Monday, October 29, 2012

GUTGAA Critique Groups and Final Prizes!

Now that GUTGAA has come to an end I've been able to relax, spend time with my family and begin plotting a new novel. Life is good! I hope everyone enjoyed all the festivities over the past month. I know I did! There were so many requests made! I really couldn't be happier...unless you all land agents and grab book deals from it:)

I apologize for not being at my best toward the end of the blogfest. I wasn't able to get to the last prizes so I'm doing that now. Check HERE to see if you won:)

Also, to those that helped out with GUTGAA, I can't thank you enough. I SERIOUSLY wouldn't have been able to do it without you guys! I wish I could list everyone, but there were just sooooo many. Please know how very grateful I am to you!

Now, for critique groups. I've finally been able to out them together and I did so based on the info you all gave me. Thanks for your patience with this.

I will list the groups below. Please go find the names on the initial sign up list HERE. There you can read their interests as well as contact info. If an email address was left I'll put it beside the name as well. It is my sincere hope that these groups work out, but if not, I'm very sorry:( You are welcome to try to contact anyone on the list yourself and look for yourself to find your perfect match.

Group 1
Connie Dowell - cgbdowell (at) gmail (dot) com
Heather B (Heather Brady)

Group 2
Fel Wetzig -
Diana Riggins -
Bobbi Romans -

Group 3
Kathryn Blake -
Misa Buckley -

Group 4
L. Dean Pace French -
Carrie-Anne -
Katie J.H. Teller -
Robbie Macniven -

Group 5
Abby Cavenaugh -
Karma Brown

Group 6
T.J. -
Todd R. Moody -
Cregg Stuart Hardwick -

Group 7
Kim -
Aldrea - aldreaalien(at)
Kay Kauffman -

Group 8
Amy Cavenaugh -
Melissa Sugar -
Hunter Emkay -
Daniel -

Group 9
Jeri Walker-Bickett -
Jenny -
Mia Siegert -

Group 10
Selim Yeniceri -
Amanda Salisbury -
Dr. Margaret Aranda -

Group 11
Cheryl Hettick -
Heather Riffle -

Group 12
Jen Haight -
Ellen Rozek -
Jess Schira -
Meagan -
Jodie Andrefski -

Group 13
Kissed by Ink -
Emily Mead -

Group 14
Beth Pond -
Diana Gallagher -

Group 15
Jodie Andrefski -
Jenna -

Group 16
Quixcy -
Jenfromtheblock -
Connie -
Lyla -

Group 17
Jadzia Brandli -
Rebecca Ethington -

Group 18
priyakanaparti -
Lindsey Frydman -

Group 19
Amanda Foody -
Anime -

Group 20
Meghan Kirkland - 
Brinda Berry -

Group 21
Ruth Anne Frost -
Heather M Bryant -
Sarah J. -

Group 22
Jessica Becker -
Jessica Foster -
Johana Vera -
Meghan Drummond -

Group 23
Stacey Nash -
Kathleen -
Paula Sangare -
Virginia Boecker -
Lauren Spieller -

Group 24
Rebecca Fyfe -
Donna L Martin -

Group 25
Brandon Stenger -
Craig Schmidt -

Group 26
Rachel -
VikLit -
Sara -
Alex Brown -

Monday, October 8, 2012

Final Round of the Small Press Contest. Right Here. Right Now

This is it folks. The final round of the final contest. By Friday, GUTGAA will be over until next year.


It's not over yet.

This week we're closing out the Small Press Pitch Contest!!

Here are the rules...

-Editors will have until Friday to leave feedback and/or make requests.

-ONLY editors can comment on the entries through Friday. After that anyone is welcome to comment.

-The editors will leave their query directions in the comments section.

It's pretty simple. Good luck to you all!!!

Small Press Finalist #1 - Race to Butch Cassidy's Gold

MG Mystery


Twelve-year-old Maggie McCoy wants to be brave and spontaneous. But she's not. Especially when it comes to school bullies and flying by the seat of her pants. So when she and her fearless cousin Jake stumble upon century-old clues leading to gold coins hidden by Butch Cassidy—farm boy turned infamous bank robber of the Wild West—she crumples her "to-do" list to prove she really can be daring and impulsive.

And at first, searching for gold with Jake and their quirky Grandpa Jim in his beat-up Winnebago is the grand adventure she's always wanted. But Maggie's newfound courage falters when she learns they must outsmart and outrun a dangerous thief who is also after the treasure.

The race is on. But just as Maggie and Jake think they've solved the mystery, Jake is captured and all the "to-do" lists in the world won't save him. Only Maggie can, if she can find the courage.  

