Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Megan Whitmer's YA Misfits Halloween Hop!

Please welcome YA Misfit MEGAN WHITMER to my blog!

Hey hey!

So let's just go ahead and get this out of the way, because I know it's all you're thinking about right now-- TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY! *curtsies*

Being born on Halloween guaranteed that I would always love this time of year. There's a lot to love about it, right? The absolutely perfect weather. The gorgeous fall colors. The cute clothes. Hot apple cider. Football. And of course- THIS HOLIDAY, with the pumpkins, ghosts, witches, scary movie marathons, and general creepiness. 

I love being scared. I love watching scary movies and reading scary books. I will go to any haunted house in the area. I am all about ghost tours and creepy urban legends. But try as I might, I can't seem to WRITE the scary stuff. I can come up with bad guys, sure. But SCARY? Keep you up at night, make you do a running leap from the doorway to your bed SCARY? Nope. This is basically the bane of my existence. (Well, this and the fact that I can't whistle, but whatever.)

I have a theory about why this is so difficult for me. When I develop characters, I like to think about why they are the way they are. For instance, in my book, Between, I spent a lot of time thinking about why Harper is so dependent on other people at first, why Seth is so overprotective, why Alexander is such a's important to me to have a really good understanding of who they are, deep down, even if those backstories never come into play in the actual manuscript. But when it comes to scary--to me, it's better if I have no idea why the villain is so terrifying. If I understand, then I'm able to predict his or her actions, and it's so much scarier if we have absolutely no idea what's coming next, don't you think? When we don't really know what the villain is capable of?

Those are the scariest villains to me--the ones where all you can be sure of is that they are EVIL and you may never know why. With that in mind, here are my top five scariest villains!

5. Pennywise, the sharp-toothed clown in Stephen King's IT. I'm sure a lot of you have seen the movie. But if you've never read the book, then you have absolutely no idea how completely terrifying that freaking clown really is.

(Photo: It, 1990, Warner Bros. Television)

4. Samara from The Ring. What I really love about Samara is the way you think you know why she's so awful, but in the end it doesn't even matter. There's no saving her. Also, the fact that she's a child gives her extra SUPER SCARY POINTS.

(Photo: The Ring, 2002, Dreamworks SKG)

3.  Jack Torrance from The Shining. The man is completely insane. And there was absolutely nothing anyone could do about it--no way to reason with him, no way to escape him, and all you knew was that he was hell-bent on killing his family. In that big freaky hotel. Surrounded by snow. With no way to escape. Good times.

(Photo: The Shining, 1980, Warner Bros. Pictures)

2. Damien from The Omen. Scariest kid EVER. And come on, he's the ANTICHRIST. So there's no need to try to understand why he's evil--he embodies evil. (Side note--1970s Damien is waaaaay creepier than remake Damien. He had a more innocent, sweet face...which made it even more horrible when he does the thing with the tricycle.)

(Photo: The Omen, 1976, 20th Century Fox)

1. Michael Myers. Here's what freaks me out about the bad guy in John Carpenter's Halloween: Dude NEVER RUNS. He just slowly, methodically walks after you. No matter which path you take, upstairs, downstairs, around a barn, in a car, WHATEVER--you turn around and there he is, WALKING.
And while I'm on the topic, can we all just agree to pretend that Halloween III: Season of the Witch was never made? Thanks.

(Photo: Halloween, 1978, Compass International Pictures)

There you have it--my top five creepers. What about you guys? What makes a villain most terrifying for you? What others would you add to this list?

Thanks for having me, Kat!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Cornerstone Giveaway!

My good pal Misty Provencher recently unleashed the new covers for her fantabulous Cornerstone novels - here, check them out!

Awesome, right?!

To celebrate, I'm giving away some awesome goodies which Misty kindly sent over to me here in Wales. All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is to comment on the new covers in the comments box below! 

Here's what you could win:

  • Cornerstone bookmarks
  • A handmade (by Misty!) mantra bracelet
  • A Cornerstone key chain

If you tweet about this giveaway, you'll also be in with a shot at winning a special BONUS prize from Wales - just tag me (@el_kat) into your tweet!

The giveaway is open internationally, and I'll pick the winners at 3pm EDT this Sunday, 4th November!

