Come See Me At Comic-Con!

San Diego Comic-Con is in ONE WEEK! I'm so excited! And if you're going, you can see me on a panel on Saturday at 6pm!
Choosing the Right Publishing Path for Your Manuscript: Traditional, Small Press or Self-Publishing
Saturday July 11, 2015 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Room 25ABC
Authors Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass series), Seanan McGuire (October Daye series), Cora Carmack (Losing It) and Elizabeth Briggs (Chasing the Dream series), along with editor Adam Wilson (Simon & Schuster) and literary agent Holly Root (Waxman Leavell Literary Agency), discuss the various options for publishing fiction and how to determine what works for different genres. Moderated by author, former literary agent, and all-around publishing guru Nathan Bransford.

EEEEEEE! I can't wait! I've been going to SDCC every single year since 2008 and it's always been my dream to be on a panel there. I even wrote a book set at Comic-Con where the characters are on a panel. And now it's actually happening to me! Plus I'm with some of my favorite authors! I can't believe it. How did I get so freaking lucky?

If you come to the panel (or happen to see me at any other panels or wandering around the exhibit hall in a Batman dress or Harley Quinn costume), please say hello!

Signing At ALA on 6/28!

If you're going to be at ALA Annual this weekend in San Francisco, I'll be signing FREE copies of More Than Music on Sunday at 1pm in the RWA booth (3142). I'll also have swag, including Villain Complex buttons! Exhibit Hall passes are only $60, and I guarantee you'll take home enough books to more than make up that cost!

Please come by - or if you see me wandering around during the conference, say hello!

The Writer's Voice 2015 Agent Round

“The Writer’s Voice” is a multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by Brenda Drake, Mónica Bustamante Wagner, Elizabeth Briggs, and Krista Van Dolzer. We based the contest on NBC’s singing reality show The Voice, so the four of us selected projects for our teams based on their queries and first pages and coached the talented writers who wrote them as they polished their entries.

And TODAY we get to post our team members’ finished entries on our blogs!

Twelve amazing agents are going to read these queries and first pages, then vote for their favorites on Tuesday, June 23. Each vote will count as a partial or full request depending on how many votes the entry receives. If an entry receives 1 or 2 votes, those votes will count as partial requests. If an entry receives 3 or more votes, those votes will count as full requests.

Voting will stay open until noon EDT on June 24, at which point we’ll determine which coach’s team received the most votes (and let this year’s ninja agents take a crack at the entries). That coach will win bragging rights for time immemorial, and everyone who received requests will be able to submit their materials to all the agents who voted for them. These votes represent serious interest in your project, so PLEASE DON’T ACCEPT AN OFFER OF REPRESENTATION BEFORE GIVING “THE WRITER’S VOICE” AGENTS AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A COMPETING OFFER.

Our twelve amazing agents:

I am very excited to introduce TEAM T-REX!


Huge thanks to my guest coach this year, Rachel Searles, author of The Lost planet series! I couldn't have done it without her help!

To read the other teams' entries, please use the following links:

Lastly, cheerleading is allowed, but only until Monday! We want to leave the comments free for the agents to vote on Tuesday. (Also, we will only allow, well, cheerleading and/or positive feedback. Please don’t critique the entries before the agents vote. On the flip side, please don’t try to convince the agents that they want to vote for one of your favorites or, you know, threaten to douse the agents in silly string if they don’t vote for your critique partner. This is a silly-string-free site.)

Happy reading!


Genre: YA fantasy
Word Count: 74,000


Seventeen-year-old Sophia de Paula would rather drown like her brother than wed a conqueror who keeps trying to take her by force. Since these fair-skinned men arrived from across the sea, they’ve been wedding native women like Sophia’s mother to recruit laborers for their sugarcane fields. And the one after Sophia has the audacity to call himself her cousin.

To escape her arranged marriage and save her rainforest tribe from the conquering Easterners, Sophia sings awake the Water Goddess Ig. But Ig is more interested in Easterner fashion than the devastation of the rainforest and the tribes. Her advice is to seek another deity, the powerful Air Goddess who can bring freedom to the land.

