside down, inviting the cosmic forces of the Celestial Pantheon and the love of exchange student Elan. As Ellie’s life starts to display shocking parallels to the novel she discovers Elan is not an ordinary teenager, but a member of Celestial House Polaris. Along with romance, Elan ushers with him danger. Entwined in their story is Lucien, mysterious, sinister and a member of rival Celestial House Cruxis. He is determined to go to any length to diminish and destroy the Spark, the light within, that unites Ellie and Elan.

As fact and fiction intersect; Ellie’s life takes unexpected turns that not even she, the most imaginative of dreamers, can foresee. Ellie embarks upon a journey to find out who she really is and the role she plays in the celestial fantasy that had appeared only to be ink on paper. Pursued by Lucien, she faces dangers that could bring the world to an explosive end.

Pasted below are the first two-hundred and fifty words. I look forward to hearing from you, reading the comments and thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours Sincerely,


The phone rang unwillingly pulling me from a juicy dream. I answered groggily.

“Good morning,” Lily, my endearingly chipper best friend, trilled.

“Morning,” I replied with less enthusiasm. Not good, but blah, another blah day in a blah town.

She got right to the point, “So last night while you were tucked in with three hundred and fifty pages of inky fantasy, I was at a party on the riverbank.” That explained the noise I heard in the distance late last night.

“Kyle was there, oh Ellie,” her tempo slowed as if in reverie, “he’s so cute and I think he might…” Her words faded as I wondered with alarm when did Lily become interested in parties and guys? Had she contracted something during her vacation to Niagara Falls? She and I bonded specifically because we had no interest in all that lameness.

Her voice bounced back to me. “We were hanging out around the fire and a car was speeding down the dirt road. It came to a sudden stop and this wicked hot guy, who I’d never seen before, got out,” she paused for effect, “he asked if any of us knew Eleanor Hawkins.” I squirmed as she said my full name.

“I walked right up to him and said, ‘Who wants to know?’ He glared at me, spit on the ground and then he got back in his car and sped off sending sand flying everywhere, a very dramatic exit. So who is this mystery man Ellie?”

An Agent's Inbox #18

Dear Agent,

Bo Wolf is not your average bully slaying eleven-year-old. Sure, his arms look like flexi-straws, and other kids tell him to go back to his home on Dweeb Island, but Bo doesn't care. With his mad fencing skills and soon-to-be smoking good looks, he's convinced he's on the road to awesomeness.

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

However, when Bo puts the smackdown on Grendul, he finds a much more powerful adversary in the bully's mom, the school lunch lady. Angered by her precious son's defeat, the lunch lady, who's actually a witch, plots to poison the entire school with her irresistible gingersnaps. But with the help of a spunky girl named Reagan, Bo discovers the witch's diabolical plan.

In his attempt to stop her, Bo befriends a drocket (a dragon that shrinks to fit in your pocket) that's been enslaved by the witch's dark magic. Bo must face his doubts and embark on a rescue mission with the drocket to save the middle school from an imminent cafeteria-induced death.

Complete at 36,000 words, I'm Here to Save Your Day--The Adventures of Bo Wolf is a middle grade humorous/adventure and a modern version of the epic poem, Beowulf, set within the tumultuous battlefields of the middle school playground.

Thank you so much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you. The entire manuscript is available at your request.

Warm Regards,


I hated first days.

I turned toward my mom with big glossy eyes behind my glasses, (well, one eye actually. Yeah, I wear an eye-patch, so what?)

“Just one more day,” I pleaded. “Please, Mom? Don’t make me suffer.”

"Give it up, Bo. You’ll have to go to school eventually, might as well be today. Now, you don't want to be late. It's good to be prompt and make a good impression."

She always insisted I be on time. Ugh.

"But, Mom," I said, "school doesn't start until eight. It's only seven-thirty."

She smiled and leaned over, giving me a big mom hug. "You need to sign in at the Administrations Office. They're expecting you." She paused, tapping her lip with a purple painted fingernail. "Well, maybe I should go with you. You might need some help signing in." She took off her seatbelt.

"No, I got this," I said. "I'll be fine, Mom."

She smiled. "All right, I'll see you at two-fifteen. Good luck, honey. Go get 'em."

She kissed me on the cheek and I looked around frantically, hoping no one saw what very well could've been my imminent downfall before ever setting foot at my new school. How was my coolness bound to spread if my mom was giving me kisses in the open?

An Agent's Inbox #17

Dear Agent:

Lia Lewiston hasn’t had a peaceful night’s sleep since she was orphaned as a child. Chased through the woods by a hunter and his ruby-hilted knife, she believes her nightmares are the product of her tragic past--until she meets Colson Vane.

Now, Lia doesn’t know what to believe. At night he kills her in her dreams, but by day Colson becomes the one person she connects with the most. Drawn to him, she longs to reveal the truth about herself--about the family of exotic pets she was given at her christening. The rambunctious and adoring pixies who each presented her with a gift: music, wit, dance, grace, song, and beauty. But these are secrets she can never tell; not to someone she knows is keeping secrets from her. When the terrifying queen of the faeries appears in her dreams, Lia’s beliefs are again changed. Because the truth about why the hunter kills her night after night is worse than she imagined. Doomed to die on her sixteenth birthday, to keep a faery prophecy from coming true, Lia now has to fight for her life or the danger of her nightmare will become the reality she feared.

SLEEP, a YA romantic suspense retelling of Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty tale, is complete at 72,000 words. While intended to be first in a fairy tale quartet, SLEEP is a stand alone novel.



I see the black clouds first, puffing from the trees and trailing up like wispy smoke. My palms prickle, because I know what happens next. He’s coming. Same as he has in a thousand other unchanging dreams.

A shiver bristles from the base of my spine to the top of my scalp as trees beckon with pointy fingers. I keep my gaze forward. Pretend not to notice their hollowed eyes in burl faces. Their wide grinning mouths as they reach for me. I need to run but I’m rooted in the middle of a gravel road. The crooked sign ahead must be some kind of subconscious joke. CAUTION, it warns. As if I need the warning.

My stomach jumps to my throat when I hear it--the crunching of gravel paces ahead.

Crunch. He moves closer.

Crunch. Closer still.


The hunter moves into sight, fingers clenched white around the ruby encrusted hilt of his knife. My heart bursts, screaming for me to run, and when my feet pull free of the road, I whip around and pitch forward. The grinding behind me signals the chase is on. I’m fast, flying down the road, and even though I know what happens next, I pray that maybe, just maybe, this time my dream will change.

But the hunter is faster than me. He reaches out, grabs my arm. Hooks my leg with his foot and I fall face first. Then he is on me, breath warm on my neck.

An Agent's Inbox #16

Dear Awesome Agent,

It’s present-day America, and after being weakened by countless natural disasters, our country opens its airspace for aid. Instead of the much-needed salvation from our allies, what is left of the devastated west coast finds itself nearly obliterated from above. No one knows how or why, but America is under attack.

Following the first round of air raids, Dr. Rachel Parker loses her beloved husband, Andy, in a house fire as they escape with their children to the nearby Rocky Mountains. In refuge, she’s thrust into depending on her husband’s best friend, Joshua Hughes for comfort and protection. Amidst her pain, Rachel can’t face Josh’s ill-harbored feelings for her, nor her own confused desires.

High school senior, Tom Mason has spent the last few years terror free, thanks to Dr. Parker. Between his skill at HAM radio and after having been raised by conspiracy theorists, Tom is prepared to hide from these faceless attackers, and even manages to save the teenaged Jenny, who captures his attention for more than just being the lone survivor at a campsite.

Rachel’s sister, Brenda Krous escapes a fallen city with nothing but the clothes on her back, and is quickly captured by the unnamed enemies. Terrified and alone, Brenda is protected by the enigmatic Daniel Bastian even while he helps to hold her captive. Brenda soon discovers information about her sister’s psychology work for the government that could spin the free world into a tumultuous frenzy where the unknown is safer than reality.

Into the End is a heart-pumping, action packed apocalyptic romance I can provide to you in full, per your request. It boasts 90K words, and is the first in a three book series that is sure to capture not only your heart, but also poses the question: Can love survive the end of the world as we know it?



The end of the world had come.


