Thursday, September 27, 2012

Live Pitch Contest... with VLOGS! O_O

Go here for details
So, you may already know that I majored in Theatre Arts. Where I took scads of acting classes. This after I was the Speech and Drama Stirling Scholar for my Utah high school. I'm currently employed as a trial lawyer. I talk for a living. I talk in front of people for a living. I love talking to large crowds of people. Or small crowds of people. Or just to people. I have never once in my life been accused of shyness. (Anyone who knows me is laughing right now at the very idea.)

So why am I so terrified of recording myself giving my pitch and then posting that pitch online?

Talking? No problem.

Being on camera? Nope--I was in a student film in college and had tons of fun.

Pitching? Mildly terrifying, but I've done it before and survived nicely.

Proving to the world at large that I'm rather a fool? Eh. I'm a blue personality, so I crave intimacy in any form. The more you know about me, the happier I am. You'll probably think my foolishness is endearing. Or something.

Is it creating the vlog? Maybe--I've never done that before. I might suck at it. I might also be able to use this as the perfect excuse to finally purchase a webcam. (I know, I know. Living in the Dark Ages, blah, blah, blah.) And technology toys have never frightened me. Nor computer programs. And I'm a wiz at googling "How to create a vlog." And following instructions.

But, you guys . . . normally public speaking includes someone to talk to. Someone I can adjust my voice and facial expressions for. Vlogs are filled with semi-planned semi-spontaneity recorded in a vacuum. I suck at semi-planned semi-spontaneity--especially in a vacuum. Ditto at planned quirkiness. How does one script for personality? But if I don't script for personality, won't it figure showing up is optional? Surely a personality-free pitch is worse than no pitch at all!

Also, where should I film the video? If you were looking out my monitor at this moment, you'd see the bathroom door behind me. And the hall where my kids sometimes hang up their backpacks. Might be distracting. But is the view of the dining room's dirty blinds any better? The TV? The front window, currently covered by sheet-curtains?

This is why two of the organizers of the upcoming Pitch Live! contest teamed up to talk me off the ledge on Twitter on Monday. The first one is me replying to Brenda's tweet announcing Leigh's sample-vlog.

They're so nice, right? I mean, who can say no to these girls?

So I should do it, right?
*runs screaming into the night*
*feels ashamed of self*
*gathers courage*
*seeks a sticking-place*
*realizes she has run out of screws*

Anyway, any advice would be appreciated. I'd like to learn how to edit out the boring parts, where to look, what to say... etc. Please feel free to answer the questions I don't know enough to ask. Are there any free video editing software programs that can help me spruce it up? Help!

Also, you all should totally join in the torture fun. Misery Party loves company, after all.

You gonna play?

Monday, September 24, 2012

GUTGAA Agent Week!

Deana Barnhart

The Gearing Up to Get An Agent--Agent Pitch Contest is in its final round! If you're not following on Twitter already, the #GUTGAA hashtag is still going strong, so go! Talk!

Since I love all things GUTGAA, and really loved hosting, I thought I'd make it easy for you all to find the finalists who started here on my blog:

October 1 Update: Below is the final tally. Congrats to everyone!

#1 A CITY IN THE AIR is now Agent Pitch Finalist #39
#5 EXISTENCE  is now Agent Pitch Finalist #38--and has a request!
#9 THE LONG-TIMERS is now Agent Pitch Finalist #37--and has 3 requests!
#10 AGAINST THE FALLING MOONS is now Agent Pitch Finalist #36
#16: THE DESIREE is now Agent Pitch Finalist #35--and has a request!
#23 THE BEAUTY OF DESTRUCTION is now Agent Pitch Finalist #34--and has a request!
#27 AFTERLIFE  is now Agent Pitch Finalist #33
#32 BETWEEN THE CURRENTS is now Agent Pitch Finalist #32
#34 DIVINE  is now Agent Pitch Finalist #31--and has 3 requests!
#36 WATER LILY is now Agent Pitch Finalist #30

Also, one of the great things about the no-comments-except-for-agents rule is that you can go through the entries on the main page and easily see who is getting requests! Our entries start on the third page back, here. I'll try to get the requests above updated each night so everyone can see the awesome.

