Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Fricassee

In the spirit of Thanksgiving -- thank you:

For sharing your time and insight with your fellow writers, offering your critique and comments during contests and critique sessions.

For your bravery and vulnerability in sharing your own work here.

For helping to create and maintain the vibrant community that exists here.

For allowing me to be myself (even though you've never seen my face).

For being a supporter instead of a complainer.

For pouring encouragement and kindness (and maybe a little love?) into me when I most needed it.

For bringing your perspective, your ideas, your talents, and your sense of humor along with you.

For not giving up on your dreams.

Thank you, dear readers and fellow wielders-of-the-pen.  Together, we are a mighty force and an absolutely lovely gang.  (Yes, we are.  We're a gang.  Or maybe a gaggle.  Or a murder.)

Hugs to all!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

OTB Logline Critique #14

GENRE: YA - Contemporary

Haunted by his role in the death of a friend, Hood Roberts––a teen who navigates between football stardom and the reigning poster boy for bad decisions––becomes a modern day Robin Hood in a small Maine town.

OTB Logline Critique #13

TITLE: Fortress of Bones
GENRE: Adult - Fantasy

In a world where animals can talk and curses are real, a cursebreaker and her companion cat search for a cure to a girl’s madness to prevent a necromancer’s vengeance from destroying their homeland.


OTB Logline Critique #12

TITLE: The Third Gift
GENRE: MG - Fantasy

All Marisi wanted was the adventure of a lifetime. She got it when a witch kidnapped her parents and took over her home. To get everything back she must solve three impossible riddles before sunrise. But her baby sister may be the key that saves them all.



OTB Logline Critique #11

GENRE: YA - Science Fiction

In 2265, no one should disappear. Programming whiz Mouse and survivalist Taryn have to use their skills to escape from kidnappers, who have found a way to disable their trackable id-chips and recycle teens into mining robot replacements as part of a virtual reality mind-control experiment.

OTB Logline Critique #10

TITLE: The Antidote
GENRE: MG - Fantasy

Lonely 12 year old Adam Revelstoke can see disease, and reluctantly battles ILL, the ancient evil behind much sickness. Adam must use this newfound family “gift” to thwart ILL’s plan to destroy mankind with a new super disease, worse than polio, worse than small pox.


OTB Logline Critique #9

TITLE: The Relic Heir
GENRE: MG - Urban fantasy

When Kyle inherits his suicidal father’s magical relic, he’s cursed by Baba Yaga and marked for death by a militant Russian society. Doomed to become the witch’s violent pawn or die at the hands of the Obshestvo, Kyle must break the curse to save himself and his dad.

OTB Logline Critique #8

TITLE: The Balance of all Things
GENRE: Adult - Urban fantasy

Title: The Balance of all Things
Alyssa's on the run from the Conclave, former mentors in magic. She fled when she realized they were training her to destroy all realms.  She's now either fighting off or hunting down Conclave minions and horde demons whose interest in her keeps growing. Hope lies in unraveling her destiny as a possible savior or destroyer. Finding at least one unlikely ally wouldn't hurt either.

OTB Logline Critique #7

GENRE: MG - Animal Fantasy

Wink, a one-eyed hamster, is desperate to find a forever family, but when he leaves the pet shop as snake food, his future seems bleak. His quick thinking saves him from the snake, but it’s back to the pet shop unless he can outsmart the family cat and convince Mom he will be the perfect pet.

OTB Logline Critique #6

TITLE: Cargo Hold Five
GENRE: YA - Science Fiction

When the hunt for her kidnapped sister leads to a galaxy-traveling circus, Hazel joins The Greatest Show in the Sky to flush for clues. But when her investigation uncovers the circus’s involvement in the illegal Freak trade, Hazel is forced to get out quick, before the homicidal ringleader catches on to her, and the search for her sister dies with her.

OTB Logline Critique #5

TITLE: This World In Gray
GENRE: YA - Contemporary

Lacey and Grace are twins who share more than looks, they share a soul. When Grace dies, Lacey doesn’t know who she is anymore, she can't see past the grief, isn't sure she wants to live without her. When she finds the letters Grace left her, leading her on an adventure, it might just save Lacey's life.

