Sunday, May 10, 2015

Let the Secret Agent Round Commence!

Welcome, everyone, to the NestPitch 2015 Secret Agent Round! Our teams have worked tirelessly over the last several weeks to polish our pitches, whittle our words, and create the most pleasing array of selections we possibly could.

Speaking of pleasing arrays, my team and I would like to extend a special welcome to all of the Secret Agents who are taking the time to visit us today. We were up early to prepare a small spread that we hope will help energize you during your blog hop. Please help yourselves.

It's only breakfast...not a bribe in any way

Just like the comments section for the duration of the Agent Round, the buffet will be closed to the public and under strict moderation for twenty-four hours, beginning May 11th at 8:30 a.m. EST. (1.30pm London UK Time, 10.30pm Melbourne Australia EST) After that the comments section will re-open to all, but the food will probably need to be thrown away.

We are #TeamBasketCase

This event would not have been possible without the guidance and support of NestPitch creator Nikola Vukoja, who worked, at times quite literally, around the clock to make it a success. The NestPitch parent blog is full of details on exactly what went into #NestPitch2015. We dug MUCH deeper this year, our Mentor and Slushie teams read far beyond the first 300 words to ensure that quality was the theme of each and every manuscript we selected. We fought, yes. Cried, and threw things, but in the end every NestPitch team ended up with a list that we could present with pride, confident in its potential.

I, personally, could not have done any of this without the dedicated support of my Slushies, the incredible Heather M. Bryant and the exquisite Kristy Shen (who recently had her own shiny new MG novel published, available to buy here.)  These ladies have been THE BEST team members I could have asked for, they really went above and beyond. Follow them on Twitter, read their words, and be secure in the knowledge that they are just generally kickass chicks in every possible way.
Okay! Now, without further adieu, allow me to present the moment you've all been waiting for...

The Basket Cases:


BP2-YA/Contemporary THE KOSHERS

BP3-YA/Psychological Thriller SUN AND BONE


BP5-Adult/Thriller POOR BOY ROAD

While you may well find everything your heart desires right here, there are SCADS of other entries that you really should check out by visiting the other teams:









The agent round will begin 8.30 am EST (USA) and go on for 24 hours. Again, during that time, comments will be CLOSED to the public, and set on moderation to be published in a timely manner.

But spectators can still visit the comments to see how much chocolate is being doled out. Here's a handy treat cheat sheet so you know what kind of goodies are in our baskets:

Choc. egg basket w/ ribbon-Full Request
Choc. egg basket-Query + 150 pages + 1 page Synopsis
3 Boxes Caramel eggs-Query + 100 pages
2 Boxes Caramel eggs-Query + 75 pages + 1 page Synopsis
1 Box Caramel eggs-Query + 50 pages
1 doz. nougat filled Choc. eggs-Query + 25 pages + 1 page Synopsis
½ doz. nougat filled Choc. eggs-Query + 20 pages
1x nougat filled Choc. egg-Query + 15 pages + 1 page Synopsis
1 doz. hollow Choc eggs-Query + 10 pages
½ doz. hollow Choc eggs-Query + 5 pages + 1 page Synopsis
1x hollow Choc egg-Query + 5 pages

As a parting note, I'd just like to say that it has been an absolute honor to read the words of so many talented writers, engage with the other teams, and be a part of such a supportive and loving community. We all had each others' backs, Mentors, Slushies, and authors alike, throughout this entire process, and my thanks to everyone involved. I loved being a part of it.

With that, Secret Agents...the floor is yours.


Manuscript Title: MIKEY GOES TO MAINE

Category/ Genre:  MG / Humor

Word Count: 32,000

 35-word Pitch:

When Mikey's parents stick him with relatives so they can go have fun, his impetuous behavior causes problems. His disastrous schemes to set things right transform the lives of the strangers he's grown to love.
If your MC was an Easter Egg, what flavor would s/he be?:

I’d be sandy cheese flavor, because that’s what the stuff between my toes tastes like.

Excerpt (first 300 words):

Hitting what you want with a rock gives you the best feeling in the world. After you throw it, your mind steers the rock right to where you wanted it to go, as if you had super powers. It feels so good that you want to do it over and over again, and it feels so easy that you think you can.

Just because you can do something, though, it doesn't mean you should do it. If you pick the wrong target, throwing a rock can also give you the worst feeling in the world. You won't just break a window--you'll break and ruin everything else, too, including your own heart.  I learned that the hard way.  That means I actually did it.

Don’t worry though, because I'm really good at inventing plans to solve problems. It's my specialty. I'm so smart that I can even invent more plans when my first plans go wrong. That happens a lot.

My name is Mikey and this is my story. It's filled with smooth rocks, slimy worms, and sticky mud, and is crawling with hairy spiders, smelly pigs, boys acting like pigs, and girls with pigtails. If you don't like these things, maybe you should go read a book about nice clean fairies, but then you'll miss out on all the fun.

