#1 Unveiled

>

Dear Secret Agent,

Reagan Moss may look like a high school senior, but it’s just her cover among the humans. She’s actually the daughter of Faerie’s first Ambassador to North America. After the existence of her people is revealed to the world this summer, she’s been ordered to return to Court so she can teach about modern humans. But Reagan knows the real reason she’s supposed to go. It’s because she never developed full Fae powers, and is considered a liability to her mother and as a warrior.

Leaving behind everyone she cares about including a yummy new boyfriend is the last thing she wants to do, especially since she knows she can handle herself. Then someone tries to assassinate the Ambassador, and Reagan uncovers a plot threatening the Fae’s peaceful revelation. It’s the chance she’s been waiting for—to prove she’s an asset and deserves to stay in the place she calls home.

I am seeking representation for Unveiled, a 65,000 word YA urban fantasy novel. I would love to work with someone who sounds just like you.

Before becoming an English teacher, I wrote for [Undisclosed] Magazine and edited legal texts. Currently, I am a member of SCBWI and an active member of the YALitChat community. Thank you so much for your consideration and time.


****************************************************

As I left class and joined the flow of humans in the hallway, images of hot and salty, super-crispy French fries tempted me towards the cafeteria. I caved, knowing that between the English final that just toasted my brain and the impending “About Your Future” conversation with my mother, I was in serious need of comfort food. My stomach rumbled again.

Someone bumped into me, catching me off guard and almost knocking me into the bright blue lockers lining the hall. Wow, I must really be brain-dead for a human to get the drop on me.

“By the gods…,” I cut myself off when I saw who it was. “Oh. Hey, Bronte. What’s up?”

Bronte Adair fell into step beside me. “So, Reagan, what’s this I hear about you being a witch? And how come I had to hear it from Mindy?” She pretended to pout, her eyes glimmering with laughter. “As your best friend, I should know these things.”

I rolled my eyes. Me, a witch? Pfft. They were human and didn’t have much power. I was Fae. We were in tune with nature and the elements, able to heal at rates that would amaze humans, and powerful in the ways of magic that witches only dreamed about. I could totally kick a witch’s butt.

How much time is left?

>Okay so we are currently at 30 entries. So, for those of you worried about being too late, there’s plenty off room yet.  But that may change any time, so get those entries into me quickly.


Secret Agent Contest

>

Well, the day has arrived!  Are we excited?!  😀  Please carefully read the submission guidelines.  I will only take the first fifty (50) entries.  Keep an eye on this post where I will let you know how many entries I currently have.   The contest is open from NOW! until either I get 50 entries or until Tuesday at 0800 EST.

While this contest is only open to those with a finished manuscript, anyone who wishes to offer critiques on the query and/or first 250 words may and would be strongly appreciated. 

    PRIZES:
    First place:  Critique and consideration of Full Manuscript
    Second Place:  Critique of the first 50 pages

          Third Place:  Critique of the first 25 pages

Recap of the rules:

  • All excerpts submitted to the Secret Agent contest must be a query letter (no more than a page long) and the first 250 words of your COMPLETED manuscript.(VERY IMPORTANT!  The manuscript MUST be completed.)
  • Your submission must include your screen name and the title, genre, and word count of your novel.
  • By emailing your submission to me, you are giving implicit permission to have your work posted and publicly critiqued.
  • No submissions will be accepted prior to the opening of the contest. The maximum number of entries per contest is 50 submissions.
  • Winners of previous contests may not submit the same manuscript in future contests.
  • All contest entrants are required to critique a minimum of five other entries.
  • No attachments are accepted. Your query and 250 submission must be pasted into the body of your email
  •  

Last minute details:

Use this address for your entries: secretagentcontest@gmail.com

Make the subject of your email Secret Agent Contest

NO ATTACHMENTS!!! Paste your query and first 250 in the body of the email only.  If I get an attachment you will not  be entered into the contest.

You will receive a confirmation email.  (It may not be right away, but if you’ve made it into the first 50, you will get an email stating I received it and what number you were.)

I will not make changes to your query or first 250 after you’ve sent it, so please make sure it’s the best it can be before you send it.

Address the agent as Secret agent.

Put your query first, separate using the stars (***) and then place your first 250.

 I think I’ve covered anything, but feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments ONLY.  Do NOT send me an email.  If you absolutely have a question that you feel you can’t ask in a public forum, make sure to make the subject of your email QUESTION in ALL CAPS.  Thanks.

