Monday, June 27, 2016

Query Kombat 2016 Round 4 Round Up




THE FINAL FOUR have been crowned! Two from Michelle's team, one each from Laura's and Mike's. These are the top FOUR out of over 340 entries--an amazing accomplishment by these authors.

Congrats to the winners of Round 4 who have become our Final Four! The next round takes place on Tuesday and goes for two days before the final round starts on July 1st. A big cheer for the last four standing from sixty-four entries! Among them is our Grand Champion!

Team Platypus for the win. Go Podunk!!!

All the action is over on Michelle's blog for the next two days! 

Here are the matchups:



Cement Gargling 101 vs Madam Butterfly
Jello Poems vs Hot Sauce is Bad for Wound Care


Good Luck Kombatants!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Query Kombat 2016 Round 4



Round 4!

This round lasts until June 26th at 8 pm and is on Laura's blog.


On the last day the hosts may call out for extra judges to come and break ties, or in case of extra close votes to try and get a more decisive margin. In the event a tie remains, the blog host will provide the tie breaker.

The four entries with the most votes for Victory move forward to the fifth round on June 28th!
  

There will not be any more opportunities to revise for the remainder of the tournament. Good luck!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Cover Reveal for Mark of the Dragon

I'm so happy to bring this cover reveal for one of my longest writer friendships, Jennifer Troemner! We started out together and now both have books out! Doesn't it look fabulous?





Rosario Hernandez doesn't ask for much. She'd like to sleep on a bed instead of a sidewalk, to know where her next meal is coming from, and maybe, if she's really feeling optimistic, to get a girlfriend. More than anything, though, she wants her best friend Arkay to not murder anyone— because Arkay is a dragon, claws and all, and she has a penchant for vigilante justice. When Arkay's latest escapade goes sour, Rosario gets stuck with a stolen van and a cooler full of human organs. Now they're on the run, and it's not just the cops who want answers. The owner of the cooler is still out there, and they want to replace what they've lost— by any means necessary.


JW Troemner was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States, where she lives with her partner in a house full of pets. Most days she can be found gazing longingly at sinkholes and abandoned buildings. 


Mailing list: http://eepurl.com/bRaRF5

Query Kombat 2016 Round 3 Roundup



Round 3 of Query Kombat has officially come to a close.

Our numbers have been cut in half yet again. The Sweet 16 becomes the Elite 8 fighting for just four spots in the next round. Round 4 promises to be the toughest round thus far. I have no idea how the judges are going to do it. Good luck to all!

Below is the list of round 4 entrants and who they will be matched against. Happy taunting. Team Happy Dancing is in orange.

Madam Butterfly vs My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery

Like Atlantis, Only Totally Creepy vs Cement Gargling 101

And I Feel Fine vs Hot Sauce is Bad for Wound Care

Jello Poems vs.One-Handed Wonder



CONGRATS AND GOOD LUCK KOMBATANTS


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

SFF Chat, Giveaway and New Hangout!


Back in December, a bunch of Harper Voyager US/UK authors got together on the #SFFchat hashtag to talk about writing, publishing, and the sci-fi/fantasy genre with aspiring SF/F authors. We had a fantastic discussion (read the highlights), so we're going to do it again. 

On Wednesday, June 22nd at 3pm Eastern and 9pm Eastern, 18 Voyager authors will be answering questions on Twitter under the #SFFchat hashtag. Each chat will last an hour. We're also doing a massive giveaway of Voyager e-books and print books, which you can enter using the widget below. All are welcome! Please join us if you want to talk about SF/F and maybe win some free books. A list of the books:




The Brass Giant- Brooke Johnson                             
The Oldest Trick- Auston Habershaw                       
Elixir: A Changeling P.I. Novel- Ruth Vincent          
Desert Rising- Kelley Grant                                         
Breath of Earth- Beth Cato                                                       
The Rogue Retrieval- Dan Koboldt                                          
Grudging: Birth of Saints- Michelle Hauck               
Mercury Retrograde- Laura Bicklel                           
Across the Long Sea- Sara Remy                                                                            
Los Nefilim (print)- Teresa Frohock                          
Dissension- Stacey Berg                                              
Three Days in April- Edward Ashton                                        
Unexpected Rain- Jason LaPier                                 
Hero Born- Andy Livingstone
Shadow of the void- Nathan Garrison                
Darkhaven- Afe Smith                                                  
The Drowning God- James Kendley
The Day Before- Liana Brooks



a Rafflecopter giveaway


If you're an author seeking representation or publication, we hope you'll also join the #SFFpit Twitter pitching event on Thursday, June 23rd.

