Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

SvS 2: Loving Laney – Adult Contemporary Romance February 8, 2017

Filed under: contest,Literary Agent,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 6:30 am
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Category/Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance

Word Count: 70,000



Is your main character hot or cold?



Laney Wilson would be described as cold. After being abandoned by her mother and breaking up with the love of her life, Laney has learned to keep her emotions bottled up and her heart protected. The relaxed persona she presents on the outside is frustrating to close family and friends who often perceive her as detached. As a teacher, Laney is patient and kind while instructing her students. Her calm personality helps her when dealing with stressful situations. She tends to show more emotion with her students because her classroom is her safe haven.







Dear Agent,



Avoiding your ex-boyfriend in a big city should be easy—unless he’s the star quarterback of the professional football team and wants a second chance.



Falling for Luke Claiborne in college wasn’t in Laney Wilson’s plan, but it happened. And it ended…badly. She walked away heartbroken and vowed never to come second to a man’s career again. Years later, she’s focused on being a dedicated teacher and making a difference in her students’ lives, leaving little room for romantic relationships. So when Luke’s children’s foundation partners with Laney’s school, she’s determined to resist his sexy Texan drawl and intoxicating smile.



Quarterback Luke Claiborne has enjoyed a successful NFL career, but regardless of all he’s accomplished on the field, he feels a sense of loneliness. Now, after recovering from a serious knee injury and a recent divorce, Luke’s looking for a fresh start in Philadelphia: home of passionate fans, the Liberty Bell, and Laney Wilson. Convinced Laney’s the love of his life, he’s determined to prove to her that they’re worth a second chance.



Regardless of how hard she tries to fight her feelings for him, it doesn’t take long for Laney to realize that Luke is still the only person who can knock down the walls around her heart. When she receives devastating family news, she can’t help but turn to the only man she’s ever loved for comfort. But then Luke’s past resurfaces, putting their rekindled romance to the ultimate test. Now, Luke and Laney must decide whether to risk their hearts and fight for each other, or lose their second chance at happily ever after.




First 250 words:



“Welcome to the Mike Marino show on 99.9. Philly fans, we’ve been talking about big moves made this season by Coach Kelly and the Independence staff. The move getting the most buzz is the signing of former LA Hawks quarterback Luke Claiborne. Opinions, Philly?”



Laney Wilson grimaced as she tightened her grip on the steering wheel. Every time she heard his name, she felt like she was suffocating. And she’d been hearing it a lot.



She slammed the OFF button on her radio as she pulled into Hope Academy’s parking lot. Stepping out of the car, she immediately started to sweat, causing her curly hair to crimp. There wasn’t enough anti-frizz serum in the city to fight this humidity.



“Hey girl, you ready for this meeting?”



Grinning, Laney turned toward the voice of her favorite co-worker, Taryn DeLuca. “I guess.” She sighed. “I can’t stand these beginning of the school year meetings.”



Taryn held the door open for her. “Ditto.”



Laney walked into the school, breathing in the smell of new crayons and disinfectant. “What’s on the agenda?”



“We’re talking about a new foundation the school wants to partner with — The Claiborne Foundation.”



Laney whipped around to look at her friend. Just as suddenly, her body slammed into a rock-hard chest. Two strong, familiar hands grasped her shoulders, steadying her. She closed her eyes, taking deep, cleansing breaths , trying to fight the wave of nostalgia washing over her. His woodsy scent consumed her, making it difficult to think straight.





SvS 3: The Underappreciated Art of Not Dying – Women’s Fiction (Ownvoices)

Filed under: contest,Literary Agent,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 6:30 am
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Category/Genre: Adult WF, OwnVoices

Word Count: 65,000



Is your main character hot or cold?


Leonie’s depression makes her run cold as ice.






Twenty-three-year-old Leonie has a respectable job at a Seattle law firm, a crappy 226 square foot “apartment,” and a list of five ways to kill herself. Today she crossed off four.


There’s nothing wrong with Leonie’s life. No great tragedies have befallen her. Hell, she’s never even been to a funeral. Yet depression strips her will to live as easily as a thumbnail might puncture the peel of an orange. But with the knife pressed to her wrist, she realizes bidding farewell to her crappy life isn’t as easy as she thought it would be.


