Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Thoughts on Comics, part 1

I love--LOVE--me some comics. I read every X-Men comic I could get my hands on as a child, and let me tell you, living in a rural town where I literally rode my pony to the store, the selection wasn't exactly wide. Today I'm watching the great DC TV shows (knocking it out of the park with Flash), but I have a hard time with this one common thread that crops up in comics.

It goes like this: Woman who is friends with main character, but sort of not showing any actual agency gets powers, and not just a little bit of power, but a whole crap ton of power. The power changes her into something evil, and just as she becomes super powerful, she turns on all her family and friends, killing them even.

Did you think I was talking about Caitlin Snow?

This is actually the original plot for Frozen, but Idina Menzel made Let It Go too amazing.

But this is the story line for Sarah Lance, Jean Grey, and Carol Ferris (bonus points to Sarah for coming back from the literal dark side, but that show really liked to drive its issues). All comic book ladies who get powers and suddenly go into killer mode because their powers made them do it. This is a pretty troubling trend because there are a huge number of plots where these things happen to men, but they can be helped. But women? Nope, once a killer monster, always a killer monster.

I suspect this is an issue of the fears of the demographic. Comic books are mostly enjoyed by men (search the Hawkeye Initiative, and you might figure out why comics are less read by women), so does this mean men fear women with power? I think it does. I think specifically that men fear women becoming more powerful than them, and to combat this fear, they take women with powers and turn them into these monsters. Women with power are scary. Anyhow, what's your take on the ladies getting powers only to be subsumed by them?

And while we're on the topic of the DC shows, I want Cisco to wear nerdy T shirts again...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Both too much and not enough

At this point it’s pretty cliché for a writer (or anyone on this planet) to talk about how they’re soooo busy. If you Google search Time Management, you’ll get page after page of relevant, fantastic time saving advice. It ranges from basic math—if you have 24 hours in a day, try cutting a couple hours of sleep to do more—to cutting things out of your life.

So I made a choice a while back to not visit as many blogs. I chose to stop engaging as much in social media—why is it so addictive?—and I chose to take more time to breath and relax and be a human being not constantly driving myself into the dirt.

Then starts the anxiety, have I abandoned the world of writers? Will they all hate me for not going around to all the blogs like I used to? Will they think I’m a snob for not jumping in on every blog hop or offering up discussion on the political hot topic of the day?

And what would anxiety be without the flipside?
Does my family still think I put too much time into online promotion? Am I being a bad Mom? Should I cook better dinners? Clean the house more? Spend more time doing activities with my family? Do I write or do I spend time with my family?

It’s really easy to see why there are life coaches dedicated to time management. I know this is a pretty common subject, but I really want to know how people manage full time jobs, full time families, and full time writing careers? Everyone tells me it’s a balancing act, but I sort of look at it like putting out fires. Everything is on fire, and you pick the fire to put out. Once that one is done, it’s on to the next, but by the time you’ve put out the second or third fire, the first pile is back on fire again.

Anyhow, that’s what I’m insecure about this month, am I doing a good enough job putting out the fires (did I mention, I’m also on fire in this analogy?). So how do you manage it? I've started a thing where I post pictures on my social media feed when I get too negative or whiny about publishing and time management. Here's a recent one I posted to twitter: 




Don’t forget to visit the Ninja Captain Alex and his team of cohosts: Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Being skilled doesn't mean you'll get an agent, but it helps

One of the most important things I’ve learned about writing since I released a book with Curiosity Quills, is that Publishing is subjective.

When I queried the book that became Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon, agents said they loved it, just not enough to represent it. As time went on I came to learn that there was a book very similar to mine that apparently flopped, and so my book was relegated to the back burners for a ton of agents because of a business happening.

At the time, what I thought was that all these agents were being nice. The invitations to sub again with a new project? Just politeness.

I had come to equate skill in writing with getting an agent. To a certain extent, that’s true. If the writing is really terrible, it’s very unlikely to be the one that lands an agent. On the other hand, even if your writing is spectacular and impeccable, if there’s something fundamentally not matched to the agent, or your story is in the unsalable category, it’s very unlikely to be something agents are after.