With the help of her childhood friend Gavin and armed with the songs her grandmother taught her, Sophia braves the rainforest the Easterners keep burning. As they climb the equatorial snow-capped mountain in search of the Air Goddess, Gavin and Sophia's relationship warms as the temperature drops. But now marriage to her so-called cousin is the least of her worries. If she fails, Sophia’s tribe will perish at the hands of the conquerors who married into her family.

First 250:

Only Uncle Hector would hang a man then go fishing.

The giant jatoba tree, where the noose is set, shades the corpse but doesn’t protect it from the heat. Winter is more merciful than the hellish summer of this land, but only slightly. Noon is fast approaching, and a stench of emptied bowels permeates the village like early morning fog. I press an arm over my nose and quicken my pace to the bakery ahead. At least there is some advantage to being forced to wear long sleeves in this weather.

Vultures circle the cloudless sky above the tree, but not even they dare to defy Uncle Hector. Why did Aryeea send me to the village now? I glance over my shoulder at the fortress’s four-story tower spiked on the Igjommi Hill. The fluttering white cloth, billowing like a sail in the valley breeze, can only be my grandmother’s skirt. Of course she’s watching me from the balcony.

The bakery door is closed, and I shut it behind me. The warm scent of dough helps me ignore the heat. Steps approach from an inside room, and the baker’s rosy face beams at me as he steps through the doorway.

“Lady Sophia.” He wipes his hands on his tunic. “What do you like today?”

I’d like someone to cut down that man and bury him before he rots. But if I voice the request, the baker will feel obliged to carry out the order. No need to tempt another hanging.


Genre: NA contemporary romance
Word Count: 84,000


As a college senior, Carli Reynolds' goals in life are simple: survive her classes, mask her hearing loss, and suppress her debilitating headaches. If she succeeds, no one will know her internal daily struggle. These goals all but combust when “Hot New Deaf Guy,” Reed, introduces her to a world where hearing loss is not a disadvantage.

Carli grew up in the shadow of her overbearing father and his drive for perfection. From an early age she learned hearing loss ≠ perfection. She believes herself damaged and unable to love. But through Reed’s hands, her invisible scars heal. He convinces her to learn ASL and for the first time in her life something comes naturally to her. With him she doesn’t feel impaired.

When Carli confronts her father about her hearing, the hidden horrors of her abusive past are exposed. She refuses to back down, leading to an increase in her headaches, her hearing further damaged, and an uphill battle with concentration. Reed must help her envision a future she can no longer fathom, before she gives up on everything. Including him.

First 250:

The minute the professor opened his mouth I knew it would be a long semester. The muffled sound struck a vein deep inside my skull, vibrating tension destined to trigger one of my frequent headaches. I slid my hand under my long brown hair, scratched my cheek as a decoy, and then ran my finger over the microphone of one hearing aid. Static rang loud and clear, confirming my suspicions. My hearing aids were fine.

The professor was the problem.

His booming voice ricocheted an accent off the walls of the small classroom. An accent I identified as…not from around here. Dr. Ashen’s bushy mustache covered his top lip. Students shifted. Pages turned. Pens moved.

I flicked my pen against a random page of my thick book. Words spilled from his bottom lip and I couldn’t understand one fucking sound. Survival skill 101 of having a hearing loss: blend in. I’d grown skilled at blending, almost mastering the task of invisibility. No cloak required. Take that, Harry Potter.

I always, always, always heard my teachers. Until now.

Big Fuck Off Mustache + My Ears = Not Happening.

Mr. Scary Mustache glared my way. He tapped his textbook, and went right on speaking.

I couldn’t see his book, tapping it didn’t help. Moron. I rolled my eyes and landed on my neighbor’s book. I scanned the words, hoping something, anything, would match. Nothing did. What a waste of a class. I shoved my book and slouched in my seat. No way could I keep up. No chance in hell.


