Sunday, September 30, 2012


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GUTGAA Small Press Pitch Contest Judging Round One!!

It's here! It's finally here! Can you believe it? How exciting. This week, it's going to be crazy and fun and educational because you are going to have the opportunity to sit on these critique sessions. There will be FOUR secret judges stalking Ink in the Book and 3 other blogs judging query letters and the first 150 words of their manuscripts.

The break down of each category is:

Ya Contempory and Historical
YA Other

From each category there will be the following winners for the first round. If a query is chosen as a winner, they get to move to the second round. In that round, the judges with the editors of the small presses!!!

So, the number of winners from each group will be as follows:

Adult- 8
YA Other- 9
YA Contemporary and Historical- 5
NA/MG- 3
Why an uneven amount of winners? Because of the amount of entries for each group, it seemed more fair to select a higher number of winners, if that group had more entries. So Deana broke them down into percentages of the amounts received.

Keep an eye out for the secret judges who will be putting their votes out. In the even of a tie, there will be a judge tie breaker.

The judges for the MG/NA list will be:
The Purple Pixie
I'm Just Sayin'
-Winners will be announced no later than Friday

-The top 25 will be posted on Deana’s blog for the final round next Monday 

Here are the links to the other blog hosts:


YA/NA Space Opera/Paranormal Romance/Fantasy


When her power-hungry sister discovers Olwen Pendragon, President of The Unified Zemele States is a Selchie (half-human/half-seal) she causes Olwen to lose not only her position but the trust in the citizens of the seven planet system. Exiled, she takes a job as a translator on a spaceship bound for the outer planets. Olwen is intrigued by the co-pilot, Kerrick, who is a Were (wolf) despite her seal senses telling her he is dangerous. While plotting her own return to power Olwen must dodge the murderous reach of Anna. The theft of Olwen’s seal skin could prove to be Anna’s deadliest threat.


Olwen slid off the boulder snout first, her primal need to return to the ocean finally satiated.
She ducked her head under the waves coming up to the surface with a snort. She gazed around seeing the seals, looking back at the shore she spotted a human walking with their head down as if searching for something. Anna. If only she’d love me like a sister would…

Anna turned her head toward Olwen muttering to herself. Fear at being discovered shot through Olwen, and she slid back into the water. Does Anna suspect I am a Selchie? The knowledge of Olwen being a Selchie would not only delay the presidential swearing-in but she would no longer be able to hold the office of presidency. Only humans can be president of the System. Olwen watched Anna scour the shore. Finally, she gave up and left. Olwen barked her happiness.


70,000 words

At nineteen, prodigy Emme Sawyer flew through her undergrad work and was well on her way to becoming a doctor when the money ran out. Drawn in by the promise of a free education, she joins the Navy.  Earning the title of Hospital Corpsman, Emme deploys to Afghanistan.

With the front lines blurred, Emme fights side by side with the Marines.  Ignoring the danger she runs into the fire fight to treat the wounded.  Soon it becomes apparent that sometimes being smart isn’t enough and bullets don’t care if you’re a girl.

Emme begins to struggle with the brutality she sees and shuts down her emotions.  That is until she begins to have feelings for her commanding officer.  Feelings she doesn’t want and isn’t supposed to have for a member of her team.  When her commanding officer reciprocates, Emme learns that you can’t choose when and where love finds you. After Emme is shipped home, her life begins to crumble.  Faced with the nightmares of her deployment and unresolved feelings for her commanding officer, Emme must choose to move forward in a world she no longer feels a part of or figure out how to get back to the men she left behind.


When I signed the dotted line to enlist in the Navy I thought it was an easy way to get money for school.  I hadn’t realized I’d agreed to go straight to hell but that seemed to be exactly where I was.  There’s a lot of speculation on what hell will be like.  If anyone asked me I’d tell them to hop a plane to the Middle East.  
I’d been in Afghanistan for almost a year.  Currently I sat packed into the back of a humvee with a bunch of Army guys.  This situation had given me a new appreciation for windows that rolled down.  The air was stale and charged with a nervous energy as our convoy headed to the compound where a small school was located.

“Good having you on board Doc,” The Lieutenant said over his shoulder.

Before I could answer the interpreter started rattling off a frantic string of gibberish, which I supposed was actually one of the dialects of Afghanistan.

GUTGAA Pitch #3 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.”

GUTGAA Pitch #4 Heirs of War

Heirs of War
New Adult Fantasy


Prophecies are no different from horoscopes in the back of Cosmo, as Zelene would say. She likes to remind people that Y2K came and went without the world ending, and, yes, the world will continue to spin after the Mayan calendar ends. She does not realize she is part of an ancient prophesy of five girls born into a powerful bloodline that would bring about the end of a generations-long power struggle among worlds. She is not even aware of worlds beyond this one.

