Friday, January 20, 2012

January Test Run #8

TITLE: The Hourglass Bridge
GENRE: YA Fantasy

The room was an apocalyptic mess. Coby’s rats’-nest hair, scruffy uniform and muddy trainers were like camouflage amidst the chaos.       

“Who took my school bag?” he yelled, checking beneath his bed and finding only dirty laundry and untouched textbooks.       

“Haven’t seen it!” shouted his twin sister, Di, “but can you hurry up? Mum and Dad just left for work.”      

That meant only one, horrible thing: the bus would arrive any second. Coby knew this time was meant for last-minute fridge raids and hallway football, but it was always ruined by face-washing and teeth-cleaning and other things sisters think are important, but any 15-year-old boy knows are a waste of time. Determined not to waste this morning too, Coby abandoned the search of his room.      

“Lunch is made,” Di said as he arrived to scour the kitchen. He even checked the pantry, but today, unlike previous occasions, his bag wasn’t there.      

“I’ll help you look,” Di offered. Coby disappeared.      

You’re welcome. Di hurried away, silently composing the lecture she would never have the heart to deliver. Halfway to the living room, she froze. An antique hourglass was sitting on the bookshelf. It hadn’t been there a second ago.      

Di checked over her shoulder, certain she was being watched. The hallway was empty. She turned back to the hourglass. Something about it made her step forwards.      

“Got it!” Coby thundered downstairs with his bag.      

“Finally.” Di threw a last, panicked glance at the hallway clock.             

From its glass case, two solemn figures were watching her.

January Test Run #7

TITLE: Running From Shadows
GENRE: YA paranormal romance

Something lurked in the shadows. It watched us. My gaze fixed on the
giant oaks of the Red Forest. I waited, frozen mid-step, wanting what
I couldn’t see. Drawn to it.

Suddenly Haven slammed into my back. “Greta, seriously? Don’t just
stop like that.

Damn.” My pink-haired friend stomped in front of me. “Maybe I should
take the lead.”

“Whatever, girl.” I risked a quick glance past Haven toward the
shadowy figure. Gone.

“What are you looking at?” She followed my gaze.

“Ooo, I hope it’s something witchy and dangerous.” Jill’s blonde hair
swished over her shoulders as her head bobbed up and down. She’d been
ecstatic to perform a spell with us.

“It was probably just a deer. Come on.” I gave Haven the let’s-move
look and marched past both of them.

Haven raced up to my right side. “G, you realize we’re gonna hike out
of the woods in the dark, right?”

“It’s okay. The spell has to be done at sunset.” Jill chimed in,
practically bouncing up and down on my left.

“How does she know that and I don’t?” Haven stopped walking. “She’s
not even a witch.”

Jill didn’t say anything, but I could almost feel her mood dampen from
the comment. I stopped and spun around to face Haven. “Look, I tried
calling you last night if you remember correctly. But, you were busy.
A date or something. So Jill and I talked.” Of course, I hadn’t told
Jill the reason why I wanted to do the spell.

January Test Run #6

GENRE: Horror

For the second time Nancy peeked at the rearview mirror and saw the red sports car still behind her.  What the hell.  She’d driven her beat-up Ford truck down the whole length of the North Conway thoroughfare before she realized the car was following her. It mimicked her every move, from lane switches to running a red light.  Her stomach lurched and a bead of sweat broke out on her brow.  Nancy gripped the steering wheel tighter.
For the past fifteen or so miles, it stayed two car lengths behind.  Nancy couldn’t make out the driver; it was to dark to see anyone distinguishable.   ‘Prolly just kids playing around. She switched lanes again. A glance in the mirror showed the red car did too. When the car behind inched closer, Nancy’s heart skipped a beat. Instinctively she pressed on the accelerator pedal and her rattling old truck sped up, as did the car behind her.    

She should pull over, but where? Everything’s closed. It was after two in the morning. Dammit, she didn’t need juvenile games right now. Exhausted physically and mentally she should’ve already been home. The ICU ward had been quiet all night but right at the end of her shift a patient had gone bad. Which sucked as she had to stay until the patient was stabilized then give notes to the next nurse. It was one thirty before she walked out of the hospital and jumped into the truck, now she had to deal with this sonofabitchin stalker behind her.  

