Category Archives: Uncategorized

#SonOfAPitch Team Leia: THE MARRIAGE ACT

Title: THE MARRIAGE ACT

Category and Genre: Adult, Women’s Fiction
Word Count: 90,000
the marriage act
Query:

When Maggie summons her twin Josie for lunch in the middle of a work day, Josie knows there’s a favor looming.  When Maggie asks asexual Josie to be her surrogate, Josie is tempted to brush aside the clump of hair that’s hidden her eyes since high school to see if she’s serious.  But when Maggie insists that Josie get pregnant the old-fashioned way, by sleeping with her husband, Josie’s heard enough.  She packs up her salad and heads for the door.  

That’s when Maggie says if Josie doesn’t do it, she’ll use a former classmate who just ducked embezzlement charges and wants to have sex with her husband.  What choice does Josie have?  She’s spent her life protecting Maggie, saving her soul at the expense of her own.  She’s never said no to Maggie.  After all, they’re practically one person.

But there’s a lot about Maggie that Josie doesn’t know — the reason for her infertility, that she’s having an affair . . . her compulsion to claim for herself everyone who has ever wanted Josie.  Flirty and adorable, Maggie doesn’t expect the shift in her husband’s affection.  It never occurred to her that he could fall for sexless Josie.  Or Josie for him.

Told from the perspectives of Maggie, Josie and their husbands (one of whom is unreliable), it turns out Maggie’s not the only one with something to hide.  In the aftermath of the “act,” their marriages seemingly over and the twins at odds, the couples wait to learn whether Josie is pregnant.  At long last, Maggie and Josie must come to terms with the incestuous relationship that turned them toward and away from each other, and molded their identities. 

 
First 250 Words:

Josie’s cell phone rang again, the ringtone it came programmed with emanating from the battered vinyl purse slung over the back of her desk chair.  It had been ringing repeatedly for an hour which meant it was Maggie.  When her twin wanted to talk, she meant now.  Maggie didn’t know what it meant to work.  That you can’t stop an experiment mid-culture to yack about whether Maggie should try bangs or to congratulate her on losing two pounds.

Eighteen.  Josie counted the rings subconsciously.  She was math-y that way.  Numbers spoke to her better than people.

“Would you pick up the damn phone, Josie?  It’s driving me nuts,” Jack Randall called from the next office.  It wasn’t like Jack, who co-directed the forensic lab with her, couldn’t be annoying.  He spent plenty of time on YouTube and Hulu while he set up cultures and rubber-stamped requisitions.  If he was doing something rote, it never occurred to him that Josie might be trying to concentrate, even if she pointedly closed her door.  But Josie never spoke up, never told him off, didn’t today.  She wasn’t that way. 

The office walls were paper thin.  They weren’t even proper walls, just dividers that gave lab directors the illusion they’d risen above the mere benches.  As a result, Josie knew way too much about Jack, his rocky marriage, his druggie kid, his gambling, his girlfriend.  She didn’t want him, or anyone, to know about her.

 

#SonOfAPitch Team Leia: THE RAMBLIN’ HAND OF SHERRY ANNE

Title: THE RAMBLIN’ HAND OF SHERRY ANNE
Category and Genre: Adult / Literary
Word Count: 92,500

ramblin' hand
Query:

Seventeen-year-old Sherry Anne Maes is a hand-shakin’, state-travelin’, good-luck-givin’ girl. Born with a rabbit’s foot attached to her hipbone, her palm contains the power to bestow good luck to those she chooses.

But unfortunately, using that luck to save her cancer-riddled father is another story. And when he dies, he not only leaves Sherry with a grudge against her handshake, but he truth-bombs her with a long-kept secret about her birth. Suddenly, she feels like an outsider, a dumpster baby no one wants, and so Sherry gets the hell out of her hometown and gets highway bound via Buick Skylark.

Traveling across the US of A, Sherry tries to outrun the gift of her handshake, while working to unravel clues about her past left behind in her father’s letters. Letters which eventually lead her to learn that she is not alone in the world. That there are others out there like her, those called Weirdos.

Curious to connect with her own kind, Sherry hitches a ride with her boot-knockin’-boy Catch Shepard, lead singer of a busking bluegrass band. However, her efforts to track down her fellow Weirdos are derailed when Sherry discovers one of her past handshakes has gone wrong. Now she must rush against time, and fight against a meddling cocaine-addled fiddle player, to right the good luck she has pressed to the wrong person, even if it means letting her own run luck—and life—run out.

First 250 Words:

I was born fur on fire.

Fourth of July morning, a full moon high in the sky good enough to howl at, my little town of Mariah, Montana went insane. Because I came into this world with a rabbit’s foot attached to my hipbone.

Small and floppy, this furry extra appendage dangled off my right side, high up, an afterthought like one of those unwanted skin flaps old people get. A silky gray-brown pelt dotted with small orbs of pearly white. Cushy pink pads on the bottom of a dainty paw. An honest-to-god rabbit’s foot.

