July, 2010

#24- Morgantown

>Dear Secret Agent,

When seventeen-year-old Rachel is bitten and changed by Simon, a werewolf with a grudge against her uncle, she does what any sensible girl would do: run as far the hell away as she can get. The problem is her uncle’s house in California is the only home she has ever known, and after a few days of driving east, she realizes that soon the Atlantic Ocean will put a flaw in her brilliant plan. Full of frustration and fatigue, she takes a risk and stops in a small-town hotel for the night, only to find another werewolf intent on changing her life.

Despite their rocky first meeting, the local pack leader insists that he can help, and not only with her new identity issues. Simon is still on the hunt for Rachel, and she’s not even slightly capable of facing him. Yet.

As she waits for Simon to make his move, Rachel trains with the pack leader, learns to hold her own around other werewolves in the pack, and even makes some friends in the process. None of it will matter though, unless she can convince herself that even though she lost her best friend, her uncle, and her boyfriend Michael, Rachel still has something to live for. But she’s not really buying it, because Michael didn’t just die. He was murdered.

By Rachel.

Morgantown is a completed 98,000-word urban fantasy young adult novel. Although it stands alone, I plan on expanding Morgantown into a series. This is my first novel.

I am pursuing an English degree at Northwestern University. I am the co-founder and leader of an on-campus critique group, and was featured as upcoming talent to watch in the online magazine (www.michalstefillin.com). I am an active member of YAlitchat (a writing community on both twitter and ning) and an avid reader of young adult novels. I also recently won agent Jim McCarthy’s first lines contest on his blog, (http://dglm.blogspot.com/2010/05/first-lines-we-have-winner.html).

I would be happy to send you my complete manuscript for further consideration. Thank you so much for your time!

             I wondered if the girl sitting at the front desk knew things like me existed. How would she react if I told her? Would she be afraid? Would she embrace it? Maybe she would hit the ground running, like I had. I watched with envy as she yawned and flipped through a magazine, glancing at the clock with longing. Her life was probably blissfully normal.

            “Rachel, why do I have to book the room?” Kerrie asked from the passenger seat. We’d been in the parking lot for over ten minutes, and night had long since fallen. I wanted to either get inside, or keep driving.

            I turned to her and pointed to the gashes on my cheeks. “I think I look just a little more suspicious than you do.” Every time I talked, I felt the thin, brick red scabs pulling on my skin.

            She sighed. “And my pale skin won’t be suspicious?”

            “You’ve always been pale.” It’s the blue bags under your eyes and the elongated canines she’d notice first, I didn’t say.

            “Do we have to stop here?” she said, glancing up at the blinking motel sign. The “L” didn’t light up, so the only thing visible from the highway was “Mote.” It was the only sign of civilization we’d seen in forty miles, save for a few desolate gas stations. City lights flashed on the horizon, but I couldn’t handle crowds. Not yet.

            I shrugged. “I don’t know how much longer we can keep moving.”

Speak up:



>Dear Secret Agent,

The morning after a literally explosive night on the town, a strange but gorgeous woman abducts you from your hospital bed, forces you to get dressed at gunpoint, then tosses you out a window seven stories up! You land, unharmed, thanks to her supernatural abilities. As she stuffs you into a getaway car, she explains that you posses powers similar to hers and she’s been sent to protect you from a secret society that is determined to see the both of you dead. That is the warning seventeen-year-old CALEB DUNNELLY receives from the mysterious Scarlet.

After being dragged to a safe house in the suburbs, Caleb demands to know just what the hell is going on. The last thing he expected to be told is that an ancient brotherhood called Libra is after people like him and Scarlet. The reason those lunatics wants his head on a pike? They actually believe he will make the choice that will decide the fate of the world in the ongoing battle between heaven and hell. That bit of cheerful news is followed by the fact that Libra has vowed to prevent the predicted Armageddon, and will mow down anyone stupid enough to get in their way.

Realizing that his childhood crush, his sister, and his best friend could all be potential targets, Caleb gets Scarlet to take him back to the city. He has no clue how to explain this craziness to everyone, especially since he hasn’t completely wrapped his head around it himself, but there is no time to try and figure things out. Libra is already on the move, and when they turn a simple downtown street into a mystical war zone, Caleb is forced to rely on a power he’s not even sure he has. What is sure of is he must save the ones he loves, even if that means siding with hell’s generals, the Seven Deadly Sins themselves. The rest of the world be damned.

