Thursday, November 10, 2011

November Mystery Agent and Winners Revealed!

She asked for twitter pitches and the first 500 words of your manuscripts and you guys delivered!

Please welcome twitter-savvy literary agent...

Natalie Lakosil of Bradford Literary!!
Natalie Fischer Lakosil
Bradford Literary Agency
Natalie is an Assistant Agent at the Bradford Literary Agency. An honors graduate of the University of San Diego, California, Natalie holds a B.A. in Literature/Writing. After nearly four years at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and a brief dabble in writing author profiles and book reviews for the San Diego Union Tribune, Natalie joined the Bradford Agency in February of 2011. (pic and bio from her agency website)

And the winner of a full request is:

Kate Larkindale 

Name: Kate Larkindale
Title: Chasing the Taillights
Genre: YA Contemporary
Manuscript word count: 87 000

Twitter pitch: Lucy has to explain the accident that killed her parents or she'll lose her mind–if she does, she'll lose the only person who loves her.

First 500 words: The darkness is absolute. I’m not sure if my eyes are open or closed. I strain to push the lids up, but they’re already wide.

Something covers my mouth and nose, making breathing difficult. My lungs burn for air, but I can only suck in tiny mouthfuls through whatever smothers my face.

I turn my head, crying out as a savage bolt of pain shoots through it. Wavy grey lines waft across the blank space before my eyes. I can’t think, can’t make sense of the darkness threatening to drown me. 

Certain now I won’t pass out, I gasp for breath. There’s nothing covering my face. It was the ground my nose and mouth were pressed into. The ground? Wet. Greasy. Reeking of something that reminds me of… gas?

Reaching out my left hand, I try to find something to hold onto. My fingers scrabble over small objects, pebbles perhaps, that skitter away beneath my touch. I reach further, wrapping my fist around them. Pain prickles my fingertips. Not pebbles. Glass. Small, sharp shards of glass.

Using my torn hand, I drag myself forward, an inch, maybe two. I can’t move my legs, can’t even feel them. Raising my head, I see light. Not a lot of light, but light. Red light, bright at one end, dull at the other. I know what this is. I do. My heart thumps at the side of my head and I can almost hear the gears of my brain creaking to make sense of this weird red glow.

A taillight.

I let my throbbing head drop as a reward, a surge of relief passing through me at this small achievement. It’s a taillight. But why is it there? What is there? And if that’s there, where am I? The questions whirl dizzying circles around my skull.

My eyes fix on the taillight, broken I realize, staring into it as if hypnotized. That’s why it’s brighter at one end.

More light. White this time, sweeping in an arc across me. I blink, dazzled by the flood of brightness. All around me I see fragments glinting in the beam, tiny jewels strewn across the road. The yellow line is inches from my nose. Why am I lying in the middle of the road?

Ghostly music drifts in my direction. A song I know, an oldie, The Beach Boys. It makes no sense here, must be in my head. I try to drag my other arm forward, wanting to raise myself onto my elbows for a better perspective. It won’t move. Pain rocks through my shoulder, my chest and courses up my neck to my still-aching head. The heavy, metallic scent of blood hangs over me. When I glance back down, I see the yellow line is smeared red.

The slamming of a car door breaks through the dull thumping in my skull, chases the music away for a moment. Footsteps scuff across the gravel, heading away from where I lie.

I would also like to request to see 30 pages from these two:

Lisa Aldin 

Genre: YA dark paranormal

Twitter Pitch: A depressed teenager agrees to switch places with her dream-self, and becomes trapped in her own mind.

First 500 Words:

Chapter One

"What do you want to talk about today, Kate?"

Every session, Dr. Gray starts with this question, but we both know it doesn't matter what I want to talk about. She's driving this therapy train and I'm just a passenger along for the ride.

I shift in the chair that’s the color of pink vomit and glance at the notes scrawled on my arm. Hungover, I can’t pretend to pay attention.

"We can talk about this being my last year of high school," I say, assuming this a relatively harmless topic.

Dr. Gray nods. "How are you feeling about that?"

"I guess how every other senior feels."

"And how's that?"