BONUS: And the Voyager authors have started a Facebook group just for SFF fans called SFF Junkies. It's a new place to hang out and talk SFF books or even writing. You can find it in the rafflecopter or use this link.  

Getting the Submission Call with Auston Habershaw

Did anyone every mention patience in the same sentence as publishing? Just wondering. No patience needed for your dose of inspiration this week. Auston is here to provide it! 




I Am the Glacier: A Call Story


I’ve wanted to be a professional science fiction and fantasy author for a long, long time—basically ever since I figured out that writing novels was a job that somebody could do for money. Yes, yes, I know—not very much money. I didn’t figure that out until much later.

In high school I wrote derivative fantasy fiction and bland space opera stories all based loosely off my experiences in RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons (yay AD&D 2nd Edition!). They were pretty much for myself and maybe my parents would listen—excellent learning experiences, but not anywhere near what they needed to be.

In college, I took as many creative writing workshops as I could, honing my craft, and for my senior honors thesis, I wrote a novel (a science fiction retelling of the Arthurian legend). Though I was very proud of it at the time, I can look back now and see how much I didn’t know and how much I had yet to grow as an author. That novel is an absolute train wreck, believe me.

After college, while the rest of my friends got steady jobs or pursued practical careers, I decided I was going to be a Novelist. I figured it would take a few years before I got my first book deal and then I’d be a pro and my troubles would be over.

I will pause here for the peals of laughter.

Done?


How about now? Okay.

I made that incredibly naïve decision in the year 2000. I took odd jobs and wrote my novels in my spare time. I eventually opted to get my MFA, figuring that if I was going to spend all my spare time writing anyway, I may as well earn a degree and see if it came in handy (it did—I now work as an English professor which makes my writing career far, far more practical). During this time, I wrote three more novels, each one better than the last one. The third one, The Oldest Trick, I felt was really very good.

I started by querying agents, a couple a week, for a few months. No bites. During this time, Harper Voyager had an open call for submissions, so I sent it. By this point it was the fall of 2012. I kept querying agents for a while, but still no bites—I figured there was something I was doing wrong. I had at this point also honed my short fiction game and was getting publications in small markets here and there. It encouraged me, kept me going. When I earned a semi-finalist finish in the Writers of the Future Contest (a prestigious international short fiction competition for SF/F), I resolved that quitting wasn’t ever going to be an option—I had the chops to be a pro, I just knew it. It was just a matter of getting the stars to align.

Harper sat on my book for 18 months. After about six months, I queried and got a stock response—yes, my book was still under consideration, thanks for your patience, etc.. After a year I queried again, and got a stock response again. But then, fifteen minutes after that response, I got a personal response from Kelly O’Connor, at that time an assistant editor at Harper Voyager. She told me they were very interested and to let them know if interest developed from elsewhere, but they still needed time to decide. Them telling me “let me know if interest developed from elsewhere” was a bit like dangling a full canteen of water in front of a starving man in the desert and saying “we’re really interested in giving you this, but let us know if you stumble across a lemonade stand.” I didn’t say anything, though. No begging, no cajoling, no over-enthusiastic squeals of glee. Like a hunter, the prey was in my sights and any sudden movement or noise might spook it. I kept a stiff upper lip and pressed on.

For six more months.

After the dawning of 2014, I shot Kelly an e-mail: “Hey, just me, author who is totally not obsessing over the fate of his novel in your hands—any news?” I was told that I would hear, one way or another, by the end of January 2014. I watched my calendar like a goddamned barn owl watches a mouse.

