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Son of a Pitch: How I Made My Decision

soap-FINALWell, I’ve finally made my choices in this contest. It was NOT easy.

First, I made a list of all the entries that had intriguing concepts and great writing. That narrowed it down to 52.

Then I chose the ones that really spoke to me on a personal level. That narrowed it down to 17.

From there, I parsed out the entries that I believed were most ready to query, and that brought my list down to nine.

I closely examined the queries and 250s of those nine, thought about it really hard, and chose that five that, right now, at this moment, I’d be most likely to pick up to read and not be able to put down. I know this doesn’t make it easier for anyone, but if I were asked to vote next month, I’d probably choose different entries because my mood would be different.

Image result for ursula gifsThese are the ones I chose:

SWORD & SHIELD

THE FALL OF TROY

TRANS LIBERTY RIOT BRIGADE

CUCKOO’S CRADLESONG

DEAD AND BURIED

Congratulations to those authors, and to you all, because you’re ALL doing great work.

Son of a Pitch Team Ursula Entry 10: THE DOLL TRAIN

soap-FINALTitle: THE DOLL TRAIN 

Category and Genre: Contemp YA 
Word Count: 60,000

Query:

Despite his dark skin color, high school junior Marc Amazi just wants to blend in. It’s been years since an accident, one he caused, killed his younger cousin. And the hushed voices and judgmental stares have yet to go away. He just needs to make it to graduation and then he’ll be on the next train out of town. That is, until he befriends Anna Mason. Arguably the most stunning creature in the universe. Captain of the varsity basketball team. And the only one who doesn’t fault him for his past.

 Marc’s almost out of the dreaded friend zone. Almost. But then Oct. 17 happens. Anna shows up at Marc’s house disoriented and confused, only to die in his arms. Immediately Marc is targeted as a suspect. And when her death is ruled an overdose and pills are found planted at the scene, he’s the one who goes down for delivering the narcotics that killed Anna.

 As the justice system brands Marc by the color of his skin, the town doesn’t just label him a friend in mourning. They label him a murderer. A social media group is created to attack Marc. He’s all but ready to give up and join Anna on a journey to the stars. But in the midst of Marc’s trial, Anna’s younger sister goes missing. Marc might have a real shot at finding her, but to do so he will have to battle the demons of Anna’s death and a childhood trauma he thought he buried long ago.

 
First 250 Words:

Oct. 17

The night Anna died

My mother was full of bullshit from the minute she exploded into this world until she abruptly left. She built her life on absurd lies and silly fantasies. She used to say love, not oxygenated blood, is what fueled her heart. That this love was strong enough to drive her to the other end of the world and back.

 It used to sound nice, but I never understand what it all meant. But I’m older now. I’ve put enough time into AP biology to know that she believed in fairy tales too good to be true. It’s not possible to give one person every beat of your heart, every drop of your blood, every joule of energy. To attempt something so foolish as that is suicide.

Yet, for Anna, I’d do anything.

Come back to me, I silently plead. Come back.

Her body is stretched out on the gravel pavement. I attempt to pull her up from the ground. Shake her until she wakes up or until I find a way to give her my heart. But all 5 feet and 9 inches of her is dead weight. She slips back to the ground, her arms and legs nothing but gelatin.

Only seconds ago she was seizing. Her body possessed, dancing in shapes I never knew existed. My head collapses onto her chest, searching desperately for a heartbeat. And then I hear it. Erratic and panicked throbs ricochet between us. But she is still.

Son of a Pitch Team Ursula Entry 9: KISS OF DEATH

soap-FINALTitle: Kiss of Death

Age and Genre: YA Speculative Fiction

Word Count: 53,000

 

Query:

Sixteen-year-old skeptical, Nathaniel, doesn’t want to believe the haunted tales told about his hometown of Shadowlyn. Believing the myths and fables about Lilith stealing your soul are nothing but juvenile stories, until his best friend, Claire, has her soul stolen by Lilith the night before Halloween. While the townspeople remain clueless, Nathaniel takes it upon himself to find Claire and bring her back to the world of the living despite his parent’s warnings. But Lilith has other plans for her—ones that include Claire taking her place as the Ruler of Lost Souls while she enjoys a life that was once taken away from her.