RACE TO BUTCH CASSIDY'S GOLD is a middle grade mystery in which Maggie's present-day adventures parallel Butch Cassidy's past until mystery and history collide. This book stands alone, but can open the door for a series that exposes readers to fast-paced adventures across the fifty states.

First 150 Words:

Twelve seconds until summer vacation. Maggie’s eyes locked on the jerking hand of the classroom clock that counted down the last seconds of sixth grade. Someone in the back of the room began chanting, “Ten, nine, eight—”

Everyone else joined in, “Seven, six—”

Almost time! Maggie thought, sitting at the edge of her seat.

“Five, four—”

Just a few more seconds.




RRRRINGGGG!! The class erupted into cheers.

Maggie jumped out of her seat, slung her pink backpack over her shoulder, and slipped out the classroom door. As she ran down the school’s rickety old steps, she pulled the “to-do” list she had carefully prepared the night before out of her back pocket.

Five minutes. That’s how long she’d given herself to make it to Slotz Convenience Store. She studied the large crowd in front of her and took a deep breath. She examined her bright green digital watch, pushed the start button, and took off running.

Small Press Finalist #2 - Speck Hawkins

70,000 WORDS

Speck Hawkins, the quiet kid labeled worthless nerd by everyone who matters, is more than ready for a fresh start. He gets exactly that when he transfers to Lorincaut Academy, a prestigious boarding school with unusual teaching methods. Armed with a plan—speak up, ditch the nerdwear, and never eat alone—he expects to remake himself within the first month.

What he doesn't expect?

The creepy lake, where his good luck rock dissolves to ash before his eyes.

His sudden, inexplicable development of 20/20 vision.

The blood-red note with his name erratically scrawled on it, sent by someone who claims she can make his every wish come true.

That the life he's always wanted comes with a deadly price.

SPECK HAWKINS is an upper middle-grade fantasy novel with series potential.


Speck Hawkins fumbled in the weeds for his thick, black-rimmed glasses. He slid the heavy frames up his nose, as he'd done every day for years, only to discover he no longer needed them: blurred through the lenses, sunny yellow splotches appeared all over the lake, bright spots against dark water. He yanked the glasses from his face.

Without them, he saw with perfect clarity: marigolds. Ten flowers floated on the water; ten more bobbed up from below the silver-gray surface. They lingered there, like dead fish in a stagnant pond, until suddenly they began to deteriorate. The petals, the stems—one by one, they shriveled to ash and faded into the lake, until every last flower was gone. A chill turned his arm hairs to frayed wires. No birds chirped, no leaves rustled, no wind howled under the heavy gray clouds; there was only silence, thick and deafening.

Small Press Finalist #3 - Warwick Hall

Warwick Hall
YA Paranormal Murder Mystery
95,000 words


At Warwick Hall, the living and the dead both have secrets. Cassie has been waiting two years for her body to be found. She can’t remember how she died but she knows something is with her in the darkness--something from which even death is no protection.

Sophia Cross is a new student at Warwick Hall. Her father has taken up a teaching position at the school and they’re looking for a fresh start after a car crash left her mother dead and Sophia in a month-long coma. She doesn’t know where she was as she hovered between life and death, but she can still sense the darkness.

When Sophia moves into Cassie’s house, the girls learn to communicate via Magnetic Poetry. Cassie and Sophia will have to work together if they are to unravel the mystery behind Cassie’s death and the menacing presence that haunts them both. The answers are hidden somewhere within Warwick Hall, where everyone is a potential suspect and trusting the wrong person could get you killed.

First 150 words:

It was a beautiful day to be dead.

Cassie lay in a bed of leaves on the riverside. The sun peeked out from behind a cloud. She couldn’t feel it, but she imagined it to be warm.

She found herself waking up here more and more often. Cassie had been waiting almost two years for her body to be found. She didn’t know if this was Hell, but it sure wasn’t Heaven.

She shook the foliage out of her hair--to a passerby it would look like a sudden, isolated gust of wind. Cassie could never actually move anything when she wanted to, of course, but sometimes her energy brushed against the Living world.

She meandered back toward Warwick Hall, the prep school where her father had been the chaplain. She spied a doe taking a drink from the river, cool and sweet. The animal tensed as if it knew that she was there. The deer locked eyes with her and startled, loping off like it had seen, well, a ghost.

Cassie threw her hands in the air in frustration. The only sentient creatures that could see her were afraid of her. They sensed she shouldn’t be there, that she’d stayed too long at the party.