January Test Run #5

Title:  Unraveled
Genre:  YA Mystery

I found it impossible to pick a favorite, until I saw the strapless taffeta dress hanging inside Mrs. Kline’s meticulous closet. Nancy, my mother’s best friend, insisted I wear one of her original designs to my first homecoming dance. As if I’d say no.

“This is it.” I couldn’t keep the grin off my face.

Nancy ran her fingers over the dress identifying the fabric. “This material was imported from India.”

I stood in front of the mirror wearing the gown, fidgeting and pretending to admire myself.

“Taylor, is everything all right?” Nancy asked.

“I love the dress, but for sure I’ll be pulling it up all night.”

“No worries, I’ll add a little padding, make a few tucks, and no one will have to know.” Nancy maneuvered her wheelchair behind the sewing machine. Her career as a fashion designer ended after the deadly automobile accident that killed her husband, also left her paralyzed from the waist down.

“Taylor, I have some costume jewelry you might be interested in—exceptionally good imitation. In my guest room, there’s a tall dresser. I think the second drawer.” She paused. “Maybe the third. Help yourself, while I finish up here.”

“No. Really?” Hello, sparkle.

I ran into the room, opened the first drawer and sitting right on top, I found an envelope marked adoption papers. My adrenaline started pumping fast, and this little voice in my head said, ‘Do not open.’ But, the rest of me said, ‘Yes, open and read.’

January Test Run #4

Title: A Ripple in Time
Genre: YA - paranormal Mystery

I once heard that life was like a giant ripple. One decision, one action, could affect everything that came after it. What I did today could affect my life twenty years from now. Some people refer to this theory as the Butterfly Effect, but for me, it was about ripples; water. My life was surrounded by water, even though I lived in the landlocked state of Illinois. I dreamed about water. Feared water. And apparently built my life's philosophies around water. And I had no idea why.

I didn't see my so-called “Ripple Effect” through the actions of my dad, but my mom's entire face; the lack of spark in her eyes, her tight hair, pursed lips and newly acquired wrinkles near her temple, all proved my theory correct. My nighttime actions, my watery nightmares that forced my mom to coddle me back to sleep in the darkness, was putting a strain on everyone.

As I plodded into the sunny kitchen, my bare legs prickling from the winter cold that had set in overnight, I waved to my dad. With his back to the bay window, he simply bent down the corner of his newspaper to peek at me. A raise of his eyebrows was the best I got, and I was content. I didn't hear my mom come up behind me, simply felt her cold hand on my hip as she maneuvered me out of the way. She forced a smile, but couldn't hide her exhaustion.

January Test Run #3


In that colorless time right before sunset, in the woods bordering the fairway, there was a glint, a flash of light, and the sound of someone struggling. The following morning, behind the country club pool house, they found a young woman beaten so badly she was unrecognizable.

It was twelve years before anyone knew who really killed her.

My name is Patty Henry, and this is the story my grandfather told me about hisfriends Kurt and Charlie and the murder of Catherine Block at Rosewood Hills Country Club on October 24, 1920.


At the beginning of the twentieth century there was a tremendous sense of well-being and satisfaction in the United States and especially in Akron, Ohio, the fastest growing city in the country. After Henry Ford’s 1905 deal with Harvey Firestone to supply tires for his Model-A cars, the rubber industry was booming, and each day hundreds of immigrants and “barefoot people”—the poor from West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee--arrived at the railroad station. In the decade from 1910 to 1920 Akron’s population exploded, growing by over sixty percent to 208,000.

Grandpa said, “Those were the days when it was important to be better with your hands than with your mind.”

January Test Run #2

TITLE: The Black Keep
GENRE: Fantasy
Alone on the Keep’s parapet, the young woman stalled for time, walking her fingers on the dark stones like a child avoiding her chores.  The wind stung her bare fingers and cold seeped through her layers of thin clothing.  She was used to it though and paid it no mind.  Gazing out over the tundra at the last vestige of the sinking sun, apprehension coiled in her stomach.  She turned to greet the luminous orb that peeked over the mountaintops. 

“Hello again,” she whispered.  “I guess it’s time.”

