Monday, October 28, 2013

Nightmare on Query Street Concludes!! Closing Stats & Critique Opportunity

I am beyond proud of Nightmare on Query Street and the writers that made up our teams.

75  84 requests amongst 30 entrants. 75  84 requests!!!!!

Huge thank you's go out to all the agents that made this such a success!!! Really, we couldn't have done this without you. You all were so generous and kind; thank you for giving your time to this contest! And we hosts seriously hope there are success stories to come.

For those of you who don't know:

The agents could request for a 10 page partial by giving a 'shiver', a 50 page partial by giving a 'shriek', or a full manuscript request by giving a 'scream'.

Here are the statistics for the hosts and their teams:

Mike's Monsters got 23 25 requests in total: 10 shivers, 12 13 shrieks, 1 2 screams
Michelle's Minions got 28 32: 9 shivers, 18  22 shrieks, 1 scream
I (SC's Spooks) got 24 27 requests in total: 10 shivers and 14 17 shrieks.

So, I guess, *grumbles*, that Michelle's team won. Woo hoo! Yay! I want to say congrats to Michelle, you were a worthy winner :) (But we'll get them next time, don't you worry my Spooks!)

I don't feel sad that I lost in the slightest. Each of us got more than double the amount of requests than the number of entries we had up; that is incredible to me. And we couldn't have done it (obviously) without an amazing crop of writers to chose from, so thank YOU!

I want to say: If any of you guys get a success story because of the contest, please please please tell us!

 Email me at SC_Author (at) yahoo (dot) com and share your story (don't email the Nightmare on Query Street address, we won't be checking that as regularly). Please please please do this, no matter how 'small' your story may seem. We hosts love doing contests, and much of the reason is because we want to see success stories come from them. So share!! And don't forget!!

Call out: if you didn't make it into Nightmare on Query Street and want a brief critique on your submission, comment on this post with the name of manuscript you submitted.

I'll search for it in the email account and I'll reply to you with the critique :) The critiques will be brief, and some of them will be short. Many times it was subjective, and many times it was simply, "The competition is too fierce. This submission is really good, but there's only one spot left and there's another one that caught my eye."

I think this is a good way to have all the participants in the contest benefit from taking part in it :) We did it with Query Kombat too.

Thank you all so, so much, for the most fruitful contest we've done! We hope to deliver again next year with Query Kombat (and Nightmare on Query Street 2014). Again, huge thank you's go out to the agents! You guys ROCKED.

Hope you had an awesome time! Thanks for making this contest fantastic! (And go SC Spooks. WOOT WOOT.) 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

To Joey Francisco's Life and Treasured Memory

On Friday, the day "Nightmare on Query Street" started, I heard the news that a writer friend passed away.



I'm reeling, I'm in shock, and I'm writing this almost as a diary entry because I don't know how to stop my thoughts.

I haven't seriously cried in about three or four years (seriously, no books, no movies, no nothing) but I think, today, I might. Tears are coming.

Joey, you are (are) such a wonderful friend, I only wish I could have been a better one. Everything you went through, you handled it with such strength and joy and optimism, I can't comprehend it. You are an amazing mother, a loving one who fought to no end for your son and family.

What cruelty took you from this world? How can I describe how it feels to lose a loved one when, now that it has happened, I feel nothing at all? But the emotions are coming and it hurts, it hurts so badly. My throat burns. I'm shaking.

I remember your Southern voice, so peppy and springy, on the phone right before I boarded a plane to go to London this summer. I talked in one of those airport bookstores with you, I don't think I told you that. I miss you more than I can say. You have (have) so much to give to this world.

It was all so sudden and so unexpected. I wish I would have contacted you more and not when, as I later found out, it was too late. I should have sent something during those months of no interaction, and I just want to hear your voice again, hear you talk about your Evil Little Manuscript.

The reality is starting to sink in, that you're gone, and it's hard to handle.

Thank you for being such a wonderful friend, an incredible supporter, and a burning light to everyone who knew you. You fought and won against things most people would collapse upon; if only the end wasn't so unexpected, if you knew it might be coming, because you'd have fought it and you'd have won.

Here is Joey's obituary, and here is her guest book. To her family, I extend my utmost condolences and thoughts. A person I never met in reality affected me this much; I can't imagine how hard she, who was with you constantly, imprinted onto your souls. She will live on through those she loved.

Here's some lines:

"And this is the comfort of the good, that the grave cannot hold them, and that they live as soon as they die. For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. Death, then, being the way and condition of life, we cannot love to live, if we cannot bear to die.

"They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies. Nor can spirits ever be divided that love and live in the same Divine Principle, the root and record of their friendship. If absence be not death, neither is theirs.

"Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still. For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent. In this divine glass, they see face to face; and their converse is free, as well as pure.

"This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal."

 -- William Penn

And a song, which I can't listen to anymore without thinking of Joey. I feel it's the perfect song for us writers.



We won't let you die, Joey, nor your writing. Thank you so, so much, for being with us.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Nightmare on Query Street" Commenting and Contest Guidelines!

NIGHTMARE ON QUERY STREET HAS STARTED!!!!!

Are you guys excited?! BECAUSE I AM!!!

Below this post, you guys will find the ten submissions that I picked to be on my team (the SC Spooks, the winning team for sure).


Yea. Just try to beat us. Just try. WE ARE THE #SCSpooks!!! (Seriously,
I LOVE the submissions on my team.)
(I don't own this picture.)

You can head over to see Michelle's and Mike's team as well (just click on their names, but don't worry, our team is scarier than theirs). All in all, we have picked thirty submissions from our pile of about a hundred to be on our teams!

Once again, don't worry if you didn't make it in. Read this post and know that I mean every word of it. Also, for everyone that didn't make it into the contest, I'll put a post after the contest is over on which you can comment and request a brief critique on your submission.

BUT BEFORE WE GO BARGING IN, THERE ARE SOME GUIDELINES!!!!