Good luck to every who enters!


TEASER TUESDAY: Reaping

>

 This is the scene from the school dance, where Emily thinks that Toby is the Soul Stealer or his slave.  She’s gone with him to try and get him to prove it, but quickly finds out how wrong she was and ends up with an unexpected surprise.  Let’s watch.
Toby picked me up in a fancy red sports car.  Since cars and I didn’t really get along, I had no clue what kind it was, but I could tell this one was expensive. 
Since his parents were solidly middle-class I was pretty sure I knew where he’d gotten the money for it.  But I had no proof and I didn’t want to accuse him of being a demon’s slave until I was sure.  That was all I needed to be was wrong and then he tell everyone in the school I was insane and thought I was a reaper. 
 Though I doubted anyone would believe him.  No one but the real demon that is. 
He took me out for dinner–where he bored me brainless with his incessant chatter about football, and accidentally let it slip the car was a rental he’d gotten to impress me–and then drove straight to the dance. 
   There he dragged me around the room introducing me to his friends and preening as if I were a prized mare instead of his date.  He was always trying to touch me and I had no idea how Addy had put up with him, but it hadn’t taken me long to realize I’d made a mistake. 
   He wasn’t a demon slave and he wasn’t the demon.  Unless he was a very good actor, which I doubted. 
   Demons were selfish and self centered, but this, this took the cake.  Not to mention that he was oblivious of anything but my bust line and cleavage.
   No, he wasn’t the demon and I’d wasted precious time on him.  That meant that someone else had taken Addy’s soul and she didn’t even know who it was. 
   How did a demon, or his slave, steal a soul without her knowing the person?  Soul Stealing required skin to skin contact.  Just like my reaping required soul to soul contact.
   Having had enough of Toby for the night, I sent him to go and get me a drink and then hid in the shadows, trying to think of a way to get home without him.
   When I saw Toby looking for me, I tried melting into the wall behind me, but bumped into someone and turned to apologize.  I bit my tongue when I saw it was Kieran.
   He blinked and then smiled.  “Emily?  Is that you?”
   “Duh.” I shook my head.
   “Wow.  You look…great!  That’s a wonderful color on you.”
   I couldn’t help but grin and preen a bit.  “Really?  Thanks.”
   He gave me a once over and then frowned at my silk covered wrist.  “You don’t have a corsage.”
   “A what?”
   “You know.  A flower arrangement the girl wears to fancy dances.”
   Oh.  Oops.  Guess Isis didn’t know everything.  “Oh yeah.  I, uh, forgot to get one of those.”
   “Em, you’re not supposed to get it.  He is.  Speaking of him.  Did you mean what you said?  About paying him back for what he did to Addy?”
   “Ah, there you are, my sweet.  I’d wondered where you disappeared off to,” Toby said from beside me.  “Kieran.  It’s nice to see you again.”  He held out his hand for Kieran to shake, but Kieran only stared at it.  Toby dropped his and then turned back to me.  “Come on. There’s a group of people I want you to meet.”
   I suppressed the groan and started to follow after him, but Kieran stepped in front of me and took my hand in his.  His eyes met mine.
“What are you doing?” I hissed, trying to tug away.
“You can’t go to the dance without a corsage.”  He smiled at me.  Something heavy slipped over my hand and I glanced down to see a bracelet with gold flower links resting on my wrist.
A thrill ran up me at the sight, but I knew better than to take trinkets from boys.  “Shouldn’t you be giving this to your date? And this isn’t a corsage.”
“Close enough and this is for the person I wanted to be my date,” he whispered.
His thumb rubbed circles across the back of my hand. It didn’t take a genius to know he was talking about me.  My stomach muscles tightened in response as my heart skipped a beat.
I moved my eyes to his.  “Thank you.  It’s beautiful.”  We stared at each other for a few minutes, until Toby cleared his throat.
   Reluctant, I slid my hand away and followed Toby as he took me as far from Kieran as he could manage. 
   Toby glanced down and I could have sworn he glared at the bracelet, but he didn’t say anything and neither did I.
   We danced a few dances, but he was so clumsy I begged off to save my feet.  Undeterred he joined me and once again started his I’m-so-good monologue.   Before long though he seemed to get that I wasn’t all that into his stuff and started asking questions, which I answered with the shortest possible reply. 
   I just wanted this night to be over with. 
   When he caught the hint I didn’t want to talk, he stopped and we stared off into opposite directions.  I was relieved when a girl came up to him and asked him to dance with her.  He shot me a questioning look and I nodded and shooed him away.  At least it would be quieter now. 
