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#SonOfAPitch #TeamDiscord Entry 4: Fearless

Title: Fearless

Category and Genre: YA Contemporary

Word Count: 83,000 words

 Query:

Seventeen-year-old Annie Armani’s life has been a whirlwind since she won her first mixed martial arts title by knocking her opponent out in a single punch. Everyone now wants a chance to beat her for the title and prove what Annie has feared all along: that her victory was a fluke.

With her next title match upcoming, Annie finds herself the star of a half-documentary, half-reality show chronicling her journey. Annie struggles to comprehend the hoopla surrounding her title fight and instead of embracing her newfound celebrity status, she hides. While she may be a fighter in the ring, she’s mentally closing herself off to the people around her, including Jake Duff, her new trainer. Scarred from her father’s disappearance, disappointed with her mother’s attachment to a jailbird boyfriend, and unaware of her half-sister’s desire for her attention, Annie avoids any discussion about her family while TV producers and interviewers attempt to wrangle a sob-story out of her. The producers, however, aren’t looking for confessions regarding her self-identified “daddy issues” or her trouble fitting in at her uppity private school. They want her to shed light on her older brother’s recent death—who was also an MMA fighter, and Annie’s idol. 

 

First 250 Words:

As I walked into the convenience store, I immediately recognized the fight showing on the old TV hitched up in the corner. I pulled the hood of my sweatshirt over my head, my hands stuffed in the two pockets. I cursed the fact that the words “Donovan’s Fight Club” adorned the back of the sweatshirt in big letters. I grabbed the milk I had come in for and scooped up a bag of Skittles for Margie. I walked up to the counter, pulling out a wad of bills from my back pocket. The attendant’s eyes were glued to the TV. The fight reflected in eyes as I put my items on the counter.

            “Gimme one sec, okay?” he said, his eyes staying on the fight. “This girl’s gonna throw a punch like nothin’ I ever seen before.” He paused to chuckle, still watching, tossing chips into his mouth. “She’s gonna be the next big MMA star.  I don’t even know what MMA means, but they say she’ll never lose a fight.”

            “MMA—it stands for Mixed Martial Arts.”  I swallowed.  “Look, I have somewhere to be.  Besides, isn’t this fight old news?”

               “Old news? They show it over and over, and every time, I have to stop and watch. It’s—what do the kids these days say?—it’s gone viral. The girl’s local, too. Her first real fight, and she won like it was nothin’.”

            Following the clerk’s gaze, I looked over just in time to see the knock-out punch. 

#SonOfAPitch #TeamDiscord Entry 3: Hunting Legends

Title: Hunting Legends

Category and Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Word Count: 78,000

Query:

Humans won the war between monsters and men. Now the supernatural world faces extinction.

Sixteen-year-old Azrielle Grave is a cockatrice with a lethal gaze and the ability to shift into human form. Undercover in war-torn New York, she must infiltrate and sabotage an elite squad of teenage monster hunters. If she is discovered, she’s dead.

Seventeen-year-old Raid Ameen knows firsthand that winning the war didn’t make mankind safe. A weapons expert and captain of his school’s monster hunting squad, he is a master at stalking the things that go bump in the night. But then the new girl arrives. Distracted from his trigger happy-life, he has no idea he’s falling hard for the girl of his nightmares.

Azrielle’s directive is to stop the rising body count—not flirt with the enemy. But when her pretend relationship with Captain Raid turns into something real, it not only puts her cover in jeopardy but also her objective. If she fails to finish her task, she’ll be marked a traitor to her kind, a crime punishable by execution. Unless Raid figures out her secret first, then he’ll be the one hunting her down. Azrielle must complete her mission before everything falls apart and leave no evidence or witnesses behind, even if putting a bullet in the captain’s heart shatters her own.

 

First 250 Words:

Fastest way to a guy’s heart is a bullet between the third and fourth rib. Knife works too, though it’s slower, messier, and requires close range. But I don’t need either.

No one beats me in a staring contest. Ever.

Classmates snicker at my dark, mirrored sunglasses as I navigate the loud, crowded hallway. I’m well aware of how stupid I look wearing them inside. These ignorant humans ought to be grateful. My fashion faux pas is the sole thing keeping them alive in my presence. Not that they realize, of course. That’s the point of being undercover.

