Title: The Social Season

Category and Genre: Adult Speculative Fiction

Word Count: 110,000

 Leia slave


The forty-fourth Social Season isn’t optional for Natalie James. She’s being forced to participate, a stipulation from her trial for treason back when she was a child. While she’d been spared, her mother wasn’t so lucky. And she’d be damned if she let that death be in vain.

 Instead, Natalie begins scheming to use the system to her advantage. Her plan is to go unnoticed through the various events, meant to showcase the qualities that would make her a good wife, mistress or servant to a member of the elite. 

 If she succeeds, she’ll be able to marry her best friend, a man who isn’t determined to control her and will help her take down the tyrannical government controlling their lives.

 There’s just one problem. While searching for weaknesses in the government, she’s caught trespassing by one of the most powerful men in the city: Nicholas Olsen, future lord of Dolfian.

 Nicholas finds himself intrigued by someone who doesn’t want to obey orders. And he’s determined to make her his wife, a task that will please both his family and his city.

 Most girls would be delighted by his proclamation. But Natalie isn’t most girls, and she has no plans to let Nicholas Olsen take over her life and mark her as his legal property.

 The Season quickly becomes a battle of will and power, as Natalie works to circumvent an oppressive system and Nicholas bends the rules of the same system to take what he so desperately wants.

 First 250 words: 

I was pacing anxiously in my father’s office, searching for an escape route from this horrid conversation. He was not easily evaded, however, and he’d been adept at bringing me to his office immediately following my arrival. He’d doubtless spent many hours crafting this particular speech. The conversation had been lingering at the edge of our meetings for months now.

As I continued to pace, he spoke. “Son, it’s time for you to choose. I’m not saying it has to be this season. I’ll give you…let’s say…three seasons. But you will attend each one until you’ve claimed a mate. Do you understand?”

He was just barely speaking, his voice a bit louder than a whisper. He didn’t need to yell, anyway. I’d spent enough time with him to know when to argue. But I’d no interest in a wife; I didn’t need a woman following me around, groveling at my feet.

“Father,” I said. “I’m only twenty-five. I’ve been training under you for five years now. I shadowed you for a long time before that. Don’t you think I should be able to relax for just a bit before I take on a wife? And if I’m going to be the next Lord of Dolfian, do you really think I should be distracted? Why don’t I go through a season looking for a servant or a mistr-“

I broke off quickly, seeing his face grow dangerously cold. I’d gone too far in my desperation. But I wouldn’t apologize.

#SonOfAPitch Team Leia: IN ANOTHER LIFE

Title: In Another Life
Age and Genre: Adult Women’s Fiction
Word Count: 91,000
 another life
Maddie wakes up in her town home to find her husband and children missing. Well not exactly missing, none of them exist. The last thing she can remember is being thirty-six years old and going to bed next to her loving husband after having an affair with her former boyfriend – Jason. And now not only is she dating Jason but she’s twenty-six again and boy have things changed. With no memory of her new life, or how things ended up this way, she soon discovers that more than just her relationship status has altered. Her once best friend Dee is no longer speaking to her, the close bond she had with her younger brother is strained and above all her closest confidant is her once manipulative and ruthless enemy, Arabella.
These drastic changes leave Maddie wondering where things went wrong to alter her path. As she discovers more about her changed life she realizes that she became the very type of person she despised and knows she must do whatever she can to set her life right. The problem is the dark secret holding her back, one she has yet to figure out exactly what it is.
Her changed life is riddled with betrayal, selfishness and one attempted murder, and when the man she put away is released on parole Maddie knows that her safety is in question and she’s not the only one who will suffer the consequences of her actions. Faced with a choice, Maddie must seek forgiveness from all those she has wronged in hopes to return to the life she had or run from her problems and risk continuing on her path of misery and possible death.
First 250 Words:
I had been hiding in the bathroom since I rolled out of bed at 4:00 am. A glance at the bathroom clock told me I’d been here for nearly four hours. He’d come to the door three times since he got out of bed but I hadn’t opened it. I was still having trouble believing it. 
Gripping the bathroom counter, I risked a glance in the mirror once more. My reflection was no less confusing. It was me, sure, with the same brown hair and dark eyes, but ten years younger. 
This was my bathroom, without the cracked sink and aged wallpaper. The window shutter was drawn and white; like the first shutters I owned, not the ones I’d most recently replaced them with. 
Another knock sounded and I froze. 
“Maddie,” his voice came through again. “Please open the door, talk to me.” 
“I-I’m fine,” I managed, still shocked by the voice that called to me. Where was Nathan, Ava and Haley? Where was the life that I spent ten years building, the same life I’d slowly let break and change me? It was gone and all I was left with was him. 
“Maddie, c’mon,” he said, frustration evident in his tone. “Just open the door.” 
I looked from the door back to the mirror, reaching up and touching my smooth skin. The wrinkles around my eyes and lips were gone. The scar I got from the car accident in ’07 was gone. My wedding ring had vanished and my clothes were unfamiliar.

