Archive | March 2016

Cover Reveal: Signs of Attraction

Less than a year ago I was searching through the entries for Nest Pitch looking for pitches that I wanted on my team. I came across a New Adult entry called Silence by Laura Brown.

Carli struggles to be perfect, hiding her hearing loss and debilitating headaches. When she meets Reed, his deafness shows her imperfect can be perfect. She’ll lose his love unless she learns to accept herself.” <— The pitch that attracted me to Laura’s story.

The pitch was intriguing, and the writing even more so. I love championing New Adult, and I love championing stories that feature diversity. I’m a true believer that everyone should be able to read about main characters they can relate to, seeing themselves reflected back at them in the words that they read.

So Silence scored a spot on Team Evil Bunny. Laura didn’t score an agent from the process, but she get receive feedback from myself and fellow teammate E.L. Wicker, who provided amazing insights for Laura.

Persisting with querying and contests, Laura did score an agent less than six months after Nest Pitch (read about her journey here), and then less than two months after announcing she had an agent, Laura announced she had a publishing deal (which you can read about here).

Now, less than a year after I first saw Laura’s work, she has a cover to reveal!

Drum roll




SignsOfAttraction HiRes



Do you know what hearing loss sounds like? I do.

All my life I’ve tried to be like you. I’ve failed.

So I keep it hidden.

But on the day my world crashed down around me, Reed was there.

He showed me just how loud and vibrant silence can be, even when I struggled to understand.

He’s unlike anyone I’ve ever known. His soulful eyes and strong hands pulled me in before I knew what was happening.

And as I saw those hands sign, felt them sparking on me, I knew: imperfect could be perfect.

Reed makes me feel things I’ve never felt. It’s exciting…and terrifying.

Because he sees me like no one else has, and I’m afraid of what he’ll find if he looks too closely.

The only thing that scares me more than being with him? Letting him go.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Publisher Available for pre-order!

About the Author

web head shot squareLaura Brown lives in Massachusetts with her quirky abnormal family. Her husband’s put up with her since high school, her young son keeps her on her toes, and her three cats think they deserve more scratches. Hearing loss is a big part of who she is, from her own Hard of Hearing ears, to the characters she creates.

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THE DARKEST LIE – Excerpt Blitz‏ & Giveaway

The Darkest Lie by Pintip Dunn -

I’m so excited to take part in the Excerpt Blitz for the upcoming YA thriller, THE DARKEST LIE, written by my fellow Pitch Wars mentor, Pintip Dunn. Check out the book below, along with the teaser excerpt, and be sure to enter the giveaway!

The Darkest Lie | JenHalliganPR.comTHE DARKEST LIE
by Pintip Dunn
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Release Date: June 28, 2016

“The mother I knew would never do those things.

But maybe I never knew her after all.”

Clothes, jokes, coded messages…Cecilia Brooks and her mom shared everything. At least, CeCe thought they did. Six months ago, her mom killed herself after accusations of having sex with a student, and CeCe’s been the subject of whispers and taunts ever since. Now, at the start of her high school senior year, between dealing with her grieving, distracted father, and the social nightmare that has become her life, CeCe just wants to fly under the radar. Instead, she’s volunteering at the school’s crisis hotline—the same place her mother worked.

As she counsels troubled strangers, CeCe’s lingering suspicions about her mom’s death surface. With the help of Sam, a new student and newspaper intern, she starts to piece together fragmented clues that point to a twisted secret at the heart of her community. Soon, finding the truth isn’t just a matter of restoring her mother’s reputation, it’s about saving lives—including CeCe’s own…

Goodreads | Pre-order from Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

“This one will tug your heart and leave you breathless!”
–Natalie D. Richards, author of Six Months Later

Excerpt from THE DARKEST LIE

It’s time to view the body. Family first.

Well, technically, me first. There was always only three of us in the nuclear unit, and Dad’s been locked in the den for the past seventy-two hours. I’ve only seen him once, when he shuffled upstairs like a pajama-clad zombie and asked me if I’d eaten.

That was it: Did you eat?

Not: I prefer the cherry wood casket. Or: Let me make your grandma’s travel arrangements. Or even: I know this was Mom’s favorite dress, but isn’t the neckline a little…low?

Did I eat?