Good luck to everyone in the finals!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Les Mis!!!

My junior year of high school, I went on choir tour from Sandy, Utah to Seattle, Washington. We rode in a tour bus. It took about (checks Google Maps...) 14 hours. At the beginning of the trip, a friend lent me her cassette tape (if you young un's reading this don't know that that is, Google it) of Les Misérables. I plugged it into my walkman (yes, I'm OLD) and turned it on. I spent almost the entire trip with my hands clamped over my headphones to block out the party going on around me, absorbing the beauty of this musical. Later, another friend who had seen the musical live and purchased the extended soundtrack spent three glorious hours describing each scene to me as we listened to it together.

One of my greatest sadnesses is that I've always lacked the funds to see a lot of live theatre. So I've never seen Les Mis live. (Yeah, I majored in Theatre Arts. My priorities are WAY out of wack.)

Which is why I was so ecstatic/thrilled/weepy when I saw this:

YOU GUYS! Can anything be more wonderful?

Edit: OH! A trailer! This is pretty dang wonderful, too!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

GUTGAA Round One Results

Whew! What a tense few days! Gearing Up to Get An Agent Round 1 was a resounding success, and I had a blast watching my four judges agonize over their votes--and tweeting them the second they were made!

To help me keep track, I made the following spreadsheet, which is just too pretty to keep to myself:

See how pretty?

Since you might not be able to read the thing, here are the ten finalists from my blog, with links to their awesome entries and the number of votes they got. All 2-votes in the finals also received a tie-breaker vote:

#1 A CITY IN THE AIR (2 votes)
#5 EXISTENCE (3 votes)
#9 THE LONG-TIMERS  (2 votes)
#16: THE DESIREE (4 votes)
#27 AFTERLIFE (3 votes)
#34 DIVINE (2 votes) 
#36 WATER LILY (2 votes) 

Congratulations to all the finalists! We're all going to be rooting for you in the agent round!

I was going to do a post with everyone's real name, etc, but I think it will be best if you all just reveal yourselves in the comments on your own entries. That way I don't out someone who would rather have remained anonymous.

I think I'll also get permission to tell you the real identities of our judges, soon, so stay tuned.

And now a word to those who didn't get any votes. There were 17 of you right here on my blog and more scattered throughout the contest. I was one of them: I didn't get any votes, either, though a couple agents said they would have voted for mine if only they had more votes. (They didn't really say how many votes they would have needed to vote for mine....) :) There are a few reasons your perfectly awesome book might not have been honored with a vote: 
  1. The query and first page don't yet reflect the awesomeness of your book.
  2. The judges were in the mood for a different kind of awesome.
  3. Your competitors's entries were three-tenths of a hair more awesome than yours.
Whatever the reason, don't you dare give up. There were one or two trolls on the #GUTGAA twitter feed who thought it would be fun to gripe and complain about the judges, the set-up, the fact that Deana wasn't able to pull in actual agents to read the first 200... yeah. Nothing worth listening to.

Don't be like that. Take your comments, improve your query, and come back for the next contest. There's always another one, just around the bend.

Meanwhile, check out my compilation of everything I don't know about writing a query in the How NOT to Write a Query tab at the top of the page. Also, it looks like I'm going to be hosting a #GUTGAAlosers bloghop to help us all improve our queries--unless you're planning to enter the GUTGAA Small Publisher contest--in that case, the unofficial pitch polish blog hop is here.

So how was your experience? Learn anything? If I do a losers bloghop, are you going to play?

Monday, September 17, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Contest Round One!

Welcome to the first round of the Gearing Up To Get An Agent Pitch contest! If you have no clue what GUTGAA is, go here

Deana Barnhart

Everyone up to speed? Good.

This week I have the honor of hosting 39 GUTGAA First Round Entries in the genres of YA Steampunk, YA Adventure, YA Sci-Fi, YA Paranormal, and YA Dystopian--all of which are posted in their own little posts below this post, and can be browsed in the sidebar, as well. There are 205 total entries over 5 host blogs—SURPRISE! Deana let in 5 extras. ('Cause she's awesome like that.)