Zelene learns of the destiny the prophecy demands of her and the family she was separated from as an infant when she is ripped from the world she has known her whole life and dragged back to the one of her birth. She is reunited one by one with the other three girls but finds that her twin sister is notably absent. Ariana has been captured by enemies intent on sacrificing her in order to gain her powers and Zelene can’t help but shudder at how easily she could have ended up in Ariana’s shoes. When she questions the lack of rescue efforts, the elders tell her to focus on learning the ways of their world and how to tap into her own magic. But Zelene has never been the best at doing what she is told.

Zelene is quick to realize what is at stake. Without Ariana as the fifth, the foretold peace and healing of the war-torn worlds cannot come to pass, and the war will spill over into the world she has known as home. She knows she has to find a way to ignite the power locked within herself to save Ariana, or she risks leaving the fates of millions to a vague prophecy and the arcane politics that brought about the war in the first place.

First 150 Words:

The football stadium was still littered with kids when Varrick got there. His chest lifted as he sucked in a breath and suppressed a growl at the same time. This part of his job always frustrated him. He understood that Ariana was seventeen and therefore entitled to a certain amount of angst, but he hated having to deal with it. They had bigger problems to deal with. Of course, she was blissfully ignorant of them.

He scanned the stadium through his dark sunglasses, trying to assess where she would be. A group of girls were running on the track that encircled the grass of the stadium, ponytails bouncing as they chatted with one another. When he noticed the cheerleaders edging the track, he knew where she would be and marched over.

He cocked a brow as the girls began chanting in time with their moves. Sure enough, directly in front of them in the stands stood Ariana with camera in hand, snapping away pictures.


New Adult Paranormal Urban Fantasy
78,000 words

Tristan Trevosier had it all.  He was the son of two pop culture icons.    He was the only thing that could save a struggling Las Vegas real estate empire, but the life he knew had to be taken from him to do it.  Now Tristan is big business in his own right.   His band, Immortal Dilemma, is in residence on the Las Vegas Strip and his vampire reality show is on constant repeat.  His new found fame only feeds his penchant for excess and indiscretion now that there are no mortal consequences.

Eighteen year old hippie island girl Callie has no reason to question why everyone in her family tried to keep her away from her first love, Tristan. She’s used to being overprotected. Despite their objections, Callie has enrolled at Las Vegas State to reconnect with him.  

Blade had a taste of the vampire rock scene and wanted nothing to do with it.  He is everything that Callie wishes Tristan was and she begins to want him more and more.

Thanks to a supernatural force called Bloodlust, Callie can’t just walk away from Tristan. Tristan is struggling with his own addictions, and Callie is one of them.

Now Callie must weave her way through a world she had no idea existed: a stream of insatiable groupies, paparazzi, and wild after show parties to find her place somewhere between what she’s found with Blade and Tristan’s new afterlife.  

First 150:
All I could see through my haze was blonde hair.  Even though I knew that what I was seeing and what was actually there were two different things, I didn’t care.  I just wanted the pain to go away.  

My post show ritual was always the same.  A drink, a line, a girl.  Usually in that order, but it didn’t matter.  It didn’t matter what or who they were, either.  Tonight, I already took care of the first two.  This chick had my attention.  She smelled like fresh air, sunshine…familiar.  

“I can make you a star in your own right, Tristan,” she whispered in my ear as she ran her hand lightly down my chest.  Her fingers were cool to the touch.   I shuddered.
I closed my eyes, moaning as she nibbled at my neck.  I was sick of being billed as my father’s son.  But what could this girl offer that my father couldn’t? 


GENRE: MG Fantasy
WORD COUNT: 50,000

Banished from the palace after her father's death, fourteen year old Nara is no longer a princess. Now her egomaniac cousin Roman sits on the throne as king. But Nara is the only one who can hear the Gods, and those Gods are angry. Darkness is the first plague, followed by the frogs and the flies. And the Gods are just getting warmed up.

By unraveling the cryptic clues the Gods send to her dreams, Nara thinks she knows how to stop the plagues. The Gods want a temple. Nara advises Roman to begin construction on the temple at once, and Roman commands the commoners work as laborers. While Roman enjoys massages and pedicures, Nara must continue to decipher the mysterious clues from the Gods to end the worsening plagues.

Damian is a crippled commoner, but he has a big voice and bright ideas. Despite his disability, he smarts his way onto the construction site. But Damian doesn't believe a temple is the right solution to the worsening plague problem. The laborers grow weary and angry, and rally around Damian, the visionary with a crooked leg.