From the writer’s side, there’s a feeling that if my book is just good enough (great even), then I will have crossed that magic threshold of skill and be on to the realm of agent land, and it’s just not true. I really wish I had understood this earlier in my writing, and, to be honest, I still suffer a bit from this misconception. But today I’m here to remind all my writer friends that there’s something else, something more than skill when it comes to finding an agent. It's fit. It's passion. It's all the things you have about your book, the untranslatable bits that make you love it. If your agent doesn't have those feels too, it's not going to work. And I've seen enough writers part with their agents to know that process isn't always a walk in the park, but it's often a hit to the self confidence. They tell me it's worth waiting for the right one. 


What do you guys think? Do you feel like rejection is an indication of low skill and quality?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I have to remember things sometimes

Sometimes, I forget to enjoy writing.

Which is a funny statement on the surface, because writing is very much my passion. It's definitely the thing that keeps me up at night and drives me from my bed in the morning. It's sort of an impossible task, and I like that about it too.

My troubles with writing all stem from the difficulties associated with Publishing. Publishing has a unique way of making your craft a consumable product that you sell. For us writers, we spend way too much time making sure we are palatable to as many potential readers as possible, and I'm no exception. Before I tweet, I try to remember that a large chunk of my fanbase is very conservative, and I think that's wonderful. Everyone gets to be who they want to be. But knowing that definitely makes me hesitate before posting something polarizing and political--and considering how political my social media feeds have been, that should say something--I have sort of whitewashed many of my stances and beliefs on social media. I definitely don't talk about my family with the kind of candor I would if you were to meet me in person.

As well as combing through my public appearance, publishing has also sort of driven many of the stories I have tried (and sometimes failed) to tell. And that's simply no good. I have driven a story one way to be more on point, and then it suddenly wasn't. I've tried all kinds of things to make my stories fit into the buckets made available (or maybe more appropriately, known) by the market, and it just hasn't worked.

This has been a constant battle for me, and only recently have I come to understand some things about my work. When I have a project and it doesn't sell, or it doesn't get an agent, or it doesn't immediately have a huge selling, I used to think it was the writing. Now, to be clear, poor writing will often kill opportunities, so all writers should spend a lot of time absorbing craft. However, the idea of fit is starting to be a real concern.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that I qualify as an odd duck. No really. I'm a little off. I see the world differently, and that informs my writing. Some people like that, some people don't. And that's okay.

What isn't okay is when I try to write my stories to fit in. That's a no go. And I know I've talked about this before, but it's way better to fail as yourself than it is to succeed as a fake. Good luck out there, and some big news is coming soon (sorry, I'm such a tease).

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Queries are more fun than usual, IWSG

After a lengthy hiatus, I've returned to the world of querying agents. I have to admit, I did not miss all the anxiety and crazy feels I get when I'm querying. I hate that I'll attempt to tweet something, you know, to interact with an agent then fret over the interaction for hours. I hate that feeling of "Whelp, now that agent thinks I'm a crazy person, auto reject in 3... 2... 1..."

Generally, that doesn't happen, but the feel is there.

The funny thing is that I didn't worry about these things when I wasn't querying. I interacted with agents (various reasons) while not querying, and it was amazing. I didn't worry about how my emails sounded (other than sounding professional, but not written by a robot), and amazingly, finding agent email in my inbox didn't fill me with one part hope and three parts demon riddled anxiety. They were normal emails saying they could or could not do a thing.

My point is that all the insecurity I've been feeling lately is wondering if an agent will love my work. After publishing, I thought I had crossed some magical landscape and found myself in the valley of self confidence. Alas, that wasn't the case. Even as I'm getting super good news, I'm still struggling to feel confident in my work.

When I was first starting out, I didn't have much feedback for my work. Now I have reviews for published works to give myself a counterpoint to the inevitable rejection, but the last time I queried, I didn't have that, so I wanted to offer up some quick thoughts.

I have hundreds of requests for a sequel to my book. People FB me all the time and ask if it's going to be a thing, and I still get down about rejections.