Rachel hadn’t had a solid night’s sleep in twenty-three months, three weeks and two days. An hour, maybe two a night for the last two years. Twenty-four hour news flickered on the TV.

Crisp May air breezed through the open windows. Rachel tucked the blanket tighter under her chin and readjusted her legs on the couch cushions. Restless leg syndrome would be a perfect excuse for her sleeplessness, but couldn’t be further from the truth. Her legs weren’t restless. She was.

The news anchor returned from commercial. Rachel turned up the volume. A squared picture flashed of burning buildings and gaping crevices. The older woman on screen sighed, weariness covering her lack of surprise. “Another earthquake in the string of disasters to the west coast struck an hour ago in Ellensburg, Washington. The Washington coastline has now been decimated to the middle of the state. Experts project a following tsunami to the new islands created from the Cascade mountains should manifest in the next few hours.”

Ellensburg? Mere hours away. Andy had been right.

The camera shifted to the man who shuffled paper. Lifting eyes desensitized to the horrors from recent days, he continued below a new popup screen. “In other news, after almost ten years of closed, high security airspace, the president has released a statement declaring that the airspace over the States is now open. He has asked for requested assistance from other countries.

An Agent's Inbox #15

Dear Agent:

Ash has landed in Southeast Asia to begin an exciting, high-stakes job. He’s young and inexperienced, but his new employer sought out and recruited him because of one important qualification--Ash is suicidal.

As it was explained to him, Ash will be the real driver of an armed robotic vehicle that’s supposed to be completely unmanned and autonomous. His new employer, the company that makes and operates the robots, oversold their abilities to a foreign military customer, and now they need a little supplemental intelligence for their artificial intelligence.

Robots do the jobs people shouldn’t. In warfare, that means the jobs that’ll get you killed. This will be Ash’s last suicide attempt. He’s committed and literally locked into it. It’s too late for second-guessing. Ash doesn’t want to feel hope, especially not because of Zephyr, another doomed driver.

But Ash just isn’t any good at dying. He feels worse than ever after surviving his first op while the other drivers died.

Then Zephyr also survives, and things start to change. As Ash gets to know her, he decides if anyone comes out alive, it should be her.

She feels differently. Just the opposite, in fact. She wants Ash to live. She understands him. She really cares, even though she doesn’t have to. There were so many reasons to die, but one reason to live might overrule them all.

Unfortunately, their employer won’t let either of them walk away. He’d rather see them die than lose his job. They know too much.

One reason to live is all Ash needs. Actually escaping is a lot more complicated.

DRIVERS is a psychological thriller, complete at 79,000 words.



I don’t exist anymore. Not as a real person, anyway. I’m more like cargo. Expensive cargo, with my own guard and a corporate jet. The steps down to the tarmac are steep but sturdy. The sky arches overhead, splashed with clouds. A city squats nearby, skyscrapers reaching. And the air smells foreign.

I’m not a prisoner, exactly. I’m an employee. My first day on the job has been everything they promised--exciting, new, well-paying. My last day on the job is less than a week away, though they’re not certain exactly when. That’s too bad, because I’d really like to know when I’m going to die. Mostly, I just want to get through the days until then.

My guard hands a passport to another man who must be airport security. “Ash Palmer,” he mutters, glancing up at me. I guess it’s my passport. This ain’t normal airport security. There’s no metal detector, no customs, not even a desk. Just the one guy who writes something in a book and doesn’t bother stamping passports.

There were four of us on the plane, each with his--or her--own guard. Mine looks like Yul Brynner. Bald, sharp jaw line, intense manner. He collects the passports of the two recruits who went through security first, drops them into a small vinyl pouch with mine, and waits for the girl behind me.

She’s the only girl. The guards, security guy, and the other recruits are all men. I suppose that applies to me as well, though I’m still more comfortable with “boy.” And she looks about my age--college dropout age. Old enough to buy a drink or die for her country, but too young to be taken seriously.

An Agent's Inbox #14

Dear Mystery Agent,

Reddos can answer any question in the world--at least they could until seventeen-year-old Sophie Rowan’s simple question stumps them.

When Sophie helps new-boy-at-school Hugh Kedoa, Hugh reveals that he’s a Reddo, a human who possesses infinite knowledge and offers five answers to those who help him. According to Hugh, a Reddo can only access that knowledge by giving answers. But when hopeless romantic Sophie asks if she has a true love, Hugh draws a blank.

So much for infinite knowledge.

Sophie’s search for her answer leads to an unexpected friendship with Hugh’s family. They confess that a power-hungry businessman with a vendetta is hunting them. He learned how to kill Reddos and take their most dangerous ability for himself. If he tracks down the Kedoas, Sophie’s true love dilemma is going to be the least of her problems. The enemy hates other outsiders involved in the Reddos’ world more than anything.

Now Sophie has to figure out how to protect herself from a psycho, why Hugh couldn’t answer her question, all the while becoming more aware that she’s probably too involved in the Kedoas’ lives. But she would rather put herself in the enemy’s crosshairs, or even sacrifice her answers, than abandon them.

Turns those might be the only ways to save them.

UNANSWERED is my 85,000 word YA urban fantasy with strong series potential. Thank you for judging the Agent’s Inbox contest!

Best Wishes,


Sophie slipped and crashed to the ground, tucking her chin into her shoulder to save her eyes from the spray of muck. The downpour exploded puddle water into her face anyway.

All evening she had treaded the slick trails like walking a tightrope, and now because of one measly lack of concentration she was covered in mud.

She pried away a strand of damp hair plastered to her face. Her hand froze in midair, and her eyes locked on the shadow the limb cast over the trail’s edge.

Boot prints. Sophie knew better than anyone that these prints meant someone had left the clearly-marked trails at Ellery Wildlife Preserve. After all, she spent most of her day tracking down the rule-breakers, the ones that somehow couldn’t understand what the big WALK ONLY ON THE TRAILS signs meant.

But this was different. These impressions originated at the edge of the path and trailed away, disappearing into the green-tinged fog that had swallowed the forest. Sophie’s fingertips skimmed across the indents the faint zigzag tread had left. She leaned back on her knees and frowned at the mud.

Footprints couldn’t start at the edge of a trail, unless their owner had dropped out of the sky into the forest. And Sophie had personally made sure that all the visitors left an hour ago, when the preserve closed to everyone but the preservation crew.

These prints meant someone had broken the law to get into Ellery.

An Agent's Inbox #13

Dear Agent,

Oddly, for Mike Fitzroy, it's trying to avoid the popular crowd that gets him into trouble.

To Mike, St. Brigid High, despite its elite reputation, was just another stop on a long, wandering road. He figured it wouldn't be any different from any of the others he's been in and out of over the years.

Boy, did he call that one wrong.

Initially offered a chance to join the in-crowd, Mike instead falls for the wrong girl (twice), makes the wrong friends (the Lepers) and ends up on the wrong side of Lee (the sophomore class's golden boy and lead bada**). And all because Mike breaks his own rules--head down, don't get involved, and wait 'til Dad moves the family again. Caring makes life complicated.

But when Lee and his Six Stooges start pushing, Mike can't push back. He made a promise--no more fighting. The last time cost way too much.

So now he's stuck. Defend himself and his friends by breaking his word or give up, take the beating and try to go back to following his rules? Can he live with either choice?

WELCOME TO THE LEPER COLONY, a contemporary YA novel, is complete at 94,000 words. It can work as a standalone novel, but is meant to be the first in a six book series.

Thanks for your time and consideration.



Chapter 1: At Least the Natives Are Friendly…

Some days just aren’t worth waking up for. High school seems to have a lot of them.

“Hey, Snowbird, think fast!”

Like today.

There's the soft thump of shoe-on-soccer ball, followed by a loud whistle of air. And from the Doppler shift of the whistle, it's heading right for me.

I glance up from my book and lean right. The ball hurtles past my head, ricochets off the palm tree behind me, and flies back.

Looks like their aim's improving, if not their hospitality.

The ball clips the top of the low retaining wall in front of me (the one that marks the drop-off to the main field where the rest of the herd roams), angles up enough to hit one of the goons in the chest, staggering him back.

I go back to my reading as whichever one it hit yells, “You're dead, loser.”

