08: THE SUBSTITUTE PRINCESS

Title: The Substitute Princess Age Category: Adult Genre: Women’s Fiction Word Count: 88,000 Pitch: A twenty-something actress with a big heart and a mouth to match takes a job impersonating the press-shy fiancée of the prince of Monaco in order to save her family’s farm from foreclosure. First 250 Word of Manuscript: The storm blew through central Missouri in the night, setting off tornado sirens in eleven counties. Of course, the sirens didn’t reach this far out of town; it was a text alert that sent Charley Dupree and her mother scurrying to the basement of the Rainbow House just after two a.m. By the time the warnings cleared, Charley had given up on sleep for the night. There were many kinds of storms in the world, and those that raged inside the skull were at least as scary as the ones that blew down houses. There’d been thunder and lightning That Night, too. The screen door squealed as Charley left the house, causing a gray and white cat to leap off the porch swing and streak toward the barn. “Sorry, Thumper,” she murmured. Her phone chimed; she glanced down to see Julian Hoffman’s name on the screen: *House still standing thot thunder mite shook it apart.* Charley grinned. Sometimes she thought Julian’s extra chromosome had replaced his missing IQ points with a supernatural ability to sense when she got up in the morning. *My house has been standing for a hundred years, it’ll outlast your wimpy ranch, dude.* A whoosh as the message winged its way up the hill to the gray-roofed house peeking above the rows of pines. A pause, and another chime. This text was from Mark: *Nobody talks smack about the Rainbow House except Charley.* Charley laughed and slid the phone in her back...

Read More

09: ANCHORED AT REDWOOD GROVE

Title: Anchored at Redwood Grove Age Category: Middle Grade Genre: Magical Realism Word Count: 37,000 Pitch: Charlotte was happy traveling the world, but those days are over. On Starsparrow Island, she gradually finds friendship, stability, and a magical redwood forest that Charlotte is responsible for preserving when she threatens its survival. First 250 Word of Manuscript: Charlotte West gazed skyward from her makeshift perch in the limbs of the ancient redwood tree. Through the thick branches above, her view was of the cornflower morning sky dotted with fluffy white clouds. She hummed a tune as her hammock swung in harmony with the passing breeze, 200 feet in the air. Technically speaking, sleeping in the trees of Redwood National Park was frowned upon. But the park rangers never seemed to notice Charlotte and her family during their unusual campouts, or if they did, they never tried to coax them from the trees.The gentle morning birdsong was interrupted by another sort of call: a piercing whistle from her mother, far below. That, Charlotte knew, was the final signal. It was time to descend the redwood. She stretched her body one last time, then stood and found her balance on the branch beside her hammock. Though she was impossibly high up, the wood felt strong and sturdy beneath her feet, as if she were already on solid ground. With expert speed, Charlotte packed her gear and slung her bag over her shoulders, scooped her helmet onto her head, and secured herself onto the elaborate rope system that would help her climb downward. Before she began her journey below, Charlotte wrapped her arms as far as they would reach around the trunk of the redwood tree. Holding herself steady, she rubbed her palms in circles across the rough bark, the coolness of it...

Read More

10: WILD TYPE

Title: WILD TYPE Age Category: Adult Genre: Literary Fantasy Word Count: 84,000 Pitch: A female scientist in a male-dominated society hopes to prove her worth on an expedition, but she never anticipated sabotage. Now abandoned in uncharted land, surviving alone will become her greatest act of defiance. First 250 Word of Manuscript: Penn hooked her elbow over the cornice of Thane’s third tallest tower and grunted as she hoisted herself to the top. With a quick spin she sat against the tower’s golden dome, her feet dangling eighty-five feet off the ground, above a city hosting an overabundance of two things: sand and heat. She checked her watch. Three minutes. A new record. While the dome’s golden surface was blinding from the eastern side, she reveled in the coolness of slick metal against her back on the western side—the side she gambled the palace guards couldn’t see. She might be the daughter of Thane’s most prized researcher, and someone who worked in the palace labs for over a decade, but laws were laws. At this height, Thane resembled the spectacular city the other eight Circled Kingdoms recounted in stories, and stories were powerful. Stories spread. An entire city and its million oh-so-lucky citizens crowded inside a stark seventy-foot white wall. From the backside of the research tower, however, the whole city hung behind her, and she alone enjoyed the view of what existed past the wall. ‘You never saw this, Daddy. You never got to set foot in the Farlands. But I promise, I will’. She tipped forward just enough to glance down. The tiled walkway below appeared immaculate save for the spiderwebbed cracks her father created when he jumped from the tower three years earlier. But the fall didn’t kill him; a bed-ridden year passed before his busted...

