Friday, September 27, 2013

Prep Work Round 2 #9

TITLE: The Legacy of the Eye
GENRE: Adult Science Fiction

LOGLINE: Jane Austen's Persuasion meets 1984 in space--Love and politics on a planet colonized according to Plato’s Republic. When the top governance graduate discovers a secret hereditary polity (and that the woman he loves is next in line), he must expose the deceit or risk ruling via a crown.

FIRST 250:

It might have been a symbolic gesture, but I was not budging. My hand covered the keypad inside the traveling pod as I faced the old instructor standing next to me. "Come on, Max. We're leaving the school anyway, why not let me punch the code?"

Arms crossed over his loose-fitting black outfit, the short instructor obscured the pod's doorway. "The council should have made you wait until after graduation like everyone else."

Cat and I had been confined in the school since we were two. What difference would two weeks make after sixteen years? "We've earned the distinction."

"Next you'll ask to stop for a black uniform on the way out," Max said.

We probably earned that too, but I knew how to pick my battles.

Cat's hand pressed my shoulder. "David, we'll be late."

"Tell him that."

"You're only making him more stubborn, Max," she said. "You know we have no reason to run away."

The instructor hesitated. Would he make us miss our appointment with the council? He knew Cat and I could not navigate the maze of buildings to get to the gates--even disregarding the risk of being detained as soon as we left the governance complex. Our gray uniforms would give us away as soon as we stepped outside because students were not allowed to leave their home departments. How long would it take to convince every instructor in our path that we had an appointment with the council?

Prep Work Round 2 #8

GENRE: Young adult Speculative Fiction
LOGLINE: While crossing a wasteland to reach the safety of the colony, Lia’s little brother, Joe, is injured and lies dying.  Someone tells Lia about a planetary myth: the desert dragons bestow unlimited power on those who need it most.  But to earn the power to heal Joe, Lia must sacrifice her heart to the dragon forever.
FIRST 250:
Our space ships perched on the runway like raptors, eager to devour us whole.
Tipping my head back, I savored my last rays of Earth sunshine.
Within an hour, I’d be trapped me inside a stasis pod, blasting across the galaxy to a planet called Stellar 3. Chemicals searing my veins. Suffocating gasses swirling around my face. Chillers morphing me into a space-icle. 
“You have your toothbrush?” Auntie asked.
Startled, I blinked at her for a moment.  Pointing to the bag at my feet, I glanced at my wrist com.  11:40.  Twenty minutes until they called our names. 
“I wish you didn’t have to go,” Auntie said. “I’d find a way to take care of you and Joe.”
My brother tugged her shirt. “I can take care of myself.”
She gave him a long look.
Joe puffed his chest. “I can take care of myself. I’m almost nine. A man.”
My lips twitched. I hoped he’d grow tall in our new world, like a transplanted tree.  I ruffled his hair, making the auburn strands stick up everywhere.
He swatted my hand. “Lia!”
I struggled to hold back a grin. Maybe a thorn tree.
“What’s this?” Auntie plucked a mouse from inside his shirt by the tail.  Willy squeaked as he joined the jumbled contents of her purse.  “I told you I’d take care of your pets.”
“Can’t I take a little one?” Joe pleaded. In an instant, the man fled, replaced by the lost boy who’d crawled into my bed every night since our parents had left.

Prep Work Round 2 #7

TITLE: Flash
GENRE: YA Paranormal

17-year-old Benjamin harbors a curse:  he’s a liaison between this world and the next, and in exchange, he gets a glimpse of someone whose number has expired.  He’s only saved one life with his “gift”. But when the image of a girl he’s grown close to flashes into his head, he’s hell bent on saving her life, even if the odds are against them both.

FIRST 250:
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 as to whose room he was headed to. He peeked back at her, curious 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 very 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 so strong, that he couldn’t make out the menu.

Ms. Gail wasn’t speaking. He 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.

Saying Ms. Gail was pale would be an understatement. As Benjamin approached her bedside, his own pale skin looked tan in comparison. Her breaths her 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 grey bangs off her forehead, “wakey, wakey.”

Prep Work Round 2 #6

TITLE: Wallflowers
GENRE: Women’s Fiction

LOGLINE: With a pipeline underway to drain the Flaming Gorge, Violet Wesley has one summer left on the Colorado River before her rafting business runs dry. She calls on the love of her life for help, but when he arrives with a fiancée in tow she knows she has to conquer her Avoidant Personality Disorder, stand up to her imaginary friends, or risk losing everything she holds dear.