Instead, she walks away from her job, breaks her lease, and gives away all of her belongings. Leonie books a one-way ticket out of the country in a last ditch effort to find happiness, but her search has an expiration date, and it coincides with the shrinking number in her bank account.


If Leonie can’t regain her will to live in the rainforests of Costa Rica, Amsterdam’s coffeehouses, or the wild, green hillsides of Ireland, it’s off the Cliffs of Moher she goes.


With the help of a businessman-turned-smelly masseuse, a Dutch prostitute, and a snarky yet infuriatingly hot Irishman, she may find that happiness, though precarious and elusive, is worth the battle.



First 250 words:



The rank fumes of someone’s—I can only assume to be radioactive—tuna lunch permeate the hallway, seeping into my cubicle just as I decide, yes, I am going to kill myself.


I don’t mean that in the God, if I have to go home with that cheap fish smell on my clothes one more time I’m going to blow my brains out kind of way. The two are mutually exclusive, completely unrelated.


Karen’s having tuna. I don’t want to live anymore.


I look down at my phone, scrolling through the never-ending Facebook feed once more—eternally searching for something to distract me from the monotony of my work. For the tenth time, my ex’s face fills the screen alongside the face of a woman I don’t recognize. A little heart pops up between them, declaring their newfound love. Scott Haring is now in a relationship with Vanessa McMahon.


I grind my teeth, hoping a few might break off and give me something to really suffer over.


Screw them and their stupid happiness. Good luck, Vanessa. I hope you have a good job, girl, ‘cause he sure as hell isn’t getting one.


I hit the like button before scrolling past the status update.


The shrill ring of my office phone pulls me from bitter thoughts. I squeeze my eyes shut, so tight that color blooms behind my lids. My hands are so heavy in my lap. I have to convince every cell from my right shoulder down to the pinky finger to lift, just lift, please.





SvS 4: Jumping Fences – MG Contemporary

Filed under: contest,Literary Agent,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 6:29 am
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Category/Genre: MG Contemporary

Word Count: 41,000



Is your main character hot or cold?


Here’s a tip. If a girl with a Puerto Rican mom and an Italian dad describes her personality as “cold”, then she’s a lying liar from East Liar-stan. And you can take that to the bank, courtesy of me – Mira Caputo.



I love my dad and my best friend Cecy with all I’ve got inside. As for Luna, the flat out most amazing horse in the world? I’d jump through fire for her. Actual fire. No joke.



What I’m definitely not is a green-eyed, horse-hating, walking ice cube…like someone else I know (I’m looking at you, Peppy Prinsen).







Dear Agent,


Jumping Fences is about fathers and daughters and unlikely friendships. But most of all, it’s about the powerful bond between a girl and a horse.


A sleepy summer in Connecticut horse country suddenly gets interesting for 12-year-old Mira Caputo, when a headstrong thoroughbred gallops into her life and steals her heart. Luna is spunky, proud, and beautiful. Unfortunately, she also belongs to the pretentious Penelope “Peppy” Prinsen. Mira dislikes Peppy immediately, and the feeling is mutual.


To be with the horse, Mira fakes her way into the wealthy world where Luna lives. She introduces herself as the daughter of her father’s foul-tempered boss, the man whose estate they’ve lived on, and whose horses they’ve cared for, since the death of Mira’s mom. With access to the hunt club secured, Mira revels in early morning rides with Luna – and avoids Peppy like a pile of steaming manure – until she learns that the Prinsens are selling Luna to a third-rate race track.


Rescuing Luna from a life of misery means Mira must somehow change Peppy’s mind about the high-spirited horse. Yet each time she blunders into equestrian high society, with its polo games and horse shows, she risks her dad’s job and the new life they’ve built around it. Mira discovers the key may be to help Peppy stand up to her own domineering father in a very public way. At the hunt club’s biggest event of the summer, Mira must risk all the consequences of discovery to save the horse she loves…and the girl she despises.




First 250 words:



This summer isn’t exactly living up to my expectations. That’s the polite way of saying that falling into a pit of poison ivy would literally be an improvement.



So far there’s only one reason to crawl out of bed. The bad news is, I’m late again.



I throw my hair into a quick ponytail and tuck the t-shirt I slept in into my jeans, then find my way down the dark hall to the ridiculously bright kitchen. The paint color is called ‘cheerful mornings’, like that’s possible. Temporarily blind, I feel around for the fruit bowl and grab three apples.