Nara must stand in Roman's shadow while trying to save the kingdom. She misses her father and aches for palace life again. And now Damian, a mere commoner, is challenging everything. But when Nara and Damian's mothers fall victim to the worse plague yet, a mystery illness that puts them near death, the teens must work together before the Gods destroy everything they hold dear.

TEMPLE FALLS, a middle grade fantasy novel of 50,000 words, is told from the point of view of both Nara and Damian, appealing to girl and boy readers. The book stands alone, but has series potential. I like to think of it as a PG rated version of THE GAME OF THRONES meets THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY.

First 150 Words:

Nara pushed her way through the soup of darkness. Her shoes clicked against the marble pathway towards the royal palace. Blackness covered her like a thick cloak, weighing her down; even though it was only lunch time. The absence of daylight still gave Nara the creeps. It had been like this for three weeks.
But she knew how to fix it.
And she would tell her stupid cousin, even though he hardly deserved it. Anything was better than living under a dark cloud all day, every day.
It was strange coming to the palace without her maidens and royal guardsmen. But now that Nara and her mom were no longer palace residents, the entourage was gone.
The guardsman at the palace gate, a fellow by the name of Warner who Nara had known since birth, bowed his head slightly as he pushed open the heavy iron gate letting Nara inside. “Good day, Lady Nara,” he pronounced.


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. I live in Austin, Texas, where I spend my days reading, writing, drinking lattes, and eating entirely too much cheese and chocolate (not at the same time, though)(usually).


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, floating 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.


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.

GUTGAA Pitch #9 The Rabbit Ate My Homework

The Rabbit Ate My Homework
Homorous middle grade
35,000 words


All twelve-year-old Drew Montgomery wants to do is fix his broken bike so he can compete in the big upcoming mountain bike race. He has not, does not, and will not ever want a dumb old rabbit. All they do is sit in their cages, eat carrots, and poop. He certainly doesn’t want to be blackmailed by his annoying little sister into hiding the stupid rabbit in his closet. But she knows about the broken bike and that he kind-of-maybe-might-have allowed his dad to believe it was stolen (he called the police and everything!) and now she’s threatening to tell.

Now Drew’s in a real jam. If his “No pets!” parents find the rabbit, or, worse, his sister blabs the truth, he might as well forget about ever competing in the race. Because he'll be grounded for sure. Probably till Grade Seven. And if that’s not enough trouble, two girls at school drag him into a prank war that goes from bad to worse (all the rabbit’s fault). Plus, the weirdest girl in his class wants to be his science partner. If she tells him she wants to be his girlfriend, he just knows he’s gonna die.

Drew needs to think fast if he’s going to outwit the mean girls, wiggle out of the blackmail deal, find a way to fix his bike, and get rid of the rabbit before it destroys his bedroom and his life.

First 150 words:

I can’t decide which is the worst part of breaking my bike—knowing how much trouble I’m going to be in when Dad finds out or missing the big mountain bike race coming up in three weeks.

The school bus bounces as I unzip my backpack and pull out the glossy flyer. I unfold it and read it again. Not that I haven’t memorized every word and could recite it blindfolded and backwards.
TheDouglas Bay Cycling Club presents:
Island Cup Downhill Extravaganza #3
April 14
First-timers welcome!
In the middle of the page, there’s a picture of a guy on a mountain bike flying in the air over a big dirt jump. At the bottom, last year’s winners stand on a podium, hands waving, huge grins on their faces.

An entry form is stapled to the back. I’ve got everything filled out—everything except the parent/guardian signature. I was waiting for the perfect time to bring it up with Dad.

GUTGAA Pitch #10 AbeGale Force

AbeGale Force
Upper MG: Magical Realism Adventure


Thirteen year-old Abegale finds Grandma’s medicine book. Can she use it to bring Grandma home before she’s trapped for eternity?

It’s been three years since Abegale’s grandmother disappeared in the Andes, searching for a cure for Abegale’s brother’s illness. While never giving in to the belief that Grandma was dead, Abegale is now asked to meet privately with her best friend’s strange new landlady, the one who eats the weeds, and dresses like she's from the pioneering days. It turns out creepy Mrs. Egrimony was an old friend of her grandmother’s, or so she says.

She tells Abegale her grandmother is close, and only Abegale will know how to locate her. Though, it appears Mrs. Egremony wants to find Grandma too, with all the questions she asks. When Abegale presses her about their relationship, Mrs. Egremony insists Abegale locate her grandmother’s medicine book, where all will become clear.

