Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Mystery Editor Contest

Welcome to our last contest of 2013 - the December Mystery Editor contest! Yes, you read that right - Mystery Editor! Are your pitches ready to go? Today we are looking for your one-line pitch, plus the first 250 words of your manuscript.

Our Mystery Editor is seeking:
  •  YA contemporary romance 
  • NA contemporary romance 
  • and adult contemporary romance

and is not currently seeking YA paranormal.
The Grand Prize Winner will receive a 10-page critique, and our ME will request at least two full manuscripts for consideration. 

And here are the rules:

1) Again, you must submit a one-line pitch, along with the first 250 words of your manuscript. (If 250 cuts you off mid-sentence, you may finish that sentence, though.) If your pitch exceeds one line, you will be asked to resubmit.
* Make sure your pitch is not several sentences stuck together with commas instead of periods!

2) Entries must be for completed manuscripts. No unfinished drafts, please!

3) Entries must be left in the comments section of today's post (please don't email us your entries!). We'll close the contest once we've reached our limit.

4) You can only enter once today (only one project). If you participated or won previous MA contests, you can enter this one as well!

5) Please include NAME, CONTACT INFO, GENRE, and TITLE, followed by your one-line pitch.

6) The contest will close when we receive 50 entries.

7) If the rules aren't followed, your entry will be disqualified.

Please format your comment like this:

Email or twitter: 



Faith E. Hough said...
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J Lenni Dorner said...
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This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...
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Becky Mahoney said...

Hey guys - please note that this contest is for contemporary romance writers in YA, NA, and adult. Thank you!

Kelly deVos said...

Name: Kelly deVos
Email or twitter:
Genre: YA Mystery Romance
Title: The White Lehua
Pitch: When her grandfather mysteriously drowns, half-Hawaiian teen, Claire Wells, and sexy smart-ass Sam L’ia must find the killer and stop a cult bent on human sacrifice.

Part of me likes computers better than people. Bright lights make me nervous. I can’t walk in heels.

Still, here I am, making my way to the stage. I’m dressed up in a golden sequined dress that almost blinds me each time the fabric sways. A hair stylist spent two hours twisting my red hair into a perfect knot at the top of my head.

Through some miracle, I don’t trip and I get to the podium without embarrassing myself. I have a speech on a small card in my hand.

“I am thrilled to receive the Teen Aura Award. I want to thank everyone at Spark for this incredible honor.” I have to hunch over to speak into the microphone. The magazine editor who introduced me was much shorter.

“Each year, thousands of young girls go missing. Some are later found to have been victims of terrible violence. Some vanish completely. I decided to use my passion for computer science to help prevent these disappearances from happening.”

I continue reading from the card. It’s sort of true. This is what I tell myself. My friends and I do run a charity. We have a Twitter feed designed to track at-risk girls. We give out scholarships to summer camps and private schools. We even have a logo.

As I step down from the stage, an older woman takes my hand. “Isn’t it wonderful to see a young person recognized for something good, and not tweaking or twerking, or whatever they call it.” She gives me a confused smile.

I nod and keep going, leaving the ballroom. I can’t imagine what she would say if she knew the truth. I’m a cybercriminal, a liar, maybe a bully. I’ve even helped cover up a murder.

Faith E. Hough said...

Thank you for clarifying that here and within the post! I've deleted my earlier historical fiction entry!

Unknown said...

Same! I apologize and have deleted my post!

Kate Larkindale said...

Name: Kate Larkindale
Twitter: @vampyr14
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Title: The Sidewalk's Regrets
Pitch: When Sacha's sheltered life entwines with sexy rocker Dylan's, she gives him her cutting-edge sound; he gives her his drug habit.

My bow stutters across the bridge and I wince at the piercing noise that squawks out as the E-string breaks.

“Goddamn!” I want to throw the bow across the room, but I know better. I set it down on the table beside me instead. I glance at the clock. Four fifteen. Great. I got an hour in. Maybe a little more. That’s going to get this piece nailed. Not.