And I didn’t hear back until March. I got the call (well, the e-mail) in my cubicle at work, so hooting and hollering wasn’t really an option. Still, my hands trembled as I read the words “we’d love to publish your novel.” This was it—my life-long goal, finally realized. I called my wife first and then my mom. There was much rejoicing.

There were other things, too. First off, they wanted to split my book in half (too long, they felt). They also set me a deadline for the next book (I’d never actually written a novel on a deadline before—not really, anyway). I started to realize, somewhat to my horror, that getting a book deal was only the very beginning of my journey. I was starting out, not finishing. All that patience, all that gradual pressure, all that dedication to improving my craft, and that had only gotten me in the door. I now had to find my way out of the lobby.

But it’s okay, though—great, even. Learning patience and perseverance is essential to this whole writing gig. Yeah, I guess I could have self-published some of my earlier novels before I knew enough to know they weren’t up to snuff, but that wouldn’t have helped me in the long run (though your mileage may vary, of course). I needed all that time to improve, to hone, and, yes, to learn what I was made of. Now, even though I’m just starting out, I feel ready for what is coming for me, whatever that is. I know that, no matter what, I am going to press on. I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else. Writing is not running a race because you like to win, but rather one you run because you like running.    

    

Cursed with a magic ring that forbids skullduggery, Tyvian Reldamar’s life of crime is sadly behind him. Now reduced to fencing moldy relics and wheedling favors from petty nobility, he’s pretty sure his life can’t get any worse.

That is until he hears that his old nemesis, Myreon Alafarr, has been framed for a crime she didn’t commit and turned to stone in a penitentiary garden. Somebody is trying to get his attention, and that somebody is playing a very high-stakes game that will draw Tyvian and his friends back to the city of his birth and right under the noses of the Defenders he’s been dodging for so long. And that isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is that the person pulling all the strings is none other than the most powerful sorceress in the West: Lyrelle Reldamar.

Tyvian’s own mother.


On the day Auston Habershaw was born, Skylab fell from the heavens. This foretold two possible fates: supervillain or scifi/fantasy author. Fortunately he chose the latter, and spends his time imagining the could-be and the never-was rather than disintegrating the moon with his volcano laser. He lives and works in Boston, MA. He has a blog at http://aahabershaw.com/. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Query Kombat Round 2 Winners 2016










Round 2 of this tournament is officially over. All kontenders fought valiantly, but alas, half of you must be knocked out. Win or lose, thanks for officially making QK the toughest query tournament in all the land.



A standing ovation to those of you who fought and came out victorious. A full 48 entries out of the 64 that started this tournament have been eliminated. Those left can practically smell the title of QK Grand Champion. Best of luck in round 3, kontenders. You're going to need it.



Please have your revised entries to us by Sunday, June 19th at 8 pm EST. Use the same format and send to the contest email: QueryKombat (at) gmail (dot) com.

Round 3 will be hosted on Mike's blog from June 21st-23rd. Below is not only a list of who made it into the 3rd round, but who entrants will be match against as well. Orange entries are on Team Happy Dancing!!! We did quite well! 



Happy Editing!




Madam Butterfly vs. Irish in America

The Ghost and Ms. Clair vs. And I Feel Fine

Like Atlantis, Only Totally Creepy vs. Meet Me at Lake Nevaeh

What's Luck Got to Do With it vs. Hot Sauce is Bad of Wound Care

One-Handed Wonder v. The Order of Black

Jello Poems v. Partners-in-Magic

Escape the Fate vs. Cement Gargling 101

My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery vs. Ticket to Ride

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Query Kombat 2016 Second Round





Here we go! Round 2!


Entries are on my blog and Laura's! This round lasts until June 17th at 8 pm.


On Friday the hosts will call out for extra judges to come and break ties, or in case of extra close votes to try and get a more decisive margin. 

The entry with the most votes for Victory moves forward to the third round on June 21st! Winners may send in a revised entry to the Query Kombat email by Sunday, June 19 at 8:00 pm. Use the same format. Kombatants will not have any more chances to revise for the rest of the contest.


Note: Since we have an uneven number of matchups, there will be a unique twist this round. We have fifteen matchups (due to two receiving agent offers). The top losing entries will be presented to the judges and the judges will vote for one entry to move to the third round. 