Yes, Dad. I had soup from the can and microwaved pizza rolls and a bowl of cereal. The food sloshes in my stomach now as I walk down the runner to the casket I picked out because of its mauve tint.

Calla lilies pile in urns around the viewing room, and the air-conditioning wars with the sweat along my hairline. My mom smiles at me from a portrait erected behind the casket. Her eyes are hesitant and a little wary, as if she knew, somehow, some way, she would wind up here. Lifeless. Pumped full of formaldehyde. About to be gawked at by a town full of gossips.

This was only going to end one of two ways—with Tabitha Brooks dead or in jail. I never thought I’d say this, but I’d give anything to see my mother behind bars.

I wade through the dense, chilly air and stop a few feet from the body. Behind me, my grandmother and aunt sit, a box of tissues between them, blowing their noses like it’s a sport.

“Look at our Cecilia,” Gram sniffs. “So brave. Not a single tear shed.”

If she only knew. I’m not brave. Fifteen minutes ago, I was retching into the toilet bowl. Five minutes from now, when the doors open for the visitation, I’ll be long gone, leaving Gram to shake people’s hands and deal with the bit lips, the knowing eyebrows, that inevitable speaking-in-a-funeral-parlor whisper. I can hear the titters: “Is it true? Tabitha’s heart stopped while she was boffing the high school quarterback? Why, she must’ve been twenty years his senior!”

Twenty-three years, to be exact, and a high school English teacher to boot. But she didn’t actually die during sex. Instead, a few days after Tommy Farrow came forward with their affair, my mother took her own life.

What could be a clearer admission of guilt? She might as well have been caught in the act. The investigation was shut down before it even began.

I take a shuddering breath. Two more minutes. A hundred and twenty seconds and then I can leave. I steel my shoulders and walk the final steps to my mother’s body.

Oh god. It’s even worse than I thought.

The room whirls around me, and nausea sprints up my throat. My hands shoot out to grab the casket, stopping short of actually touching the corpse.

This . . . this thing . . . can’t be my mother. She never smiled like that, all serene and peaceful-like. She never wore this much makeup; her red hair was never chopped so closely to her head. My mother was chaos and passion, devastation and joy. Dad used to say you could reach deep into her eyes and pull out a song.

Well, her eyes are closed now, and I’m not sure there’ll be any music in my life, ever again.


Pintip Dunn | JenHalliganPR.comAbout the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Pintip Dunn graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL. She also published an article in the YALE LAW JOURNAL, entitled, “How Judges Overrule: Speech Act Theory and the Doctrine of Stare Decisis,”

Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. She is a 2012 RWA Golden Heart® finalist and a 2014 double-finalist. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Washington Romance Writers, YARWA, and The Golden Network.

She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. You can learn more about Pintip and her books at

Giveaways (2!)

The Darkest Lie Blitz | Prize Pack |

One winner will receive a prize pack including the following 5 books: Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn; Six Months Later by Natalie Richards; Find Me by Romily Bernard; and From Where I Watch You by Shannon Grogan; Lies I Told by Michelle Zink

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway


The Darkest Lie by Pintip Dunn


The Darkest Lie


by Pintip Dunn


Giveaway ends March 28, 2016. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.


Enter Giveaway



Pitch Madness 2016 Mario Kart Edition … Game on!


moo moo meadows

Welcome to Team Moo Moo Meadows! It’s been a long week of reading through all the amazing pitches. Our wonderful readers have narrowed the slush, and your game hosts have chosen sixty-four pitches for the game. To meet the slush readers go to this post here. And you can find out more about the amazing agents playing the game on this post here.

thunder cloudFor those of you not familiar with Pitch Madness, it’s a contest where agents compete in a game against their peers for pitches and you can find the rules and instructions of the game here.