I am pleased to submit my young adult paranormal urban fantasy, SWAYED. This fast-paced 89,000-word tale of romance in the supernatural will appeal to readers who enjoy the passion and paranormality of The Mortal Instruments series, with a touch of the otherworldliness of Anita Blake. I’d be happy to forward the complete manuscript at your request.

I am a freelance writer, a columnist for Writer’s News Weekly—my column is titled Fiction, from the First Draft Forward—and an active member of First Tuesdays and YA Lit Chat. Per your guidelines, I have included the first 250 words.

I thank you for your time and consideration.

*    *    *

I’m going to kill him. Caleb found comfort in that thought. And he meant it this time. It would be quick and clean, and he could leave the body in a ditch where they were widening the highway on the side of I-70 west. No one would bother to start looking for at least a month, and that would be the last place they checked.

Even if someone caught on, Caleb figured he would make a pretty sympathetic defendant. At seventeen he was a student and a public servant to boot. He could imagine the news lineup: Caleb Azriel Dunnelly, local lifeguard, was acquitted of a second-degree murder charge. Jury says they ‘would have done it too’.

“Lighten up, Azzy-baby, it’s a party!” Martin, Caleb’s best friend, and the current object of his irritation, sat there oblivious to any plots to end his life.

“Don’t call me Azzy-baby,” Caleb leveled a dark look at Martin then glanced around their sectional at the back of Confessions, the newest club in downtown Kansas City. At least two hundred people ground against one another on the other side of one-inch thick glass. “You know I hate these places…”

“Not as much as you love me.” Martin grinned. The way the black lights overhead made his teeth glow was creepy.

“If love means a desire to bludgeon to death in a back ally. I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”

“I can’t believe I had to talk you into it.”

Speak up:



>Dear Secret Agent,

HOW TO SURVIVE ANCIENT SPELLS AND CRAZY KINGS is a 38,000 word middle grade contemporary fantasy.

Twelve-year-old Bianca freaks out when the chimney in her dad’s study explodes and transforms into an ancient Maya temple. And then the room turns into a jungle, one sofa at a time. Bianca and her brainy cousin, Melvin, set off to find their grandfather, Zeb, in the ancient city of Etza, where the people haven’t aged in 2,000 years. The cousins must learn to work together as they face loin-cloth wearing skeletons from the underworld, a backstabbing princess, and an ancient prophecy—one that says in three days the city will be destroyed. They’ll find Zeb and zip right out of there. No problem.

Except, Bianca starts to care for her new friends, and Zeb does not want to be rescued. The fact that a crazy king wants to serve Bianca up to the gods as an appetizer is just a minor technicality. But this ancient evil dude has finally met his match.

The ancient Maya culture is in the spotlight with the highly debated 2012 prophecy. I have completed extensive research, and the details are woven into the story. I belong to SCBWI and participate in critique groups. The completed manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Melvin and I sat face to face, the Checkers board between us. Ever since he
denied the fact I beat him last month, the board game had turned into a

“You’re move,” he said, eyes riveted to the board.

I’d been looking forward to this rematch all week, except I couldn’t concentrate. A heat wave had swept through my dad’s office. The kind of heat that sucks the breath right out of you. Sweat dripped down my back and soaked my shirt, like I was in a jungle or something. So much for my honeysuckle rose deodorant.

Melvin snapped his fingers in my face. “What’s wrong with you?”

Looking at Melvin was like peering into a mirror, if I were a boy. Same dark, twisty hair. Same dimples. Same green eyes. Except I wasn’t a nerd, or at least, I hoped not.

“Seriously. You’re dripping with sweat and it’s December,” he said. “You sick?”

“Nothing’s wrong.” Total lie. I stole a big ole necklace from my dad’s desk drawer. And I felt guilty. But I wasn’t about to tell Melvin. He probably wouldn’t steal a cookie. I moved my Checker piece.

He jumped three of mine. “Has your dad heard from Zeb?”

“No.” And that’s the reason I snooped in my dad’s desk in the first place. Our grandfather, Zeb, had been missing for two years. He was the one person who truly understood me, and my parents didn’t seem to care that he might be in trouble.

Speak up:



>Dear Agent:

Sixteen-year-old gothic outcast Natalie Sugarman bartered her soul for her dying mother’s life eleven years ago to a boy demon that could stop time. Now, the lifelines on her palms are slowly vanishing, and she knows it’s just a matter of time before Satan’s little helper returns.

