Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo Tips

Hello NaNo-Nerds! It’s that time again. Beginning today, our veins will be over run with caffeine and all types of sugar in order to keep us tapping away at the silicone keyboards. Since finishing a book during this time-frame is extremely difficult, this post is going to be really short.

1.    Outline the basics.
Come up with one or two sentences that will express the idea of the book. Then create a small outline consisting of just basic information. Outline should have, at minimum, the opening, middle, and climax of the story. Use these to keep the story on target, but also allowing creativity to flow easily.

2.    Create multiple character sheets.

Write down some basic attributes for the main characters. Things like the color of their eyes and hair, height, weight, personality, and some sample favorites of the character. I have mine on a dry erase board that hangs over my writing desk. Feel free do come up with another way that’ll work best for you.

3.    Set up deadlines.

Create goals with everything. Make them small ones like write 2 to 3 scenes or 1k of words a day. Then stick to it. 

4.    Reward your self.
When you complete a task, give yourself something special. The more difficult the goal, the better the reward. They can be anything. Maybe an hour of your favorite TV show, or indulge in some sinfully wonderful dark chocolate. 

5.    Get help!

I can’t stress it enough. The stress is going to be bad. Find help and lean on them when you need it the most. Lots of time, a good Nano supporter will know when we’re stressing too much and nip it in the bud.

6.    Write and have fun.

This is perhaps the most important tip I can give anyone. Sit your ass down, get writing, and have fun doing it.

If anyone else has tips, we’d love to hear them. Till next time, have a happy NaNo!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stab In the Dark Results

Well our murderific agent contest has officially come to a close and I hope everyone had a bloody good time. Big thanks goes out to our agents for participating.
In case anyone was wondering, there was a lot of requests made. See below for who got Sliced, Stabbed, and Killed! Congrats to everyone!
Name: Sonia Hartl     
Title: The Cry House
Genre: YA Gothic Romance
Name: Patrice Caldwell
Genre: MG Thriller
Name: Theresa Milstein
Gener: Upper Middle Grade Contemporary
Name:  Stacey Trombley
Genre: MG urban fantasy
Stab  Slice
Name: Lisa Gail Green
Genre: YA Sci-fi/thriller
Kill  Slice
Name: Annie Sullivan
Title: Goldilocks
Genre: YA Fantasy
Stab  Slice  Slice
Name: Carl Hackman
Genre:  Upper MG, Humorous Fantasy.
Name: Rebecca Waddell
Title: Behind the Tangle Trees
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy/Sci Fi
Name: Carol Ayer
Title: Haunted Ever After
Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Name: FishOutOfWater
Genre: Adult Thriller/Detective Fiction
Name:  Katie Teller
Title: Dancing in the Athenian Rain
Genre: NA Romantic Time Travel
Name: Aidan Larson
Genre: Women’s Fiction

The Stab in the Dark Contest Has Come to a Close

Hi all!

Thank you very much for taking the time to participate in our Halloween A Stab in the Dark Agent Contest! For those with requests, congratulations and go on and shoot them off to your respective agents (proofread first! ya know, just in case). Thank you again to all those who participated and put their work out there. Never an easy feat.

A big thank you to our agents Pooja Menon, Danielle Smith and Olga Filina. Feel free to query them through the regular channels.



Monday, October 21, 2013

Heads up!

Hello lovelies,

I'm sure some of you are wondering why you haven't seen anymore requests as of late. Well, one of our resident agents had something urgent come up so in order to give her a chance to make requests we're extending the contest until Wednesday at Midnight! (I figured ya'll wouldn't mind seeing as how she's planning to make requests) ;)

Thanks for your patience lovelies.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

#24 ENCIRCLED - YA Magical Realism

Name:    Summer Spence
    YA Magical Realism

16-year-old Elisabeth Bell Pierce is stuck in a castle that's frozen in the past.  But when she finds the Lost Prince of England bewitched deep beneath the castle walls, a love-is-blind romance ignites in the enchanted darkness.  Now, she's determined to bring the past into the present, to build a future together -- but not everything that's lost wants to be found.