For this Pitch Madness game, we’re playing Mario Kart. bob-omb

mega mushroomScroll down to view all 16 picks for my blog or click on the links to each post … blooper


Middle Grade

SJ1: Me Vs The Multiverse

SJ2: Bony Legs

SJ3: A Jar Full of Butterflies

SJ4: Davy Jones, Pirate-Hater

SJ5: My Paper Route and Other Deadly Things

Young Adult

SJ6: Suits

SJ7: The Glass Sisters

SJ8: The Sky Prisoner

SJ9: Damaged Goods

SJ10: Cosplayed

SJ11: Clandestine Menagerie 

New Adult/Adult

SJ12: Lucy and the Sunshine Girl

SJ13: Final Detention

SJ14: Crisis Agent

SJ15: The Paris Twin

SJ16: Love Over Lattes

SJ17: Two


gold coinGo to all the hosts’ blogs to read more winning pitches …


Rainbow-road-n64Rainbow Road on Summer Heacock’s site




Bowsers CastleBowser’s Castle on Rebecca Coffindaffer’s site




moo moo meadowsMoo Moo Meadows on Sharon Johnston’s site



Yoshi Falls on Brenda Drake’s siteYoshi_Falls_Overview_-_Mario_Kart_Wii




Comments are set to moderation so the agents won’t see their competitors’ bids. Please no comments other than those from the agents. After the game, we’ll release the moderation and let you all comment on the entries.

donkey kongWe’ll reveal the agent requests on March 11 at 12:00PM (that’s noon) EST.

Please note: We will email submission details for all requests by the agents. After the contest, agents will make requests to us for the pitches they loved and did not win.

All the twitter fun will happen on the hashtag #PitchMadness! mario and bowser

bullet billCongratulations to those who’ve made it into the game! For those who haven’t made it (and whoever else wants to join us), we are hosting a Twitter Pitch Party on March 17 from 8AM to 8PMEST on the hashtag #PitMad.

How do you twitter pitch? You can find all the details here.



This entry was posted on March 8, 2016. 3 Comments

Pitch Madness SJ 1: Me vs. the Multiverse

Genre: MG Humourous Science Fiction

Word Count: 50,000

Pitch: The next time your evil duplicate from a parallel world steals your life, there’s an easy fix: Recruit a team of slightly less evil duplicates to fight back.


Nobody on this world could possibly know about that time you went sleepwalking and peed in your tub of Legos. But there it is in a note scrawled on the paper airplane you just found by your bedroom window:

Hi Me,

Yes, you. You’re me, and I’m you.

Don’t believe me? Here’s proof. This is stuff only we would know:

1. After peeing in our Lego container while sleepwalking when we were six, we dumped the pieces in the dishwasher. Lego Yoda’s lightsaber broke the dishwasher pump and we got in serious trouble with Mom and Dad.

2. We’ve had the Wonder Pets theme song stuck in our heads at least one day every week of our lives since we first saw the show at age four.

3. We had a crush on Jessie the cowgirl the first time we saw Toy Story II. This embarrasses us deeply. Also, we’d never fess up to anyone that the end of Toy Story III always makes us cry. So do most Pixar movies. Except maybe Planes.

Anyway, learn more about what we have in common by coming to the Janus Hotel after school today. I’ll explain more soon.

Ours sincerely,


That’s not the only weirdness going on here. This note—which you’ve never seen before in your life—is written in your handwriting. Not the “neat” writing you attempt for teachers, but the unreadable scrawl you use the rest of the time. Plus, whoever made this plane used a special fold you invented and thought nobody else knew how to do.

Pitch Madness SJ2: Bony Legs

Genre: MG Fantasy

Word Count: 42,000

Pitch: Like Baba Yaga, the legendary Russian witch, Bony Legs imprisons, perhaps eats, “unwanted” children. Lisa, exiled by her stepmother, leads the children’s escape with help from a magic doll made by her dying mother.


Beyond thrice nine lands, in the thrice tenth kingdom, beyond a river of fire, lives Baba Yaga. Aleksandr Afanas’ev from Russian Fairy Tales.

“This doll is for you,” Mom said, her voice not much more than a whisper.

I sat next to her on the bed. She’d been too sick again to get up when I came home from school. She handed me the doll she held. It was only five inches tall and had curly red hair, just like mine.

I stroked the curls. “This is real hair.” I looked at her. “It’s yours, isn’t it?” I knew she’d saved some of her hair when it started falling out from the cancer treatments. All the other dolls she made had wool or yarn for hair. Their bodies were cloth like this one, with faces stitched and painted to look almost real.

Mom nodded. “Yes, it’s my hair.”

“And her dress. It looks just like that red one of yours, with the lace at the collar.”

“I won’t wear it again.” She paused to catch her breath. “I took it apart and used some of the material to make this little one.” With delicate fingers, Mom straightened the lace on the collar and turned the doll around so I could see how the sash tied with a bow in back.