Read More

11: FINDERS KEEPERS

Title: Finders Keepers Age Category: Adult Genre: Contemporary Comedy Romance Word Count: 77000 Pitch: Between a break-up, unemployment, and a cross-country move, Caroline’s life can’t get any more topsy-turvy. That is until she becomes the victim of a mobile tiny house theft turned accidental kidnapping. First 250 Word of Manuscript: “It’s downright tiny, Caroline,” my grandmother, Ethel, murmured. Ethel Fitzgerald was not one to mince words. She was blunt and sometimes a little acerbic. Depending on whom you asked, some might go so far as to say she lacked tact, but to me she was a breath of fresh air in a town full of biddies that would say one thing and mean something else. I usually appreciated her honesty, but in that moment I would have preferred a compliment, even a disingenuous one. “That’s why they call them tiny houses. It’s supposed to be small, Grandma. There’s tons of storage space, so don’t you worry. Let me give you the tour,” I said. “Shouldn’t take long,” she muttered beneath her breath. My grandmother’s criticism of my home stung something fierce. I gave her a tight smile and took a step further into the house. It had been a labor of love, all 262.4 square feet designed myself and built by my own hands. The house was more than wood and tile, nails and glass. It had been born from my own blood, sweat, and tears. There had been plenty of all three. I took a deep breath and started my lengthy rundown of all the features the space boasted. Tiny meant squat if you utilized the space properly, which I most certainly had. “This is the combined bedroom-living room. My bed is tucked beneath the window over here, and this wood cover slides out and extends over the...

Read More

12: THINGS BETTER NOT HEARD

Title: THINGS BETTER NOT HEARD Age Category: Young Adult Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 76,000 Pitch: Determined to win a scholarship and break her Aboriginal family’s cycle of welfare dependence, love derails a deaf teenager’s plans. But it’s discovery of her Turkish boyfriend’s secret that may ultimately destroy her future. First 250 Word of Manuscript: The bottom dropped out of my stomach like I’d hit a speed bump at one-fifty, and I goldfished for breath. The sudden stillness of the classroom meant five other girls—and probably at least two boys—also rated the new guy at precisely the same level as me. To. Die. For. Hayley stiffened alongside me like a hunting dog. If I risked a glance at her I’d lose my shit for sure, because she’d be pointing with her boobs rather than her nose. Disguising my reaction, I shoved a hand through my hair. And froze.* Damn.* Flouting school rules, my hair hung loose. I relied on the teachers to ignore my only defiance, rather than tackle a potentially embarrassing conversation, yet I’d exposed myself. Fingers raking through long bangs, I covered my hearing aids without taking my eyes off New Guy. Oblivious to the no-touching-students rule, Mrs. Richter ushered forward the object of our interest. Deserting him a few feet into the classroom, she danced her impressive bulk backward, blocking the doorway as though fearing the boy would bolt. Like a wild animal. Except he wasn’t a boy, and it looked like running away was the last thing he’d ever need to do. Returning the examination of twelve sets of eyes, he hooked a thumb through the strap of a backpack slung over broad shoulders. I could understand why he wore a sweatshirt, rather than the school windcheater. They probably didn’t even make the jacket in his...

Read More