OTB Logline Critique #4

TITLE: Unpossible
GENRE: MG - Science Fiction

Twelve-year-old science prodigy, Banks, just wants his Mom’s attention, but he has to do the unpossible to get it: unlock the science behind Mayan magic and use it to stop a ruthless cosmetics maven before she can uncover the secret of eternal youth and sell it in a bottle.

OTB Logline Critique #3

TITLE: Tarot Traders
GENRE: YA - Urban Fantasy

Toria will die on her next birthday if her tarot cards are stolen. Her mentor is missing, and Toria doesn’t have enough money to hide forever. Conspiring with herself in a parallel time line, she must evade a tarot thief while pulling off the biggest heist of all her lives.

OTB Logline Critique #2

TITLE: Chasing Autumn
GENRE: Adult - Light-hearted Women's Fiction

As if Cora’s incontinent dog and partial mastectomy aren’t enough for the town to gossip about, her friend is arrested for murder. Cora’s passion to fix things goes way beyond restoring antiques in her shop. With help from an unconventional therapist, she’s determined to fix the chaos in her life.

OTB Logline Critique #1

TITLE: The Pendragon’s son
GENRE: Adult - Fantasy

Prince Vaeldhei, the son of King Arthur and apprentice to the wizard Merlin, tries to thwart his deluded half-brother and a vengeful sorceress from igniting a countrywide war, despite a grim prophecy cursing all of Britain.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Beth Revis's Winners!

The response to our contest was admittedly disappointing.  Nevertheless, those of you who DID enter definitely benefited, because Beth Revis has decided that YOU ARE ALL WINNERS.


Her winning entry:

I don't have a plea. I have only the fact that I'm starting to not want to try anymore. I've written sixteen novels. Queried seven. I think I might be crazy for continuing to try. But it looks like you had to write a lot of books, too. And I think maybe Paper Hearts can give me some new motivation from someone who's fallen down a lot as well. ^_^ So if I don't win, the sky will explode and the moon dragons will fly down and eat me.

Why Beth chose this entry:

It spoke to her heart.

(See what I mean about Beth?  You definitely want this gal in your corner!)

THE PRIZE:  A signed paperback copy of PAPER HEARTS!!


Beth would like to send each of you a digital copy of PAPER HEARTS!

Winners, please email me your email address.  I will send your addresses to Beth, and she will contact you with instructions on how to claim your prizes.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Logline Critique Round for ON THE BLOCK Entrants

You asked for it -- and here it is.

Starting at noon EST today, FOLKS WHO ENTERED ON THE BLOCK BUT WHOSE ENTRIES WERE NOT CHOSEN FOR THE AUCTION may send their loglines for public critique.

(I put that in all caps to stress that this critique round is specifically for these people.  PLEASE DO NOT ENTER A LOGLINE if you did not submit an entry to ON THE BLOCK.)
  • Your logline must be 50 words or fewer.
  • The entry window will be open from NOON today (Tuesday) to NOON tomorrow (Wednesday), EST.
  • The bot will accept the first 25 entries.  This is not a lottery.
  • Please USE THIS FORM to enter your logline.
  • The entries will post on Thursday morning (November 19).  Critique may begin immediately.
  • If your logline is posted, you are requested to critique at least 5 other loglines.

I had the dates set wrong, and folks were getting a message that submissions don't open for 7 days.  I HAVE FIXED THIS.  You should be able to enter without any problem now.  I'm so sorry!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Beth Revis: Release Day Interview and Book Giveaway!

It's unlikely that you haven't heard Beth Revis's name before.  She's a multi-published YA author who is among our MSFV Success Story Authors, and an absolutely lovely person.  I'm thrilled to be celebrating the release of her non-fiction book for writers, Paper Hearts, by offering this interview and a fun book giveaway!

AUTHORESS: So, let's go back to July 29, 2009, when your entry for A LONG WAY HOME posted on MSFV for Jodi Meadows's Query Contest. What led you up to that point? And what happened next?

BETH: Prior to that point, I'd written ten other novels. And I'd queried them and eventually trunked them. In fact, there may be some other trunked-Beth-books in the MSFV archives...