The same rules for commenting and judging apply. Below I've reposted the main ideas:



Reminders for the Entrants:

No commenting on your own entries until the last day of the round. If there is a problem with your entry, shout out to us on twitter as soon as you can. If you don't have a Twitter, you may comment on your entry telling me the mistake.

Also, we tried our hardest to make the match-ups as fair as possible and against as similar stories as possible. But, obviously, this is impossible to do perfectly and some match-ups may seen very random. We apologize for this but it's an evil of the system.

Kombatants should comment on 4 other match-ups to help share the love around!


Reminders for the Judges:

Wait until after one of us hosts comments on each entry first and reply to that comment to cast your votes. Try making your votes objective instead of subjective (but if you really love an entry subjectively, don't even feel bad about saying it was a subjective vote - subjectivity rules!).

Make sure to post under your nicknames!


QK Round 2: Ivy League Sex Scandal vs. Madam Butterfly

Title: The Professor and Miss St. James
Entry Nickname: Ivy League Sex Scandal
Word Count: 104,000
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Query:

At 25, all Jocelyn St. James has to show for her life are three homecoming crowns, two blue lines on a stick, and a ton of regret. She’s cutting her losses and heading for grad school at Dartmouth. Leaving Texas is her only hope of hiding her pregnancy from the baby’s father.

She’s got seven months until her due date. Not enough time to get a master’s degree or figure out the whole motherhood thing, but if she can manage not to ruin anyone’s life, she’ll be off to a good start. 

When her sexy professor locks eyes with her on the first day of class, her fresh start is the first casualty of his killer smile. 

Best-selling author, Michael Kensington is no average academic. Brilliant and gorgeous, he could charm the pants off any grad student, even a former homecoming queen determined to outrun her past. 

If Jocelyn doesn’t address the rising heat between them, she won’t have a prayer of focusing on school. But when things get way more intimate than either of them intend, Jocelyn not only falls in love— she kind of falls apart. He’s quick to blame her hormones, but she’s got bigger problems. 

With rumors of their affair spreading, and her mom coming for a visit, it’s just a matter of time before Jocelyn’s pregnancy is big news at Dartmouth and back home. Kensington wants to know what she’s running from, but telling him the truth about the baby’s father is not an option.  

If Jocelyn wants a future with Kensington, she’ll have to make a choice: lie to keep him close, or lose him to keep her secrets… Unless she’s not the only one with a past that won’t stay put.

First 250 Words:


I make him nervous. 

His eye contact falters when he glances across the desk at me. Dr. Edna Moss’s teaching assistant clears his throat and taps his pencil. A flush creeps up his neck.

I’m not sure what he sees in me. The usual, I guess. My two-thousand mile road trip must not look as bad on the outside as it feels on the inside. Because inside, I’m struggling. 

The office reeks of air freshener. The smell nauseates me. Lately, I’ve come to depend on breathing through my nose to keep from gagging, but the revolting scent makes breathing much harder than it has any right to be.

“How long will Dr. Moss be?” I ask, ending our awkward silence. 

He glances at me with lit-up eyes and a shy grin. “Any minute now.” 

I return his smile with as much grace as I can manage. “Tell me your name again?”

“Will.”

“Nice to meet you,” I say.

“You’re new to Dartmouth?”

“Brand new.”

“Dr. Moss says you’re a star.”

“Wow. Thanks.” I have zero desire to flirt with this guy, but I don’t want to piss him off either. It’s a delicate balance. As men are. 

“What are your languages?”

“French and Italian. Some Portuguese,” I say.

“Romance, huh?”

He doesn’t ask it in a derisive way, but the question still manages to dredge up every insecurity I have about whether I’m good enough to walk the halls of an Ivy League school.

“Yeah,” is my brilliant answer.




VERSUS



Title: The Absence of Butterflies
Entry NicknameMadam Butterfly
Word count: 80,000
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Query:  

Will Kavanagh is the only one who knows the truth about the drug overdose that killed Christy Talbot. Not that he’s telling. The world famous actress may have starred in the film adaption of his novel, but that doesn’t mean he wants to go to jail for giving her illegal drugs. Troubled by a mounting sense of self-loathing and guilt, not to mention images of Christy’s lifeless face plaguing his dreams, Will returns to the only place he has ever felt something other than lost: home. Not that everyone in town is rolling out the red carpet for Cherrington’s prodigal son.

