Archive | March 2014

Pitch Madness SJ-8: LUMA

Genre: YA Horror
Word Count: 90,000
Pitch: An underground club held at an abandoned island amusement park. Abbey and Callie aren’t supposed to be there. The island is now populated by creatures with a carnivorous appetite. A night they may not survive.
An ocean of bodies moved like seaweed across the warehouse floor. It might have looked as though they were drowning except for their rhythmic movement that fused with the beat. Some looked as though they’d accepted their fate as they swayed back and forth, while others seemed to fight the inevitable. Their arms flailed about, their faces contorted with exertion as they gasped for a last breath. At least that’s how it looked to the eyes watching from above.
In the center of the floor, Abbey tilted her head back and danced. She raised her arms over her head and her long, periwinkle hair drifted with her movements. Blue and green lights bounced through the smoky air, pulsing with the rhythm of the music. Bodies brushed against hers, but she didn’t mind. Here, dancing among hundreds of others, she fit in. She belonged. No one could take that away from her.
“We need to go,” Callie yelled in her ear.
A stab of irritation shot through her and Abbey’s eyes flew open. She missed the beat of the song, which caused a ripple in the dancers around her. Callie was upset, though only someone who’d known her since third grade would be able to pick up the telltale signs: twirling a strand of hair around her pointer finger; the flush high on her cheekbones.
“Did you and Eric have another fight?” Abbey didn’t want to leave. Not yet. Callie promised her it would be the two of them, but Eric had shown up and Abbey spent the night dancing alone.
CLUE: Mr. Boddy is found in the hall, facedown, drool pooling on the glistening floor near his face. Bits of yarn stick to the lapels of his wool blazer. 




Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Word Count: 63,000
Pitch: Before she can become the greatest Empress in Russian history, Sophie–an impoverished princess from a rival country–will have to win the heart of a nation to make it to coronation day alive.

The sled is cramped, my legs and back ache in protest as we cut through the deep snow. I pull back the heavy damask curtain covering the small window. Outside the landscape is barren and desolate. Only stark white snow for miles, interrupted only by the occasional leafless tree. Though the horses race forward across the plain at great speed, the trek has been long and the snow deep. We’d had to abandon our more spacious carriage in Livonia and continue the rest of the way in this small sled. Across from me my mother carefully stitches on her small linen even as each bump threatens to destroy her colorful tapestry. She hasn’t spoken to me in two days, not since I’d finally grown weary of her constant chatter about how different and lavish life would be at a real court and reprimanded her harshly.

I sigh deeply. Perhaps the rolling hills of Anhault-Zerbst may not have been as grand as the palaces of Berlin, where she was raised, but it was my father’s estate and also mine and I ached to be there now. Never had I missed it more than I did on this journey, the dangerous trek through the depths of Russia in the coldest months of winter. I have acquired a constant shiver and my toes and fingers never seem to thaw. Still, it was only her callous remarks about my father that had provoked me to speak rudely to her. She makes me pay for it now, the already cold interior seems absolutely frigid with her indifference.


Boddy is found in the library, slumped in a chair near a tea trolley with no
apparent wounds. His face is flushed, an empty teacup caught on one finger, its
hot contents soaking his front, and round sugar cubes scattered across his lap. 


Pitch Madness SJ-10: CRUSHING

Genre: YA contemporary

Word Count: 75,000

Pitch: Lindy’s killed all her ex-boyfriends but, this time, she’s found the One. Meanwhile, her detective daddy closes in on a killer of teenage girls – Lindy’s new boyfriend.


We’re going to break up, so I’ve brought my gun with me. It’s been in arm’s reach since I saw him with Jenna at the mall on Wednesday. When he blew me off that night – homework, lame excuse – I went home and loaded it.

Three bullets. Two for him, one spare. Just in case.

He called me ten minutes ago, as usual. Must have nearly chickened out this time, though: the first text came through just before midnight. He hoped I’d be asleep. Should have known I wouldn’t be. My market value is sky-high on Friday nights. I jumped straight out of bed and put on the dress he likes. Easy but not cheap. I hope.

When I see him, I know it’s hopeless. Our eyes lock and his face drops. Barely a second, but enough. It’s over.

I sit on his bed while he fusses. He slams a drawer shut – his finger with it – and swears. Pretend casual: “What’re you doing?”

