Thursday, November 30, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 30: THE NEVERWAS

I saved my last pitch this month for the book I'm editing right now. It's nearing completion, and soon I should have it ready to release into the wilds. My fingers are crossed that this book will one day be published.

THE NEVERWAS

Kai is a gladiator in the Neverwas, a world where government policy is determined through combat in the arena. Laws are made based on who prevails in these magical fights to the death, and the winner receives a life-extending drug. After witnessing the destruction of a whole community in the far reaches of the world, Kai has come to the arena to find some semblance of control. Instead, the arena offers only chaos and confusion.

While fighting, Kai remembers a fragment of another life—a life in which Kai shared a kiss with an arena official named Quin in a place called Iowa. To remain near Quin, Kai resurrects a long-dead political coalition. But delving deeper into the intrigue of the arena only brings more questions—about the running of the government and the origin of the life-extending drug, about memory, and about the nature of the world itself.

Kai’s greatest battle of all won’t be on the sands of the arena—it will be proving to Quin that just because something is forgotten doesn’t mean it never was.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 29: FUGUE

As promised, today I have a pitch for my second NaNovel, called FUGUE. It was a little less derivative than The Empire Project, but still not the strongest concept.

I admit it's kind of fun to go back and chuckle at my early work. It's always nice to have a reminder of just how much my writing has changed.

Here's the pitch:

Jacob Brown has finally written a masterpiece—a perfect fugue worthy of Bach himself. He hopes the piece will finally earn him some money to pay his mother’s medical bills. But the first time he plays it, the music summons Hope, a ragged Spirit of Christmas—the only one of four such spirits that remains on Earth.

To bring back the other three in time for Christmas, Jacob must work with an opera singer and her mathematician brother to mutate the fugue into three other variations. If they can bring back all four spirits of Christmas, Jacob will have his own Christmas miracle—healing for his mother.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 28: THE EMPIRE PROJECT

In honor of it being NaNoWriMo, my pitches today and tomorrow will be for the first two NaNovels I ever wrote. They were truly terrible, but everyone has to start somewhere. (The first was particularly derivative.)

Without further ado, here is the first pitch:

Vidar is a child born and raised to be brilliant. At six years old, after intense training in language, sociology, politimetrics and the like, he’s ready to join the other children his age in ruling the Earth. But even as he makes new friends among the others in the program—including two who share more in common with Vidar than he ever expected—he begins to notice cracks in the utopia all around him.

Older children keep disappearing. Anyone who asks too many questions soon vanishes. For all their brilliance, the children in the program have never asked the most crucial question of all: Who really runs the world?

Monday, November 27, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 27: THE SOULSPEAKERS

We're nearing the end of the month and the end of the pitches. Obviously I have lots of ideas I could work on when I'm finished editing my current manuscript and writing The Lies of Lochan Duvh. But the one I've been leaning toward is this one, THE SOULSPEAKERS.

I've always wanted to work with animation magic, and that's a big part of this book. I'm also really intrigued by the way labels affect people. Children tend to think of themselves as how they've been labeled. When I was younger I thought of myself as shy--even used my "shyness" as an excuse--simply because I'd heard myself described that way.

And I don't think it's only kids who react in this way. I really want to explore how thinking of ourselves in a particular way can make our weaknesses even more difficult to overcome.

And with that, here's the pitch:

In Sunny’s world, all seventeen-year-olds go before the Staff of Souls to be told their greatest weakness. If they can conquer their weakness within the following year they will become Imbuers, capable of imbuing one object with a magical soul. But when the staff labels Sunny as Cruel, Sunny spirals and loses control of the animation magic all children gain when they discover their greatest strength.

Nevertheless, Sunny is forced to compete in the annual Conqueror’s Trial, designed to make contestants face their weaknesses over and over. Sunny is placed on a team with River, who is Faithless, and Ember, who is Merciless. The three must work together, putting behind them their shared history of romance and betrayal, if they have any chance of surviving, much less conquering their weaknesses.

But as the three fight against the harsh labels they’ve been given, Sunny makes a startling discovery: the Staff of Souls can lie.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 26: SWEET AND BITTER

Coming to the end of the month, I'm beginning to run out of quick and easy ideas. I started thinking about my hobbies and what I found interested and decided to see if I could come up with a book involving chocolate.