 

If he can’t find a way to bring Claire back before the last stroke of the clock on Day of the Dead, she will remain stuck in the land where those who can’t move on reside. Worse, the only way for her to come back is for her to either kiss Lilith, or a new innocent soul, condemning them to death like she had to endure.

First 250 Words:

The smell of death hangs in the air.

Almost like a cemetery filled with decaying bodies all around.

The atmosphere is stale, the unpleasant stench is nothing new. In the town of Shadowlyn, you become accustom to it. It is, after all, known as the town of Death.

Scrunching my nose at the odor, I continue to wait for my best friend, Claire, outside my house. From the corner of my eye, I can see my mom throwing holy water on the house and saying a prayer under her breath.

“Mom, is all this really necessary?”

She finishes her prayer and turns to me. “Of course it is. Tomorrow is Halloween, and you know what that means. The dead are walking among us, Nathaniel. And you know who will be out and about tonight.”

I roll my eyes at her belief in the silly myths that surround this town. “Mom, Lilith is not going to be out tonight. The idea of a young woman going around and stealing souls through kisses is ridiculous.”

“We do not speak her name. You know this.”

“You’re being silly.” I smile, ready to test her patience. Before I can say anything else that might freak her out, I see Claire in the distance. Her long dark hair bounces with each step she takes.

“Gotta go mom,” I say stepping towards the gate.

She tugs on my hood, pulling me back to her.

Son of a Pitch Team Ursula Entry 8: QUEEN FOR ALL SEASONS

soap-FINALTitle: QUEEN FOR ALL SEASONS  

Category and Genre: YA/NA 

Word Count: 76,000


Query: 

After insulting her older sister’s suitors at a banquet, High Princess Tarakanova’s father decrees that she must marry the first beggar who comes to the door. High spirited and haughty, she refuses to apologize, and finds herself married, against her will, to Atrejo, a lowborn musician. Although she insists it’s a mistake, their clandestine marriage is binding and she must journey with him across the distant mountains to his village in the far away kingdom of Epicha.

When Tarakanova learns that the village is near the palace of one of her father’s allies, she formulates a plan to have Atrejo hung for kidnapping her. While serving as a palace kitchen maid she is recognized by her older sister, who is the king’s honored guest. The new queenly qualities Tarakanova developed are tested as she must decide whether to rid herself of Atrejo in order to be restored to her former high status. Can she condemn an innocent man to death in order to get her life back?

 First 250 Words:

Like countless young women, Tarakanova used to dream of her perfect wedding day. It would take place in late spring when flowers were plentiful and the roads leading to the imperial city of Tarsecor were easiest to travel. The exquisite bridal gown would take months to be custom-made by the best dressmakers in the land. The guest list would include the highest noble families and luminaries of the seven kingdoms. The ceremony would be short, but the feasting and revelries that followed would continue for days with fireworks, music, and dancing into the wee hours of morning.

Her father’s subjects would commemorate by waving flags and cheering as she and her groom – no doubt the most eligible and handsome of princes, rode through the streets in an open carriage surrounded by dozens of uniformed guards. The dazzling sight would be spoken of for years to come and if she were truly fortunate, it would eclipse the wedding of High Princess Kilmeny, her older sister.

Tarakanova spent little time fantasizing about her future life-long companion. What need was there when her father would choose only the finest candidate with the best pedigree, impressive qualifications, and excellent prospects to be her spouse?

In reality, though her marriage had taken place in spring and while the ceremony was astonishingly short, alas, there was no finely-worked gown of silk or white veil in Tarakanova’s silver hair. Nor had High Princess Tarakanova envisioned a husband anything like the one she now found herself in possession of; coarse and lowborn.

Son of a Pitch Team Ursula Entry 7: THE MORTAL COIL – REVELATION

soap-FINALTitle: The Mortal Coil – Revelation

Age and Genre: YA Paranormal

Word Count: 73,000

 

Query:

Seventeen-year-old Aiden Milligan never knew “normal” – not since the night his family fell apart. Staring down a detective and an angel at the same time, he realizes how not-normal life has become.

 Drifting through an uncaring foster system gave Aiden Milligan tough choices, and he often made the wrong ones. When his exceptional grades open the door to the distinguished Covington Academy, Aiden sees a way out of his hellhole and doesn’t look back – until his past catches up. Members of the basketball team end up comatose a day after an altercation with Aiden, and he finds himself a detective’s prime suspect.

