F-9: Middle Grade: KARMA KHULLAR’S MUSTACHE

Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 45,000 Pitch: Karma expects change starting sixth grade. Losing her BFF, Daddy jobless and the nickname ‘Stache Attack aren’t what she imagined. Armed with Dadima’s prayer book and chunni, she’s determined to break the karma curse. Excerpt: Dadima used to say I’d be as strong as a lion if I drank milk twice a day. She never mentioned I’d get as hairy as one, too. There should have been a disclaimer—bold letters and a voice over with a list of symptoms scrolling along the side of my grandma’s face whenever she handed me a cup of hot milk. Daddy’s back was to me as he pried pratha dough off the rolling pin in a misshapen glob and dropped it in a pan. I quickly tipped the milk he’d poured for me into a pot of cilantro on the counter. Instead of a warning that milk gave you more than a milk mustache, I was stuck consulting the *Gorgeous Georgians* section of my Horrible Histories books for a way to get rid of the hair above my lip. A magazine like *Tween Bop* would’ve been a better choice, but Daddy refused to buy it. Lucky for me, my best friend Sara was on the phone. She was a walking, talking guide of fashion and personality quizzes. Daddy flipped the pratha and turned to me. “Just like Dadima’s,” he said, grinning. I cupped my hand over the mouthpiece of the phone when Daddy turned back to the stove. “I’m serious, Sara. There are exactly seven*teen* of them.” I pinched the hairs above my lip, hoping no more had grown. “Mmm hmm.” Sara’s breath rattled through the phone. I pictured her blowing a loose strand of hair out of her...

Read More

F-10: Young Adult: MARKED

Genre: Fantasy Word Count: 91,000 Pitch: A strange bird mark on her shoulder and her uncontrollable rage make Catia the most feared person in the kingdom, and the price for her new identity is death. THRONE OF GLASS meets The Hulk. Excerpt: Catia de Rose sat on a bench in her front garden, picking at a loose thread that was threatening to unravel the lace cuff on her left sleeve. As hard as she tried, she was never perfectly put together. Her governess always knew exactly where to find something amiss with her appearance. Madame Elyse had pointed out the grass stain on her pinafore when Catia was seven years old, the first time they’d met. Even now, ten years later, if her curls weren’t perfectly tucked away or her dress hadn’t been ironed, she was going to hear about it. Footsteps clicked on the cobblestone lane before the stern-faced governess turned into the garden, followed by Catia’s best friend, Adele Lockwood. With a flick of her wrist, Catia snapped the dangling thread from the lace and clapped her hand over it. “Good morning, ma’am,” she said, standing to greet Madame Elyse. The governess looked at her sleeve. “Is something wrong with your dress, Catia?” “No, ma’am, nothing at all,” she said, tucking her hand behind her and hoping with everything that the cuff wasn’t going to start flapping as they walked to the schoolhouse. She waited for the reprimand, but Madame Elyse just shook her head. “Let’s hurry to knitting class. There was some commotion in the Square when I came to retrieve you two. I hope it won’t disrupt our walk.” Catia grabbed her satchel from her feet and fell behind the governess to walk next to Adele. She shut the white garden gate as they...