#SonOfAPitch Team Leia: THE MARRIAGE ACT


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

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.



Category and Genre: Adult / Literary
Word Count: 92,500

ramblin' hand

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

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.

Son of a Pitch!


Hello, all you #SonOfAPitch- es! I am so happy to be a judge in this contest, which is now officially entering its second year! Son of a Pitch was the first contest I had the honor of judging.

Last January, I saw on Facebook and Twitter that Katie Hamstead was starting a new contest. I’ve always wanted to be a contest judge. I’d just had my first book published—my LGBTQ romantic suspense novel, Love or Money, which came out on January 12, 2016. I’d also signed a contract on my Other Place Series. When it hit me that I was actually eligible to be a contest judge…it was an amazing feeling. I’d spent two years of my life certain I’d never be a published author.

But I was. I messaged Katie right away asking if she needed more judges. She did!

The moral of this story is: perseverance pays off. I’m also able to tell you that the perseverance can’t end when you get that first publishing contract. I remind myself every day that all my hard work and tears are worth it. Some day I will make enough money off writing and editing to live comfortably and put money away for my kid’s college. Not that I’m uncomfortable now: even if I get rich, I’ll Tiny house 3probably still live in my tiny house on my family’s ten acre farm, but I’d also be able to rent a practice space where I could keep my drum set and other music gear. 🙂

Below, I’m sharing my successful queries, to give you an idea of what worked for me. I’m also sharing a short publication story with each.


Ilove or money wrote this book because I was tired of being told my writing was okay, but my characters were hard to relate to and my plots were unexpected. I tried to write a “regular” romance, but it still turned out weird…however, the book sold easily. I didn’t send out regular queries on it. I pitched it on #PitMad, and ended up with two offers.


I’m seeking a publisher for LOVE OR MONEY, a 57,000-word LGTB erotic romance/crime thriller.
Riel almost wishes she could stay in prison. There, at least she has a girlfriend to love her, and even a cold cell is better than her situation at home.
When she’s released after serving 14 months on a drug charge, Riel has no choice but to go back to work for her brother-in-law, which is how she landed in jail in the first place. This time, he puts her to work in his strip club. He only gives her ten percent of her tips as compensation, and keeps her there with threats and coercion.
When her best friend Evan, a handsome daredevil drug runner, offers her a way out of her brother-in-law’s gang, she takes it. But after a bloody shootout, Riel realizes they’ll never be free until her brother-in-law is out of the picture, and that she’ll never be happy until she can settle down and have a quiet life with Evan.
Riel is the only one who can make those things happen. It’s up to her to save herself, and Evan, and to make her dreams of a better life come true.
I’m a board member of the San Luis Obispo NightWriters association, assistant editor and columnist for their newsletter. I have recently had a short story published by Akashic Books.
Thank you for your consideration.
Hustle coverI didn’t query this book very widely (I only sent out a handful of regular queries, and pitched it a couple of times at pitch parties), mostly because I really threw my heart into finding a home for The Other Place instead. Even though this book is technically the first in The Other Place Series, I was trying to sell them separately. The Hustle is a new adult/adult LGBTQ magical realism suspense book (hello…genre mashup), while The Other Place is more of a YA contemporary magical realism. But I’m ultimately glad I sold them as a series.
I had gotten good comments from a couple agents & editors about this book, but they wanted a more traditional romance, which this book definitely isn’t. Those comments are what spurred me to write Love or Money.

