Secret Agent Contest

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Okay, so here’s how it’s going to work.

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

          Third Place:  Critique of the first 25 pages

There will be a call for submissions. When the call comes, follow the guidelines carefully and submit before the deadline. All submissions will then be posted (anonymously) on the blog, and all readers are invited to leave critiques/feedback. Everyone who has entered the contest is expected to crit a minimum of five entries (and I’m not talking about “Oh this is good, I really like it.”  The biggest point of this contest is for the critiques.  Get as detailed with them as possible.  If it’s good and you can’t see a way to make it better, don’t comment.  Just go onto another that you can help with.  However, IF you really like it, write a comment telling me you’d like to see this query + first 250 move onto the next round).

Our Secret Agent may or may not join the panel of critters (that is, you) and leave feedback for entries (through me).  Then I will narrow down the list to the best twenty-five entries(using a number of factors, including your “votes”).  When the contest has ended, the Secret Agent will choose a winner.

That’s it in a nutshell!

Here are the basic guidelines for each Secret Agent contest:

  • 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 25 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
  • Make the subject of your email Secret Agent Contest
  • You will receive a confirmation email.  (It may not be right away, but if you’ve made it into the first 25, 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.
  • Email address is secretagentcontest@gmail.com

    Secret Agent Contest!

    >Starting May 1st I’ll be having you.  Yes you!  Submit to me your query letters to a very special guest!  SECRET AGENT!  From tomorrow on, I’ll be talking about this contest and tips to make those query letters extra great! 

    I’ll post the rules and everything tomorrow, but the grand prize is a…(drum roll please)…FULL REQUEST by the awesome SECRET AGENT! 


    Writer Wednesday: Blog Contest

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    Okay, so in an effort to give something back to all my wonderful friends (and because I’m so close to reaching 50 followers on my blog and I’d really like to get to 50), I’m giving away a hardcover copy of Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton.

    Rules (because there are always rules):

    1. Math. You must be able to do math ( 😀 ) and let me know how many entries to give you, just comment below.

    2. You must live in the U.S. or Canada.

    3. Last Day for Entry is April 30 and I’ll draw a winner on May 1st.

    Entries:

    One entry for becoming a follower. Two for already being a follower.

    One for mentioning this contest on Twitter, your blog, any other way you feel like doing it. (Maximum of 3 entries this way)

    One entry for becoming my follower on Twitter and two for already being my follower on Twitter.

    Beta readers get an extra entry for everything I’ve put you through.

    One entry for becoming my fan on Facebook; two entries for already being my fan on Facebook.

    Like I said… let me know how many entries to fill out for you.


    Teaser Tuesday: Reaping

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    It’s that time again! Here’s a little excerpt from my newest WIP. It’s very, very rough, but I thought I’d give you a hint at what’s to come. 😀