But she had no idea how to “move on” or “go into the light,” or whatever it was restless spirits were supposed to do. She couldn’t even have any fun haunting anyone because she didn’t know how to make the Living hear or see her.

Small Press Finalist #4 - The Desiree

The Desiree
YA Romance with a sci-fi twist


Sixteen-year-old Stevie Ryan has her hopes set on making the U.S. Winter Olympic snowboarding team. When her Achilles tendon tears during a competition, her dreams are crushed. Now she’s stuck spending the summer in a leg brace in Chicago. Frustrated and away from her life and friends, Stevie learns to make do in the neighborhood and stumbles onto a vintage cinema called The Desiree.

There she meets the owner’s eccentric (which is a euphemism for agoraphobic insomniac) grandson, Knox Trotter, and he’s way different than the local boys back home. Knox’s oddities are what allure her—with his quirky film lines and love of vintage fashion. Besides running the theatre himself one day, Knox wants one thing: to learn the truth of what happened in the theatre on the night he was born, when his parents disappeared. The answers seem to be tied to the theatre, but The Desiree is barely hanging on financially. If it closes down, Knox may never achieve his goal. If there’s one thing Stevie understands, it’s the pain of unreached goals. The closer she gets to Knox, the more his mission becomes her own, but they have to hurry, before The Desiree shuts its doors forever. If that happens, not only will Stevie lose the guy she’s falling for, but the secrets the theatre holds will remain a mystery forever—secrets that will have Stevie questioning everything she ever knew about the universe.


Straddled behind the driver, Stevie Ryan gripped the snowmobile’s side handles as they cruised up the mountainside, her face turned toward the morning sun. Fresh powder from last night’s snowfall shimmered on the surrounding peaks. The sky was cloudless. Conditions were crucial, and so far, everything about today was ideal. Stevie shifted in her seat, antsy with adrenaline, ready to carve the snow-packed surface of the half-pipe and claim another title. Closing her eyes, she inhaled evergreen air so deeply that her nostrils tingled. Find your place, find your Zen. She refocused on the horizon and tucked her earbuds under her snowcap, cranking her favorite Coldplay song until the music swelled in her ears. God, I love it here.

As the half-pipe came into view, the muscles in Stevie’s legs flexed. Today would make it all worth it—all the sweets she’d given up, and partying with friends; all those weekends she’d risen at daybreak while every other sixteen year old in America was sleeping in.

Small Press Finalist #5 - 151

YA sci-fi/fantasy
84,000 words


Seventeen-year-old Aeneas doesn't belong to a Colony. As the bloody scars on his back remind him, he was one more than needed:151. He lives as a thief in the lawless Ilium Underground, a haven for mobsters, freaks, and outcasts from the Colony Spires above. When the band of pirates that raised him is slaughtered by the relentless Secret Police, he finds himself lost, on the run, and worst of all, alone.

It takes the chance rescue of Casseopea, a beautiful young Apprentice from the Colonies, to make the running stop. Obsessed with obtaining the ancient and powerful Key of Ilium, her Chieftain has sent her into the Underground to search for it. If she can survive long enough to find it, she'll pass her Trials and remain part of her Colony's 150. If she fails, she'll be banished to the Underground for good. On the run or not, Aeneas is just the help she needs.

But the Key is more than just a relic from Ilium's past. For Casseopea, it will be vital to sparking a rebellion against her Chieftain and freeing the members of her Colony. For Aeneas, it will not only unlock the secret behind his scars, it will reveal the startling truth about where he belongs.

First 151 Words:

“What d’you know of the Key, boy? Tell me, or you die.”

Aeneas looked up into the bulging brown and purple eyes of the man called Gore, one of the most powerful Titans of the Ilium Underground. The yellow scar that ran down the tip of the man’s bulbous nose throbbed in time with his heavy breathing as the question hung in the air between them. Aeneas’ dark curls were drenched from the sewage leaking from above, and his wrists were cut by the metal chains that tied his arms behind his neck. His steel-coloured eyes were almost drained of life.

“The Key of Ilium!” Gore snorted. Saliva dripped from the sides of his mouth and down his winding goatee. “Where is it?”

Aeneas’ mind clouded with confusion as he searched through his memories from the past 17 years. A shiver ran through his body. “Don’t… know anything about a key…”

Small Press Finalist #6 - The Children of the Nephilim

YA Sci-Fi


Sixteen-year old Paxton Mills freaking hates living in space. The station is freezing cold, her berth is barely bigger than a port-a-potty and her fear of heights doesn’t lend itself to a comfortable intergalactic experience. She’s one of several hundred teenagers saved from the fires that ravaged Earth. Handpicked for their ability to acclimate to celestial living, they were taken to ensure humanity’s survival. But Paxton isn’t grateful to her rescuers for whisking her into space and educating her in hydroponics and uniform maintenance. How could she give a damn about hanging squash or maintaining a wrinkle-free jumper, when memories of her mom being left behind to die haunt her?