Don’t they ever get tired of this? Apparently not.

“Nice moves, Snowbird.” Sounds like Lee, the local King Bada**, at least for the sophomore class. And since this is the underclassman’s lunch, that seems to make him the big dog here.

But if Lee’s offering even sarcastic compliments, I guess it didn’t hit one of his boys.

More’s the pity. No, I'm not going there any more. Better to just let it go. Too bad. Whatever, it’s too hot anyway.

An Agent's Inbox #12

Dear Agent:

Precocious Patty may be hearing impaired, but the child can still hear. And the topic is usually about her notorious family, about her. "Odd ducks," "one straw short of a haystack," those are the nicer observations. We won't mention the cruel ones. The truth is they are naïve. They are uncivilized. They are an Oklahoma family adjusting to 1970s California culture shock (shocking the culture, is more like it). Meet the Austens.

The family of six moves frequently, into both the L.A. ‘hoods and the barrios with less than spectacular results. When they move to an affluent town up the coast, Patty thinks settling among her own race is the answer to conformity. Not so. In scenes best described as Beverly Hillbillies Gone Bad, her family's unsophisticated ways clash with old-money privilege. And Patty's well-earned spot in regular schools is about to unravel when her pretentious teacher uses her hearing impairment as an excuse to get rid of her.

The narrator is adult Patty who, while in the hospital after back surgery, believes she's landed in the very place that accepts her--the psych ward.

In order to convince the counselor by her bedside that she might be weird and not crazy, she divulges life in the Austen household. Unfortunately, for Patty, confession may be good for the soul, but lousy for talking her way out of the psych ward.

PSYCH WARD, a spotlight of my achievements, commercial fiction (99,000 words) is about a tight but dysfunctional family, adversity, and some crazy animals. Think "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" meets "Forrest Gump."

This novel reflects my own experiences growing up hearing impaired and has enabled me to write with authenticity about my protagonist. I've had numerous publications in various print and web magazines, including excerpts of my novel.

Thank you for your consideration.


PSYCH WARD, a spotlight of my achievements

Maybe it was our vehicles still in the driveway Sunday mornings, or our Southern accents, or my eleven-year-old brother Eddie digging in the trash and peeing in the hedges, or maybe it was our pigeon trapped in her hair, but the neighbor at our door had all the look and mannerisms of someone who wasn't here for a social visit.

"Get it off," was what she said when I opened the door.

I stared at her, better not approach it.

"The dirty bird." She flailed her arms. "Get it off."

Before I could make any moves in her direction, our dog Dorky bounded out of the house and jumped and ran circles around her as if she were playing keep away with the bird. Gerber flapped his wings for balance, peered below at Dorky, and did a pigeon equivalent of a ha-ha-you-can't-get-me squawk.

The lady squawked, too, and Dorky barked. And jumped. Gerber flapped his wings. The lady flapped her arms. The lady jumped, flapped, squawked, barked and ran in circles, and I thought it was funny and slapped my knee and laughed. The lady did not mimic any of my motions. What a letdown.

"Who is it, Patty?"

I didn't answer; I didn't want to interrupt the show. Mama came to the door exasperated and apologetic and shooed the bird away. Dorky ran off after it. The lady demanded to talk to our mother. Mama shook her head and sighed deeply.

"You're the mother?" the lady spat. "No wonder."

An Agent's Inbox #11

Dear Agent:

Eleven-year-old Isaac Sanchez hasn’t exactly had an ideal childhood. His father died before he was born. His mother left him with his grandparents when she remarried, and he hasn’t seen her since. He is small, practically friendless, and bullied, but he is also smart, self-reliant, and has never lost his sense of humor. When his mother comes back into his life and begs for another chance, he is forced to start again in a new city with his mother and two half-sisters whom he has never met.

Luckily, he has help in the form of an old copy of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica. Isaac finds hope within the pages of Principia when he realizes that his life is eerily similar to Newton’s. Believing that he has found his destiny, he decides to follow in Newton’s footsteps in every way possible. The lessons he learns--of projectiles, pet mice, and especially people--enable him to come into his own and find his real place in the universe.

I am seeking representation for DISCOVERING ISAAC (30,000 words), my contemporary middle-grade novel about finding the courage to choose one’s course in life. Although secondary to the characters and plot, DISCOVERING ISAAC contains sneaky lessons on physics, history, biology, and living with little sisters, as well as epigraphs from the endlessly-quotable Isaac Newton.

My semi-relevant publications include a story in the children’s magazine The Friend (February 2011) and a collaboration with Ally Condie (The Moms’ Club Diaries, Spring Creek Book Company, 2008. It didn’t sell quite as many copies as Matched.) As for irrelevant publications, I am the author of several papers in some of the nation’s top chemistry journals and a 200-page doctoral thesis on molecule-based magnets. (It’s as riveting as it sounds.) You can rest assured, however, that the science in my manuscript is sound.

Thank you for your time and your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you and would be happy to send more at your request.



Isaac Newton: “For the natural days are truly unequal, though they are commonly considered as equal, and used for a measure of time…”

Isaac Sanchez: People may tell you that all days are equal. Those people are wrong.

It’s not often that a kid can tell you what was the worst day of his life. Or the best day, for that matter. Sure, we can all name some incredibly rotten days (like the one where this story begins) and some pretty great ones (like when Grandpa took me camping and I caught five fish and roasted thirty-six marshmallows).

For most kids, though, the absolute worst or best day is harder to decide. But not for me. I can tell you without a doubt what was the worst day of my life, and I can also tell you that without that worst day, the best day of my life may never have happened. And without a famous scientist, an old book, and a couple of rodents, I might have totally missed out on my real place in the universe.

But that’s already confusing. Let’s start it nice and simple. I hate baseball. I hate the silly stirrup pants. I hate the way the bat almost rips my arms out of their sockets when I swing and miss. I hate the cold fear that runs through my body because I’m scared of being hit by Every. Single. Pitch.

An Agent's Inbox #10

Dear Agent:

Fifteen-year-old Samantha Young has nowhere to go when her father, a Chinaman, perishes in a blaze that consumes their dry goods store and leaves her an orphan. So when the richest man in St. Joseph, Missouri, offers her lodging in his hotel, she takes it. Only it’s not a hotel, it’s a brothel.

When he attempts to test out the goods, she bashes him with a scrubbing brush. Now she faces the noose. The law in 1849 will not side with a Chinese girl, even if she killed in self-defense.

She flees west with Annamae, a runaway slave. They disguise themselves as young men and join a trio of cowboys bound for the California gold rush.

Samantha’s father died before explaining why he gave his westward-bound business partner her mother’s jade bracelet. If Samantha can keep up the boy act, not easy for the demure and somewhat squeamish violinist, she might avoid capture long enough recover the only thing that remains of her family. Maybe even discover why her Father wanted to move them out to barren California. But when she falls in love with one of the cowboys, the act begins to crumble.

GOLDEN BOYS is an 80,000 word historical YA novel that follows Samantha’s journey from girl to adult (with a stint as a boy) through the frontier of a changing society.



They say death aims only once and never misses, but I doubt Ty Yorkshire thought it would strike with a scrubbing brush. Now his face wears the mask of surprise that sometimes appears at the end: his eyes bulge like quail eggs, his mouth curves around a profanity.

The brush is fused to my hand and I shake it several times before it drops. It clatters beside the dead man’s head.

I shiver in my nakedness and notice the blood speckling my arm. Reality begins to smother me as the grandfather clock tolls ten. Does killing a man who tries to assault me count as murder? For me, it probably does.

The law in Missouri, in 1849, does not side with a Chinaman’s daughter, even if my Father died in a fire just this afternoon...

9 a.m. I strap my violin across my back then heft the pink conch shell, the one from the curiosity shop in New York. Father listens to it every night so he can hear the Pacific Ocean. I set it back down harder than I should.

I pass through our tiny living space to the shop in front. Father’s cutting fat quarters from the calico, his scissors snipping in precise increments.

The wood floor creaks as I sweep by the sacks of coffee and tea stamped with the word “Whistle.” Father does not look up from his work. When I reach the wooden spoons, he says, “Don’t forget your shawl.”

I slow and consider going without so I don’t ruin my exit. But it wouldn’t be proper.