Following the unexpected death of her father, Jessica Locke needs something—anything—to keep herself busy, and fixing up a property for Will’s mother sounds like just the ticket. The only hitch is her ego-fueled ex-fiancé is back—the one who left her in the rear-view mirror on his way to literary fame in NYC. Will is the last person Jessica wants to talk about, let alone see. Repeatedly thrown together at the most inconvenient of times by Jessica’s matchmaker uncle, it isn’t long before things begin to heat up between them once again. Too bad Will, haunted by the knowledge of how Christy died, isn’t exactly relationship-ready. Neither is Jessica.

Each dealing with death in very different ways, Jessica and Will navigate conflicting emotions and their undeniable attraction to find something worth saving. Then Will realizes that unless he’s willing to reveal his secret to Jessica, fast, he could lose her trust—and her love—all over again. Because, as it turns out, Will isn't the only one who knows the truth behind Christy’s death.


First 250:

On the drive from New York City, Will Kavanagh couldn’t stop thinking about the dead actress. All day little things triggered memories of her: a red Porsche, a cluster of violets on the side of the road, a movie poster.

And when he emerged from the coffee shop that evening, he was confronted with yet another reminder.

His legs seemed to move of their own volition, taking him off the sidewalk and over to the bookstore window. He would have been able to spot those red and gold splashed covers anywhere. Bold black letters at the top of each one proclaimed Now a Major Motion Picture. Underneath was a snapshot of the two main stars. The one on the right gazed back at Will, her full lips drawn into a seductive pout.

As he stood transfixed on the sidewalk, the world around him faded away. He didn’t see Christy Talbot with her arm around her leading man. Instead his mind burned with the image of the actress as she lay sprawled on the floor, a pill bottle upended next to her, her eyes empty. Those eyes had haunted him every day for the last two months.

“Excuse me.”

The voice made him snap back to the present. He turned his head and saw a man standing beside him, holding out the bag that contained Will’s bagel. “I saw you drop this. You didn’t even notice.”

“Thanks,” he mumbled.

The man smiled. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”

Will stiffened. “No.”

QK Round 2: Croissants Kill! vs. The Ghost and Ms. Clair

Title: Coded For Murder
Entry nickname: Croissants kill!
Word Count: 73,000
Genre: Adult Mystery

Query:

The body hangs from an oak by the frigid mile-wide expanse of the St. Lawrence River. Where the face should be, the wind whips over exposed, acid-etched bone. And a noose of thick rope coils tightly over a red silk tie.

Chief Inspector Derek James of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal survived the storm at sea that took his wife and infant son, leaving him with a hand that doesn’t work, and a personality that can withstand a hurricane.

Within hours, James has ID’d the faceless victim as a tech startup executive. But with a twelve-year-old as a witness, and CEO Holly, a gay black woman driven to sell the startup, sabotaging his case, James is no closer to finding the murderer. Holly knows what's going on, but she won't willingly confide in him.

Things go from bad to worse. When his car is bombed, James realizes his boss is trying to kill him. Maybe he shouldn’t have slept with his boss’s mistress, but there’s another reason for the attack, best kept under wraps. For now.

Suspects surround James, all of them liars, and one of them the masked assailant who strung up the body from the tree.

With two more attacks within twenty-four hours, he must choose – going by the book, or resorting to coercion – to unearth the killer, to save his twelve-year-old witness, to expose a conspiracy coded for murder.


First 250:

April 2, 6:50 am

Strung up by the river? Without a face?”

Chief Inspector Derek James of the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal spoke more to himself than to the team. He tucked his cold hands into his pockets and looked up. A rope looped over the middle branch of an oak in the urban beach park. Above him hung a body with an exposed skull, framed by sparse hair on top, ears on either side, and a wrinkly neck puckered in a noose. The face was stripped to the bone with eroded teeth set in a perpetual grin as if the skull were enjoying a joke at everyone’s expense.