A boy with a student council signa on his sleeve waves me over, probably assigned to welcome me. He leans against a massive stone archway scarred by faded scorch marks, dull claw scratches mar the polished floor near his feet. Iron bars reinforce the glass doors next to him that lead out the side to the grounds. Every window is barricaded the same way, but it’s not a jail, it’s to protect the students from Legends. Like me.

I look human, but I’m not. I’m a Legend, a monster. Cockatrice blood runs in my veins.

Mr. Student Council holds out a hand to me. “You’re new, sophomore, right?”

I shake it and nod. His strong, woodsy cologne wrinkles my supernaturally sensitive nose, it’s hard not to hold my breath.

“Welcome to Darton Academy. Don’t touch the perimeter fence; sometimes it’s hot. I’m happy to give you a tour, help you find your classes.”

#SonOfAPitch #TeamDiscord Entry 2: Biting Secrets

Title: BITING SECRETS

Category & Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Word Count: 76,000

 Query:

    After experiencing a shark attack, Abigail Winters–an icy sixteen-year-old surfer–feels betrayed by the sea. Plagued by nightmares and walking blackouts, she now links her beloved ocean with a monster. Even her playful best friend Lucas can’t convince Abigail to return to the place she once called home. Fear is her new friend.

      Abigail further questions her sanity when, during her amnesic episodes, she repeatedly regains consciousness at a stranger’s front door. But, drawn to Sebastian by a telepathic connection, she discovers he’s no stranger to her at all. In fact, he’s the shark that bit her, yet she’s falling for him. Thrust into his supernatural world–where sharks are mermaids with a thirst for human prey–Abigail loses sight of her fearless independence. Hopeful to restore her confidence, she returns to the comfort of the ocean, only to trap herself in shark-infested waters. Abigail defies statistics when she’s attacked for the second time by the real predators of the sea: Sebastian’s clan. To make matters worse, she discovers Lucas is a ghost, hunting mermaids like Sebastian to extinction. 

    Now, Abigail’s torn between two sworn enemies. To protect the girl they both love, Sebastian and Lucas resist spilling blood and join forces. But, refusing to rely on men for survival, Abigail must acquire her own weapons to face her fear of the sea. Because the clan will stop at nothing to avoid exposure–and as soon as she learned their secret, she became their most desirable prey.

 

First 250 Words:

    It happened the day the world went dark. Meteorologists still have no explanation. Experts blamed the lining of the planets–others proposed NASA blocked the moon with some experimental exposition. In my opinion, the Earth stopped rotating that day. At least, it did for me. 

    I’m scrubbing my surfboard for the third time tonight, attempting to remove the stains of that day from my mind. It’s almost been a year, but I can’t escape the darkness. Now gleaming, my board reaches at me with hopeful operation, but I won’t bend to its will. Not now, not ever again.

    “Abigail,” his voice calls over the two-way radio. 

    I scrub harder, stripping it of the lies, its betrayal, of its vivid bloody warranty. 

    “Abigail, it’s going to disintegrate.”

    I glance over my shoulder, sighing. Lucas leans against his balcony, smirking at me. His wild ringlets are sculpted to the base of his head, indicating fatigue. 

    I groan and grab my radio. “What do you want, Lucas?” 

    “You can’t scare me away, ice queen. It’s a full moon.”

    I curse under my breath, standing to face him. Lucas and I have been toying with walkie-talkies since we were ten years old. We only live a few feet from each other, our balconies peering over the water at proportionate levels. On a serene night, our voices even stretch within reach. But tonight, the waves crash with ferocious intentions, snapping and snarling in an undulating captivity.

 

#SonOfAPitch #TeamDiscord Entry 1: Accounting for it All

Title: Accounting for it All

Category and Genre: Adult, Romantic Suspense

Word count: 89,000

 Query:

When porn-star-turned-accountant Robin Whethers becomes the target of an IRS audit, she figures things can’t get any worse. She’s unwittingly been at the center of a vast money laundering scheme, and to top it off, she has no real accounting knowledge.