Her days of sulking end when she realizes her teachers aren’t humans, but aliens called the Nephilim. Knowing she needs proof, Paxton breaks into a forbidden ward and finds curled and crusty teens barely clinging to life. That's when she discovers she and the other kids were never taken to ensure humanity’s survival. They were taken to ensure the survival of the Nephilim.

Unwilling to end up resembling an oversized fetus, Paxton rallies her friends so together they can find an escape. As they unravel the mystery of the station and their captors, Paxton’s boyfriend is murdered. If Paxton wants to save her friends from this same fate, she must trust an annoyingly perfect hybrid named Kendal and accept that good and evil don’t always run skin deep.

First 150 Words:

My knees ached from pressing into the honeycomb design of the metal deck.  Leaning forward, I pushed my forehead against the tiny porthole waiting until the ashen rock that was once Earth rotated into view.

It had been two years since I touched a blade of grass — two years since fresh air entered my lungs. Yet the brilliant greens and blues of the bejeweled planet that was my home for fourteen years rarely entered my thoughts. More often, I was haunted by the last images blazed into my memory. Shadows. Flames.

The dim light from my old world finally appeared. Although my heart raced, the rest of me remained frozen until it vanished once again. I shut the shade and stood, my legs warming as the blood slowly returned to them. Even with the burned planet out of sight, the pounding in my chest continued, making it difficult to breathe.

Small Press Finalist #7 - The Guardian Lineage

The Guardian Lineage
YA / Urban Fantasy
91,000 words


Protect gargoyles during the day? Check.
Escape from ex-girlfriend trying to kill you? Check.
Figure out if new crush is an enemy spy? Um... still pending.

Sixteen-year-old Mike Prior is a Guardian, a protector of the gargoyle clans. He loves being able to throw fire, manipulate energy, and fight along steroid-using bat-wrestlers.

It’s the other perks of the job that have him worried.

Chief among those is Mike’s ex-girlfriend, Laura. Apparently she’s a Slayer, whatever that means, and she's trying to kill him. A shame, considering how well things had been going.

There’s this little problem with Mike’s ancestry – turns out his great-grandfather was the most notorious Guardian traitor of all time, and half the school hates his guts. More than one kid has taken a cheap-shot at him during Sparring class, which, to be honest, wouldn’t be all that bad… if “taking a cheap-shot during Sparring class” didn’t mean firing a bolt of electricity into his back.

Finally, the perk he’d love to figure out - his new crush. She is amazing. Beautiful. And almost definitely an enemy spy. Which complicates things.

Now Mike’s discovered a mole within the Guardian ranks, and a subsequent Black Brethren plot to use Mike's own powers to destroy the Guardians and rule the world. He's got to figure out which side everybody is on, and quick.

Because if the Brethren don’t get to him, his closest friends just might.

First 150 words:

Mike Prior hated it when his girlfriend kicked his butt.

The wind left his lungs as a sharp kick nailed him in the chest. He stumbled backwards, surprised, his bare feet grasping for footing on the carpet. Another roundhouse came, this time aimed at his temple. Mike ducked underneath it. He slipped a hand out of his karategi-sleeve and grabbed Laura's arm to pin her down, but she was too quick. In one fluid motion, she grasped his forearm and flipped him onto his back.

Mike rolled left and handsprang to his feet. Cheering filled his ears. He twirled a fist at her, but she was too far and avoided it easily. Laura took a shot at his torso, but he blocked it and countered with a similar jab. Finally, after a few seconds of punch-counterpunch, Mike landed a shot on Laura's stomach. She lurched forward, eyes squinted and mouth open in a stunned expression of pain.

Small Press Finalist #8 - Against the Falling Moons

Against the Falling Moons
YA light fantasy romance


Luc's sixth birthday is marked by tragedy when his best friend, Auri, falls through a rip in the fabric of Trillua and disappears into a parallel world--Earth. But Luc soon discovers that the strange bond he always shared with Auri survived. Over the next ten years he watches through his dreams as she grows into a beautiful sixteen-year old girl who doesn't trust anyone.