             I tapped a sheaf of papers—which was all that was left to do after my latest transport—so the pages lined up, and placed them off to the side to bring to the file clerk, even in the Otherworld there was paperwork.  I adjusted my stapler on the corner of my desk so the edges matched up, spending almost five minutes making sure it was perfect.  Then I slipped my pen in the drawer, and preceded to organize my already organized files, going so far as to make sure the files in the alphabetized folders were also in alphabetical order. 
             This wasn’t done to make sure my workplace was tidy; it was a way of stalling.  Just after I’d transported her to her final destination, I’d received a message from Azrael—my boss, “Meet me in my office when you’re done,” and I’d been a nervous wreck since.
             That wasn’t at all the way it was supposed to happen.  Usually, I got a ‘good job’ when I handed in my paperwork—if he was around.  If I’d done really well, I might have even gotten a handshake, but I’d never gotten called to his office.  And especially not the second I’d returned from Elysia.  In fact, I’d only ever been to his office once.  The day I’d arrived.
             Almost no one went to his office, unless you were a member of his Assembly or you did something very, very wrong.  I was not a member of his Assembly.
             When I caught myself straightening the pencils in my drawer so the tips all faced the same direction, I forced myself to get up and go to Azrael.
             His office was similar to mine—as were all the offices—except it was bigger.  A lot bigger. But then when you where in charge of every single reaper in the Otherworld it only made sense. 
             The walls of his office were a fawn color and had wainscoting along the bottom, while my walls were a dingy yellow, as if they had suffered through years of smoking.  His desk was beautiful rosewood, while mine was a dented, brown, metal military surplus. He had a beautiful Turkish rug over Mahogany hardwood floors and I had threadbare carpet over concrete. 
             I stepped into the anteroom, which was a smaller, cozier version of his office.  It was where he did his more informal discussions with those in the higher circle.  Those that had gone beyond just a simple collector or transporter.  Candlelight lit the room, giving it an even more homey feeling. 
             As modern as the Otherworld had become, it still didn’t run to modern conveniences such as electricity.  There really wasn’t any need.  Reapers didn’t need the comforts humans did.  Cold, heat, light, dark.  None of that mattered to us.  If we were lucky enough to be given an assignment that meant becoming corporeal, than it would.  We would feel the same humans did, but that was rare and only given to the most trusted reapers.  An experience I hoped to gain one day. 
             I grinned when I saw Azreal’s hound sleeping in the center of the Aubusson rug.  One massive eye opened, then the rest followed suit.  His tail waged, and three tongues appeared from behind rows of razor sharp teeth. I knelt down to scratch his belly with both hands, laughing when his leg started kicking.  For a dog that had three heads and was larger than myself, Cerberus was as gentle as a lamb. With people he liked anyway. 
             “Whose a good boy?  Huh?  Whose a good boy?”  One of his large heads lifted and his tongue slurped up the side of my face. “Eww!” I exclaimed, laughing, and trying to wipe the slobber off with my sleeve.  “Keep that up and we won’t play Frisbee later.”  His tail thumbed heavily.
             A throat cleared behind me and I jumped up to stand at attention, trying not to show my embarrassment of having been caught by the man himself, playing with his dog.  Cerberus whined, stood, and went to his master—who gave him a few strokes behind the ears of one of his heads—before going to curl up in the corner.
             “Emily, it’s wonderful to see you again.  I don’t get to nearly enough,” Azrael said, and took my hand to shake it.  He gestured to the couch behind me.  “Please have a seat.”
             My nerves settled slightly as I took a calming breath.  We weren’t going to his office, which meant I wasn’t in trouble.  I sat, but didn’t relax completely; I’d still been summoned.  That was never a good thing.
             He waited until I sat before doing the same, and then steepled his spidery thin fingers together.  He propped them under his chin and then leaned forward to rest his elbows on his thighs, studying me, while I watched him.  His dark hair and pale skin glowed under the lamplight. His eyes locked onto mine and stayed there, not even blinking.
             When I started to fidget from the intensity of stare, he smiled.  “Yes, I do believe I was right about you.”
             That threw me for a loop and I blinked.  “Sir?”
             “When I brought you on board.”  His smile grew.  “I saw something in you.  The others did not agree, but you have proven me right time and time again. As you well know, there aren’t many that were in your position that are offered what you were. I am quite proud of you, Emily.”
             I blushed and looked down at the hands I’d clasped in my lap.  “Thank you.”
             He stood up, drawing my attention back to him. “There is a request I must make of you.”
             Knowing better than to interrupt, I waited for him to continue.  He walked across the room to shut and bolt the heavy door, sealing us into the room.  A feeling of dread settled over me. 
             “You did well with your latest,” he said, returning to seat.
             “Sir?” The abrupt change of subject confused me, but did nothing to expel the dread that was creeping into every corner of my being.
             “The woman.  With the heart failure.”
             “Mrs. Crous?” I asked, stupidly, my eyebrows winging up.
             He gave me an indulgent smile.  “Yes, you would know your charges name.  You always do.”
             “I don’t understand.”
             “That case could have been very difficult.”
             I gave a soft snort.  “How so?  It was just a standard C & T.”
             He shook his head.  “There is no such thing as standard, Emily.  But yes, sometimes they are easier than others.”  He stared of into space again. 
             I waited him out, being careful not to say anything.  Whatever was on his mind was big and it was bad.  Worry and little prickles of panic tickled my nerves.
             “We have a problem,” he said, with a sigh.  “A big problem.  And I need your help.  I’m making you a part of the Assembly.”
             “M-me?”  Ohmigosh.
             “Yes.  I’m afraid you’re the only one it can be.  I trust no one else.” His eyes hardened when he said it, stopping me from asking any more questions. He tossed me a file folder he’d pulled out of thin air. It never cease to amaze me how he could do that.   “Study that.”
             With a slight hesitation, I flipped it open and read through it. The only sound was the rustling of pages and Cerberus’ light snore.   When I finished I looked back up, my brows furrowed.  “I don’t understand.”
             “There’s been an influx of ethereal activity in the past six months, but no one can find the source.  We’ve monitored it, but it wasn’t until a girl died and Cera, who’d been assigned to her, came back without the girl’s soul. Because there wasn’t one to collect.”
             Shock poured over me. “She sold her soul?”
             He shook his head and sighed.  I worried I’d disappointed him, but it was sadness etched onto his face.  “No.  Worse.  Read it again.”
             I read through again, carefully this time.  Going over a few pages several times just to make sure I was reading correctly.
             “Someone stole her soul?”
             He gave me an indulgent smile.  “I knew it wouldn’t take you long,” he said, rubbing a hand over his eyes.  It was the only outward sign of agitation I’d ever remembered seeing on him.  “Yes, and she’s not the only one.  I’ve had three more reapers come back empty handed.”
             “Why? Who?”
             He shoved a hand through his hair.  “There is no good reason and that’s what I’d like to know.”
             “What do we do?”
             “I can do nothing.  It’s you that’s going to have to do it.”
             I almost swallowed my tongue.  “Me?” 
             “I need somebody I trust to go to the Corporeal world—to become corporeal.” He watched me as the news sunk in.  “You will try to find out who is doing this and why. We also need to find everyone who’s missing a soul, so we may return it to them after we get it back from the creatures that have taken them and you have to do it quickly.”
             “Why?”
             “The longer a human is without their souls the less chance we’ll be able to get the body to take it back and the more chance that someone is going to realize they’re living, talking, and eating with living, breathing zombies.”
             I burst out laughing.  “Zombies?  What like those horror flicks that humans are always watching.”
             His mouth tilted up a little in the corner.  “Yeah, a little, but they’re not like that exactly.  The voodoo definition is a more accurate description.”  His lips went back to the straight line he’d held before.  “But this isn’t a laughing matter, Emily.  We don’t want any more innocents dying without their souls.  And I don’t want you to lose yours.”
             My heart leaped into my throat.  “What do you mean?”
             “Demons and reapers don’t get along because Reapers impede the demons need to corrupt innocent souls.  They can’t harm a soul as long as we are they to courier them to the Otherworld.  If a demon knew you were there—especially the one that’s the cause of all this—the results could be disastrous.”
             “But why me?  Surely you have someone who’s been around longer, someone who’s dealt with this kind of thing before.  Someone who isn’t here as a punishment.”
             “Because you’re the only one I trust.”
             I narrowed my eyes.  “Why?”
             “Because in life—and death—despite your…mistake, your soul is pure.  You have a kindness that knows no bounds, and most importantly, you still remember what it’s like to be human.”