I also love a good underdog story, particularly if it involves a leader turning a team of riffraff into something special. So here's my combination of the two, SWEET AND BITTER:

Jayra is a baker and chocolatier under the tutelage of Animatra, the most respected chef in the world. After her kingdom is conquered and Animatra killed, Jayra is taken into captivity to be a slave to a foreign queen. But the queen has more slaves than she needs already—any who can’t perform quality service are put to death. The queen has recently executed her kitchen staff, so Jayra is placed on a team of cooks competing for the chance to take their place. Any team that does poorly will be put to the sword.

Jayra’s team is full of drunks, laggards and hopeless slaves—a perfect recipe for failure. Only Jayra has any experience in a kitchen, and while her skills may be barely enough to carry them through the first eliminations, after that it will be up to Jayra to whip the team into a competent kitchen staff. If they can’t win the competition they will die… and Jayra will lose the opportunity to slip poisoned chocolate into the queen’s dessert to get revenge for Animatra.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 25: TUNGSTEN

A lot of fantasy out there is "elemental" in the sense of the Earth-Air-Fire-Water "elements." But I have yet to see a fantasy that's based on actual periodic table elements. I think it'd be a lot of fun to write one. This is my idea for such a book:

TUNGSTEN:

Willa’s junior year is spiraling out of control. Between prom committee, orchestra, AP exams and maker lab club, burnout is only one stressful study session away. So when RJ, the smartest kid in school, invites her to join yet another after school science club, Willa isn’t inclined to accept the invitation, even if RJ is super hot.

Only this club isn’t quite like the others. The Elementalists don’t just learn about elements, they manipulate them. And not the earth-air-fire kind, but real periodic table stuff. With their powers, the Elementalists protect the world from threats alien and domestic.

But not all Elementalists are equal. Willa’s element is Tungsten, hardly as useful as Oxygen or RJ’s Carbon. Unless people need their custom wedding bands adjusted, there’s not much she can do. But when all the “important” Elementalists, RJ included, are incapacitated in an explosive accident, it’s up to Willa and the rest of the B team to come to the rescue.

Friday, November 24, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 24: THE CURSED LAMP

Today's pitch is the closest I've ever come to considering writing a romance. I had a basic plot for this one drawn out, but around that time I was also thinking of writing The Curator, and the humor of the latter won me over.

As it stands now, I think a lot of the ideas in this one are a bit tired, but there are pieces I'd still really like to use. Perhaps one day...

THE CURSED LAMP:

As a child on the brink of starvation, Mahla made a deal with a djinn to take his cursed lamp as her own. Now, though she will age, she will never die, so long as the lamp is safe, but in exchange she can be summoned by anyone in possession of the lamp and forced to compete any task they ask of her.

On her nineteenth birthday, Mahla and her best friend Azhel are taken away to become courtesan companions for the prince. The lamp falls into his possession, though he doesn’t yet know its significance. At the palace Mahla begins training in the arts—music, dance, fan language, diplomacy—and excels, catching the attention not only of the prince but also of the captain of the guard, with whom she is forbidden contact.

Nevertheless she finds herself drawn to him, all the more so when he discovers the secret of her lamp… and keeps it safe. But danger lurks elsewhere—in the attention of the prince, in Azhel’s jealousy, in the rebel sect searching for the lamp to use for their own purposes. Mahla must be quick and cunning if her life is ever to be her own.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 23: THE SIGN OF THE WREN

Happy Thanksgiving! Wishing you all a lovely holiday and lots to be thankful for.

One of the things I'm thankful for is the college I went to--William and Mary. I met my husband there, as well as a whole lot of my friends, so it was a pretty special place for me. I love the campus and the history and the sort of people who are drawn to that school.

Several years ago I read a fantasy book set on the Princeton campus and realized I really wanted to write one for William and Mary. It hasn't happened yet, but I do have something of a plot in mind. At present it's awfully indulgent, but I think I could build off of it. (And besides, the movie it could be compared to--National Treasure--is rather indulgent as well, so I'll let it slide for now.)