From now until Thursday, please comment on the entries and try to imagine which of these 39 entries would be in your personal top ten. Fiction is entirely subjective, so your top ten might not be in the actual top ten--which will go on to be among the fifty finalists presented to the agents next week--but if you love them, tell them! You can also make any constructive comments, but keep it nice! If you hate an entry and don't know how to fix it, keep it to yourself: troll comments will be deleted.

If your own entry is here, please comment on as many as you can, and let's all make sure everyone gets plenty of constructive comments. If you can't catch all 39, skip around and see which don't have as many comments. We all know how frustrating it is when we can't tell whether our entry needs work . . . or is just being overlooked.

While you're commenting, watch for these Covert Judges, who will be judging the entries on this blog and each selecting their Top Ten:

Miss Mary Mac
Missus Braidyhead

[Update 1: sorry, everyone, but I missed a last-minute judge change. Lumpy Space Princess is now judging elsewhere, but we're thrilled to have Hopey!]

If your entry is on my blog and if one of these awesome judges says "You've got my vote!" feel free to celebrate--but wait! Only ten entries will move on, so there is the very real chance that the judges will each vote for a different Top 10 and will have to call in another judge to break some ties. When the dust settles, there will be an official announcement on who made the top ten here, and the top fifty overall. Be patient and keep in mind that this is super-subjective. Lets all be professional while we gnaw our fingernails to bloody stumps, k?

You're welcome to check out the list of judges here and try to guess the real identities of our Covert Judges, but they won't be unmasked until they're done judging. (Lest the authors attempt bribery, blackmail, and Tweet-Begging. Which just isn't dignified.)

When you're done here, hop on over to the other host blogs:

Deana Barnhart (GUTGAA Mastermind Extraordinaire): Hosting Middle Grade, Picture Book, and New Adult Entries
Falling for Fiction: Hosting YA Fantasy and Urban Fantasy Entries
Cassie Mae: Hosting YA Contemporary, Suspense, Speculative, Supernatural, Magical Realism, and Historical Entries
Jaye Robin Brown: Hosting Adult Entries

[Update 2: Emily King was originally slated to cover the YA Contemps, etc, but that changed to Cassie May in plenty of time for me to notice. But I didn't until someone corrected my Host Tweet. And even then I forgot to update my blog with the correct info. This list is now correct. I'm pretty sure.]

The Super-Secret Covert Judges will be done with their judging by Thursday and the finalists will be announced on Friday.

Good luck to all the participants!


YA Paranormal


Becoming a witch isn’t what sixteen-year-old Hannah Slaughtery expects when enrolls in an exclusive boarding school.  Neither is fighting against monsters she doesn’t believe in.

After an aerial assault by mythical basilisks, Hannah discovers she’s one of five students at the school that make up the next generation of Partizans, a band of supernatural warriors whose origins date back to the dawn of man. In order to stand against a ruthless and tyrannical empire of demons, Hannah must make a choice. Either she refuses her calling and enters a supernatural witness protection program to save her adopted family, or she overcomes her fear and accepts her demon-filled legacy.

Regardless of her decision, there’s one thing Hannah knows for sure: the carefree days of her youth have come to a screeching halt.

First 150 Words

Hannah Slaughtery’s courage faltered as the iron gate creaked open. The late afternoon sunlight filtered through the snow-topped pine trees as she steered her car through the fence, the only thing separating Piaculum Academy from the rest of the world. As she inched forward, something in the air sent a shiver down her spine. It was as if the wind was charged with bursts of electricity and her skin tingled from the connection.  She couldn’t explain why, but for the first time in her life, Hannah realized she felt safe. No. She felt like she was coming home.

Up ahead was a security checkpoint with tinted windows. As she pulled up to the window, a guard with a military haircut and aviator sunglasses opened the window and Hannah thought she caught a whiff of coconut sunscreen, which struck her as odd seeing as how it was early January.

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #39: THE VIDDEN

YA Dystopian


Devonny is Vidden, an elite genetically enhanced faction of a futuristic society. At the age of sixteen she is commissioned by the Tagen to enter the Vidden Army for training. When one of her fellow recruits dies of a high fever, and another disappears, Devonny begins to suspect that the Tagen are plotting a way to get rid of those they deem unworthy.