An Agent's Inbox #9

Dear Mystery Agent,

Rydan is the only one of his people with the ability to wield magic. He’s treated like a god, a prince, cherished for his talent to bend the fabric of the universe to his will. In the war against the Liasam, he is their ultimate weapon.

On the other side of the battlefield, Akara attempts to counter Rydan’s power with magic she knows little about. Her people hold her captive, forcing her to use a gift only she is able to command. When Akara succumbs to Rydan’s mastery, her side loses, and she is sentenced to death as a symbol of the end of war.

If there’s only one death after the slaughter on the battlefield, Rydan can live with that. Until he discovers Akara has the same symbol as he, tattooed on the back of her neck. Knowing hidden truths will die with her, he throws away his status as his people’s golden boy and saves Akara from her public execution.

Finding out who they are does more than curb curiosity. It burdens them with the responsibility of saving a world which is literally crumbling under their feet. Rydan desires to be the hero again, lofted high in praise on the shoulders of his people. He begs Akara to help him in the quest.

But Akara doesn’t believe there is anyone in the world worth saving.

FRACTION OF STONE is YA Fantasy complete at 65,000 words. Readers who relished in the lyrical writing of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone and immersed themselves in the contrasting world views of June and Day in Marie Lu’s Legend will find themselves drawn to this tale. A complete manuscript is available upon request.

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



The chains around her wrists jingled, echoing off the stone walls, a cheery sound out of place. If she closed her eyes and moved her arms again it would seem as though she were listening to a wind chime, twittering in the breeze. But the cold metal was not a wind chime. It was a tether, a leash, holding her captive in the belly of her city.

She could have called it her room, for it was where she slept, where she ate. The situation would seem more bleak once the drugs wore off, sending her into a depression of why she even bothered to live.

She had no choice, that’s why. They needed her and refused to let her die. They kept her down there in an almost comatose state until it was time for her to work her magic.


The cell swayed and whirled, like a small boat in the ocean. A state she was so used to it felt more real than normal. She never smiled, that had been stolen long ago. But if she did it would be in this dreamlike existence.

Scraping of the heavy wooden door down the hall caused her head to float up, searching for the person among the sea of swirling colors. The large blur was who she expected and though she knew she should feel something, she was unable to summon emotion.

“It is time again, girl. Your people need you.”

An Agent's Inbox #8

Dear Mystery Agent:

I submit for your consideration my work, BLOOD WAR, an urban fantasy work of approximately 104,000 words.

In the eighty years since the Great Awakening, humans and non-humans have lived side by side, relatively at peace. That threatens to come screeching to a halt when bodies start turning up. The attacks all bear a striking resemblance to those made by the Aristocrats, vampires who terrorized Europe centuries ago. In an attack that leaves his wife of almost five hundred years dead, and permanently scars him, Jordan MacNaught is caught up in the opening salvo of a war meant to turn the other races against the vampires. He knows beyond a doubt that the vampires of yesteryear are not involved in the current attacks. They're all dead, except for him.

Chris Javert has just learned about several bodies found in America when Jordan turns up in her living room expecting her help in hunting those who murdered his wife and threaten to usurp the memory of his glory days. She's no stranger to hunting vampires. After all, she nearly destroyed Jordan when she ended the reign of his Aristocrats in Europe two hundred years ago.

Barely convinced of his innocence, but determined not to let the interspecies peace she helped foster die, Chris joins forces with the man who once tried to kill her. At, er, stake? Peace, and very likely the well-being of vampires. Humans barely tolerate them now, but if these murders don't stop, it will become open hunting on them once more.

Blood War is intended to be part of my series, tentatively titled The Dream-Walker War. I believe fans of Laurel K. Hamilton's earlier Anita Blake books and Kim Harrison's Hollows series will find a great deal to love in my work.

Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you.



Ares dumped the third body on the sidewalk. Music from the nightclub a block away pulsed through the balmy night. Even though he was so close to a large number of people, the vicinity immediately around him was deserted. He’d broken the streetlamp above two days earlier and the city hadn’t gotten around to fixing it yet, as expected, giving him the cover of darkness.

The woman, he never caught her name, stared up at him, shock still clear in her dark brown, cow-like eyes. She’d been a fighter, that one. Bruises covered her wrists and ankles, the wounds so rare to find on a vampire. The quad responsible for her capture and death had been brutal with her.

He didn’t approve of rape, even in the war he wanted to start, but he gave his people a free hand, as long as they accomplished the goals he set before them. The quad here in Tampa seemed to glory in the torture side of things.

Aware he wouldn’t have long before someone came upon the scene, he crouched and studied all three bodies. Though most of the injuries varied from corpse to corpse, they shared two specific ones. The death blow on each came in the form of near decapitation. The heads weren’t off, held to the bodies by only a small sliver of flesh.

Ares smiled, looking at the second wound in common each of the three bodies carried: a quadruple claw gouge from right hip to left shoulder.

An Agent's Inbox #7

Dear Agent:

Jimmy Holiday never really believed in demons, not even before he was defrocked. Now that his collar is a thing of the past, the last thing he expects is an old friend to beg for his help with an alleged case of possession.

Jimmy heads for his old friend's house--that is, haunted mansion straight out of Flowers in the Attic--to see his little girl. Lucy's ill and looks abused, but Jimmy's not about to fall for the old line: "The demon made her hurt herself." Until a witch he knows is unable to ward the attic room. Until Lucy exhibits every single sign of true possession: speaking in languages she could not know, finding lost objects, and exhibiting strength unusual for her size. Until the choice is get back into harness or Lucy dies.

Jimmy knows the ceremony, but it's belief that matters. And if a demon is using a little girl as a meatsuit, his faith had better be strong enough to kick it back to Hell. Otherwise, he might damn them both.

SORROW’S POINT is a 75,500 word Urban Fantasy.

In February 2010, my short story, “Papap’s Teeth” was published by Dailey Swan Publishing.

Thank you for your time and consideration,




Sheriff O’Dell popped his head out of his office. His wavy white hair seemed like a halo to Mable.

“Whatcha need, Mable?”

Mable patted her coiffed brown hair and got up from her desk. She smoothed her skirt over her hips that were a little too large for her frame. Although she didn’t think she looked all that bad, she couldn’t help be feel subconscious around the sheriff. She walked into his office and handed him a pink message slip.

“Doris McClusky’s been calling all afternoon,” she said. “Guess there’s a disturbance up at Blackmoor.”

The good sheriff took the slip and thought for a moment. “Old Doris calls about once a week about Blackmoor.”

Mable put her hands on her hips. “Well, Doris says this time is different. She says she heard a scream.”

O’Dell sighed. “Guess I better mozy on out there.”

“Guess you better,” she said.


O’Dell drove up the hill towards Blackmoor. What was left of his hair was blowing in the wind. It was just too d*** hot to have the windows up. With the extra weight he’d put on over the last few years, summer seemed hotter somehow, but it’d been an unusually hot summer. He’d lost count the amount of times he had to yell at kids for messing with the fire hydrants.

O’Dell pulled into the drive of Blackmoor and parked the car. He looked up at the monstrosity before getting out of the car.

An Agent's Inbox #6

Dear The Agent,

Sixteen-year-old Tabby Weber doesn’t want to murder anyone, but in Griffin Kessler’s case she’s willing to make an exception.

In the year 2018, nineteen-year-old science prodigy Griffin Kessler created a virus that nearly wiped out the human race. A decade later, dictator Alexander Zika keeps survivors imprisoned in concentration camps while brutal gangs roam the deserted cities. Tabby, her siblings, and her best friend, Murphy, live in hiding while they complete her father’s time machine. Their goal is simple: travel back in time and kill Kessler before he can finish his virus.

When Tabby and Murphy return to 2018, Tabby falls quickly for Kessler, who’s smart, sexy, and as desperate to protect the virus from Zika as she is. As Tabby’s relationship with Kessler heats up, Murphy confesses his own feelings for her. But Tabby’s love life is the least of her worries. With Murphy still determined to kill Kessler, she doesn’t know how to stop him, or if she even should.

KILLING KESSLER, a YA science fiction novel, is complete at 60,000 words. With a strong heroine and healthy doses of adventure and romance, I believe KILLING KESSLER will appeal to fans of Suzanne Collins’s THE HUNGER GAMES and James Patterson’s MAXIMUM RIDE series.



Our hiding spot is less than ten feet from the boy. An overhead floodlight blazes against the predawn sky, so bright I see the sweat falling from his hair and the clumps of dirt on his shovel. He has stubble on his jaw and a muscular chest and arms, but he looks young, maybe sixteen like me.

I glance at Leila. My sister’s over-glossed lips are stretched into a wide smile, her brown eyes even bigger than normal. I reach out to her with my mind. Forget it, Leila, I think. He’s locked in the Village.

We’re watching him through the witch hazel bushes outside the Village fence. The electric fence, twenty feet of razor wire crowned with another five feet of spiked coils, surrounds Pitman Air Force Base. The base was once the heart of Wexler Falls, until Alexander Zika’s henchmen transformed it into the concentration camp we know as the Village.

Leila’s expression doesn’t change, but I know she heard me. We can shut off our thoughts as easily as closing our eyes, but if she were blocking me out, I would feel it.

Seriously, it’s not like he’s going to break out of there and take you on a date, I add. Leila knows this, of course, but that won’t stop her from doing something stupid. She turned fourteen last month, and all she thinks about is boys. I work a heavy dose of exasperation into my tone, but the truth is, I feel bad for her.

An Agent's Inbox #5

Dear Agent,

Nineteen-year-old Warren King has been protecting his brother from bullies ever since he decided to wear a top hat to the third grade. So when his brother is kidnapped, Warren heads out to bust some faces. But Warren didn’t expect the bully to be the King of the Texas Empire. Warren learns that he and his brother are some of the last members of the Texas royal family, in other words, the descendants of some seriously bad dudes. Now the new King is hunting down his relatives before the true heir decides to say, “Hey man, you’re in my seat."

Warren must save his brother and avoid capture himself all while dealing with a supernatural energy that gives him access to his ancestors’ violent memories. This energy doesn’t add to his charm when he meets the first girl that ever made him want to do things like iron creases in his pants. She’s ready to help him take on the King, but since she’s an anti-monarchy activist dating the son of the President of the United States, he’s not sure if she’s going to kiss him or shoot him. Gone are the days when choosing a major was a big deal. Now he must embark into a West that stayed wild and choose to be King, follow a King, or die before he can retire his fake ID.

THE CHARGE is a 75,000 word upper young adult science fiction novel set in an alternate timeline where a dictator took over the Republic of Texas in 1836 and built his own empire in the West. I am a member of the Texas Writer’s Guild, She Writes, and YaLitChat and have been published in small press literary magazines such as Nerve Cowboy.



Warren’s mother had taped his old Star Wars comforter over the patio door of their apartment. He didn’t pause too long to wonder why. His mother suffered from what his brother called, “severe eccentricity,” and blacking out the windows with old sheets for no obvious reason wasn’t out of character. All in all, she had done better than he had expected in her first year with both of her sons out of the house. Just in case that didn’t last, Warren always came back home when she asked him too. But if she had called him because she had forgotten how to use the dishwasher again, he was heading right back to campus to enjoy the day after finals the way it was intended to be enjoyed--drunk and poolside.

He wiped his feet like he had been taught even though their revolting brown carpeting didn’t show much. He kind of missed the crappiness of their apartment, although he didn’t know why because his new apartment in Eugene was equally as crappy. Still, there was something about the smell of the pine trees in the courtyard and apartment pool chlorine that let Warren know that he was home.

His mother stood in their kitchen next to their yellow 1980s stove, peeling fake wood countertops, and a refrigerator that always looked too small next to Warren and his other super-tall family members. She held a box of uncooked spaghetti and didn’t respond to his presence right away.

An Agent's Inbox #4

Dear Agent,

Here is what Dexter Gallagher knows regarding firebirds--

1. They are mythical creatures, and therefore do not exist.
2. Because they do not exist, they can't set bullies’ hairs on fire (even when they deserve it).
3. They definitely do not turn into beautiful, affectionate girls at night.

So when a firebird follows him to school one day and proves all of the above, Dexter is terrified. And he’s in for another shock: his long-absent father’s a warrior from Faer (a land not-so-coincidentally known for rare firebirds) and he’s resurfaced to take custody now that his mother's passed away. And that means Dexter and his firebird are moving to a fairytale land of magic and (spoiled) princesses and witches.

But there’s a lot of things they don’t mention in the travel brochure. Like crazy seeresses, or wolves made of ice, or large amorous frogs. There’s an awful Snow Queen who needs the firebird to find Faer’s most powerful sword, and she’d kill to get her hands on both. And in between fending off ogres and icemaidens, and finding friendships and first loves in the oddest places, Dexter’s realizing you don’t need to be the hero stories say you should be, to fight for the things that matter most.

FIREKEEPER is a 69,000-word upper middle grade fantasy set in a cocktail of re-imagined fairytales. While I've neither successfully cast a magic spell nor rescued a princess from a very high tower, I've been mistaken enough times for a witch that I feel more than qualified to write stories involving them.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



The firebird sat atop an old-fashioned mailbox at Dharma Downs Lane. Rather than retreat to the safety of nearby trees and rooftops as any sensible animal would have done, it drew itself up, as regal as any queen, and waited for the shades to attack.

The shades in question were already closing in, and assuming frightening, monstrous shapes. Some took human form, with long sharp claws in place of hands. Others took on semblances of wolves and bears and strange winged creatures; black eyeless silhouettes with teeth.

The firebird chirped a warning, but the shades paid little heed. So it sighed--a resigned, I-really-did-warn-you-about-this-you-know sigh--and glowed. Its feathers, a variety of yellows and reds and oranges tipped with a subtle silver shimmer, flared. Its majestic tail fanned out like a vestal train, whipping at slow, concentrated intervals. Despite its bravado, it had a wide-eyed curiosity about it suggesting it had not been a firebird for very long and, if the shades had their way, would not be one for much longer.

The nearest shape reached out for the bird, claws extended and sharp. It was promptly engulfed in an angry red blaze.

For one brief second the firebird reared; smoldering, ardent, angry. In the next it shifted and lengthened, beak and wings giving way to limbs and legs.

Now a young girl crouched; comely, naked, and still angry. Feathered crown had given way to a spirited mess of hair that lashed around her body like coiled firelight.

An Agent's Inbox #3

Dear Agent Awesomeness:

Waking with the sudden appearance of a tattoo on her stomach, sixteen-year-old Ellie Cox knows her recurrent blackouts aren’t simply related to the stress of her typical high school life. And she knows they’re getting worse, more difficult to disguise as forgetfulness.

When Ellie goes missing--her loved ones assuming she ran away--no one expects to find her in the apartment of another boy. Not even Ellie. Or her boyfriend. Another three days have escaped her and, as if that wasn’t bad enough, the new boy, Griffin, keeps calling her “Gwen.”

Snippets of her memory begin to return, and after her adoptive parents reveal her biological last name, Ellie sneaks off to Idaho where, instead of unearthing truths about her birth parents, she is forced to confront a man who claims to be her uncle and another who says saved her from a fire when she was six. Both memories she does not hold. Upon returning home, she is sent to a psychotherapist where a haunting secret is uncovered: mistreatment as a child has fractured Ellie’s mind into three personalities. And awareness of the other two--a small child named Ruby who holds the memories of Ellie’s early years and Gwen, the reckless alter who cares for no one but herself--only sends Ellie spiraling further toward the brink of insanity.

PIECES OF ELLIE is a YA suspense novel following a girl’s harrowing journey to proper diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder). The completed work is 56,000 words. It is a stand-alone story, but has the potential for sequels in the point of views of Ellie’s alters.

A previous draft of this manuscript reached the semi-finals of this year’s Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest. I have served as editor and editorial writer for the Butterfly Facts, hold a Master’s Degree in Education, and also run YA Stands, a community site focused on young adult reading and writing.

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



You don’t remember?

In the last twenty-four hours, I’ve heard those words three times now. The first, yesterday, when I forgot to wait for Dani after school. Supposedly, she’d asked me for a ride home during English, but for some reason the memory of first period is sort of a blur. Or not really there at all. I must’ve been daydreaming. The second, this morning, when Mom forgot to put pancakes on my plate and when I pointed it out she said, “I didn’t forget. You told me you didn’t like them anymore.”