Commenting for the Entrants/Audience:

Sorry guys, but no commenting, cheerleading, etc. on the entries. We hosts discussed this issue, and we agreed that it'd lead to too much unfairness and unconscious biases. Only agents will be able to comment on the entries :D

BUT

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE

Do all your cheering in the comments of this post, or do it over Twitter!!!! We're going to be under the hashtag #NightmareQuery and we will be having FUN. So vent, be nervous, cheer each other on, and hold hands. (I said this in Query Kombat and I'll say it again; one of the best parts of contests is seeing how the writer's community gathers and supports each other.)

Also, those on our team, we're the:
#SCSpooks
so let's cheer over Twitter :D I am SC_Author.

Commenting for the Agents:

You agents will have awesomely scary ways to request in the contest.

You can scream for a full request.
You can shriek for a 50 page request.
You can shiver for a 10 page request.

And you can make as many requests as you want! So go wild :D We have some awesome talent up for you guys to peruse.

To add on, for the agents: I deleted the things in the query such as the authors' names, links, greetings, closings, thank-you's, some of the bio, etc.

Also, agents, because of my slightly crazed tendency to organize, the posts run from oldest age-category to youngest, and within those groups, they go from most fantastical, to most realistic, to most scary (so fantasy -> historical -> contemporary -> horror). Why? Well, I saw ten posts to be organized and I was like, yeah, well, why not.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!! Hope you all get a ton of frighteningly amazing requests! (*Fingers crossed*)

NOQS: OBLIVIOUS, Adult Thriller/Detective Fiction

Title: OBLIVIOUS
Genre: Adult Thriller/Detective Fiction 
Word Count: 90,000


My Main Character’s Greatest Fear:


When I get off work and Abby’s asleep, I like to stand in the doorway and watch her chest rise and fall. It doesn’t matter if I’ve handled a triple homicide or nearly been shot in the hours preceding this, because I’ve been numb to those things for years. But there’s no numbing myself up to the thought that I could lose her any day to her mental illness—and the ever-changing pharmacy we have in the house—and won’t be able to get her back.


Query:

Homicide detective Jack Easley was eight years old when he found his sister, Cara, on her bedroom floor. Her case was ruled a cut-and-dried suicide. At least, that’s what his family still tells him.

These days find Jack coping by working every case he can get his hands on—and finding closure for everyone but himself in the process—though this only exacerbates the PTSD of his wife, Abby. With the twentieth anniversary of his sister’s death fast approaching, his latest assignment is no exception—until he finds himself streets over from where Cara died.

He is immediately drawn to the search for the victim’s daughter, abducted in 1998. But when her body shows up on his lawn and a business card left on his cruiser leads him to a detective who died shortly after closing Cara’s case, Jack turns to his sister’s file for direction, touching on a department cover-up that could claim roots in his own family. But there are holes in the timeline and evidence, and the body count keeps climbing the more he probes. In a last-ditch effort, he confronts his family about his sister, but the answers he gets aren’t just about Cara.

They’re about him, too.

As the daughter of a veteran police officer, I am affected by the work my father does every day, and I believe this allows me to bring a perspective and authenticity to my genre that is unique to the families of those who carry the badge.

OBLIVIOUS is a thriller complete at approximately 90,000 words.


First 250 words:I leaned against the Plexiglas divider of our lane, watching Abby empty magazines with no fear.

She knew exactly how to turn me on.

The safety glasses kept slipping, the earmuffs dwarfing her head, but the confidence fit like a glove; by the time a spent mag hit the floor, she’d already clicked a new one in, racked and fired.

Here, she couldn’t falter, and I liked that, but being here also did for her what the meds couldn’t, and I liked that more.

My Glock therapy was promising.

All her shots center mass, I gave her a thumbs-up. She rolled her eyes, changing the targets and giving my shoulder a sympathetic pat before I took my place on the line.

I was halfway through the set when my phone vibrated against my hip. Holstering on instinct, I picked up as I shouldered my way through the door, my partner’s number on the screen. The brass bell went off behind me, then again as Abby followed.

“Nick,” I said, crossing the lot to my unmarked, pulling at my earplugs. “What’s up?”

“—one hot off the presses,” I heard. “Where are you?”

“Doesn’t matter,” I said, reaching for the door of the Crown Vic. “Where’s it at?”

“It’s twenty-six Hawkins, in the Silver Terrace development.”

“I’ll be there,” I said, Abby watching me over the hood as I put my phone away.

She squinted in the sun. “You’re leaving.”

Watching me fish the duty ammo from my pocket was more than enough confirmation.

Therapy was over.

Retracted due to Author's Desires

RETRACTED

NOQS: THE KILLING TYPE, Adult Paranormal Thriller

Title: THE KILLING TYPE
Genre: Adult Paranormal Thriller
Word Count: 80,000


My Main Character's Greatest Fear:


My mother hanged herself when I was six, but by then she was hardly my mother. I never believed in her monsters. She had schizophrenia. She was paranoid, and I pitied her before I understood what it meant. My grandparents said I’m just like her. I’m not. I take care of myself. I can function somewhat reliably in the world. We’re nothing alike. I keep fighting. I can be on my own, independent. I will never be like her. Even if I can feel that rope around my neck. I’ve seen the inside of the ward. I’m not going back.


Query:

Charlotte Grimly does a decent job hiding her schizophrenia, except when she’s trying to ignore the white noise buzzing in her ears and hold down a job at the same time. All she wants is to be normal, but when a series of murders staged as suicides shakes her small town, Charlotte finds herself struggling to hold her reality together.

As the body count rises, the white noise become deafening, and the looming threat of a killer does nothing to soothe her anxiety. Charlotte begins waking up in odd places, discovering mysterious bruises and broken fingernails. Her hallucinations fill with menacing shadows and grotesque waking visions of mutilated friends. Even Charlotte begins to doubt her innocence.