“Nothing.” He turns towards me then quickly away. I don’t blame him. The dress is cut high and low in the wrong places. Very distracting. “Getting ready for tomorrow.”

“Today.” I gesture at the clock. Tick tock. “Coach said early night.”

He smiles. Smirks. “You know me.”

“Yeah. I do.” I cross my legs. The dress is rebelling in every direction, and there’s no cosmetic way to adjust it. “I was surprised to hear from you.”

Playing dumb: “You were?”

I smile sweetly. Playing, too. “I missed you.”

CLUE: Mr. Boddy is found in the kitchen, his throat neatly slit, a pool of blood formed

beneath his body. Grasped in his fingers is a class ring from Harvard. 

Pitch Madness SJ-11: BENEATH

Genre: YA Sci-fi/Thriller
Word Count: 66,000
Being trapped in an underwater resort with a killer on the loose and medication-induced blackouts is not Jen’s idea of the perfect vacation. Is she next? Or is she a murderer?
Being submerged beneath ten thousand tons of ocean water might kill me. But being trapped for six weeks in a dressed up and glorified fish tank definitely will. The others in the shuttle pod don’t get it. They actually want to be here. Maybe I would too if it was Mom here and healthy instead of the wench. 
The doors shut with a final sounding clang that reverberates through my head, making me wince. I have the sudden urge to throw myself at them and beg to be let out. I need one last gulp of fresh air. 
But the crystal blue waters close over the 360-degree wall of windows, drowning my last view of the sky. All around me employees and their family members gather as close to the glass as they can get, too eager to sit. They remind me of the school of silver herring that swirls by to the right, all following each other’s lead. 
I reach for my phone to see if Mom texted, when I remember the last argument I had with Dad and how I wouldn’t be allowed cell contact. In fact, I wasn’t going to be allowed any contact with the surface unless approved by Bennett Systems. Like I was going to let them see my personal correspondence. 
The shuttle is a sphere, so no matter which direction I look, I find either the twin shuttle pod filled with yet more excited tourists or fish that stare back, wondering what the hell we’re doing in their space. 
Boddy is found in the conservatory, laying beneath a leaky pipe with one side
of his head bashed in. Tucked into his pocket is a bit of paper with dates,
times, and places written in an elegant cursive. They’re parties and events
only the elite would be invited to. 



Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Word Count: 99,000 words


Pitch: A romance flourishes in London between a nineteenth century doctor of the mad and a girl plagued by haunting secrets.


Her fairy tale was over. These words flashed through Katherine Whittemores mind as she inched her shoes closer to the edge. They almost appeared as two shafts of ice among the blinding snow, which was now gathering along the pieces of the half-finished Westminster Bridge.


Kat raised her eyes toward London, the peaks of its rooftops ominous stalagmites against the dark cave of night. This would be the last she would see of the city she called home. She allowed her eyes to drift to Bethlem Royal Hospital, one of Londons institutions for the mad. A shudder shot through her body. The asylum held secrets which she would now take to her grave.


Big Ben tolled, jolting the girl to her core as she tottered on the precipice. She gripped the beam above her head to steady herself, the jagged edge of the stone tearing her flesh. As the wind whipped the hem of her dress around her ankles, shackling her, she peered through an opaque wall of tears at the black snake of the river Thames as it wound its way through London. Her arms, with two small beads of blood charting a downward course upon them, shook as they held her from her destiny. Or, perhaps they shook because of it.


It had all been a lie. All of it.


As she stood upon the threshold of death, she realized where it had all gone wrong, and she hated herself for it. If she had only handled it differently, if she had only been stronger, this would not be her fate.
CLUE: Mr. Boddy is found in the lounge, crumbled in a doorway in the far
corner. Seems someone came through a secret passage and surprised him,
splitting his scalp. A waxy substance covers one side of his face. Gripped in
his fingers is a necklace with a small Peacock charm. On the back the words
“Love you, from Mom” are engraved.