FIRST 250:

The Colorado River was, at times, angry and loud, obstinate and pushy, unpredictable and exciting; all the things that Violet Wesley was not. Still, she was a part of this place; as intractable as the trees that dug roots deep into the soil. Her hair was the color of the earth, her eyes the color of the river as it frothed and churned, her skin reddened and freckled from years of exposure, like the rocks in the cliffs above the water.
But Violet would say that was beautiful in nature didn’t count for much in people. Or rather, she’d think it. Vi rarely spoke out loud, and never of her innermost thoughts unless she was alone. And even then she found the sound of her own voice startling, as if running into a throaty acquaintance whose appearance left her feeling faintly shamed.
 Now, she clutched her mug of tea and turned her face to the sun. How many others before her had stood in this very spot and prayed for a safe journey? The faint roar of the rapids downriver to her right and the steady hum of mosquitoes were the soundtrack to her life, and she took comfort in them. These were the things she knew, the unchangeable foundation on which of her life had been built. The river rushed on, mosquitoes fed, and she was a coward.
She opened her eyes and set her shoulders. By the end of this summer, one of those things would no longer be true. 

Prep Work Round 2 #5

Genre: NA Fantasy
LOGLINE: Dawn can’t steal bubble gum, much less a powerful charm capable of releasing an imprisoned succubus.  But to save her sisters from becoming demon chow, Dawn will do anything, even steal the charm from its steamy guardian, Kalan.  But Kalan has his own agenda, and catching and seducing the charm-stealing Dawn is the first step in his plan.
FIRST 250:

Don’t look, Dawn. You know what happens when you look.
I looked up. It was inevitable. When you tell yourself not to do something, you usually do the exact opposite.
The park vendors swarmed me like a pack of rabid dogs. Their voices tore into me, snarling off sales pitches. I gave them the same answer.
“A beautiful necklace for a beautiful—”
“Would you like a subscription to The Vigrith—?”
“Mini glow-in-the-dark helicopters for sale! Buy ‘em by the dozen.”
“What? No. What the hell would I do with glowing helicopters?”
I didn’t wait for a reply. I walked as fast as I could without drawing attention. Luckily for me, their tiny carts were only set up at one entrance to the park. Turning into a large clearing, I glanced around for Cassie before settling at an empty picnic table.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find one in the shade. The heat was bearable, but the sun that had me worried. Ultraviolet rays plus white girl equaled a sunburn no amount of aloe vera could soothe. Hey, at least I had a gorgeous view...
Who was I kidding?
One half of the park had a dried-up garden with a statue of the plump Lady Fredericton; the other side had a few trees, twice as many picnic tables and a pathetically empty sand pit. Small boutiques lined the square, all with limited choice. For a girl who’d lived in cities her entire life—
Power washed over me, stopping my internal chit-chat and, for a second, my heart.

Prep Work Round 2 #4

TITLE: Attie and The Monster Book
GENRE: Middle Grade- Magical Realism

LOGLINE: After 12 yo Attie Cohen receives a book about monsters in the mail, life takes a turn for the dangerous.  Her siblings can suddenly morph into deadly, supernatural beasts. But emotions (rather than desire) provoke their transformations—and with the Cohen parents heading for a divorce, emotions are in no short order.  Attie must #1. try not to die.  #2. help her siblings stay human, and #3. figure out the mystery of The Monster Book.

FIRST 250:

The day I first saw my sister morph into something not human, my parents were arguing, shouting their heads off at each other as loud as they could.
What’s new?
When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I made a noise like UUUGGGGHHH, covered my ears with my hands, and stomped out of the house.  Made a beeline for the front door and marched right out.
Nobody tried to stop me.  In fact, no one even noticed me go.   So I did what any kid would do.  I headed straight for the ravine.
I’ll be honest with you. I’m not allowed there.  Mom says it’s dangerous. But you know moms.  They always think things are worse than they are.  So I booked it over there and started down the steep slope.  But I’m smart; I knew I’d better take my time if I wanted to make it all the way to the bottom.
I never got there.
I was bracing myself with little trees and vines, watching my feet the whole time, when something hissed, “Get out of here, Attttttttiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeee.”
           I stopped.  Wondered if I was hearing things.  Looked around.
         Then I saw it--her--Gracie.  My sister. She wasn't far away from me--just a little farther down the slope--and she was hugging a tree, gripping it with her arms and legs.  She wasn’t facing me, but I could still see her well enough to know she was my sister.  But trust me when I say this... Gracie didn’t look like herself.

