Pitch Slam – Team Stray Tats – Entry 10


Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense

Title: THE WAGER

Word Count: 83,000

Song: “Every Breath You Take” by The Police

Pitch:

Kate finally finds a man she can trust just as someone evil finds her. Kate’s unaware she’s the subject of a sick wager that will test her trust, and may wind up costing her life.

First 250:

Kate weaved through the crowded bar, ducking between tables to avoid servers loaded down with trays of sloshing beer. The bass thumped in her head and chest, matching her quick pulse. She paused halfway to the raised platform where the band was finishing a song. If she couldn’t get the singer’s attention, she’d look like an idiot. Or worse, he could ignore her.  At least it was dark, which would hide her reddening face.

She needed to get a grip. It’s not like the guy was Bon Jovi, though he might think so the way he swaggered around the small stage. She took a deep breath and pushed through the crowd to get closer.

The lanky lead singer, who’d be challenged to find enough flesh left to poke another piercing through, paused between songs for a drink. When he leaned down to put his cup back, she stood on her tiptoes and waved to get his attention.

He cocked his head and bent over his guitar.

“Do you guys take requests?” Kate yelled over the buzz of the amplifier.

“Depends what it is.” He hitched an eyebrow and leaned a little closer.

Oh, God. She hadn’t seen that coming. Her face grew warm. “Can you play a song for my friend, Meghan? It’s her birthday.”

“Sure. What song?”

She told him, and he nodded in an  I’m-so-cool way and smiled.

“You got it.” His fingers fiddled with the strings of the guitar as his eyes traveled up and down her body.

Pitch Slam – Team Stray Tats – Talent Scout Save!


Title: Ice Queen

Word Count: 65,000

Song: Human by Christina Perri

Pitch:

The Angel Experiment meets The Snow Queen when sixteen-year-old Arianna Lewis falls for her hottie new neighbor. If she can’t figure out how to control her ice juice, it’s bye-bye sleepy beach town…hello frozen wasteland.

250: 

For the love of all things not genetically modified, please let me get to the bus without a Jeremy Watters run-in.

Racing though the empty gym, I slam my backpack into the double doors as the final bell rings. Almost there—

“Hey Ice Queen, I’ve got something to thaw you off.”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

I stop short of slamming into his overly inflated chest. My fingertips tingle as the sneer spreads across his face.  I dig my nails into my palms to avoid another accident. Two in one day is too risky.

Jeremy casually folds his pumped biceps across his chest, flipping that damn toothpick between his teeth. If only he’d choke on it. Sucking in a calming breath, I choke on the musky air burning the back of my throat.

“Geeze, didn’t anyone ever teach you how to spray cologne?” I let out a gagged cough and hold up a finger, “One squirt. That crap isn’t air-freshener. People need to breathe.”

“Come on Ice Queen, it’s no secret you can’t resist the love potion. Your temperature’s rising just thinking about it.”

Somehow he drags the word love into five syllables as he grabs his crotch and licks his lips prompting me to dry heave. Hard to believe a year ago he used to sneak in my window at night to avoid his parents’ knockdown arguments.

“Oh Jeremy, your tiny package couldn’t thaw out a popsicle.”

“Dude, she burned you,” one of his cronies shouts.

This is so not going to end well.

I chose to save Ice Queen because the character’s voice stood out above all the entries. It captured my attention and had me wanting to read more. Saved! @agirlnamednat, Team Stray Tats Talent Scout

Pitch Slam – Team Stray Tats – Rebel Roadie


Genre: Adult Fantasy

Title: FORGOTTEN BLOOD

Word Count: 123,000

Song: “Kingdom Come” by the Civil Wars

Pitch:

Alea is reeling from her family’s massacre. There is no time to grieve: she must accept that she is not human before the gods destroy the only person she has left.

First 250 words:

If Elle’s kind prayed, she would beg to lose the child. She covered her stomach and hurried to the humans’ temple district, grateful she was only a dozen weeks along. The port-city’s streets were packed, but she wound her way carefully to the plain, squat temple. In a city built for worship, hiding an old temple was easy. Elle ducked through the low doorway into cool darkness. She closed her eyes briefly, drawing calm from the crisp air. Here she did not have to hide.