She was an artist with her dolls’ faces. This one had blue eyes like hers, and even freckles, like me and Mom. Although Mom had given me dolls before, she sold most of them.

This entry was posted on March 8, 2016. 5 Comments

Pitch Madness SJ3: A Jar Full of Butterflies

Word Count: 58,000


Moving to Texas—devastating.
Outdoing her perfect, Americanized big sister—impossible.
Holding it all together—harder than surviving middle school.
Twelve-year-old Graciela longs for the past, but a tragic accident helps her embrace her present.


I miss the open skies of Mexico. Instead, when I look out our windows I get to admire black tightrope wires that connect to tall wooden posts, tangoing with tree branches and covered with blackbirds. Even after three years here, it’s something I’ll never get used to – the feeling of a prison.

This is why I hardly ever look outside my window anymore. But today, the motor of Papí’s truck screeches, and then click, click, clicks. He’s trying to get it started so he can leave to work, but it won’t budge. This is the second time this week. Maybe it doesn’t like to wake up. Same as me. Because waking up reminds me that I’m here. In America. And there’s nothing I can do about it.

After three years here, my hope is giving out. Same as the truck. It never did this back in Mexico. The truck I mean. Even it knows better. Texas isn’t home. I climb down from the top bunk and press my forehead against the cool window. My tired eyes blink at the new sun.

Papí rests his head on the steering wheel. The truck looks glum under the shade of the driveway’s canopy. He tries to bring it to life again. Its rusty body shudders and stops.

I know exactly what he’s doing in that truck. He’s gently pumping the gas a few times, begging it to start. “Ándale, mi niña.” He’ll say in Spanish. This means, “Come on, my little girl.”

This entry was posted on March 8, 2016. 6 Comments

Pitch Madness SJ4: Davy Jones, Pirate-Hater

Genre: MG Fantasy

Word Count: 72,000

Pitch: To save his dad from a fire-breathing pirate king, a descendant of Davy Jones must make a dangerous deal with a sea goddess—the same deal that cost his ancestors their souls.


Davy Jones the Twelfth absolutely hated pirates.

Reason #1: The Question.

“Davy Jones?” his classmates—and teachers, and bus drivers, and secretary ladies—would snicker. “You’re named after that pirate? The barnacle guy—the one with all the tentacles on his face?”

It never mattered that Davy was a normal eleven-year-old boy with a normal, untentacled face. Nor that in the actual legends, “Davy Jones” wasn’t a pirate or a person at all. Within a week of Davy moving somewhere new for his father’s job, everyone at school was quite certain he had a barnacle farm in his armpit and was in love with a sea hag.

Reason #2: Talk like a Pirate Day.

Which, for anyone within a ten-mile radius of Davy Jones, was every day. A sample:

Arrrrrgggg arrrrgggg arrrrgggg aye matey arrrrgggg arrrrgggg arrrrgggg arrrrgggg scallywag arrrrgggg arrrrgggg arrrrgggg arrrrgggg shiver me timbers arrrrgggg arrrrgggg arrrrgggg arrrrgggg ye scurvy dogs arrrrgggg arrrrgggg arrrrgggg arrrrgggg yo ho yo ho arrrrgggg arrrrgggg arrrrgggg a pirate’s life fer me arrrrgggg arrrrgggg ARRRRGGGG.

That was just roll call.

Reason #3: Lockers.

Not only did Davy have one, but he was frequently stuffed inside of it. Sometimes by bullies. Sometimes by himself in order to hide from the bullies. Either way it was to the relentless amusement of everyone when Davy Jones was stuck inside of his own locker, particularly if they had stowed something smelly in there first.

Reason #4: Bucket Island, Massachusetts.

…This one will take a while to explain.

This entry was posted on March 8, 2016. 7 Comments

Pitch Madness SJ5: My Paper Route and Other Deadly Things

Genre: MG Mystery

Word Count: 40,000

Pitch: Papergirl and budding sleuth Kazuko Jones knows who the Athens Kidnapper is. When a botched rescue attempt with BFF, March, turns him into one of the taken, Kazuko must spring him free before he’s killed.


Mom still made me do the paper route even though kids in our town were disappearing.