Half-remembered incidents begin to click into place and aligning with the suicides. Flashes of buried memories hold the key to solving the crimes, but Charlotte has to hold her disintegrating life together long enough to figure out the answer. If she can’t decipher the events of her past, real and imagined, she’ll be convicted, or worse, committed.

THE KILLING TYPE is an 80,000 word stand-alone Adult Paranormal Thriller.

Meghan Schuler graduated from Brenau University with a B.A. in English and Journalism. Her poetry and short stories were featured in Brenau's Elixir Magazine. After graduation, she worked for The Gainesville Times. She currently writes for CriminalElement.com and is a member of the Horror Writers Association.


First 250 words:

Her hand trembled. The metal drew the heat from her skin, quickly warming. She closed her eyes, replaying the raised voices, the idle thoughts to do what she was now on the brink of doing, felt the bruises coming up, fingerprints in black and purple. The door slammed again in her mind, rattling her skull and sending a fresh wave of tears over her face, scorching. The barrel slid into her mouth. She smelled the gunpowder from shots spent the previous evening, tasted what remained of smoke and charcoal. She spat the muzzle out, shaking her head, before replacing it at her temple, feeling the hollow end against her skull. One bullet was all it took. One straight shot.

The crack of gunfire echoed in the house as she crumbled to the floor, the gun landing inches away.

#

Murder had always held a grim fascination for Charlotte, and true crime held a special place in her heart. She propped her feet up on the chair across from hers and unfolded the paper a customer had left on the table, the headline blaring: Woman Found Dead in Home, Possible Homicide.

The newspaper crinkled in her hands, spelling out in grisly detail the death of Amanda Tyler, age 28. The authorities were questioning the boyfriend, apparently known for fits of jealous rage; the suspect had an altercation with the victim the previous evening, in which the words, “I’ll kill you, bitch, just you wait,” had been liberally applied. The corner of Charlotte’s mouth quirked up, more a spasm than a smile.

NOQS: SHADOW'S ADVENT, YA Epic Fantasy

Title: SHADOW'S ADVENT
Genre: YA Epic Fantasy
Word count: 107,000


My MC's greatest fear:

What do I fear? I fear that he will take me. Take my mind and release the monster inside. Losing all I ever was and all I ever will be to him and become nothing but a mindless puppet weak to his whims. I fear losing who I am...what little I have of myself.


Query:

Caraka cannot escape the psychotic goddess who possesses her mind.

Ever since she was four, when she nearly died from drowning, half-dragon Caraka has heard the deranged voice of the Shadow Queen. She's struggled to keep the Queen's noxious ideas at bay: to maim, to steal, to kill, to invade.

Centuries before, the Shadow Queen suffered a major betrayal. A fellow god injected her with the deadly Taint—a powerful dark magic that can eat away the sanity of anyone, even the most powerful being in the realm. Broken and sickened, the goddess possessed and tainted a dying little girl—giving the girl a second chance at life.

Caraka decides to go on a journey to save herself. Along the way, she learns that this goddess infesting her mind is the sole solution a crumbling world's troubles. A solution that will spell death for Caraka.

Torn between forcing a broken goddess to face her duty and hiding from the people, friend and foe alike, determined to use her, Caraka must make a choice: sacrifice herself for her world, or sacrifice her world for herself.


First 250:

For the umpteenth time, she withdrew the tattered paper from her pocket only to find the ink rendered illegible.

"Damn it!" Caraka crumpled the paper and tossed it at the ground. She knew she should have protected herself better from the rain. Now there was no way she will find the broker.

Then again, if she didn't stupidly lose her papers back in the forests, she wouldn't be in this town looking for an illegal broker.

Caraka crossed her arms. She watched the people—men in their frock coats and top hats with women in uncomfortably tight corsets and bulbous skirts—walk by. She pulled on her tattered black vest and smoothed out the sleeves of her dirt encrusted formerly white blouse. No one took notice of the derelict who stood in front of the large windows of the hatter's shoppe. Not that a human ever would.

She looked up and down the narrow cobble stone streets. Gas lamps lined the end of the sidewalks and the beginnings of the streets. The various shop displays sat in their windows, begging the passerby's buy me, buy me. The signs above gently swayed in the breeze, several of them creaking loudly to Caraka's ears. Horse-drawn carriages—and even a few new fangled steam-powered carriages—cruised down the streets. A giggling and screeching woman fluttered her fan when a steam carriage past her by, pulling her female companion away from the street.

"Wimp." Caraka spat in the street and pushed herself off the window, careful not to touch the reflective glass with her bare hands.

NOQS: CHANCE, YA Historical Fiction

Title: CHANCE
Genre: YA historical fiction
Word Count: 67,000


My Main Character’s Greatest Fear:


As a young boy, Jimmy’s greatest fear was losing to his older brother, Eddie, in their cutthroat, marathon Monopoly games. It seemed so unfair to lose when he’d built that hotel on Park Place! But now, just a few short years later, the stakes are much higher as Jimmy turns Monopoly game pieces into secret tools to help Eddie escape from a German prisoner of war camp. Losing is still Jimmy’s greatest fear, but this time it’s because Monopoly is a game of life and death.


Query:We are a mother and daughter team excited to be participating in Nightmare on Query Street! In Chance, our 67,000 word young adult historical fiction novel, we spotlight a largely unknown piece of WWII history and have two teenage brothers tell the tale of a secret military operation that saved the lives of thousands of prisoners of war.

Growing up in Leeds, England, in the ominous years leading up to WWII, Eddie and Jimmy Ward never imagine Monopoly, their favorite childhood board game, might be pivotal to surviving the war.

Inspired by the mistreatment of Zissel, the Jewish girl he loves, older brother Eddie enlists in the British Royal Air Force to fight against the Nazis. A few months into the war, Eddie’s plane is shot down, and he is captured and taken to a German prisoner of war camp. As Eddie struggles for his life, Jimmy finds himself unexpectedly falling in love with Zissel while desperately searching for a way to help his brother.

