Pitch Slam – Team Stray Tats – BAND POSTER

TST Band members



It’s been a BLAST! Fun, tiring, nerve-wracking, hard-awesome, exciting, ALL THAT. This chasing your dream thing? Your Managers & Talent Scouts know what that feels like. We’re in it with you. We’ve been in the trenches. (Some of us still are.) Keep at it.

We appreciate how AWESOME you’ve all been: following guidelines, participating on Twitter (which made it as fun for us as it was for you). An easy, concrete way to thank the Managers & Scouts: follow us on ALL the social media outets you’re plugged into. (So simple, right?) I’ve got handy-dandy, clicky icons at the top right of this page. I want to hear your success stories. All of you.
Love & tattoos ~Lucas

Pitch Slam – Team Stray Tats – Entry 1

Genre: Adult Upmarket Fiction

Title: The Well-Adjusted Household

Word Count: 87,000

Song: Bedroom Hymns by Florence + The Machine


Booze wasn’t the only illicit pleasure in Prohibition-era Pittsburgh. Homosexuality was a felony, but Ben and Iain’s sham marriages to Leni and Margaux were the perfect cover. Until a maid pulled back the sheets.


“On your right!”

The bicycle appeared from around the corner while Ben was lost in thoughts of covalent bonds and chemical reactions. There was no time to avoid impact. His beakers hit the pavement first, followed by his face.

“Jesus Christ, I’ve killed him. Hello? Can you hear me?”

As Ben regained consciousness, he assessed his injuries. Pain, but no broken bones. He rolled to his back. “Left. You were on my left.”

“Pardon?” The offending cyclist hovered over him, surveying the damage. “Goodness. You’re bleeding.”

Ben sat up slowly, his ears ringing and his vision blurry. He poked at his cheek where a shard of beaker glass had lodged. “Shit.”

“Here, let me help you,” the young man said. He grabbed Ben’s arm and pulled him to his feet. “I do apologize. I’ve never run over anyone before.”

Ben wobbled slightly. “I find that hard to believe.”

“My apartment is just there,” he offered, disregarding Ben’s comment and pointing to a building across the street. “Would you care to come up? Use the washroom? That gash is quite a sight.” The young man leaned in closer, inspecting the wound. He was beautiful and smelled like Eau de Quinine.

Ben exhaled sharply. “I, um, don’t think–”

“Please. It’s the least I can do.”

“I suppose…if you insist.” He was now hopelessly late anyway.

“I insist,” he said, grinning. “I’m Iain, by the way.”

“Iain. Pleased to meet you, but not your bike.”

Pitch Slam – Team Stray Tats – Entry 2

Genre: YA Gothic


Word Count: 53,000

Song: Hurt by Johnny Cash


Sixteen-year-old Jasmyn Rayne isn’t the only one writing in her diary. Her dolls are, too. Maybe. A loving slave doll and bitter porcelain doll who crave two very different endings for the girl they haunt.

First 250:

Friday, October 31st

Listen, diary dear, and listen well.

I fear my antique dolls. How they come to life in the shattered moonlight, creep across my bedroom floor, and whisper aged-torn secrets meant to stay buried. They slip up walls and bang, bang, bang their heads on my metal bed frame. I cover my ears to drown their terrible sounds, but their sounds come from within me—sorrowful, loud, and mocking.

Damn. Your pages sliced my fingers, diary dear. Don’t you understand? I’m bleeding everywhere. And—oh, god—I’m not feeling…too…good.

i crinkle to life when her blood spills.
i move in red and breath.
she don’t see me as i truly am and she don’t know that i see,
i am her childhood doll.
i’ve seen since we first found each otha’.
she was four.
that be twelve years ago.
i been ‘round lots longer.
i don’t know how long.
i only remember the smell of smoke and turpentine,
the taste of oiled cinnamon,
the feel of hard straw and needle pinch as it sewed on each stitch of mouth and coarse yarn hair.
i didn’t have to see to know it flamed red.
it was a long and painful process.
creation always is.
the nimble strength and rough tenderness in my maker’s hands taught me everything
i needed to know
‘bout love.
my button eyes were sewn on last.
i saw my maker.
old and weathered, battered by time, her skin dark chocolate, and her eyes rheumatic.

Pitch Slam – Team Stray Tats – Entry 3

Genre: YA Historical Romance

Title: Ingenious Daughter

Word Count: 50,000.

Song: Nothing’s Going to Stop Us


Ben Franklin dared to say it. Jane’s a better scientist than her father. Dad fights back, curtailing research and multiplying chores. Hungry for knowledge, she’s too wily for him. It’s time to marry her off.

First 250:

The curd begins to bubble. I sing three verses of  “Milk and Butter,” and pull it off the fire. I’ll trade this batch for a tempering hook, and Poppa will never know.

Cheese fascinates me. There’s a universe to discover in texture, color, smell, and taste. And the profits from sales save me from household work.

I leave the curd and move to my test batch.

9 April 1742. The Thornton cheese has ripened three days.

I unfold a tea towel, set out my tools – a ladle, three knives, and two pike probes — and tear the cheesecloth off the tun and sniff.