Here's the idea as it stands right now:

Ariel is the youngest member of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. She dreams of going off to Yale and one day becoming president. But when her early admission application is rejected, she grudgingly accepts an invitation to spend a weekend in Williamsburg with her cousin, a senior at William and Mary.

Her first night on campus, Ariel wanders the grounds alone, exploring the old brick structures and wishing she were on the grounds of Yale instead. But the moment she steps into the courtyard of the Wren Building, one of the oldest academic buildings in the country, she’s met by a spirit in the shape of a griffin. The griffin gives her a skeleton key and begs for her help. The Wren Building is one of many buildings designed by Christopher Wren, an English architect and part of a secret sect tasked with protecting the Earth from a resurgence of anti-intellectualism. His buildings are each home to a guardian of enlightenment.

But the guardians are failing—growing sick and dim from some unknown cause. Now it’s up to Ariel to solve the mystery of their decline, using the key to travel from one building to another, and restore the light of reason on Earth. But unless she can conquer her own pride, she will never save the guardians.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 22: UNRAVEL

Today's pitch is based entirely on the fact that I love crocheting little critters and dolls. Like this one...


Here's the pitch:

When the Maker finishes crocheting a doll, it comes to life. It dances and plays with the other dolls, but it doesn’t think for itself. It is merely a plaything, fit for amusing the Maker’s guests, and once the wear and tear of play begin to unravel it—only natural for a toy made of string—it is only a matter of time before the magic inside it fades.

The Maker’s favorite doll is a ballerina with a purple tutu. It’s special—it can dance better than any of the others, but it never plays with them. The Maker only brings it out for special occasions. All the same, the yarn is beginning to thin. And unbeknownst to the Maker, this doll is different—this one is Real.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 21: THE SWORD OF LAW

Today's pitch is for a book I never imagined until this month. But as I was writing out the pitch I decided I really like the hook here! I may have to consider it for the future...

SWORD OF LAW:

Eristar is the descendant of a noble family who fell into poverty generations ago. She has been searching for the Sword of Law all her life. The person who holds the sword rules the kingdom, but it has been missing for centuries, and in that time the kingdom has come to ruin. At last Eristar has discovered the key to the sword’s hiding place. The moment she puts her fingers on the hilt of the sword the kingdom begins to change.

Magic returns and warring factions find peace. Eristar is set up as Queen and the people prosper. The kingdom thrives.

There’s just one problem: Eristar’s Sword of Law is a fake.

Monday, November 20, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 20: UNMADE

Today's pitch is for a book I tried writing several years ago and then scrapped a few chapters in because I couldn't get either the magic or the pacing quite right. The failure of this book gave me a (probably irrational) belief that I simply wasn't good at writing contemporary fantasy.

I don't entirely believe that any more, though I'm still vaguely leery of it. And I'm no longer particularly interested in this book, though I think the pitch is alright...

UNMADE:

Thea grants wishes, but never her own and never in the ways she expects. Her ability is beyond her control. On the first day of school, her neighbor wishes for the bus to break down. Immediately a meteor crashes in front of the bus, wrecking it and injuring Thea. She comes back from the hospital in a wheelchair.

But that’s not the worst of her worries. Her power is growing. Soon her town is littered with living gargoyles—yet another unexpected answer to a wish. Thea is frightened of her power and hates the circumstances it puts her in. She wishes with all of her heart for everything she is not, and for once in her life her own wish is granted…

…but in a way she never imagined.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 19: FORGOTTEN

Today's book is the sort that I have a strong desire to write, but I fear I'm not capable of doing justice. I started researching it a year or so ago, and the research I was doing was really tough stuff. This idea is gritty, and though it's set in a fantasy world, it digs deep into the myriad of troubles that infect the poorest countries on Earth.

I would like to write this one day. I only hope that when I do I'm really ready to tackle it.

FORGOTTEN:

Marliu knows only three things: she’s the primary suspect in a murder investigation, she’s just broken out of prison, and to gain a burst of magic, she has destroyed all her memories of her life. To clear herself of the charges, she must conduct her own investigation, wading through the corruption of one of the poorest governments on the planet and sacrificing memories for magic any time the police get too close.