Still, somehow the audit is the least of her problems.

Hanging over her is the impending death of her terminally ill mother to whom Robin is estranged. Then there’s the accounting instructor she enlists to help her survive the audit: against her better judgement, she can’t manage to contain her blossoming feelings for him.

Oh, and the woman Robin considers to be the love of her life? She’s back in town, finally ready to try to make things work.

Robin may think she can confront her greatest challenge by learning to juggle numbers, but if she’s to ever be whole, she’ll have to learn how to juggle much more than that… before she winds up in jail, her mother passes without the two of them reconciling their differences, and the woman she loves disappears from her life once more.

First 250 Words:

Thursdays are my favorite days at Pornucopia.

For starters, it’s payday. Seconds, it’s in-house filming day, which means I finally get to work as a talent consultant.

It really is the simplest of things that make Thursdays the best of days, and there isn’t anything more predictable than the Thursday morning safe-looting operation.

I keep quiet and enter the back office—my office, technically—and plop to my knees at the base of the filing cabinet. The bottom drawer slides out with a terrible squeak—Jerry still hasn’t lubed it up with that WD40 like he promised—and I remove the tiny safe from it, turning it over in my hands.

As the combination flows from my fingertips, I imagine the conversation I’ll have with Jerry once I empty the safe and round the corner from my own office and into his.

“Hey, Jer?” I’ll say.

“Yeah, Robin?”

“Only got a few thousand in the safe this week. Still want me to—?”

He’ll throw his hands up, looking all exasperated. “Always. Go. To. The. Bank. Every Thursday. No matter how much or how little is in there. Always. Go. To. The. Bank.”

I’ll repeat “always go to the bank” with him as he says it for the second time. “Right. How could I forget?”

“Never forget.” 

Back in the real world where I’m kneeling in my office, the safe beeps open and I get to counting the fat stack of cash inside. If Jerry’s makeshift receipt can be believed, we’re a tick under sixty-two hundred bucks. 

SON OF A PITCH IS BACK! Welcome to Team Discord!

It’s one of my favorite times of year! #SonOfAPitch time!

The theme this  year is MY LITTLE PONY. I, of course, went with the pony just like me, DISCORD: a sower of chaos, who is slowly learning to mend his ways.

If you don’t know what Son of a Pitch is, it’s a writing competition for those with finished, polished, full-length manuscripts. You submit your query and first 250 words, and then get detailed critiques from professional author judges, as well as from peers! It’s a great way to polish your query and first page, learn lots about writing, and meet cool people in the writing community. Not only that, but you’ll get a chance to get your book in front of some great publishers and get requests! You can read up on the details here.

We already have some really great success stories. You could be the next one! Even if you don’t get requests directly from the contest, a lot of our contestants go on to get deals afterward, because they get such good critique in the contest, and make other author friends that become critique partners. As long as you have an unpublished, finished, polished manuscript (most genres are accepted!), and you aren’t agented, there’s really no excuse! Get those entries in and join the fun! THE ENTRY WINDOW IS NOW OPEN. Instructions here. 

As some of you know, I’m a judge in the contest. I really enjoy reading people’s stories, getting to know them, and celebrating their successes with them later.  Those of you who don’t know me, you can read my wish list and publication story (at least, in a nutshell, because it’s a pretty wild one in its full length), and about the other judges, here.

As you can see from my wish list, I like pretty much all the books. I have experience writing pretty much all the books, too—I can’t decide on a genre, because I like them all so much. The novels I have published now are a mix of YA and adult, fantasy and reality, and I have eleven completed books on my backlist, which I’m in the process of editing or trying to find homes for. Those range in genre from YA contemporary fantasy, to adult romantic comedy.

I’ve also gotten a series of short horror stories contracted with the 13 horror anthologies put out by Limitless Publishing. The first of those, “Under Mama’s Roof”, is already out in 13: Deja Vu. The preorder link for the anthology with Part II (“Into Mama’s Lair”) went live today!

The one thing most of my books have in common is they deal with mental illness, addiction, homelessness, and abuse. They also have a lot of LGBTQIA characters. They’re own voices books: I’m neurodiverse in a lot of wacky ways (I’m autistic, bipolar, and have PTSD), and I’m bisexual. These experiences inspire a lot of stories, and writing them is quite literally what keeps me alive sometimes.