First 500:
            I could smell hot metal and the tang of blood.  My labored breath sounded harsh in the crushed space.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.  I focused on the rhythm against the too-still dark.  A small sound joined in; something was dripping somewhere.  Plink.  Plink.  Plink. In-Plink-Out-Plink.  I pushed the wet tangle of hair from my face and pressed a shaking hand to my forehead, where a crazy pressure was mounting.  I twisted, but couldn't right myself: I was upside-down.  I craned my head to the right, a slow motion trip to hell.  My breath caught in my throat; the comforting rhythm died.  I licked my lips, tried to find my voice, but found my hand first instead.  I pushed at the quiet form next to me, my seatbelt catching and straining to keep me still.
            "Momma," I croaked out in the barest whisper, the night shattering into pieces around me.  She didn't answer.  I found her hand and held it in mine.  I thought it twitched a bit.  Just a bit, but it did.  A tear rolled to the tip of my nose and clung on for dear life.  And then, her eyes opened -- the grey-brown irises wide against pain and darkness.  Her lips moved soundlessly.  A thin beam of moonlight broke through the window and lit her haunted face, and a dull roar started in my head, the scream of blood and fear.  I looked into my mother's fading eyes and wished to be somewhere, anywhere but here.
And then I was gone.  I was little again, so little, snuggled down into the blanket my mom had made me, watching the moonlight that peeked through my pale curtains, the window glass foggy against the cold blue night.  The wind whistled, ghosts of the winter season screaming for entry to our cozy home.  My mom gently stroked my cheek, her soothing British alto warming the night around me.
"One more story, Elisabeth, and that's all, love.  It's time for sleep," she crooned.
She played with a stray strand of my hair and stared out into nightfall, where a thousand million stars burned, then began as she always did.  I snuggled in closer, spooked already.
"On a cold, cold night -- much like this one -- a small girl hunched against the inky-black darkness.  A low and menacing sound drew closer, ever closer, echoing from deep within the ancient stone walls that surrounded her.  The girl trembled under her bedclothes, searching the darkness for the thing that drew near.  She breathed in the smallest breaths, trying not to make a noise, hoping it would pass her by.  But it scraped and scrabbled through the walls, its skittering echo filling the room.  It was coming for her.  And when it found her, the little girl knew the thing would claim her, and she would be lost forever…"
Sleep tugged at my little eyes and the words blurred and chased me into dreams of a far-away castle shrouded in midnight dread, where a small voice called me to come into the dark, to rescue what had been lost.

#23 DEATH BY HIGH HEELS - Adult Mystery

Name:  Violet Ingram
Genre: Mystery
75 word pitch: 
PI Kimberly Murphy is caught standing over a dead body, again, only this time it wasn’t her fault.
To clear her slightly tarnished name, Kim goes after a killer while avoiding a hot cop determined to put her in handcuffs – and not the pink, fuzzy kind. Kim’s efforts lead to dead ends and even more dead bodies. Kim will need skills, luck, and a miracle to avoid a killer desperate to end her meddling – permanently.
First 500 words:
Cops hate it when you vomit all over their crime scene – a mistake I had no desire to repeat. Then again, the fact that I’d just trampled all over this scene was probably a whole new mistake I should have avoided.  I stared at the corpse and fought the urge to hurl. If only I hadn’t answered the door, I’d be eating dinner instead of standing in my neighbor’s apartment looking at a dead guy. 
Said dead guy was just sitting there in the chair. You would think he was asleep – if not for all the blood and guts spilled onto his lap. I tore my eyes from him and asked the question I most wanted the answer to.
“What the heck did you hit him with?” 
Lindsay dropped the strand of blonde hair she’d been twirling and glanced down at the floor.  “My shoe.”
“I’ve already told you. Twice. I hit him with my shoe.”
“Damn it, Lindsay, you can’t kill someone with a shoe!” 
Hello, they’re Via Spiga.”
“Ugh.”  I glared. There was no way in hell she had done this kind of damage with a shoe.  If she had, women would soon be saying goodbye to their much-beloved accessory.  Men-even NRA members- would insist on an instant ban of the deadly yet sexy weapon.
I set my hands on my hips. “Any idea how he got this giant hole in his stomach?” 
“What?  No, I hit him and ran.”  Lindsay’s face paled and she leaned against the doorframe. 
 “Come here and see if you recognize him.”
“Gross, no way. Besides you’re the detective you figure out who he is.”
Technically, I was a private investigator, a fact that had continually escaped my neighbor.
“Get over here!” I turned towards her and spotted Lakeview, Ohio’s oldest beat cop standing behind her, his gun drawn.  It would have been scary if only he didn’t look like Santa Claus dressed as a cop for Halloween. With the beginnings of a snow white beard and a pot belly in the making. 
“Ah hell,” I muttered.  “Hey Duncan.”
“Kim Murphy.  Oh man the Chief’s gonna be pissed,” Officer Duncan said.
“We don’t really have to tell him, do we?”
“You don’t think he’s gonna find out his daughter got herself mixed up with another dead guy? You didn’t kill this one too did you? Wait, don’t answer that.”
“I didn’t kill him. Jeez.”
The last time I’d been caught standing over a dead guy was because I’d shot the miserable son of a bitch.  It was self-defense and besides, the guy deserved it. Thankfully there were several witnesses and the Grand Jury had dropped the matter. Which was why I was enjoying the comforts of my own apartment when Lindsay came banging on my door.
Duncan looked over at her. “Now who might you be, Miss?” 
“I’m Lindsay Pembrook.”
 He glanced my way. “I guess that’s the dead guy. You sure he’s dead?” Duncan asked me.
 “Yeah, I’m sure,” I said, looking away from the object of our discussion. 