I’ve got photos as evidence. In the faded, grainy prints taken by hospital staff, the foot’s tiny, about a pinkie-length, and pretty in an odd holy-shit-this-shouldn’t-be- possible kind of way. Like babies born with vestigial tails or cutaneous horns. And at least those conditions have been documented throughout history. Medical anomalies which have an explanation for the skin-covered bundle of nerves and tissue buried beneath the flesh of the afflicted. So far, science tells me I’m the first in history to be born with something that should only be carried on a key chain. Sold at dirty truck stop gas stations along with a pack of KOOLS and Astroglide.

 I’ve got the foot too.

Local doctors removed it a week after my birth. Snipped it off with great big medical scissors and stitched up my hip, leaving behind a four-inch raised scar. Today the scar resembles braided white twine coiled on my bony hipbone and ending near the top of my waist.

#SonOfAPitch Team Leia: CRAVING HER

Title: Craving Her
Category and Genre: Adult Romance
Word Count: 105k
craving her
Query:

Rebel son to a real-estate mogul, Dante Arzola stays as far away from his father’s illicit hotel business as possible. The need for him to distance himself from the blood-soaked dealings of his family is only exemplified the night his mother passes away, leaving him with a hole in his chest and two years’ probation. In his world of wealth and corruption, his childhood friend has always stood as a beacon of goodness and light. Now he wants more than friendship. He wants her.

  Sadie Trajkovski isn’t as innocent as Dante thinks. 

 Blackmailed by her former partner, Sadie must find a way to protect herself from one man’s callous revenge and keep Dante from learning the truth that dangles right within his view. She is in love with his brother. However, as her blackmailer’s threats turn more sinister, Sadie will have no choice but to pick—betray Dante’s trust or risk her life fighting an enemy she has no clue how to defeat.

 First 250 Words:

I can’t get caught. I can’t. My stomach churns as  I unclench my fist. I am so close…so close to the truth I can taste it, and if I get caught, she’ll take it away from me. She did it once. She’ll do it again. I keep my eyes locked on the kitchen archway. Toes curled in the plush living room carpet. Sweat gathers under my arms and behind my knees, in the area where my boobs meet the wire of my bra, and I’ve never been so thankful for nonstick deodorant. My heart drums wildly in my ears, much louder than the air conditioning humming or the gentle wind pulling the smell of salt-water and rain through the open windows. I wipe my palm down my shorts before I inch my hand into my mother’s purse. Slowly. Slowly. Fingers touch metal and plastic.

The first time I heard some things were better left alone was when I was twelve. 

During primary school, I would spend each summer at the Arzola Estate in Coral Gables. The manicured lawns were my playground. The oceanfront was a mini paradise I would swim in for hours on end. One day when the chauffeur dropped me off, he turned to me with dead-set eyes and said, “Nobody has this much money unless they’re involved in bad things. If you know what I mean.” But I didn’t know what he meant, though I’d soon find out.

*HUGE GIVEAWAY* SWEET SIXTEEN CONTEST!!!

Sweet 16 1

As some of you know, I recently finished drafting my SIXTEENTH manuscript!

WOOO!

I would like to celebrate this milestone, along with the upcoming release of LOVE AND WAR, the third installment in THE OTHER PLACE SERIES, which is set to drop on March 7, 2017.

I would like to send you all cake and champagne and kisses, but the logistics of that are difficult. Instead, I’m going to have a contest. I’m going to pick SIXTEEN WINNERS. Fourteen of those winners will get a free Kindle copy of one of my books – their choice. The second place winner will get a free signed paperback of one of my books – again, their choice. The grand prize winner will get a signed paperback, AND A $50 AMAZON GIFT CARD.

Yes. I did say $50. And I meant it.

The rules are simple. If you are already signed up for my newsletter, you are entered. If you’re not signed up yet, SIGN UP HERE to enter. You’ll also get a free anthology for signing up!

If you want an EXTRA ENTRY, refer someone else to sign up for my newsletter, and either comment on this entry , send me a DM on Twitter or Facebook, or shoot me an email to tell me who you referred.

Winners will be picked randomly on MARCH 7, 2017 – which is the release date for LOVE AND WAR.
Thank you for your support!

SLO NightWriters Presentation

Yo, California dudes and dudesses! I’ll be speaking tomorrow at the San Luis Obispo NightWriters’ monthly meeting. The topic will be online writing competitions like Pitch Wars, Nightmare on Query Street and #PitMad. I hope to see you there!

Presentation starts at 6:30 and takes place at the United Church of Christ meeting hall, 11245 Los Osos Valley Drive.

NAMI Forum – Building Bridges to Recovery

Hello! Yakima-area peeps, I’m one of the panel speakers this afternoon, November 14, at a forum put on by the National Alliance for Mental Illness. The forum is to discuss ways to ease the transition into society for people with mental illness and addiction, after they’ve been incarcerated, institutionalized, or in a treatment facility.

The forum will take place from 3-5 p.m. at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church on 40th and Richey Road. I hope to see you there!

Nightmare on Query Street

NoQS 2016I’m finally dropping by again to mention I’m going to be a mentor in the awesome Nightmare on Query Street contest. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a great way to get your query and first 250 words polished and in front of a slew of great agents. It’s for a wide range of genres: the only things not accepted are picture books and erotica. Check it out!

 

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.