F-15: Young Adult: FALL TO PIECES

Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 88,000 Pitch: After shattering his leg in front of college recruiters, Jacob’s dreams of a football scholarship crumble. Washed up at sixteen and numbing the pain with painkillers and whiskey, he can only see one way out. Excerpt: Fourth quarter, seven minutes left on the clock. One touchdown was all that put us ahead, but we had control of the ball. And I was determined to keep it that way. I studied the defense while running the next play in my head. Everything else faded to the background. I knew exactly what we needed to do. Eagleton had been on us like literal hornets all night, but we were managing to stay one play ahead. By then, they were anticipating us, but we had this game in the bag. Breaking the huddle, I glanced toward the stands, hoping to catch a glimpse of Megan, but she was just a speck of blue and silver on the opposite end of the field. Knowing she was there watching calmed my writhing nerves. Unfortunately, nothing could soothe the intestinal havoc of knowing that Colorado State and Arizona both had scouts out there watching this game. My stomach had been in knots ever since the rumors started flying that they were coming tonight, and all I could feel was their eyes on me. Tonight was for them, for my ticket to getting the hell out of Ridgeland. I wiped my hands on my legs and as soon as the whistle blew, I fell back to receive the snap. All around me, well-rehearsed chaos unfolded. The collision of helmets and pads reverberated through the air as I stepped into position to launch the pass. Step. Pivot. Throw. From the left – my blind side – a freight train struck, barreling full force into...

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F-16: Young Adult: A IS FOR ATHERTON

Genre: Young Adult Romance Word Count: 62,000 Pitch: Take one stolen SAT exam. Add an honors student with wicked computer skills and a bad-boy who specializes in B&E. Together, they’re perfectly wrong. But wrong may be the only way to prove they’re right. Excerpt: Lacey McNamara paused outside Atherton Academy’s chapel to adjust her beautiful honors pin. The golden “A” surrounded by a filigree oval was her favorite accessory. Not only did it symbolize academic achievement, it looked as amazing on her school uniform as it did her winter formal. It even looked good on her bikini. Breathless with anticipation, she pulled open the hand-carved oak door and stepped into a sea of red blazers. The chapel’s stone arches and stained glass looked like a miniature of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Lacey had never been to London, but based on photos, they were nearly the same. Underclassmen packed the pews, faculty filled the stage, and Lacey quivered with excitement. It was time for Mr. Cunningham, the headmaster, to kick off the school year. He would welcome the new students and let everyone know Lacey and her classmates were kings of the high-school mountain. They were Atherton’s senior class. Atherton, the preppiest prep school in New England. Mr. Cunningham took center stage. NBA-tall, his long arms barely reached the ledges of the pulpit. He leaned down and puffed into the microphone. All eyes turned toward him. The buzz of voices died down. “Welcome!” he boomed. The side door banged open. Flag bearers marched in, one carrying a flag from each country represented by the student body. Goosebumps skated down Lacey’s arms. Everything was exactly the way she’d pictured it. Everything, except for the…*chickens?* Horrified, Lacey counted as *four, six, ten, twelve, sixteen, twenty-four* chickens flapped and squawked down the...

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F-17: Young Adult: BEDTIME STORIES

Genre: Historical YA Word Count: 86,000 Pitch: A disillusioned, mixed-race teen in 1970’s Hawaii discovers a priest is abusing her best friend. The adults are in denial so she takes matters into her own hands. Excerpt: I sit in the front pew of the chapel at Saint Ignatius and consider the enormity of my stupidity. It’s difficult to concentrate while Jack’s nose blowing competes with Father Greeley’s mainland drawl. Adults act like there’s a contract. They never say it in so many words, but everybody knows the drill. Follow the rules (obey your parents, listen to your teachers and priests and cops, tell the truth, do the right thing, blah blah blah) and you’ll live happily ever after. They hold it over you from the time you can walk, the unspoken threat that your status as a good person is precarious. Your chance to graduate into the ranks of the good and successful people, those people you’re supposed to look up to, is uncertain, given whichever of your many imperfections is being corrected at the moment. In spite of the mountains of evidence that the adults are pretty imperfect, too, I followed all the rules and the orders: this was not supposed to happen. I was such a sucker. When your mom dies, everyone you know, and lots of people you don’t, feel the need to share their half-baked thoughts on mortality and life with you. While sharing these pearls, they feel free to touch you, and occasionally smear sweat, tears or even snot on you. To make sure everybody gets a shot, Jack and I stand in a row behind Father Greeley while everybody files past. We perform this time-honored tradition in the church rec room, a big space with small windows, acoustic tiles on the ceiling and linoleum on the...

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Pitch Madness – Agent Round!

It’s been a long week of reading through all the amazing pitches. Our wonderful readers have narrowed the slush, and your game hosts have chosen sixty pitches for the game. For those of you not familiar with Pitch Madness, it’s a contest where agents compete in a game against their peers for pitches. This time the game is . To meet the slush readers, agent insiders, and the blog teams go here. And you find out more about the amazing agents playing the game on this post here. Welcome to the Ballroom! You are cordially invited to a private gathering at the Pitch Madness manor, where your presence would be most welcome in the solution of a murder most foul. Villainous deeds abound as the culprits are killing to get their hands on the most valuable pitches. At the bottom of each pitch’s post, there will be a clue to solving the dastardly deed for that pitch. The agent who out sleuths the other agents will win the request. The agents guess what weapon was used in the crime to make a request. All requests are partials, but if more than three agents try to solve the crime, the request becomes a full. To find out more about how the game will be played go to this post here. Note: The pitch’s murder clues are interlinking. The last sentence in each murder has a clue for the next murder. The last murder’s additional clue links to the first murder on this blog. Except for the slush readers’ picks, which murder clues are standalone and aren’t linked to any of the other murders. Scroll down to view all 15 picks for my blog. Comments are set to moderation so the agents won’t see their competitors’ bids. Please no comments other than...

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S-Slush: MG Science Fiction: DELIVERING DANGER

Name: R. L. Kraft Title: DELIVERING DANGER Genre: MG Science Fiction Word Count: 35,000 Pitch: Futuristic delivery boy Charlie accidentally becomes the custodian of a planet-saving device. Maybe he’ll surrender it to those guys chasing him. After all, saving that remote planet isn’t as important as saving himself. Right? Excerpt: “Out of the way, boy.” Two uniformed men shouldered me aside and yanked open the door to the Galactic Deliveries office. I stumbled onto the crowded sidewalk. Uniforms were never good. Never met any that lived up to the brightness of his shiny buttons. Especially here in Earth Port City Was it safe to go in after them? I needed to pick up some delivery jobs and it wasn’t like I’d done anything wrong. Lately. Take care of Us. Let the rest hang. That’s what Ma and Pap taught me and that’s what I did even though now it was just Take care of Me. Cause Ma and Pap were gone. Dead. So sometimes I took food. But only when I was starving, which was almost always. The boom of a booster K4 lifting off from the spaceport shook the whole street. Door armor fused protectively over the shops until pebbles and debris stopped pinging against the buildings. Then the Galactic Deliveries’ armor irised open, releasing the uniforms. I pressed myself so tight against Patel’s Donut Shop that the bricks dug into my shoulder blades. “You think we did right?” one of the uniforms said as they shouldered their way through the crowd. “Putting it through a regular delivery service?” “You want to get shot up? Course we did right. Let someone else take the risk.” Shot up. Risk. What were they talking about? Then I saw the blue lightning bolts stitched on their cuffs. Not just any uniforms,...

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