Name: Karen lee hallam
Title: Brothers on the Rim 
Genre: YA suspense. 

While visiting the family’s hunting lodge, brothers, Jackson 15 and Arthur Bower 13  go for a walk. Their father’s drinking again and he’s started in with Artie. Darkness falls and they’re lost. A cave dwelling recluse finds them, and takes them back to his cave, where they discover he’s planning a major bombing. Jackson must drag his wounded brother through the mountain, and the rains, in order to stop the bombing before it’s too late.

First 500:

Artie sure was fast on his feet. You’d think the wet grass would slow him down. Not Art. What he lacked in strength he made up for in agility. I'm the one that tends to slip, but this time, caught myself before I was flat in the mud.

“Artie, where you going?”

“Remember the short cut? Mom used to tell us to follow the trillium flowers if we ever got lost. They wind along the creek through to Mr. Potters.”

“Wait—hold up.”

I caught up with Artie at the edge of the ravine. The white trillium flowers lined the creek, and wound their way upstream. Art stood, staring out over the drop, the cold wind wearing on his face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

It takes a minute for Art to figure out what to say. I know he’s thinking about Mom. “Ah--nothing.”

He knows I know.

And like that, I let it be. There’s an understanding between us, like a secret language we’ve had to use to conceal our communication when our father’s around. Rick has very little time for our “flights of fancy” –his words, but originally, Mom’s words.

We rambled back through the thicket of bare branches, through the buds on the verge of bursting open for the new spring. My breath floated in waves and surrounded me. Somehow I’ve gotten ahead of Artie. I turned to see if he was listening, since I’d been talking on and on. If Artie’s the quiet one, I’m the rambler. Mostly I noted the species of plants we came across. It keeps my head occupied. Keeps me from the negative thoughts and feelings that are about to hit me across the face when we get back.

I’m supposed to keep an eye on Artie. I’m the older brother. Mom told me to watch over him, knowing our father, Rick, would have other things on his mind. Or be completely unavailable. It’s my responsibility. Artie’s only two years younger, but some days I feel years older, like an old man, really, and I’m only fifteen.

It’s been raining for weeks. The rainy season, and should just be called the mud season. A haze of grey covered everything. The brown flowed where the water flowed. We met again with the creek, now a small brook lined with bluebell flowers and walked north, headed upstream, until we spot the Hunting Lodge. With the chimney pumping out puffs of warm smoke, the lodge looked inviting.

But it’s not.

Rick, most likely, barely noticed we were gone. It was half past a six-pack time by now, and maybe 3:00 in the afternoon. I know his drinking schedule pretty well. If Rick didn’t shoot anything today, he’s drink his weight in beer, and most likely, take it out on me, and Artie.