In short, anytime you put yourself up in a situation where someone could reject you or your work, it's going to mess with your head. Your writing is probably good, maybe even great, you just haven't found your lobster. That doesn't make you a bad writer, that makes your work not what those agents are looking for right now.

Okay, I could talk about this for a very long time, but I want to know how people manage to handle the feels that come with querying. I art. (yes, I verbified it).

Also be sure to stop by the Ninja Captain Alex, and to thank this month's Cohosts: Christopher D. Votey,Madeline Mora-Summonte, Fundy Blue, and Chrys Fey!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Doubt Colored Glasses: An Insecure Writer's Support Group

Oh Insecure Writer’s Support Group, you’ve taught me things. When I first started down this journey, I was so very jealous. I was trading manuscripts with people and our work seemed to be on par. Then, very quickly, those people all got agents. Then they got book deals. They were suddenly the shit, and I was twiddling my thumbs (if you count writing five more books twiddling).

I was so jealous of those people. I assaulted myself with all the feels because I couldn’t, or wouldn’t understand my own jealousy. I let myself think the terrible thoughts: I’m not good enough. I’m completely delusional about my talent. The world is out to get me. It really is about who you know. I thought those things and more, my jealousy festering inside me. It was dark, but those times were tinged with another darkness that had nothing to do with writing. Doubt fogged every pair of glasses I used to view the world.

I went on to publish my first book, and I’ve written about how I didn’t think it was a really real success. In fact, it’s been the problem all along. I can see the success of others, but never my own. I think that all the success I receive is part of some participation award, and everyone else was living the highlife. Better published, better written, better agented. Everyone seemed to be posting their Agent call, or their call with their editors—somehow, all of my success came with an email, never a phone call. Was I defective? How come my success looked different? That’s right, because my success wasn’t really success at all.

Then, publishing turned, as it always does, and those people I was jealous of started to be ground under the wheel of publishing. I had thought those people had made it. I’d thought their dreams were coming true. And for many of them, it did. But for others, Publishing did the thing publishing does, it moved on. Agents left. Books died in editing. One of those people had a whole writing career—agent, books, big promo—and then said peace out and deleted all of her social media profiles. She no longer publishes. (Odd side note, there are three people who fit this description, five if you relax the circumstances a tad to just let those sites go dormant).

Which is to say, Publishing is hard. It takes people’s dreams and destroys them on occasion. I don’t see their paths as successes anymore. It must be hard to get an agent and then lose an agent in the span of a couple months. I know more than one person whose book died in editing at a major house—these are the stuff of nightmare—but I coveted their place and success because I have always had a hard time seeing other paths as successes.


It’s been hard to learn to look through my doubt colored glasses and see the world. There’s more ways to success, and it’s important to remember that what looks like success on the outside might actually be a complete pile of dog poo on the inside. Doubt changes what you see in others and yourselves.

Be sure to visit the Ninja Captain, Alex and to thank this month's Co-hosts: Tamara Narayan,Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson!

Happy Writing, everyone. (Psst, did you know next month is A to Z??? Where has the time gone!)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Envelope Please: Son of a Pitch

Now it’s time for my votes.



I can’t even begin to tell you guys how hard this was to choose. I read through every pitch and there were 12 that based on the query and first page, I would have bought the book, so Go forth and get published so I CAN buy your book! There were more books that were just *this* close to being ready to go. Guys, I’m serious, you have to polish the spirit gum out of those manuscripts (note, though, if you aren’t one of my picks, that doesn’t mean you need to go through your manuscript—THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM FOR ONE MORE POLISH!). If I didn’t pick yours, it’s not that it wasn’t super awesome, but I only get five slots. It’s like being in a book store that only takes cash and only having a twenty. This was brutally hard to pick. The writing was amazing, the concepts: awesome.


It has been an honor to host and participate, and I really don’t like that right now, people are scrolling through and being disappointed that they weren’t my top five. I feel you. I’ve been in your shoes. My only hope is that you got good feedback on your query and your first 250 and that you can now move forward to make your writing better and even more amazing than it was before. Good luck out there, and keep your chins up! Publishing is a rough business.