Mae is a poor girl working in the mines that feed the corruption of the government. She uses magic however she can to pull her family out of poverty, but despite her efforts a string of misfortunes befalls them, all at the hand of one corrupt official.

Marliu knows nothing of the girl in the mines, but until Mae’s story comes to light, she’ll never know the truth behind the murder, or whether she was guilty after all.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 18: OLYMPUS GATE

After a week of hypothetical projects, here's one that I've actually completed. This is the first book I ever queried, and though I got a few request on it, it was (rightfully) never picked up. At the time I was querying it would have been perfect for the market. Now... it's not.

So I don't really have any plans of publishing it, but I have considered cleaning it up a bit and making it available, perhaps on Wattpad.

Here's the pitch for OLYMPUS GATE:

Annie always believed she was just another girl orphaned by the nuclear wars... until the anonymous package arrived on her doorstep. Piecing together the clues inside reveals that she was born thousands of years before in ancient Rome, and that time travel is possible. She discovers that she had a twin sister, who was murdered in 83 BCE.

When she learns of her sister's death, she realizes she has a choice: stay with the people she has known all her life or return to ancient Rome in the hope of saving her twin. What's more, Annie believes that by changing the past she could create a new future, one not destroyed by war, but that in doing so she would erase the lives of everyone she loves. Uncertain whether she is making the right choice, Annie travels back to Rome.

Now she's stuck in the past, hiding her true identity and falling for the guy who loves her twin. She can't find her sister. She can't figure out how to change the world. And as the ancient superstitions that led to her sister's death close in, she fears that she may run out of time for both.

Friday, November 17, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 17: THE MISTS OF ETROIA

I'm going to cheat just a little bit with today's pitch. It isn't for a book but for a Doctor Who episode I'd love to see made. There's so much possible when playing with time, but I don't think I've ever seen an episode where the Doctor and companion have to solve a problem together while moving in opposite directions in time. (Granted I haven't seen every episode of the show, so it's possible it has happened before.)

Pitch:

The Doctor and [companion] have come to planet Etroia to visit the ancient, wise species that lives there, but when they arrive they find the planet empty and covered in mist. Upon landing they lose the Tardis and find themselves repeating the same hour over and over—but in reverse order of one another. As [companion] remembers more and more of their time there, the Doctor remembers less and less.

Now it is up to [companion] to sift through the clues the Doctor has been dropping in order to retrieve the Tardis and find the device causing their temporal misalignment. If [companion] can’t fix the misalignment before the Doctor forgets everything, they’ll both disappear into the mist, just like the former inhabitants of Etroia.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 16: SUPERTHINK

Today's pitch comes out of some of the reading I've done lately on artificial superintelligence, as well as my own fears about connecting everything in our lives (cars, refrigerators, thermostats...) to systems we don't control. I think these ideas should be explored in fiction, though I worry I'm not the right person to present them. Nevertheless, here's an idea for a book I'd like to see, whether I'm the one to write it or not:

Dillon is on his way to school in a self-driving car when a world-wide automotive security hack causes crashes around the globe. Dillon’s car swerves into a tree, and he loses consciousness. When he wakes up, his body is dead. Thanks to a new, cutting edge technology, his brain has been copied digitally into a computer housed in an android body.

Plagued by questions of his own humanity, Dillon struggles to come to terms with the role he must now play in the world. His “resurrection” was a gift, but not a free one. The researchers want to enhance his processing power, hoping he’ll be the link between human thought and digital superintelligence.

Only slowly does Dillon come to understand that he’s meant to be no more than a tool. He’ll have to fight to have any autonomy at all, for he who controls the greatest intelligence controls the future.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 15: I'LL BE DANCING

I've always had the idea of writing a book called I'LL BE DANCING. I was in ballet all through grade school, and dance was such a big part of my childhood. I'd love to pay tribute to my experience in ballet, and to the instructor I had for so long.

But I never really had a plot... until I sat down to come up with something and this one fell right onto the page. I think it would be pretty cool, though it's a big departure from the sort of thing I usually write.

Here's the third sci fi pitch of the week:

Mara was dancing when the news hit that They had made first contact. Suddenly her dreams of teaching dance for as long as her body allows were replaced with worry over what intelligent alien life might mean for humanity as a whole.

