F-5: Middle Grade: TREASURE OF THE NINE-BANDED KNIGHT

Genre: Adventure Word Count: 60,000 Pitch: A twelve-year old city boy teams up with an undocumented kid from Mexico to find legendary Spanish treasure, stirring up prejudice, greed, and unsettling secrets about the murder of his father. Excerpt: The day Trace’s mom started laughing again, he knew things had gotten serious. It was up to him to stop her before she did something crazy like marry the rancher she had dated for a whopping three months. Every seventh grader knew Texas had more ranchers than roaches. But people from the city of Austin—especially dead cop’s wives—didn’t marry them any more than horses married cows. Unless. The dead cop’s wife had no money, and the rancher was rich. Trace hauled two plastic milk jugs full of change out of his closet. His stunt bike savings. Now the bike would have to wait. He stuffed the money into his backpack and skateboarded to Uncle Kirk’s house in the nice part of the neighborhood. “One hundred ninety-six dollars and eighty-two cents,” he said, plonking the jugs onto Kirk’s desk with a determined jingle. Kirk goggled at the money and put on his surveyor’s hardhat as if he expected the coins to geyser into the air. “Where did you get all this?” “Mostly the skate park. You should never do the half-pipe with change in your pockets. I’ve been collecting the spillage for years. Now you can take me to the casino.” “Do what??” “You told me you would take me to the casino when I had two hundred dollars for starter money.” Trace held out his open palm. “By the way, you owe me five bucks for last week’s poker game.” Kirk scratched his head, forgetting that he was wearing a...

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F-6: Young Adult: HATE CRIME

Genre: Thriller Word Count: 60,000 Pitch: DANGEROUS GIRLS meets DARK PLACES when 17-year-old Cordelia’s sister is murdered, she must stop a racist psychopath before he kills again. Too bad the only person who can help her is said psychopath’s douchey son. Excerpt: It happened again. The ugly, bright orange letters rubbed my hands raw as I scrubbed the word off of my car. *CHINK.* That’s it. Five little letters let me know exactly how someone felt. Five little letters, joined together in one big statement. *CHINK.* My hands shook as they dipped back into the now-lukewarm water. Our principal’s words circled around my mind in an endless loop, blaming me for everything. Just like last time. “Since there was no way of knowing who wrote it,” Principal Billings said, “It’s your responsibility, to clean *that word* off of the vehicle. *Your* vehicle. That *you* should take better care of and watch more closely, Ms. Sotello.” Watch more closely. Yeah. It was parked in the school lot, next to the other cars that also weren’t being watched closely. *That word* certainly wasn’t there when I got to school, so somewhere in between English (my first class) and lunch (my favorite class), *that word* made its debut on the side of my ’99 Corolla. I took a second to pull my chapped hands close to my mouth, blowing warm-ish air into my cupped palms. Thanks to twenty minutes of scrubbing, I’d reduced the word to C-H-I. I sat back, resting on the cold, uneven street. My mouth pulled into a thin line as I stared at those three letters, a neon reminder that I’d never belong. A small laugh escaped as I scraped away at the “I.” I wasn’t Chinese. Wrong slur,...

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F-7: Adult: CALL OF THE KOEL

Genre: Historical, Upmarket Women’s Fiction Word Count: 123,000 Pitch: 19C Hong Kong. Cultures clash beneath masks of civility. Still, Helena and concubine-turned-servant Siu Lin become friends. When old secrets resurface, their lives hang in the balance. The reach of revenge is wide and ruthless. Excerpt:  May 1866, Hong Kong At last, and too soon, they arrived at the painted green door. Siu Lin leaned against a rough wooden post, her legs sponge and marrow from the walking that had begun the day before. Her younger brothers sat down by the side of the alley to wait. “Don’t make trouble,” Baba warned them, and they nodded. His voice was soft, but he didn’t stand for disobedience. “Come, Siu Lin,” Mama said. Siu Lin looked again at her brothers tracing lines in the dirt. “Come, Siu Lin!” Baba was growing impatient. She followed her parents across the threshold. Inside, the damp earth floor, musty in the humidity, teased at the back of her throat. Baba murmured low to the woman they had walked so far to see. So far. An anxious current, choppy and fitful, rippled in her stomach and she drifted toward the open seas of despair. She shoved away thoughts of home, and cast her nets, instead, on the strangeness of this place. A candle flickered and shadows danced over the walls. A bed. No, two beds. A large wardrobe. What did the woman keep inside? Baba was still speaking with the woman. The matchmaker amah. Finally, the woman nodded, brushed past Baba and came to stand in front of her. Ah Yip. The name had haunted her for weeks. Now it had a face, round and expressionless like the barren moon. “We cannot afford to keep her,” Baba said in a hollow voice and looked to the...

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F-8: Adult: SUPER FORTY

Genre: Women’s Fiction Word Count: 87,000 Pitch: After Shannon accidentally uses an irradiated tampon, she can shoot menstrual cramps from her fingers. No, really. This timid woman will reclaim her broken life by becoming a superheroine at age forty…or die trying. Excerpt: My name is Shannon Johnson, and I was thirty-nine years old when, for the first time in my life, I stood up for myself. Over a box of tampons. I don’t know why I maintained my death grip on them that night in the Duane Reed during a hurricane. Perhaps those forty wads of cotton were the last straw in my pathetic existence: the tampons that broke the camel’s back. In this scenario, I’m the camel—bloated full of water and bleating into an uncaring desert of bad metaphor. The last dude working in the cleaned-out drug store also didn’t seem to understand why he fought me for the squished box. “Ma’am,” he managed through gritted teeth, as if “ma’am” were the name of his least-favorite zit. “Ma’am, they’re recalled by the manufacturer, and I’m, um, not allowed to sell them!” I kicked an empty cardboard standee that used to hold canned soup toward his feet, but he leaped over it without breaking our tug of war. Darn his youth! “Sir,” I replied as pleasantly as possible when chatting about tampons. “They—they look okay to me.” I took a deep breath; talking back was my least-favorite activity, right above not talking back. “*Please.* They aren’t rotted food. I just need them to…to stop…I mean, I use them up…into…within—” I couldn’t say vagina. My mother would never forgive me. A lady doesn’t use words like “vagina” or “pregnant” or “hell.”...

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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...

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