 Aiden is determined to clear his name, even if it means teaming up with fellow student Jessie Rivas, a wannabe journalist whose theories are as outlandish as her wardrobe. When comas start plaguing the city, and bizarre symbols are found at the scene of the incidents, Jessie’s occult conspiracies start sounding more plausible than the police reports.

As Aiden begins to receive visions that tie him and the incidents to something larger, he realizes he may be more involved with the case than he thought. With police ready to lock him up, an angel cutting down anything in her way, and the incidents showing no signs of stopping, Aiden may not be able to save the victims or his reputation – or even his life.

 First 250 Words:

Aiden Milligan was no stranger to the hot seat at Covington Academy. It wouldn’t shock him to see his name plate on it one day soon. He usually gave his best efforts to remaining as detached from most people as possible. Despite this stance, or perhaps because of it, he’d become well-acquainted with Covington Academy’s principal during the two years he’d attended – in all the worst ways. Most of the students and faculty just avoided him like the plague, but not Principal Hadley. In his seventeen years, Aiden had never met anyone else who could match his own bull-headed resolve. The man was bound and determined to churn out the model youths and future world changers for which Covington Academy was renowned.

Aiden begrudgingly admired that on some level. He’d appreciate it more if it weren’t being directed at him.

“Well, Aiden, thank you for coming,” Hadley said as he dropped into the all-too familiar wooden chair with a resigned grunt.

Aiden looked up at the dirty-blonde, slightly balding man sitting behind the impenetrable oak desk and raised an eyebrow. They both knew good and well that he wouldn’t be here if he had the choice. But Hadley always had been a stickler for formalities.

Hadley seemed to be waiting for an answer that wasn’t coming. This was his show; Aiden participated as an unwilling audience.

“Yes, well,” Hadley continued, moistening his thin lips. “To business.”

He folded his hands on his desk, his eyes narrowing.

“This morning, there was an incident.”

 

Son of a Pitch Team Ursula Entry 6: NASCENT

soap-FINALTitle: NASCENT

Age and Genre: YA Paranormal

Word Count: 109,000

 

Query:

The love of seventeen-year-old Tori’s life went missing six months ago. In the months since, Tori has managed to spend time in a mental institution, stab her brother, and have full-blown conversations with imaginary people. The doctors say, ‘hallucinations,’ Tori says, ‘crazy,’ but her best friend says ‘ghosts.’ If only ghosts existed, maybe Tori could find Terrance. As it is, finding her sanity seems impossible enough.

Then a questionable traveler accosts Tori at a pop-up carnival and claims all is not lost for Terrance. That is, if Tori is willing to buy into a world of magic and death. On one hand, she could save not only Terrance, but her own crumbling psyche. On the other, there’s the small matter of a would-be necromancer who happens to be controlled by wraith bent on human sacrifice.

Saving Terrance will require digging into the depths of what reality and humanity truly mean. Not to mention her family’s past, where she will unearth secrets her parents would prefer to forget. With time running out, Tori must quickly decide whether to trust what only she can see. If she can’t put that same faith in herself soon, she could lose her love, her family and friends, and ultimately her own life.

 First 250 Words:

Clara isn’t the first person to try forcing me out of the house, but she may be the first to succeed. Not because boozing it up with her and her new bestie, Kelli, is my idea of a good time, but because she’s so dang whiny about it.

“Come on, Tori. My mom won’t be home. The house will be all ours, and I know where she keeps the stash.” 

It’s not like Sherri’s stash is hard to find. Most of it is under her bed, in the back bedroom she thinks we never enter. In the back bedroom, where she thinks she can go to drink and mourn and not affect anyone else. But grief doesn’t work that way. Especially not when the son she’s mourning was one of my closest friends. Not to mention Clara’s brother.

“Tonight’s not a great night.” 

Which isn’t saying much. I’d have to go back a year to reach my last decent night. Back before I spent some of those nights in a mental hospital my fellow crazies and I lovingly termed Hotel Briarwood. Before the incident with my brother that landed me there. I’d have to shoot right past six months ago, when Terrance went missing in the Everglades. I’d have to go all the way back to before the hallucinations and the soundless buzzing frequencies in my head. Thinking about how far back I’d have to go just to feel normal exhausts me. 