Genre: YA horror
Word Count: 89,000


Sixteen-year-old Felicity Phoebus is trapped between two worlds, the one she loves but can’t keep, and the one she hates but can’t escape. Her best friend Ashley, theatre, and art fill the world she loves. In the other, her dad abuses her and monsters haunt her.

Each haunting leaves her body scarred, her mind bleeding, and her hopes shredded. As long as Ashley keeps her sane and never knows the monsters exist, Felicity will keep killing them with her paintings. Then the monster Spine-eyes murders her mother and infests her dad, making him immune to her art.

Now with Spine-eyes out to annihilate her—mind, body, and identity—Felicity must face the lies her father beat into her. If she fails, Spine-eyes will destroy everyone she loves until they’re monsters too, only with human faces. And he’ll force her to live on, forever trapped with the monsters and her dad.

To protect Ashley and the world she loves, Felicity will have to kill her dad, but in spite of everything he’s done to her, she still loves him.

First 250:

My high school’s theatre yawns from its summer sleep as the stage curtain rises on empty seats. Spotlights peek underneath the crimson folds and bathe me in rich, golden light. I love this moment more each time, when all the crushing noise around me fades and a new, undiscovered world opens feet away. I wish another world really did exist beyond the lights, a step and I’m safe forever. My longing cuts so deep even breathing hurts.

That’s when the monster starts haunting me.

His presence hits me hard and quick as a punch in the stomach. One second, the air smells clean, and the next, smoke from a fire I know doesn’t exist pollutes the whole backstage. Acid I can’t see burns every inch of my body. I glance at my hands, my skin somehow still on my arms.

Reality lies yet again. This shouldn’t surprise me anymore.

I walk behind my best friend, Ashley Santos, turning her by her shoulders as she cuts through the legions of techies and auditioners. I’ll keep us moving for now. If it attacks, I’ll see him coming, I’ll keep her safe. Less than thirty seconds in, and this monster is a hundred times more aggressive than the last one.

“Don’t flip on me now, Felicity, the wannabes will leave soon,” Ashley says to me. She wiggles her fingers behind her back. I weave mine in hers, and almost relax, but the monster’s presence rips away my muscles, tears out my organs, and scrapes my bones clean.

The hauntings always begin this way.


Genre: YA fantasy
Word Count: 97,000


Every night, seventeen-year-old Akasa climbs above the muddy streets into the grand hotels of the foreign district to steal the foreigners’ treasures. Her gang is her family, and serving one’s family is more important than any laws.

When her cousin, Jiyo, is kidnapped by one of the Exalted Lineage lords, her loyalties are torn. Although gang rules forbid her from meddling with politics, she can’t abandon him to the lord’s schemes. Jiyo and a few other boys his age are being tortured to learn how to recreate the dead royal family’s magic. The lord plans to put a fake prince he can control on the empty throne and needs this magic to prove the boy's legitimacy.

Akasa breaks Jiyo out from behind the walls of the lord's home, but there will be nowhere to hide when the lord’s new “prince” controls the country. To protect Jiyo, Akasa must outwit the lord and discredit his prince by creating her own more convincing fake heir. If she fails, not just Jiyo, but the entire country will suffer at the hands of the lord's fake prince. But to succeed in pulling off such a high-profile con, she must break all of the gang’s rules, turn her back on the life she thought she wanted, and betray those she considered family.

First 250:

Through the smoky haze clouding the dockside inn, I stole glances at the two foreign sailors who’d made the poor decision to stand next to me. My first marks of the night. They watched my accomplice, Yori, move three cards in circles on our table. Their thick, hairy arms folded across  their chests gave them an intimidating edge, but their wide blue eyes and vapid expressions said they were suitably ignorant.

Yori stopped shuffling the cards. "Which one is the phoenix?" he shouted. The din of the off-key piano and men bellowing along to the foreign tune nearly swallowed his words. I placed a silver coin on the middle card. He flipped it, showing me the multi-colored bird, the symbol of our queen, her virtuousness and her power, gone perhaps forever from our land. Black smudged the curling, peacock-like tail. I sent a silent apology for Yori shoving her into the grime like that.