And now my picks, in no particular order:

Virtual Space: I picked this one because I loved the concept and the writing. LOVED. I really enjoyed all the numbers in it. They made me laugh because I do stuff like that.

On The Edge: Oh, I love me some figure skating/hockey player drama! I loved the concept because, among other things, it reminds me of some of my favorite themes that come up around the rink.


The Bookshop: I love this concept so hard, and the writing made me so sad when I got to the end of the words. I wanted more words!

Light Witch: I loved the premise and the writing blew me away. I loved the protag the moment he started sneaking out.

Scales: I loved this one because I seem to really fall for the slacker turns it around and starts putting in the effort stories. And then the writing was really strong too! Ah, love!


So there you have it, my five picks. The biggest thing I can think to say after this is that it’s pretty clear I picked stuff that sort of got under my skin. There were other pitches that were amazing, maybe even better, but these ones had me thinking about them long afterwards. Good luck to everyone, and I want to hear from you guys in the future. Please let me know what happens with you and your books! May the Force Be With You! 




Monday, February 20, 2017

Welcome to Son of a Pitch! #TeamRebels

Welcome to my blog! This week, I’m happy to host some writers and their queries. For those of you new to Son of A Pitch, the only people who should be commenting on these posts are the approved judges and the author of the piece. All other comments will be deleted by me. (don’t make me do it!)

Other than that, look around, read some entries and have fun.


#TeamRebels


1. UNQUEENLY: YA Fantasy

1.
Title: UNQUEENLY
Category and Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 87,000

Query:
The clash of swords has always pumped fire into sixteen-year-old Janai’s veins, filling her head with dreams of becoming a warrior. But everything changes when her father is murdered and she becomes the new Queen of Emerise.
People whisper that she is too young to rule, and even worse, some believe she may become a dark priestess like her mother, who was executed years ago for destroying a village. If Janai must rule, she wants to do so with light magic to continue her father’s legacy. However, when she’s framed for using dark powers to kill someone, she’s stripped of her title and sentenced to death. With the help of her friends, she flees to a city called Sivanna, where the buildings and people are painted with beautiful works of art.
Twice a year, Sivanna hosts an event called the Spar Games, where warriors fight for prestige and gold. Janai uses her skills in swordsmanship to participate, hoping to gain the support she needs to become queen again and save her people from a tyrant who threatens their peaceful way of life. With each triumph in the arena, new enemies begin emerging, and though many of Janai’s allies watch her back, she’s sure at least one wants to put a knife in it. The path to reclaim her throne is fraught with blood and betrayal, not to mention her inner fight against the darkness she may have inherited. And being a warrior on the outside doesn’t always mean being tough on the inside.
First 250 Words:
The darkness below held the traitor in its midst.
With Ralel's steadying arm around my own, we descended, my gold high heels clacking down the stone steps. The odor of mildew, urine, and feces ambushed my nostrils. It was difficult to refrain from gagging.
We reached the bottom of the stairs and continued down a hallway lined with torches whose flames swayed as we passed them. My long gown dragged across the floor, gathering dust and who knew what else, but I didn’t mind. I did, however, tighten my grip on the muscular biceps of my most trusted defender when a rat scrabbled by us.
“I find it amusing that someone who once wanted to become a fearsome gladiator is afraid of a puny rat,” Ralel said, his tone suggesting amusement, but his face as serious as usual.
“I find it amusing that you find anything amusing,” I grumbled, giving the rat a dubious glance.
He worked hard to keep a smile off his face. “I told you this is no place for a queen.”
“You’ve made your disapproval quite clear many times. But it’s time for me to do this.”
“You should’ve allowed the guards to bring the prisoner to you in chains.”
“I want to see where he’s staying. I want to see him suffering.”

He sighed and rubbed a hand across his close-cut hair. His skin—which was a deeper brown than mine—was already glistening with sweat.

2. The Bookshop: YA Fantasy

2.
Title: The Bookshop
Category and Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 70,000

Query:
Alex's last year of school isn't going too well. Finding an infinite bookshop down a London alleyway was one thing, but being locked inside and forced to serve inter-dimensional customers until the Bookshop decides she's a worthy proprietor? Well, that's just one step too far.