Monday, 29 October 2012

TMI Monday - Liebster Style

After a slight hiatus from TMI Monday while Hook, Line & Sinker was in full swing, TMI returns with a twist! Thanks to Emilyann Girdner for tagging me with a Liebster Award. This means I have 11 questions to answer - which I shall do forthwith!

1. What is your favorite song?

What it is to Burn by Finch. Forever.

2. Cats or Dogs? Why?

Cats. I always had cats growing up, and I have my own agent of evil, Pilot the Cat, right now. I love that cats are so independent, and I never have to pick up Pilot's poo. He's very considerate that way.

3. What is your favorite book from childhood?

Pretty much everything by Roald Dahl. I remember saving up my pocket money to buy The Minpins in hardback when it first came out, and I still have that book now.

4. If you had to pick a different occupation, what would it be?

Well, I kind of already have, since I have a day job. I work in communications, which is basically a bit of IT, some editorial work, and a little PR.

5. Do you have a favorite flower?

I'm very fond of gladioli. And stock. And freesias. And roses. Basically anything that's pretty, and more so if it smells nice.

6. Mac or PC?

I work on a netbook most of the time. I've never used a Mac.

7. Who would you pick if you had the opportunity to interview a historical figure?

It would either be Jim Morrison or Oscar Wilde, and purely because I think they'd be entertaining. I'm not really into politics, so an opportunity to interview someone of that ilk would be wasted on me.

8. Do you believe in love at first sight?

No. I believe in making a really good first impression and building on that, but saying you love someone instantly makes as much sense as saying you love living in Poland if you've never been there.

9. What is your favorite genre of book and why?

I love light YA SF and fantasy, which is what I write. I don't find epic fantasy easy to connect with, and I really have to be in the mood for contemporary or historical.

10. What are you most proud of in life?

I think the fact that I'm making progress with my writing, and taking steps towards becoming a published author, are probably what I'm most proud of in that area of my life. 

11. What obstacle has been the toughest for you to overcome in your life?

My own propensity for faffing about. I am a magnificent procrastinator, and can magic up endless ways to distract myself from what I'm meant to be doing. 


So now I'm meant to tag 11 other bloggers with fewer than 200 followers to answer 11 questions of my own making...but I'll just leave this as an open tag for anyone who would like to take part. Here are your questions:

1. What's your most interesting party trick?

2. Star Trek or Star Wars?

3. Which main character from a novel do you most identify with, and why?

4. What has changed for you in the last year?

5. If money was suddenly no object, what would be the first thing you would do?

6. What is your all time favourite film?

7. If you were put into the Hunger Games arena, what would your specialist skill be?

8. Would you rather have a miniature pony or a helper monkey?

9. What is your zombie apocalypse escape plan?

10. If you had to sing one song in front of the X Factor panel, what would it be?

11. What will your costume be this Halloween?

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Secret Fourth Judge Revealed!

As those of you who followed the Hook, Line & Sinker contest will know, Dee, Summer and I had a secret 4th agent to help us when it came to making some of the calls in rounds 1 and 2 of the contest. What you didn't know until now is that our secret 4th judge was none other than amazing publishing intern, Brent Taylor!

Brent Taylor.
High School Senior.
Generally awesome.
Brent is a senior in high school, a wizard with words, an ex-gymnast, and probably one of the coolest people you will ever meet on twitter. Check out his blog and follow him on twitter. SERIOUSLY. 

After the excitement of the contest, I asked Brent a few questions...

You're an intern in publishing, along with a few other various titles - for those of us staring at you in awe, can you say a little bit about what that's like and what's involved?

I've been totally transformed by internships in publishing. I've learned so much about editing, pitching, and storytelling that I've been able to apply to my own writing. It's something that I get very sick of at times (especially during my senior year--I have so many other distractions) but at the end of the day really love. It takes me two to three weeks to read an average-sized novel. My email inbox, which used to be impeccably organized and maintained, now is a hazard zone. But the fabulous writers (like, AHEM, Kat Ellis) make all the digging and reading and analyzing worthwhile. I love seeing authors jump from A to B to Published.

As our secret fourth judge in Hook, Line & Sinker, you made some tough calls on entries the rest of us were flailing over. What was that like?

HARD. So many talented writers, so few spots. Quite a few were hard to decide on because of something I see very often in the slushpile: poor concept, great writing, and vice versa.

Did you have any favourites in the contest? 

I really quite like CHRONICITY's concept. Did anyone request that one? I definitely would have. I'm a sucker for time travel and the early 20th century.

What do you think makes a truly stellar pitch?

I think this is a question better suited for an experienced literary agent, but I will try to answer:

Something that is clear and concise and truly places the reader in the middle of the story.
A few months ago on Twitter someone I really like said something along the lines of, "Your query should read like prose. Re-read and write multiple times until you nail it."
You should definitely put your query through a grueling revision process, yes. But I don't necessarily think that queries should read like prose.
This is something that I struggle with in my essays for school. I spend all day sitting with math and science prodigies that can discuss character and plot to some degree, but when it comes to the actual writing and style, they can't articulate to you the difference between Fitzgerald and Twain and Hemingway. I get very pretentious (FORGIVE ME) and I feel bored and then I try to write simple essays with Super Complex Sentences and No Adverbs and with Many Semi-Colons and Lyrical Prose. The words are good, but the essays lack in terms of content. I haven't learned to balance the two yet, or maybe the two can't be balanced in simple essays. I think the same applies to queries. You should show that you're a good writer, but don't compromise trying to illustrate your literary talent for adequately describing your story.

What advice would you give to writers who are new to querying / contests?

Try very hard. Give it everything you've got. But don't overwork and exhaust yourself very early on, because this is a long process, and stamina is important if you're going to keep trying.

HUGE thanks to Brent for being our secret fourth judge in the contest, answering my questions, and just being all-round awesome!

Comments? Questions? They go in the box below :)

Friday, 26 October 2012

Happy Halloween! (Yes, I know it's early...)

So, I'm a few days early - but this is because Megan Whitmer is hopping onto my blog on 31st October - and she just happens to be so UTTERLY AWESOME that she gets to have her birthday on Halloween, too! (I applied, but was relegated to November 11th. Meh.)

With the spookfest looming, I thought I'd share my top 10 favourite spookalicious movies with you...

#1 - First spot goes to It. Yes, that movie. The one with Pennywise, the creepiest, freakiest clown haunting a storm gutter near you. Don't forget - "They ALL float down here!" *shudder*

#2 - Aliens is next up, not least because the scene where Bishop crawls into that narrow pipe which is potentially full of alien monsters is the stuff of my nightmares.

#3 - Paranormal Activity - SHE WATCHES HIM SLEEP. WHILE ROCKING BACK AND FORTH. In fact, any of the Paranormal Activity franchise freak me the freak out. So.

#4 - The Descent - underground freaks who eat human flesh hunt a group of women who have gone caving and end up trapped.

#5 - Creep - trapped inside The London Underground alone and at night, a young woman finds more than just rats waiting for her...

#6 - The Ring (Ringu) - the original Japanese version has a slight edge over the US remake for me. It managed to scare the crap out of me even while I was reading the subtitles. I think it's the jerky-movement filming and dark, creepy atmosphere of the film which had me like this: O_O especially at this scene (the one I think the remake did slightly better than the original)...

#7 - 28 Days Later. It's not the gore of this film that makes it scary, but the true-to-life aspect. Seeing the familiar landscape of London as a zombie-infested wasteland did something a little heart-racy to me.

#8 - Cube - think Saw, but even more of a mind-bender. It's a little gory, too, and I loved the rats-in-a-maze premise.

#9 - A Nightmare on Elm Street - this classic used to scare the bejeebus out of me as a kid (and no, I probably shouldn't have been allowed to watch it then!) It's the blade-hands that leave me in a cold sweat, and that creepy sing-song nursery rhyme which tells you Freddie's coming!

#10 - Last but not least, it's Silence of the Lambs. Even with all the murdery goings on in the film, it's still the barely contained psychopathic cannibal, Hannibal Lecter, who steals the show. "Hello, Clareeeeeece..."

What are your favourite spooky, creepy or downright scary movies? SHARE!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

That's all, folks!

Hook, Line & Sinker is DONE.

It has been an exciting, terrifying, brain-boggling couple of weeks, but we can now officially declare the Hook, Line and Sinker contest a SUCCESS! (And yes, over.) EVERY SINGLE ENTRY had at least one request, on all three blogs. *COMMENCES MAD CHEERING*

12 amazing agents made their comments and requests on the spectacular entries in all 3 categories – and much SQUEEing, panicking and even SIGNING ensued! Honestly, we couldn’t have hoped for a better calibre of submissions, and the participating agents showed the love across the board. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who took part: amazing agents, amazing writers, amazing secret fourth judge, and my amazing co-hosts. *MWAH*

Our secret fourth judge will be revealed in a couple of days in an interview where he will talk about pitching, choosing entries and his other general thoughts of awesomeness!

So now all that’s left is to declare it OPEN SEASON on the comments! This means that anyone can comment, whether it’s to add your constructive feedback on the entries, or for agents who weren’t a part of the #HLandS line-up to make their requests. Go ahead, don’t be shy now…

Monday, 22 October 2012

Hook, Line & Sinker: ROUND 3 IS ON!

Hook, Line, & Sinker entrants, you are a very talented group of writers and you made our decisions very tough!  While we couldn’t move everyone on to Round Three, we’ve done our best to give the participating agents what they’ve asked for and we’ll be watching for some fantastic matches to be made over the next few days.
No matter how far you made it in the contest, we hope you’ll gain something from being involved. Learn about the agents and see what they request, use the feedback on your hook & line, let the encouragement carry you forward, and make some new writer friends.
Congratulations to our finalists and good luck!

Middle Grade are posted on
Young Adult are posted on
Adult are posted on

* * * Reminders * * *
ONLY PARTICIPATING AGENTS MAY COMMENT IN THIS ROUND. We need to keep the posts clean so our awesome agents can easily read through the entries.
If you are another amazing agent who has happened upon this contest and would like to make requests, we welcome you to take a look. However, please wait until the contest closes at 7 PM EDT on Wednesday to make your requests.
If you want to tweet about the contest, use the hashtag #HLandS And be sure to follow @Fizzygrrl @el_kat @writeforapples

YA entry #1 - PIPER GIRL

Name: Carla Cullen
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Word count: 75,000


In a modern twist on The Pied Piper, seventeen-year-old Marisa possesses the ability to charm animals with her silver flute. When crazed rats from a research lab infest her rundown neighborhood, she uses her music to capture the rodents. But after a powerful scientist learns Marisa’s powers also affect humans, she stands in danger of becoming his next lab rat.


The music flows through me, sweeter than a sugar rush, stronger than a caffeine high.


My phone chirps, rousing me out of a half sleep. I pick it up warily, wondering who’s calling after midnight. When I see the text icon, my heart speeds up.

It’s from Carlos: Are you awake? Meet me at the wall.

Going outside at this hour—in this neighborhood—is asking for trouble. But I rarely get time alone with Carlos. And there’s a chance he didn’t text his other friends. None of them have the guts to climb the wall.

I reach over to turn on my lamp, but nothing happens. My fan isn’t moving either. No wonder my back is plastered with sweat. The electricity’s out again.

I fumble around the edge of the mattress until I find my flashlight. When I twist it on, a few cockroaches skitter into the shadows. Big ones. By now, I’m used to them. I send Carlos a quick reply, then put on flip-flops and unbolt the door. Following the faint beam of my flashlight, I navigate the narrow stairwell to the ground floor.

Out on the street, a blast of hot, dry air hits me in the face, bringing with it the smell of smoke. But there’s no sign of a fire anywhere. If anything, our street is unusually quiet.

Luis, one of the neighborhood sentries, sits on a rusted lawn chair halfway down the block. When I approach, he looks up. “Evening, Marisa. Your boyfriend’s waiting for you at the wall.”

Warmth creeps into my cheeks. “Carlos isn’t my boyfriend.”

**Please remember, only participating agents should comment on these posts for the duration of the contest. Any other comments, including requests from agents who aren't participating in Hook, Line & Sinker, are welcome AFTER the contest closes at 7pm EDT on Wednesday.

YA entry #2 - IGNITE

Name: Natasha Hawkins
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word count: 65,000


Branded with PTSD after her grandma’s murder, seventeen-year-old Alison is desperate to find the killers and prove her sanity. With the help of a fire-wielding Watcher from a secret protection agency, Ali is led to a discharged scientist determined to eliminate supernatural abilities. When the agent learns Ali possesses a new power over Water, she’s next on his to-cure list.


