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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.

Son of a Pitch Team Ursula Entry 2: BOARDING ALL ROWS

Son of a Pitch Team Ursula Entry 1: ALWAYS GRAY IN WINTER

soap-FINALTitle: ALWAYS GRAY IN WINTER

Category and Genre: Adult paranormal thriller

Word Count: 72,000

Query:

The modern day remnant of an ancient werecat clan is torn apart while militaries on three continents vie to exploit their deadly talents.  Were-lynx Pawly, born in an ethnic Chicago neighborhood following her family’s flight from Cold War-era Poland, must return to her ancestral homeland and save the only man she’s ever risked feeling for.

 My 72,000-word adult paranormal sci-fi thriller ALWAYS GRAY IN WINTER introduces Pawly while a despotic Eastern power lays siege to American forces overseas.  Animal-enhanced soldiers developed by rogue scientist and rival werecat Mawro overrun her Navy port security unit after Pawly abandons her post to fight Mawro’s “control subject” tooth and claw.  His superior killed in the battle, Mawro assumes command of the program replicating their clan’s preternatural fighting ability and supernatural senses.  Pawly’s lover Lenny sustains grave injuries, stirring fears he will join her father and uncle on the list of her loved ones claimed by her kind’s feral bloodlust.

 Fearful for Lenny’s safety, Pawly goes underground to foil Pentagon attempts to whitewash the incident by scapegoating him for her mission’s failure.  Mawro meanwhile steals an experimental device which can quell their bloodlust with intent to weaponize it.  A search for the device brings Lenny straight to Pawly, though their bittersweet reunion is cut short when Mawro tricks her estranged kin into capturing the device’s creator–her grandfather.  Pawly’s daunting choice when the search lands Lenny in a shipside firefight:  keep her family secret and forfeit his life or chance her true nature driving him away forever.

 First 250 Words:

The speed and precision of the two combatants surpassed even the human race’s best martial artists and white arms experts.  Mawro stared up at the footage rolling for the seventh time, scrutinizing their fight on the flat-panel display above.  With a growl he leaned back in his rickety roller chair and rested one boot atop the other beside his console.  His stomach gurgled as his mind winnowed down the list of possible explanations for this spectacle.  The probable ones no longer seemed so far-fetched.

 He followed his operative’s movements to and fro across the desertscape.  Hana executed one technique after another, monolid eyes trained on target while her jet black hair bobbed about.  With neither misstep nor hesitation the young woman landed every strike exactly where he expected.  Exactly as he had taught her.

 Her hands moved so fast their surveillance equipment captured only an orange-and-white blur.  Now and again the camera locked on a frame for a split second but would lose tracking right away.  Stripes of black fur on her exposed forearms left artifacts behind, resembling speed lines following Hong Kong Phooey from the Saturday morning cartoons of his childhood.

 Hana’s opponent captivated and chilled Mawro at the same time. The other woman’s digital camo uniform pattern confirmed assertions of his Revolutionary Guard contact. She resembled scores of US Navy sailors sent to guard the Irani beachhead for Coalition supply lines into Afghanistan, but for being covered in silver-gray fur with long white ruffs lining her neck on either side.

Son Of A Pitch is Coming!!!

soap-FINAL

Hello, everyone! It’s almost that time again! I had so much fun being a critiquer/judge in the Son of a Pitch contest last time, and I can’t wait to participate again!

For those of you not familiar with Son of a Pitch, it’s a critique-based contest that allows entrants to get feedback on their query and first 250 words from published authors as well as from other writers. It’s a great way to hone your pitch and first page, and hopefully get them in front of agents and editors! More info is here.

This go-round we have a theme: Disney heroes and villains. I have chosen to be Ursula from The Little Mermaid. I know you want to be on my team because it’s the best one: Ursula kicks butt with her dark ocean-magic.ursula

A little about myself: my name is Elizabeth Roderick. I’m the author of Love or Money, a standalone LGBT romantic suspense novel (published through Limitless Publishing), and The Other Place Series, a new adult magical realism series (also through Limitless; the first two installments (The Hustle and The Other Place) are already out, and the last two will come out next year). I have several other books in various stages of editing, and am working on a few more. I write YA, NA, and Adult, and my genres range from contemporary to fantasy and all points beyond and in between. My books usually feature characters of the sort society tends to shun (addicts, convicts, the homeless, and the neurodiverse). I think if you get to know my characters, as well as people like them in real life, you might find they’re a lot more wonderful and interesting than you originally thought.

Part of the reason I write “unlikeable” characters that is because I myself am a neurodiverse person, along with all the baggage that can come with that (I’m a recovering addict, for instance). I’ve recently “come out” about the fact that I have bipolar disorder with episodes of psychosis. This profession is one of the few where this might actually be an asset: my experiences I think lend a lot of insight to my writing and my characters. A lot of things people only know about from television, I’ve lived through, for better or worse. Believe it or not, it’s not all dark!

I use my stories as a way to explore the different ways in which people’s minds work, and the many ways in which they learn to live and love in this crazy world. It’s my strange and convoluted way of trying to find out how I fit into this society. I think a lot of writers write for the same or similar reasons.

Enough about me. I’m really excited to be part of Son of a Pitch again. I love reading everyone’s entries. The only problem is I’m always left wanting to read the entire manuscript.

Critique contests like these are so important. I would never have gotten published if it weren’t for the advice I got from other writers, authors, and industry professionals along the way. Writing is a subjective business, and we all know that sometimes the advice we get from critiquers can be contradictory. But it is always a learning experience. It’s sometimes difficult to see how our stories will be perceived by others. Readers won’t always walk away with the same perceptions, but knowing what those perceptions are gives us incredible insight into our own work, and helps us to make it stronger, even if we end up not taking the exact advice our critiquers gave us.

The support of other writers and professionals in the community is also incredibly important. My hope is to see each and every entrant published. My first job in that regard is to make sure that no one gives up. The only thing that separates writers from authors is the refusal to throw in the towel, even when it gets hard. There will always be days when you think you can’t go on, when you’re angry, when you’re sure you “suck”. Ask anyone who is published, even people who are mega-famous bestsellers. They’ve felt the same way. I want you all to love writing, and to believe in your own voice, enough that you’ll never give up.

As for what kind of stories will be my favorites, I’m constantly surprised by what I like best. Any of you who know me know that I am a huge fan of diverse stories, especially #ownvoices. That isn’t limited to stories about and by neurodiverse people—I’m massively excited to see stories from authentic points of view that I’ve never read about before. In fact, I would be so honored if you would comment on this blog post, or in a private message if you prefer, and tell me the inspiration for your diverse and/or #ownvoices story. I love hearing people’s personal stories as much as I like reading their fiction.

That said, I’m a huge fan of any sort of story that’s well-told, even if it can’t possibly be #ownvoices because it’s about a being that is a near-sentient wisp of memory contained in the scent of jasmine in a young woman’s garden. (That one sounds like a tweet from Magical Realism Bot.) I love crazy stories, and more traditional stories; quiet stories and high-action stories; stories about love and hate and everything in between. I want to read them all, and I can’t wait to!