Rick doesn’t “get” Artie. He just doesn’t. I play along sometimes, with all the dude stuff. But Artie doesn’t care. He does what he feels. And he’s got big ideas. Mom used to say Artie was a dreamer. 


Name: Tracey S. Rosenberg
Title: Sweet City With Her Dreaming Spires
Genre: Commercial

75-word pitch:
Sara Saltzer dreams about being a graduate student at Oxford University, but she's so worried about failure that she lies to the snooty college librarian. To her dismay, she starts falling in love with him. If she doesn't write better essays, she'll flunk out, but how can Sara concentrate on Victorian literature when her secretive Latin-quoting roommate threatens to blow up the college, and the librarian is the only person who can help?

First 500 words:
If I want to win the Busby-Gale Prize, I have to write this essay, Sara berated herself. The judges will not be impressed that I have the most neatly-stacked library books of the graduating class.
In the Quiet Reading Space, regularly voted the best study room on the Ward campus, the only decorations were soothing arrangements of fronded houseplants. The tall windows offered a relaxing view of snow-covered lawns. At the long tables, students were tapping on keyboards, sketching mindmaps, flipping through anthologies bristling with bookmarks and Post-It notes. Sara opened her laptop, once again marveling at how everyone else was capable of such diligent work. Writing essays always felt like gulping a lungful of air, falling into an Olympic-sized pool, and churning frantically until her hands grasped the wall. Even then, she still never felt entirely certain that she really believed her own arguments.
Around her laptop lay everything she needed for the slog: The Mill on the Floss and Middlemarch, well-annotated from Professor McCulloch’s weekly seminars; three sheets of page references listing relevant quotations (cross-referenced in orange and green highlighter); and five books of critical essays on George Eliot, one of them overdue. She vowed to return it as soon as she’d dropped off her essay at the English Literature office in seven and a half – no, closer to seven hours.
In this essay, I will examine, she began typing, knowing it for a freshman trick, the ways in which George Eliot refuses to allow her female characters autonomy and agency.
The words vanished as a sheet of paper dropped over the screen.
Under the words, a frowning stick figure lay crushed beneath a copy of Webster’s Unabridged. “You win, Julia!” it cried in a speech bubble.
Sara crossed out “win” and wrote “sound like a broken record”, then added: ESSAY CRISIS. SEE YOU TONIGHT.
Tower of London!” Julia hissed, brandishing a travel brochure. “Stratford!”
By the time the room monitor looked up from his sociology textbook, Julia had grabbed Sara’s arm and was pulling her outside.
We’re graduating in four months!” she lectured, as the wood-and-glass door eased shut behind them. “We need to flirt with diplomats and sleep in train stations and get our passports stolen. The travel agent said if we want the best fares, we need to buy tickets by the end of the month! Why do you keep pretending you don’t want to go to England?”
People at the table nearest to the door were turning around and squinting through the glass. One of them, Julia’s roommate from sophomore year, seemed to be laughing.
If you’re going to harangue me about this again, I want some tea.”
You drink tea,” Julia proclaimed as they clattered downstairs. “Just like English people. You drink tea and you’ve been jabbering about English literature since I met you. The day I met you. ‘Hi! I’m Sara Saltzer! Have you read Alice in Wonderland?’”
I’m pretty sure that’s not how I introduced myself.”

#19 SHATTERED - NA Fantasy

Name: Tiffanie Lynn
Genre: NA Fantasy

75 word pitch:
Eighteen-year-old Dawn’s no thief, yet she’ll have to be if she wants to save her sisters from becoming demon chow. She’s tasked with stealing a powerful charm capable of releasing an imprisoned succubus—but first she’ll have to get past its steamy guardian, Kalan. Dawn discovers Kalan has his own agenda, though, and seducing her is the first step in his plan.