Then Hunter, the mysterious supplier of books and other sundry, appears on the scene, and things go from bad to worse. Hunter doesn't seem to understand that the door will open for anyone but Alex - and no matter how many times he takes the last teabag, finishes the milk, or threatens death and disaster, the Bookshop doesn't want to let Alex go.

Meanwhile, in another world, Breeze discovers that having sunlight-enhanced strength is no match for a man hell-bent on saving his city - and using whoever it takes in the process. But when Breeze stumbles into the Bookshop, powerless and close to death, he sees a door that doesn't belong. Then when Hunter gets caught up in an inter-dimensional deal gone sour, suddenly a locked front door isn’t Alex’s only problem, and she's forced to make a choice: continue the fight to return home, or leave the Bookshop in the hands of a madman?

It's not much of a choice.

First 250 Words:

One last story, I suppose. I’m sorry in advance if it isn’t exactly the one you want to hear. But you must understand: back then, I didn’t realise the boy was important.


Two croissants have appeared in the cupboard overnight.
Literally appeared.
I’m trying not to think about it too much.
The window seat not being the most ideal place to sleep, overnight I have become Alex, the Human Cramp. Not the greatest way to wake up. So I stretch, nice and slow. Tie my hair up in a         messy bun. Cup of tea. Jam, cream, croissant.
I sip from my mug, trying not to spill too much as I step around a smattering of discarded novels and over to the pile of unlabelled records on the other side of the room. Butter-yellow sunlight streams into the Cottage, snuggling up to the darkest corners, and for just a moment the whole place feels almost... normal. I ignore that several records appear to be carved out of thinly sliced stone – and that the dull red glow of the one in the corner is slightly more ominous than it was yesterday – and choose one at random.
The needle locks into place.
A few seconds of silence, then soft pops and clicks as the familiar voice of Freddie Mercury rings out.
“Tonight I’m gonna have myself a real good time…”
I curl up on the window seat once more, ignoring my creaky limbs, and watch the world outside slowly pass me by. Men in suits, heading off to work. Cyclists narrowly missing both people and their dogs as they wind their way down cobblestone paths under the swooping shadows of –
Ignore the dragons, for the love of God, ignore the dragons

3. Moonstruck: YA Fantasy

3.
Title: Moonstruck
Category and Genre: YA fantasy
Word Count: 74,000

Query:
The gods have prophesied annihilation to Moriah’s sunless, seaside village.
Moriah has one lunar cycle left until her world is destroyed, unless her village provides a worthy sacrifice. She has never condoned violent rituals, but when her high priest, Mercury, chooses the boy she loves to die as an offering, she sets out on a quest to overpower him.
Aided only by her best friend, Moriah seeks to become the next priestess and garner sacred magic to defeat Mercury. But even if she rescues the boy she loves from Mercury’s wrath, she must still appease the gods with an ultimate sacrifice.

First 250 Words:
As I climb Mount Halex, I look out at my sparkling village and wish I could save it.
I’ve explored it all as a gatherer. From the glowing seaside shrubs to our thick forests enchanted with sacred light. I’ve swum in the crushing presence of the gods’ magic my entire life.
But I’ve never climbed this mountain, clinging to ropes that threaten to snap. I’ve never risked my life to gather the sacred zyca fruits.
All I can do is try to breathe through the suffocating cold, and remember what it feels like to be warm. Larah climbs next to me, groaning with every pull upward. I imagine her hands are dry and cracked like mine. Our work gloves are too slick for climbing, and without them, my blood pools up around the rope and stains it. I’ll leave my mark on this mountain, one way or another.
I can’t hear much over the wind, but Larah’s breath is ragged. She seems so delicate here. Small frame, small arms, small hands. Not many know her true power. Her true ferocity.
“We’re almost there,” I shout, hoping I’m right. The wind impossibly roars louder and any hope of conversation dies.
Death.
               It’s a word that means less every day. I’ve always known about the Prophecy, but sometimes it doesn’t feel real. Still, I can hardly glance at the moon. I don’t want it to know how much I miss the sunlight—that yellow glow and warmth.