I answer with a lie, stifling a yawn. “Um. Nervous?’

I haven’t slept in seventy-six days, or maybe it’s been eighty. The number on my wrist written in faded black marker says seventy-six, but as I look at the black digits again, I think I lost track somewhere. According to Dr. Gray, after a certain amount of time, insomnia will start to erode my organs. Without a cure, vital parts of me will switch off, one-by-one, like carnival lights at the end of a season. I don’t know how much time I have.

Hot milk. Counting sheep. Heat pads. Sleeping pills. All failed cures.

“What are you nervous about?” Dr. Gray’s voice sounds muted, like she’s talking to me from behind a thick door. My eye lids grow heavy and I shift my weight again, trying to focus. A cluster of dust dances in the stream of light pouring through the window.

I imagine the rest of the house is as spare as the office, which holds only the pink chair, a rotting desk, and some cardboard boxes full of bubble wrap. Stuff that normal people might leave on the side of the road for trash pickers.


“What? Oh, sorry.” I rub my eyes. “I don’t know. I’m nervous about everything, I guess.”

After the accident, I slept fine, enough to function anyway. The nightmares began when Dad moved to Florida at the beginning of August, when the sky burned and the grass wilted into crusty, brown blades. Sprinklers around the neighborhood attempted to pump life back into the dying lawns, with little luck. The grass would live when it wanted to live, for a few brief weeks in September before October rolled in to color everything brown again. That was at least three months ago. Ninety days. Worse than I thought.

I pull a black marker from my back pocket and write 90 Days onto my palm.

Dr. Gray leans back, folding her delicate hands. She never writes anything down. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. She says, “Let’s talk about Buck’s room.”

I roll my eyes. “Why did I ever tell you about that?”

“Don’t.” She shakes her head. “Don’t retreat. Have you tried entering his room again?”

Elizabeth Briggs 

Genre: YA Sci-fi

Pitch: A teen hacker is drawn into a war between parallel universes when she meets an alternate version of herself from another dimension.

First 500:

The fire alarm blared to life right when I got past the proxy server. Just my luck. It took me all lunch to hack into the school’s record system, and now this.

My fingers flew across the keyboard while the alarm pierced my ears without any hint of giving up. Just another drill. Maybe I could finish this before I had to leave. If not, I'd have to start all over again tomorrow. Cracking the system wasn't hard, but it took a long time to make sure no one could trace it back to me.

Mr. Wilson, my calculus teacher, stuck his head inside the door to the computer lab. “Everyone out. Fire drill.”

The other students grabbed their things and rushed out, but I couldn't leave yet. My brother wasn't adjusting well to our latest move, this time to Los Angeles, and now his grades were too low to get on the school’s soccer team. With tryouts next week, there was no way he’d have time to improve them. Normally I wouldn't condone something like changing grades, but it wasn't my brother's fault he couldn't keep up with school.

Plus, breaking in was fun.

A screen popped up asking for the student's name. I was so close now. I just needed a few more minutes.

“Sara, come on,” Mr. Wilson said, waiting for me at the door.

“I'll be just a minute, sir,” I said, giving him my sweetest smile. “I have to save my English essay and print it out. It's due next period.”

Mr. Wilson’s forehead creased, but he nodded. I knew what he saw -- a straight A student who always followed the rules, with an innocent face everyone called “cute.” Teachers loved me.

“Okay, but come out right after. We're all gathering on the football field and you need to be there for the head count.”

“Of course. I'll be right out.”

The door closed behind him, and I leaned over the keyboard and entered my brother's name. Another page loaded and I scanned it, shaking my head. The user interface for the records database was unforgivable. They really needed to hire a better programmer.

I found my brother's transcripts and changed a few of his grades, just enough to get him the C average he needed to get on the team. He still had to study, after all.

The alarm continued its incessant shrieking. The door opened again, probably another teacher about to tell me to get down to the field. “Coming,” I called over my shoulder, as I scrambled to close programs and hide all the evidence of my break-in. I wasn’t really worried about getting caught—I doubted the school’s IT monkeys would even know I was in their system—but I was still careful, just in case.

“Sara Morgan?”

