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!
 
 
Auzy
 
 
Name: Sonia Hartl     
Title: The Cry House
Genre: YA Gothic Romance
Slice
 
 
Name: Patrice Caldwell
Title: ALEX DE VEGA AND PANDORA’S BOX
Genre: MG Thriller
Slice
 
 
Name: Theresa Milstein
Title: SAVING DANGER
Gener: Upper Middle Grade Contemporary
Slice
 
 
Name:  Stacey Trombley
Title:  DARCY DARKLING AND THE FORGOTTEN CITY
Genre: MG urban fantasy
Stab  Slice
 
 
Name: Lisa Gail Green
Title: BENEATH
Genre: YA Sci-fi/thriller
Kill  Slice
 
 
Name: Annie Sullivan
Title: Goldilocks
Genre: YA Fantasy
Stab  Slice  Slice
 
Name: Carl Hackman
Title:  GERALD AND THE AMULET OF ZONRACH
Genre:  Upper MG, Humorous Fantasy.
Slice
 
Name: Rebecca Waddell
Title: Behind the Tangle Trees
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy/Sci Fi
Slice
 
Name: Carol Ayer
Title: Haunted Ever After
Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Stab
 
Name: FishOutOfWater
Title: OBLIVIOUS
Genre: Adult Thriller/Detective Fiction
Slice
 
Name:  Katie Teller
Title: Dancing in the Athenian Rain
Genre: NA Romantic Time Travel
Stab
 
 
Name: Aidan Larson
Title: FRENCH FLAVORED LIFE
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Stab
 
 
 
 

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.

Cheers,

~Liz

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.

~Liz

Thursday, October 17, 2013

#24 ENCIRCLED - YA Magical Realism

Name:    Summer Spence
Title:
       ENCIRCLED
Genre:
    YA Magical Realism

Pitch:
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
Title:  DEATH BY HIGH HEELS 
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.”
“Huh?”
“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. 

#22 BROTHERS ON THE RIM - YA Suspense

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

75:   
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. 

#21 SWEET CITY WITH HER DREAMING SPIRES - Commercial Fiction

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.
WE ARE GOING TO ENGLAND. IF YOU SAY NO, I WILL BEAT YOU WITH A DICTIONARY.
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
Title: SHATTERED
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.
 
Crap.
 
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—”
 
“No.”
 
“Would you like a subscription to The Vigrith—?”
 
“No.”
 
“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
Title: BENEATH
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.
 
“Faith?”
 
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.”
 
Brilliant.
 
“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.

#16 ALEX DE VEGA AND PANDORA'S BOX - MG Thriller


Name: Patrice Caldwell
Title: ALEX DE VEGA AND PANDORA’S BOX
Genre: MG Thriller
Word Count: 41,000

75 word pitch: When a high-tech energy cube goes missing, twelve-year-old criminal mastermind, Alex de Vega, is The Agency's top suspect.  As the mayor’s daughter, Alex is untouchable, but her best friend and constant accomplice, James, is one strike away from lifetime detention on The Arctic Isles.  To clear his name and save their city, they must race to retrieve the cube—codenamed Pandora’s Box—from supernatural creatures who wish to use it to destroy them all.

First 500 words: 