4. THE LIGHT WITCH: YA Fantasy


4.
Title: THE LIGHT WITCH
Category and Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 107, 000

Query:
Seventeen-year-old Nick Espinosa can’t control his muscular dystrophy, his parents’ divorce, or how people look at him. But when he meets Simran, a young witch desperate to hide her powers from a drug lord, he finally gains something that he can control—her magic.

The catch? The ‘gift’ of Simran’s magic comes at a cost. Nick is pushed into the Otherside—a world where spells are black market currency. Simran is nowhere to be found and Nick discovers that he’s not the only one with her magic; stolen fragments of it are being sold on the market by members of her own coven and without it, she’ll die.

With Simran missing, Nick is abandoned in a world where he’s in danger of being killed for the magic she gave him. He must navigate the Otherside and find Simran before they both end up dead. To save her, he'll need to restore all her magic—including what she gave to him. But the more Nick uses, the more addicted to it he becomes and the more he starts to question if Simran’s reasons for giving him magic were as selfless as he originally thought.

First 250 Words:
The annoying thing about being a teenager in a wheelchair is that it’s depressingly hard to sneak out at night. Not that Nick doesn’t manage it, but it isn’t easy.
He pushes the stiff wooden door to his room open and wills it not to creak. His chestnut colored hair is damp against his forehead. He rubs a palm against it and pulls his hand away wet with sweat.
He grips the push rim of his chair and makes his way down the hallway, only pausing to glance at the door to his mom and step-dad’s room. Their door is shut and the hall is silent. He releases and regrips his push rim.
Nick lines himself up at the edge of the stairs and looks at the steps leading down. This is the worst part.
He had to have a room upstairs. He couldn’t stand the idea of being stuck on the bottom floor, chair or not. He felt like staying down there would mean accepting things would get harder. Even if they did eventually.
There’s a stairlift attached to the railing, but unless he wants to wake everyone up, it’s not an option.
Nick locks the brakes on his chair and slides to the edge of the seat. He lifts his legs out from the footrest and sets them out straight on the staircase landing. Small movements are easy, not like standing or walking.

5. Silver and Ice: YA Fantasy

5.
Title: Silver and Ice
Category and Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 80k

Query:
Ebraham hunts silvertongues--those born with a voice capable of controlling minds. With the aid of a magicked amulet, an uncanny ability to read people, and just a touch of overconfidence, he has become Elysia's most renowned silvertongue hunter. So when the Winter Queen commands him to capture the silvertongue who has infiltrated the Fifth Regiment, he is sure he'll have this mission closed in a blink.
Until he discovers the regiment’s beloved Captain Alivia Youngblood is the hidden silvertongue. A brilliant military strategist, Youngblood may be the key to finally turning the tides of a decade-long war against the Vigilanthams, the kingdom's mortal enemy. However, with orders from the Winter Queen to seize Dark Water Point--a Vigilantham stronghold impossible to breach--it appears that the Fifth Regiment is doomed to a suicidal battle. . . unless someone comes up with a plan to save them all.
Caught in a world of lies and deceptions, Ebraham must decide who the kingdom's real enemy is: the hidden silvertongue, or the Queen he serves.

First 250 Words:
I once chased a silvertongue up the twenty-third peak of the Devil’s Ridgeback in the dead of winter. Didn’t have a cloak, furs, gloves, or anything a sane person would think to wear in the middle of a blizzard. Nearly lost my left ear to frostbite, and two toenails blackened and fell off afterwards. Still caught the silvertongue at the end though, and that’s what matters—placing the mission above all.
Now I can’t help but compare the coldness settling over my skin to that wretched adventure from two winters ago.
A cool draft whispers against the nape of my neck. The soft swish of a heavy cloak dragging along the marble floor echoes in the throne room. Frost spiderwebs beneath my leather boots, chilling my feet into a deep ache. Only one person in the kingdom of Elysia controls such powerful magic.
“Rise, young Tracer.” Queen Hiema’s voice comes like a breath of snow.
I finally straighten from my deep bow, spine protesting, neck and shoulders stiff. By the time I lift my eyes, the Winter Queen has already made her way onto the dais in front of me, though she doesn’t sit on the throne. My breath hitches at the sight of the queen. In person, her cold and terrible beauty is more devastating than even the most vivid descriptions sung by the bards. Pale lashes frame cat-like eyes the color of ice chips. Lips stained a deep wine red, long fingernails painted gold and studded with diamonds.