Mara was dancing when They landed their ships on Earth… and picked her to have the first direct communication with a life form from another world.

And Mara will continue dancing with all her strength, until the disease eating through her body kills her. She’ll dance for the peace it brings her. She’ll dance to leave her mark on a rapidly-changing world.

She’ll dance, because when she does, They speak to her.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 14: A SINGLE BREATH

So I've had today's pitch in mind for a while now, but since it's more sci fi than fantasy I haven't really done anything with it.

The more I think about it, though, the more it seems like a good short story or maybe novella, so perhaps being shorter, I might get to it.

A SINGLE BREATH

Kindra has the crosshairs of her gun on Delfrank’s heart. She is going to pull the trigger. She has to. That was her whole purpose in coming back to this time—kill Delfrank to silence a secret, to end a war, to prevent a genocide.

She didn’t anticipate falling in love with him.

But she didn’t know who he would be, and by the time she learned his identity, she was already smitten. Now in the span of a single breath she considers everything: a hundred stolen kisses and ten thousand lost souls, the sound of Delfrank’s laugh and her brother’s tears as he held his wife, the life she wants and the choice she is forced to make.

She must pull the trigger. She must! But how many lifetimes can she live in a single breath before she makes her final choice?

Monday, November 13, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 13: OLYMPUS MONS

I think it's pretty clear from most of the pitches I've written that my genre is YA Fantasy. But I do enjoy stories that branch out from that genre, and I have some ideas of my own that fall into other categories--mainly Sci Fi.

This week I'll be posting some of those. The first--OLYMPUS MONS--is thanks to my love of all things having to do with Mars...

Hope was the first child born on Mars. Twenty-two years later she’s still the face of the Mars Inspiration Colony, simply for having been born. She feels like an impostor, taking credit for someone else’s achievement. So when she wakes up in the middle of the night from a dream of being the first to scale Olympus Mons, she knows she has to turn the dream into reality.

Jared is an extreme Earth survivalist. He’s conquered every challenge from the heights of Everest to the depths of the sea. But he’s never been able to claim the title “first.” For that he’ll have to travel to a new planet, ripe for records. If he can get to the top of Olympus Mons before Hope, he’ll finally have his title.

Two explorers. Two harrowing journeys. One mountain. But before either of them can claim victory at the top, they’ll have to survive the climb.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 12: TRUE SIGHT

Looks like this weekend is all about completed books. I wrote TRUE SIGHT back about... seven or eight years ago. It was the first thing I'd written that I was really proud of. I had managed to make the words do basically what I was trying to make them do, and I had some interesting ideas in the book.

Of course my prose was still a bit of a disaster, and my plotting wasn't that sharp. I've learned a whole lot in seven (or eight?) years.

But there may still be some salvageable concepts in this novel, and maybe I'll reuse them sometime.

Pitch:

Kierr and Deisa have lived all their lives in the Athaani caverns. They’ve never seen the sun, never faced the harsh snows on the mountains overhead. But Kierr is determined to see the stars, so with Deisa’s grudging help, she steals Fireweed, a military drug that allows the all-female corps to survive on the surface.

When Deisa takes the drug, she goes into shock. Upon waking, she finds she can see a second, illusory face on everyone she meets—a face that shows their true self. But when Deisa is kidnapped by a visiting diplomat eager to use her gift, Kierr follows after, braving the stark world and the blinding sunlight to bring back her best friend.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 11: THE CURATOR

Four years ago I had a new baby, and nothing was as it had been before. I was over the moon... but overwhelmed. Mesmerized with my new little person... but a nervous wreck.

So when I started writing again, I had to write something lighthearted and fun for my own peace of mine. I saw the new book as "if Rick Riordan wrote a fantasy Doctor Who." I called it THE CURATOR.

That book went through lots of ups and downs, notably the challenge of finding sensitivity readers who would commit to the whole thing. But I finished it. Hopefully one day something will happen with it.