Her platinum hair danced above her head, twisting in the breeze, as she turned to descend the stairs.  Hugging her arms to her chest, she couldn’t melt the ice that settled on her heart.  Through the winding hallways of the stronghold she padded, finally climbing narrow steps to the small chamber perched in the highest tower for the second time that day. Previously, she had brought up the supplies Father would need for the ritual to come.  The girl paused in the doorway, reluctant to enter.  She wasn’t afraid of what was to come, but the burden of duty weighed her down.

A stone altar dominated the center of the room, but she gave the blood-rimmed manacles no thought; he had never used them on her.  Inscriptions in the stone floor surrounded the altar with a ring of esoteric markings. She had placed lit candles at each mark on the ring, matching colors to symbols the way she had been taught.

January Test Run #1

GENRE: Science Fiction Romance

The only reason I understand words prefixed with “nano” is because of my Chemistry class last semester.  My professor spent four hours lecturing on electromagnetic radiation and how we measure the length of its wave in nanometers.  In other words, very small increments.  Like, to-the-negative-tenth-power small, or one-billionth of a millimeter.  What have you.  Irregardless, it’s hard to comprehend things that can’t even be seen in a chem lab microscope.

Using nano-speak, Tom is explaining the details of a disease that is causing a rift in our relationship as I resurface from a drug-induced slumber.  Obviously this confession comes as a result of someone trying to kill me, but the intoxicant has made cerebral thinking near impossible.  Instead my thoughts are consumed with how nonsensical it is that Tom, of all people, knows the details of nanotechnology.

He cringes every time I blink, and it seems that his abundant physical strength runs as rampant as his sympathy.  Which is sweet; don’t get me wrong.  We have never discussed Chemistry though.  Unless it has to do with the way we are physically drawn to each other like magnets, but certainly never in a context that directly involves his manliness.  Rather, his man-likeness, and more specifically concerning his genus and species.  That is, if he isn’t a Homo Sapien.  The answer to that question will take this relationship to a whole new level, either way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Test Run"--January First Page Critique Round *Submissions Start Today!*

***Submissions are now closed for this round***

I’m calling this critiquing round “Test Run”.  This is for any first page.  Whether your manuscript is finished and polished, it's a work-in-progress, or you only have the first page, this is the time to test it out on readers and get some honest, helpful feedback and support from your peers.  If you've entered previous rounds, this is also a great opportunity to get feedback on your revisions.   

From Wednesday, January 18 at 3 until Friday, January 20 at 12, I will accept submissions. I will post them later that evening (between 7 PM and 8 PM EDT) right here at KTCROWLEY.COM for critiquing.
Please send submissions to ktcritiques [AT]
In the subject, please state "JANUARY FIRST PAGE”

This round I will accept all genres and it is one entry per person, per genre (So you can submit 1 adult 1 YA/MG).
Please list the TITLE, GENRE and your SCREEN NAME (I will not include screen names in the critique posts, these are for my purposes only) above your 250 words (format it the way you normally would).  Please do not stop in the middle of a sentence.  If it goes over the 250 limit by a couple of words, that's fine.  If you stop at say, 235 words, that's fine, too.
Your submission should look like this:

SCREEN NAME: Your Screen Name Here
TITLE: Your Title Here
GENRE: Your Genre Here
(Excerpt here.)
  • Please leave out "chapter one," chapter "titles", etc.  Otherwise, I may count them toward your 250 and you could lose some of your first page entry.
  • You will receive a confirmation email, but it may not be right away.  Only resend if you don't get one by the last hour of the submission window.  
  • Please check your submission(s) carefully for typos, grammatical errors, etc. before submitting.  Once the submission is confirmed by email, it is set to automatically post.  Once your post is up and has received a critique, I won't be able to fix it for you.  Double checking it first will ensure you're writing is critiqued appropriately.  ;-) 
If you enter, you must critique at least 5 other submissions (if there are only five, please critique all).  If you enter two first pages, please critique 10 (if there are less than 10 total, please critique all).  This is so it's fair for everyone involved. 
I will accept up to 20 entries.
That’s it!  If you have any questions, please hit me up in the comments or send me an email.
Spread the word please; the more, the merrier!  Let's fill up this round! 