 

Son of a Pitch Round 2: Team Ursula Entries are LIVE!

soap-FINALHey, hey, hey! Are you excited?? It’s time for Son of a Pitch Round 2! (More on the contest here.) In this round, judges will leave critiques, and will cast their votes.

Team Ursula entries are all posted. We have some great entries! I’d love to read all of these books.

ursulaI’m really interested in learning more about the authors that entered Son of a Pitch: not only of Team Ursula entries, but all of them. I’m especially eager to know about the diversity in your books, and why you were inspired to write about diverse viewpoints. However, diversity in your story isn’t a requirement to get my vote, and I’d still like to know more about you and your book, no matter what.

If you want to let me know about you and your story (to try to sway my vote or otherwise 🙂 ), please comment on this post (no comments on actual entries unless you’re a judge, please). If you would prefer to have a more private conversation with me, you can DM me on Twitter or on Facebook.

Here are links to the Team Ursula entries, so you can easily peruse them:

Entry 1: ALWAYS GRAY IN WINTER

Entry 2: BOARDING ALL ROWS

Entry 3: TRANS LIBERTY RIOT BRIGADE

Entry 4: CUCKOO’S CRADLESONG

Entry 5: THE SPOONSTERS OF PROSPERITY ISLAND

Entry 6: NASCENT

Entry 7: THE MORTAL COIL – REVELATION

Entry 8: QUEEN FOR ALL SEASONS

Entry 9: KISS OF DEATH

Entry 10: THE DOLL TRAIN

Check out the other Son of a Pitch teams here:

Elsie Elmore

Samantha Bryant

Em Shotwell

Tegan Wren

Kathleen Palm

(More links to come…)

 

 

Son of a Pitch Team Ursula Entry 5: THE SPOONSTERS OF PROSPERITY ISLAND

soap-FINALTHE SPOONSTERS OF PROSPERITY ISLAND

Adult Women’s Fiction

73,000

 

 

Query: 

Nothing is as it seems on Prosperity Island. Everyone has a secret, especially Amelia, the new wife of William Prelioux, heir to a billion-dollar real estate firm. But unlike the others, Amelia has everything to lose if she’s found out, including her home and her income.

 For both survival and show, she’ll embrace five women with different backgrounds. Each will fill a void in her life, but it’s only after an all-expense paid getaway, that the group becomes the Spoonsters. Amelia will trust these women with everything she can, but not her past, until one day she lets it slip where she’s from.

 When her true identity is exposed at a town function, Amelia disappears, and her friends become desperate to find her and bring her home.

 250 Words:

Amelia’s clothes were laid out on the four-columned, Roman-inspired bed—white silk dress, nylons, and a feathered hat. She’d never worn anything but a knit cap on her head in winter and the white goose feathers itched at her ear.

She slid on her outfit and peered at her reflection in the full-length mirror: Money don’t make class. Her dead grandmother’s words cycled through her mind. How you treat others, that’s class.

William, her husband of three months, came from the bathroom. “Hands to your side, dear.”

Amelia was standing tall in heels, fitted as an heiress should be, but her arms were covering her stomach. 

“And no crossing.” William placed her arms by her sides. “Makes you look taut and fussy.”

 Amelia nodded. She had spent enough time with him to know he meant her no harm. It’s why she married him, well that, and the promise of his trust fund.

She fixed her hair one last time, held her shoulders back, and walked toward the door. What she was about to do would take all the courage she could muster from both the living and the dead.

 It wasn’t the event Amelia feared. The League of Women was holding a fundraiser for a good cause, William told her. What scared Amelia was the thought of being rejected by those in attendance.

The day would mark Mrs. Amelia Prelioux’s debut to the Prosperity Island’s most elite residents. These introductions would determine her future. Accepted or rejected, there was no going back, and there was never any going home. 

 

Son of a Pitch Team Ursula Entry 4: CUCKOO’S CRADLESONG

soap-FINALTitle: Cuckoo’s Cradlesong 

Category and Genre: Adult Memoir 

Word Count: 73,000

 

Query:

When you’re burned out and suicidal, moving to a tropical island seems like the perfect solution. But when I quit my job and dragged my husband off to live in the Canary Islands, reality was far from paradise. For one thing, we moved in with my in-laws, two teenage girls and a mother-in-law that hated my guts. For another, I got pregnant. Having a baby is stressful under the best of circumstances, but add in culture shock, diabetes, and an impenetrable language barrier and you get a combination that would test anyone’s sanity. To make matters worse, I was terrified of being a mother and had to reconcile with impending parenthood – and fast. Cuckoo’s Cradlesong is the memoir of a woman who tried to find serenity on a beach, overshot, and discovered self-acceptance in a pile of baby poop instead.    

