Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Writer's Voice Entry: SEVEN LITTLE DEADLIES

I'm doing something a bit strange today, friends. Basically, if you're here from the dark creeping crevices of the internet (or, you know, the bright and sunny ones), feel free to ignore this post. If you're here from The Writer's Voice contest, and especially if you're a JUDGE for said contest, why, hello there!

*offers comfy seat*

*passes cookie*

*pours fizzy pink lemonade*

Okay, okay. The rest of you can have cookies and lemonade, too. Here you go.

Without further ado, my entry, SEVEN LITTLE DEADLIES, a young adult supernatural romance.


Rachel and her boyfriend, Ryan, each have their own reasons for running. For Rachel, it's the morphing of her normally annoying-but-genial stepdad into a violent monster. For Ryan, it's his past-- one that he's not too fond of sharing.

The night Rachel's stepdad tries to kill her, the teens decide to leave their small Tennessee town and strike out for California in Ryan's '68 Camaro. But the further they get from home, the more strange things Rachel sees—like a leather-clad woman who has a thing for classic cars, and can apparently change the weather—and the more she begins to wonder about her boyfriend.

Despite their best efforts, their freedom is short-lived. Not long after they make it to California, Rachel's stepdad catches up to them, ending Ryan's life and changing Rachel's forever.  But things only get stranger after Rachel returns home. First, there are the hints that Ryan might not be dead after all. Then, there's the mysterious package that shows up at her door, containing a dagger she last saw buried in her stepdad's back. Something evil is brewing, and Rachel—and the car Ryan left behind—are in the middle of the storm.

SEVEN LITTLE DEADLIES is a young adult supernatural romance complete at 87,000 words.

First 250 words:

Chapter 1
July: New Mexico

 The cop car stayed behind us for forty miles.

Ryan's brow creased every time he glanced in the rearview mirror, and his knuckles were white on the steering wheel.

"Do you think he's running our plates or something?" I tried to keep my voice steady--panicking wouldn't help keep Ryan calm—but my throat clenched around the last word and squeaked into the silence around us.

"I don't know, Rachel. He could just be following us." He sighed, and unclenched one hand long enough to run it through his curly black hair. "But he's been back there for an awful long time."

"Maybe we should pull over." I didn't want to tell Ryan, but the tension was ready to burst out of me. If we didn't get away from the cop soon, I was going to have a meltdown.

"Pull over where?" He waved one arm across the dashboard, gesturing at the empty plains on either side of the cracked four-lane highway, rimmed by unending barbed-wire fences on either side.

Defeated, I wrapped my arms tighter around my midriff and sank further into my seat, the cop car dropping out of sight in the side mirror.

"I hate New Mexico." I muttered to myself. Ryan overheard, as usual. He grabbed my left elbow and tugged on my arm until I looked over at him.

"Hey," he said. His dimples peeked out of his cheeks, which meant the grin there was real. "We're almost there."


  1. This looks fantastic! The query is spooky and the first 250 words drew me in. I'd love to read it!

  2. Wow. Your premise sounds fantastic and eerie and I love the tension in your first 250. Good luck!

  3. You had me at the query. Didn't even need your 250 to scream YES. Add in the 250 and WHERE IS THIS BOOK I NEED IT NOW. (Sorry for the caps, but this is fantastic.)

  4. I'm already sad Ryan dies (or does he?) so that's a good sign. I love the first 250. Good luck!

  5. You've got a lot of twists in your query making me think this is a book that would keep us guessing. Good work.

  6. Great query, fantastic 250. Consider me super jealous :) Best of luck to you!

  7. From what I see here, I can tell your book is going to be full of twists and turns and keep the readers on their toes! Nice work!

  8. This seems really interesting, and the first 250 really drew me in...the tension is palpable. I'd keep reading, for sure.

  9. Very creepy! Love the idea of the two of them running away together. Good luck!

  10. This is right up my alley! Love the creepiness and the mystery of it all. You totally sold me with the query - and kept me with the 250. I would love to read more! Best of luck!!

  11. Ooh, this is creeptastically intriguing. I'd read it! Good luck!

  12. Sounds super twisty and dark. I love it! Best of luck to you. :)

  13. Creepy and intriguing. I like the premise and the style of writing kept me wanting more. Good luck to you!

  14. This sounds like a dark and scary adventure. I liked the first 250 and would keep reading. Good luck with your entry :)

  15. I love that Rachel and Ryan are already together, and that they run away to California -- also that you start where you do. I guess I'm the minority on this, but I wish there was a little less mystery in the query. Since this is a romance, I'll assume Ryan is the primary love interest and therefore does not actually die, but I wish something was a bit more concrete. Especially for a query, I prefer to know what we're dealing with. But I would keep reading, so maybe I'm wrong. Best of luck!

  16. I really like this, LT. It's dark and mysterious. I'd read it in a heartbeat!!

  17. Road trip with a psycho step-dad on your heels - wow. Step on the gas! Best of luck in the contest.

  18. Hate how ryan dies but i love how you hint he really isn't dead completely. sounds great :)

  19. Your opening scene really sucked me in, and though the query got a little vague, it still piqued my interest. To be honest, I was this close to picking SEVEN LITTLE DEADLIES--and then I Googled it and saw that it was in a contest back in 2011.