    Routines: Are they as important as everyone says they are?

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    What I’m reading:  Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith.
    What I’m writing:  “Reaping” Scene 2 of Chapter 2

    What I’m listening to:  Fighter by Christina Aguilera

    Last week I was writing my FAQ page and I came to the question about routines and I realized I didn’t really have one.  But as a SAHM and an author I realized how important it was for me to get one. 

    But that may be easier said then done.  Not to mention that last week was spring break, so that meant DD and DS were stuck together in our tiny little house 24/7 for over a week. I have contest entries to judge AND for some masochistic reason, I decided to try and write for script frenzy.   Needless to say I have been extremely stressed out and if it hadn’t been for my year pass to the Orlando Science Center I would probably be bald and rocking myself in the corner.
    So, I wanted to talk today a little about routines. Every one says in order to be successful you have to have one.  So I went back over my day and found I did have a routine.  Not much, but one that works for me. 
    I get up every weekday morning to take DS to school, then I check my email, play around on the internet until DS and DH wake up, and then make breakfast. 
    After DH goes to work, I play with DD until lunch and then naptime.  Here’s where I get 3 lovely, blissful hours of writing time.  This means that if I’m on a role, I can easily pump out a chapter.  If not, well then there’s a lot of staring at my screen and yelling at my characters to “just do something.” 
    Then it’s off to pick up DS from school, lord over him to complete his homework and chores, and greet DH when he comes home from work(this last part is extremely important.  😀  If I don’t great DH when he gets home from work, he get’s extremely grumpy).  
    After dinner, when the kids are in bed, that’s when I get to read or write, depending on what’s nagging at me the most. It’s usually a little of both.
    Weekends are left for the family.  So I usually don’t write.  If the story is flowing really well, then yes, I’ll write, but for the most part I need this time to recharge.
    So, do I have a routine?  Yes. But it’s very, very lose and open to interpretation.  What does this mean?  I’m not sure, to be honest.  😀  But I’m thinking it works for me and that I should keep doing it.
    And I’m going to say the same for all of you.  If the “routine” you have is working for you, don’t change it because someone tells you you have to.  Each writer, mom, dad, boss, whatever, works the way they need to.  Which is the best way for them.  Find a pattern that works for you and stick with it. 
    So, I want to know, what’s your routine? And does it work for you?