Read More

F-11: Young Adult: TIME SAILS

Genre: Adventure Word Count: 64,000 Pitch: The Wizard of Oz meets Pirates of the Caribbean when Emma falls from a sailboat and into the17th century. With a handsome companion, she discovers a pirate ship is her yellow brick road back home. Excerpt: I’ve heard it said if you sail long and far enough, one day you’ll meet the wave with your name on it. I always thought that was superstition, something to keep people from exploring the seven seas. Then the angry ocean hissed in my ear and my only thought was, *my* wave. Grabbing a mouthful of air, I shot upright into a coffin of blackness. After a second, I realized there was no water, no wave. I sat safe and dry in my bunk on *Sirocco.* I took a deep breath. My heart slowed its panicked pounding. It was all Mom’s fault — her and her wild stories. I flicked the switch on the wall lamp once, then a dozen more times. Nothing happened. I groped for a flashlight, my cell phone, anything to break the darkness. *Sirocco* tumbled off a wave and the phone flew from my hand, smashing onto the floor. I landed onto the sailboat’s side next to that hissing ocean, only one inch of fiberglass separating me from the deep Caribbean Sea. The violent sea tossed me from one side of the bunk to the other. The hull groaned. Footsteps thumped on the deck overhead. The cabin door slammed open and my father lurched in. His right hand clutched a flashlight while the left groped for something to hold onto. Rivers of water streamed off his blood-red foul-weather jacket, pooling on the floor. “We need you up top, Emma. It’s blowing forty knots. We have to drop the...

Read More

F-12: Adult: LAWS OF THE SPIRIT

Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 60,000 Pitch: Montana Public Defender Scarlett Parker defends a young Native American facing the death penalty for a gruesome triple homicide and faces biased judges, cagey cops and an outraged community. Longmire with a feminine twist. Excerpt: “I’m screwed, aren’t I?” the kid said as the door to the interview room fell closed behind him. His tone was hostile, defensive and scared, all at the same time. I studied him for just a moment. Not what I expected. Tall, round-faced, thin. The silky long black hair of his Native American heritage. He looked about sixteen. He was, in reality, nineteen, and yes, he was screwed. Possibly more screwed than any client I had ever had. “Your situation isn’t good, Theodore,” I said, looking him in the eyes. “But we’ll talk, and I’ll figure out what we can do, okay? By the way, what do you like to be called? Theo?” His shoulders sagged, and what little bravado he had went out of him. “Ted, or Teddy,” he mumbled. “My Auntie calls me Teddy.” Teddy? Jesus Christ. Three dead bodies, my defendant was one of the killers, and he was Teddy? As in Teddy bear. Teddy bears are warm and fuzzy and my teenage daughter still had a collection of them. I was sitting across from a young man who’d been an integral participant in a gruesome triple homicide . I was in a concrete-block interview room in Yellowstone County, Montana, a few miles from the fifth-largest Native American reservation in the country, facing a Crow client who was little more than a kid. And how could he not be a kid to me? I had a daughter two years younger. The prosecutor was already making noise about pursuing the charges in these particularly gruesome murders as a capital...

Read More

F-13: Young Adult: THE BOOTLEGGER’S BIBLE

Genre: Alternate History Word Count: 70,000 Pitch: When the mob threatens sixteen-year-old Evelyn’s bootlegging family over longstanding liquor debts, she must conspire with a rival she fears more than Capone to nick booze from speakeasies or end up sleeping with the fishes. Excerpt: One letter—that’s all it would take to destroy us. As my father returned from the mailbox, I knew that letter had arrived. “Deliver this as soon as possible, Evelyn,” Papa said. Reviewing the envelope, I caught sight of our boss’s seal—a shimmering golden C. It may not have been the draft letter we were expecting, but it was just as dangerous. I prayed my father wanted me to bring it to anyone else but *them*. I’d even prefer it be for Mr. Mitchell. At least he was decent. As decent as an irritable speakeasy owner could be, I guess. But those dogs across town put his curt demeanor to shame. Stealing from under our noses and lying their mouths off. They were the nastiest bootlegging rival we could’ve come by. Even their polite nods scared me straight into the pews. I ignored the sudden tapping of my foot. “Shouldn’t one of the boys do it?” “No, that would give us away.” Papa peered over his shoulder to my older brothers sitting at the kitchen table, scrutinizing the latest newspaper headline about the war. “God has a plan, and He needs you to do this for us.” The worried eyes behind my father’s glasses provided no comfort. “Are you sure this isn’t Capone’s plan?” After a sharp hush, he covered my mouth with a calloused hand. “Take this to the Cohens.” I held back a gasp at the mention of their name. “And whatever you do, don’t read...

Read More