The sour smell has sweeter notes. Accents of lilac.

I scoop up some of the soft cheese, and pour it onto a dish.

Kate clatters a pile of plates. “Miss Jane. Mr. Lewis? He told me to double the order.”

I hate interruptions, but I stop, look up, and force a smile. Kate means well. “Did he give you a note of payment?”

“No, Miss.”

“I’ll speak to him when I’m in town.”

I select the smallest knife. As I slice the cheese, Kate places a tray next to me.

“Have you had any breakfast?” She is forever reminding me to eat. I’m not a baby. I’m almost seventeen.

“Later,” I say. Inside the cheese, a surprise. Tiny air bubbles. I take my reading lens out of my pocket for a better look.

“And, Miss? Your father says he wants to see you. He says now.”

Pitch Slam – Team Stray Tats – Entry 4

Genre: YA Contemporary


Word Count: 68,000

Song: “Wash Away” by Joe Purdy


To deal with Mom’s abandonment, Beth resolved to save every abandoned sea turtle on the beach. In dealing with her unplanned pregnancy, she’s taking a lesson from the turtles: sometimes love means saying goodbye.


I never went boating when I was upset. At least, that’s what I told myself as my boat’s prow sliced the water, skimming over the frothing waves. After all the sea turtles I’d treated with Gramps, all the torn flippers and split shells from collisions with careless boaters, I swore I’d never put one in danger myself. But some days, the best life philosophies and most sincere promises can’t keep you away from the ocean. Especially when it’s the only place your nagging sister won’t follow you.

So when the boat’s hull clunked against something hard in the water, the propeller hiccupped a beat, it knocked the bold thoughts right out of my head and out to sea.

I cut the motor, letting the boat coast to a stop. Rushing to the stern, I leaned out and scanned the waves behind the slowing propeller. A mushroom of red blossomed below. It hovered a moment, then began to sink.

That did not just happen.

I pulled my cellphone out of my pocket, racing through my contacts. George was an hour away in Grace Port, and Dad was out of the question. So, swallowing a lump, I scrolled down the list and speed-dialed Anna.

She answered in three seconds.

“Anna, meet me at the beach. By the old boat access.” I didn’t elaborate. Snapping the phone shut, I plunged into the water, shoes and all.

Pitch Slam – Team Stray Tats – Entry 5

Genre: YA Contemporary


Word Count: 54,000

Song: Don’t Save Me by HAIM



16-year-old Tatum’s on house arrest for a crime she didn’t commit.  With Tiger Stepmonster breathing down her neck, she needs to earn back her family’s respect while hopefully winning her cello-playing prince along the way.


“Tatum, they have your license plate on camera.  This is as good as it’s going to get.”  Mr. Alves stood at the head of the table in the conference room.  I hadn’t been listening, but staring at the button about to pop off his expensive dress shirt, straining against his massive gut.  Gross.

“Tatum Elsea, Mr. Alves is speaking to you.”  My stepmother, Su-bin, poked my shin with the toe of her pointy pump.

Pain shot up my leg.  “You didn’t need to kick me,” I said loudly, making sure my dad, Mr. Alves and God heard me.

“For the love of Pete,” my dad said.  “Tom, I apologize for my daughter’s behavior.  Please run through the deal again.  Tatum, this is your future.”

“Yes sir.”  I refused to turn my head toward him.

Mr. Alves cleared his throat.  “Here we go again.  You’re expected to formally name the figures seen on the security camera exiting Masons’ Department Store.”  He glanced down at the paper in his hand.  “Ashlyn Zanotti and Chase Massey.  Is that correct?”

“Correct,” I confirmed.

“Their official charge will be grand larceny because of the amount taken.  Normally in Virginia, being the driver, you would be charged with the same felony, but since no merchandise was found on your person or in your car, the Commonwealth Attorney has agreed to reduce it to a misdemeanor.”

Thank goodness for small favors,” Su-bin said.  I resisted the urge to send death lasers into her perfectly beautiful face.

Pitch Slam – Team Stray Tats – Entry 6

Genre: MG Fantasy

Title: Storm of Magic

Word Count: 57,000

Song: The William Tell Overture


A violent mage storm infects eleven-year-old Rell with potentially fatal magic. He needs help to learn how to control his magic before it explodes–and takes him with it– but all the mages are dead.


At the flicker of green light, Rell raised his head from weeding the row of corn and glanced across the open plains. Maybe it was nothing, just a trick of the light or a reflection. Everything was some shade of green or yellow in that direction except the line of clouds on the horizon.

In the next row over, Da said, “Back before the war, we’d have had a mage spell the seeds before we planted. Then the corn would grow faster than the weeds and choke them out. Things were easier then.”

Rell grimaced. Once Da got started on what things were like before the war, he could go on all day. Weeding the fields was boring enough without that. “Yeah, well, all the mages are dead,” he muttered. He glanced over toward the blackened stumps of what used to be the family’s orchard. And a good thing, too. He knew better than to say that out loud, though.