   A hand dropped on my shoulder, startling me and I looked up to see Kieran’s half grin.  “Where’s your date?” he asked.
   I gestured toward the dance floor.  “Over there.  Somewhere.  Thank goodness.”
   “Has Prince Charming turned into the frog?”
    I laughed.  “No, he was always the frog.”
   He burst out laughing and then held out his hand.  “Well, it’s a shame for such a pretty lady to be sitting all alone tonight.  Care to dance?”
   I shrugged, but held out my hand for him to help me up.  The dress may have been beautiful, but it was a pain to move in. 
   He led me onto the floor just as my favorite slow song came on.  I sent him a quizzical look and he smiled.  “You were listening to it the other day and you seemed happy.  I bribed the DJ to change the song the minute we stepped onto the dance floor.”
   Giving him a large smile,  I placed my arms around his neck, careful my skin didn’t touch his, and he put his on my waist.  I tried to ignore the little tingles his touch had given me.  The last time I’d felt those things, it had been the beginning of the end for me.  And nothing could come of this.  I couldn’t touch him.  He would be the one who died this time.
   “You never answered my question earlier.”
   “Which one was that?”  Being so close to him was causing my blood to hum and I was torn between enjoying the feeling and wanting to run far away from it. 
   “About Toby.  That you’d only come here with him because of what he did to  Addy.”
   “Yeah, but…”
   “But?”
   “I don’t know.  There really isn’t anything I can do.  It wasn’t a very good idea.”
   “Well, in a way it was.”
   I tilted my head back to look at him.  “Why is that?”
   He pulled me closer to whisper in my ear, sending tingles throughout my body.  “Because now I don’t have to pretend we came together as just friends.”
   I couldn’t speak.  Sand dunes had arisen in my mouth, making my mouth as dry as the desert.   We were both quiet as we continued to dance. 
   “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”
   I wanted to tell him that yes he did make me uncomfortable and pull away, but my heart decided to take control of my brain and answered for me.  “You didn’t make me uncomfortable,” I said, breathlessly.
   “Yeah?  What did I make you?” His own voice was husky, as if he’d just woken up from sleep.           
   At that moment the song changed and I stepped away, but he pulled me back.  “Don’t go.  If you do, you’ll just have to deal with the frog prince.”
   I glanced over my shoulder and saw Toby waiting at the table for me.  I tried suppressing a shudder at the look in his eyes, but Kieran caught it and tugged me closer. 
   “See, I told you, you wanted to stay with me.”
   For the rest of the song, I stayed in his arms, wondering why things had to be so difficult.  Why I couldn’t, for one night, pretend I was something other than what I was.
   His hand rubbed up and down my back and I gave up and rested my head on his shoulder, pretending we were like any other couple on the floor. 
   When the song ended, neither of us let go of the other, until a hand rested on my shoulder. 
   “May I cut in?” Toby asked.
   Kieran’s arms tightened for the briefest of seconds before he let go and stepped back.
   “Sure,” he said and disappeared into the crowd before I could stop him.
   Toby took his place in time for the next song to start, but it had changed to a faster song.  I gave him a grin and a shrug and danced along with the music. 
   For the rest of the night I kept an eye out for Kieran, but I could never find him.  I found Becca though and she did not appear happy.  Eventually I gave up looking for him.  And made sure to stay out of Becca’s way.
   A pop song came on and I wiggled my hips and moved my body in time to the bass.  The best part of this world was it’s music.  Where I’d come from music was boring and even the chaste dance I’d had with Kieran would have been outlawed.  Toby’s eyes gleamed when he saw my movements and then he joined me, stepping behind me and placing his hand at my hip, matching his movements to mine.
   Having too much fun, I didn’t care.  I laughed when we bumped each other. When I glanced behind me to smile at him, I stopped in mid motion.  Kieran was leaning against the wall in the corner, his eyes focused on me.  He raised a brow and I gave him a saucy smile.  He lifted his glass in a toast and smiled back.  I took a step toward him, but Toby stopped me, turning me around to face him.
   I pulled away and started again in Kieran’s direction, but he’d disappeared again.  Disappointed, I stayed where I was and eventually let Toby pull me into another dance.  This one a slow song again.
   Halfway through the song, he tugged on my hand and started leading me toward the doors leading to the outside.
   “Let’s go get some fresh air.”
             I set me feet and shook my head.
   “I don’t want to go outside.”
   He ignored me and pulled harder.  Unfortunately, even though I was supernatural, I didn’t have super powers.  Meaning I wasn’t stronger than him and he was able to pull me toward the doors.