Genre: Upper MG fantasy/adventure
Word Count: 46,000
Pitch: Thirteen-year-old Persephone’s becoming a dragon. Even worse, DarkenWear, Inc.’s imprisoning magical creatures in their fashions. If Persephone’s caught, she’ll end up a designer handbag or fabulous pair of shoes—the feathery fashionistas must be stopped!
The vortex howled around the dilapidated Calvin Coolidge Middle School, throwing crows against the glass and filling the air with feathers. The old panes rattled in their paint-caked frames, drawing Persephone’s attention away from her Edgar Allen Poe project and toward the tall windows of the eighth-grade humanities classroom. The sky turned a ghoulish shade of gray-green and the room shook with the rumble of thunder.
Persephone went back to splattering red paint on her papier-mâché rendering of The Masque of the Red Death, trying to put the storm out of her mind. She felt a twinge and grimaced, rubbing the silvery swirl of scar tissue that peeked out from underneath the top of her arm warmer. Stupid dead skin. First darn feeling in five years, and it’s pain. Spotty memories of the accident drifted in and out of her head until thoughts became spoken words. Storms create lightning. Lightning makes fire. Fire ruins lives. It happened then, and it could happen now. “Storms conjure change.”
“Huh, what did you say?” Kendall turned in his chair, his gaze fixed on Persephone.
She noticed him looking at her bad arm and scowled from underneath her dark razor-edged bangs. “I dare you to stare at it a second longer.”
“Sorry.” He looked down, flashing an awkward smile, and tousled his mop of chestnut hair.
Ignoring Kendall and the tingling pain, she pulled the striped woolen sleeve back up to cover the wound. Even my best friend can’t help himself. Nobody can. I’m hideous.
CLUE: Mr. Boddy is found behind his desk in the study bleeding from a puncture
in his eye, fingers gripping an empty envelope bearing the seal of the local
Bar Association.




Pitch Madness SJ-15: DEMON INK

Genre: NA Urban Fantasy

Word Count:

Pitch: Natalie just wants to get through college, maintain a healthy relationship with her Japanese girlfriend, and survive the lethally hostile spirit sealed under her skin. It’s much harder than expected.
The taxi stopped in front of stone-carved stairs that ascended and disappeared into the forested mountainside. Assuming this was the destination corresponding to the address she’d printed out and shown the driver, Natalie sorted through her bank-new thousand-yen bills and paid the fare.
Arigato gozaimashita,” she said, enunciating carefully. There was no way anyone would mistake her for a local, not with her pasty skin tone and generous body shape, but that didn’t mean she shouldn’t make an effort. Nobody had yet laughed in her face, so she clung to the hope she wasn’t mangling their language too badly. Maybe?
Oh, hell, why hadn’t she prepared more? Much as she wanted to run and hide, it was quite too late for that.
Please, please let it be worth it. Let it be magical and awesome and full of rainbows.
At the top of the stairs and beyond the giant red gate indicating the entrance to a Shinto shrine, the forest parted to allow space for a wooden building with a steep sloped roof. The way the trees framed the building, as if sheltering it, gave the feeling it belonged here, in this forest.
Reiko had mentioned that her family’s shrine was a place of power, but Natalie hadn’t realized she’d be able to feel the power humming against her skin. Maybe that was why there was nobody here; maybe the locals were too intimidated to linger.
Or maybe the place was deserted because it was haunted by evil spirits that slaughtered anyone fool enough to trespass and she was about to feature in her very own horror movie.
CLUE: Mr. Boddy is found in the ballroom, slumped over the piano, an arm
extended off the Baby Grand as if reaching for something. A strip of what looks
like leather is caught in his fingers, which are swollen around two discolored
puncture wounds. Near his feet is a bronze medal featuring a winged Victory
holding a shield and sword.

Pitch Madness SJ-16 Slush Reader Save: The Serenity Killer

Genre: YA psychological suspense

Word Count: 70,000
Pitch: When Haley’s best friend becomes the victim of a serial killer, she uses her ability to see and feel death to exact revenge, but the killer is a lot closer to her than she realizes.

I will die in seventy-eight years, three months, and two days, surrounded by people I love. At least I assume I love them. I haven’t met them yet, so it’s hard to say for sure, but I do know that ninety-four years is a long time to live. Not everyone is this lucky. In fact, most people are not.
“Haley,” my mom says as she sets a glass of orange juice down in front of me. “Have you heard a single word I’ve said to you?”
With wide eyes, I glance up. “Um…” This is the part where I should continue talking, but I know I won’t win any points by telling her I was pondering my own mortality. Like most people, my mom tends to frown upon the discussion of death before breakfast, so I say nothing as usual.
She narrows her eyes and stares at me as if she’s trying to access my mind. “What’s going on with you?”
Well, for starters, I’m a freak, but since this answer is also among the taboo subjects of breakfast table topics, I opt for action instead of words. I roll my eyes at her. This seems kinder than telling her I witness her death almost every day. At least, it’s kinder to me, because I want to discuss her death even less than I want to see it. And, because no righteous deed goes unpunished, my silence elicits one of her award winning sighs. For something so subtle, just one of them can fill every square inch of a room.