Horses love apples almost as much as they love those red and white peppermint candies. Unfortunately, Dad stopped buying candy after my last trip to the dentist. Somehow he missed the dentist’s memo about soda, which is the only decent thing that’s happened to me all summer.



Outside, the air smells like salt and buzzes with flies from the nearby barn. I swat at one with my soda can.



“Die, foul beast!”



But it doesn’t die. The stupid things never do. They also don’t spend all summer without their best friend.



I charge down the hill, but skid to a stop at the driveway. It’s covered in perfectly white stones, like a layer of snow that I’m not allowed to mess up. So I ballerina-toe my way across, arms way out to my sides for balance. I’m the world’s most ridiculous tightrope walker – a soda and apple in one hand and two apples in the other.




SvS 5: The Sound Inside – MG Magical Realism

Filed under: contest,Literary Agent,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 6:29 am
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Category/Genre: MG magical realism

Word Count: 32,000





Is your main character hot or cold?



On the outside, Cassie is as cold and calm as snow covering the mountainside, a quiet calm like a steady mountain stream. But, on the inside, she has some summer sun flaring to come out in courageous drum beats, ready to crescendo into her own song.








Dear Awesome Agent,



Twelve-year-old Cassie can hear music emerge from almost every person and thing in her tiny mountain town. Old buildings creak out history, songs sizzle up while folks cook breakfast, readers flip pages to a beat at the town’s bookstore, and the winds whisper their own special sounds—and carry a little extra magic. But even with magical music, when the fireflies disappeared ten years ago, they took Firefly Mountain’s visitors, income, and hope with them. A school assignment spurs Cassie and her best friend, Bard, to more closely investigate the vanished fireflies, and she learns some secrets are stealing her town’s perseverance—and her mom’s song and joy.



As the town’s hope dwindles, its music starts to dim. The problem is, music generates more magic, but Cassie can’t figure out her own song. If only Cassie’s sound were a bold and spunky fiddle like bookstore owner Mrs. Anne’s, high energy banjo like her father’s, steady drumbeats like Bard’s, or loyal bagpipe like her dog’s, maybe then she’d be able to solve this mystery and her mom’s problems. When everyone’s pain deepens under new development plans, Cassie must uncover a family secret and find her own sound to try to set everything right again.



Complete at 32,000 words, THE SOUND INSIDE is a middle grade novel with notes of magical realism that will appeal to fans of Natalie Lloyd’s A Snicker of Magic and Cynthia Lord’s A Handful of Stars.





First 250 words:



I swing my foot across the dirt-coated path into a rock, sending it skittering ten feet to the side, like a piano player’s fingers across the keys. The rock’s song crescendos and clunks into a huge sneakered foot, which belongs to my longest (both in time and in height) friend, Bard.



“Why’d it have to be us, Bard?”



Bard shrugs. He shifts the rock with his toe until he’s satisfied with the angle, then sails the rock ahead, making me run for it.



I lunge to trap the rock under my shoe. Almost. It scoots just ahead of my toe onto three other rocks with a tap-tap-tonk like they’re clapping because I missed.



I huff and wait for Bard to catch up. “Why did we have to draw the missing fireflies as our report topic?” I shudder as I remember drawing the slip of paper off the teacher’s desk. “Scientists can’t even figure it out. So they want to put all the pressure on two kids to write a report with no answers out there? Where’s the logic in that?”



He quirks his mouth to the side and sighs. Bard doesn’t talk much. Or at all. Not since the accident three years ago. And it’s okay. When you’re best friends, you don’t always need to say everything out loud.



His always-steady beat matches his footfalls and I wish for my own song to join in. But I only hear the echoes of a whole lot of unanswered questions.



SvS 6: Your Favorite Mascot – MG Contemporary (Ownvoices)

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Category/Genre: MG Contemporary, Ownvoices

Word Count: 27,000



Is your main character hot or cold?


Taylor might describe herself as a warm person, but her alter ego Leo the Lion is hot hot hot! Not only is it literally hot in that 130-degree mascot suit, but when she’s in her lion costume she can she can act like a completely different person (or lion) and be way more mischievous and outgoing than she’d ever be in real life.






When Taylor and her two best friends are zoned to attend three different middle schools, the girls are separated for the first time ever.  Without cellphones or homes within walking distance of each other, they know the traditional ways of staying connected aren’t going to cut it. So the girls decide to become mascots at their respective schools, and document their adventures on a shared Google doc letter.  With secret identities, giant armadillos, crying babies, and puking co-mascots, the girls discover the life of a middle school mascot is one big adventure.


Too bad life apart is harder than they expected. Taylor loves being a mascot, but starting a strange new middle school all by herself is even worse than she imagined. When their plan isn’t enough to overcome the distance, Taylor has to find a way to save their lifelong trio, or risk losing it for good.




First 250 words:


The warmth from my breakfast taco seeps through the aluminum foil wrapper, and it feels like a cozy blanket for my hands. A cozy blanket that smells delicious. There’s no better way to start the day than with my two best friends and a fresh tortilla stuffed with perfection.  If only it could stay like this forever, no middle school, no being separated, no new anything. Just the same three best pals at my kitchen table, having the same important debates about taco fillings.


“I still don’t understand why y’all insist on getting bean and cheese every single sleepover. You guys are so boring.”


Ana takes a big bite out of her taco. Chorizo and egg tumble out of the tortilla and onto her plate.


“I’m not gonna try to convince you they’re the best. That just means more bean and cheese for us, right Taylor?” Chelsie asks me. Her taco is already half eaten. That’s proof right there that bean and cheese tacos are the true champions of the breakfast universe.


Ana pretends to roll her eyes and her whole head along with them, as if we haven’t had this argument at every single sleepover since we were old enough to spend the night at each other’s houses. “Bean and cheese is the taco equivalent of vanilla ice cream.”


“So… a classic?” I ask.


“Using four syllable words isn’t gonna help you win, smarty-farty.” Chelsie says at the same time.




SvS 7: An Ambiance of Lies – YA Thriller

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Category/Genre: YA Thriller

Word Count: 63,000





Is your main character hot or cold?





There, I said it. I lose my cool under pressure. Happy?


In my defense, with this much bottled up rage and unexpressed emotion, it’s kinda hard to be otherwise. I mean, I only have one outlet: the weird girl from writing class. People call it bullying, but it’s nothing personal. I’m just blowing off steam, you know?







Ahna has gone missing, and the only person who knows it is her bully.


Just days before summer break, sixteen-year-old Emerson pulls his nastiest stunt yet, one that humiliates Ahna so badly, even he’s left feeling guilty. He later texts her to apologize, but receives a strange reply from someone claiming to have kidnapped her—someone who can, and will, pin the crime on Emerson.


He plays the threat off as a joke, but when Ahna doesn’t show up to the last day of school, he worries. When her adoptive mother is found dead, he panics.


Emerson reaches out to the kidnapper, but gets a riddle in return.


Sent on a scavenger hunt via texts, he rushes around town collecting seemingly random facts about Ahna and reporting them back to the kidnapper. Along the way, Emerson finds out about Ahna’s traumatic past and dead biological family. He learns about the school-wide wave of bullying he unintentionally inspired against her. He begins to realize how cruel he’s been, and vows to make all his wrongs with Ahna right—if he can find her.


But then the riddles stop, and a timer on Ahna’s life—and Emerson’s freedom—begins.


THIRTEEN REASONS WHY meets GONE GIRL in this completed young adult manuscript. AN AMBIANCE OF LIES is told from three points of view: Emerson’s, Ahna’s, and the kidnapper’s.




First 250 words:



Chapter One

June 21, Afternoon




Jason stabs his pencil into my upper back. He doesn’t have the courtesy (or brains) to use the eraser end. One second I’m hunched over my notebook, trying to piece together a story for the writing prompt we’ve just been assigned, the next a honed graphite tip digs into the skin between my shoulder blades. I stiffen up like a soldier surprised by his captain. From across the room, Mr. Keane glances at me over the top of his rectangular glasses.


Damn you, Jason. I’ve already gotten one-too-many warnings from Mr. Keane this year. I can’t blow it on the last day of class.


He studies me, chewing the inside of his cheek as he does. I’ve come to know that stare well—the must pin something on Emerson stare. I try not to make it obvious that I notice, but with his eyes on me, I can’t do much besides stare back.