After months of training the last mission the recruits must undergo is survival training in the Hinders, a place full of disease ridden marauders---zombie-like creatures---called Awders. Devonny is the only one who can sense when an Awder is near. When their former commander turns up as an Awder, Devonny knows something is horribly wrong. She is even more horrified to learn that her blood is the catalyst for a deadly virus the Tagen will use to “vaccinate” the population, a virus they are planning to give the citizens in order to eradicate the deadly disease.

Devonny must stop them from using the virus, but first she has to find a way to save herself and her fellow recruits.

First 150 Words:

A small line of other sixteen-year olds I recognize from the Academy wait to be let in. One boy in particular catches my eye.


I pretend not to notice and avert my gaze making sure my screen is up. The racing of my heart magnifies the rush I feel at seeing him.

One of the girls cries.

As soon as its my turn I stride up to the desk.


A soldier with short cropped hair on the sides and a long braid in back sits behind the desk. He has a large silver T on the right shoulder of his gray jumpsuit. He is Tagen.

"Devonny Wilcox."

He checks a list and directs me to another room with a jerk of his chin.

A metal exam table is in the center of the room. A woman stands near it with a clipboard in her hand.

I take a shaky breath and step forward. 

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #38: DAUGHTER4254

YA Dystopian/Futuristic


Sixteen-year-old Daughter4254 lives in a pragmatic world where humanities are outlawed. No names. No art. No music. Her creative soul is suffocating. To avoid the MindWipe reserved for free-thinking delinquents, her mother teaches her how to survive in the community without losing identity. But when Mother falls ill and is sentenced to death, she spills the biggest secret of all: people used to have real names, and she once had a secret love. Not only that, but there are others like Daughter4254.

Fueled by the grief of losing Mother, and the desire to free her creative spirit, she stages a mutiny of art, music and film. Daughter4254 almost succeeds but is betrayed by her brother and thrown into prison, where she meets Thomas, a boy from the mythical mountain colonies where the arts are encouraged and people have names. If they can’t escape quickly, they will both be sentenced to the MindWipe – a process that erases your mind leaving your body free for the government to use. When their escape plan goes awry, Daughter4254 is forced to choose between changing the world or following Thomas to the quiet life of freedom she has always desired.

First 150 Words:

It was against the law for my mother to comfort me when I cried, but that’s what I remember most vividly about her. If it was at all possible, she would hold me while I sobbed like a  brand new one. My mother tried to teach me not to break down emotionally when I was young; it would give away my mental status. But it was not a lesson I learned quickly or easily. the hugs and kisses and pats on the back were part of many secrets we owned. We constantly gambled that the Auto Eye attendants would not notice us: one small blip of a family on their hundreds of monitoring screens.

Still, the large round bubble loomed like a wicked insect on the ceiling of our home pod. The camera and microphone concealed beneath the dark plastic lump recorded our every word and move and sent them back to the government for monitoring.


Young Adult Dystopian


In three days time Kitty Turner will turn thirteen and earn her shadow. Or more precisely, a Shadeling will come for her in the dead of night and sew a shadow to her heel with a needle of bone.

If she screams: she will die.

If she opens her eyes: she will die.

Anywhere else this would be considered sadistic, yet on Luminance it’s just part of growing up. Founded after ‘The Consequence’ by the villainous entrepreneur Mr. Splicer, Luminance is a post apocalyptic refuge which rests on a titanic convex light source nicknamed ‘The Bulb’. From his black plated spire, Mr. Splicer fulfils his twisted utopian ideal by creating synthetic shadows to control his population. Now every child who turns thirteen is ‘shadowed’ and sent to work in the Shadow Factory: a sinister workhouse where Mr. Splicer’s evil creations are housed.

It is there that Kitty Turner will uncover a secret that will set her free, but ultimately prove her family’s undoing.

THE SHADOW FACTORY is a 68,000 word, young adult dystopian novel that paints a disturbing picture of life after a nuclear apocalypse, through the eyes of an indoctrinated, yet headstrong individual.

First 150 Words:

They called it The Shadow Factory. They gave it that name because it’s the place where the shadows are made. Simple isn’t it? It’s like that so we don’t forget.

We must remember that the things behind us and beneath our feet aren’t natural. They’re woven from nightmares and blackness, manufactured in The Shadow Factory and sewn to our heels with special thread. Once the light from the huge bulb beneath our feet goes out, they separate from us and watch us sleep, hanging over our beds like evil silhouettes.