When the leaders of Trillua open a Portal to travel to Earth, Luc risks banishment from the home he loves to hijack a spot on their mission and rescue Auri. But the fall has wiped Auri's mind of all that came before it. Luc has just one month to convince her she belongs with him before the Portal home closes.

As the clock ticks down, Luc realizes that his proximity to Auri has somehow made him faster, stronger and almost invulnerable to pain or injury. He knows his unheard of powers seem like magic, something punishable by death on his world. Unlike his dreams of Auri, his new abilities are impossible to hide. When the leaders learn the truth, they demand he Portal home to be examined as a potential danger to Trillua. If he fails to immediately return, his family will be banished into the treacherous Outerlands.

Now Luc must choose. Abandon the girl he was born to love, or save the family who's depending on him for their survival.  

First 150 Words

Outside, the glow of the ThriceMoon is being replaced by the glare of the rising sun. Absorbed in my notes on Auri's world, it takes me a few seconds to understand. The sun? I bolt upright from Sin's desk chair, scattering my papers to the floor. Half-asleep on his bed, Sin startles. "Blast it, Luc! I'm trying to slee..." Seeing my face, he trails off. "What?"

I point at the window that takes up the west wall of Sin's bedroom. Beyond it, the blue stretch of valley is steadily brightening. Black emotion-trails erupt around me. I wave my hand, as if I can physically brush them aside.

Sin's eyes widen. "It's daybreak? But your..."

"Test is today. I know. Emelina will banish me if she realizes I've been out all night."

Sin's voice takes on a lilt, "I cannot convey the importance of a good night's sleep, Luc." He does a disturbingly good imitation of Emelina.

Small Press Finalist #9 - Daughter4254

YA Dystopian


Daughter4254 used to think life in a community where art, music and names are outlawed would suffocate her creative spirit. Now that she’s rotting in a prison cell, she’s not sure her dying mother made the right choice when she entrusted her with the secrets of rebellion. Prison has given her plenty of time to relive every mistake and lose all hope. Her next stop is the MindWipe.

Then she meets Thomas, a fellow inmate, who teaches her about faith and love. He tells her stories of the mythical mountain colonies where people have names and the arts thrive. Together they plot an escape, knowing if they fail, they will die. Or worse, their consiousness will be taken by the MindWipe,leaving their bodies free for the government to use. When nothing goes as planned, Daughter4254 must choose between using her mother's secret to better the world she hates, and following Thomas to the quiet life of freedom she has always craved.


It was against the law for my mother to comfort me when I cried, but that’s what I remember most vividly; her arms circled about me, her hands patting my back. When possible, she held me while I sobbed like a brand new child. My mother tried to teach me not to show my emotions when I was young. Any expression of feeling 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 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.

Small Press Finalist #10 - Uncovered

YA Sci-Fi Romance
62,000 words


When Hallie Hartman’s life turns into nothing short of a freak-show, she knows she took her ordinary life for granted. Running into tall, dark, and swoon-worthy Colton Reed changed everything. He’s teeming with secrets and his cryptic answers about who he is and where he’s from have Hallie yearning to punch him—whenever she’s not thinking about kissing him. When she finally uncovers the truth, she finds he’s not just from out of town.

He’s an alien.

Unfortunately, there are other secrets far more terrifying. The Megaera, a deranged alien mafia group, is hunting Hallie. They claim she’s a Hamartia, a half human race who isn’t allowed to exist. The Megaera think she could be an asset but they didn’t anticipate finding a Hamartia without any abilities. Hallie’s not sure if Colton can be trusted but she knows she’ll be their prisoner until she decides which is worse, being a pawn or being dead.

First 150:

My entire life has consisted of a level of normalcy that makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a pen.

That was the only sentence of my English essay I had written after thirty minutes of mindless pen tapping. All my brilliant ideas had vanished—if I’d really had any to begin with. Spinning my chair around, I resigned myself to the fact that staring at the paper would not magically make words appear.

I decided to distract myself with a run. After I’d changed, pulled on my shoes, and grabbed my iPod, I left the house and started pounding pavement. Clearly, I couldn’t write an essay to save my life. In fact, the only thing exceptional about me is how fast I can run but what is that going to do for me? Now, if I could find a way to run straight out of my dull life and into one that’s electrifying, maybe I’d have a use for it.

Small Press Finalist #11 - Daughter of the Moon

YA Urban Fantasy


Seventeen-year-old Selina Kane has always known she is different, but never imagined she is last-living-necromancer different -- not until she starts speaking the language of the Underworld and visiting Acherusian Lake in her dreams. And then Blake storms into her life, claiming to be her bonded protector and making her blush and stumble over her words. Blake warns Selina about an enemy from a past she can't remember: Ciara, queen of the undead.