At a small wooden desk in the corner of a stark-white classroom sat a tiny girl with dark brown hair falling just past her shoulder.  In front of her was a thin computer screen that, unlike the ones in front of the rest of the students, was pitch black.
"Miss de Vega," said the girl's teacher, who was wearing the most hideous of floral dresses. The girl frowned; floral was not a pattern anyone should wear.
"Alex," snapped the teacher. "You're supposed to be watching the instructional video."    
Alex only sighed, pulling at the chunky beaded bracelet on her right wrist.  She wondered why in the year 3147 middle school sucked as much as it probably did when it was first created.  Someone should've figured out a way to make it more interesting by now.
Her teacher leaned forward, placing a hand on Alex’s desk.  "Do you really want to be sent to the principal's office, again?"
As if that would happen.  Alex chuckled to herself.  She turned, peering at the large clock on the wall as the second hand ticked three times, and the minute hand moved, joining it with the hour hand at the clock's top.  It was then that the classroom door burst open with a loud thud against the wall.  Alex leaned back in her chair and smiled. 
"Ms. Harland, Ms. Harland," said a messy, red-haired boy.  He drew in a deep breath. "The droids, th-they're fighting. In the hallway." He collapsed on the floor.
"What do you mean they're fighting?" asked the teacher, peeping her head out the door. There was a shriek.  The school principal ran by, one of the robots fast behind him.  "Oh my." She pushed the red emergency button under her desk. "Okay, stay here. Someone will be here shortly.  I'm going to rescue Principal Schley."
Alex rolled her eyes, still smiling to herself. That woman had taken one self-defense class and she already thought she was Wonder Woman. Not that it mattered since Alex had only programmed the bots to tickle. Of course, James and her would be long gone by the time they figured that out. Speaking of James, where was he?  She slid out of her desk. No doubt, he was still next door like the teacher's pet he was.
As she exited, she noticed her classmates hadn't budged.  In fact, they barely raised an eyebrow when she stood to walk out.  She sighed; she'd have to do better next time.
Standing on the tip of her toes, she peeped through the window of the classroom next door. There he was, sitting at one of the back desks, playing with his phone.  She jumped up then smiled to herself when she saw his teacher wasn't present.
"Pst," she said, poking her head into the doorway. "James."
James took his headphones off and his hunter green eyes brightened.    "What's it this time?" he asked, walking over, his voice cracking. 

#15 BEHIND THE TANGLE TREES - MG Fantasy/Sci-fi


Name: Rebecca Waddell
Title: Behind the Tangle Trees
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy/Sci Fi

Pitch:
      Ten-year-old Kenton is a boy with too many secrets and not enough sleep. Joined by her best friend, Spryte, he has to find a way to survive his bully and keep from leaking out the truth about what lives behind the tangle trees, and his past, and his mom. To make matters worse, Kenton is a terrible liar. Getting an average of four hours of sleep, his entire world begins to unravel.

First 500 Words:
Chapter 1
 
      Kenton rolled onto his side facing the wall. His blond hair was drenched with sweat, though the dark room was cool. “Bear... Dropped my bear...” His arm flailed, throwing his blankets over his face. “Go back,” he muttered. Tossing and turning, he fell off the bed.
     Kenton hit the ground face down with one arm pinned under his body. His other arm held his pillow over his face. He moaned into the pillow. The alarm clock buzzed. “No air!” Kenton screamed into his pillow. He thrashed on the floor, trying to free his trapped limb. His other arm clawed at the pillow. “No air.”
      Dante stretched, yawned, and looked down at Kenton struggling with his pillow. Pulling back the covers, Dante slid to the floor. He shook Kenton and rolled him onto his back.
      “Wake up!” Dante insisted. He reached up to switch off their   alarm. The buzzing stopped. “You’re having the nightmare again. Wake up. We’re in our new home, safe.” He pulled the pillow away from Kenton’s face Kenton eyes flew wide open. He sucked in a deep breath. His sweaty shirt clung to his back. “The buzzing! No air!” he panted.
“It’s the alarm clock, not your suit. It’s time to get up.  We’re live in Clib colony now. Remember?” Dante asked.
     “Clib?”
     “Yes, that’s right, Clib. We landed yesterday. Remember the crazy forest? They call them snagle, I mean tangle trees.
Kenton rubbed his eyes and blinked. He sighed. “I remember.” He sat up, his shirt clinging to his back. “I can’t believe I’m still having nightmares.”
      Dante shrugged. “The Company doctors said to give it time.”
“The Company?” Kenton spat the words out. “They would’ve been happier if we all died on Selt.”
      Dante nodded. “I know,” he said softly. “Just remember not to talk about Selt outside the family.”
      Kenton looked down at his hands. “I know.  I really hate lying about it though. This would all be so much easier if we could just be honest about what happened. I don’t get why we have to keep it secret.”
      Dante nodded again. “Maybe you wouldn’t still be having nightmares a year after we were rescued if we didn’t have to keep it private.” He shrugged and got to his feet. “But, we do, even if we don’t know why it’s such a secret.”
      Kenton sighed. “I really hate lying.”
      “I know. Come on. We better get ready. We’re due to tour the colony soon. I can’t wait to see those trees up close.  Especially what they called ‘The Grove.’ I think this place is going to be a lot better than the space station.”
      “I think you’re right. Even if we still have to lie,” Kenton said.
 
      An hour later, Kenton’s neck was sore from staring up at the tall trees, blue-green against an aqua sky. His amber eyes drank in the sight of endless, cloud-dotted heavens.