Archive | March 2015

Pitch Madness: SJ1 – THE DRAGON’S PEARL

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy

Word Count: 98,000

Pitch: In anti-magic South Korea, fifteen-year-old chess prodigy Misha must hunt the dragon she shares a psychic connection with. But as the bodies pile up, she learns the worst monsters can look the most human.

Excerpt: On principle, Misha only played against demons. Today’s challenger was Mr. Hong, who hunched over the baduk board in the upstairs lounge, smoke rising from his shoulders like a smoldering hearth. Misha opened the frosted window behind her by a crack. She hadn’t played against Mr. Hong since she was ten, but she recalled how overheated their matches could get.

After a long minute, Mr. Hong took a swig of the humanifier. Thick golden liquid dribbled down his chin. He wiped his mouth as his slit pupils rounded, the cerulean fur along his jawline rescinded, and the unbearable heat cooled to room temperature.

With great reluctance he set his stone on the board.

Misha slammed hers. “Next.”

“Show-off,” he muttered.

He fumbled his counterstrike. She cut off his groups. He hurried to back up his stranded troops, but she slammed another black stone, then another, merrily luring him away from his territory, as the match spiraled into something like speed chess.

“Haven’t seen you here in ages,” he said. “Your bodyguards waiting outside the pawnshop?”

“Mmrgh.”

His nose twitched. “They’re with you, right?”

“They’re outside.” She had to be word-stingy with Mr. Hong. The man was a living lie-detector.

“Did your mom give you permission to come here?”

A twinge pricked her chest. Misha covered it up with a winning smile. “So how exactly does your ability work? Can you hear the truth behind the words? Do you smell the false intent? What if someone’s lying when they don’t even realize it?”

 

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Pitch Madness: SJ2 – JELLO JAMIESON AND THE SISTER RECYCLING MACHINE

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Word Count: 23,000

Pitch: When aspiring inventor Jello receives a magical gift, he builds a machine to transform his horrible sister. But the plan backfires. His recycled sister is worse than the original. And she’s bent on revenge…

Excerpt: “Happy birthday, Jello.” Grace’s morning breath blows warm and stale over my face.

I squeeze my eyes tight, pretending to sleep. Being called Jello doesn’t get you any cool points in middle school. Grace came up with the nickname when I was a baby. She said my chubby cheeks jiggled like Jello. Our parents thought it was cute, so it stuck like wet toilet paper to my shoe.

“Wake up, Turd Puddle.”

I open my eyes. A slimy string of spit wiggles over my face. It drops an inch and quivers before Grace slurps it up and swallows.

“Leave me alone.” I scramble to the far side of my bed.

“Just making sure my little brother’s eleventh birthday’s super memorable.” Her braces glint like sharp knives in the morning light. “And I’ve got something pretty epic planned for you today.”

“Great. You’re moving in with Dad, then?”

Her mouth snaps shut. “Believe me, I would if I could.” She grabs the doorknob. It’s moments like these I wish my Doorknob Shocker invention worked.

“Better get dressed or you’ll miss out on Hee Haw’s special birthday breakfast.” She smirks and slams the door.

I flop back in bed. Maybe, if I’m lucky, my grandmother’s cooking will kill me before Grace gets the chance to do it herself.

At the bottom of the stairs a revolting aroma attacks my nostrils. Hee Haw’s hunched over the sink draining a chunky gray liquid into a jug. Tied above her plump belly is a frilly apron.

 

 


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Pitch Madness: SJ3 – I WANT TO BE FREE

Genre: Adult Science Fiction

Word Count: 72,000

Pitch: When aliens and government agents interrupt the solitude of Maggie’s mountaintop farm, she rolls up a joint, grabs her shotgun Betsy, and shows them how cranky an old Appalachian broad can get.

Excerpt: It was too damn early to kill a man. I didn’t even get one drink of my coffee before I saw him on the security camera monitor, traipsing right into my pot patch. Got me so irate I spilled half my coffee down the front of my nightgown. I figured there was time to change into dry clothes, until I saw him bend over and finger one of my plants like a jock does his girlfriend on Homecoming night.

This was no neighbor, either: black suit, trench coat, looking like a 1920s mobster except for the shiny, bald head. Since this bastard walked right past my “No Trespassing” signs and advertised himself as a candidate for assisted suicide, I pulled on my boots, grabbed ole Betsy and headed for the door.

I jogged through my yard and down the hill, slowing to a walk as I neared the woods. The sound of my dogs barking inside the house became fainter. In fact, everything got quiet. My ex taught me how to sneak up on prey without being heard. Of course, the lessons involved me being the prey and him the hunter. I didn’t like those lessons much. Lucky for me, today’s prey didn’t hear me coming.

I didn’t waste time. I got a good aim at his leg (’cause, like I said, it was too early in the morning to kill a man), flipped the hammer back and took the shot.

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Pitch Madness: SJ4 – ASHES ON BRADY STREET

Genre: New Adult Historical Fiction

Word Count: 86,000

Pitch: Lacey Anne McDougal, defying her Klansman father, sneaks across tracks separating the city’s colors to hear jazz music. There, she falls in love with a pianist—but there’s just one problem: he’s colored.

Excerpt: Lacey Anne McDougal was sure this was a bad idea. She stood by the tracks that separated Tulsa, Oklahoma, staring open-mouthed at a lopsided sign that read: *Let not the sun go down on a Negro’s back, lest he be dead*. A noose hung around a dummy’s neck, tied to the pole above it. *Yes, most definitely a bad idea*, she thought, her palms slick with the idea of what she was about to do.