The Faer could never have been called humble, but they had been forced into discretion. The small room beyond the foyer was discrete as could be managed.The tale of the Faer’s downfall at the hand of their creations, the gods, differed between human cities, with varying truth. They had become ghost stories in all but the most devout. The temple held half a dozen Faer studying or meditating. She found the oldest Faer and knelt before her, waiting until the woman opened her eyes to speak.

“Jeniah, I seek guidance.”

“What troubles you?” The Faer could feel disruption and change the way a sailor could sense a storm, and it was their intuition that guided many decisions.

“My place in Mirik’s palace is tenuous. I fear they will discover my true nature.”Jeniah fixed Elle with a sharp gaze, the silver in her eyes flashing. “May I?” She reached out a hand. Grey fog eased from Jeniah’s palm. It prodded Elle before withdrawing.

Pitch Slam Battle Royale


Team Stray Tats Poster

The Pitch Slam Managers & Talent Scouts scoured the globe, seeking the next big thing.
Our search took us to karaoke bars, church socials, and, yes,  even (pay-by-the-hour) motels in Vegas.

Because committed.

ALL THIS, so each team could assemble a rockin’ 10 11 12 member band.
These 5 bands are now ready to battle in front of the Executives. Details here.

#TeamStrayTats’ picks (the rockingest in the bunch) include:

– Our Top 10 – Chosen for their kickin’ voices, marketability, and undeniable cat-class swagger
– Talent Scout Save – Chosen by @agirlnamednat to rescue this entry from being shoved backstage
– Rebel Roadie – This is a Rock & Roll  themed contest, right? What’s R&R without a little rebellion? So why not pick an entry we might otherwise rule out due to content, length, from a “saturated genre”, etc etc?

We’re kinda partial to our very own Stray Tats, but…if you want to check out those other bands‘ picks:

Spyder
Magenta
Sweeter
Electric

Good luck #TeamStrayTats!

[And yes, of course, band members on those other teams, too.]

 

Comments are open to Agents-posing-as-Executives ONLY.
They will remain hidden until 5pm Eastern (for Team Stray Tats).

[If you’re a secret Executive looking to snatch up a band member, let me know on Twitter: @LucasMight]

All others: Feel free to share your groupie love and appreciation via the #PitchSlam hashtag.

You found the Stray Tats ~easter egg~ Shhhh…secret, rebellious stuff. If we had 3 more picks, you would have been the ones: Grit of Berth and Stone, Blackball, Enchanted Goddesses. So close! And not just those three, but ALL OF YOU, keep at it. Don’t give up. If writing is in you, you’ll keep honing your craft, hammering out words, editing the hell out of them, taking risks. You’ll make it. 

Pitch Slam – Audience Participation Tie Breaking


Featured Image -- 2003

Some auditions are so amazing, multiple teams want to add those entries to their line-ups.

When the smiles twist into stubborn (playful) snarls, and negotiations fail, we’ll be looking to YOU to help decide which team wins the entry.

Here’s how:

– Each competing team will pick a representative song. It can relate to the team, the entry, be completely made up, whatever.
– Those 2-5 songs will be tweeted in a single tweet with the hashtags:‪#‎PitchSlam‬ ‪#‎PSVote‬
– You, the Twitter user, will blindly vote for the winning team by replying to that Tweet with the title of ONE of the songs.
– The representative team’s song with the highest votes, or first to 10 votes, wins that entry.
– Once a winning team is determined, we’ll let you know the winner.
– The entry itself won’t be revealed until the scheduled release day. 😉

These tiebreakers can happen at any time, so keep your eye on the feed. [You know, like always.]

CONGRATS! You are an expert hunter of Invisible Ink. have fun…..

Are You Applying for the #AmtrakResidency?


View through the Amtrak window. NY state?

View through the Amtrak window. NY state? – July 2013

I took my first train ride over July 4th weekend 2013. Cleveland >> Buffalo >> Toronto >> Return.