What little money I make from selling these books is also part of what keeps me alive, so if you have spot on your reading list, you should check my books out and see if anything catches your fancy.

Part of the reason I judge in writing competitions (besides the fact that I just love to read all the stories) is because I know how important writing is, and how much those stories can mean, not only to their authors, but to readers. It’s a pretty great thing, to be able to be present while other writers are telling their stories, and to help them along in any way I can.

So get those entries in! I’d love to have you on #TeamDiscord, no matter what your genre.

Author Event!

Don’t miss an event with your local authors! I will join Marilee Brothers and Colton Redfeldt in speaking about our experiences writing and publishing books!

We all have a book in us. Come find out what it takes to write it!

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 AT 1:00 P.M.

106 S. SECOND STREET, SELAH, WASHINGTON

*COVER REVEAL* for SYNCHRONICITY

It’s less than a month now before the final book in The Other Place Series is released. Synchronicity comes out May 2!

The Other Place Series was really fun to write. Well, maybe “fun” isn’t quite the right word. The stories in the series are, in my opinion, great stories. But they go deeper than that for me.

The Other Place Series starts out with The Hustle, which is a tale of Liria, a young woman battling addiction, homelessness, and abuse. She’s trying to find her place in a world that seems set up to exclude and take advantage of her. It’s often described by readers as “a rollercoaster”. That’s a good description, because that’s what it feels like to deal with those issues.

When I was younger, I was dealing with physical, sexual, and emotional abuse as well as the onset of psychosis. I was addicted to heroin, and went through periods of effective homelessness, as well as incarceration.  Writing The Hustle was a way for me to process those experiences in a way I never had before. It was hard, but it was also a great experience.

The next book in the series, The Other Place, follows Justin, a talented young artist with schizophrenia, as he struggles to find his own place in the world.

Writing The Other Place was my attempt to deal with my deep fear of my own psychosis. When I was younger, I thought I was schizophrenic. It terrified me that I might be. I couldn’t think of anything worse than to be trapped in the horrors of your own mind, caught in a constant, living nightmare. I didn’t tell anyone about my psychosis for decades, and (as I said) self-medicated it with heroin and other things.

My psychotic episodes ended up being infrequent. It turns out I actually am bipolar and have PTSD, not schizophrenia. In writing The Other Place, though, I was exploring that part of myself that I was so afraid of…and discovering that I wasn’t afraid of it anymore. There’s nothing wrong with me, or with anyone with psychosis. It’s not a living nightmare at all, though it can be tough to deal with some symptoms at times.

In writing The Other Place, I also ended up in a close relationship with the man who is now my fiancé, who himself is schizophrenic. When I began hanging out with him, I recognized a lot of my own behaviors in him, and I identified with the way he was treated by society—getting harassed, threatened, physically abused, and kicked out of places when he wasn’t doing anything wrong at all. I started to see myself and my place in society more clearly, and realized that a lot of behaviors I’d been blaming myself for and trying to change, were not things I could or even wanted to change. They were things other people wanted to change about me, because they saw me as abnormal and even dangerous. All those years, I’d been beating up on myself for other people’s prejudice.

Society’s prejudice against people with neurodiversity—the idea that we’re violent, scary, hopeless, helpless, and lacking any kind of beauty or inner life— is so deep-seated that people don’t recognize it as prejudice. Not even I saw it for what it is.

The Other Place Series is an insider’s perspective on how it feels to be an outcast. It shows the prejudice and mistreatment people like me face on a daily basis. Not only was this series a growth experience for me personally, I think it could change the way others think of people with mental health issues.

Besides all that, they’re just good stories. In my opinion, they’d be good stories even if they didn’t deal with addiction or mental health issues at all. After all, people with mental health issues are just people, with their own stories to tell that have nothing at all to do with their diagnoses and addictions.

The last book Synchronicity, is the story of Liria and Justin trying to make a life together, despite all the forces trying to tear them apart. I’m really proud of this book, and I hope you all love it as much as I do.

Are you ready to see the cover? Okay…