CLUE: Mr. Boddy is found in the courtyard, his head a bloody 

mess. The sprinklers are running, the yard flooded. Beside the

control valves sits an open tool box. A pin with the logo WWJD on 


Pitch Madness: Formatting and rules‏

The submission window for Pitch Madness is this Monday, March 10,
and will be open for 24 hours (12:01AM EST to 11:59PM EST). There
will be no cut off number. Everyone who submits during the window will
make it into the contest. You will receive a receipt, if you don’t,
check with me here on the blog or with Brenda on Twitter (@brendadrake). 

For those of you not familiar with Pitch Madness, it’s a contest
where agents compete in a game against their peers for pitches. This
time the game is Clue logo2. If you haven’t been a part of a Pitch
Madness challenge before, please check out this post here for more information. The submission window is
open for 24 hours (12:01AM EST to 11:59PM EST)
on March 10. Our slush readers will read through the pitches and
pick the top 60 pitches for the agent round starting on March 18. We try
to get a good mix of various genres, but the writing comes first.
Basically, if the submissions aren’t ready, it’s a pass.


The agents will be playing a fun game of Clue logo2 for your pitches this round of Pitch
Madness. Keep an eye out on the Twitter hashtag
#PitchMadness for slush readers’ comments as they
search for the best of the best. And on reveal day, March 20 at 12AM EST
(Noon – NY time), to watch the challenge rounds between the agents go down. 

Here’s the rules of submission . . .

This is for completed, unpublished fiction manuscripts (no picture
books, chapter books, non-fiction, or novellas). The categories are
Adult, New Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade. Any genres. One
manuscript per writer. The winners will not be notified before the agent
round. (All submissions sent before or after the window time slot will
be deleted.)

The email for submissions is
NO ATTACHMENTS – All pitches must be embedded in the email. 

Please format your entries like this …

Email subject line: Pitch Madness: TITLE OF MANUSCRIPT

Name: Your name
Genre: Category/genre of your manuscript (ie. YA Fantasy)
Word Count: Word count (round to the nearest 1000th – ie. 70,000)

Pitch: 35word (max) logline. Do not go over even one word. Single
spaced. Times New Roman 12pt. No indentions.

Excerpt: The first 250 words of your manuscript. If the 250th word falls
in the middle of a sentence, go to the end of that sentence. Your pitch
should be Times New Roman 12pt, single spaced, one space between
paragraphs, no paragraph indentions. 

Make sure the formatting is done
correctly, but if the email transfer messes it up we will still take it.

There’s a #PitMad Twitter Pitch Party!

And, if you don’t make it into Pitch Madness (everyone is welcome to
join in) we’re holding another Twitter Pitch Party on March
. So get your 140 word pitch ready and make sure to include
the hashtag #PitMad and category (#YA, #Adult, #MG, #NA, #PB, and so

All categories and genres welcomed. Tweet your pitch when you see
an agent come on but don’t do it too obsessively. Twice an hour is a
good amount. The agents will read the feed. 

Phew … that’s it.

Clue Faint

Oh, wait. Here’s the Pitch Madness schedule again …

  • Hosts and their teams Introduction on March 3
  • Agent Introduction on March 4
  • Rules of the Game on March 6
  • Formatting Instructions March 7
  • Submission window will be on March 10 and will be open for 24 hours
  • The first slush round will be March 11-12
  • The final round will be March 13-17
  • The top 60 picks for the agent round will go up on the blogs on
    March 18 at 12:01AM EST (NY time)
  • March 20 at 12PM EDT (Noon) the agents requests are revealed, and
    right afterward is the tying agents challenge round
  • There will be a #PitMad Twitter Pitch Party on March 25 from 8AM to
    8PM EST. Check here for rules of the Twitter Pitch

Now, that’s it for now. See you all on March 10 for submission
Good luck, everyone!

clue run


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Pitch Madness: The Game Rules and Instructions‏

For those of you not familiar with Pitch
Pitch Madness is a contest where agents compete in a game
against their peers for pitches. This time the game is Clue logo2. If you haven’t been a part of a Pitch
Madness challenge before, please check out this post here for more information. The submission window is
open for 24 hours (12:01AM EST to 11:59PM EST)
on March 10. Our slush readers will read through the pitches and
pick the top 60 pitches for the agent round starting on March 18. We try
to get a good mix of various genres, but the writing comes first.
Basically, if the submissions aren’t ready, it’s a pass.