Jimmy’s idea to rescue Eddie initially seems ludicrous, but he has come up with an ingenious plan to disguise prison escape tools as Monopoly game pieces. These top secret games were distributed as part of care packages by the International Red Cross to prisoners of war right under the noses of the German guards. Eddie receives a care package, uses Monopoly to plan a daring escape and realizes home and Zissel may almost be within reach. But the horrors of war make for a deadly game, and all too soon Eddie wonders if he’ll ever “get out of jail free.”

Carol has a MA degree from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Journalism and works in communications. Megan graduated from Hamilton College in 2009, received an MA from University of Pennsylvania and taught middle and high school English. She now works at Pearson Education.


First 250 words:

With every stroke of my blue wax crayon, I tried to visualize what it would be like to live on the real “Boardwalk”—Packards and Lincolns kicking dust up as they rolled down the street, fashionably dressed men and women chattering as they bustled into shops. Papa had described it all to me many times. But in the summer of 1935, living at the foot of the Pennines, in Leeds, north of London, I had no shot of going to the real “Boardwalk.” I couldn’t even afford the fake “Boardwalk” with my fake Monopoly money.

Having just finished Year 6 of school and with my eleventh birthday approaching, I was ready to take on the world! But as an adventure, at least for this summer, imagining all the places on the American Monopoly board—Boardwalk, Baltic Avenue, Marvin Gardens—would have to suffice.

Papa was second in command to the managing director at Waddington, so he spent long hours deciding what card and board games to bring to market. Mama, always singing a new show tune, was absorbed in the excitement of the theater and frequently traveled to London, staying with family and catching the latest musical. This left my brother and me home alone for much of the summer. To Eddie’s dismay, Mama made him promise to keep a watchful eye on me. Eddie, who was four years older, had hoped to make his own mischief and not be stuck amusing me. But unlike Mama’s current musical fascination, Anything Goes, in our house it was “whatever Mama says goes”... and Eddie was stuck with me!

NOQS: EMMY & MARI, YA Contemporary

Title: EMMY & MARI
Genre: YA contemporary
Word Count: 93,000


My Main Character's Greatest Fear: 

I have 2 main characters who tell their stories in alternate POVs. Mari's biggest fears are equally being noticed and not being noticed. Emmy's biggest fear is that she is unlovable.


Query:


High school junior Emmy, perpetually on the fringes of social acceptance, thinks she’s finally found a real connection when she meets her best friend Mari. But when Mari suddenly dies from a drug overdose, blindsided Emmy is left numb and confused, wondering what warning signs she missed. Careening through her grief, she tries to fill her emptiness by accepting the unhealthy attention of eager boys.

When Emmy discovers photographs Mari left behind that lead her to a handsome but unfamiliar guy, she must decide if she wants to ask the questions that will lead her to the truth. With the help of her fellow bereavement group members, Violet and Dash, Emmy begins to put the pieces together of the friend, and friendship, she no longer recognizes.

Told through alternating voices in the past and present, EMMY & MARI is a 93,000 word contemporary novel for young adults that will appeal to fans of ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell and PLEASE EXCUSE VERA DIETZ by A.S. King.

I have worked as a high school counselor for ten years and live outside Washington DC with my husband and daughter. In 2012, I co-founded a YA book review blog and attended Book Expo America this past spring.


First 250 words:

The first time I saw Emmy, she looked lost. Her dishwater blonde hair was waving around her ears, so much shorter than all the other girls in our class, which is what made me notice her right away. Until she entered the school, I was the only one with hair shorter than my shoulders. Long hair was cool.

Even though we were fifteen and in the tenth grade, she looked about ten. Her tiny frame was almost emaciated and her plain t-shirt and jeans hung off her body. The look in her eyes, as I spied her across the courtyard, was pure fear, like a squirrel deciding if it should cross the busy road or not. I watched her watch everyone else, trying to decide where to sit. She’d obviously eliminated the cafeteria as a viable place to eat lunch that day. I knew how she felt. It was easier to hide and not look so alone out in the courtyard where you could sit under a tree or on a bench with a book and pretend to be studying.

As she passed by me, tiptoed almost, I noticed she wore Chucks. I called out to her. “Hey.”

She took me in and the terror that washed over her face quickly turned into desperation, as if she’d decided I was the best offer she was going to get and she’d better not screw it up.

“Hey,” she replied and sat quickly, so I wouldn’t have time to change my mind. “Thanks for inviting me to sit.” I hadn’t, but I didn’t bother to correct her.

NOQS: OVERSEES, YA Thriller

Title: OVERSEES
Genre: YA Thriller
Word count: 82,000


My Main Character's Greatest Fear:

I’m not afraid of anything. I know, how cocky of me. But before you follow the trend and judge me, hear me out. I lost my dad to a car crash and my mom to a new husband. I lost myself in the aftermath giving my once friends this sick, unexplainable satisfaction. I thought a boarding school was what I needed. A fresh start, away from it all. But damn was I wrong. Everyone used me. Deceiving jerks. And now, because of them, I’m kidnapped and staring death right in the eyes. You think I’d be afraid, but I’m not. Hell, the only thing haunting me is making it out alive and facing them all, again.


Query:


One sixteen-year-old from every country in the world has been chosen to study at The Academy, an underground school on an island far away. These students have one thing in common: they can’t stand their lives back home. Coincidence? Don't bet on it.

Take the American girl, Jenna. She sees the opportunity to trade Rhode Island for a life at The Academy as her gift from above. And though she later finds out that strict rules, a confidentiality agreement, and “mind-training” sessions are included in the swap, Jenna's still wants The Academy. Yeah, Warwick was that bad.