Natalie’s learned to keep the soul bargain to herself; after all, blabbing about it in the past has only landed her on a suicide watch, which was followed by a string of lame psychiatric appointments. But when the weirdness begins—snakes gathering around her, disappearing beetles—she seeks answers about her dwindling lifelines from a freaky, glowing-eyed fortuneteller. Creeped out by the psychic’s methods, she bolts from the reading and misses the warning that the demon who stole her soul is closer than she thinks.

After some strange incidents with her new boyfriend, including a hot, levitating make-out session, she realizes he’s the grown-up version of her little nightmare and he’s returned to collect. Natalie must figure out how to win her soul back from the demon before her lifeline completely disappears—even if that means making a deal to damn five other souls to take her place.

DEMON AT MY DOOR, my YA Urban Fantasy is complete at 57,000 words. The manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Life lines. Most people think of them as options game show contestants use to help themselves win a million dollars or something else just as equally lame. Me? I know different. I know that the schoolyard game about those little squiggly lines on your palm forecasting your life is actually real. Believe me, I’ve done the research. Which brings me to the mess I’m in. Why the hell are mine disappearing?

Maybe it’s because of that sadistic, five-year-old soul-stealing bastard.

This is the fourth therapist I’ve been to this year. Each one causes me to question my sanity a little more, so there’s no way I’m going to spill my guts about my newly discovered countdown-clock of death. My chart’s filled with enough crazy.

Tearing my eyes away from my palm, I tuck my hand tightly under my opposite arm to get my mind off the creepy issue rolling through my brain.  Seeing a doctor is Mom’s idea. Did I mention how much I resent being here? My last doctor kicked me out of his practice for not “trying” enough. I begged Mom to let me quit at that point and try to heal myself, but since I’m not legally an adult yet, she still calls the shots for what she deems best for me.

As I wait for the doctor to come in, I gaze around the room and notice Dr. Fletcher’s family photos. They’re all smiling, and it occurs to me that people always seem to smile in photos.

The New Busy is not the too busy. Combine all your e-mail accounts with Hotmail. Get busy.

Speak up:


#19-UNRAVELED (Revised)

>Dear Agent:

             I am seeking representation for UNRAVELED, a 56, 000 word young adult mystery.
 All sixteen year old math prodigy, Autumn, wants to do is read about serial killers and dream about becoming an FBI agent. Until one day she comes home and discovers her murdered sister’s body on the living room floor. When the initial evidence points to a burglary gone wrong, Autumn, challenges the police’s theory because of the personal nature of the crime. Despites threats of arrest from the police, she conducts her own investigation using her affinity for math and forensics.
When her investigation reveals that the killer is someone she knows, Autumn offers herself up as bait and sets a dangerous trap to unmask his true nature and to obtain a confession for her sister’s murder.
            UNRAVELED is a stand alone novel with series potential. It will appeal to fans of the Veronica Mars TV Series and Alane Ferguson’s Forensic Files series.
I am regional advisor of the Central Ohio chapter of SCBWI and a member of Sisters in Crime, and a writing organization for female mystery writers. My previous publications include a creative nonfiction article published in the Columbus Dispatch and a short story published on suspensemagazine.com. My writing education includes Anastasia Suen’s online picture book workshop, Forensics for Writers, and Writers.com’s Online Fiction Writing Workshop.
The manuscript is complete and I would be happy to send you some sample chapters or the full manuscript.


How could I have forgotten them? I looked at my watch and sped up. Math club started in twenty minutes so I’d raced home, desperate to grab the practice questions I’d left behind. Once I got there, I bolted up the porch steps and paused on the stoop to grab my keys. I aimed them at the lock. My heart rocketed to my throat as the door squeaked opened when I touched the key to the lock.
I edged the door open and peered inside. The crime books I’d read stated never to go inside and to call the police from a neighbor’s house. I was going to do just that until I saw a running shoe with purple laces.
            I rushed inside and my world froze.
I couldn’t process what I was seeing.
Sliding in beside her, I pressed my index and middle finger against her carotid artery and felt for a pulse. Nothing. My heart leapt since her skin still felt warm. My mind scrambled. I couldn’t remember what to do.
Thank God my Junior Red Cross training took over and sprang into action. I grabbed the phone off the end table and punched in 911.
            “9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”
            “I need an ambulance immediately…my sister’s been hurt. She’s bleeding and I can’t find a pulse. I live at 1698 Nolana Road. Please! Hurry!”
            “Okay, Miss, I’ve dispatched the paramedics but I’m going to need to get some additional information,” she said.

Speak up: