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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Can't Stop the Madness

It's that time again. Once more, Twitter is the place to be if you have a finished manuscript that you want to pitch. That's right -- Pitch Madness Time! If anyone's interested, you can hop over to Twitter and use the hashtag #PitMad. In 140 characters, give agents on the feed the hook of your story, level (MG, YA, NA, Adult) and genre (Contemp., Fantasy, Horror, etc.)

One tweet per hour so we don't overload the feed. No favoriting other pitches, although commenting on them is highly recommended.

Since a few agents on the feed asked writers to post a longer pitch and short excerpt on their blogs/websites, I'm doing exactly that right now. Without further ado, what I'm pitching today on #PitMad, the unabridged versions.

Mother of Monsters
Pitch: Gods don’t die; they wait.

In the country of Elpis, the Greek gods of old have reawakened. Many are thankful to be remembered. Some are still hurt by humankind’s ability to push them aside so easily. One wants revenge.

Maya, a young girl from an influential family, becomes the vessel for Hera’s plans. Kept on an island for five years with only select companions for the duration, Maya is forced to mother forgotten monsters of ancient Greece. Monsters created to keep mankind in line. 

Angry over what Hera plans to do with her children, Maya does her best to secretly upset the Goddess’ plans.  Teaching them about family and loyalty, Maya plants the seeds of rebellion in each monster she creates.

With an army at her disposal, Hera sends the monsters into the world, spreading her message of death and destruction. Now Maya needs to stop them, and Hera, before what’s left of humanity is wiped out in the name of a vengeful goddess.

At 60,000 words, MOTHER OF MONSTERS explores the bonds of family and the ability to love unconditionally.

Excerpt: Chapter One

Old gods never die; they wait and scheme. None did this better than Hera. Now her plan was missing only one element. A whispered word would set things right.
The night air was cool, but Hera didn’t mind as she entered the bedchamber of Thisbe, loyal servant to the goddess. Thisbe’s family had served Hera well for the past two thousand years. When Greece fell and Elpis rose in its place, her ancestors were the first to embrace the old ways. Now, Hera would repay them for their faith.
“Send her away. Save your daughter. You must find a way.” Hera’s words echoed in Thisbe’s head, keeping her from sleep. Her daughter, Maya, would be thirteen in the morning. Sacrificial age for the first born in a household of Hera.
“I must honor my oath to my goddess.”
“Do you believe this is what your ancestors fought and died for?” Hera said, planting seeds of fear and doubt in Thisbe’s tired and troubled mind. The words became young men and women in uniforms, dirty and injured. Flashes of light from their guns illuminated the battlefield that served as a graveyard once the fighting was done.
“My ancestors fought in the Last Great War to free us all. They built Elpis on the ashes of Greece. Their vision of a new country based on old ideals is everyone’s vision.”
“Yet you argue with yourself. Is their vision truly your vision as well?” Thisbe’s dream turned from the battlefield to an Elpis she had never known. Elpis when it was still Greece. Paved roads thick with cars sprawled through the countryside, connecting towns and cities. Tall buildings reached towards the sky, competing with Mount Olympus.
The picture Hera showed her shimmered to be replaced with the Elpis Thisbe had always known. Dirt roads in place of the smooth, black asphalt, many in disrepair and overgrown. The cars, once so abundant, rusted in secluded junkyards, abandoned with all memories of the Technological Age. Skyscrapers and office buildings had been long ago knocked down. Priests and priestesses of the old Greek gods called them blasphemous attempts to live among the gods.
Still Thisbe wouldn’t be swayed.
“I am loyal to Hera.”
“What would Hera do with a dead daughter?”
“The same she has done with every dead child for the last two thousand years. And all the Sacrificed before Ancient Greece fell and our ways were lost for so long.”
“Foolish woman. Hades is the only god with any use for the dead.” Hera hissed and Thisbe’s dream ignited with a painful red light. The girl must be sent to her alive if her plan was to work. For her plan to go unchallenged, it must be done in secret.
The pain in Thisbe’s head caused her to cry out, finally giving in to the goddess.
“How should I save her?”
“Set her adrift. Poseidon may take mercy on the child. Now go, while your household sleeps. Save Maya before it is too late. If she is sacrificed in the morning it will be to Hades, not Hera.” Thisbe woke from her half-sleep, shivering in the late night air. She slid from her bed, careful not to wake her husband, and stole into Maya’s room.
“Get up quickly.” The whispered words in her ear startled Maya, but her mother hushed her before she could cry out. Thisbe dressed her daughter up in old clothes and took her to the kitchen. With Maya looking on in confusion, Thisbe packed a small satchel with enough food for a week.
“What are you doing?” Maya asked, her voice thick with sleep. Thisbe said nothing, leaving the household to slumber in ignorance while she disappeared into the night with Maya. The message from Hera still burned in her mind, giving her a faint hope. Could it be possible her daughter would be allowed to keep her life?
Maya ran to keep up as her mother hurried down to their family dock. An old rowboat was tied to the pier and Thisbe lowered Maya into it. Under the seat she placed the sack full of provisions in hopes Maya would be back on land before they ran out.
“Mother?” Kissing Maya on the forehead, Thisbe kept the tears running down her face hidden from her daughter. Fear kept her silent. If she spoke, Maya would insist on fulfilling her duty to their goddess. Maya was loyal to a fault. No, sending her off without disclosing her intentions was the best. Getting the boat off into the current before Maya could comprehend her intentions on her own would be better.
 She looked for the last time at her oldest child before she untied the boat and pushed it off into the current.
“Mother!” Maya’s shriek was lost in the wind. The boat rocked wildly as Maya screamed, trying to be heard. Her hair whipped across her face and she pushed the dark curls frantically out of her eyes. Safely on dry land, her mother had become no more than a dot along the shore.
Standing on the dock, Thisbe watched as the boat carrying her daughter headed off in the direction of a small, uninhabited island not far from the coast. If Maya could reach land, she may be able to live out the rest of her days. They wouldn’t be days of leisure and play, but they would be days spent on earth instead of across the river in Hades’ land.
Hera wasn’t about to be deprived of her sacrifice. This particular one, however, would be of something other than a life.

Down the Wooded Path

Pitch: Cindy Smith should be living a fairytale life. Trouble is, she's living in the real world and it's falling down around her.

Some girls would embrace a name like Cinderella. Some would flaunt it. Some, like Cinderella Smith, would count down the days until they could legally change it. Saddled with what she considers an unfortunate and cruel name, Cindy, as she insists being called, avoids dancing, dresses and make-up.Her whole life changes when she dreams about a cottage the woods and a grandmotherly woman straight out of a fairytale. Before she knows it, she’s broken her vow never to attend a dance and agrees to go to her high school’s Spring Fling with her best friend, Benny Gordon.

Meanwhile, Cindy realizes that she is losing her mother, but isn't sure to what. She returns home after the Spring Fling to find her that mother is in ICU after a collapse in the grocery store. As the clock strikes midnight, her mother succumbs to an aggressive brain tumor that she kept hidden from Cindy.

Devastated, Cindy blocks out everything around her. With Benny's help can she finally learn that she needs to live her life from moment to moment and find her own fairy tale?

Complete at 50,000 words, DOWN THE WOODED PATH is a YA fantasy about finding your own way.


Seventeen years. That’s how long it took me to learn one very important lesson; happy endings only exist in stories. Even then the endings aren’t as ‘happily-ever-after’ as the movie industry likes us to believe. For starters, The Little Mermaid turns into sea foam in the original story. How the heck is living out the rest of your days mixed with seagull poop considered a happy ending? And don’t even get me started on Little Red Riding Hood.

It’s safe to say my household has always been on the odd side. My mom and grandmother come from a long line of ardent believers. Not the religious God or Jesus kind. Oh, no. While some people study the Bible or Koran, my grandmother put her faith in the fairy godmothers and princes on white chargers gracing the pages of ‘Grimm’s Fairie Tales.’ But her beliefs didn’t end with the stories.

She was by far the oldest person ever to hang up a stocking on Christmas Eve or put her teeth under her pillow when she had them pulled and dentures made. Her glee at finding the stocking filled or a dollar thrust under her pillow when she awoke was almost embarrassing. My suspicions centered on my mother being the enabler of her own mother’s delusional expectations. 

The one time I confronted her about it, my mother became offended and refused to talk about it. A little while later, Mom sat crying softly to herself in her bedroom. I decided it was better to keep my suspicions to myself.
Despite trying my hardest to keep my grandmother’s crazy in check, it still managed to creep into my life at the worse times. Sunday was no exception.

Spring was getting started and wanted to begin on a high note. Or at least on a hot note. With no air-conditioning, our house was unbearable. Outside wasn’t much better, but at least the odd breeze made it a little cooler.

The town park became my destination for the day. Pine Hills wasn’t big enough to have anything like a theater to spend the day inside and cool. Not that I had the money to spend on a movie even if there was. Instead, Pine Hills was blessed with the Wunderland Beauty Spa and the county hospital. Neither were very exciting.

On Maple Street I passed a group of little girls playing jump rope. The four of them must have been about seven or eight-years old, their pigtails and curls bouncing along with their chanting.

“Cinderella, Dressed in Yella…” I cringed and walked quickly away, the clicking of the jump rope and slapping of sneakers on pavement following me. It never made sense to me why little girls found jumping over a piece of string fun. And the chants they came up with were even worse.

Why couldn’t they enjoy something more useful? Like auto mechanics? Then they wouldn’t need to rely on some guy to rescue them every time their car broke down. 

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