6. The Augur of Esteria - Menta's Journey: YA Adventure Fantasy

6.
Title: The Augur of Esteria - Menta's Journey
Age and Genre: YA Adventure Fantasy
Word Count: 95,000

Query:
When the prince Menta is expected to marry suddenly disappears in the middle of the night, she realizes that the quiet world she once knew is drastically changing. With little guidance she sets out on a path to find the ancient race of the Faecha who will provide her with the answers she needs to find Zane. The only catch? No one has seen the Faecha in decades and it’s generally believed they are extinct.

As Menta’s journey continues she discovers that there is much about Esteria that she doesn’t know and with a little help from her dead grandfather, a young dweller boy named Gaius and an island man named Duke, Menta and her trusty warecat – Darius – are thrust into a magical world they never knew was real. They venture further south towards the last rumoured location of the Faecha and discover that their journey isn’t as flawless as they’d hoped. While they seek out Zane – the lost prince – another searches for them.

Morarch and his master Rayeon are ancient sorcerers bent on opening the rift between the mortal world of Esteria and that of the spirits. And they need Menta to do it. With the growing evil in Esteria, they pool their resources to track down Menta and her travelling party before she reaches the Faecha and learns the truth about her powers.
Menta soon learns that she and Zane are connected in more ways than she knew and as Morarch and his plans get closer to completion, she has to find Zane before they find her or it could cost not only her life but all of the peace in Esteria. 

First 250 Words:
The door swung open and two clumsy demons pushed their way through, each hoping they’d be the first to deliver the news. The aging sorcerer didn’t flinch when the heavy wooden door slammed behind them.

“Master,” the first squeaked, the smaller of the two. “We have done as you wished!”

Morarch turned from the tower window, facing the two creatures. His cold black eyes scanned over them. They fell silent. 

“You aren’t lying,” he stated, looking back to the darkening sky. A storm was not far off.

“No, Master,” the second speaking now, “never to you.” The dark blue demon held his burnt fingers from sight; a punishment for previous lies.

The sorcerer limped towards his desk, clutching his gnarled staff tightly for support. Still neither demon spoke. But Morarch didn’t rush them. He lowered himself into his wooden arm chair and rested the staff at his side.

“Well?” He asked when the silence continued.

The two began talking at once, excitedly spewing whatever information they could until Morarch held up his wrinkled hand to silence their incessant chatter.

“Peg?” he asked, motioning to the smaller demon.

She bounced forward, ahead of her comrade, fingers interlacing nervously.

“We’ve found her, Sir,” she squeaked.

Morarch frowned. “A girl?”

Before Peg could answer her brother stepped to her side.

“Living in Brydon, Master,” Dob whispered.

The old sorcerer’s eyes flashed angrily for a moment before he folded his hands and rested his chin on top. “And human.”

Peg drew a sharp breath. “Sir…”

7. THE MAGIC PAINTBRUSH: YA Fantasy

7.
Title: THE MAGIC PAINTBRUSH

Category and Genre: YA Fantasy 

Word Count: 84,000

Query:
Ayden Fragonard lives in a museum. It’s not the most glamorous life. In fact, it’s downright boring. There isn’t much to do. He spends most of his time striking a pose and staring at the walls. Occasionally, someone will walk by and nod their head with an inquisitive brow and say boring things like, interesting or not my taste. Then they walk away. That’s because he’s a painting and has been for the last 500 years. 

Normally, Ayden waits until people have left the room before he speaks. It’s unusual for someone to stick around a bunch of stuffy art. They’ve got better things to do. Then one day Stefan Vermeer, a young artist sat down on the bench in front of him and dozed off. It’s kind of rude, but not as bad when people point and stare at him. So Ayden decides to wake him up and find out why he’s taking a nap in the museum. 