My name is Kitty Turner and I’m twelve cycles old. A cycle is ten harvests long and a harvest of glow grass is thirty five Bulb days long. They’re called Bulb days because I live on Luminance which is a titanic convex light source. Its nickname is ‘The Bulb’ and it’s owned by Mr. Splicer. Ever since The Consequence, Mr. Splicer has ran Luminance. 

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #36: WATER LILY

YA MYSTERY (Futuristic)


As children, best friends Sadie and Brandt invented a treasure-hunting game to train for positions on their floating city’s reconnaissance force. But when Brandt drowned outside their ocean home, the trail of clues he’d hidden — and the treasure at its end — were lost. Sadie has spent two years searching for the trail, but when she stumbles upon it on her sixteenth birthday, she realizes this wasn't one of Brandt’s usual games.

His cryptic riddles lead Sadie to Emery, a visitor from another seaborne city who suspects the clues could lead to information about his sister's disappearance. They work together to solve Brandt’s paper puzzles, but his clues reveal a startling secret: The citizens of their floating nation aren't the only ones who survived Earth's rising seas. It's a secret the government will kill to protect.

When Emery confesses that he's from the very land Sadie believes is gone, she realizes the conspiracy runs deeper than the ocean that holds her captive. And when he tells her how he arrived in her city, the final piece of the puzzle falls into place. Now that Sadie knows what Brandt was hiding she must make a choice. Can she live with the lies of her home? Or should she put her faith in the boy who deceived her and escape into a world she thought had drowned?

First 150 Words:

As I flip through the faded photos, the book's ancient pages curl around my finger, clinging to me just as I cling to their contents. I try to smooth the glossy paper, but age persists and I abandon the attempt, turning my attention back to the pictures of long-dead species before me.

Mom said nothing is ever truly gone as long as you remember it, and I think that’s why she gave me this book. To have the memories of trees and plants and flowers live on even if they’re not ourmemories.

The biochip buzzes in my wrist and I drop the book, spilling its forbidden words across my bedroom floor. I’ve had the implant since I was two years old, but I still can’t get used to the tiny vibrations that rattle me whenever we’re called to assemble. Above me, the alarm blares and the lights flash their insistence.


YA Dystopian


Weiland’s only hope to avoid death in a dreadfully violent city stems from his father’s training.  His heightened senses and ability to wield a knife, plus constant reminder to stay away from the rebellion provides protection for the ones he holds dearest – even those meant to harm him.

After one of the merciless rulers brutalizes an acquaintance to near death, Weiland saves his life by bringing him to his most trusted protector.  This kind gesture quickly involves him and his friends in a plot with the rebellion to escape the city.  It’s not only dangerous, but it’s been planned for years with the unknowing intention of Weiland to be its leader.

He has spent his youth protecting those he considers family. Now he must decide whether to risk death by either attempting to escape or stay behind in a city that breeds danger.

First 150 Words:

I know something is wrong when the shower cuts off.  It’s fortunate that all showers are only programmed for two minutes; otherwise, whoever has entered my hole of an apartment might’ve gotten the drop while I rinsed the daily filth.  You wouldn’t think that two minutes is enough time to break into an apartment quietly, but I guess it wouldn’t be a normal day without someone being killed.


“Do you hear that Weiland?”  I remember when my dad would sit me underneath the bathroom sink during his showers.  The cabinet doors to the sink would be closed, and it was his way of trying to adapt my ears to hear beyond outside noises.  I respond as innocently as possible, “Other than the water?”  My dad appreciated my humor when I was ready to answer his questions correctly.  He used to say that humor is the only way to see beyond the sunshine.

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #34: DIVINE

YA Dystopian


If you’d told seventeen-year-old pickpocket Caddy a week ago she’d scale a sixty-story prison with a rogue orphan, she’s laugh in your face and walk off with you wallet.

But that’s before a sandstorm destroys half the city and the vigilante boy, Twist, drags her to safety in the secret ruins beneath the glass metropolis. Before the Service—the civil police—starts pulling people from the streets in search of a stolen diamond. Before the tensions between citizens and Service rise to suffocating heights, and riots fill the streets.