The novel, entitled THE HUSTLE, is complete at 77,000 words.

Liria is nineteen, homeless, and addicted to heroin. She’s determined to not end up dead, like her mother, but every time she tries to get her life together, it falls apart again.
She goes to the only person she knows who might be able to help her: her father, Cyryl, whom she barely knows. He takes her in, and helps her to get clean, but it’s clear he doesn’t believe he’s truly her father. He wants a very different sort of relationship with her, and Liria isn’t interested. In fact, she doesn’t like men at all.
Liria leaves Cyryl, and lands a  job in a Vegas nightclub. There she meets Arty, who seems to be the girl of her dreams: beautiful, funny, and rich. But then Liria’s coworkers start turning up dead, and Arty is acting strange. Is the nightclub a front for something more sinister? Is Arty really who she seems, or is she using Liria as a pawn in a deadly game?
Starting a new life isn’t easy.

am a musician, and a prolific writer for young adults and adults. I have another novel, Love or Money, coming out through Limitless Publications on January 12, 2016. I am a board member of the San Luis Obispo NightWriters association, assistant editor and columnist for their newsletter, and have had a short story published by Akashic Books.

Thank you for your consideration.

Iother place front cover queried this book widely before I found a home for it. Getting agents and editors to identify with a character with this level of neurodiversity is difficult.

When I was considering whether to accept Limitless’ offer, I had another publisher show interest. The acquisitions editor recommended they sign the book, but the higher-ups declined because they already had a book about mental illness on their list.

The struggle for diverse books is real. Be sure to read them, recommend them, and give them reviews, so agents and editors begin to see the market for them.


I am seeking representation for THE OTHER PLACE, a YA Contemporary novel with elements of magical realism. It is complete at 75,000 words, and is a stand-alone novel with series potential.
Justin just wants to draw and be left in peace, but when his mother takes up with a man who thinks his schizophrenia can be cured with prayer, he has to find a new home or risk involuntary commitment in a religious facility.
He runs off to San Francisco, where he’s discovered by a gallery owner. His bizarre and beautiful drawings create a stir in the art world; people rave about his genius and flock to see his work. Meanwhile, Justin is homeless, couch surfing and battling his mental illness.
He reconnects with a girl named Liria, who has been appearing in his visions since they met back in his hometown. Liria, it turns out, has been sharing those visions. Compelled by their deep connection, she leaves her jealous girlfriend in order to be with him, supporting them both on her meagre income.
Then they discover that the gallery owner has been hiding something, and Justin realizes that being a genius can have a downside. Surrounded by people who want to exploit his talent, he must fight not only for his career and his freedom, but perhaps for his life.
I am a musician, and a prolific writer for young adults and adults. I have another novel, Love or Money, coming out through Limitless Publications on January 12, 2016. I am a board member of the San Luis Obispo NightWriters association, assistant editor and columnist for their newsletter, and have had a short story published by Akashic Books.
Thank you for your consideration.


Activism Proposal: Going Homeless for the Homeless and Neurodiverse

mentalI’ve been inspired by the women who ran from NYC to DC to raise money for Planned Parenthood. I’ve had an idea, and I want to put out feelers to see what kind of support this idea would have, because it will be a difficult thing to do and I need to know it would have an effect before I set out to do it.

I would like to walk from here (Yakima, WA) to our state capital (Olympia, WA), a distance of around 180 miles. I would be living homeless, in order to raise awareness and money about the plight of the homeless and neurodiverse. I wouldn’t be accepting money directly for these causes – I would ask for pledges to charities like NAMI.

I’d like to know who would be willing to donate, and who would help me by amplifying my social media presence with regard to this. I would love to hear your thoughts, and would love it even more if you’d retweet, reblog, or share this post to see if any of your friends might be interested in supporting me one way or another on this journey.

If I got enough awareness, my next trip would be to DC.

And yes, I’d be living homeless, as authentically as possible, but I’d make it as safe as I could in ways I will brainstorm with you and discuss later.

Who’s with me?


Sweet 16 1

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


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!

Author of gritty fiction|Freelance Editor