Anyway, a lot of writing! And a lot of failure. But I thought I had something with this book (and I did--it eventually became Across the Universe), but I was struggling with those first few chapters. I'd had conflicting critique partner advice on those first chapters, and the MSFV contest helped me to see that I needed to rearrange them.

AUTHORESS: Which is, of course, one of the most exciting MSFV stories ever. :)

So tell us about your success with the Across the Universe trilogy (which graces my downstairs bookshelf).

BETH: AtU was really been about dreams coming true. There's a line in the Harry Potter books about how nothing impossible if you have enough drive. Everything about AtU--it being published, it doing well, it starting my career--that all felt impossible, and now that it's happened, it feels as if nothing is impossible.

AUTHORESS: Your career certainly had a strong start, including bestseller status. So, let's help dispel the myth that, once you make that first sale, you've got it made in the shade. Can you tell us a bit about the next step in your journey?

BETH: Think of it like rolling a ball up a hill. Sure, a great sale with strong numbers on release will push your ball higher up the hill, but if you don't follow that with more--more books, more sales, more work--the ball will just roll back down to the bottom. Unless you're content just releasing a book whenever, without really caring about your audience or reach, and definitely not caring about your career, you can't just sit in an ivory tower and spin tales. You have to keep working, just like at any other career.

AUTHORESS: An excellent analogy!

So, tell us where your adventures led from there.

BETH: It always makes me smile when fans write me and ask me to "never stop writing." That's definitely something no one has to worry about! I don't know what I'd do with myself if I stopped!

As I was wrapping up the Across the Universe trilogy, I tried to think of what I should write next. The idea that really seized me was a fantasy novel. I wrote the whole book, planned a quartet, sent to readers and...the response wasn't that great. Some of my readers loved it, but at least three-quarters were lukewarm at best. I think I got bogged down in the world building. After talking long and hard to my agent about the book, we both decided the best thing was to shelve it, and maybe return to it later, and maybe not.

That was definitely a hard pill to swallow. I was supposed to have made it! I wasn't supposed to still be shelving books!

The next book I wrote was also strange--a science fiction that was loosely linked to the AtU world. I worked with my editor at Penguin on it awhile, but it ultimately wasn't a good fit for my next traditional book, so I ended up self publishing The Body Electric. It was such a wonderful experience. I was initially scared of doing it, but I think it's like getting a tattoo--after the first one, they become really addictive!

While all this was going on, I was already working on another project, one that Penguin latched onto right away--A World Without You--which will be published by Razorbill next July.

All this to say that in the two years since wrapping up the AtU trilogy, I've written one book that was shelved, one that was self published, and one that will be traditionally published. I'm like a microcosm of writing careers across the board!

AUTHORESS: Which makes you a sort of "everygirl" for those who are watching you. A reminder that there really is no such thing as One Way to success. Your author journey is inspiring in many ways!

So now you've taken your wisdom and experience and connections and have created something new, especially for writers. Will you tell us the story of how Paper Hearts came to be?

BETH: Paper Hearts is something that I've been working on for years, even before I was published. I was a teacher, and I loved being a teacher, so some of the book--such as the grammar chapters--came from that background. And some of it just comes from experience. There's this sort of untalked about awkward stage when you decide you want to be a writer where no one you know really knows the real deal. So many people who don't write assume you just type "the end" and get a book deal. That's why so many non-writers ask, "Is your book published yet?" when you tell them you're working on something.

So I started on my blog first, dispelling some of the myths, trying to be up front and honest in response to questions or common misconceptions I was seeing. And then I moved the random blog posts to Wattpad, so everything was organized into one place. But that kept growing and growing, and people kept asking for it to be in book form. Once I hit 100k reads and libraries started contacting me to teach workshops based on the Wattpad book, I decided to shift it into real publication.

AUTHORESS: Paper Hearts feels like a love story to me. That may be because I went into this knowing more of your story, but I think that any writer who reads this book will feel the love. It's so much more than a "how to" book.

Can you put into words what I am so desperately trying to? What makes PAPER HEARTS more than your average "how to be a writer" book?