All the while, Caddy must fight to keep herself from getting too close to Twist. If there’s anything she’s learned on the streets, it’s to avoid attachment. But when her brother is arrested on false charges, Caddy becomes desperate to save what little family she has left. There’s only one person who can help break him out of prison: Twist. But when trusting the boy means risking her petty-thief status, her family, and her life, she must decide if she’s ready to face the Service head on.

First 150 Words:

Heat presses against me. The orange haze makes the air impossibly dry as I duck my head and scan the swarm of bodies packed tight in the streets. The dust is high today. Another sandstorm is coming.

Squinting, I try to focus. My fingers itch as silver flashes on my left, my right. I reach and slip a thin chain dangling from a man’s pocket into my bag as I stick to the shade of the massive buildings. I would call them skyscrapers, but the name doesn’t do them justice. In Cidy, there are no skyscrapers. All of the buildings penetrate the indigo sea above.

My head pounds from the cries of barterers, and I run a hand through my hair scanning for redcoats. Today thousands of people will be on the streets to trade what they have for what they need. Meaning the Service will be on high alert for thieves.


YA Paranormal Mystery


When one wrong choice lets a killer escape, seventeen-year-old Alex Blackburn needs another chance to prove himself to the Vigiles Nocturni, a secret order that polices the supernatural. Shipped off to his grandma’s for the summer, he plans to spend his days honing his martial arts skills and preparing for his opportunity for redemption. At least until girls start disappearing from Grandma’s sleepy college town.

Facing down his past mistakes, Alex launches his own rogue investigation. But when the killer sets his sights on Emma, the girl next door and his secret crush since they were kids, the mission takes on new urgency. Emma’s unique ability to sense emotions and memories make her irresistible to the soul devouring monster—and the Vigiles Code forbids Alex from warning her.

Now Alex must decide if he’s willing to defy the Vigiles to protect the girl he loves. Telling her the truth will jeopardize the role he was born into and the only future he’s ever known, but silence may allow the killer to go free. Again.

First 150 Words:

Alex eased into the kitchen and closed the door, holding his breath until the deadbolt slid into place. His eyes darted around the room, the darkness illuminated by the pale green of the florescent lights under the cabinets.

An empty wine glass stood in the sink, collecting water from the faucet. A drop hit the glass with a splash and he pivoted, ready to react. The rest of the house remained still and silent.

He doubted his clumsy attempt to sneak in had gone unnoticed, yet he didn’t hear the telltale creak of his mother’s bedroom door or the soft padding of her footsteps along the hallway. He uncoiled and slipped into the bathroom.

Leaning against the sink, he brushed his sun-bleached hair back to check for cuts or bruises – anything that would draw Mom’s attention – but nothing stood out.

It hadn’t been a clean fight, but he could cover the marks it had left on his body.


YA paranormal


SLEEP TERRORS have plagued Lilah's nights since childhood. Years later, the episodes are increasing, each night whisking her in lucid dream to Hawaii, a place she loves as much as she hates.

Living in listless Williamsburg, Virginia, Lilah spends equal parts moping her way through community college and avoiding conflict with her mother when life finally begins. In dream she meets Koa, a native Hawaiian with secrets, the most compelling being: she cannot touch him without receiving an electric jolt. It is Koa who will prove to Lilah she isn't dreaming, awakening her to the unimaginable world of astral travel. Within this new world, Lilah discovers her gift – a skill she had no idea she possessed.

When Hawaiian myth collides with reality, Lilah finds herself the crux of an ancient fight over astral travel and is forced to face her greatest fear: trusting herself.

BETWEEN THE CURRENTS is a modern love story where truth and myth converge between astral travel and the waves of the Pacific ocean.

First 150 Words:

Astral projection (or astral travel): The act of separating the astral body (spirit or consciousness)from the physical body and its journey into the astral plane or universe.

I was five when it began, when the vibrations first woke me.

I don’t remember much of my fifth year of life, but that first visit is my most vivid memory.

Much has happened since that first visit.

What did happen began with a book.

It was early summer, June, and the clouds had taken hold of the morning. Our house was dark, quiet, chilly.

I was in my lavender nightgown, ruffles rounding the edges, and eating a bowl of cereal at the kitchen table when I heard a thump, then a knock.

My heart pounded. At the age of ten, my mother strictly forbid me from answering the door when home alone.

Sitting frozen, I could hear her nasally voice in my head. You’re a young girl Lilah, it isn’t safe.


YA Paranormal Romance


When eighteen year old Muriel Blythe can’t control her gift – more like a curse -- of sensing what others feel and broadcasting her feelings to everyone, her sister tries to kill herself. Overwhelmed with guilt and wanting to protect her adoptive family, Muriel moves to Madrid, Spain.

In Madrid, Muriel stumbles upon a bigger curse. Shadowy creatures want to kill her by absorbing her soul. Creatures of light, called Luxben, appear to help. Not knowing who else to turn to, Muriel accepts to live with them and starts having feelings for their leader, Dalkiel. Even when she sees his light is a dark, glowing shadow.

As things between Muriel and the shadows escalate, she learns that her ability wasn’t a curse after all. She’ll also have to convince Dalkiel that their profound and passionate love is worth everything, even the blend of good and evil.

First 150 Words:

Each time the girl stroked the picture, I struggled to breathe. Despair, desolation, agony- tried to stop my heart. I’d picked the wrong seat again. She’s dressed in black and crying. I’d had known.

Tears fell down my cheeks too. I knew that these weren’t my feelings, that I’d absorbed them from the girl, but I couldn’t stop them.

The pain was so strong, I wanted it to stop. I stood and walked to the broken front door of the bus. It still hadn’t closed. The pavement fled by in front of me. I grabbed the roof handle and dangled, one foot out of the bus. Far away, I heard someone shouting. I inclined my body to jump. Something stopped me; I felt a pull on my arm and tried to focus on who was getting in my way, dragging me apart from relief. Through my tears, I spotted a man.

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #30: IGNITE

YA Paranormal Romance


Like most humans, Abigail Montgomery has a Watcher—a trained guardian angel sent from Nevaeh—assigned to look after her. Unlike most humans, she knows it.

But it's not until Abbi's seventeenth birthday—the day her Gram dies and she plunges thirty feet to almost certain death—that her protector is revealed. Determined to trust William Reed—a charismatic fire-wielding angel with an arsonist’s past, Abbi must fight to keep her humanity, or risk it—and her newly unearthed ability over the element of Water—when the exiled leader of a rebel-sect of Watchers begins re-gathering a following, and that trust is put to the ultimate test.

Written in the vein of the SHIVER series by Maggie Stiefvater, IGNITE is a character-driven novel which will appeal to readers who enjoy urban fantasy tangled with romance.

First 150 Words:

Here lies Abigail Montgomery: Devoted daughter. Sister. Dog-lover. One slip and that will be chiseled into the headstone above my eternal resting place.

I cross over the hand railings that are designed to keep visitors from falling over the edge, and white knuckle the wood rail behind me. There's no false sense of protection now--nothing but a blanket of black ocean; the murky water thirty feet below taunting me.

“Don’t jump,” floats a familiar musical sound through the sea breeze.

“I won’t,” I whisper, blushing. But it’s well past midnight and the pier is deserted. Besides, I didn’t come here to jump. No. I'm here to remember my gram--to honor her memory--to feel close to her.

Yet, I wasn’t expecting the stillness of this place to strangle me. A tear threatens to leap to my cheek and this how I celebrate my seventeenth birthday. 

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #29: TOUCH

YA paranormal romance
90,000 words


Sixteen-year-old Tessa Chase knows way too much about what others are feeling—an unfortunate side effect of being an Empath.

It’s been five years since Lily’s suicide and Tessa must deal with the ramifications of being the crazy girl’s sister. She would give anything to be normal. Tessa is sure she’s insane when she can suddenly see people that no one else seems to notice. And everyone else does too when they witness her talking to herself one too many times.

After a forced stint in 72-hour lockup, Tessa decides it might be safer to take refuge with the invisible beings that happen to be angels. At least they don’t stare at her like she’s about to crack. John, the angel whose ethereal appearance, sharp tongue, and touch sends her spinning, leads her on a fascinating journey of discovery and of ways to harness her ability. Tessa learns that she is capable of more than she can even imagine and some good may come of being the town outcast.

First 150 Words:

My mother stared at me from her tent with her hands on her hips. She had that pucker between her brows again, the one that showed up more and more often when she looked at me.   I thumbed at my long sleeves, restless and irritated, with arms folded across my chest, as if that could possibly shield any of what I felt.

My mom’s voice came like a hammer breaking glass. “Tessa, what are you doing over there?” She was looking at me with that same crazed expression she wore in the picture on her website. Like she was afraid that if she blinked she would miss something important. I didn’t like that look because even though it appeared that she could actually see me, or at least understand me, she couldn’t. Through her artistic eyes, she saw what she wanted to see: her plain daughter with the dishwater hair and hazel eyes that weren’t remarkable to anyone.




It's not the ghosts that Jennifer needs to worry about - it's the ghost hunters that want her power for themselves. In order to become the next leader of his clan, ghost hunter Marcus must find a Medium with the ability to touch ghosts. Easy, but he never imagined he'd fall for Jennifer.

Big on scares and surprising laughs,"Jennifer Strange" is a start to an eight book series chronicling the dark tales of ghost mediums Jennifer and Marcus. Jennifer Strange can’t accept herself, much less her budding ability to touch ghosts. No other medium ever knew such power, but Jennifer wants nothing to do with the ghosts seeking the help of a 15-year-old girl. Marcus must fight his growing feelings for Jennifer while fulfilling his duty to become the heir to his grandmother Miriam's ghost-summoning cult. Together, Jennifer and Marcus learn the true dark purpose behind Miriam's intentions for Jennifer and the world.

In a “Ghostbusters” meets Kendare Blake's "Anna Dressed in Blood," the Jennifer Strange series shares similar occult ghost-hunting themes, laughs juxtaposed to vibrant horrors, and palpable forbidden love between Marcus and Jennifer.

First 150 Words:

If the house is the face of a home, my grandmother’s house is an obvious mental case. 

I can’t say I’m thrilled about visiting her. My mother didn’t even bother to tell me we were going. You would think my first visit with grandma was before now and that she wanted to be a part of my life. Nope. Never met the old bird. Not a word from her since in the thirteen years since I was born. I seriously wanted nothing to do with her. 

After an early Saturday wake from my sleep, bags packed and protests made, in the car Mom drove. We left before my brain was awake enough to process our leaving. Our trek for a joyful and possibly tearful reunion didn’t make sense to me and wasn’t enough of an explanation. No matter how much I asked, Mom always talked about something else whenever I mentioned her past, my Grandma, and the photo of the house on Blackwell Mountain. 

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #27: AFTERLIFE

YA Paranomal


Samantha Cole never believed in ghosts, until she got a letter from her brother two months after his death, blaming her for the accident. She’s  spent the last two years hunting ghosts, in the hope that she will find out what happened to her brother, and be able to make amends.

Now  sixteen, Samantha and  Matt, her best friend and partner, have explored most of the east coast, looking for evidence of paranormal activity, with no results. Until Matt finds a lead, a story surrounding a child ghost in the rural stretches of Rhode Island. Sam risks expulsion and escapes from her boarding school to investigate, but the answers she finds confuse her more than enlighten her.

The ghost that she finds can become corporeal, a revelation that challenges Sam’s  preconceptions, and prompts Matt to make a shocking confession: he passed away nearly twenty years before he ever met Sam.  Sam finds herself torn, unsure of how to help the ghosts in her life, and swept up into a century old murder investigation. 

First 150 Words:

The dilapidated house looked perfect for a haunting. The walkway was covered with a thick layer of fallen leaves that had been gathering for long enough that the bottom layer had rotted, making the air smell faintly musty and damp.The house even carried an excessive history of violence including at least one murder and a suicide. But in the end the science didn’t lie, all of the meters and metrics I took pointed to one solidly boring, and soon to be condemned house. I sighed and stared wistfully at the colonial. I’d thought that it’d be our first break, but I’d thought that a lot over the past two years.

“There’s nothing here, Matt,” I said through the walkie. This was the fifth house we had investigated in a  year that was either a hoax or a mistake.

I heard him sigh. “Yeah, I’m kind of getting that.”