James’s gut tightened, but he stilled the reaction in an instant, regaining his calm. What did it matter how any of us went?

I’m sure we’re thinking the same thing.” Forensic Pathologist John Seymour’s eyes were bright and keen. “What could this poor guy have done to deserve this?”

James rubbed the short stubble on his jaw. Dawn cast a blue light on the water and snow. It was amazing how the usually peaceful beach park took on a menacing air: the St. Lawrence River choppier than usual, swirls of sand and snow rolling like tumbleweeds, the sky heavy and low. But a children’s playground lay behind the hanging body, and its red swings, bright yellow slide, and empty wading pool offered a marked contrast to the swaying corpse.

What can you tell me, Doctor?”

VERSUS

Title: Donns Hill
Entry NicknameThe Ghost and Ms. Clair
Word count: 83K
Genre: Paranormal Mystery

Query: 

Mackenzie Clair knew her life would change when her father died, but she wasn’t expecting the grief to give her the ability to talk to the dead, or to end up chasing a murderer through the most haunted town in America.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mac never really figured out what to do with herself. She sleepwalks through her dull desk job every day, tries not to aggravate her controlling boyfriend every night, and relies on her father and their shared love of books and music to hang on to her sanity. When Mac loses her father to cancer and her boyfriend to infidelity all in the same week, she embarks on a mission to reclaim some joy. She abandons the city life and relocates to the place where she’d been happiest in her youth: Donn’s Hill, a small town in Middle America that’s best known for an abundance of paranormal activity, especially the séances at its annual Afterlife Festival.

Mac doesn’t get much time to acclimate to small-town living before an angry poltergeist begins to stalk her, forcing her to quickly come to terms with her newly discovered psychic powers. With the help of the ghost-hunting crew of the nationally televised show Soul Searchers and a spirited tortoiseshell cat named Striker, Mac becomes bold enough to do things she never imagined possible: investigate hauntings, banish poltergeists,and generally feel happy again.

Unfortunately, in the midst of her journey of self-discovery, someone is killing off the town’s residents. Death has followed Mac to Donn’s Hill, and in the weeks leading to the Afterlife Festival, corpses are piling up. Harassed by the ghost of a murdered man, Mac must make a choice: leave town for her own safety, or stay anduse her abilities to identify the killer before she winds up joining the ranks of the spirits who wander the town.

First 250:

Someone was sitting on my bed.

I’d awoken to the thin mattress shifting beneath me when his weight pressed down near my right side. My body wanted to roll toward that lower point, but I held myself in place, not wanting to touch him. He—and I was sure it was a “he,” though I couldn’t say why—smelled foul, like rotting garbage, but hadn’t harmed me. Yet. Too frightened to scream and risk propelling my intruder into motion, I held my breath and strained my ears to hear his breathing.

I heard nothing but the hum of a car passing on the highway.

Questions pinged around inside my skull and crashed into each other. What’s going on? Is he holding his breath too? Are we locked in some kind of silent contest, the loser being the one who passes out? How did he get past the locks?

And the most pressing questions of all, the ones I’d need to move to answer: Who is he? What does he want from me?

It couldn’t be anything good. People who want to do good things usually knock.

Taking a chance, I opened one eye a tiny bit, creating a narrow slit between my eyelids. The motel room was pitch-black, thanks to the ancient heavy curtains and my having unplugged the digital alarm clock. Keeping my arm under the covers, I crept my left hand toward the nightstand.

Slowly, I told myself. Don’t make a sound.

Faster! my lungs screamed at me.

QK Round 2: Cuddles and Coups vs. Irish in America

Title: The Dictator’s Wife
Entry Nickname: Cuddles and Coups
Word count: 82K
Genre: Adult Dark Romantic Suspense

Query:

A military dictatorship governs Britain, led by the First Lord of the Treasury, Julien St John Helmsley. Julien is charming, charismatic, and utterly ruthless, particularly towards the resistance group known as the Treaty. 