Stupid Shostakovich. Whoever picked this to be the compulsory piece for the summer school auditions deserves a kick in the ass.

I place my violin on the table while I scrabble through the paper envelopes of strings I keep inside the case’s lining. I know I don’t have a spare E because I broke one last week too. In the same measure. There’s clearly something wrong with my technique in that section. I have to ask Mr. Dobson about that when I go to my lesson tomorrow. I’ll have to get a new E-string before then too. One hasn’t miraculously appeared, despite my wishes.

With a sigh, I pack my violin into its case, pausing to run a hand over the warm, golden wood before shutting the lid. It’s like locking away my best friend. It is locking away my best friend. God knows I spend more time with my instrument than I do with anyone else.

The school’s hallways are empty and silent. My footsteps echo off the lockers and bounce from the walls. I try to keep them steady and even as the beats of a metronome, but when I draw nearer the doors, I can’t help but speed up.

Anonymous said...

NAME: D.R. Graham

EMAIL: drgrahambooks at aol dot com

GENRE: YA Contemporary Romance


PITCH: Seventeen-year-old Mike Carter vows not to become a cliché screw-up just because his parents are divorcing, but he’s dealing with more than a divorce, way more.


My buddy Landon sat beside me on the hood of my mom’s Volvo SUV and rolled weed. “You’re doing it again,” he said after he licked the paper.

“Doing what?”

“Staring at Bethie.”

“I’m not staring at her. I’m noticing her.”

Beth stepped closer to the glow of the bonfire laughing at something one of her friends said. She was wearing white cuffed shorts and a blousy tank-top thing with skinny straps.

“You’re staring, and you’re going to get your ass kicked if Tyler sees.”

Her boyfriend Tyler was sitting on the tailgate of a pick-up with two other guys who had just graduated. Beth wandered over to him and kissed his cheek. He wasn’t exactly thrilled that her best friend was a guy, so she typically avoided me whenever he was around. I slid back to lean on the windshield. “Don’t smoke that near me.”

“Yeah, yeah.” He wedged the joint behind his ear then leaned back next to me. “Hooking up with the girl who’s been your best friend for seventeen years is not the best idea you’ve ever had.”

“It’s not the worst. And, it’s not about hooking up.”

“Mikey, my boy, your life is already way too perfect. If you and Bethie Fitzgerald become a couple, something else will have to give.”

“I’ll take my chances. I need to make a move before things get too
serious with her and Tyler.”

He shook his head. “Don’t mess with the universe, man…

Leesa Bow said...

Name: Leesa Bow
Genre: New Adult/Contemporary/Sport
Title: Winning the Player
Set in Australia
Sex, alcohol, promiscuity, and nightclubs are all part of the game of love and football.

Winning the Player

“I.D.” A beady-eyed security guard held out his hand. I handed over my driver’s licence, stepped back and waited.
“Aubree Taylor.”
He stared longer than necessary and I wished I’d taken the time to apply makeup. For God sake I’m almost twenty-one. Do I really look under age? If he declines my entry based on the fact I don’t look as though I’m trying to pick up—
“Date of birth?” He scratched the side of his jaw.
“Come on,” my best friend interrupted. “Give her a break. She’s been away travelling for two years and we want a drink to celebrate her homecoming. Her hair is longer, and it’s darker than the photo because—”
“Maddy, it’s fine.” A shiver travelled down my spine and it wasn’t just from the icy wind. It was this place. I inhaled the cold night air caked with salt and waited.
“Go ahead.” He shoved the card in my hand and unlatched the rope. Heels echoed off the wooden floor as we weaved around the room toward the front of the Shores nightclub. My gaze followed the white walls and despite the dim light recognised the same outback artwork from the last time I was here.
“Nothing’s changed in—”
“A bloody long time,” Maddy finished.
My stomach tightened remembering the last time. I looked to the stairs to the iron-balustrade balcony where I’d kissed Hunter Stone. Big mistake. My guard shot up blocking the memory.