This trip was amazing for a ton of reasons: couchsurfing, TORONTO, the travel itself. A good portion of my quick turnaround four-day weekend was spent on a train. [Details here: http://wp.me/p2k31x-oA]

Only selfie I took on my Amtrak nomad trip

Only selfie I took on my Amtrak nomad trip – July 2013

At that point, I was revising my novel Phreak Show and plotting Epistle Of Doff. I’m not sure if wi-fi is a thing on some trains, but there was no internet access on my trip. Translation: productivity.

A lot of you are already aware of the #AmtrakResidency Program for writers. If not, check out the origin story here: http://blog.amtrak.com/2014/01/tweet-lands-writer-best-workspace/

Toronto-Best (42)

Random ?orchard? scenery I whizzed past – July 2013

And if you dig the idea of a long distance train ride in a sleeper car [complete with desk], you can complete your own application here:  http://blog.amtrak.com/amtrakresidency/

[I totally jumped on that thing the second I realized the application was live.]

View of the Niagara River from the train

View of the Niagara River from the train – July 2013

During the application process you’ll have to confirm that you read the Official Terms. I’m [obviously] not a lawyer, but we writers are always concerned about works-related rights. Right? Right.

So, with that in mind, consider the clause in Item 6 of the Official Terms before selecting what writing sample to include with your submission:

6.   Grant of RightsIn submitting an Application, Applicant hereby grants Sponsor the absolute, worldwide, and irrevocable right to use, modify, publish, publicly display, distribute, and copy Applicant’s Application, in whole or in part, for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and marketing, and to sublicense such rights to any third parties…

Bear in mind that as part of the application, your submitted sample (up to 10 pages) falls under the above Grant of Rights. You know, not that that should hinder you in any way. Just something to weigh and perhaps aid in the sample selection process.

Buffalo-Best (2)

Early morning chillin in the Cleveland station

So my application’s in. With up to 24 possible slots with 1000’s [10,ooo’s ?] of applicants, it’s a long shot for any of us. But that’s okay, because an investment of 15 minutes time could end up in a 2-5 day train excursion. Pretty rockin’ tradeoff if you ask me.

Outside one of the Buffalo stations - July 2013

Outside one of the Buffalo stations – July 2013

Q: Who else is applying for the #AmtrakResidency?
Q: If you don’t score one, now that the concept is under your skin, would you self-fund your own train trip as a writing retreat?

OFFER OF REP! (and why I said no)


guy kneeling crying

Please, put down the torches and pitchforks.

I know how that title sounds. I never, ever imagined I’d turn down an offer of rep from an agent. But I did. I had to. It was a difficult thing to do, but maybe not for the reasons you might think.

It all started with the most recent #PitMad event. The day job was busy sucking the life out of me, so, the night before, I scheduled a few Tweets to jump in and scrap with the thousands of others vying for attention in the stream. By the end of the day, I had two requests: one from a small pub & one from an agent. Right away I knew I wouldn’t submit to the publisher. Because, you see, I’ve made the personal decision that I want an agent fighting by my side, adding value, experience, and wisdom to this passionate dream of mine.

So that left me with an agent who wanted to see more than the (exactly) 140 characters: Tera joins the crazy-twisted Phreak Show where she must embrace the truth: being a freak isn’t about looks, it’s a frame of mind #PitMad YAF

I’d previously researched the agency *a little*. My mind couldn’t instantly dredge up any black-listed reasons not to submit. Plus: AN AGENT WANTS TO SEE MORE OF MY STORY! Once I got home, I hunted the sub guidelines and shipped off the query, synopsis & first 25 pages. I grabbed some dinner and nonchalantly strolled into my weekend.

5 days later, this arrived in my inbox:

I’m absolutely obsessed with this. Your concept looks really tight and the message is just awesome. I think there is something so real about this, but you are entertaining instead of didactic. I could go on and on, but suffice to say I’m fangirling : ) I would be delighted to give your full manuscript a read.

Of course I did a celebratory jig (a cross between Riverdance & walking on hot coals) & sent it right over. An agent. Fangirling over my words! And only then did I do the in-depth research I should have.

Uh-oh.

As this process progressed, a half dozen of my fellow writers, CPs, and an Assistant Agent friend all suited up & went into research-war with me. There were a lot of questions marks, which twisted into perplexities, which then flared into big, flaming red flags.

– Predators & Editors only noted: slow response time to queries. [Well, hell. That’s 75% of all queries I’ve ever sent…]
– No agents with the agency are members off AAR. [Okay, well I know of some top-notch agents who aren’t…]
– No clients listed on the agency website. [Okay. Wait. What? You’ve been in business for years…Your website is a basic (and easy) venue to champion your authors’ work. If you’re not showcasing your clients & their books on your own website, then what kind of marketing value are you really adding?]
– Twitter digging, following the rabbit down its hole, unearthed a few “clients”. [Hmmm…few and far between. The quality of the book covers look little better than something created in MS Paint. Are these self-pubbers? I smell fish.]
– Even though the agency (and its parent Talent agency) has been around for years: no sales listed. None. Anywhere. [Slow the eff down. Even if the agent (for whatever reason) chose not to post sales, then the Editor, or the even the author most likely would. Right? HOW CAN YOU BE IN BUSINESS FOR YEARS AND NOT HAVE ANY PUBLIC RECORD OF SALES?]

And as a few more red flags were firmly planted: that dead fish smell clung to me, my manuscript, my misconception that landing a full request is always a good thing.

THE NEXT DAY: My phone rings during my commute home. I don’t recognize the number. It’s the agent. I pull over. I whip out my notebook, access the mental database of all those questions & red flags in my head.

I absolutely LOVE this. Love.it. The aesthetic you created is perfect for this concept, perfect for YA. The quirkiness is really good; weird in a good way. Your characters are a BIG strength; they feel so real. The whole story felt really emotional without sacrificing plot. It’s so hard to balance characterization, worldbuilding and plot, and you did it beautifully. That’s evidence of a great writer.”

Lucas’ brain: She’s genuine. She reallymeans every word. Damn, those words feel good. Why, oh why, does this have to smell like a Red Lobster’s dumpster?

I’d like to offer you and your phenomenal book representation.

Lucas’s brain: Oh fuck does this suck. Hard.

I dig into my questions: carefully. I ask about the things giving me major pause (or, actually, damn-near a full-on stop). She answers. She’s super nice. Her personality is vibrant, cheery, and wonderful. We’d get along great outside of the whole agent-author relationship thingy. Oh yeah. That’s the whole point. A knowledgeable agent guiding me through the process, selling-the-hell-out-of-my-book, connecting with contacts I don’t have, championing my story, fighting alongside me to make this passionate dream of mine a reality.

I have other fulls out, so I need to nudge those agents and give them the opportunity to offer. A week ought to do. I ask for a copy of the agency’s contract to look over. I can text or email or call anytime with questions or concerns.

I’m torn. There’s no way I can accept this offer. But, at the same time, in an ooey gooey part of me, this is the call I’ve been working SO HARD to receive for years now. THIS EFFIN SUCKS.

If the red flags smelled fish-like, the contract is the bloody meat of every fish who ever died, piled on a shit-covered beach, rotting in the boiling hot sun while zombie skunks spray musk on the stinkbugs chewing on the eyeless corpses. You think I’m exaggerating. I’ve seen a few agency contracts, so I have comparison points. I work with contracts & legal docs in both my day job and in my own business. This contract isn’t for just this project, but basically for your creative soul. The Author’s Work is defined as:

“…all ideas, story materials, characters, situations, formats, and works of authorship which Author has created or creates during the term of this Agreement…”

That feels pretty all-encompassing. “Ideas” are included? And what’s with the “has created” phrase? The word “irrevocably” is used too many times throughout the contract. The clauses involving how the contract can be terminated revolve around a very specific period in time; not just with 30 days written notice, which seems to be the standard. With each new work, the contract auto-renews & resets the clock & the termination clause. The continuation of residual commissions is scary when combined with the agreement’s definition of the Author’s Work. If things weren’t fishy before, this contract alone would have been enough to lead me to a no.

My deadline for getting back to this agent arrives. My gut wrenches as I dial the number. And I’ve heard agents say this before: rejections suck no matter which side of the conversation you are on. This isn’t true with queries or partials, I’m sure. Probably not even with a lot of fulls. But here, with an offer of rep before me, knowing and believing that (despite all the salmon) this agent truly & genuinely loves my work, I feel so awful saying no. And not for my sake. Not because I feel like I’m losing something, but because this agent feels so strongly for my manuscript. My heart hurts because she has expectation and hope. And I’m the one dashing it against the stones.

It bites when agents give you a generic rejection, which leaves you wondering But, really, WHY? It’s harder this way (on me), but I’m super-honest and straightforward with her on the reasons why I am declining her offer. She is gracious, but sadness tinges her voice.

I received an offer of rep. And yet, I had to reject it.

But the story doesn’t end there. Since I rejected that offer, I expanded the deadline: for reasons. Baited hooks still dangle in the sparkling water, with the possibility of reeling in an agent with the passion, experience, and wisdom worthy of a yes. It may or may not happen this round. I’ll keep you posted. Thankfully, there are fish in that wide, open sea who don’t smell fishy at all.

The Writer’s Voice Entry – Phreak Show


Plink0

I feel like I’m on The Price is Right. Or something. My entry Plinko’ed through the pegs and channels of Rafflecopter to land a spot in The Writer’s Voice.

Get the skinny here, or here , also here, and let’s not forget here. Mucho appreciation to the lovely ladies throwing this shindig. Barker’s Beauties, or Drew’s Dolls, or Voicy Vixens we might could call ’em: CupidBrendaMonica , Krista, and Kimberly.

There are some wicked-great agents participating, and I’ve got to say, Phreak Show is bouncing up and down with anticipation for the Showcase Showdown. Come on Coaches! Pick this here entry to be one of your 8…errr 9? You know, whatever number, without going over.

QUERY

When Tera sees through the 600 pounds of fat smothering Twiggy the Blubber Girl, and finds a hurting, size 16 girl beneath, she knows something’s crazy-twisted with The Last American Phreak Show. The wicked Phineas is enslaving teens by wielding their warped self-images against them. Sixteen-year-old Tera has enough crap of her own to deal with, but there’s no effin way she’s letting the jackhole Phineas exploit them in his human zoo.

Tera sacrifices her own questionable normality, and becomes one of Phineas’s sideshow phreaks. Once bound by Phineas’s covenant, Tera discovers that she is more like the powerful showmaster than she’d like to believe, and her presence in the Phreak Show is killing him. If Phineas dies before the captive teens discover a way to break free, they will die with him.

The carnies only have a few days to confront the lifetime of lies lurking within their own hearts. And it will require more than Victorian costumes, sideshow tricks, and creepy performances to save them. The dark magic which binds the teens runs soul-deep. Being a phreak isn’t about looks; it’s a frame of mind

Phreak Show, a YA Greenpunk Fantasy where The Night Circus meets Skinny, is complete at 86,000 words.

With published short stories, articles, poetry, and illustrations, Phreak Show is my third novel. When not writing, I’m an artist who works with reclaimed materials, a spreadsheet junkie, and phreak who has learned to be comfortable in his own skin.

FIRST 250

The neon-red TATTOO sign buzzed with the only spark of excitement in Podunk. Or whatever clone of a town I rolled into that day. Slow and gray like all the rest. Railroad tracks stretched down one side of the street while a storefront church and a sorry excuse for a coffee shop sat on the other. A mom wrangled her toddler into a rusty pickup parked against the curb. Old men perched on a bench outside a hardware store, ogling me, some strange teenage girl, invading their land.

At least this Podunk had a tattoo shop. The first I’d seen in two days. Enough stalling. I needed to get it done while I had the chance, before I lost the nerve again, before my money ran out.

A bell jangled as I pushed my way into the antiseptic air. Drawings of hearts and butterflies, daggers and skulls, covered the walls. I slid my fingers into my back pocket and fished out my last eighty-three bucks. And the photo of Jamie. The white crease down its center cut right along the middle of his tiny body. A tangle of tubes and wires snaked in and out of him. All because of me.

“What you need?”

I jerked away from the image in my hand, and followed the voice to the pierced lip of an inked-up guy. Scruffy hint of a beard, jet-black hair, and nerd glasses reflecting the light so I couldn’t see his eyes. I stepped closer, checking out his skinny jeans through the display case of tongue rings and metal bars.

Of course, I had to check out The Price is Right and find out how to get tickets. Not because I’m really going, but just because, you know, curious: http://www.priceisright.com/tickets

Pitch Madness vs The God Tier


god-tier

Phreak Show is having it’s coming out party. Maybe.

Hot off the presses, it’s up for the grabby hands of the self-identified Slush Zombies over at #PitchMadness. If you’re oblivious, check it out here:  http://brenleedrake.blogspot.com/

The announcements for the pitches which level-up to Round 2 won’t be made until 3/26. In the meantime, I’ll query an EXTREMELY small selection of god-tier agents. I’m doing a short-window-exclusive-of-sorts during this time. Then, should the need arise, I will step down to the next rung of the Echeladder. [If you get the god-tier & Echeladder references, I totally heart your face.] Also, there is this magical nexus where PM & the GT converge…

For more info on Phreak Show:

  • Check out it’s dedicated tab right here on the blog.
  • Like its Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/PhreakShowNovel
  • Peruse its Pinterest Boards: http://pinterest.com/gypsyluc/
  • Peep in on the #PhreakShow hashtag.

The Sacred Hidden Among the Trees


PineGrove

I remember being worshiped in the sacred groves of Babylon, between the twin sycamores of Egypt, by the figs of Ancient Rome, among the yews and elms in the Celtic lands. My followers understood what many have now forgotten: soaring branches, trembling leaves, and twisted roots make the purest chapels. Tranquility thrives in the midst of growing things. Walls may offer a temporary refuge, but stone cannot breathe. Mortar soaks up the songs and keeps them for itself. Stained glass imprisons the essence of prayers in its too-bright colors.

But trees—trees pass the hopes and heartaches and dreams to one another. And, eventually, those heart-cries make it to me. I breathe them in. I share my bounty. I impart wisdom. Above all, I answer.

There is a spritely girl in the western lands who still hears me. Amelia is her name. In the midst of the evergreens behind her home, we speak. Though a young soul, her beauty runs deep. Deeper than any I have come across in hundreds and thousands of days. She searches for me, giggles with me, tells me her secrets.

Yesterday, Amelia brought others to her grove. They scratched their feet through the pine straw to make way for the earth to show through in patches. Amelia and her friends formed the straw into long lines to create separate rooms in what they called a house. But the children could see over the walls. They could talk, and breathe, and play, and dream. I sent them a soft breeze. I tickled them with sunlight trickling through the trees.

My hope has been dying. I feared, for yes, I fear, that I might pass into the land of things which are no longer loved. Amelia has saved me. After all these suns and moons of waiting and fading, she has remembered me well, when few others would.

This morning, I planted honeysuckle all around her grove. The sprouts sprang up and I carefully wove the climbing vines around the trunk of each of Amelia’s pines. I know she will notice. She will ask me about them. And I will tell her the vines are a gift. She will smile. I will show her how to pluck the blossoms, ease the stamen through the bloom to catch the tiny, sparkling drop of nectar, and to place the drop on her tongue.

She will savor the sweetness. She will taste them all, every last blossom. And I will grow her more.

Amelia has given me much honor. Her willingness to know, to remember the olden things, to seek the sacred hidden among the trees, will be rewarded. Today, once she has tasted the nectar, I will bless her with the full measure of my glory.

And I know my new priestess will pass it on.

Response to the “One Hundred” prompt at http://darcicole.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-entries-100.html

Check her out.

[I took the photo prompt and imagined it translated to the area of NC I lived in as a child. Hope you enjoyed it.]