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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The Challenge

Hello my sweets! It’s been a rough few months here at the Fizzy homestead. My heart crapped out on me. My mommy pirouetted off a porch and is still recovering. My laptop died a horrible death, taking with it most of my writerly possessions. I dropped my phone in a toilet at my first Midwest Writer’s faculty planning meeting. There was that creepy mofo in a gas station. I’m behind on literally everything. All the things. So, I need a win. I think I’m due. What I want is to write. And write a lot. Lots of pretty new words. It’s been a hot minute since I had the time to just sit down and let a story flow out in that magical way. Frankly, it’s been an age. And that’s what I mean to do. Write some shiny ass words. Lots of them. Last year, by freak accident, I woke up one morning with an urge to write a new story, and three and a half days later, I’d spewed out an entire manuscript. It was magical. It was bizarre. My hands were messed up, guys. Like, actual stiff finger claws. Totally worth it. By the grace of all the gods, this weekend, I appear to have no pressing matters to deal with. Nowhere to go. Nothing of import to manage. (Aside from the eleventy-billion things I’m behind on. Ignore those things for a mo’…) So I’m gonna write. I’m gonna write A LOT. Here’s my plan: After I fetch my sweet mini-lad from preschool Friday, I’m going to return home, hand mini-lad over to husband-man, and proceed to lock myself in the bedroom until Sunday night, at which point, I hope to have a completed manuscript. Last year it was a book in three and a half...

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The Suck

Hello my sweets! Writerly peeps. Let’s chat. You know writing is hard. Anyone who says different is either A. not a writer, or B. a filthy damn liar. Sometimes, at least for me, I get so caught up in whatever it is that’s catching me, and I can’t get a word out. Not a word. Example: It’s taken me fifteen minutes and at least eleven different sentences to get this far in the blog. When I hit the wall, it’s full stop. There are no masterful manuscript words flowing, no blogs blogging, and hell, even my Tweets feel like 140 character cement shoes. It’s depressing. Wording is what I do. My head is still full of all the things I want to write, they just won’t come out. Or maybe it will, but it comes out as utter crap, not fit to be read ever by anyone, amen. When I’m writing, I have to meet my own level of pickiness. It has to be something that I know is at least in place enough to stand up to a solid revision later. It has to work on some level. If it doesn’t? I shut down. And then I feel like shit because I’m not getting anything written anywhere and to be quite frank, word creation has a very crack effect on me. The more words, the higher I am. The lack of words knocks me down to a very low level Summer. And then I wonder if anyone else grapples with such wordly debilitating feels? Being a creative type and personally prone to hyperbole, I immediately determine that no, it’s not possible for anyone to suck as much as I am sucking, everyone else is a real writer, a real artiste, and I will flounder in the backwash of the interwebz...

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