I turned to the sailors. "You look intrigued." I spoke their language for them and tried to make my voice feathery and cute—not so easy with all the noise. The stench of booze and sweat strangled me, the pressing heat like chains.

One grunted. The other ignored me. What I wouldn’t have given to be with my brothers, slinking through the darkness, instead.

Yori pushed me two silver coins. Now came the part where I persuaded these sailors to throw their money at the game, thus convincing Boss Seikuro I wasn't a completely incompetent con artist.


Genre: YA sci-fi thriller
Word Count: 66,000


Two-hundred and fifty-eight teenagers are sent from a dying Earth to a terraformed Mars as part of the Emergence Program, mankind’s last hope before solar flares finish off their planet and species. Among the fourteen sets of twins are sixteen-year-old Joey and her brother, Jesse.

Joey thought she’d be an old lady before stepping foot on Mars but there she was, jetting off to humanity’s new home with her brother. It takes only minutes in space for Joey and Jesse to realize something’s wrong, as a total ship lockdown was not in the brochure. With their roommates, the Matsuda twins (notorious hackers and shady secret-keepers), they stumble onto an extremist plot to sabotage the Emergence Program: no other shuttles made the trek to Mars, their lush paradise waits empty, and the terrorist responsible is loose onboard their ship. With only a handful of crew and a shuttle of rowdy teens, this critical mission warps into a spring break massacre.

Joey and Jesse didn’t travel to the deepest pits of space and leave their mother behind to be picked off in a high-tech tin can. It’s fight or flight, and they’re already flying at a million miles an hour. When pushed to the limits, they’ll lie, hack, even kill to survive the voyage and make it to their promised land.

First 250:

Joey stared out the window of a large airtight van. Her forehead thumped against the glass when the nose of a spaceship peeked above maroon-crested hills. The paper in her hand crinkled. She loosened her grip, smoothing the crease from the official seal of the Unified Nations of Earth.

Once her eyes had glimpsed those words, Selected, Terraformed Mars, New home, the bottom had dropped from her stomach. Now it all felt real. No more tiny lead-lined home, school time at the kitchen table, mom. She turned toward Jesse, her brother’s smirk brighter than an X1 flare.

“You’re a crappy twin. I’m freaking out right now, you should be too.”

Jesse rolled his stare her way. “Fraternal twins don’t work like that.”

“That’s not true.” She read the letter again, making sure both their names were listed for the umpteenth time.

“I can’t believe this is happening.” Jesse squirmed and then frowned before his perma-smile returned. “No one from G-Sector ever goes anywhere.”

“Did you see the look on mom’s face when we left?”

“I know. Buzzkill.”

“What’s she gonna do without us?”

“Finally be able to feed herself.” Jesse snickered.

Joey shook her head, folding the letter. “Maybe she’ll win the next lottery, meet up with us on Mars.”

“Yeah, I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

Jesse leaned close, keeping his voice low. “Didn’t you hear what that kid behind us was saying?”

“No. What?”

“He said there are no random drawings.” Jesse eyed the soldier stationed at the front of the van. “That everyone is selected for a specific purpose.”


Genre: MG fantasy
Word Count: 38,000


Twelve-year-old Cordelia of Lavishton has never met a pirate. She's never tangled with a water sprite, or bandaged a troll's enormously smelly foot. She's led the sheltered life of a princess, never needing to learn the best way to battle a dragon, or outwit an evil sorceress.

All that changes on the eve of a peace celebration, when the royal families from the Three Kingdoms of Darland gather. It’s the perfect time to make new friends, and for the kingdoms to commemorate their unity and harmony.

It’s also the perfect place for sabotage.

Nigel, a bumbling, laughable bard desperate to be famous, crashes the ball, seeking revenge on the royal families for not granting him the position as royal bard. With the help of his mother—a wicked witch—they curse the three kings with a sleeping spell, and inform the remaining royals that Cordelia and the other two princesses, Maya and Dawn, must compete in a tournament.

Only one princess can win. And while the winner will free her father, she’ll also be forced to marry Nigel.