Mr. Keane sighs, a slight whimper escaping with his breath. He returns to the papers clutched in his hand and scribbles something onto one of them in red. When he does, Jason leans forward and breathes warm air into my ear.


“Work your magic, dude.”


I’m sure a few people hear Jason’s whisper, but only I take in its sour cream and onion aroma. His words are a reminder that even though I know what I want to write about, I don’t have much of a say about it.


I take my frustration out on the page and drag my eraser all over the upper third of it.






SvS 8: The Badger Project – YA Speculative

Filed under: contest,Literary Agent,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 6:28 am
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Category/Genre: YA Speculative

Word Count: 98,000




Is your main character hot or cold?



Well, although I’m a kid from Wisconsin (a place where the air hurts your face thirteen months outta the year), I’m also a vehement vigilante. My super-suit, though armed with animal-inspired abilities, doesn’t regulate my body heat. On the coldest night I work up a sweat, prowling for the poacher who killed my dad. So when things heat up, and they do (not until like August, but they do), emotions run a little hot—like a first-time camper attempting to set up a tent on a humid summer night (complete with swarm of mosquitoes and distant, but approaching, banjo music).







Brock’s environmentalist father died protecting the Wisconsin woods he loved. Now, to save those woods, Brock must join the very poaching gang that destroyed his family.


Sixteen-year old, Brock Forrester, is not like most Wisconsin cheeseheads. He doesn’t just hear animals, he can translate their barks, caws, and howls into human words. Neat trick, except that in a time when hunting has been outlawed and poaching reigns as the crime of choice, all Brock hears from the forest are cries for help. Driven by the memory of his late father, Brock dons the brown mane and black, solar-powered tactical suit his dad created, and becomes the vigilante known as The Badger. Though the suit is a bit clingy, and makes Brock look like Batman’s redneck cousin, it’s also equipped with an arsenal of animal abilities, like reptilian camouflage and raptor-vision that will help Brock bring the son-of-a-birch who killed his father to justice.


When Brock finds a link between the murder and an extinction-level plot devised by Wisconsin’s most malicious poaching gang, the Bear-Trapperz, it becomes clear that his problem is bigger than his family’s tragedy. The Bear-Trapperz, are removing their rivals by giving them deadly abilities if they join. As a super-powered force with numbers rising into the thousands, they will desecrate both human and animal populations as they lay irreparable waste to the ecosystem.


Knowing he can’t stop a super-enhanced legion as a lone kid on the outside, Brock joins the gang as a double-agent. His Mission: To gain the gang leader’s trust and ascend to a position where he’ll be able to sabotage the poacher’s plans for good. As casualties rise in the wake of Brock’s necessity to ignore tactics that would only stall the gang, Brock fears he’s done more harm than good. Distracted by his conflict of conscience, Brock realizes all too late that he’s been played from the start. Now, with his mother’s life hanging in the balance, and the Bear-Trapperz’s army preparing to march, Brock has no choice but to finish what his father started.




First 250 words:



The air was crisp, the moon, hidden behind a canopy of trees, and somewhere among their branches, a squirrel chittered something beastly in a language I understood.


I think it was a yo-mamma joke. There’re about as many rodent dialects as there’re species of rodents, so sometimes it’s difficult to interpret (either way, the little guy was miffed for sure). I couldn’t blame him. Seven humans in furry, blood-stained jumpsuits, boots and spiked gauntlets had invaded his territory. Their masks cloaked them in the visage of a zombified bear.




In just ten years, poaching gangs like theirs had pushed hundreds of species to the brink of extinction in Wisconsin, and across the country.


Behind the poachers’ ATVs was a brush pile, that’s where I was, waiting for their deal to go down. The sound of approaching engines told me it was time to get ready. I scrolled through my phone for the video recording app (Exhibit A: Video Evidence, Your Honor). But my stupid, fat thumb hit the wrong pixel, or whatever, and brought up my photos instead.


Ah technology…


Easy enough fix, all I had to do was swipe back, but I’d already seen that picture of Dad—the one I’d kifed off his Facebook memorial page before Mom took it all down.


You’d think it would’ve reinforced my resolve, after all, Dad was the reason I was out here, doing what I do.


But all the photo did was remind me that Dad was out here, too, doing what he did, when he disappeared.



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