First 500 words: 
Don’t look, Dawn. You know what happens when you look.
I looked up. It was inevitable. When you tell yourself not to do something, you usually do the exact opposite.
The park vendors swarmed me like a pack of rabid dogs. Their voices tore into me, snarling off sales pitches.
“A beautiful necklace for a beautiful—”
“Would you like a subscription to The Vigrith—?”
“Mini glow-in-the-dark helicopters for sale! Buy ‘em by the dozen.”
“What? No. Why the hell would I want twelve glowing helicopters?”
I didn’t wait for a reply. I walked as fast as I could without drawing attention. Luckily, the tiny carts were only set up at one entrance to the park. Turning into a large clearing, I glanced around for Cassie before settling at an empty picnic table.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find one in the shade. The heat was bearable, but the sun had me worried. Ultraviolet rays plus white girl equaled a burn no amount of aloe vera could soothe. Hey, at least I had a gorgeous view...
Who was I kidding?
One half of the park had a dried-up garden with a statue of the plump Lady Fredericton; the other side had a few trees, twice as many picnic tables and a pathetically empty sand pit—
Power washed over me, rushing into my lungs like water. I gasped, my vision blurring. Stupid. I’d been stupid. Letting my mental barriers down was the epitome of stupid. The intruder left almost as soon as they came, but I still sensed them.
I threw up my shield before searching. All I’d felt was curiosity, but underneath that was a staggering amount of power. No one I knew in Vigrith was that strong. I scanned the area with my mind, jumping from person-to-person. Even with so-called control issues, I could find an immortal without causing too much damage to those around me.
Everyone in the park was human. The people wandering the sidewalks were human, too. I jumped to the minds across the street, scanning until I found him. I knew it was him, just as I knew he was veiled from human eyes and standing under the awning of the flower store, Alyssums to Zinnias.
When I opened my eyes, the world came back with a crushing weight. It pushed me to the ground. The sun was too bright; the morning breeze raked across my skin; the smell of roses and sweat clogged my nose. I heard every conversation nearby and hundreds of pounding heartbeats. They all melded together into one overpowering super sense. It lasted for only a moment, an endless moment, before I could shut it off. The noises and smells faded. I felt the soft prickle of grass against my face.
I sat up. Ah, crap. A dozen people were staring at me. Rule Number One of Being Inhuman: Don’t draw attention to yourself. My sisters had drilled the rules into my head since I could walk. Things like: “Don’t move too fast, Dawn” or “Don’t respond out loud to people’s thoughts, Dawn” or, my favorite, “Don’t bench-press the neighbor's Mini Cooper, Dawn.”

#18 BENEATH YA- Sci-fi/Thriller

Name: Lisa Gail Green
Genre: YA Sci-fi/thriller

75 word pitch: 
Jen loathes spending six weeks beneath 10,000 tons of ocean in the first-of-its-kind Paradise Atlantis resort when her dad would rather work on nano-suns than focus on his family.
Worse, pressure sickness meds give Jen scary side effects. Effects like blackouts occuring at the same time a saboteur strikes.
When sabotage escalates to murder, Jen's conscience forces her to pursue the truth. She's either a killer or putting herself next on the list of victims.

First 500 words: 

Being submerged beneath ten thousand tons of ocean water might kill me. But being trapped for six weeks in a dressed up and glorified fish tank definitely will. The others in the shuttle pod don’t get it. They actually want to be here. Maybe I would too if it was Mom here and healthy instead of the wench.
The doors shut with a final sounding clang that reverberates through my head, making me wince. I have the sudden urge to throw myself at them and beg to be let out. I need one last gulp of fresh air.
But the crystal blue waters close over the 360-degree wall of windows, drowning my last view of the sky. All around me employees and their family members gather as close to the glass as they can get, too eager to sit. They remind me of the school of silver herring that swirls by to the right, all following each other’s lead.
I reach for my phone to see if Mom texted, when I remember the last argument I had with Dad and how I wouldn’t be allowed cell contact. In fact, I wasn’t going to be allowed any contact with the surface unless approved by Bennett Systems. Like I was going to let them see my personal correspondence.
The shuttle is a sphere, so no matter which direction I look, I find either the twin shuttle pod filled with yet more excited tourists or fish that stare back, wondering what the hell we’re doing in their space. Of course the one spot without windows is plastered with giant posters depicting our ultimate destination, Paradise Atlantis Resort.
“Welcome!” A way too chipper voice screeches in my ears. It’s like wipers on a dry windshield.
Marisol Thompson, VP of Bennett Systems – or BS as I like to call them – stands strategically framed by the giant poster decorating the doors. She’s dressed in her Stewardess Barbie uniform. The big red bow around her neck is worse than her voice, and that coupled with the piped in pine-scented air-freshener makes me nauseas.  
“This is the beginning of the adventure of your lifetime. You are among the lucky few handpicked to christen the vacation destination of the future. In just one short hour we will reach Paradise Atlantis. Please make yourselves comfortable. Beverages will be served shortly. Restrooms are located on either side of the entry portal. I’d like to invite you to relax, enjoy the view, and settle in for the best six weeks of your life.”
I wonder if she’s a robot. It wouldn’t be that far fetched considering BS is the leader in cutting edge tech. Plus, she barely blinks and her skin is as smooth and plastic as the Barbie she’s dressed like. Either way, it’s hard to believe someone like her programmed BS’s Artificial Intelligence that’s now a household feature.
“You’re going to be in heaven when we get there, Jen,” Dad says, grabbing my hand. “Just relax and enjoy the ride.”