But as she adjusts to life on the island, a native “friend” lures Jenna into a kidnap trap where unknown people torture, beat, and straight-up threaten Jenna for information about The Academy. Interrogations of what seem to be pointless questions fill her days, but all Jenna can wonder is who the hell would go through all this for some school?

Sifting through her past, Jenna realizes that even though it had classes, teachers, and homework, The Academy was never a school. Sure, the weird stuff had logical explanations before, but it’s clear now—The Academy is nothing but a science experiment. And Jenna is nothing but their lab rat.

Before her captors decide she’s worthless, Jenna must plot her escape, discover what her captors want from The Academy...and what The Academy wants from her.

Completed at 82,000 words, OVERSEES is a YA thriller in which nothing was ever what it seemed. Only problem is, Jenna might have found out a little too late. OVERSEES is a standalone manuscript with series potential.


First 250 words:


So this is what it feels like. Regret. Anger. Pain. Fear.
Can't say I'm a stranger to any of these emotions, but the intensity of them together makes all the difference. How did this happen? One minute I'm trying to be the hero, the next I become a victim. I was supposed to save him. I was supposed to do the right thing. But I screwed it up doing it the wrong way. I should’ve known. My plan wasn’t foolproof— it was flawed from the start. I just chose to overlook that.

Plastic restraints dig deep into my wrists with every move I make. Surely I’m bleeding by now. Of course, that would explain the numbing. And the iciness of the pole they’ve attached me to burns my skin. But the stench of saliva from the bag covering my head gives me hope. Perhaps the person who wore it before me is wandering out in the world as a free man now. Maybe it’s just a matter of time until they realize I’m worthless. That I’m just a high school girl who can’t give them what they want. Whatever that is.

I shouldn’t be here. I should be back at The Academy. Or at least back in Rhode Island, with my family. Whose fault is this, anyway? Mom? Kids at my old school? My captors? Evan? Oh, who am I kidding?! Even if I try to push away the thought in my head, it creeps back to make sure I know. The fault is my own.

NOQS: STATE OF EMERGENCY, YA Horror

Title: STATE OF EMERGENCY
Genre: YA horror
Word count: 60,000


My Main Character's Greatest Fear: 

My MC, Dallas, fears anything happening to her younger sister, Talia. Now that Tally is 16, she's starting to notice boys. Her new boyfriend, Pierce, has a cute haircut, a good laugh...and a bad temper. When the zombie outbreak begins, Dallas and Pierce's ideas of how to protect Tally are differing at best. If they can't get along, the living dead may be the least of Dallas's worries.


Query:

When 17-year-old Dallas Langdon sees a bloody, gray-skinned girl eating a man's intestines, she knows it won't be another Friday night on the town. She's seen Night of the Living Dead, and this scene is straight from a zombie move. What do characters in zombie movies do? They seek shelter. Fortunately, Dallas's eccentric uncle owns a farmhouse in Chattanooga, an eight hour drive from New Orleans. It's on top of a steep mountain, surrounded by electric fences, and cut off from the world -- including zombies.

Dallas's parents, still safe at home, laugh at her idea over the phone, but say they'll meet her there anyway. Her friends only agree to join her when she tells them it's a mini vacation. Plenty of sun, drinks, and maybe even a chance to miss school Monday.

But then Dallas's best friend is killed by a zombie horde when they're attracted to her ringing cell phone. Civilians think their reanimated loved ones simply have the flu, leaving them alive and rapidly increasing the zombie ranks. And since minors can't buy guns, Dallas's only weapon is a giant industrial pizza cutter she swipes from a gas station. George A. Romero never mentioned anything like this. With one friend dead and no zombie survival guides to help, Dallas and her friends must get to Chattanooga before developing a taste for human flesh themselves.

STATE OF EMERGENCY is a 60,000 word YA horror novel. It combines the zombie action of Jonathan Maberry's ROT & RUIN with the self-aware humor of Zombieland and the Scream movies. It's a standalone novel but has series potential.

I have a degree in Creative Writing from Belhaven University.


First 250 words:

Two hours before Dallas Langdon saw the first zombie, she sat in an uncomfortable plastic chair backstage at the House of Blues in New Orleans. A table covered with microphones and wires stood in front of her, and a fancy camera was pointed toward it. A tray of cupcakes coated with bright pink frosting sat at the edge of the table.

"Dallas? Dallas!"

"Huh?" Dallas turned her eyes to the plastic chair to her left where Talia, her younger sister, was snapping her fingers. A man with a clipboard hovered over them.

"This man just asked you a question," Talia said.

The man sighed. "I want to know your thoughts on Tatum Jones."

"Tatum...oh, um, yeah." Dallas scratched her head. She's...she's really something. Known her for years."

Talia rolled her eyes. "I'm sorry," she said. "My sister is a little burned out from midterms."

The man grunted and turned away. Talia glared at Dallas, but giggled. "Sorry," Dallas muttered. It was hard for her to hold her tongue when it came to Tatum, and she was doing her best to be polite already.

"Would you ladies like a cupcake?" The anchorman, who had been standing at the wooden table like a statue for nearly twenty minutes, picked up the cupcake tray and held it out. “Tatum made them for us, and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if we started eating them without her.”

"I do," Talia said. "I'm starving. Want one, Dal?"

Dallas didn't care to eat anything Tatum Jones had presumably baked, but she hadn't eaten much at dinner and her stomach was growling. "Sure, bring me one."

NOQS: TERRIFYING TORA, YA Horror

Title: TERRIFYING TORA
Genre: YA Horror
Word Count: 73,000


My Main Character's Greatest Fear:

Since Tora Kuragawa was eleven, she has suffered from panic disorder and has been plagued with panic attacks. She is certain she will be murdered one day -- though she doesn't know why. To keep her sanity, she rarely speaks or leaves her house, aside from going to see her psychiatrist or to attend school. When she had an episode in front of extended family, she learned if she ever embarrasses her father in public again, she would spend another summer spent in a mental institution. More than anything, though, Tora fears being alone the rest of her life. This is why, during her sophomore year, she's willing fight through her anxiety and become someone new.