             I struggled to get away, but it wasn’t any use.  Tremors of panic zigzagged through me as he succeeded in pulling me outside and into the garden. 
   It surprised me nobody had noticed his little stunt and come to help me.  Then again, I was just the new girl and a freak on top of it.  No one probably cared what happened to me.
   When we’d gotten to where he wanted, he loosened his grip at the same time as I found the strength to pull my arm away.  But I did one better and punched him in the face.  Blood spurted out of his nose and splattered my dress.
   He yelped and jumped back, tearing one strap of my dress.  I hissed at the throbbing in my fist, but stood firm.
   He glared at me out of tear filled eyes.  “What the hell is wrong with you?” he demanded.
   “Me? You pull me into the middle of some dark garden without my consent and you wonder what’s wrong with me?”  I stood there, panting and cradling my fist in my other hand.
   “You owe me.”
   “For what?” I spit out.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  How the hell did I owe him that?
   “I bought you dinner.  I bought the stupid tickets to this dumb dance, rented the car, and I took you here.  You owe me.”
   I sputtered.  And instead of answering, reared my hand back to punch him again, but a hand grabbed my wrist stopped me.  I glanced over and saw Kieran next to me.
 “Don’t.  He’s not worth breaking your fingers over.”  He glared at Toby.   “Don’t you ever touch her again,” he told him.
   Toby smirked.  “Yeah, and what are you going to do about it.  You didn’t do anything when I took Addy away from you and you won’t do anything now.”
   Before I could say anything, Kieran had punched Toby and sent him crashing into a large potted tree.  I stared in shock as a Toby fell over the pot and landed on the ground.
   Blood continued to pour from his nose and he was starting to get a black eye, but he didn’t get up.  He was out cold.
   The crash from his fall had finally alerted the others and pounding feet raced toward us.  I tugged on Kieran’s hand.  “Come on.  We have to get out of here.”
   When he didn’t budge, I was worried he wouldn’t come and we’d get into trouble, but when I tugged again he slowly followed.  And soon we were racing to the parking lot.  He took the lead and pulled me to his truck.  It sparkled under the lamplight.
   “It’s clean,” I said with a laugh.
   “Well, yeah. I had a date, you know. I couldn’t let her get her pretty dress ruined before she could show it off.”  He lowered the tailgate and patted it. 
He turned when I made no move to jump onto it and sighed.  Then he stripped off his jacket and pulled it around my shoulders.   “What a creep.”
   “Yeah, I guess he was.  Well, at least we both payed him back for Addy.”
   “Nice shot, by the way.”
   “Thanks.”  I winced when I moved my hand and a sharp pain shot up from my knuckles to just above my wrist.
   He grabbed me by the waist and lifted me up to sit on the tailgate, and then took my hand.  I yanked it away. “Don’t take off the gloves.”
   “Why?” he asked.  “I have to to see what damage you did.” He started to tug on the silk again.
   I pulled away again, causing the glove to slid off.  Damn it!   “No, please.  Just trust me.”
   “What’s the big deal?” He paused.  “Are you a cutter?”
   I blinked.  “A what?”
   “A cutter.  You know,” he made slicing gestures over his arm.  “The people who cut themselves to make themselves feel better.  Is that why you’re always covering your arms up.”
   “Oh, no.  I’m not a cutter.  I…uh…have a skin disorder.  Very contagious.  Nasty stuff.”
   He gave me a ‘yeah right’ look, but handed me the glove.  “Go ahead and put it back on.  I’ve seen enough.”
   When I’d replaced it, being as careful as possible, he took my hand and started feeling around.  I prepared for more pain, but he probed around very gently.
     “It’s swollen and bruised.  I think you broke more than his nose.”
   I groaned.  Super healing was also not part of the job description.  I was as close to human as I could get without being, well, you know, human.  “Great.  Well, that’s just the perfect end cap to the night.  Isn’t it?” 
   “Here.  I’ll kiss it and make it all better,” he said.
   I laughed, but shrugged.  “Sure.  Why not?”
   He lifted my hand to his mouth, and watching my face, kissed it.  My nerves hummed at his touch.  His eyes turned black as desire filled them and the next thing I know his mouth was on mine and he was pulling me into him.
   At first I was frozen in place, and only had only a moment to think that he shouldn’t still be kissing me, that he shouldn’t be alive, before my mind went blank and I was lost in the moment. 
   My eyes fluttered closed and I brought my arms around his neck.  He made a sound that was a cross between a groan and a moan. His hands grabbed my hips and yanked my closer, pressing his body against mine.  The skirt of the dress hiked up along my legs, revealing them to my thighs, as he slid his body between them.
  