    So I guess my question is, have you been querying the manuscript continuously for these last two years, or have you pulled back to revise at all? Also, how many of “The Writer’s Voice” agents have you already queried, and when did you query them?

    1. Hi Krista;

      Thanks for writing to ask! I have not queried this manuscript very much. Essentially what happened is I wrote it late 2010 and started querying early 2011, I got a couple of full requests and some awesome feedback (one agent debated rep), but there was a common flaw that made both agents pull back. I shelved it after to give myself some time to think about how to fix the flaw and got sucked into other projects (and my job). The contest you found was during that querying phase. It's only since early this year that I managed to re-work the manuscript so I thought I'd try again!

      Only one of the Writer's Voice agents has seen the query, and that was two years ago. She was one of the agents who asked for the full though.

      Let me know if there's anything else you'd like to know!


    2. Good to know! Thanks so much, L.T.

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  21. Oh, I'll want to know a few more things, but not until the coaching round because ... I WANT YOU! I was VERY happy to hear that you haven't sent a lot of queries:)

    I think you've got some really interesting and unique plot elements, and as I already mentioned, I love where the story opens (though I'm sure we'll tweak a few things, since I always take a look at my teammates' first few pages, just to make sure the story gets off to the best possible start). I will want to work on that query, especially the last few sentences of the summary, just to make sure it's as specific as it can be without giving too much away. Also, I can't help but wonder if this story would work better being pitched as a supernatural thriller instead of a supernatural romance, but that's something we can discuss in the coaching round.

    Now Monica's going to come in here and say she wants to look at your synopsis and whatnot, but the truth of the matter is, of the three things you need to query--query, manuscript (including the first few pages), and synopsis--the synopsis is far and away the least important of the three. Agents won't even get to the synopsis if your query and first few pages aren't up to snuff, and since we'll be working on a limited schedule, I want to put our efforts where they'll count the most.

    Team Krista won last year--my team got the most total votes, and I also had the largest percentage of teammates who received votes (9 out of 11)--and I just sold a manuscript to G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, which is an imprint of Penguin. More than that, I'd love, love, love to have you and SEVEN LITTLE DEADLIES on my team, so PICK ME!

  22. L.T!!!

    First of all, I LOVE the title! And I also remember reading another entry of yours (from another MS) in Pitch Wars and I also liked it (in fact, I was bummed that you didn't pitch me last year!). What I'm trying to say is that I think you're so talented!

    I really like this premise and I love the mystery of the dagger and of the boyfriend who apparently isn't really dead. I AM HOOKED!! :) I want to READ MORE!!

    The writing is nice too, and I think it starts in a good place. I would have some suggestions there, too, so that the page shines a bit more. But um, Brenda just won an entry because she left an enigmatic comment, so I'll copy her and I will be as enigmatic as I can about my suggestions for your first page! Hee!

    About the query--well, I do think it needs a bit of work. In fact, that's why I didn't pick you on the first round. But you were always on my shortlist, otherwise I wouldn't be picking you now! I do love your entry!

    And lol, yeah. Krista is right. If you pick me, I WOULD ask for a synopsis. But I read them to get really familiarized with your project and that way help you perfect your *QUERY*! I don't even think I would leave many comments on your synopsis. In fact, when I edit a submission package (you know, because I freelance) I always ask for a synopsis (if writers have one) to really squeeze all the conflict from the story and pour as much as we can into the query. Makes sense? In fact, I was just working on a #TeamMonicaFTW query and you have no idea how much the synopsis helped me to give suggestions so that the query shines. :)

    When do I not ask for a synopsis? Well, when I think the query is flawless. Or nearly there.

    I would also like to read the first few pages to see if there's another better place to start the ms, but I don't think that will be your case. As I said, I think it's a nice place to start. Still, I WANT to read more. I will be making suggestions as I go too (of course, only if you pick me! *grin*)

    Krista says she won last year. Yeah. She did! For ONE vote. I came next. And my Pitch Wars entry (well, not mine, but you get what I mean! ;D) got 5 requests, and from those, the writer got two offers of representation! In fact, you can read her Pitch Wars success story on the "Love YA Success Stories" on my blog. It did pretty good.

    Speaking of my blog...if you want to see the type of edits I make, you can go there, to the "Editorial Services" page and read the testimonials. There's even a link that leads to an example of my editorial suggestions.
    Let me know if you have questions soon., you have to pick TODAY!!

    And yeah. Krista is right. She has a book deal (MG) with one of the Big 6/5. And I read the book and it's awesome. She's my CP and I adore her. Still, pick ME! PLEASE!! I would love, LOVE to have you and SEVEN LITTLE DEADLIES on my team. (Have I mentioned how much I love the title??? Haha)

    PS: this has nothing to do with the contest, but that is a cool picture of you and the giraffe up there. I think I've told you that before, right? Like years ago? :)

  23. I want to know how the manuscript unfolds, too, but I do it in a less formal way. We just talk about the plot and character arcs over e-mail as we're working on the query summary, which sounds very similar to what Monica is planning, anyway. So maybe this is a non-issue.

  24. Woot, woot! Love the fight you've got going on over your book. Rock on :)

  25. Okay now that everything's calmed down I finally have time to say THANK YOU EVERYONE!!! I'm so excited to be part of #TeamMonicaFTW and can't wait to see how everything pans out!