Query:

If sixteen-year-old Tora Kuragawa’s parents hadn’t forced her to dull her panic disorder with heavy meds, she might have noticed a predator nearby before he crushed her skull. As a victim of unnatural death, Tora is forced to play the reaper’s game: If she can conquer her death and let go of her life, she’ll be allowed to cross over. Failure to do so in seven days, and she’ll be banished to the Netherworld — a nightmarish realm created for the reaper’s entertainment.

Tora can’t even control where her soul goes. If someone thinks about her hard enough, she’ll be pulled to him. Her parents never bother to mourn, but a strange boy named Viktor does — the boy who ran away as she lay dying.

Haunting him seems just, but his ability to hear her changes everything. They strike a deal. He kills whatever monster took her life — “conquering” her death for her — and she’ll free him of his guilt. Before Viktor can fulfill his promise, her murderer rips her away. He forces her to watch as he tortures other girls. Tora realizes she can’t wait for Viktor. She’ll have to save herself and the other victims or they will all be exiled to the Netherworld.

Fans of ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake and POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil will enjoy this book. I’m a proud book nerd and an active member of YaLitChat, HWA, and SCBWI, and Crewel World author Gennifer Albin’s personal assistant.


First 250 words:


Breathe. Air in, air out, it’s that easy. Don’t lose control. You’re not going to die; this isn’t life threatening, settle down. There’s nothing behind you. These thoughts don’t help me. I close my eyes and take a step back. All I feel is the hard wall of the cafeteria. No one’s there. I’m fine. Everything’s fine.

People laugh all around me, but not at me. Not right now, when I’m finally not making a scene. No one recognizes me this year. Which is fine, that’s what I was going for. Lose around twenty pounds, start using concealer to cover up any breakouts, and I’m no longer that chubby Asian with panic attacks, just a girl no one seems to know.

Freshman year sucked — it’s done. This is my sophomore year, and I’m not going to keep being no one. I can do this. I’ve been prepping myself for this all summer. I smile and open my eyes again; I will do this. I scan the lunchroom for my target. She’s at one of the tables to the far right, Mary Beth, the sweetest and friendliest girl in all of Iowa. All I have to do is go up and ask if I can sit at her table, start a conversation, and bam! my sophomore year will already be ten times better than my freshman.

It’s that easy.

I can do this. I grip my tray tighter and start walking across the ridiculously long room.

NOQS: WHO'S THE MOST POPULAR OF THEM ALL? Upper MG Contemporary

Title: WHO'S THE MOST POPULAR OF THEM ALL?
Genre: Upper MG Contemporary
Word Count: 35,000


My Main Character's Greatest Fear:

As the most powerful person in her school, most people would think Nova's got nothing to be afraid of. But they couldn't be any more wrong. Nova was bullied all throughout elementary school and she's scared as heck that the bullying might start again. Being Queen of Kason Middle School is the only comfort she has that no one can hurt her. Because, well, who can dare to touch THE Nova Labelle? Yeah, that's what Nova thought too except this weird new girl might just change everything Nova's come to trust in.


Query:

Thirteen-year-old Nova Labelle knows eighth grade is going to be perfect. She will get straight A’s. She will start dating her prince charming. And she will continue to be school royalty. There’s just one humongous problem: that new girl, Stacy Winter.

Nova has always been the most popular girl in school. She’s got the looks, the brains, and the popular girl personality down to perfection. She’s even remained at the top of the List, a piece of paper that keeps track of the top seven popular girls in school. Nova consults the List every day to make sure her rank stays where it belongs. But Stacy seems to have a knack for mercilessly destroying every single one of Nova’s eighth grade plans.

Stacy is threatening to steal all that Nova has, from her top spot on the sacred List to her future husband. Stacy claims she has no reason to become the next Queen of Kason Middle School, but Nova knows better. Everyone wants to be number one; everyone wants to be her. So Nova’s got to guard everything she’s ever come to care about.

But the thing is, Nova’s life wrecker might not be Stacy after all, but something that lies in her own reflection.

WHO’S THE MOST POPULAR OF THEM ALL?, complete at 35,000 words, is an upper MG contemporary novel. It’s Mean Girls meets Snow White from the POV of the Evil Queen.


First 250 words:

My life is perfect. You might be thinking how stupid and na├»ve that sounds, but I’m not kidding. I don’t joke about stuff as serious as life, boys, and the List. Those are sacred subjects and no one, not even me, fools around with them.

I guess middle school really likes me ‘cause, although elementary school was the most horrible experience ever, these past two years have been amazing. Each year, I became more popular and gained more power over all the students. Last year was the best year ever. I became the youngest person in the history of my school to ever top the List and become Queen of Kason Middle School. And you can quote me later: This year is going to be the most perfect one yet.

#

“There she is!” announces Bella as she wraps her arm around my neck. “The most popular girl in school, the Queen of Kason. Drum roll please!” Bella and some of the students around her slap their thighs in unison. I try my best not to make it so obvious that I’m already loving my day, but then again… everyone knows that already.

“Oh, come on, guys,” I say, laughing over the noise of leg drums.

“The wonderful, beautiful Nova Labelle!” Bella says with a dramatic gesture.

I run my fingers through my light brown hair and hit Bells on the shoulder. “You idiot.”

The boys catcall from their lockers and I throw my hair behind my back and wink at them.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Nightmare on Query Street - What's Next?

So the submission window for Nightmare on Query Street has ended and now we hosts have the tough (very, VERY tough) task to pick 10 entries for our teams.

My team is SC's Spooks! (I do not own this picture; all rights go to owners.)
A quick note:

You entrants will be pleased to not that of the entries I've read, not ONE of them was a "Oh my gosh, this is horrible!" Every one of them (and I'm not making this up), I can see garnering at least some agent attention, which is incredible if you think about that. 