Peeking beneath my eyelashes, my gaze falls on a dimpled smile illuminated by the moonlight, and I wonder if my rescuer is grinning because he thinks I thanked him for adjusting my hair or for saving my life.


Leg-over-leg, I cross the hand railings that keep visitors from falling over the edge, and white knuckle the wooden beam behind me. There’s no false sense of security now—only a blanket of black ocean thirty feet below taunting me:

Here lies Alison Summers. Devoted daughter. Sister. Dog-lover.

One slip and that will be chiseled into the headstone above my eternal resting place. That is, if someone finds my body. Not that I expect a superhero to swoop down and save me, but an easier way out of this nightmare would be nice.

A fishy aroma spikes the wind. It should remind me of the summers my family vacationed here, but instead I’m left with the urge to gag. All my inner organs feel like they are pounding violently against each other. At first, La Paz Beach was a logical place to run, but now at the dead end of this pier there’s no time to consider a better plan. They are hot on my heels. If only I knew who they were. My head whips toward heavy footfalls. But the thick marine layer makes it nearly impossible to see my hand in front of my face, let alone those who are trailing me.

My foot slips. I adjust my position on the damp ledge, and I grab the beam tighter. A tingle creeps inside me as I consider a crazy thought. I let go of one hand—just one—and a gasp escapes my trembling lips.

“Don’t jump.” The words are barely a whisper in my mind.

**Please remember, only participating agents should comment on these posts for the duration of the contest. Any other comments, including requests from agents who aren't participating in Hook, Line & Sinker, are welcome AFTER the contest closes at 7pm EDT on Wednesday.


Name: Stacy Stokes
Genre: YA Supernatural Mystery
Word count: 62,000


After her BF destroys her reputation, Taylor’s wish to completely disappear becomes a reality. But instead of an angel-filled afterlife, Taylor must climb a seemingly endless staircase. Her journey plunges her back to the past, and as she unravels the mystery behind her friend’s betrayal she must face the truth about her life and find the strength to forgive the unforgivable.


I had no idea what it meant, or how snow could fall when there wasn't a cloud in the sky, but one thing was clear: someone was listening to me after all.


I never noticed my pointy elbows. They were thorny things, jutting out from my sides like useless wings. I flattened them against my body. I didn’t want to give anyone yet another reason to avoid me.

It didn’t help.

A line of three girls made an unnecessary show of skirting past me, exchanging smirks with the subtlety of elephants. Once out of view I heard the hiss, hiss, hiss of heated whispers passing between them.

That was her, right? She’s the girl?

I fought the urge to spin around and shoot venom right back at them, but I didn’t want to waste my words on three girls I didn’t care about yesterday. Besides, Sunny was the one who caused this whole mess.

No one was at Sunny’s locker when I passed by. Without the swarm of bodies and hum of morning activity it looked like any other locker in any other hallway. The only sign that it meant something more was the key-scratched heart and initials I carved into the tan paint earlier that year.

I <3 J

My heart lurched. Had Sunny gotten to him, too?

The hallways seemed longer than they had before, twisting labyrinth-like between the classroom wings. Posters hung above archways, their edges curling into the hand painted block letters like they were ashamed of the drips and wrinkles in the imperfect writing announcing the upcoming spring formal. I straightened my shoulders. I would not be like the posters.

**Please remember, only participating agents should comment on these posts for the duration of the contest. Any other comments, including requests from agents who aren't participating in Hook, Line & Sinker, are welcome AFTER the contest closes at 7pm EDT on Wednesday.

YA entry #4 - MOONHILL

This entry has been withdrawn (for a happy reason!)


Name: Austin Light
Genre: YA Contemporary/supernatural (not romance)
Word count: 79,000


Former private schooler, Matt, uses an aloof genie to get out of his crappy bully-filled public school. But the genie doesn’t use magic; he “makes things happen,” which apparently translates to “ruins everything.” Now Matt’s scrambling to fix his life, avoid a bully and woo a girl, all while his genie is setting buildings on fire for funsies.


He glanced at Jonah, standing on the toilet with a bewildered look on his face, and checked off "hearing people's thoughts," from his list of possible wishes--that was like a punch to the soul.


Two inches.

That's all that separated Matt's face from toilet water. Used toilet water.

“Give it to me! I know you have it,” said the surprisingly strong boy holding Matt’s neck.

“I don’t have anything, please…” Matt squeaked.

“You do, I know you do.”

And he did. Why wouldn’t he have his homework? Matt had a perfect completion record; every assignment turned in on time since the first grade—a record ten years running. Handing over his homework meant breaking the streak, and he was already passed the halfway point in his pre-college education. If the thug holding him hostage wanted homework, he’d have to get it from someone else.

But the smell. Dear god the smell.

It was like warm liquefied garbage. Poured from a human into a slimy porcelain dumpster. In essence, shit.

“I can let you up. We don’t have to do it this way. You’re making it worse for yourself. Just give it to me.”

“You…you don’t even know me!” Matt whimpered.

The age old you don’t know me argument. Matt had seen it used on talk shows, bad movies, and even hallway disagreements in this very school. It seemed to be a popular retort to any type of insult or threat, he thought he’d give it a shot here—anything to get me out of this toilet. A polite person would at least give a proper introduction before trying to dunk someone’s face in a dirty toilet bowl.

“Oh, I know you.”

**Please remember, only participating agents should comment on these posts for the duration of the contest. Any other comments, including requests from agents who aren't participating in Hook, Line & Sinker, are welcome AFTER the contest closes at 7pm EDT on Wednesday.


Name: Ellen Rozek
Genre: YA thriller
Word count: 76,000


Recruited by the government to help fight Renegade terrorists, Naomi must keep her growing friendship with a gang member a secret from her employers--and the Renegades themselves--if both of them are to survive.


As soon as Naomi was inside they were gone, speeding away from the Renegades, the street thugs, and the boy who'd helped her for reasons she couldn’t begin to understand.


The clank of her cell door opening startled Naomi upright. “Williams, you have a visitor,” the guard said.

Naomi stared blankly at her, legs dangling off the edge of her bunk. “What?”

“You have a visitor,” the guard repeated. “There’s a man here to see you.”

“But it’s not my parents’ day to visit, and my dad—”

“You. Have. A. Visitor.” By now there was no masking the irritation in her voice. “Get your ass up and come with me.”

Picking herself up off the bed, Naomi attempted to straighten her wrinkled uniform before her hands were cuffed. It was September 4th, 2025, according to the small calendar she used to count down the days left on her sentence. The guard held her by an elbow as she escorted Naomi through a maze of hallways to the small visiting area at the front of the facility.

The room was about half full with girls and their families or friends. They talked in low voices, their volume occasionally flaring up on a shout or a curse. Laughter was all but unheard of here.

It took Naomi two seconds to identify the man who’d come to see her. He sat by himself at a table in the farthest corner of the room. His posture was perfect, better than hers, even though her mother had been telling her to sit up straight for years. As the guard led her up to the table she noticed his expensive-looking suit and his neat, close-cropped hair.

**Please remember, only participating agents should comment on these posts for the duration of the contest. Any other comments, including requests from agents who aren't participating in Hook, Line & Sinker, are welcome AFTER the contest closes at 7pm EDT on Wednesday.


Name: Kip Wilson Rechea
Genre: YA Historical/Magical Realism
Word Count: 60,000


During World War I, sixteen-year-old ballerina Wera dreams of dancing her way into immortality on the Munich Opera House stage. When a mysterious illness steals her ability to dance, she seizes the chance to gain the immortality she so desires in a way she never expected—as the poet Rilke’s muse.


The fragrance grew closer until it seemed to emanate from my own skin—as if petals had implanted themselves deep in my hair, their silkiness blooming on top of my head.


Stealing a glance behind me, I hurried past the bombed-out block of storefronts. I needn’t have worried—the sidewalks of Munich stood empty and forlorn. The sound of my heels on the cobblestones echoed along the narrow street, each hollow step making me painfully aware of how alone I was.

My pace slowed as a thick fog of images swirled through my head, threatening to solidify. I came to a halt, making myself focus on the rubble from the bombing earlier this week instead. As I watched, a tendril of smoke extended through the hazy air and over the sidewalk, where it brushed my cheek like a bony finger. I squeezed my eyes shut. Even the danger from falling bombs couldn’t compare to the images that often came alive in my head, more vivid—and more terrifying—than any reality.