Rell snapped his head back around to the plains at another flash of light. Orange. He’d swear to it. There were a lot fewer things on the plains at this time of year that could be that color. He jumped to his feet, brushing the heavy clay soil from his hands and tossing his head to get the unruly brown hair out of his eyes.

A bolt of red lightening forked down as Rell watched. He waited for it, but no thunder followed the flash.

Pitch Slam – Team Stray Tats – Entry 7

Genre: YA Horror

Title: Nightmares

Word Count: 63,000

Song: “Welcome To My Nightmare” by Alice Cooper


Nightmares should remain in dreamland. Unfortunately Tommy’s didn’t get the memo, and stepped out, seeking retribution. A week ago, the monster had been a man, with a family. Until Tommy’s dream changed all that.



I tried to not be seduced by the rush of cars and trucks buzzing beneath me.


The wind off the lake toyed with my bangs, blowing them to the left, then right into my eyes at inopportune times.


Damn it! I can’t miss. Not when it’s for real. Not when it’s me.


I looked at my watch. I had a minute. Maybe.


Practice makes perfect. Or petrified.

I tried to block out the wind, the noise, the lights, the fear. I was going to be OK. I’d gone over every phase of my “stupidcide” mission about a bazillion times. So I’ll be fine, just as long as Galileo was right, and I fall at the same speed as the pennies I’ve been dropping. I sure as hell didn’t want to arrive early. Or late.


The engine brake broke my concentration. I grabbed my binoculars. Peering into the headlamp swirl, I could just make out a big thing on the highway bend about a mile away. It sure looked like flatbed trailer truck stacked high with bundles of laundry bound for the Institute. I could hardly afford to be wrong. I looked again, and checked my watch. No, no doubt about it. This was it. 12:04 a.m., right on the dot. Four minutes past twelve it was supposed to be, and four minutes past twelve it was.

There, speeding along at 65 miles per hour, was my ride.

Pitch Slam – Team Stray Tats – Entry 8

Genre: NA Sci Fi Fantasy


Word Count: 68,000

Song: Keep Away by Godsmack


Nineteen year-old Coree survives the alien purge. Now she needs to remember what the hell they did to her and why, before everyone she loves dies. The magic — bonus. Strange tattoos – just plain cool.


Damn it! I was late for class.

My calculus teacher hated when people weren’t on time. And if anyone dared enter after the door closed, well, they just asked to be mocked.

I sighed, grabbed my backpack and ran out the door.

When I reached the central quad, my steps echoed. Huh. No one around. Usually, the courtyard was always busy, no matter the time of day. Unease skittered through me on soft paws, tightening my stomach.

Then I heard it. Screams—men and women—coming from Main Street. I broke into a run and darted between the buildings.

Cars littered the intersection. It looked like someone rear-ended someone else, causing a chain reaction down the road. A car horn blared nearby and a faint breeze blew the smell of gasoline, smoke, and copper my way. People stood in clusters among the wreckage.

In the closest group, a small guy around my own age, nineteen, twenty maybe, fought a big bear of a dude, looked like a trucker. The small guy wore a ton of bling, pants hanging low and quite frankly, he was getting his ass whooped. The trucker hammered a punch to his temple, knocked him out cold. One hit. Bam.

Holy Crap. I gasped and covered my mouth.

The trucker stared at me with vacant eyes. He panted and cracked his knuckles.

“Guy stepped up on me,” he said and staggered back to his car.

Everywhere I looked, there was more of the same.

Pitch Slam – Team Stray Tats – Entry 9

Genre: New Adult Urban Fantasy

Title: Lucid Dreaming

Word Count: 72,000

Song: The orchestral version of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica


When Melaina banishes a nightmare spirit from a client, she draws the murderous ire of the nightmares’ master. Hiding inside human minds, he could be anywhere, inside anyone: a complete stranger or her dearest friend.


“So, um, I’ve never done this before. Visit someone like you, I mean.” The man swallowed hard, Adam’s apple bobbing.

Way to make me sound like a prostitute, pal. But his reaction was hardly unique. I extended a hand. His palm was sweaty despite the cold outside, his handshake weak. Ew. “I’m Melaina. Why don’t you take a seat, Mr Heaney?”

“Sure. Okay. Call me Larry.” He struggled out of his jacket and hung it on my hatstand, which wobbled. One of these days it was going to collapse in a pile of cheap timber and overcoats, but apparently not today.

I flashed my dimples at him as we sat on my battered armchairs, each of them wearing a throw rug like a shawl to hide the bare patches on their shoulders and arms. The chairs were at right angles with a corner table between them. Nice and cosy. Larry didn’t relax, though.

“Why don’t you tell me why you’re here?” I said.

“My Aunt Mim organised it. I think she knows the lady out the front.” He waved toward the door he’d come through, which led to the storefront of Serenity’s New Age Gifts. I rented the room in back. “She’s a bit batty to be honest, but her heart’s in the right place.”

I assumed he meant his aunt, not Serenity. Although the description fit either way. I nodded for him to continue.

He spoke in a rush, as though that would make it less embarrassing.