BETH: Paper Hearts is very much is a love story! It's the story of my own love affair with writing, of my love for fellow readers and writers, of my love with the dream of writing.

But it is most definitely not a "how to" book. Because I make it very clear very early that there is no such thing as a "how to write" book. None exists. The best I can do is explain what I went through, and what helped me, and what didn't, and hope that it helps someone else.

That's not to say it doesn't have specifics. It's not a life story. It does go into great detail of the very specific strategies that help me write. But it doesn't say they're the only way.

AUTHORESS: Another thing I love about Paper Hearts is your transparency. It's "here's my journey, here's my heart", and not just "here's what I know" -- though there is plenty of that as well.

In short -- it's the first writing advice book that I will actually feel good about recommending to writers who want some specific guidance.

Aside from the excellent take-away of "there is no one RIGHT way to write", what else can readers expect to get out of this book? Can you distill the book's "mission", if you will?

BETH: Aw, thank you so much! <3 p="">
I think the real incentive for me to get this book into print was the fact that I a lot of the questions I kept hearing all sum down to one simple answer: calm down. Before you're published, there's a lot of unknown about what writing can be like. People worry that they have to fit a certain mold or that they'll make one tiny mistake and ruin their chances at ever being published. It's not like that. We fear the unknown, though, so I'm trying here to take away some of the unknown, and hopefully the fear.

AUTHORESS: So much wisdom here! For those of you who are dying to get this wonderful book into your hands, here's the info: 

Would you like a signed copy? Contact my local indie Malaprops.
Indie Bound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBookstore |


Thanks so much for this Release Day interview, Beth, and for the honor of being mentioned as a resource in PAPER HEARTS. May your words of encouragement and common sense reach the writing masses!

BETH: And thank you for hosting me and all you do for aspiring authors!


Here comes the fun part!  How would you like to win a signed paperback copy of Paper Hearts?  You know you want one!  So here's what you have to do:

In the comment box below, write the most hyperbolic plea you can possibly come up with, begging Beth for your copy.  Enter as many times as you'd like!  Beth will read all the entries and choose her favorite.

Yanno, something like:

Beth!  If I don't receive a copy of Paper Hearts in the next 48 hours, my entire pulmonary system will shut down, and my lungs will implode and create an alternate universe in which only carbon dioxide-breathing organisms will survive, which means the destruction of this world as we know it!

The contest is open NOW, and will close at 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, November 18.

On your mark, get set, go!

Beth Revis is the NY Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series. The complete trilogy is now available in more than 20 languages. Beth is also the author of The Body Electric and several short stories. Her nonfiction books, the Paper Hearts series, gives writers advice on craft, publishing, and more. A native of North Carolina, Beth is currently working on a new novel for teens, tentatively scheduled for 2016. She lives in rural NC with her boys: one husband, one son, and two massive dogs.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Fricassee

How 'bout them auctions??

So now's your chance to give feedback, and I REALLY WANT TO HEAR IT.  This was our first ON THE BLOCK, and its future depends on the overall perception of how it actually went.

I set it up in the one-at-a-time format so that everyone could watch the auctions live (unlike the Baker's Dozen, during which all the bidding went on simultaneously and it was impossible to watch it unfold).  Did that work for you?

Full disclosure--it was a lot more intense on my end this way, because I basically couldn't leave my computer for 4 consecutive hours.  But I planned ahead and knew it was coming, and honestly, it wasn't bad.  And other than a ridiculous problem with Blogger asking for verification EVEN THOUGH I HAVE ALL THAT TURNED OFF, there were no technical issues.

Did any of you deal with being forced to prove you weren't a robot?  Several of the bidding agents were quite frustrated because their bidding was stalled by silly compare-the-picture type verifications.  What is that??  Please let me know if you also dealt with that while leaving critiques last week.

Any other thoughts and impressions, positive and negative, are welcome.  Please don't be shy. :)

A few of our give-aways winners still haven't contacted me, so please do check to see if your name is ON THIS LIST.  Don't miss your chance at a critique from one of our Success Story authors!

A couple of you mentioned the idea of offering logline critiques to the people who submitted to ON THE BLOCK but were not chosen.  I like this idea, so LOOK FOR SUBMISSIONS FOR THIS EARLY NEXT WEEK.  (Note:  This will ONLY be for people who entered the ON THE BLOCK contest in September.)