The sign was not a threat—it was a promise.

The bustling city did nothing to calm her nerves like it usually did. Cars zipped by as young adults waved and shouted from the windows. People laughed and children played marbles on the sidewalks. Smoke rose from chimneys, belching hazy waste skyward. White-gloved women strolled through the city, gossiping and pointing at every person trimming plants in front of the marketplace. Ever since Lacey was a child, she knew not to go to the other side of town—it was beat into her by her Klansman father. Today, however, she was breaking that rule.

“Miss?”

Lacey turned around slowly.

“I am sorry, Miss, but you shouldn’t be out here… you know, this far from Main,” a deep voice informed her. “And don’t worry about the dummy. It isn’t going to hurt anybody… it’s from that film, you know?”

Her eyebrows shot up.

“What film?”

“Why, *The Birth of a Nation*, ma’am. What are you doing out here alone?”

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Pitch Madness: SJ5 – BLOOD AND BONES

Genre: Young Adult ThrillerWord Count: 75,000

Pitch: Surgery erased her terminally diseased brain tumor, but Skye must find out why she was left with the memories, and voice, of a serial killer in her head.

Excerpt: It was an obscenely hot summer morning when I was sentenced to die.

After endless months of paralyzing headaches, occasional memory loss, and countless doctors prescribing useless migraine prescriptions, I was certain I was at the conclusion of my life’s story. My father, who wasn’t ready to read my final chapter just yet, took me to see a renowned neurosurgeon at Saint Stephen’s Hospital. A few moments through the pulsating tunnel of a M.R.I. illuminated what he was in search of and allowed him to diagnose my troubles with two little words:

Brain tumor.

My father’s horror-stricken face mirrored my own internal struggle with the news. My selfish, younger sister snatched a box of cheap tissues from the doctor’s desk and dabbed away the crocodile tears that streaked her flawlessly made-up face. I tried to remember how to breathe when I looked into the patient face of the man who claimed he could rescue me.

And somewhere far away from where I sat, I pictured my mother smiling at the imaginary butterflies that often flitted around her wild red hair within the mental facility she had been living for nearly two years.

In spite of everyone’s dread about my test results, Dr. Taylor had other ideas about my future.

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Pitch Madness: SJ6 – BLEED THROUGH

Genre: Adult Psychological Suspense

Word Count: 70,000

Pitch: After witnessing a murder, schizophrenic Liam must distinguish between reality and the creations of his mind before he loses the life he’s fought so hard to recover.

Excerpt: Liam drew aside pink ruffly curtains and peered across the street. A quick glance at the owl alarm clock confirmed the time: 3:00 PM.

Right on schedule, Mrs. Channer emerged in her Monday outfit, a white tennis skirt and matching tank that revealed skin flaccid with age. She strolled toward her letterbox and retrieved the day’s mail, shuffling it through her hands like a deck of playing cards. Feigning nonchalance, Mrs. Channer shaded her eyes against the intense afternoon sun and turned toward Liam and scanned his house. She knew he was watching.

Liam eased the curtains closed and shrank to the floor. The unwritten rules of engagement between Mrs. Channer and him required discreet surveillance and he wouldn’t be the first to break protocol.

Even between enemies, it’s best to avoid awkward situations.

He lifted up a small mirror and watched Mrs. Channer’s reflection retreat indoors. A stubborn old bitty, she insisted on living nearby despite the fact that he’d killed her one hundred times.

Problem was, the pesky woman kept replicating. Protecting his family from her wasn’t an easy job, but Liam didn’t mind hard work; neither did Joshua.

“You’re gonna have to kill her again,” Joshua said, sprawling across Tasha’s bed, his uniform of black jeans and leather jacket a shadow against the pink comforter. Shreds of afternoon light filtered through the curtains and settled on his pockmarked face. He yawned and laced his hands behind his head.

Liam was never that relaxed.

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Pitch Madness: SJ7 – BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE AND OTHER DRAMATIC DISASTERS

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Word Count: 41,000

Pitch: Sixth-grader Mary-Catherine fails at everything…until she’s chosen to direct the school play. Balancing boys, besties, and bake sales is hard enough, but with a nemesis set on dramatic sabotage, how will MC save the show?

Excerpt: Starting middle school on crutches had been about as bad as it sounds. While I was hobbling around trying to find all my classes after an “unfortunate accident” during field hockey tryouts, everyone else found all their friends and where they fit in. By the time I was back on my own two feet, I was pretty much invisible (except to Angie, who’d been my BFF since, well, forever). And it’s not like I hadn’t been trying things. For four months I had been trying things. I just hadn’t found the right thing. But today, that would finally change. I could feel it.

I took another look at the picture of the expertly frosted Best Chocolate Cake our home ec teacher, Mrs. Collins, had projected on the screen in the front of the classroom, and my mouth watered.

*Baking is the perfect answer to my New Year’s resolution to find something I’m good at. I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate cake? People are going to ask me to bake them things all the time! Maybe I can even get extra credit for it. I’ll have to find out what our history teacher likes before midterms…*

I read through the instructions one more time: grease and flour the pan, mix everything in a bowl, and pour the batter into the pan to bake. *This is going to be awesome.*

“Do you want to grease the pan, or should I?” I asked my partner, Kate Nichols, who was the second worst person in the room Mrs. Collins could have paired me with.

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