The Frauenkirche’s bells chimed the hour. I had to hurry. I stepped away from the smoke and picked up speed again, turning the corner. Just a few more blocks and I’d arrive at Frau Schneider’s makeshift ballet studio.

“Hi, Wera!” A flash of red caught my eye against the colorless backdrop of gray and white and black. Anna. I exhaled my relief. She wore the scarf I’d given her two years ago for her fourteenth birthday, when we were still allowed to knit with colored yarn. When we were still allowed to knit for civilians.

**Please remember, only participating agents should comment on these posts for the duration of the contest. Any other comments, including requests from agents who aren't participating in Hook, Line & Sinker, are welcome AFTER the contest closes at 7pm EDT on Wednesday.

YA entry #8 - FADE INTO YOU

Name: Kelly Allan
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word count: 85,000


Kenzie, a drifter who resists friends, meets Mags, a mentally unstable Valedictorian. Mags needs a live-in caregiver who can keep her from hurting herself and her unborn baby—Kenzie’s ex-boyfriend's baby. A deep-seeded and unexpected friendship forces Kenzie to choose between living carefree and staying to face demons that aren’t just her own.


The gray atmosphere of Indianapolis was sticky and stifling, especially after our frequent relocations between small towns, where the skies were usually a clear blue during the day and, at night, a spectacle of stars.


I didn’t even wait for the car to stop all the way before I pushed myself from its confines to stretch my legs and inhale some fresh air into my lungs. Mom and I had been on the road for a day and a half and I suffered from a deranged case of cabin fever.

The gray atmosphere of Indianapolis was sticky and stifling, especially after our frequent relocations between small towns, where the skies were usually a clear blue during the day and, at night, a spectacle of stars. This city was a stark contrast to where we’d lived in California, where everyone overdosed on daily vitamin C and salty ocean water. Indianapolis felt dirty, especially the dull brown buildings populating the worn streets, and they made me rethink our move to the big city as I dashed passed them.

My shoes slapped against the pavement with an uneven cadence, one of my legs had cramped up from the tight corners of the car, and I hoped running would loosen it. I sprinted at first—glad to be free of our blue Volkswagen that had begun to smell of body odor and old food—then slowed into a steady pace, feeling my heart pump heavily under my thin blouse. I ran and I ran and I ran, past dormant street lamps, crumbled driveways, and toddler toys abandoned on the sidewalks. Running was my way of christening a place. It was my ritual. A new house, a new town, wasn’t home to me until I ran there.

**Please remember, only participating agents should comment on these posts for the duration of the contest. Any other comments, including requests from agents who aren't participating in Hook, Line & Sinker, are welcome AFTER the contest closes at 7pm EDT on Wednesday.


Name: Jani Grey
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word count: 83,000


Seventeen-year-old Cadence has a tough job keeping her city and its residents safe from the Saints and Prophets held prisoner inside. When somebody starts de-spiriting the city’s people on her watch, she has to work fast to catch the culprit while the prison walls start to crumble, or watch everyone she cares about fall victim to the madman behind it.


“It’s like we’ve been sitting on the lying bench this whole time and all we can say to each other is anything but the truth.”


Sebastian said he found me in a hole, and I imagined it quite similar to the one I now dangled in head-first. He didn’t want to tell me what kind of hole, but I suspected it was the kind that was dark and damp. The kind of place mothers threw unwanted babies and left them to die.

Just after one a.m. I found myself hanging upside down in such a hole. Sebastian had sent me there after he received an anonymous call that something had been dumped inside it. More like sent me to do his dirty work, the lazy slob. I wondered why he would send me out in the middle of the night when he nagged about safety and whatnot so often.

I’d decided to crawl into the hole instead of taking the rungs hammered into the cold concrete inside it. I liked keeping life interesting, my current position testament to that. Right now, the only thing that kept me from falling into the black abyss I faced was my mute best friend, Zadie.

“Can you hand me a flashlight? I think I see something,” I called to her.

“If I hand you the flashlight, I’ll have to let go of one of your legs and you’ll plummet to your death.”

After years of hearing Zadie speak when she was supposed to be mute I didn’t find it strange anymore. She was mute, to everybody except Sebastian and me. She had some kind of psychological block we didn’t talk about, call it one of our many unspoken Best Friend Rules.