Chapter 2  

"Welcome, welcome, welcome!" Aunt Millie literally sang as she swung open the squeaky screen door. She looked as happy to see me as I was mad to be there. Her friendly, sparkly blue eyes didn't help. Nothing could.

"Hello, Millie," Dad said as he popped out of the car. "Good to see you, and thanks for letting Mikey stay. He's really looking forward to it."  Mr. Not Telling the Truth opened the trunk and grabbed my bag.

BP#2-YA/Contemporary THE KOSHERS

Manuscript Title: THE KOSHERS

Category/Genre: YA/ Contemporary

Word Count: 61,000

35 Word Pitch: After the cook’s beat down and the mess hall's incineration, Megan, shoplifter extraordinaire, must learn to trust her posse of unlikely new friends. It’s that, or rot in juvie for something they didn’t do. 

If your MC was an Easter egg, what flavor would she be?

Caramel—nice and sticky, just like my shoplifting fingers! 

Excerpt (first 300 words):

Diamond studded perfection is why I’m here. They were beautiful, tempting, and worth enough to pay more than one utility bill. But definitely not worth the twenty-thousand questions cranking from this shrink’s mouth. 

She doesn’t look like any mother I’ve ever seen, although she insists I speak freely, consider her a mother figure. It’s the lack of wrinkles around her eyes and the way her teeth click that annoying stick of gum in her mouth that give her away. She’s not old enough to be someone’s mother. Definitely not a mom, not that I have much to compare her to.

“Megan,” she says, twisting the black ball-point pen between her finger and thumb. “If you don’t talk to me, then there’s nothing I can do for you.”

I cross my arms over my chest. Part of me wants to talk, tell her I only pocketed the diamond earrings to pay the light bill and put some groceries in the cabinets. But I know better than to say that. Hinting at Mom’s unfitness will only land me a cozy foster family. No thanks. I’ve kept my life a secret for the last four years, since Dad died when I was twelve. And that’s exactly how I intend for it to stay.

My eyes lock on my fidgeting hands. The pretty, non-mom scratches her pen across the notebook on her fancy desk, and I really hope she’s no mind reader, filling that paper with all my secrets. She can write whatever she wants about me, it won’t change who I am, or what I have to do to survive. That part of my brain has already adjusted to the choices I make, choices that keep me alive, Mom alive. No amount of words in a file can change that.

BP#3-YA/Psychological Thriller SUN AND BONE

Manuscript Title: SUN AND BONE

Category/ Genre: YA Psychological Thriller

Word Count: 83,000

35-word Pitch: A girl with OCD, raised in an isolated religious sect, trades favors with a vengeful migrant worker to save her dying brother’s life. Gated meets The Butterfly Clues with a dash of Eleanor & Park.

If your MC was an Easter egg, what flavor would s/he be?

Eve: Wild berries, lavender, and brushfire smoke. Mana: Tsokolate (chocolate) with siling labuyo (hot peppers).

Excerpt (first 300 words):

Dying children can’t shock me.

Whether I’m stabbing them with a kitchen knife or they’re burning in a house fire. Whether it’s me or a disease or a natural disaster doing the killing. It happens every day in the dark corners of my obsessive mind.
Though I’m ninety-nine percent sure I would never act on these thoughts, for a few seconds I see myself suffocating my six-year-old sister instead of helping Mama wrestle her into the kitchen chair. While the Attendants stand by, waiting to fill a vial with Theresa’s blood, I blink four times to make the image retreat.
“Let me go!” Theresa shouts, bucking like a wild animal.
Her bare foot wallops my gut. For a second, I can’t breathe.
“Theresa Marie Thomas, you cooperate right now,” Mama says in a voice that could freeze the sun. “The Healer is watching you.”
My sister must be more scared of Mama or The Healer than the needle because she stops thrashing. Once the tip pierces the crook of her arm, her hazel eyes widen. The thin red stream shooting up into the glass is beautiful, though it seems wrong for the blood to leave her body.
After we release Theresa, I avoid Mama’s eyes and mouth a prayer, then tap the back of the chair four times. Not because I want to, but because I can’t stop myself. That way it won’t be my fault if Theresa tests positive. 
Sarah’s next. Nearly nine, she’d rather live with nonbelievers than let anyone see she’s scared. She jumps into the seat, jaw clenched and lips mashed together. When the vial’s full, she pivots toward me, beaming.
“Your turn.”
“They already took my blood,” I say. “I’m done.”
“Humph!” She marches off while I rock baby David in his cradle.


Manuscript Title: LITTLE BLACK BOX
Category/ Genre: YA contemporary
Word Count: 56,000
35-word Pitch: No one knows 16-yr-old Charlie’s the school’s Advice Doctor, prescribing chocolate and music in her coveted cure kits. But when her best friend turns in a symptom sheet for betrayal, Charlie’s perfect remedy is revenge.
If your MC was an Easter egg, what flavor would she be?
I would be a red velvet Easter egg, the same flavor as the pancakes my dad’s boyfriend always makes.
Excerpt (first 300 words):


It was only last week that I’d overheard Penny Hill spilling her guts in the girl’s D-wing bathroom, and the acoustics in there are fabulous. Through the whole of her weeping, I couldn’t stop thinking about Joan Jett and how she was way too badass to care if people talked behind her back. She would have given them the finger and lived her life.