So I bet you’re wondering how the agents are going
to play the game? Well, here are the game rules for the agents so you
all can follow along…

Starting on March 18 at
8AM EST through 12PM EST on
March 20 the agents will visit the host blogs, read the
entries, and enter their crime weapons (requests) for the pitches they
want. (See the weapon list below.) All requests (weapons) are partial
requests of the query and first 50 pages of the manuscript. If three or
more agents request, the partial will become a full request.

Each pitch will have a murder clue to solve. All
the agents have to do is guess what weapon was used in the crime. Don’t
worry, they will be easy to solve. To trump all requests, the agents can
also guess which character committed the dastardly deed (see the list of
suspects below – hint: the agents are the suspects). The agents don’t
have to guess the culprit, just the weapon to enter a request. Whoever
guesses correctly wins the pitch. If there are several correct guesses,
the pitch will go to the challenge round (see below for details). There
is not a cap on how many requests the agents can make this round.

Only one request per agent for each pitch during the first

Here’s the participating blogs:

The comments will be set to moderation so you won’t
see what the agents’ requests are until reveal day.

is reveal day. We’ll post all the comments and reveal the winning
agents starting at 12:01 PM EST (noon). We will @ the agents on Twitter
with the results. You can watch the game unfold on the hashtag #PitchMadness.

What happens with ties, you ask? Well, that’s where
it gets tricky!


The challenge round starts after the reveal and
if there are tying requests. We’ll announce the pitches that received
tying requests on the hashtag #PitchMadness and @ the tying agents on Twitter. The agents
will then be asked to go back to the tying entry’s post with their
competitor(s) and use one of their alibis in the comments.

The agents will have a limited amount of
“alibis” to use during the challenge round. There are several levels of
alibis (see attached Alibi Tracking Sheet). The highest level alibi
trumps the lower one and wins the request for that pitch. Each challenge
will continue until there is a winner or until all but one player
(agent) is eliminated (runs out of alibis) for that pitch. Best alibi

Agent Prizes!

Agents won’t only be competing for requests, but for gift cards, too! We
figured that it’s a lot of work playing a game, so we decided to reward
the winners as an extra incentive and bragging rights. The winning
agent, grand crime solver, ruler of the slush pile will receive a $50
gift card from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winners choice) with
two runners-up receiving $25 gift cards. Each agent will get an entry
into the drawing for the gift cards for just participating. For each
pitch the agent wins, he/she will get another entry into the drawing for
the gift cards. We decided to do a drawing since not all agents are
looking for all the categories/genres in the game and felt this would be
a fair way to handle that issue.


 Mr. Boddy (aka Secret Agent) may be dead but his spirit will be ghosting
around and making requests. 

And the Butler (aka Secret Agent) will be serving up requests on a silver tray as she tries to figure out what crookedly evil guest committed some of the most horrendous crimes. 

clue maid

Could the maid (aka Pam van Hylckama Vlieg) be secretly conniving with the murderer or could she be more sinister than she would have us believe? The suspects will have to be on their toes or she just might swipe all the requests from them.  

The suspects (agents) …

Pitch Madness Suspects Sheet

(click on image to enlarge)

The weapons …

Clue Weapons


The alibis …

Pitch Madness Clue Alibis

Here’s the Pitch Madness schedule …

  • Hosts and their teams Introduction on March 3
  • Agent Introduction on March 4
  • Rules of the Game on March 6
  • Formatting Instructions March 7
  • Submission window will be on March 10 and will be open for 24 hours
  • The first slush round will be March 11-12
  • The final round will be March 13-17
  • The top 60 picks for the agent round will go up on the blogs on
    March 18 at 12:01AM EST (NY time)
  • March 20 at 12PM EDT (Noon) the agents requests are revealed, and
    right afterward is the tying agents challenge round
  • There will be a #PitMad Twitter Pitch Party on March 25 from 8AM to
    8PM EST. Check here for rules of the Twitter Pitch

That’s it for now. Come back tomorrow for the formatting

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