Here's the pitch:

Maximilian is the Curator of Earth. Rather a lofty title for one of the lowliest positions in the Museum of Worlds—Earth doesn’t even have magic! So maybe he sneaks a few magical artifacts into Earth from time to time. There’s nothing wrong with a harmless prank. Or ten. Except he’s not the only one sneaking them in, and some of the new ones popping up everywhere are downright dangerous.

Emmy knows everything there is to know about having adventures—be kind to beggars since they’re probably kings in disguise; if you meet a talking animal, take it as a sidekick because it’s likely to save your life later; don’t eat the food in Faerie. If only a proper adventure would present itself! Too bad the closest she can come to magic is a summer job at the library.

When Maximilian literally falls into her lap on her way to the interview, Emmy gets the very adventure she’s been longing for. And she might just be exactly what he needs to solve the case of the artifacts and restore Earth to its cozy magic-less existence.

Friday, November 10, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 10: SLEIGHT OF HAND

For the final pitch in this week's sub-series, we go to Xavier, the descendant of the characters in the previous four pitches:

By day, Xavier is a student at UNLV, living in a frat and studying econ. By night, he’s a magician on whichever Vegas stage will have him, working his way up to bigger and better shows. His best act, the one that is bound to get him noticed any day now, isn’t sleight of hand at all. Xavier can vanish and reappear somewhere else, but doing so causes him physical harm.

Fortunately Xavier has a secret weapon—a bottle of whiskey from his great grandmother that can heal any hurt. It only takes a sip to bring back full health, but the bottle won’t last forever. It doesn’t have to. It only needs to last until he makes it on the big stage.

But when a series of near-deadly pranks on campus puts Xavier in repeated danger, he must use his ability—and the whiskey—to save himself. Unless Xavier can figure out who is behind the vicious pranks, the whiskey—and thus his life—may come to an end.

*

And that concludes the series of the week!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 9: DANDELION WINE

Of the five pitches I'm doing in this series, this and the first are my favorites. I would love to research and write this book. So... continuing with the family from the past three pitches, I move forward now to Prohibition Era rural Virginia:

Ruth Carter is a teenage moonshiner in 1920s rural Virginia, and her whisky is unlike any other—one sip can heal anyone of any disease… for a price. The person who commissions the moonshine must give up their most prized possession or the magic won’t work.

It’s the height of Prohibition, and moonshine is illegal, but it’s not the only thing Ruth is hiding. She’s in love with Roy Bolling, but he’s engaged to Helen Graves, and the Graves and Carter families have a long history of feuding.

When a bad batch of whiskey disguised in one of Ruth’s bottles kills Helen Graves, Ruth goes on the run—from the law, from anyone by the name of Graves, and even from the people she thought she trusted most. If she can’t figure out who framed her she’ll lose everything, but doing so will require she give up her own most prized possession: the silver locket that makes her magic possible.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 8: FICKLE SILVER

The third pitch in this week's series is about Marguerite's descendant Sam:

Sam Carter is a silversmith in Frederick, Maryland, during the Civil War. He smiths buttons for the army and donates any extra income he makes to the war effort. When he stumbles upon an old bottle of perfume among his late grandmother’s belongings, he makes a startling discovery: by adding a drop of the perfume to the silver he smiths, the object he creates has a chance of granting its owner their greatest desire.

But only a chance. Sometimes the silver brings them to ruin instead.

When Anna, the girl Sam loves, asks him to make her a locket, Sam debates adding the perfume. Anna’s greatest desire could only be for the war to end and bring her brother home. Against his better judgment he puts a drop into the locket. But the moment he gives it to Anna, she receives word her brother has died. Now, to protect Anna from further tragedy, Sam must find a way to reverse the luck on the locket and destroy its influence for good.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 7: ROSEMARY LIES

Today is pitch #2 of the 5-part sub-series. Yesterday's pitch was about Jacoba and the tulips. The next one is about Jacoba's descendant:

In 1693, news of the Salem Witch Trials has made its way to Marguerite, a perfumer living in Providence, Rhode Island. Marguerite fears the hysteria will infect her own town, particularly if word spreads about what she can do. Though she learned her art from her father, it was from her mother’s side that she received the secret ingredient she uses in her perfumes: a crushed tulip. The tulip has no scent. Instead it serves another purpose. Any perfume made with a pinch of tulip powder and a hint of rosemary can make its wearer tell only the truth. But first the person buying the perfume must betray someone they love.