Now the prim and proper Cordelia is pitted against feisty misfit Dawn, and brainy bookworm Maya. To survive the tournament they must decide: compete against each other and free only one king? Or test the unity of their kingdoms, and work together to defeat Nigel and his mother?

First 250:

Cordelia of Lavishton sat in a stagecoach, hands folded neatly in her lap. Her back was stiff and her left knee itched, but Cordelia didn’t dare move. Her maid, Gertrude, had spent hours pressing her gown and styling her hair, and informed her if she moved one inch the wrong way, the dress would wrinkle and her hair would droop.

Cordelia didn’t think anyone would mind if her gown had a few creases in it, or if her hair was less than perfect, but Gertie turned a very dark shade of purple when she mentioned it, so Cordelia promised to remain as still as possible.
Her little brother, however, was making that difficult.

Toby bounced in the seat opposite her. While she was twelve and expected to be a perfect demonstration of a princess, Toby was six, and hadn’t started his lessons in Etiquette yet.

That never bothered her before, but now she bit her lip. If she arrived at the ball looking disheveled and dishonored her mother’s memory, Gertrude would make her walk in extra-high heels for weeks.

Toby stood abruptly, and Cordelia pulled her dress back so his muddy shoes (how was he already dirty?) wouldn’t step on it. “Can you please be more careful?”

Her father, who sat next to her, reached over and patted her knee. “Toby, sit down. You’re making your sister anxious,” King Larkin said.

Before Toby could protest, the carriage jerked harshly to the left.


Genre: YA contemporary
Word Count: 71,000


High-school seniors Gabe Brown and Ryan Mitchell are the only survivors of a bus crash that killed twenty students. Six months later their small town just wants to move on--especially Gabe and Ryan.

Gabe’s mayoral candidate father expects him to lead the soccer team to the State championship. His girlfriend Samantha ignores his sleep problems, temper, and subdued mood. No one seems to notice his changes, except for Ryan, Samantha’s twin, who tells everyone he’s fine. Seems his mother isn’t the only good liar in the Mitchell family.

For both, their covert text conversations become their coping mechanism. Over time, Gabe and Ryan bond over more than just nightmares, and survivor’s guilt. But when Gabe breaks their rule, visits “the boy with the most beautiful blue eyes” at work, and starts spending more time with Ryan than Samantha, feelings that could be chalked up to digital misinterpretations come to life.

With senior year drawing to a close, Gabe and Ryan must come to terms with painful and romantic feelings. Making their romance public might be just what they need to move forward. But when their romance causes Samantha, Gabe’s father, and the town to turn against them, Gabe and Ryan discover who they are meant to be and who the people they call neighbors, family, and friends really are.

First 250:

As usual, my father was late. According to him, the freeway was backed up thanks to an overturned truck. Technically, he was correct. But if he’d stayed with me for my checkup, instead of going to Atlanta to meet with a reporter, he wouldn't be stuck in traffic.

Then again, I was freakin’ relieved he wasn't here. It had been six months, a whole half year of being uncomfortable, since I broke my right arm in five places. I was excited to gain full mobility again. If my father was here, he would have made some shitty joke whenever he looked up from his sleek phone to feign interest in my recovery.

"Thank god it wasn't his right leg," he'd say. Doctor Yancey would smile the type of smile that didn’t reach her eyes, and go back to checking the multiple healed fracture points.

I had no idea when my father would get to the hospital, and with my headphones at home, I was left to entertain myself with magazines about celebrities I didn't care about, or a Facebook news-feed that grew less interesting every day.

With a few clicks, I located two names:  'Mitchell, Ryan' and 'Mitchell, Samantha'.

I should text Samantha. Tell her the good news.

For a moment, my finger hovers over Samantha’s name before quickly clicking on Ryan’s and typing a message.

‘YOU OKAY?' -- 2:08PM

Five minutes, which felt more like thirty, passed before my phone gleefully vibrated.

'I'M OKAY.' – 2:13PM

Since when did we become liars?