#17 THE CRY HOUSE - YA Gothic Romance

Name: Sonia Hartl     
Title: The Cry House
Genre: YA Gothic Romance
75 word pitch: Seventeen-year-old Faith is haunted by spirits from the Gilded Age, where madness lies dormant and killers hide behind the fa├žade of polite society. She doesn’t need Logan’s help in dealing with the dead. She’s got this. But when Logan starts having visions of murder and revenge, Faith is caught between the ghosts that won’t let go and the guy she won’t let in. One loves her, one needs her, one wants her dead.
First 500 words: The sticky sweet closeness of death coated Faith’s senses like over-ripe strawberry jam. Someone was watching her. Shadows shifted across the desolate street. She peered over her shoulder at the Cry House. It stood in the distance, vacant and still. Not a single floating sheet or rattling chain in sight. She would have welcomed a moaning specter, something to explain the feeling of being stalked. She had a lot more to fear from the living than the dead.
Unable to shake the feeling that she was being followed, Faith took off running. Wind tossed her hair, scattering it over her eyes. A streetlight flicked on with an electric hum and pop above her head. The air grew damp and heavy with the approaching night.
Faith took another hasty scan of the house. Empty. Slowing down, she exhaled.
Get over yourself. No one is chasing you.
The sound of Logan’s voice made every muscle in her body tight. Oh God, kill me, kill me now. Closing her eyes, she waited a beat before reopening them, willing herself to disappear. He probably thinks I’m eight shades of crazy.
“Hey, I thought that was you,” Logan said as he hopped a low fence to catch up to her. “What were you running from?”
Irrational fear and shame burned her pale cheeks. Toeing at a weed that poked through the sidewalk crack, she tried to come up with a witty response.
“Um, you.”
“Figures,” he said.
When he leaned down to whisper something in her ear, she backed up a step. Logan crossed his arms and frowned, but kept his distance.
“Arm’s length,” he muttered.
Confused by his annoyance, Faith looked up through the swing of her bangs. Refusing to meet his eyes, she concentrated instead on the way his black hair curled against his jaw. Without meaning to, her gaze wandered to his full lips, slightly parted and damp, like they had just been... she heard her breath catch a moment before inhaling.
The slow spread of his grin made her curse her stupid involuntary reflexes. He gave a low and intimate laugh, causing her stomach to flutter in response. Willing to play along, she tried to give him a small smile, but the shape of her mouth told her it was closer to a grimace.
“How do I always manage to piss you off?” he asked.
“I’m not pissed, you just caught me off guard,” she said, folding her arms across her chest.
“Maybe I’m just always catching you off guard then,” he said, rubbing his chin between his finger and thumb.
Dropping her gaze to her feet, she shrugged.
Logan blew out his breath, ran a hand through his hair, and shifted his stance. “What are you doing tonight?”
“I’m on my way to Ollie’s house,” she said. “Girls night.”
She tried to relax her facial muscles enough to give a real smile, which she found much easier when she didn’t have to look at him.