As hidden truths come to light and relationships are darkened by betrayal across Providence, Marguerite finds that she herself is not immune to betrayal, and her own truths are not as protected as she would like to believe.

Monday, November 6, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 6: TULIP SECRETS

So this week for my pitches I'll be doing a group of five that could easily be put together in a loosely-connected series. The first of them is called TULIP SECRETS.

I actually tried writing this book a few years ago, and I had some major problems with the three acts of the novel not coming together at all. I think I could rewrite it with much better results if I go about it a bit differently and change some of the plot elements.

And I'd really love to do that. Tulip Mania absolutely fascinates me, and I love the potential of the magic in this one. Hopefully one day I'll get my act together and write it the way it was meant to be written.

Pitch:

In the mid-1630s, Tulip Mania gripped the city of Amsterdam. Buyers and sellers gathered in taverns auctioning the bulbs for extraordinary prices—sometimes as high as the cost of a house. But none was more valued than the Semper Augustus, a rare red-and-white-striped flower.

Jacoba is the tavern-keeper’s daughter responsible for the mania. Those who bring her a tulip can ask for anyone to fall in love with them—the more rare and valuable the tulip, the stronger the effect. But the magic comes at a cost—the bearer must divulge their deepest secret or the magic won’t take hold.

Jacoba has secrets of her own: the truth of her parentage, the bargains she has made, the name of her true love. When a Semper Augustus is stolen and brought to her to use, she finds herself drawn into a web of secrets that threaten to unmask everything she wishes to keep hidden.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 5: THE NEVER SILENT

Today's pitch is for one of my two favorite novels I've ever worked on. (The other is the one I'm editing now!) I put all of my favorite plot elements into this one, and I loved the result. Unfortunately it was never published, but I'm still hoping one day--maybe after a bit of updating--it will be.

THE NEVER SILENT:

Henry Thorp is a seventeen-year-old con artist working the Manhattan streets in 1847. Along with Thomas and Mary Doyle, his best friends and partners in crime, Henry swindles na├»ve travelers fresh from the docks—old, young and beautiful alike. But when Thomas is murdered, the only clue to his death is a ticket to board The Never Silent, a ship with a covert destination. Henry impersonates Thomas to take his place on the ship in the hope of finding his killer.

But Henry soon learns that Thomas kept one vital secret from him—he was part of an ancient society descended from the Norse who gained magic through the sea, and Thomas himself could hear other people's thoughts. Now Henry must use every confidence trick he knows to convince an entire crew of magicians that he too is no ordinary human but instead a powerful reader. Between the risk of discovery, the peril of a murderer walking about the ship and the looming threat of pirates roaming the Atlantic, the next life lost could be Henry's. He'll need all his wits to solve Thomas's murder and return home... to the streets he knows and to Mary, the girl he just might love.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 4: DUD

I came up with the idea for today's pitch in the shower a couple nights ago. It hits a bunch of my sweet spots: mistaken identity, political intrigue, illusion magic, getting to know people through their words. It would be fun to write. Maybe I will at some point!

Pitch:

Sarla is one of the Populus, a “Dud” like most of the population, who never showed signs of giftedness as a child to be whisked away into the Senate. But when Sarla’s gift manifests at age sixteen—far later than any gift in recorded history—she’s smuggled into the Populus underground and given a task to complete on pain of death. Sarla must use her powerful illusion gift to take the place of a kidnapped Senator named Joelle and dig up dirt on the Senate to publish among the Populus.

Caught between fear of discovery and the demands of the underground, Sarla worries that any action could lead to disaster. But she has no choice—she must wade into the politics of the scheming Senators while leading on Joelle’s charming suitor and fending off barbed replies to her articles in the Populus magazine. But the greatest danger of all could come from the stubborn demands of her own heart.

Friday, November 3, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 3: THE LIES OF LOCHAN DUVH

Always, no matter what I am working on, there's a perpetual question in the back of my mind: "What will I write next?" I'm usually excited to move on to a new project, but there's always a bit of fear that maybe the next thing won't be as good as something I've written in the past.