Before long, the undead attack and Selina watches helplessly through the only spell she can conjure -- a protective shield -- as Blake is dragged away in her place. Selina turns to the necromantic powers she hardly knows how to use, risking her life to search for Blake in the Underworld. But Selina doesn't find his soul resting peacefully in Acherusian Lake. Blake's been transformed into one of the undead, and the guards of the Underworld expect their necromancer to find and destroy him.

Selina doesn't care what the guards' idea of her duty as a necromancer is; she's determined to get Blake back in one piece. There is a spell, one that would save Blake's soul, but she'd have to kill him to use it, and worse, transform him into a ferryman for the Underworld. There may be another way to save him, if she's willing to make dark alliances with the undead. Selina knows she shouldn't, but with Blake's life in jeopardy, the line between good and evil starts to blur.

First 150 Words:

As far as Selina knew, she was the only seventeen-year-old with her own burial plot. And once a year, she looked forward to nothing so much as visiting her grave.

5:44am. Just one more minute.

The glowing red digits of her alarm clock stared back at her from the insides of her closed eyelids.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Music blared from the alarm, scattering the silence.

Selina flung aside her comforter and leapt to the floor. She’d already dressed the night before, so all she had to do was slip into her sneakers.

The stairs creaked as she tiptoed downstairs. She darted through the living room and quietly closed the front door behind herself. But before Selina could get to her bike, her older sister appeared from around her car.

"What're you doing up so early? School doesn't start for another hour and a half," Jess said.

Small Press Finalist #12 - War and Me

War and Me
YA Historical Fiction


Flying model airplanes isn’t cool, not for fifteen-year-old girls in the 1940’s. No one understands Julianna’s love of flying model airplanes but her dad. When he leaves to fly bomber planes in Europe forcing Julianna to deal with her mother’s growing depression alone, she feels abandoned.  But Ben, the new boy in town, likes her odd hobby.  She falls hard despite her best friend’s mistrust.  Navigating the uncertainties of a first love with an emotionally absent mother and a skeptical best friend proves a challenge.    

Daily the realities of war invade Julianna’s world, especially when her first Valentine’s Day dance with Ben is ripped apart by the news of another Bridgmont casualty. Soon after, Ben drops his own bomb into her life when he decides to join the war. He hopes his secret repair of her beloved Super Buccaneer model plane will be enough for her to forgive him as he prepares to deploy. But the longer Ben is gone, the more Julianna has to consider whether letting her first love drift away would be easier than hearing of any more casualties.

Love, loss, and self-discovery amidst scrap metal competitions, rationing, air raid drills, USO events, and the news of the day from overseas place the reader on the American homefront in the 1940’s, but the emotions are much the same as those of teenage girls today.

First 150 Words:


It’s funny the things you do when you’re paired against an adversary called War. The thought of collecting other people’s junk a few years ago would have disgusted me. But if hunting for scrap metal to turn into weapons to defeat America’s enemies would bring Dad home sooner, then I’d do it.
“Julianna, let’s get down to the river,” said Caroline. “Hurry! No way that boy’s getting dibs on the scrap metal out there.”

I couldn’t stop staring at the unfamiliar boy across the river. He wasn’t from Bridgmont. I was sure.
“Maybe we should walk down river a bit. I don’t want to look like we’re taking over that boy’s territory,” I said.

“No way. We go upriver because anything washing downriver he’ll have first chance at. We’re winning this contest. I need that money to buy a real dinner,” said Caroline. “One night without rations.”
So that’s what we did.

Small Press Finalist #13 - And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away

And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away
Upper YA Historical Fiction, Bildungsroman


Jakob DeJonghe can think of nothing but revenge when the Nazis coerce his father into suicide and his little sister mysteriously disappears the day before Yom Kippur.  As conditions in Amsterdam worsen, Jakob is determined to fight back and be the master of his own destiny, just as his heroes the Maccabees did in ancient times.

While en route from Westerbork, Jakob seizes an opportunity to jump from a death train, breaking his foot as he lands.  As he limps for his life towards a forest, he’s found by four young resistance fighters and taken to a safe house.  Even though Jakob has been left with a permanent limp, he’s still determined to defend his country and track down the men who killed his father.

His dream comes true when he joins his new friends’ resistance group, but after a chance meeting with a spirited young woman on one of his missions, he’s jolted by emotions he thought he’d buried.  And when he’s recruited into the Princess Irene Brigade and made a real soldier, Jakob realizes his battle is only half-won.  If he ever wants to survive a world that will never be ordinary again, love and not hate will have to carry him through.  And if he finds his dream girl again, this painful readjustment just might be easier.