Brenda St John Brown said...

Name: Brenda St John Brown
Email: brenda.stjohnbrown (at)
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Title: Twenty Questions
Pitch: Ryan's black. Gabby's white. It doesn't matter to them, but when they start dating it suddenly matters to Gabby's parents -- a lot.

FIRST 250:
Cleaning up after chemistry lab Ryan drops at least three slides, which clues me in that something’s up because Ryan does not fumble.

Not in chemistry, not in football, not in anything.

“Why don’t you finish writing our answers and I’ll do this before you break something?” I offer. Usually Ryan cleans up while I write the report, but we've been doing Mr. Blodgett’s "Viscosity is a Virtue" lab and I have visions of him spilling motor oil all over my new white sweater.

Ryan nods. “Yeah, sorry.”

“Just try to write so Mr. Blodgett can read it.” This isn't a jab, even though it sounds like one. Ryan’s handwriting is all over the place, like he missed the basics of letter formation and shot straight to cursive. The result is a lot of sharp angles that could pass for hieroglyphics with a random recognizable “a” thrown in.

“Hey, um, I was wondering something.” He stares at the lab sheet in front of him while I put the glass beakers of oil back on the stand, so I’m not really paying attention. We have less than two minutes before the bell and Mr. Blodgett’s anal about leaving a clean lab space. If he’s told us once, he’s told us three hundred times, he picks up after his two kids at home, he’s not about to pick up after his students at school.

“Sure. What?” I ask.

“Are you going to the Homecoming Dance next weekend?”

The last thing I assume is that he’s asking me.

Anonymous said...

Name: Heidi Joy Tretheway
Twitter: @heiditretheway
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Title: Tyler & Stella (Tattoo Thief #2)

Pitch: I always say a bad boy can’t break your heart, but the rock band Tattoo Thief’s bassist Tyler Walsh defies his reputation and ignites a media firestorm—and I’m on the hook to report the story.

I’ve never hated myself as much as I do right now.

My best friend Beryl just ran to the bathroom in tears and I’m left holding her phone as a video plays. It’s just a guy in a hotel room, playing his guitar and singing.

God, it’s stunning. I see Gavin’s sandy hair flop forward on his face as he concentrates on a chord progression and a pang of envy churns in my gut.

Not that Beryl shouldn’t have this. She should. I /want/ her to have a sweet, beautiful, impossibly famous rocker writing her love songs and remembering her birthday.

But I also want that for me.

Even just the remembering my birthday part. Even if he isn’t famous or beautiful.

I tune out everything except this one perfect video that would rock the world of rock. It’s a side of Tattoo Thief that fans have never seen, and it’s heart-stoppingly authentic.

It isn’t fair. Somehow Beryl gained access to a band that’s at the top of the charts, yet /I’m/ the music journalist and I’ve never gotten an insider’s look at a band even half as famous.

I glance around and Beryl’s still in the bathroom. Before I can overthink it, I email the video to myself. I need a closer look.

The journalist in me rationalizes this. I’m not stealing the video. Beryl showed it to me. And this could be a great story—the best of my career (what little there is of it).

I need another drink.

J Lenni Dorner said...

I also didn't realize that this was a romance-only contest. Deleted. Sorry. :\

Anonymous said...

Name: Natalia Paige
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Title: First Love

Pitch: Never been kissed Marie sets out to find a boyfriend and lands a guy, only a vixen has her eyes set on him too and things are about to turn from wonderful to ugly.

First day of college and I was already lost. Most of the other students were heading into Dawson Hall, but my first class was bio, in the science center. I remembered from my tour months ago that it was a large building so where was it hiding?


I glanced over, and up, to see a tall guy, slim, with sunglasses on. “Hi,” I said hesitantly, in case he hadn’t been talking to me.

“Where you off to?” he asked.

“Intro to bio.”

“Me too.”