Abegale finds the book, and learns more about her grandmother’s past. She reads about strange uses for plants and weeds, including the plant her grandmother disappeared looking for. She sets out to find the plant and Grandma. But, if Abegale can’t figure out how her grandmother is trying to contact her, and trust Mrs. Egremony’s intentions before the solstice, her beloved Grandma will be trapped between the fabric of space and time, forever.

First 150 Words:

It’s not as if I want to keep secrets from my best friend, and I sure don’t want to meet her new landlady—privately, or at all, with the way Mrs. Egremony stares at me. She doesn’t even stop, when I catch her doing it.

But I have to speak with her before Stephanie gets home, and find out what she meant saying my “grandmother Rose is near, but far.” Yeah—far, she disappeared in the Andes three years ago—that’s pretty far.

I better hurry.

The Maiden Villas sit at the highest peak of Pine Crest, hiding under a shadow of trees. Why Mrs. Egremony named them Villas, when they’re more like shacks, is weird. Three years ago, they were Donald’s Cliff Cabins.

I sometimes imagine Mrs. Egremony up there in her nest of twisting vines, waiting for some unwilling creatures…

GUTGAA Pitch #11 Johnny Drake, Time Traveler

Johnny Drake, Time Traveler
Middle Grade, Adventure

Thirteen year-old Johnny Drake makes an astonishing discovery in his basement one day: his furnace is also a time machine, invented by the now-deceased previous owner of the house. Then Johnny gets the outrageous idea to prevent the car crash that disabled his teacher, Miss Anderson, twenty-eight years earlier.

Using the teacher’s favorite novel, A Christmas Carol, as inspiration, and relying on the inventor’s journal for time-traveling tips, Johnny dresses as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come and travels to 1983. He warns Miss Anderson of a grim future if she gets in a certain car on a specific day. Johnny soon learns, though, that there is a mystery to the crash involving his father, and that changing history will have major repercussions in the future.

Can Johnny alter the past without risking his very existence?

Johnny Drake, Time Traveler can easily be continued as a series.

First 150 Words:

“Johnny Drake, are you paying attention?” Miss Anderson said. The tone in her voice meant Don’t be a slacker. Even while she was scolding me, though, she had a hint of a smile, which suggested she had seen the likes of me before.

But I knew she hadn’t.

I sat up and tried to look alert. Truth is, I had been paying attention—just not to what she was saying. My attention was on the way she limped to the blackboard, the cane she used to get around. I’d heard the stories of how she got injured when she was fifteen, only two years older than I am now.

What I’d been thinking about was preventing the accident that hurt her leg.

What I’d been thinking about was time travel.

Sam Rizzo, my best friend, shot a spitball at me, bringing me back to reality: English class with Miss Anderson, lunch period next with Sam and Amy.

GUTGAA Pitch #12 Title: The Siren and the Whale

Title: The Siren and the Whale
Genre: MG cultural fantasy
Word Count: 42,000

Twelve year-old Marie, although abandoned at a young age, hears her mother calling each night, asking to be found. When an earthquake strikes and a wave sweeps Marie away, she meets the legendary Siren, a creature who promises to fulfill Marie’s greatest wish. At first, the Siren’s offer meets Marie’s every dream; not only does she find her mother, she even gains the power to reshape the Siren’s city with her mind. With help from Josephine, the only other girl in the city, and a mysterious whale whom even the Siren fears, Marie discovers all who remain in the Siren’s city for too long eventually go mad. When the Siren imprisons Josephine, the whale is the only one who can help Marie, but she must choose: leave the city and lose her mother and her new powers forever, or remain with the Siren and lose Josephine—and herself.

THE SIREN AND THE WHALE is set in Port au-Prince around the 2010 earthquake. A blend ofThe Books of Elsewhere and The Never-Ending Story, it is a modern fairy tale based on Haitian legend.

First 150:
Far below the ocean surface, off the coast of Haiti, a twelve year-old girl named Marie drifted along the currents. Dark waters wrapped around her like a cocoon as she slept fitfully. Her body twitched and jerked as images crashed and tossed in her dreams. Children laughed and called hermalsòti, or “weirdo”. An old woman with dreadlocks peered down over wire-rimmed glasses and scolded her for being disobedient. Their faces twirled and crashed together, becoming a giant wave that swallowed Marie, spinning her around and around until she couldn’t tell if she was up or down.
Help me! she screamed in her dream. Someone please help!
I’m here, dear one, a familiar voice said. I’ll protect you.
The waters in her dream parted, revealing her mother’s soft brown eyes that were the color of warm banana yam pudding. Thin lips stretched from one high cheekbone to the other in the most beautiful smile Marie could imagine.

Insecure Writer's Support Group

I've rejoined the IWSG (Insecure Writer's Support Group, and I'm super excited to be back. I missed the post for July, but will...