Unfortunately, Penny Hill was not a kick-ass female rocker, and she did care if people talked about her. That’s what the black box in my lap was for, a package filled with books and music and other ways to help her move on.

“How well do you know Penny?” Luke asked, glancing at me from the driver’s seat. He stayed well within the speed limit as we passed Taco Bell and headed to the Valley.

“You’re not supposed to use real names,” I said.
Luke smiled, the dimple in his cheek only a shadow in the dimness of the car. “You know we mute real names.” He flicked a glance at the video camera secured on his dashboard. “We’re almost there, black box at the ready.”

“For the record,” I say to the camera, “this excursion is brought to you by Joan Jett and all the other girls out there who are through putting up with shit—”

“Language. I have to mute that, too.”
“Bad Reputation” blared on the speakers, and I sang along in my throatiest rocker voice until Luke laughed.

Luke was the only one who knew about my double life. I needed a partner in crime, so he’d agreed to be my chauffeur. I’d also agreed to let him film tonight: a documentary featuring me as the emotional doctor, prescribing various forms of cheer to people after life had knocked them on their asses.

BP#5-Adult/Mystery/Thriller POOR BOY ROAD

Manuscript Title: POOR BOY ROAD

Category/Genre: Adult/Mystery/Thriller

Word Count: 70,000
35-word Pitch: A leg breaker wants out of the mob, but to earn freedom he must kill a rival drug lord and save a kidnapped girl while dealing with shadows of the past in his abusive hometown.

If your MC was an Easter egg, what flavor would he be?

Coffee—seemingly bitter on first taste, but quickly turns into an addiction.

Excerpt (first 300 words)

The apartment door was a cheap, brown, six-panel hollow core with a dirty peephole and colorfully articulated graffiti that would make a priest blush. But, Jake Caldwell was no priest. The door would splinter off its hinges with a swift kick from his boot, just like the previous dozen he’d kicked in over the years. Still, it would be easier if Carlos just opened the door so Jake pounded again.

He waited, listening for sounds of movement over barking dogs and crying babies in the units behind him. He felt conspicuous in the littered hallway with the Glock at his side. Even in this shitty neighborhood, a guy his size with a gun would warrant an eventual call to the cops. Shadows flickered across the bottom of the door – Carlos staring out the peephole. A stupid move. If Jake were here to whack the guy, he could just shoot him through the door. As it was, the worst Jake planned to do was break his kneecaps.

“Open the door, Carlos,” Jake said. No answer, but the shadow remained.

Jake sighed and stepped back. With his good leg, he exploded forward, driving his heel just above the knob. The lock assembly collapsed against the splintered wood and the door burst open. Carlos cried out as the door cracked his face, his wiry frame collapsing to the floor. He landed on his ass, holding his nose. Blood poured through his fingers and onto his stained, white t-shirt. Jake entered the apartment which reeked of cigarettes and fried onions, shutting the remains of the door behind him. Carlos pushed back toward a kitchen stacked with crusted plates and glasses, his wide eyes fearful.

With the gun trained on Carlos, he walked to the kitchen, grabbed a dirty dish towel and dropped it in the bleeding man’s lap.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Drumroll, please...

It's time!!!!

Last night I had the distinct honor of inducting five extremely worthy authors into NestPitch 2015, and the grass-lined madness that is Team Basket Case. After weeks of submissions, spreadsheets, and slapping hands, my teammates Heather, Kristy, and I have a dynamic group of authors to introduce to you! We will be working with them for the next few weeks to get those submissions razor sharp, so there's no peeking on pages just yet, but I can tease you a little bit to get the ball rolling.

So here, in no particular order, is our team!

Christopher Equinox

Cindy R. Wilson

Amy Smead

YA/Psychological Thriller
Heather Davis

James L. Weaver

I think it's really important to note just how many outstanding entries passed through our hands, and how difficult it was to narrow our selections down to just five. My slushies (ask them, they'll tell you!) worked tirelessly with me to discuss all of the submissions, and, guys, this was hard. NestPitch has an absolutely outstanding pool of talent this year, and everyone who entered should be extremely proud of themselves.

On May 11th I will be posting each author’s entire Pitch, so you can appreciate them properly!

You can find more clues to the other pitches here:

You can also go to the Nestpitch Blog where you'll find a link to all the blogs, as well as a complete Title, Category/Genre & Author list.

Be sure to check in before May 11th because that clever Nik is running Unmask the Agent again this year, and I promise to update you on the details!
(There’s a $20Amazon Voucher up for grabs and you don’t need have submitted to Nestpitch, all you need is a bit of a detective spirit and to know your (our) agents!)

For now Team Basket Case is going to retreat to our cave of solitude and get cracking on edits, but be sure to visit the other mentor blogs to check out the other teams (even though, ya know, our team's the best ;)