You all have the talent. It's time you acknowledged it and realized how fantastic you writers really are :) I'm seriously amazed at all the quality here!

Even if you don't get in, know that it's not because yours was bad, it was because we hosts (ever-so-subjective humans) thought a) another entry was better (which, PLEASE understand, does not mean yours was bad!); or b) your entry wouldn't fit the profile of the agents that are in the contest.

I do truly mean it when I say that every entry I've read was very good. You all should be proud.


Our picks will go up on our respective blogs on October 25th! That will also start the time when agents can come in to make requests. So, until then, good luck to you all, and I will soon go back to reading more of the entries!

P.S. I'm Tweeting some of my thoughts as I read the entries under the hashtag #NightmareQuerySlush. I am SC_Author on Twitter.

P.P.S. I'm also Tweeting some hints as to which entries have made it on my team. Just saying.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Nightmare on Query Street is LIVE!!!!!

Submission window is CLOSED! We have reached 100 entries and will soon read all the awesome submissions and picking our top choices. YOU GUYS ROCK!!! Keep in touch with the blogs to see how the contest goes on. Good luck!
AS OF NOW, NIGHTMARE ON QUERY STREET IS LIVE!

Make sure you read the guidelines before you send in your submission. We'll edit this post to tell you when we have reached our 100 entries limit (although I might be away from the computer for a while, so it might be a little delayed for the update to come up on this post).

AND YOU WANT TO BE A PART OF SC'S SPOOKS! (We're better than Michelle's Minions or Mike's Monsters.))

I do not own this photo; all rights go to The Nightmare Before Christmas and
the owners of the image.

GOOD LUCK GUYS!!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Guidelines for Nightmare on Query Street (Contest Starts TOMORROW!!!)


ARE YOU READY?





The submission window opens at 12 noon (EST) on SATURDAY, October 19th! The window will close at 8pm or when we receive 100 entries, so please send early, but not before 12 noon. Too early entries will be deleted.

We are accepting all age categories and genres, excluding picture books and exotica. Despite the title of the contest, your book does not have to be horror (hehehe).

MichelleMike, and I will make ten picks each for our teams, and those ten picks will go up on our blogs from October 25th through the 27th, where agents will make requests! Check the NINE agents to see if they accept your genre.  

To participate, you have to be following all our blogs (MichelleMike, and mine).



The Format:

Send your one and only submission to nightmareonquerystreet (at) yahoo (dot) com. Only one submission per email address or person is allowed.

Here's how it should be formatted (yes, include the bolded and everything!) Please use Times New Roman (or equivalent), 12 pt font, and put spaces between paragraphs. No indents or tabs are needed. No worries if your gmail doesn't have Times New Roman. 

Subject Line: NOQS: TITLE, Age Category + Genre 
(example: NOQS: PYGMY HAZARDS, MG Fantasy (that's Michelle's book which got her her agent!)

In The Email:

Title: MY FANTASTIC BOOK (yes, caps!)
Genre: Adult contemporary (Age category and genre. YA/MG is not a genre.)
Word Count: XX,XXX

My Main Character's Greatest Fear:  (no, you don't have to include this awesome smiley (in fact, please don't, it'll mess with formatting :D).

My MC fears potatoes. (Can be in your MC's POV, but doesn't have to be. 100 words or less.) Make it as awesome of a pitch as possible. These should be FANTASTIC guys!!! I, at least, will be looking heavily at these pitch paragraphs. Don't take it lightly (but do have fun with it; I like fun pitches).

Query:

Here is my fantastic query! Include it all, even the bio, greeting, closing (but not an individual agent's name).

First 250 words:

Here are the first 250 words of my manuscript, and I will not end in the middle of a sentence, even if I hit 259 words :)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Conformation emails will be sent. If you don't get one, ask one of us on twitter. Submissions will cut off after 100 entries. We'll announce closure of submissions on twitter.

Again, the picks will go live on October 25th. You'll have to check the blogs to see if you are part of Mike's Monsters, Michelle's Minions, or SC's Spooks.

When the entries do go up, please do not comment on them. No cheerleading this time, we want it all for the agents :) 

Agents will:


scream for a full request

shriek for 50 pages

Shiver for 10 pages

Good luck!  

Feel free to leave questions in the comments or on twitter (I'm SC_Author on Twitter, and I'm very happy because a few days ago my account got reactivated after a hacker spammed a few of my followers!)

(By the way, Michelle, I'm LOVING these smileys.)

ARE YOU AS EXCITED AS I AM?!?!?! This is how we writers get in the Halloween spirit, and I LOVE it!!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

MY TWITTERZ IS BACK!!!

I AM SO SO SO HAPPY!!

Thank you, Michelle, for contacting @Ginger and getting the problem solved in less than 2 hours!!

THIS MADE MY DAY.

I am back on Twitter after being suspended (no, it wasn't me, it was a hacker) and I'm tweeting and I'm smiling and happy :) Get ready for some Nightmare on Query Street and CONTEST FUN starting Friday!!!! My mood has completely turned to being one of happiness :) YAYYY!!!!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Twitter Account is Suspended



NOT ANYMORE! I AM BACK! I AM BACK! I AM SO HAPPY!


Yup.

It's been...three days, I think? Maybe longer. It sucks. It SUCKS.

I sent in an appeal to Twitter and everything (like they told me to do), but they still haven't gotten back to me.

I found out why. Apparently some person (or maybe it was a computer?) hacked my Twitter account and sent direct messages to less than a dozen or so of my followers, sending them a (probably) virus-infected link.

So now I'm screwed over. Thank you very much.

First off, I'm upset at Twitter for not reactivating my account by now. I thought it'd take a day, max, for them to read my two-sentence explanation (someone hacked me, wasn't my fault, I need my account because I'm about to run a contest, please reactivate me and I'll change my password) and reactivate me. I mean, I don't tweet anything 'risky', I honestly can't think of anything that might make my Twitter account suspicious for the Twitter employees to inspect. I AM NOT A HACKER OR SPAMMER. I just Tweet!