Stefan is in udder disbelief. The boy in the painting is alive, but bound by the oils on the canvas. Stefan tells him he wants to be a painter, but his father disapproves. Ayden can relate. That’s how he became a painting. He was imprisoned in the canvas by an evil painter with a magic paintbrush. This brush can bring inanimate things to life, like turning flowers into butterflies, trees into monsters and tattoos into paint breathing dragons. Intrigued, Stefan spends a night in the museum listening to his story. 

First 250 Words:
In the sleepy town of Holbein, where dreams are never had and stars are rarely seen shimmering above the hazy city lights lived Stefan Vermeer with his father, a stern and quiet man of few words. While young Stefan lay there in bed dreaming of the next masterpiece he would bring to life, the door to his room slowly swung open and a dark shadow crept in. His father then quietly entered the room, as he looked down upon a dreamer sleeping the day away, wasting his youthful years.
From a distant view his eyes quickly grew dim, as he glanced above his son’s bed where just a sliver of light could be seen. There hung a painting very special to Stefan’s heart, his rendition of Starry Night. Something that meant a great deal to him and very little to his father. His father stood there in the dark, grazing the sharp lines on the sides of his chin with two fingers and a thumb in deep thought. He curled his lips together and let out a strong grumble, then paused for a moment to let the air wither down. This was no way to live, he thought to himself. Dreams die quickly and so would his son if he continued allowing him to follow after his dreams.
With this notion in mind, he violently ripped the painting off the wall and started screaming and yelling in an intolerable sense, determined to change his life for the better.

8. Scales: YA contemporary Fantasy

8.
Title: Scales
Category and Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
Word Count: 80,000

Query:
Eric was the only orphan at Kingston Prep—a hidden school for magic users in rural Illinois—until Ben arrived, scared and crying about monsters. Within days he’d latched on to Eric and soon the two were as close as brothers.

While Ben reaches the top of their Sophomore class, Eric squeaks by and focuses on making sure his stash of drugs lasts the whole summer. Even his favorite teacher gave up on him developing his weak abilities and it’s common knowledge his future promises menial jobs at best. He might as well have fun on his race to the bottom.

When Eric’s arch-nemesis (and Ben’s crush) warns him about the Curator, a man who traffics magic users, he dismisses it as a childish conspiracy theory. Eric gave up believing in monsters and fairy tales a long time ago.

But, Ben has a secret, one that makes him the perfect addition to the very real Curator’s personal collection. It’s the secret that brought him Kingston, and—despite Eric’s assurances otherwise—proves at least one monster exists.

When the Curator’s Hunters attack their school in search of him, Ben and Eric escape and go into hiding where they think they’ll be safe. They’re wrong.

Now, to save Ben from a life of slavery, Eric has to believe in another person he dismissed long ago: himself. 

First 250 Words:
Eric took his exam. The words “Magic Theory, Practice, and Society” were centered on the cover.

What a joke.

This test was a joke.

The practical portion would be a joke.

The whole class was a joke.

All the knowledge in the world wouldn’t make him stronger. And it wasn’t like he would be able to get a job in any Luxen field either; he’d be doing construction or flipping burgers alongside Anluxen even if he studied hard and aced the test. He thought he’d done well enough in English, passable in Geometry, miraculously managed a C- in Chemistry, but here in this cruel joke of a class was where his worth was defined.

Worth. The word echoed around his mind, making him laugh to himself.

Behind him, Alex received her test. Her self-satisfied sigh warmed the back of his neck in a humid puff. Without thinking, he turned to glare at her. She was a dusty-looking girl with dusty blue eyes, wrapped in dusty tanned skin, topped with dusty blond hair.

Dusty, dusty, dusty.

And evil.

“Eyes on your own test, Eric,” Ms. Finley said, causing the entire class to look at him. He cursed at her inwardly, but complied.

“Ms. Finley,” Alex stated. Eric rolled his eyes and a wave of sighs and creaks of desks spread around the classroom. 

“Here we go,” someone whispered a little too loudly.

“Yes, Alex?” the teacher responded, her face a mask of professional caring.