And now.

I stand on the dirt-covered floor of Beacon’s, the abandoned cement factory, watching Shane wrap a leather necklace around my wrist. He picked it up at the boutique next to his little sister’s Tae Kwon Do studio. His fingers are warm, brushing lightly against my skin as he secures the knot. The silver charm in the shape of a running shoe sparkles in the dull light.

“Fits perfectly over your scar,” he says, smoothing his finger over the inch-long layer of wound leather. And he’s right, it does fit perfectly. The vertical white line on my wrist is hidden. If only he had leather for all the others.

“You don’t like my scar?” I say, hiding my discomfort in a pouting face. He leans down, lips barely grazing mine.

“I like everything about you, Ells. Including your scar. But I know you’re self-conscious about it.”

I grin. “Suddenly you’re a mind reader?”

An Agent's Inbox #2

Dear Agent,

When his first love is killed in a prom night car wreck, teen genius Daniel Frank uses his award-winning science research to bring her back from the dead. Daniel instantly becomes a national hero and media superstar, but when Jane’s health begins to fail, everyone, including Daniel, wonders if defying death is really possible. Public adoration turns to suspicion, a criminal investigation, lawsuits, and a restraining order. Daniel must find a way to save Jane or he’ll have to watch her die again, knowing he’s responsible for her suffering. Jane's life may depend on factors Daniel’s logical mind can’t grasp. Why does she keep having “near-death” visions of heaven? Daniel doesn’t believe in fate, souls, an afterlife, or anything that can’t be proven scientifically. Then again, Daniel didn’t believe in love--before Jane.

I am an SCBWI member and a former alternative high school English teacher and elementary school library volunteer. My interactive plays have been produced by mystery dinner theaters in Arizona and North Carolina.

Thank you for considering BODY AND SOUL, a YA light science fiction love story, complete at 45,000 words. The first 250 words are included below.



Jane is dead, but I don’t know that yet. I don’t remember how the night ended, so I wake up happy.

I don’t realize where I am. I don’t even realize I’m awake yet. Jane is lying dead, and precious time is passing, and my half-awake mind is playing scenes from last night, prom night, just like some cheesy date movie.


I ride my bike to Jane’s house wearing a rented tuxedo, pedaling fast so that I don’t have time to sweat in the heat that radiates from the Phoenix streets. Soon I’m standing in an air-conditioned entryway with Jane’s father and grandmother, and of course I’m sweating anyway as we watch Jane come down the stairs, all blond and pure-looking.

She actually says, “Wow, you look great!” when she reaches the bottom of the steps, and she leans forward, on tiptoes, to kiss my cheek. I inhale sweetness--vanilla and sugar--and feel a strange ache inside my chest, like a tender spot, which seems to appear whenever I’m close to Jane. And then I’m just standing there staring at her. I can never quite figure out why she’s so much more beautiful than any other pretty girl.

“Do you like my dress?” Jane asks, probably because I’m gawking at her like an idiot. “It was my mom’s,” she adds.

The dress is cream-colored lace, old-fashioned--different from the slinky prom dresses most girls wear--and it hugs her body.

“Yes,” I answer stupidly. I can’t think of what else to say.

An Agent's Inbox #1

Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for my 93,000 word, adult urban fantasy novel, IMMORTAL UNREST.

Novan Rivestra spent the last three years at Summoning School being an almost total failure at summoning demons, which is why she risks her career by practicing an un-authorized summon the night before her final exam. However, instead of a low level demon, she somehow summons Thirren, the gorgeous King of the Underworld and a strictly forbidden summon. Thirren also becomes inexplicably bound to Novan, who thinks she’ll be skinned alive when she’s found out, but Thirren seems to have reasons for keeping his presence a secret.

Novan’s subsequent failure and re-assignment to a mundane library job soon take a back seat to bigger issues when demons start going on murderous rampages, because being bound to Novan is rapidly weakening Thirren. Without their King’s strength to tether them, not even the Summoner’s control runes are enough to reign in the demons.

The bad news ball keeps rolling when Novan discovers that she’s a descendant of the malicious Succubus Queen who was put to rest centuries ago. That explains Novan’s life draining ability, but to make matters worse, someone close to Novan aspires to awaken the Queen, and Thirren’s weakness is an integral part of it. Novan now has to learn how to use her passion fueled power to keep Thirren strong, and figure out how to stop the Queen from rising, because her quest to enslave Novan and Thirren’s worlds will start with reclaiming the power she sealed away before she was put down. The power that not arbitrarily ends up in Novan’s hands.

IMMORTAL UNREST has the potential to be a series, but can stand alone. With this query I have included the first 250 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.



In less than twelve hours I’d be embarking on a career where following the rules was an absolute requirement, and here I was breaking the rules for the sake of that career. Oh the irony. After weeks of internal arguing and two recent shots of vodka, I was mostly convinced that what I was doing was justified, because if things didn’t go well for me tomorrow, I’d be stuck with the most depressing life fathomable. And I wasn’t exaggerating.

For an early summer night it was chillier than I thought it would be, and I was sure my shivering and the fact that I was skulking through a dark graveyard made me the picture of a horror movie victim. The lack of light to guide me wasn’t really a deterrent since I knew my destination well, and I soon came to the clearing in the middle of the graveyard where we Summoners pulled demons from the Underworld. In the middle of the clearing was a large, circular stone; the Summoning Sphere. When I stepped onto it, I noticed that it was messier than I’d ever seen any Summoning Sphere, and I wondered how cleaning up could have possibly been overlooked. There were splatters of blood all over the rune marked floor, as well as crumpled up pieces of paper, and bits of broken glass. I looked around, really hoping I didn’t get caught, because I didn’t want the added burden of having this mess pinned on me.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Now Accepting Entries

Update: And that's a wrap! We have our 20 entries! I've responded to every e-mail sent before 3:00 p.m. EST, so if you didn't receive a reply, check your spam folder.

I'm now accepting entries for December’s round of "An Agent's Inbox"! Here's a quick refresher:

The Rules

1. To enter, your manuscript must meet two conditions: First, it must be COMPLETE, POLISHED, AND READY TO QUERY, and second, it must be in one of the genres The Agent represents (which are listed at the bottom of this post).

2. IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY OF THE PREVIOUS ROUNDS OF “AN AGENT’S INBOX,” please DO NOT participate in this one UNLESS YOU HAVE A NEW MANUSCRIPT that meets the criteria listed above. I have a pretty good memory, and I will disqualify previous entries. If the entry slots don’t fill up by Tuesday, December 20, I may allow previous participants to enter, but I'm not going to make that decision right now.

3. All entries must include A QUERY and THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript. You must paste these items IN THE BODY OF YOUR E-MAIL; otherwise, I'll disqualify it.

4. THE ENTRY WINDOW OPENS AT 10:00 A.M. EST (OR 7:00 A.M. PST). Once the entry window opens, I'll accept the first 20 entries. I won't accept any entries sent before the entry window opens or after the first 20 slots fill up.

5. If your entry makes it in, I'll send you a confirmation e-mail with a post number. If your entry doesn't make it in, I'll still send you an e-mail, but it won't have a post number.

6. If your entry makes it in, YOU MUST COMMENT ON AT LEAST 3 OTHER ENTRIES.

The Prizes The Agent will select both the winners and the prizes. The Agent might pick 20 winners, or he or she might only pick one. The Agent might offer full requests, or he or she might only ask to see another page. It all depends on how good the entries are.

Please keep in mind that THIS CONTEST ISN'T FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. I've encouraged The Agent to treat the entries exactly as he or she would a normal batch of queries. Essentially, The Agent will be answering the question, "How much of the entry did you read, and if you didn't read it all, why did you stop?" I think this process will be instructive for all of us, but if you enter, you need to be prepared to hear exactly what The Agent thinks of your query and first page.

The Genres

Commercial fiction
Speculative fiction (based in reality)
Urban Fantasy
MG fiction
Pretty much anything that’s not Paranormal Romance or Adult Romance

To enter, please send an e-mail with YOUR QUERY and THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript to kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com. And please, please, please remember to PASTE THESE ITEMS IN THE BODY OF THE E-MAIL.