Prep Work Round 2 #3

GENRE: New adult Historical Fantasy
Logline: After destroying a mortal’s destiny, modern goddess Pandia is sentenced by Zeus to community service in Pompeii. She’s to observe, and not interfere. A freak mishap enslaves her to the local amphitheater where she winds up in center ring clutching a sword, a swarthy gladiator by her side. Pandia will have to show she values others fast to escape Pompeii, because the gladiator’s proving tempting, and Vesuvius is rumbling.  
First 250:
If I hadn’t gone to a party with Aphrodite, I wouldn’t have flirted with Julius Caesar or pissed off Cleopatra.  Cleo wouldn’t have complained to Hera, my step-mother.   And I wouldn’t be in deep shit. 
“Pandia. Daughter.” Zeus’ voice echoed in the Great Hall, halting the conversation around us.  Gods were a chatty group. The abrupt silence made the place resemble a morgue.
“Do you know why I’ve called you before me today?” he asked.
“Ummm, no.” I toed the ornate pattern on a marble tile under my sandal and avoided his eyes.
“You’ve done it again.” He sighed like a planet lay on his shoulders. “When will you realize you can’t flit through time and indulge yourself with whomever you please?”
I peeked at him through my lashes.  No sparkle in his eyes, or big grin to indicate teasing. 
“I was bored.” The words rushed out. “There’s nothing to do here except watch sprites bathe in the fountains and centaurs challenge each other to duels.  Aphrodite and I wanted to have fun.”
“You’re twenty.  A goddess.  You should do what the other young goddesses your age do: perfect your vocation.”
“My vocation is asinine.” I scowled at him.  “Goddess of Light. What in Hades does it mean?  Apollo has the sun and lightening wrapped up.  The stars belong to Astraeus.  What’s left for me? Nothing, I tell you. I’m not even the Goddess of the Light Bulb.”
“Your light is a spiritual thing. You bring light to my life, and those around you.”

Prep Work Round 2 #2

TITLE: The Selection
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Logline: Miriam has lived all of her 16 years within the secluded Serenity’s Children cult. When their leader forces her into marriage with a virtual stranger, she begins to question the beliefs of her society. But in order to be with the man she loves, she will need to choose between him and the only life she’s ever known.

FIRST 250: 

The girls don’t get a choice. It has been this way for as long as I’ve been alive, and longer. My father chose my mother, a fact he has never let her forget.
I don’t know how the other girls feel about the Selection. It is not something we talk about. As female Children of Serenity, there is not much that we are allowed to talk about. This bothers me more than it should, considering it has been my experience that no one ever says what they really mean.
And there is no way to know how the boys feel about it either. Our whole lives, we have been kept separate from them, except for Sundays at chapel. And of course there is no speaking at chapel. That is a rule that even I have never broken.
The Selection is our biggest celebration all year. It goes on for days, out in the open desert, beyond the high walls of our city.  There is singing, and dancing, and feasting. The stars decorate the sky like thousands of candles, and the smoke from our fires climbs into the vast darkness like an offering to God. 
I can feel Boaz’s gaze on me. He is standing on the other side of the fire—the boy’s side. His eyes are bright in the firelight, his skin a dark bronze against the white of his shirt.  And I dare to hope that maybe, just maybe, tonight he will call my name.

Prep Work Round 2 #1

TITLE:  The Spell of the Black Magic Key
GENRE: Upper Middle Grade Fantasy

LOGLINE: The Rickety Old Hag has resurrected The Spell of the Black Magic Key, having the power now to release the evil ones from the bowels of the earth to wreak havoc on mankind. If the powers of the key aren’t stopped, the world will remain in darkness. All that is sacred and kind will find its end… vanish like the dinosaur.

 FIRST 250: 

Long, long ago,
When the world was young and new,
When I believed in fairy tales
And all our dreams came true.

When I believed in magic
And all its fancy fair…
When I was young and giddy
Without a woe or care.

I remember quite clearly
What happened that day
As I ran from my house
And just wanted to play.

 It was a dare from the older kids
On the block,
To go to that old house
And on the door I must knock.

I was scared and frightened
For what did I know?
But to that old house
I just had to go!

 I walked as if mesmerized,
Caught in a trance!
Caught in a spell
Of a witch’s dance!

I walked up the path
Through the black gates with rust,
Then past the bushes
Covered with dust!

My feet just kept moving
As if they didn’t care,
And all that I kept thinking was
… about that stupid dare!

I walked with my silence
And thoughts of what would be!
Thoughts of scary creatures
That would try to capture me!

I felt a chill upon my spine
As the rain did just begin.
Then I knocked upon the door
 And she said, “Oh do come in!”

The clouds began to darken
And the rain began to pour
As I stepped inside the house
And shut the old, old door!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Prep Work" Round 2 Submission Window Now Open!!!


"Prep Work" Logline/First Page Critique Round 2 Submission Window Now Open!!

This month's critique rounds will be called "Prep Work".  For those who weren't here foe the first round, I'll explain again.  This particular round is for those of you who plan to enter Baker's Dozen 2013, or for those of you who need to work on both your logline and first page.  Hopefully, the feedback you'll receive here will give you what's needed to get your work chosen for the next contest or auction (Secret Agent is right around the corner!).  And if you enter this round, you will receive automatic admission into the 3rd and final revisions round I will offer in October.  Those who were in the first round get automatic admission into all rounds!

This round I will accept all genres and it is one entry per person, per genre (So you can submit 1 adult, 1 NA and/or 1 YA/MG).

Starting now, please send submissions to ktcritiques [AT] by 10 PM EDT Thursday night, September 26.  I will post them Friday, September 27 at KTCROWLEY.COM for critiquing.

In the subject, please state “PREP WORK R2 ENTRY”.

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. Your screen name is the name you'll use to critique others in the comments.) above your logline and 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.  As for the logline word limit, I'll make the cut 75 words, but please note, most loglines should only be a max 50-55 words, so keep in mind that less is more.

So your submission should look like this:

SCREEN NAME: Your Screen Name Here
TITLE: Your Title Here
GENRE: Your Genre Here

(Logline here)

(First 250 here).

A confirmation email will be sent, but it may not be right away. Only resend if you don't get one by the last hour of the submission window. Should I receive 20 entries, an email will be sent to notify you if you didn't make the cut and I will update this post to reflect an early closure, so get yours in quickly!

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. Double checking it first will ensure your writing is critiqued appropriately. Also, 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.

If you enter, please critique five other entries, so that it's fair for everyone (if you enter multiple times, please critique 5 others for each one of your entries).  And spread the word; the more critiques, the merrier! Let's help everyone involved get as much feedback as possible.

 Good luck, everyone! I'm looking forward to seeing all the great writing and supportive critiques.  Got questions?  Post them in the comments or shoot me an email.

P.S. If you're not a follower of my blog, I'd love it if you'd follow my journey and join the fun! There are several ways via the right-hand side of the screen. I try to offer open critique rounds monthly to help writers like you perfect your work. Our already amazing writing community only gets better when we help each other. :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Prep Work #4

TITLE: The Cry House
GENRE: YA Gothic Romance
LOGLINE: Between heated arguments and a simmering sexual tension, seventeen-year-old Faith and Logan are forced to relive the memories of murdered spirits from the abandoned Cry House. They must solve a century old crime in order to bury the dead for good—but a malevolent ghost is standing in their way, waiting to wrap his sulfur-tinged tendrils around their minds.
FIRST 250: Faith quickened her pace to a run. Someone was following her. Shadows shifted on the desolate street, and she peeked back at the Cry House. It stood in the distance, dead silent and empty. Not a single floating sheet or rattling chain in sight. She would have welcomed a moaning specter, something to explain the feeling of being studied. She had a lot more to fear from the living than the dead.
Wind tossed her hair around like scattered straw. A streetlight flicked on with an electric hum and pop above her head. The sun began to set below the horizon, the last rays of daylight spearing violet streaks across the sky.
Faith took another scan of the street. Empty. She slowed down and exhaled.
Get over yourself. No one is chasing you.
She froze at the sound of Logan’s voice. Oh God, kill me, kill me now. She closed her eyes, waited a beat, and reopened them, willing herself to disappear. He probably thinks I’m eight shades of crazy.
“Hey, I thought that was you,” Logan said as he caught up to her. “What were you running from?”
She’d let herself get carried away by an irrational fear, and the shame of it burned her pale cheeks. Toeing at a weed that poked through the sidewalk crack, she tried to come up with a witty response.
“Um, you.”
“Figures,” he said.
He leaned down to whisper something in her ear, and she backed up a step.