He fell into step beside me. Turned out the science center was behind Dawson, and we walked inside. I sat in a spot but before I could say anything to him, he walked over to a bunch of guys and sat down.

Crap. So much for my vow for college to not be a repeat of high school.


After my morning classes—don’t want to talk about how they went—I ran back to my dorm room. A girl stood in front of the mirror, brushing her elbow-length hair. “Hi, you must be Marie.” Her reflection smiled at me.

“Hi. Yeah.”

“Sue.” She continued her brushing. Her eyes were a brilliant blue, her hair black, her skin white. She almost looked like a vampire.
“I took the bottom bunk. I can switch to the top if you want,” I offered. Yesterday had been moving in day. She had never showed.

“It’s fine.” Sue rolled her eyes to the mini fridge. “Help yourself to anything."

Anonymous said...

Name: Heather Van Fleet
Email or twitter:
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Title: Taking a Chance
Pitch: Wrestling Stud Xavier and Clarinet expert Dani take a journey that is first love in a happy Romeo and Juliet retelling that meshes with the late 90's movie, She's All That.

There should have been a manual for these types of situations. If there was, it should have been entitled: how to deal with your father when he went all–out Capulet/Montague on the next door neighbor. Heck, maybe
Mr. Shakespeare did write such a guidebook; one he never actually got around to looking at when he penned Romeo and Juliet, obviously. But I have to say, those fighting fools from the Renaissance century had absolutely nothing on my father and Marcus Faulkner—AKA our next door neighbor who was mostly likely born and raised inside the pits of hell itself.

“I told you, the next time you let that damn dog crap in my lawn that I was going to tear them out. And according to the crap currently stuck on the bottom of my shoes,” he lifted his feet, pointing out the evidence none of us wanted to see, “your rose bush had no chance at survival today, Parker.”

A vein the size of Mount Rushmore threatened to burst from Dad’s neck. Jaw locked, he looked about two seconds away from putting Marcus on death row himself.

“Step away, Faulkner.”

Marcus Faulkner didn’t step away. In fact, he stepped forward, tossing that said rose bush at my dad’s feet instead. A knowing, almost righteous smirk splayed across our villainous neighbor’s lips as he huffed and crossed his arms. I held my breath, and gripped Dad’s arm.

Waiting for the storm of epic proportions to explode in my front yard was not how I envisioned spending my Saturday afternoon.

Slowly, I shut my eyes as trepidation—and possibly my father’s tuna sandwich from lunch— twisted around inside my gut.

I’d be the first to admit that chopping the bush down took things a little too far. But this definitely wasn’t worth the jail time for Dad either. The last thing he needed was to be the first man in Atlas Illinois to serve time in prison during their stint as our town’s sheriff.

“Dad,” I reached for his arm, settling my fingers around his wrist. I squeezed, “it’s not worth it, okay? He’s not worth it.”

“Dani, this has nothing to do with you.” The growl through his teeth assured my fear. Dad was going to straight–up lose it here if I didn’t step in.

This wasn’t my fight, sure. I knew better than anyone that my dad was a man who waged his own battles. But all I could think about, as I stared into the grieving, angry eyes of my father, was that the flowers at his feet and in his hands, were all we had left of Mom; all that was alive in the sake of her memory.

Jennifer Kay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becky Mahoney said...


Your pitch exceeds one sentence - please revise and resubmit. Thank you!

Jennifer Kay said...

NAME: Jennifer Kay
GENRE: YA Contemporary
When her dad is abducted by her mobster uncle, Alex must learn the family trade in time to save his life and protect her mother's traitorous secret with only the help of her secret crush Tony and her cover boyfriend Brian.

I woke to gunshots and the cascade of shattering glass.

Instinct surged my limbs. My body rolled off the bed, clunked onto the floor, and kept rolling underneath the mattress. The brain was much slower on the uptake. Who opens fire on a seaside rental cottage in Cadiz?

The silence pulsed through my nerves. I held my breath until deep cursing assaulted my ears. Thank God, Dad was alive.