And MAKE SURE YOU POP BY ON MONDAY, because we're having a BETH REVIS INTERVIEW AND BOOK GIVEAWAY!  I'm very excited about Beth's new book for writers, Paper Hearts.  Be sure to stop by and grab your chance to win a signed copy!

I think that's everything.  And now I'm going to take a deep breath and launch myself back into writer mode after nearly 2 weeks of doing other things.  I did spend a little time planning my Next Book over the past few days, but my goal for this weekend is to really launch myself into everything full time.  Mr. A will be out of town for several days, and of course that means more writing time, yes?  Wish me luck.  You know I'm not the queen of planning or drafting, so these are the things I have to muscle through.

Though, truth be told, planning a "book 2" isn't half as daunting as starting from scratch, since the world and characters are already built, right?  It's just that dang PLOT thing.  (Am I the only one who really, really, REALLY hates plotting?  No one should have to think that hard.  Or maybe I have to think that hard because I'm essentially plot-challenged.)

Anyway -- have a wonderful weekend, everyone!  PLEASE leave your ON THE BLOCK feedback below, and I'll see you Monday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


The following names were chosen randomly (gotta love those random number generators!) from all critiques left on the 24 ON THE BLOCK entries.  Critiques left by editors were not included.  Because most people had multiple entries, there was the chance that each could win more than once -- and some did!  If you are a "double winner", enjoy that!  But if you don't want 2 critiques, email me and I'll randomly select another winner for one of them.

  1. REBECCA M -- A query and 1st chapter (up to 15 pages) critique from Leah Sloane Petersen
  2. ZOLOSOLO -- A first-5-pages critique from Lia Riley
  3. JULIE TOMIAK -- A 20-minute Skype session with Alice Loweecey
  4. E.S. WHEELER -- A 1st chapter (up to 15 pages) critique from Peter Salomon
  5. PATCHI -- A first chapter (up to 5000 words) critique from Nicole Wolverton
  6. SANWRITES -- A query and first-5-pages critique from Kristi V Helvig
  7. SUSSU -- A first chapter (up to 5000 words) critique from Mandy Mikulencak
  8. NEICOLE CREPEAU -- A query critique from Tara Dairman
  9. SUSSU -- A first-5-pages critique from Mindy Braun
  10. GEORGIANA DERWENT -- A query and first-5-pages critique from Gail Nall (YA or MG only)
  11. ZOLOSOLO -- A query critique from Lori A Goldstein
  12. JESSICA REDMAN -- A query and first-5-pages critique from Jen Malone (YA or MG only)
  13. BRENT SALISH -- A first chapter (up to 10 pages) critique from Anita Saxena
  14. ABBE HOGGAN -- A first chapter critique from Stephanie Scott
  15. IKMAR -- A first chapter (up to 15 pages) critique from J. M. Frey
  16. FIONA MILLER-STEVENS -- A query and first chapter (up to 15 pages) critique from Helene Dunbar
Winners:  Please email the following information to me at facelesswords(at) with PRIZE WINNER in the subject line:
  • Name
  • Email address
  • Name of author whose prize you won
I will pass along your contact information to your prize-giver, and you can communicate directly from there.

Congratulations, everyone!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


I know it was a nerve-wracking time for you all.  Hooray -- you made it through!

If your post didn't receive any bids, please don't despair.  The agents represented here are a VERY SMALL percentage of all the agents out there.  DO YOUR RESEARCH and QUERY WIDELY.  Your work is good, and it'll find a home if you are tenacious.

WINNERS:  Please email me at facelesswords(at) for specific submission instructions.  Please include your TITLE, the AGENT, and the REQUEST AMOUNT.

PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT QUERY the other agents who bid for your material.  They will have an opportunity to make requests after a 1-week exclusive with your winning agent.  So sit tight!

Congratulations to all!

#24 FLASH, YA Paranormal Romance

TITLE: Flash
GENRE: YA Paranormal romance

A teenage boy, born as a liaison between the living and the dead, agonizes over the way to tell a frenemy that she's next.