   My head spun and my pulse bounded in my throat as he pulled back to give
us a chance to take a breath, but I dragged him back to me again.  I wrapped my legs around his waist and locked my ankles.
   He moved his mouth to my throat and I tilted my head, enjoying the sensations of his tongue running down my neck and along my collarbone.  His hands moved to my legs, but stayed just above my knee, his thumbs running circles over my skin and driving me crazy.
   All at once, reality came crashing in on me and I realized what was happening.  I yanked away and jumped to the ground, getting as far from him as possible. 
   I was still gasping for breath, as he was.  “What’s wrong?” he asked, taking a step toward me.
   I stepped backward.  “What are you?” I asked, trembling.   Why was he still alive?  How come I didn’t kill him?
   He stopped in his tracks and his face went blank.  “What do you mean?”
   “How come I didn’t hurt you?” I didn’t care at this point that I was giving too much away.  There was no reason he should be still alive.
   He laughed.  “A kiss isn’t going to hurt me, Emily.  I’m not worried about…your skin disease.”
   I narrowed my eyes and studied him carefully, and then did the dumbest thing I could think of.  I ripped off my glove and grabbed his hand.
<<<<>>>> 

The First 250 words

>

Okay, so I talked last week about your queries.  Today I’m taking just a moment—as I’m in a crunch with MI at the moment (Some edits that I need to get to my agent pronto!)—to talk about those all important first 250 words, which is approximately 1 page of writing. 
As in all things, there are no specific rules, but you need to grab the readers attention.  You don’t want the reader (whomever it may be) to look at the first sentence and go “BORING!  Why would I read more?”
Remember, you want your first sentence to really hook them.  Think about what you did for your query letter. 
Use your first sentence to hook them, then use the rest of the paragraph to reel them in, and use the rest of the first page to anchor them to that book. 
Here’s a few things to consider while you’re writing that all important first line.  (People who’ve read my blog from the beginning will recognize this from another earlier post.)

1. Sentence Style.  Basically what this means is that the sentence must be concise.  This doesn’t mean it can’t be long, but it needs to make sense.  It definitely needs to be structured correctly so that the reader doesn’t feel as if it’s a mouthful.
2. It should make the reader ask a question.  Basically this part is your hook.  This doesn’t necessarily need to be in the very first sentence, but if not it needs to be in the first paragraph.  Give your reader a reason to keep reading.  Let it be a hint of what’s to come and set the tone for the book.  If it’s a comedy, open with something funny.  If it’s a horror, something scary, etc.
3. It needs to be relevant.  Since this line sets the tone for the rest of the book, don’t just add in something that sounds interesting or funny, but has nothing to do with the story.  It’ll only cause your readers to stop reading that much faster.  Readers are smart, they’ll figure it out.
4. It needs to allow for setup.  You shouldn’t toss your readers in the middle of a scene where no one knows what’s going on.  It’s distracting, chaotic, and of course another reason not to keep going.  People don’t like feeling confused.  They want to feel like they’ve got a good handle on something before they continue.
There are people who say not to start off with dialogue.  Or description, but as in all thing writerly, you have to follow your instinct.  If dialogue fits better.  USE IT!  If it needs to start with description.  Do it!  But make sure it’s EXCITING! 
It’s your hook.  If it doesn’t make the reader go. “Oh my!  I have to keep reading now!”  Then it’s not enough.  Try something else.
What’s just as important as that first line?  The last one.  In this case it would be the last line before you end at 250 words.  Make sure to end on another hook.
If you can make the agent go, okay, I liked the query, but I LOVE this page and I have to know what happens next, then you’re golden! 
So, you have a few days now to make your queries and first 250 shine, so get to it.  I’ll see you back here on the first!
~JA