First 150 words:

Jakob DeJonghe looked away from a German soldier as he and his mother Luisa headed home from the Waterlooplein market.  Tomorrow, at Yom Kippur services, he planned to pray for these fiends to leave his country.  Five months of occupation were about all he could take.  But in the meantime, he was looking forward to making chocolate cake when they got home.

“You’re the world’s best cook, Moeder.” Jakob shifted a heavy bag of groceries to his other arm. “I wish I were still as little as Emilia so I could lick the spoon.”

He and Luisa halted at unfamiliar voices coming from the open back door of their home.  His father Rudolf sat on the floor sobbing as three Nazis stood above him.  Their hateful, steely little eyes were fixed only on Ruud, not on his wife and son.

“Here you go.” One of Them pushed a gun into Ruud’s hand.

Small Press Finalist #14 - Ideal High

YA contemporary


A summer’s worth of mourning is not nearly enough after a suspicious fire kills several of Taryn's classmates at the end of junior year. Now her only plan is to resign as vice president-elect and get her senior year over with as quickly and privately as possible. Way too soon she’s compelled to come out from under her paisley comforter to take her late boyfriend's place as student body president. It seems the only way to fix what’s broken at Ideal High.

If in-school rivalries and an old-school principal aren't enough, she's forced to deal with former best friend, Chelsea, and all her anxiety over the fire. Throw in a hot cowboy who, unfortunately, only wants to talk about the tragedy and it’s not long before Taryn is wondering why she dragged herself from the safety of her warm bed. At least there her mascara could run in private.

When Chelsea goes from head-cheerleader-popular to the lowest ranks of the bullied, Taryn must decide whether risking her pride and hard-won status is worth facing both the truth about the tragedy and the possibility that Chelsea needs a true friend. Doing so could mean Ideal High finally lives up to its name.

First 150 Words:

Taryn forced a glance at the pull-down screen behind her and was sorry she had. Whose idea was it to broadcast the super-sized faces of the dead to the far corners of the school’s auditorium? Everybody knew they were gone. Why emphasize the obvious even for the sake of a memorial? And why no rain on this joyless day? Never a good Texas thunderstorm when you needed one.

Instead, light poured through the ribbon of windows high along the back wall, criss-crossing the podium where she stood. Leaned was more like it. She squinted at the sheet of paper in front of her, trying to make out the first name. Not that it mattered. She knew the list by heart.

“Ashley Benton.” When she finally focused through the glare to speak into the microphone, the name echoed across the vast room.

All eyes riveted on the screen as Taryn pictured the name and the face heading straight to the heart of each student, parent, faculty member, and community leader standing at attention.

Small Press Finalist #15 - A.K.A. Killer

Contemporary YA Thriller
92,000 words

In sunny southern California, seventeen-year-old Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks, her killer SAT scores, and even her killer taste in shoes—but only her victims will know how killer she really is. Not that child rapists and murderers who beat the system every time deserve to be called “victims.”

Daughter to Orange County District Attorney Jane Rose and fallen SWAT Sergeant Jack Rose, Ruby not only knows the law, she believes in it. That is, until someone starts manipulating her into breaking it. Thinking a cryptic text message is from her high school crush, Liam Slater, asking her to Homecoming, Ruby heads down to the harbor. Instead of the lame trail of roses she’s expecting, she hears a child’s desperate call for help.  Someone has lured her here, and is forcing her to choose between letting an innocent girl die or committing “legally justified” murder to prevent it.

Torn between satisfaction that one less monster is roaming the streets and guilt for the blood on her hands, Ruby tries to find the real murderer behind it all. But in her search, the body count keeps rising, turning her into something she never dreamed possible: A teenaged serial killer. Ruby must find out who is using her and stop him before she finds herself walking death row, wearing one of those horribly baggy orange jumpsuits even Hollywood royalty can’t pull off. The closer she gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a long-held family secret that threatens to destroy everything and everyone she’s ever held dear.

First 150 words:

Life shouldn’t involve so much calculation—and I’m not just talking algebra. I’m talking about the calculated, premeditated avoidance of life. I didn’t need a 4.0 GPA to know that sneaking out of the city library at 9:00 on a Friday night didn’t win me any points on the SPA (Social Point Average), on which I was definitely flunking.