Friday, December 16, 2011

"An Agent's Inbox" Contest Alert


“An Agent's Inbox” is exactly what it sounds like--next week, I'm turning the blog into an agent's inbox, a public one. We'll get to see 20 queries along with their first pages, and we'll get to hear what a bona fide agent thinks of each one.

The queries and first pages will be yours, of course. I'll accept your entries this Monday, December 19, and then I'll post them next Wednesday, December 21. The entrants and anyone else who wishes to review them may comment until the following Tuesday, December 27, when I'll announce the winners. Those winners will be chosen by The Agent, who will remain nameless for now, and he or she will offer whatever prizes he or she wishes.

The Rules

1. To enter, your manuscript must meet two conditions: First, it must be COMPLETE, POLISHED, AND READY TO QUERY, and second, it must be in one of the genres The Agent represents (which are listed at the bottom of this post).

2. IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY OF THE PREVIOUS ROUNDS OF “AN AGENT’S INBOX,” please DO NOT participate in this one UNLESS YOU HAVE A NEW MANUSCRIPT that meets the criteria listed above. I have a pretty good memory, and I will disqualify previous entries. If the entry slots don’t fill up by Tuesday, December 20, I may allow previous participants to enter, but I’m not going to make that decision right now.

3. All entries must include A QUERY and THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript. You must paste these items IN THE BODY OF YOUR E-MAIL; otherwise, I'll disqualify it.

4. THE ENTRY WINDOW OPENS AT 10:00 A.M. EST (OR 7:00 A.M. PST). Once the entry window opens, I'll accept the first 20 entries. I won't accept any entries sent before the entry window opens or after the first 20 slots fill up.

5. If your entry makes it in, I'll send you a confirmation e-mail with a post number. If your entry doesn't make it in, I'll still send you an e-mail, but it won't have a post number.

6. If your entry makes it in, YOU MUST COMMENT ON AT LEAST 3 OTHER ENTRIES.

The Prizes The Agent will select both the winners and the prizes. The Agent might pick 20 winners, or he or she might only pick one. The Agent might offer full requests, or he or she might only ask to see another page. It all depends on how good the entries are.

Please keep in mind that THIS CONTEST ISN'T FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. I've encouraged The Agent to treat the entries exactly as he or she would a normal batch of queries. Essentially, The Agent will be answering the question, "How much of the entry did you read, and if you didn't read it all, why did you stop?" I think this process will be instructive for all of us, but if you enter, you need to be prepared to hear exactly what The Agent thinks of your query and first page.

So get those queries and first pages polished up, then meet us back here on Monday, December 19, at 10:00 a.m. EST! At that time, you may send your entries to kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com. Looking forward to it!

The Genres

Commercial fiction
Speculative fiction (based in reality)
Urban Fantasy
MG fiction
Pretty much anything that’s not Paranormal Romance or Adult Romance

The Agent represents adult AND YA fiction, so all of these genres apply to both categories. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Interactive Interview with an Agent: Kristin Miller

The prodigal interview series returns (and we came back with a good one)! Today’s INTERACTIVE interview features Kristin Miller of D4EO Literary Agency. Enjoy Ms. Miller’s answers to the usual questions, and then I’ll meet you at the bottom with details on the interactive part.

KV: How long have you been agenting, and how did you get into it?

KM: I have been agenting since February, 2011. Nine months previous to my promotion to associate agent, Mandy Hubbard put out a call for interns. I responded pretty much immediately and we clicked right off the bat. She announced that she had found her intern the very next day. It was and is great working with and learning from Mandy and Bob (the chief at D4EO) as I build my own list.

KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

KM: I want to help my clients build the most successful publishing career possible. What "successful" means can vary from writer to writer and it's my job to support and promote that success.

In an agent-author relationship, I expect the author and I to have an understanding regarding expectations and transparency, as well as open lines of communication. Beyond that, every relationship is different, depending on a variety of factors.

KV: What drew you to your clients and their projects?

KM: Great crafting is the first thing that draws me into a manuscript. Sometimes, this refers to line crafting, while other times it can be masterful pacing.

One thing that each of my clients has in common so far, however, is that I laughed out loud at some point while reading their work. I love a story with well-done wit. In other manuscripts I've requested, however, it might be a beautifully poetic style or intriguing and fresh plot or idea that makes me want to read more.

KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?

KM: I represent all children's literature, from picture book to young adult. I do not represent adult fiction or nonfiction of any kind at this point.

KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?

KM: Don't send me your adult fiction query.

Be sure, when you are pitching your book, that you pitch a plot rather than themes or ideas.

Remember to paste your first five to ten pages in the body of the query. I used to reply to writers who forgot to paste pages and ask them to resubmit, but I don't really have time for that anymore. Don't ruin your chances for a manuscript request by forgetting such a simple thing.

KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now? What are you tired of seeing at the moment?

KM: First, what I'm tired of seeing: paranormal. It's never been my cup of tea, really, and the market is super tight right now. And paranormal pitched as sci-fi? Don't do it--I know an angel when I see one.

What I would love to see: a decadent Eastern European historical YA saga, out-of-the-box sci-fi, middle grade that nails the middle grade voice, a picture book author/illustrator with groundbreaking art. I request and enjoy a variety of novels outside those very specific ideas, however.

KV: You mentioned you were looking for a picture book author/illustrator with groundbreaking art, but are you interested in picture book writers who AREN'T illustrators?

KM: At this point, I'm looking for author/illustrators only.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

KM: Send your query with your first five to ten pages pasted in the body of the e-mail to When querying an illustrated project, provide a link to a website or online gallery of samples of your work. Please, no attachments.

Thanks, Ms. Miller, for these responses! I always like to hear what an agent’s looking for. (And if anyone has a decadent Eastern European historical YA saga, feel free to send it my way, too! I’m always up for beta-reading anything that falls under the category of Awesome:) )

And now for my favorite part! If you have a question for Ms. Miller, feel free to leave it in the comments below. She’ll drop in periodically throughout the day to answer anything she finds down there, leaving her answers in the comments, too. We’ll wrap things up at 6:00 p.m. EST (or 3:00 p.m. PST), so don’t dilly-dally!

Friday, December 9, 2011

"An Agent's Inbox" Success Story!

So excited to share our first “An Agent’s Inbox” success story with you! Amber Plante recently signed with Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown, Ltd., after Ms. Plante took second place in July’s round of “An Agent’s Inbox.” I heard the good news via Twitter several weeks ago and asked Ms. Plante if she’d be willing to give us a little behind-the-scenes peek into how the after-contest action went down. She graciously accepted, and this interview is the result!

Check out Ms. Plante’s winning entry, then check out the interview.

KV: What did you think when you found out who The Agent was? Had you already considered querying Ms. LaPolla?

AP: First, let me just thank you for hosting the ‘An Agent’s Inbox’ contest. I entered on a whim, and it was such a great opportunity. I’m new to the social-media-writing scene, and this community has been so inviting. :)

It was like blind-auditioning for a movie role you know you’ll never get--and learning that, not only did you get the part, but Steven Spielberg is your director and Ian Somerhalder is your love interest.

I’d queried Curtis Brown at least three other times before entering ‘An Agent’s Inbox’--so it was a flattering shock to hear such a venerated agency was interested in my writing. I just kept thinking, ‘Wow, me? Really? OK… let’s do this.’

KV: How long did you wait to hear back on the partial? What did Ms. LaPolla say when she did get back in touch?

AP: It was about five weeks from the initial e-mail. In her response, she said my book was a lot like Ender’s Game, and that she’d love to keep reading.

KV: I think we’d all love an agent to compare a manuscript of ours to ENDER’S GAME:) But I digress.

How long did you wait to hear back on the full? What did you do to keep yourself busy?

AP: Sarah was very busy, and I completely understood. I was so thrilled I had her attention, she could’ve spent the next year reading it over without a complaint from me. In the end, I think it took her eight to nine weeks. To her credit, she sent me a reassuring e-mail after the six-week mark to let me know she hadn’t forgotten.