Behind me stood a girl in a long black jacket with straps across the chest. She wore large reflective sunglasses that hid most of her face, and her dark hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail.

Thanks so much for the great contest!!

Thank YOU, Natalie! 

Q&A With the Awesome Mystery Agent:

Katrina: Now that you're happily married (congrats again!) are you still pining for romantic stories in the query inbox or is something else at the top of your want list?

Natalie: I’m still a sucker for romance, but for me, it can’t be the driving nature of the plot (unless it’s adult romance – then it better be!)

Katrina: Speaking of queries, what makes you cringe in a query letter? Conversely, what catches your eye in a positive way? What was your favorite feature of your favorite query letter, something you still haven't forgotten?

Natalie: I STILL cringe at inappropriate word counts (anything over 100,000) and vampires and werewolves. What catches my attention is a well-written query – to the point, and with a clear, unique hook.

: An interview with Let the Words Flow tells your favorite TV shows:

Favorite TV shows: Supernatural, Ghost Whisperer, House, Bones, CSI: Las Vegas, Law and Order: SVU, Cake Boss, Family Guy, Simpsons, NCIS, Eureka (I love connecting with people on the random shows I like or used to watch.)
Loved this! Since I believe it gives tremendous insight into your soul, I found this very helpful! :) Any additions to the list? 

Natalie: Modern Family :)

Katrina: Be totally honest. Did you like Twilight? Harry Potter? The Hunger Games (Team Peeta!)?

Natalie: All of them! And YES team Peeta. ;)

All three series are honestly completely different breeds from each other – Twilight, though yes, everyone knocks…totally had me turning pages because I was COMPLETELY invested in the characters. Harry Potter was unique and fascinating – and again, totally invested in the characters. And Hunger Games was gritty and fresh…and I was 100% invested in the characters.

Hmm, I wonder if I like stories where I’m completely invested in the characters…

Katrina: Please share your exciting agency/client news with us! We love to get excited about upcoming bestsellers.

Natalie: Probably the lamest thing to be stoked about…but I am honestly SO excited we just re-vamped our agency website ( Otherwise, I have some very exciting projects coming up – including the sequel to SIRENZ by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman, and Jessica Souders’ debut, RENEGADE. On the adult side, I just sold a debut mystery for Monique Domovitch…but what is MOST incredibly amazing about her are her self-published novels – which Costco Canada has just agreed to sell!!

I have such an amazingly fabulous list of clients, it’s a tough bar to match…but I am ALWAYS looking for someone new to meet and exceed that bar!

Add it on goodreads
Add it on goodreads

Wonderful! Thank you so much, Natalie!

And thanks to everyone who entered and re-entered the contest last week! You guys rocked those twitter pitches.

And if you'd like to query
Natalie Fischer Lakosil, be sure to check out her...

Agency Website - Bradford Literary PLUS Submission Guidelines
Let the Words Flow Interview
A View From the Top Interview
Teens Writing for Teens Interview
Beyond Words Interview
Mother. Write. (Repeat.) Interview
Casey McCormick's Literary Rambles Spotlight: Natalie Fischer Lakosil
Publisher's Marketplace

As always, check the dates on interviews and contests. Take the most recent info as gospel when submitting work. Happy Nano!


Elizabeth Briggs said...

Thank you! And congrats to the other winners!

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Congratulations, Liz, Lisa, and Kate! Your pitches and beginnings were so fun to read! Good luck going forward with Natalie! *crossing my fingers for you*

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Thanks again, OA for running the contest, and for Natalie and her time to read all those pitches. You all rock!

Cortney Pearson said...

Hooray! Congrats to the winners!

Becky Mahoney said...

Congratulations to everyone - hoping I get to read the rest of your novels soon!

Lisa Aldin said...

Oh My Gosh! Thank you! Congratulations to all winners! And thank you Operation Awesome so much for running these contests!

LinWash said...

Congratulations, you guys!!! I enjoyed reding your pitches.

Kate Larkindale said...

Oh wow! That is so exciting!

Thanks so much. And congratulations to the other winners!

Kell Andrews said...

Congrats to the winners!!! These all were fun to read.