I look forward to seeing everyone's amazing first pages.  :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January Logline #7

TITLE: Extraction
GENRE: YA sci-fi

At age sixteen, Clementine is one of fourteen children picked to escape the dangerous slums of the planet Surface, where kids are killed off at twenty. Down there, Clementine doesn't have to be afraid—not of hunger, officials, or the moon's poison. But when she finds out the boy she had to leave behind is in more danger than she ever imagined, she doesn't care about fear anymore. She must find a way to return for him and save him before the planet leaders take something she can't afford to lose: her freedom of mind.

January Logline #6

TITLE: The Hourglass Bridge
GENRE: Fantasy

Diamond has never done anything more adventurous than stray from her homework roster – until an ancient ritual yanks her into a hidden, magical civilization in the 16th century. There she must join a dangerously chivalrous wizard and his crossbow wielding twin sister to defend her ancestors from an immortal witch who threatens to destroy them, even if it means embracing the corruptible powers she never knew she had.

January Logline #5

TITLE:  Unnatural
GENRE:  YA Paranormal Romance

When seventeen-year-old Alexa discovers only she can generate power needed to sustain a race, her future in a war over mankind between two paranormal species is revealed and her choice to love a mysterious Sentinel over a dangerous Vanquisher unknowingly determined which side she'll fight for.  She alone could end the war, but doing so has devastating consequences, ones the opposing side will do anything for--putting Alexa's life and the fate of humanity at risk.

January Logline #4

TITLE: A World Mad as Bedlam
GENRE:  Literary Fiction

When a statistical improbability occurs, a fatal plane crash in the African content with wreckage that yields polio vaccines in an area desperately in need of it; The narrator, an omni present guide, focuses your attention on the highly improbable and unrealistic elements that came to be. Right as you are about to proclaim it a miracle your shown the events that all led up to such divine luck and have to wonder if the illusion of a miracle is better than the truth of luck.

January Logline #3

Genre:  Fantasy/Paranormal

Salem, Massachusetts is encapsulated under a mystical sphere by the cities only inhabitants - witches.  Renamed New Avalon, the auld ways are being followed, rituals attended, and spell casting is now the norm.  New Avalon is a place of peace until Annwyn, the High Priestess, decides to open a portal into old Avalon that would unleash a dark power that has been hidden from mankind by the great wizard Myrddin.  The only ones that can stop Annwyn are the twins, Eithne and Tavish, but they don’t know they are witches and their mother, Shaelin, wants to keep it that way.

January Logline #2

TITLE: The Black Keep
GENRE: Fantasy

Kidnapped by a sorcerer and divided from her true self by a spell, Cara must find and reunite with her other half or face death at his hands.

January Logline #1

TITLE: Running From Shadows
GENRE: YA paranormal

Torn between love and duty, a teen witch must kill her beloved
protector or be destroyed by the shadow demon hot on her trail.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Call For January 2012 Logline Submissions!!

*Submissions are now closed.  Please check back for the official postings and details on the next critique round!*

This round is for loglines (also know as "taglines" and "hooks") less than 100 words to be critiqued.  Your manuscript does not have to be complete to enter this round, you just need a polished logline that includes five key elements of your story: protagonist, antagonist, conflict, goal, and consequences.  If you have questions, feel free to drop me a comment or email, or take a peek at previous logline entries posted here on the blog late last year.

From Tuesday, January 10 at 12 until Thursday, January 12 at , I will accept submissions. I will post them later that day right here at KTCROWLEY.COM for critiquing.

Please send submissions to ktcritiques [AT]
In the subject, please state “JANUARY LOGLINE”

This round I will accept all genres and it is one entry per person, per genre (So you can submit 1 adult, 1 YA/MG).
Please list the TITLE, GENRE and your SCREEN NAME (I will not include screen names in the critique posts, this is for my use only) above your logline (format it the way you normally would). 
Your submission should look like this:

SCREEN NAME: Your Screen Name Here

TITLE: Your Title Here
GENRE: Your Genre Here
(Logline here.)
  • You will receive a confirmation email, but it may not be right away.  Only resend if you don't get one by the last hour of the submission window.  
If you enter, you must critique at least 5 other submissions (if there are only five, please critique all entries).  This is so it's fair for everyone involved.  If you've entered twice, critique 10 or all that have been posted if there is less than 10. 
I will accept up to 25 entries.
That’s it!  If you have any questions, please hit me up in the comments.
Fingers crossed we can fill up the 25 spots!  Spread the word please.  :)