“Take this you traitors,” a female voice screamed.

Return fire ricocheted across the still night. Aunt Gwen would never go down without a fight.

Neither would I.

I propped on my elbows and began a slow army crawl across the bedroom floor. When the gunfire paused, I surged up to twist the door knob.

“Incoming,” Dad yelled.

I dropped to the floor, the carpeting muffling my yelp. My arms wrapped around my head. As if anything could shield me from the armageddon playing out in front of the cottage.

Tires screeched. Gun shots tapered off. But it might be a trick.

I hugged the ground during my long trek down the hallway, pausing beside the stone archway into the great room.

Dad chuckled. “Looks like we won’t be getting back the security deposit. Again.”

His deep baritone pulled me to my feet. How scary could those punks be if Dad was laughing? I rounded the corner and froze.

Blood. Everywhere.

“Ha, ha, wise guy. Now hold still.” Gwen crouched over Dad’s shoulder, a needle clenched in the corner of her mouth.

Jennifer Kay said...

Sorry, I wasn't aware of the one sentence limit. I've resubmitted below.

Melinda said...

NAME: Melinda Gray
GENRE: YA contemporary romance

One-line pitch:
Summer needs to convince her neighbor Ryan he's making a mistake giving up soccer and his future goals to follow his girlfriend to college--but first she'll have to convince herself she made a mistake letting him go last year.

First 250 words:
Ryan’s music is too loud—not exactly a problem, except that it’s louder than mine. I jack up my iPod. My tiny speakers can’t drown out the noise.

Especially since they aren’t just competing with music, but laughter, splashing, screams. Fun. That’s what’s on the other side of the fence.

My phone buzzes and skitters across the swing’s wide seat. Amber’s name flashes on the screen, followed almost immediately by Max’s. Their texts are identical. She’s headed to his house, his parents are headed out, I can come if I want.

Half an invitation from each that doesn’t add up to a whole.

Can’t make it, I text back. Family movie night.

Not a complete lie. The living room windows flicker with light from a DVD.

I give up the fight with the music and shut mine off. Despite the dark sky, the air is hot.

I could join my parents, but instead I stay outside, between my house and Ryan’s, pushing myself in the swing, digging my bare toes into the grass, listening to the party I’m definitely not invited to.

Until the soccer ball lands in my lap. I clutch it and blink into the darkness, trying to see if anyone’s there to claim it. A head pops over the back fence, followed by a body, which lands with a two-footed thump on my side.

“Nice one, man,” Ryan yells back over the fence, then turns and jogs toward me.

I could throw the ball back, but I wait for him to come to me.

Sheralan said...

Name: Sheralan Marrott
Genre: YA Contemporary
After one failed escape attempt cost his best friend’s life, Vance, nearing the age of eighteen, bides his time in the Bolivian reformation school until a stubborn redhead walks in and ruins everything because he knows if he leaves her behind, she may never get out.

Chapter One

The alarm wails through the PA system, signaling the start of a new day in hell. Vance blinks at the chipped gray paint on the ceiling, no hope of escape, no dreams of home, not anymore. His roommate, Jackson, a short kid with dark skin and bright eyes sits on the cot across the room and laces his boots.

“Aren’t you getting up?”

Vance rubs a hand over his face and sits up. “Of course.” What choice does he have? He grabs his jeans from the foot of the bed and slips them on and sits on the edge of the flimsy mattress. As he reaches for his boots, the wide bracelet on Jackson’s wrist catches his eye. Yellow. He’s becoming one of them. Only one step away from being a whiteband.

Pretending to concentrate on tying his boots, he clinches his teeth and swallows the bitter betrayal. Five months ago, Jackson told a whiteband to do intimate yet physically impossible things to himself. Five months ago, Vance had to hold him back. Now look at him. Completely ready to go, bending to their will, even helping enforce it on other students. He can’t really blame him. The beatings, the food and sleep deprivation, the isolation, and the constant indoctrination of total BS get to everyone after a while. Even Vance.