**Please remember, only participating agents should comment on these posts for the duration of the contest. Any other comments, including requests from agents who aren't participating in Hook, Line & Sinker, are welcome AFTER the contest closes at 7pm EDT on Wednesday.

YA entry #10 - THE LONG TIMERS

Name: Triona Murphy
Genre: YA Sci-fi Thriller
Word count: 77,000


A drug that prolongs life by 200 years has split society into the long-timers who can afford it and the short-timers who would do anything for a few extra years. Seventeen-year-old Remy's parents invented the drug—but when he finds out its horrific source, Remy has to decide if a few hundred years can possibly be worth the price.


My uncle was only 152 when he died, but five hundred people showed up for his funeral anyway.


My uncle was only 152 when he died, but five hundred people showed up for his funeral anyway. No one seemed very interested in his corpse, though—they were much more into comparing designer outfits and telling stories about their neighbors. When anyone did remember Uncle Devin, rotting away in his fine mahogany box, it was only to cast a scornful look in his direction.

I knew exactly what they were thinking.

What a loser.

Hey, it made sense. I was his only nephew, and I thought he was a loser too.

I picked at a loose thread on my suit pants as the funeral reader, standing on the grass next to the casket, started in on the list of accomplishments.

Sorry, Uncle Devin. No matter how much Dad paid this guy, I'm not buying it.

"Then, when he was only eighty-three," the reader intoned, "Devin left home to make his way in the world."

Beside me, my mom snorted. I had to hide my own smile. When my grandparents kicked him out, Uncle Devin went straight to my parents. He spent the next seventy years living in their house, sponging off them and chasing get-rich-quick schemes.

Dad gave us both a stern look, and I quickly forced my face into a solemn expression. Great. Just great. Dad was going to kill me when we got home. The news outlets were all here, dutifully recording the funeral. I could hear the report now: Remy Bardin, son of esteemed scientists Chloe and Julien Bardin, jokes around at his uncle's funeral and drags the family name through the mud.

**Please remember, only participating agents should comment on these posts for the duration of the contest. Any other comments, including requests from agents who aren't participating in Hook, Line & Sinker, are welcome AFTER the contest closes at 7pm EDT on Wednesday.

YA entry #11 - RIP HER TO SHREDS

Name: Rachel Lynn Solomon
Genre: YA contemporary
Word count: 80,000


Singer Charlie escapes a summer of trying to get her crush to realize all her songs are about him when her all-girl band the Wretched Gretchens goes on tour. But the rush of shows and parties also isolate Charlie from her bandmates as she struggles with what binds them beyond catchy hand-clap choruses — and what happens when they get home.


He held her while the crows barked a song in the sky above them, while the wind whispered against their bare arms, while she cried.


Four cracks of the drumsticks, and Charlie was wired. Bass shook her feet and pounded up her body until it forced her heart to thump with it. The microphone waited.

With a sweet smile, Charlie opened her mouth, belting the pages of her diary to total strangers. The silk of her voice teased them into a zombie-like choreography: eyes hungry, arms up, begging for high fives. But instead of brains, they wanted beats. They wanted her, and they danced together in the heat of sweat and beer and way too many different types of cologne that might have smelled awful if they hadn’t smelled so perfect.

And then—there was only one more song. One more chorus. One more note. Thank you, thank you. Thank you for coming out tonight.

The house lights came up. The applause faded. And all her lyrics became secrets again.

She had to get off the stage before her stomach did something she desperately hoped it wouldn’t. If she could get to the green room, she’d be okay.

Deep breaths, six/eight time. Charlie clamped the mic onto the stand and hurried into the darkness. Hands trembling, she sank onto the green room couch, careful to avoid the stain that was once dirt or vomit or something more sinister. Safety. Finally.

She tried to smile at her best friend, who followed her inside with her guitar slung over her shoulder.

“Well, we were freaking awful,” Roxanne said, claiming the cushion next to Charlie. “Weren’t we?”

**Please remember, only participating agents should comment on these posts for the duration of the contest. Any other comments, including requests from agents who aren't participating in Hook, Line & Sinker, are welcome AFTER the contest closes at 7pm EDT on Wednesday.