Until yesterday just three kids had vanished in over a year, and two of them could’ve been swiped by ex parents. Even so, Athens, Idaho was too small to be misplacing children. And now CindeeRae Lemmings from my own sixth grade class was gone.

I cleared a spot in the middle of my bedroom and knelt before my free newspaper, spread like wrapping paper on the floor. Her fifth grade portrait was blown up on the front page (picture day for the new school year was still two weeks away). Her long and curly red hair fell in ringlets over her shoulders, a spatter of freckles on each of her cheeks.

Athens had three elementary schools: Lincoln, Parkway, and Centennial. We went to Lincoln. CindeeRae was the first kid to disappear from our school.

While teachers claimed not to have favorites, in two weeks CindeeRae had secured her place as Mrs. Thomas’ pet. And she wouldn’t let any of us forget about her lead performance in Annie at the Civic Auditorium that summer, which I guessed she had probably won more with her hair than her acting abilities. Had Annie been a squat little Asian girl, I totally would’ve been a shoo-in. But now I felt bad for giving her stink-eye every time she gushed about the theater.

I didn’t write any of that down in my notebook—only objective facts and deductions were documented in my aquamarine leather-bound Sleuth Chronicle.

This entry was posted on March 8, 2016. 7 Comments

Pitch Madness SJ6: Suits

Genre: YA Adventure

Word Count: 73,000

Pitch: Dominating reconnaissance training isn’t the only challenge ahead for Alice. Her austere sister wants to make her a mini-me clone, paramilitary factions hunt her, and her dreams just might be more real than she’ll admit.


I wish I had somebody to bet against, because I can just feel Foster Mama gearing up for another lecture. Her hands have been wringing her pleather purse to death for the last half hour. Twenty bucks says she’s starts in on it in the next two minutes.

“He should be here by now,” she says, looking at her watch then reestablishing her death clutch on her purse.

When we arrived at the courthouse a full hour ago, it was no surprise that my lawyer wasn’t yet here. Typical. No state-sanctioned suit is worth his salt. But now my case number is drawing nearer, and he still hasn’t shown. It’s not like he would have hit traffic. Archibold, Kansas isn’t exactly going to be gridlocked at eleven in the morning on a Tuesday.

I find myself smirking as I maintain eye contact with a floor that’s trying real hard to look like granite. The floor succeeds about as well at that as I do at appearing like somebody a judge wouldn’t throw into juvie. I’ve got a bit of black eye still from “the encounter that shall not be named” with Foster Sister thirty-three last week (apparently she didn’t like being told that see-through body-hugging leggings were the only reason Mr. Basketball likes her. But I didn’t expect her to throw a blow dryer at me. Of course, she didn’t expect me to hit back either. It’s a classic case of “you should see the other guy.”)

This entry was posted on March 8, 2016. 1 Comment

Pitch Madness SJ7: The Glass Sisters

Genre: YA Speculative Fiction

Word Count: 83,000

Pitch: When Rebecca’s charismatic reflection entices the 17-year-old wallflower into abandoning her crap life, confinement in an asylum exploiting girls with extraordinary abilities will either force Rebecca out of her shell, or break her in it.


The Girl in the Mirror

Imprisoned within the silence of the box, the girl sat alone, solitary confinement her natural state of existence. She sat on the sterile room’s floor with her legs criss-crossed, head bowed, a slip of rectangle-glass clutched neatly in the palm of her hand. The intensity of her gaze reflected back at her.

She concentrated.

Her breath a metronome, in and out, the rhythm helping her focus. Her head hurt—pressure squeezing in from her temples making her eyes water—but it always did right before she made the connection. Then, when the connection went live, sweet release as swift and forgiving as plucking a splinter the size of a railroad spike from the center of her brain.

The glass she held no longer just a glass, but a window. Her reflection no longer her own. What was displayed in the glass was her face, but it was not her. It was a her that could have been, a her that may yet be.

Still, the girl hated what she saw all the same.

Oh, how the other her looked so content, so safe. So smug. She glared into the mirror studiously, trying to replicate the other girl’s half-hearted smile, but it felt crooked on her own face, as out of place as she herself was.

She watched the other her intently, and when she could take no more, when the pain of watching became too great, she severed the connection.

This entry was posted on March 8, 2016. 2 Comments