Prep Work #3

GENRE: YA Sci-fi
Logline: Lia leaves Earth for a new colony.  She’s marooned with a few teens in the planet’s desert, and to her dismay, their most able defender is Trey, the Nerd. When a teen’s murdered, Trey hoists a laser gun and Lia learns never to underestimate the true appeal of a nerd.  As they race for the colony, the hunt begins.  The killer loves to play hide and seek, and in the desert, there’s nowhere to hide.
First 250:
I squinted through the branches of a withered cluster of trees to the ships, perched like raptors on the runway.  Demeter and Hestia loomed in the distance, their hulls a dark, ominous gray in the muted sunlight. 
Within an hour, my brother Joe and I would sleep inside Demeter, our goddess of the skies, cruising across the galaxy to a planet called Stellar 3.
I pictured us trapped inside our cramped little pods, gas swirling around our faces, chemicals searing our veins until our will to resist dulled and faded. Blast chillers kicking in, morphing us into space-icles.
I was doomed.
“You have your pack?” Auntie asked.
Gesturing to the bags at my feet, I peeked at my watch. 11:20. Forty minutes until they called my name.  I could swear my feet were crystallizing on the grate.
“I wish you didn’t have to go,” Auntie said. Skin puckered around her lips in white creases and tiny pearls of sweat rested on her upper lip. “Please stay. I’ll take care of you.”
Joe tugged her shirt. “I can take care of myself.”
She gave him a long look and her lips tightened as she held back a grin.
“I can take care of myself. I’m almost nine. A man.” He puffed his chest, looking anything but manly to me. He was small for his age. I hoped he’d grow tall in our new world.  Like a transplanted tree. His hair was askew and his eyes were fierce.  Maybe a thorn tree.

Prep Work #2

TITLE: Attie and the Monster Book
GENRE: Middle grade/Magical Realism

A cursed book that Attie got from a strange family counselor sends her on a mission to find out why her siblings keep morphing into dangerous, supernatural beasts. If that wasn’t enough, she must also survive her parents’ childish behavior and looming divorce.  OMG, her family might fall apart if she doesn’t hurry!

First 250:
On that day in December my parents were yelling so loud I up and left the house.  Just walked out the front door.  No jacket or sweater or anything.

Sure, it was December, but it doesn’t get too cold in Texas, so I was fine.  Only after I’d closed the front door and walked about twenty paces and could hear myself think again, I realized I’d forgotten my phone.


But I wasn’t going back.

So I walked a bit further, headed for the ravine.  There’s a river down there, and it’s pretty cool.  Plus, normally us kids aren’t allowed down there.  But whereas mom and dad were inside yelling their heads off, I didn’t think they’d notice.

I saw my sister when I was about half way down the steep incline.  She was at the way at the bottom, close to the river—where we are definitely not allowed—and she was hugging a tree.  Kind of holding onto it with her full body, legs and all.  I was going to shout out to her—say something about how she wasn’t allowed down there—but then I thought the way she was hugging the tree looked weird, so I moved in to get a closer look.

Bad news: the situation got worse.

The way my sister was hugging a tree looked weird because she had changed, morphed.  I’m not kidding.  Gracie was no longer human.  Okay, sure, she was still my sister, but trust me when I say she was definitely something other than human.

Prep Work #1

GENRE: New Adult fiction
LOGLINE:  Stella Moon wanted sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, and to forget. Jessie Morgan wanted music, friends, family, and love.  Paige Lockhart wanted to bury them both and did by creating a new life for herself, but all that glitters is not gold as she’s about to find out.

FIRST 250:
I held the admission ticket to that party in my seventeen-year-old sweaty palm. A surprise high school graduation gift and early birthday present from my foster parents. Every kid I knew wanted what I held in my hands: two floor seats to see the almighty British band, Flux, perform at the Boston Gardens. The show had been sold out for months; getting tickets damn near impossible, but Ward and June a/k/a Bea and Davis Donovan knew people. They wanted to see me happy for once and got them for me. To say I was happy with their gift would be an understatement. I was ready to explode out of my Walter Dyer moccasins and student Levi’s.  I think if the Donovan’s knew what they just handed me they never would’ve bought the tickets.
They’re good people.  I kid when I call them June and Ward.  I couldn’t have asked for two better people to come into my life. They tried hard to be my everything for me, but buying special gifts and baking chocolate chip cookies didn’t fix what lay shattered inside me. 
My heart.
I had a crushed soul and my angel wings lay broken and in tatters. The only thing keeping me glued together was my music and journal writing.  I had no idea what I wanted to be, or where I would end up after high school, and honestly I didn’t care.  The counselors told the Donovan’s I just needed time.
I didn’t need time.
My whole family was dead.