Benjamin strolled into Taylor Woods Nursing Home knowing somebody was going to die.

Popping an orange Tic Tac into his mouth, he nodded at the secretary and headed off towards the East wing. He didn’t need a guest pass. She knew who he was, and based on the raise of a single eyebrow, she was curious. He peeked back, wondering if she was watching to see which room he walked into.

She was.

“Howdy, Ms. Gail,” Benjamin crooned as he walked through the door at the end of the hallway. In this wing, lunch was served on trays as all residents were no longer able to make it to the cafeteria. The floral and disinfectant smell of the nursing home was too strong for his nostrils to make out the menu.

Ms. Gail wasn’t speaking. Benjamin blew out the breath he wasn’t aware he was holding. Had he expected her to stand up and dance at his arrival? Nobody did that, even if they didn’t know about his gift. Or curse, depending on the day.

Her bedroom was noisy, even though it was just the two of them. The respiratory machine hummed as it breathed in and out, an accordion-like thing moving up and down with the noise. To the right of Ms. Gail was the heart machine. The green lines weren’t moving up very far, if that meant anything at all. And the beeping noise that accompanied the rising green line took a break for a few seconds before repeating.

Saying Ms. Gail was pale would be an understatement. As Benjamin approached her bedside, his own pale skin looked tan in comparison. Her breaths were shallow, so he knew she was still with him. And even though her eyes were closed, he knew she’d awaken any second.

“Ms. Gail,” he sang as he swept her gray bangs off her forehead. “Wakey, wakey.”

“What are you doing?” The female voice came out of nowhere, causing Benjamin to pull back abruptly.

#23 THE SATIN SPY, NA Historical

GENRE: NA Historical

Adrienne pushes back against French laws and prejudices under Louis XIV. She spies on the powdered and privileged at court to save her family estate. But, when she’s targeted for treason by the King’s bloodhound, she goes to extreme measures to keep her freedom.

May, 1684

The sheer terror of being spotted made Adrienne du Mont run. The heat-red urgency of escaping the official visit of His Majesty’s agent made her sweat through her silks. She’d rather cut off all her hair than sit in the same room with Louis XIV’s Intendant.

Taking in deep breaths, Adrienne and a servant hurried through the halls of her ancestral estate. The rustling of her peach satin skirts disrupted the silence and the leather of her silk shoes scraped the rock floors.

“Tres vites, Jacques,” Adrienne gasped at her lackey. She barely slowed at the kitchen, passing scullions on their knees brushing the sandstone.

The thought of an official interrogation at only sixteen years chilled her.

Merde! Why was such a powerful official sitting in her front parlor? Could it be the paper she had tucked in her bodice? Panic rose inside her chest, but she ignored it, talking to herself.

I will behave as a young man would. I’ll do what I like and face the reprisals later.

Jacques stopped. “Why rush about in such secrecy?” the servant wheezed. “Is it the man in black who sits in the drawing room with your mother?”

Obviously, Adrienne thought. Sieur La Briffe rendered justice for Louis XIV, enforcing the king’s will upon local officials. After his inspections, France had put many an innocent citizen in prison to rot.

Oui, any noble would want to avoid an Intendant du Roi, with good reason.”

Hearing the title, Jacques tuned pale.


TITLE: Checks and Balances
GENRE: Thriller

The scheming, antiheroine wife of a British dictator in the idealistic run-up and brutal aftermath of a UK military coup.

I stepped out of the rickety lift and into the Treaty’s underground control room, fighting to keep my breathing under control. It never ended well when David summoned the officers of the Treaty together. What desperate plan or restrictive new decree did he intend to announce today?

David stood under the screen that showed our hacked CCTV camera feeds. Years of outdoor living and physical labour had given him the muscular tone and hearty glow he could only have dreamt of in his old life as an academic. I pushed through the massed ranks of stern-faced men and women dressed in hardy, unflattering outfits, and took my exalted position directly opposite our leader.

Michaela leaned against the reinforced metallic wall of the abandoned mine. Her wavy obsidian-black hair had grown out of the practical cropped style we all sported, into an elegant bob. She’d swapped her usual guerrilla uniform for a vintage silk gown someone had decided would pass muster in London. The emerald dress showed off her curves and emphasised the youthful beauty that shone through even in army fatigues.