Pausing under the dark awning, I took a quick breath of briny ocean air to regain my bearings. The old parking lot fluorescents flickered behind the suffocating fog, making it hard to tell if the rain was misting down from above or if it was coming in sideways from the shore. In any case, the blacktop lay slick, full of potholes, and speckled with math club kids who’d just love to report a sighting of Recluse Ruby Rose.

With a practiced stealth, I dashed through the night. Even in my new Prada Peep-Toe Pumps—a.k.a. my Penelopes—I had speed.

Small Press Finalist #16 - Fractured Myths

YA Contemporary Arthurian Fantasy
84,000 words.


When sixteen-year-old fantasy enthusiast Alanna O’Connor sees Vikings, medieval knights, and mythological creatures appear in her hometown of Edinburgh, she thinks it’s a miracle . . . until they try to kill her.

At that moment, she no longer cares about her cancelled birthday plans, her latest tattoo, or even the charming teenage boy she met earlier. All her drama is cast aside as she fights for her life and sanity.
Alanna realizes that when she climbed the legendary mountaintop called Arthur’s Seat, she unwittingly opened the long dormant portal to Otherworld and unleashed the rampaging monsters. Terrified and plagued by guilt over the ensuing slaughter, she teams up with the one person she knows she can trust: the newly arrived and completely baffled King Arthur.

As they battle centaurs, goblins, and a dragon from Loch Ness, Alanna confronts the truth about what happened to King Arthur and the other characters while they were in Otherworld. Arthur has splintered memories from his legendary life that do not fit together into a single lifetime. He is a fictional version of himself and is as lost as anyone—a fractured myth who needs Alanna’s guidance as much as she needs his expertise. Alanna must put the pieces together and close the passageway between worlds before it is made permanent and Scotland—if not all reality—is fractured beyond repair.


Alanna O’Connor spun around, her long auburn hair taking sudden flight, and planted her thin palm against the castle’s sandstone wall, blocking Zoë’s path.

The tourists walking behind them were unprepared for the jolting halt. They bumped each other, shifting uncertainly, until a frustrated young boy stepped out of line and circumnavigated the strange pair, creating a new path for the others. Given the wide breadth underneath the massive stone arch, Alanna thought his glaring condemnation seemed excessive—a snarled brow that screamed, Out of the way!
You shouldn’t even be here!
But Alanna had good reason for her abrupt stop, and if she belonged anywhere, she felt certain it was at Edinburgh Castle.
“Wait a bloody second,” she told Zoë, ignoring the disgruntled pedestrians. Alanna leaned in, taking advantage of her position slightly uphill. “You mean you got zapped by lightning doing this? As in, you were setting up this same contraption we’re working with right now, then Boom—God went Old Testament on you?”

Small Press Finalist #17 - Sorry's Not Enough

Sorry's Not Enough
Contemporary New Adult


If emotional wall-building were an art form, Charlotte would be a grand master. In order to hide emotional scars from the past, she builds an impenetrable fortress of attitude. At least she thinks it's impenetrable, until a summer writing workshop brings Steven into her life.

With his obnoxious ego and stupid good looks, he's somehow immune to her Stay the Hell Away from Me pheromones. What's even more bizarre is for the first time, Charlotte can't quite bring herself to mind. But the unexpected romance screeches to a halt when Charlotte and Steven walk into the same classroom at the start of the school year and find themselves on opposite sides of the desk. Steven's quick with the apologies, but sorry doesn't seem to cut it when you've just found yourself cast as a modern day Lolita, you know?

Trying to avoid the pull of forbidden love isn't how Charlotte had hoped their relationship would start. Being just emotionally distant enough, for long enough, that the guy she doesn't want to admit she loves gets tired of waiting isn't how she thought it would end, either. But she seems to be wired for self-sabotage and can't stop herself. When no amount of time or distance and no number of men can make her forget the comfort of Steven's arms, Charlotte must dig into her painful past and face the man whose betrayal destroyed her capacity for trust to begin with. And by the time she finds the courage to so, will “sorry” be enough to get Steven back?

First 150:

Sanguinolent sunset. There's a word you don't see every day. Charlotte circled it with her red pen and drew a smiley at the end of the line, below where she'd called out a different phrase for being trite. She continued making notes in the margin as the others took turns giving feedback. By the time she was done marking up the poem, the paper was also sanguinolent.

She looked up when the group grew quiet. Her turn. She looked down at the poem again and hoped its author wouldn't be offended. What was his name? Steven.

“It's a little confused,” she said. There was a pause and a shuffle of papers.

“What don't you understand?”

She snapped her chin up and was taken aback by the force of his gaze. No adjective could adequately describe the shade of green staring back at her.

“I'm not confused. Your poem is.”