But I get it. Twitter needs to crack down on the actual spammers, so those not-at-fault get the short end of the stick sometimes. That's fine.

What I don't understand is why people spam. To spread viruses? Why? Most people are smart enough not to click on such a link (and even more so, they can only send around six-ten DMs before Twitter automatically shuts them down). But what's the fun in hacking? It ruins experiences for people. Why mess up the Twitter fun for those actually enjoying it?

Ranty rant rant.

What's done is done, now I just have to wait. I'm mostly worried about what my Twitter followers will think: whether they'll unfollow me in loads, whether I've been getting questions that I haven't been answering and they think I'm ignoring them. I have no way to directly contact all of them.

And what's worse is that Our Big Special Contest (Nightmare on Query Street) is NEXT WEEK. So I need to get on Twitter before that to spread the word, to answer questions, etc!!! I NEED THE TWITTERZ.

Maybe I should just do a huge string of numbers for my password next time.

Sigh.

Until I get reactived, if you follow me on Twitter (I'm @SC_Author), please know I haven't just disappeared. (And, good gosh, if what I'm seeing is true and both my following and my followers have gone to 0... if that doesn't go back to normal if (and when) my account is reactivated... I will FREAK out. It was more than a year's worth of Tweeting.)

Phew.

Okay. It feels good getting the word out there.

Thank you guys for listening, hope my account gets reactivated, and GET EXCITED FOR THE CONTEST!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Guidelines for Nightmare on Query Street!!!

Has your query ever made anyone scream?





I'm afraid too many of us would say yes, thinking, I'm sure, to their first versions of that letter. Well, if you enter Nightmare on Query Street you want people to scream. And when I say people, I mean our agents. Because what's more fun than a little fear? And this contest crew lives for fun!





Not only will you need to make us feel your main character's greatest FEAR, you'll have to inspire our agents to scream ... with delight! 





Agents will:


scream for a full request

shriek for 50 pages

Shiver for 10 pages

The rules of Nightmare on Query Street are here and the agents are here. So get those queries scream worthy and Michelle, Mike, and I will see you on October 19th.



GET READY GUYS!!!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Melissa Grey - Query Kombat Success Story!!!


(I didn't post yesterday because I was going to post today :D).

Guys, I'm gushing over this letter below. Melissa Grey has sold her book, FEATHERS AND FLAME, to Random House. She was Burrito Thief in Query Kombat, and below are her own words. This literally has made my day. I'm going to be reading this over several times and every time, I doubt I'll be able to stop smiling. This is what I (and probably my host-mates) wanted when we decided to host Query Kombat.

Thank you so, SO much, Melissa, for sending this in!!! It truly means a lot.

READ!!!!!!!!

Querying is hard. And if you don’t think that querying is an intensely difficult process (emotionally, spiritually, grammatically), then there is a very good chance you’re doing it wrong. Or you’re extremely lucky, but let’s be honest . . . the former is far more likely.

When I finally reached the point where I felt that my book (now titled FEATHERS AND FLAME, coming from Delacorte/Random House in spring 2015) was ready to be seen by agents, I had completed seven distinct drafts of the manuscript. By the time I had the same level of confidence in my query letter, I’d written over a dozen very different versions of it. The query letter is your first impression with agents, and I knew that if I lost their interest before they’d even reached my sample pages, I was already sunk.

When I learned about Query Kombat on Twitter, I’d just about run out of friends with fresh eyes that I could assault with my letter. Armed with draft #12 and a nifty nickname for my manuscript (Burrito Thief), I submitted my entry, feeling like I had it in the bag. I’d done well in other contests and I assumed I was on a roller coaster than only went up.

Oh, what a sweet summer child I was.

While I did make it into the first round of Query Kombat, I advanced no further. I was knocked out of the competition by a cleverly crafted pitch that snagged the audience’s imagination in a way that mine hadn’t. Draft #12 wasn’t nearly as strong as I believed it to be. I was disappointed, but not dejected.

You see, the point of a competition like Query Kombat isn’t winning. It’s improving.

My query letter was critiqued by well over a dozen people with varying levels of experience in publishing. Certain complaints popped up more than once, which should be a massive red flag to any writer, while other comments proved less than helpful (it must be said that not all feedback is worthwhile). Notes in hand, I attacked draft #12 with a stunning ferocity. I hacked away at the words until they began to resemble something coherent. Something intriguing. Something you could read on the back cover of a book. And then I kept hacking away at them some more. And when all was said and done, I held up draft #13 like Rafiki cradling a baby Simba. It was done.

I took my new and improved query letter into the trenches and within a month, I had six offers of representation to my name. And in every conversation I had with potential agents, the strength of the query letter was mentioned. If it hadn’t been for Query Kombat, let me tell you, that letter would have been a hot mess. In August, I signed with the wonderful Catherine Drayton of InkWell Management, and by the end of September, FEATHERS AND FLAME had gone to auction (if you think waiting to hear back on query letters is bad, just wait until you’re out on submission).

So, next time Query Kombat rolls around, if you’re laboring over your own letter, I strongly encourage you to enter. Honestly, I cannot recommend it enough. You and your query writing skills will be so much better for it. And remember, it isn’t about the thrill of victory. It’s about the (occasional agony) of improving.


Melissa Grey is a writer, teapot collector, and scented candle enthusiast. To read more about her path to publication or listen to her ramble on about The Golden Girls and caramel squares, head on over to Twitter (@meligrey) or Tumblr (http://www.melissa-grey.com).

FOLLOW HER!!!!!!! Awesome stuff is coming her way, and I think you'll enjoy it :)  


XDDDDD I'm so happy XDDDDDDDDDD

Congrats, Melissa, and ALL THE BEST!!!