David crossed his arms. “I’m sending Michaela to Somerset House. She’s going to find her way into the First Lord’s presence. She’s going to charm him and allow herself to be seduced. She’s going to gain his trust and steal his secrets. And when the time is right, she’s going to kill him.”

His unblinking eyes and fixed mouth dared me to defy him in front of his supporters. He should have known I could never resist a challenge.


TITLE: Journey to Ryu Airu
GENRE: YA Fantasy

A Japanese slave trying to pay her father’s debts, Kaiya is abducted by Chinese pirates and taken into foreign waters. The pirates are oddly congenial, befriending Kaiya and helping her forget the family duty left behind her. But when she discovers the captain intends to sacrifice her to a dragon, she will do anything to escape, even blackmail her new friends.

The teahouse was loud with alcohol-enhanced laughter and the roll of dice. Some men came in, adjusting their dirty robes as they sat at a table. Keeping my eyes lowered in deference, I hurried over and served their tea. I feared if I raised my gaze, I’d find the man in the corner watching me again.
Long black hair was knotted at the back of his head, revealing broad shoulders and a fearsome look. He hadn’t stopped staring at me since he came in. I once beat off four feral dogs with a stick, but his expressionless eyes made me feel cold and jittery.

Mindlessly I took an order for wine and headed toward the kitchen. A hand rubbed across my cotton skirt and I shifted out of the way smoothly, hearing titters behind me. Four years working in a portside teahouse taught me quick reflexes, especially being the doughy kind of girl men looked for.
In the safety of the kitchen, Gorou-sama lugged a barrel across the floor from the cellar and Midori, my fellow slave, stirred a pot of okayu. I paused in the corner to catch my breath, but Gorou noticed me.

“Kaiya, more wood.”

I bowed. “The newcomers ordered sake and the group in the corner wants more rice wine.”
He nodded without looking up. “Midori will serve it. Go get wood. Oh,” he added, changing topics at lightning speed, “There’s a new ship anchored this evening. It will probably get busier.”

I felt a nervous jolt.

“You said I could go home in an hour.” I tried to keep my tone respectful.

#20 THE DOLPHIN NEXUS, MG Magical Realism

GENRE: MG Magical Realism

In THE DOLPHIN NEXUS, when a sheltered, scientific-minded thirteen-year-old girl discovers she has a mystical connection to the sea, she must unravel her past and harness her growing powers to prevent a secret military project from silencing the ocean forever.
A streak of iridescent silver flickered past the port side of the tour boat. Waves of eager onlookers rushed to get a glimpse at the elusive shape. All except Irene. She shuffled starboard.

Typical tourists, she thought. She tried to forgive their silly ‘oohs,’ since these inlanders didn’t observe dolphins daily like she did.

"Well, folks," said the yellow‑toothed tour guide. Locals called him Captain Crunch, but Irene reserved Jimmy’s nickname for when she wanted him to leave her alone. "That there’s a sight we don’t see just ev’ry day.” His cheeks crinkled around his gray eyes as he aimed a wink her way.

I do.  A dolphin pod used the cove behind her house for their private vacation spot. She cast her gaze to the deck, catching sight of lobster-red shins sticking out of black-socks-in-sandals. British, she guessed. Looking over her shoulder where Jimmy stood behind the helm, she pointed to the sandals and mimed a monocle.  Jimmy lowered the mike so he wouldn’t snort into it.

Sandal-socks told his son, “Budge up, Johnny. Your sister fancies a look.”

Irene mouthed to Jimmy: That’s twenty.  Jimmy gave her a thumbs up.

Seventy-eight tourists correctly pinned to their countries so far this summer. Not bad for August. She congratulated herself as Sandal-socks held his little girl up to see over the side.

“Emma, stop your whinging and see the fish.”

Fish? No, that’s a mammal. From the Delphinidae family to be specific.

As Jimmy reeled off his usual speech, Irene mentally recited along. “That there's an Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin. Some say they’s deeper than us two-leggers.

"Wow,” said a girl to Irene’s left.