I certainly have that fear for my next project. Though I'm in the middle of editing a novel called The Neverwas right now, I've already written a few chapters on something new. And it's a lot different from anything I've ever written before. It's slower and more atmospheric, and the character is someone I identify with more than anyone else I've created. While the plot isn't as twisty and flashy as some of my previous plots, it's deeper and drawn more out of my experience.

Today's pitch is for this book:

Sorsca is a cartographer in a world where maps don’t describe new lands, they create them. With the stroke of her brush she can scoop out a valley or pull a hill up from the mist. She dreams of traveling to the very edges of the world to carve new land out of the Empty like the heroes of her guild. But when she is finally invited to do precisely that, she finds the Empty to be more dangerous than she ever imagined.

Dark things lurk in the mists. One of them has taken a keen interest in Sorsca, haunting her and telling her lies that burrow deep into her psyche. She isn’t good enough, he insists. She’s unwanted. She’s guilty. He makes her draw harsh lines on a map, bleeding ink onto the vellum and pulling more darkness into the land she creates. If Sorsca can’t learn to admit to his influence and accept help, he’ll use her up until she’s little more than a shell fit for his purposes.

THE LIES OF LOCHAN DUVH is a fantasy metaphor for the very real darkness of depression. Having faced that darkness myself and having helped others through their own depression, this is a compelling topic for me. I'm passionate about writing this story.

I hope that one day it can make a difference for someone who needs it.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 2: MAGIC RED AND WILD

Today's pitch is for a novel I worked on a year or two ago and shelved temporarily after the first draft. I felt that I needed some distance from the narrative in order to come back with fresh eyes at a later time. I also had a new idea that I was desperate to write, and which has since turned into one of my favorite projects ever.

But I still hope to get back to this one at some point. I really enjoyed writing the voice in this story, and it was fun to explore the different magics as well. And I can certainly say I've spent enough time doing other things that the book will feel new again!

Pitch:

Mudge is a red mage living in hiding—with her three adoptive aunts—from the blue mages who want them dead. Every night she watches the stars and dreams of going to Cobalt City to study astronomy at the university—against her aunts’ wishes—even though she’d be killed if anyone caught her doing red magic there. When her Aunt Buld is stolen into the shadow world while helping Mudge create a golem, Mudge is left with no choice—her only chance of getting her aunt back is to go to the city and learn as much as she can about blue magic.

Once in Cobalt she discovers that creating a blue magic spell to save her aunt might be possible. But the only way to do it requires breaking into the most secure building in the city. She enlists the help of a sympathetic blue mage named Joon who has his own reasons for wanting to break in. But when rebel red mages bomb the city, Mudge’s assumptions about who is good and who is bad begin to crumble. Why do the blue mages hate her aunts so much? And why did her aunts never tell her about her blue mage family? As tension between the two sides heats up, Mudge must decide: is she red or is she blue?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NaNoPITCHMo 1: VISIONS OF JEN

Happy NaNoWriMo friends! To those of you diving into your 50k words, good luck! It's an intense experience, and even years after doing my last NaNo, I still get a tingle of excitement every November 1st.

But as usual these days, I'm not at the right place in the writing/editing process to start a new book in November. Instead, this year I'll be doing NaNoPITCHMo--writing one book pitch a day (or maybe bringing back some old ones from previous books on days I can't get to the computer, because sometimes life needs wiggle room, right?) and posting them here.

For today's pitch, since yesterday was Halloween, I went a little creepy. I love the premise of this pitch, but honestly I have no clue what the rest of the book would look like. Maybe one day I'll write it. Until then, I do love the spooky feeling I get thinking about it.

VISIONS OF JEN:

Ellie sees visions of the past when she walks into an empty room. They are silent, like 3D soap operas on mute. The more dramatic memories are brighter, the rest dim or faded to nothing.

When Jen, the most popular girl in Ellie's school, goes missing, Ellie is the only one who knows where to start looking. There's a new memory of Jen in the girls' locker room, and it's the brightest one Ellie has ever seen. Finding Jen becomes an obsession.

The more secrets Ellie uncovers about Jen, the more important the locker room vision becomes. But this memory is different from all the others.


This memory keeps changing.