 First 250 Words:

I finally lost my mind when Rosie died. Before then, I’d played peekaboo with my inner agoraphobe and had a brief affair with binge eating. But after Rosie dropped dead of a heart attack, I couldn’t hide the crazy anymore.

The last time I saw my friend alive, she wore a paper crown. The words “Princess Puke” were scrawled on it in glittery puff paint. Andy, one of our special ed students, had thrown up in class again. Rosie – my friend, coworker, and surrogate mom – braved the threat of inverted oatmeal to escort him to the nurse’s office and call his mother. It was a weekly occurrence. Rosie’s crown was in recognition of services rendered above and beyond the call of duty.

That afternoon, we sat in a middle school faculty room in Utah. It smelled like old Jell-O and sounded like a muted tidal wave, the roar of our students who waited on the other side of the wall. Linda and Margret, my fellow teachers, cheered as Rosie curtseyed and laughed, holding her crown on with one hand. “Speech!” we cried. “Speech!”

“Well, I don’t know what to say.” Rosie pressed her palm to her chest. The hand was wrinkly and liver spotted. Despite her youthful demeanor, she was nearing sixty. “This is so unexpected. It will go great on my resume when they really do fire me and I apply for that job as a Wal-Mart greeter. They always need someone to mop up there.”

 

Son of a Pitch Team Ursula Entry 3: TRANS LIBERTY RIOT BRIGADE

soap-FINALTitle: Trans Liberty Riot Brigade

Age and Genre: Adult

Word Count: 79K

 

Query:

Andi knows being born a queer intersex “s/he” has lethal consequences. But s/he ain’t going to spend h/er life hiding, hooked on Jet, and wanking tourists just to make a few bucks. S/he’s joined up with the Trans Liberty Riot Brigade, an underground faction of s/hes resisting the government’s war on their illegal genitalia. But it’s not enough to tag shithouse walls and sniff down the next high anymore. The government has begun a series of sweeps to crush the resistance and though Andi might be nothing but a junktard, s/he does know the only way they’re going to stay alive is to send a call for help before they’re all killed—or worse, surgically assigned. Andi, together with Brigade leader Elenbar, must get beyond the communications block preventing all radio transmission, which means crossing the seaboard Wall barricading the United Free States borders. It’s designed to keep enemies out and the citizens in, but amid increasing earthquakes and deadly pursuit, Andi will discover there’s a far more dangerous secret hidden deep within the Wall itself.

First 250 Words:

“Oh yah? Well, fuck off then, you faggin’ wanker!”

He’s a penny pickle dick anyhow.

I walk into the men’s public shithouse, slammin’ the door behind me. The splintered starburst of mirror glitters under the yellow lights. The reflection’s sportin’ a shaggy haircut like someone’s gone faggin’ buggers with a pair of kitchen shears. Pupils blown black and wide with the upshot of Jet coursin’ through my veins.

That pickle fucker ripped my skirt.

I pop the edge of the pink frill up, inspectin’ the ripped seam. Take a beat to check my bulgin’ panties in the grimy mirror. Lookin’ not quite a she or a he these days. More—Lord-in-heaven—like one of them dangerous s/he Transgressors the news is always shriekin’ about. The burnin’ brown eyes glare back, darin’ me to speak, to say somethin’—except ain’t no one but myself lookin’ at myself. Just a faggin’ s/he junkie.

I approach the urinals squattin’ against the far wall. Smell of piss cakes and wankin’ stains waft through the air, a strong reminder of this location’s dual purpose. I peek under stall doors, but there ain’t no tourist trout loafers tappin’ a signal for a blowie or a pop-off. Don’t matter though.

There’s other work to be done. I slip down my pants and jut my pubic bone and mini-man toward one of the white bowl interiors. Urine spurts and I huff with relief. There ain’t no company to gawk at me and unlike squattin’ in lady piss stalls, it’s good.