After I sent the full, I did my best to forget about the whole thing. I didn’t tell anyone about the contest, or Sarah’s interest. That helped--there was no pressure or expectation from friends or family. I also started a new book (or two) in a different genre and, in all, tried out some new ideas and techniques.

I got her e-mail on Oct. 30--the day after a storm dumped two feet of heavy snow on New England. Living in the middle of the woods an hour north of Boston, we lost power for days. My husband, my two little boys and I were huddled up at my parents’ house in front of the fireplace.

I wasn’t expecting an e-mail, so when it popped up on my smartphone, I gasped and froze. This was it--the big moment where I just knew she would tell me she liked it but, in the end, wasn’t interested. My husband came behind me and rubbed my shoulders for support. I opened it…and nearly passed out. No, I’m serious. Flooding relief and excitement.

KV: When Ms. LaPolla contacted you to discuss representation, did she e-mail you first or just skip straight to the Call?

AP: Can you imagine if she would’ve just called? Yikes! Thankfully, she gave me a day’s heads-up about scheduling a time to talk on the phone, which gave the adrenaline a chance to wear off, and gave me time to stop strutting around like I’d just won an Oscar.

KV: Tell us a little bit about that first conversation. Were you more excited or nervous (or both)? If you had some time to prepare, did you put together some notes, or did you just let the conversation develop? And what kinds of things did you two talk about?

AP: Would it be boring to say that I don’t remember? Think of that Katy Perry song: It’s a blacked-out blur, but I’m pretty sure it ruled.

In preparation, I re-read all of our previous correspondence, made sure my phone was charged, booked a conference room at my office and sipped a mug of peppermint tea, counting down the minutes until C-time. I played off cool and collected fairly well, at least to my co-workers.

Then, I spent the whole call trying to sound professional-yet-approachable. I took notes on her suggestions and the next steps. I was petrified Sarah would decide, mid-conversation, to hang up on me and move on. But of course, she was excited and sweet--I later realized that this was as much a job interview for her as it was me. That still astounds me, but it’s the truth.

In all, I remember her assurance that she loved the book, had very high hopes and couldn’t wait to get it out there to publishers and, eventually, readers. That was the most important part.

KV: I think that’s a really important thing to remember: Once an agent decides to make an offer, things become just as intense and nerve-wracking on the part of the agent as on the part of the writer. Like you said, that first phone call really is like a job interview for both parties. Great point.

Obviously, you decided to accept Ms. LaPolla’s offer of representation:) What about her impressed you?

AP: The reputation of Curtis Brown is stellar, of course, but overall I enjoyed Sarah’s enthusiasm for the book; it reminded me why I wrote it in the first place! The book was meant to be a thrilling techno-romp through Europe on the heels of a badass teen-girl spy, and she really embraced that premise for all the fun it offered.

She’s also a talented editor, which is important to me (being an editor myself). When you write, you get so close to your own material that you can’t see its larger faults anymore--Sarah is that trained, fresh set of eyes I need, and her help shaping the beginning of the book and its tone has been amazing. You need someone who’s willing to tell you when you’re wrong, and I couldn’t respect that more in Sarah. Also, she and I think alike--her Twitter feed always makes me smile.

KV: Any last words of advice or encouragement you’d like to share with us?

AP: My advice is that you can’t stop trying. If you stop, you’ll fail. As long as you keep moving forward, you’re making progress, and that’s something of which you can always be proud. Keep telling yourself that you’re talented, you want this and that, in the end, it will be enough.

Thanks again, Ms. Plante, for sharing your success story with us. We can’t wait to see how the story develops from here. Good luck with MANAS!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dear I-gots

The lovely Katrina S. Forest of Book + Baby was kind enough to invite me to do a guest post on her blog, and I really like how it turned out. She suggested that I write a letter to one of my children, so that was what I did.

My letter to I-gots, my four-year-old son, is a tribute not only to him but to the overlapping threads that make up the tapestries of our lives. I can honestly say that if it hadn't been for I-gots, I probably wouldn't be a writer today--and I'm so glad I am.

I'll share this letter with him someday, when he's old enough to appreciate it, but for now, I'm sharing it with you. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gift Guide for Readers: Part Two

And here’s part two!

11. THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson Ms. Johnson must have thought, “So you think the paranormal market’s dead, huh? Well, then, get a load of this!” when she sat down to write THE NAME OF THE STAR. I loved how she put an unexpected twist on what has been a dying genre. Part mystery, part suspense, and part paranormal, THE NAME OF THE STAR was quite literally a page-turner. The only reason I didn’t officially recommend it is because the subject matter--a murder mystery that involves a series of Jack-the-Ripper-style slayings--is a little gruesome (although I thought Ms. Johnson handled the blood and guts as well as she could). On the whole, well worth a read.

12. THE FAERIE RING by Kiki Hamilton If you like enchanted talismans and vibrant historical settings, you’ll probably love THE FAERIE RING. Ms. Hamilton painted her late-Victorian-era London with broad, luxurious strokes (and even made two of Victoria’s younger sons pretty important characters). I did want the faerie element to be a little more fleshed out, but on the whole, I enjoyed this.

13. THE IRON QUEEN by Julie Kagawa To be honest, I don’t remember a lot of details about this third installment in Ms. Kagawa’s Iron Fey series. I remember thinking it was a little redundant and didn’t take the story in the direction I might have taken it, but then, I know I’m on the waiting list for THE IRON KNIGHT at the library, so I must not have thought too poorly of it:)

14. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor Here’s another great example of a well-established author reinventing a waning trend (in this case, fallen angels). I thought the first two-thirds of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE were engaging and original, but then the whole book morphed into Epic Back Story Mode. Now don’t get me wrong--the back story was interesting and highly relevant to the plot. But I wished Ms. Taylor would have woven that back story into the forward-moving action a la HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET instead of dumping it at the end. Would that have been much harder to do? Of course, but I think Ms. Taylor would have been equal to the task.

15. BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris The thing I liked best about BAD TASTE IN BOYS was that it didn’t take itself too seriously. Sure, aspiring medical researcher Kate Grable is dealing with a zombie plague, but does she let that rob her of her sparkling wit and personality? Of course she doesn’t:) The other thing I really liked was how real Kate seemed. She cared about important things, like school and grades (and keeping all her classmates from turning into zombies), but she also cared about what the senior quarterback thought of her. She was neither too fluffy nor too serious. I’d read another book about her in a heartbeat (no pun intended).

16. CROSSED by Ally Condie If you read my last reading roundup (the one from February, not the one from yesterday), you can probably guess that I didn’t particularly care for MATCHED. However, the same cannot be said for its sequel, CROSSED. I inhaled this book. I loved the characters, the world building, and especially the prose. Make yourself read MATCHED so you can get to CROSSED. (Also, after reading CROSSED, I am definitely Team Xander.)

17. THE MAGIC THIEF by Sarah Prineas A well-written MG fantasy that will especially appeal to the boy readers in your life. I kept waiting for the plot to develop into something a little bigger than it did, but perhaps the rest of the series will do that. On the whole, I’d recommend it.

18. THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did, mostly because I tend to go for urban rather than high fantasy, but Ms. Carson’s debut sucked me in. Whereas some authors choose to spread a story out over two or even three books, Ms. Carson managed to cram two or three books into one. The result is a fantastical, fast-paced adventure that never quite fits within one genre. I’d definitely buy this one for my teenaged daughter (if I had a teenaged daughter, that is).

19. LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins Fans of Ms. Perkins’s ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS won’t be disappointed by this companion novel. Cricket Bell is just as lovable as Etienne St. Clair (if not more so, in my opinion--I’ve always liked those shyer, nerdier types), and every scene leaves you wanting to read the next one. My one caveat is that Lola and her boyfriend Max are sexually active (although we never see those scenes), so that’s something to take into account.

20. GOLIATH by Scott Westerfeld This third and final installment in Mr. Westerfeld’s Leviathan series is another great selection for the boy readers in your life. GOLIATH features a bunch of exciting action scenes atop a genetically engineered flying sperm whale (hello, steampunk!), and the romance is minimalist and understated. The only thing I didn’t like about GOLIATH was how uneducated it made me feel about the history of the First World War…

I think that’s it (from me, at least)! Which books would you add to my gift guide?