Melanie Bonham, a member of the Treaty and enemy of the state, accepts her commanding officer’s orders for a deadly last stand. She must become the First Lord’s mistress, learn his secrets, and then assassinate him. Failure would mean torture, death, and vicious retaliation against the rebels, but success could restore democracy.

But Melanie has a secret. Before she faked her death and fled to the Treaty in disguise, she was Julien’s beloved but equally merciless wife. Instead of sneaking into the Regime’s stronghold as the Treaty expects, she makes a triumphant return as the long-lost First Lady, claiming the rebels have held her prisoner for years.

In love with the man she’s meant to kill and tempted by absolute power, “Melanie” must choose between freeing the country and breaking her heart or ruling at Julien’s side and losing her soul – before both sides seek to execute her as a traitor.
  
Alternating chapters jump backwards and forwards in time to tell the story of the idealistic build-up to the military coup and the brutal realities of its aftermath and to reveal why our rather unreliable narrator really left, why she’s really returned and where her true loyalties lie.
 First 250:

I became a triple-agent on the eighth anniversary of Britain’s military coup.

That morning, I strode into the Treaty’s underground control room and pushed through the crowd until I reached the resistance leader.

“Good of you to finally join us, Melanie.” Without another word, David set our hacked CCTV feed to show Somerset House. The elegant arches and columns of the Regime’s London headquarters formed a stark contrast to this utilitarian network of abandoned mines. I studied the soldiers guarding the archway and the helicopters hovering above the courtyard, but the larger-than-life portraits covering the façade demanded my attention.

Honour the First Lord ordered the painting on the left, which depicted a striking man in replica nineteenth-century military uniform. Remember the Eternal Blessed First Lady mourned its companion. My co-conspirators considered its subject a she-devil in life and their most high-profile victim in death.

“The Regime bombed Derby last week for supporting our cause. Yesterday, they wiped out an entire platoon. We need to stop the First Lord once and for all.” Years of outdoor living had given David muscles and a hearty glow. When he spoke, people listened.

I ignored him.

My eyes lingered on the second portrait until I was content the so-called Eternal Blessed First Lady’s curves, red lips and Dior gown bore no resemblance to my soldier’s body and weather-beaten face. Besides, the dictator’s wife had been famous for her Rapunzel curls, and I’d cropped my hair to the skull five years ago when I’d fled to the Treaty.


VERSUS



Title: Donovan
Entry Nickname: Irish in America
Word Count: 100,000
Genre: Adult Historical Romance



Query:

When Jesse Travers' father and brother die, they leave her with two things: a crumbling ranch and a deep well of distrust.

Shunned by the village for her outlaw brother's deeds, Jesse is not sorry to hear he's been killed while robbing a bank. Strangely enough it is Adam Donovan, the man who shot her brother, who brings the news. Even more strange, considering his reputation as a gunfighter, is the Irish immigrant's willingness to help put her ranch back on solid footing.

The Arizona Territory of the 1880s was never kind to a woman alone, and Jesse's experiences with her neighbors have left her jaded. But love for her canyon home overcomes her trepidation, and she accepts Donovan's help. He seems gentle and empathetic, a far cry from her brother, whose relentless abuse drove her to the brink of despair, or her father, who would never believe the things Jesse told him about her brother.

As they work together, Jesse begins to let down her guard, and feels the first stirrings of love–an experience she's never known before. On the verge of believing she might be worthy of happiness, Jesse discovers that hermongrel brother's treachery has consequences that reach beyond the grave,and they might rip the new life she's building to shreds.

If the truth comes out, Jesse knows the villagers will blame her for her brother's crimes–they've done it all along. Her only recourse is to confide in Donovan and hope he'll stand with her. But if she's wrong about him, she's doomed to a lifetime of solitude and shame.

First 250:
Jesse Travers stood in the cabin door, willing her hands to unclench, her jaw to relax. The old man who sat wrapped in a blanket by the fire was being more querulous than usual. He can’t help it, she told herself, any more than he can help being old. Or crippled. But God help us if this day doesn’t end soon.

The clearing where the cabin stood was too quiet. No breeze stirred the aspen leaves. No birds trilled, no squirrels scampered. Even the brook ran silently today. 


The only restful thing was the occasional glimpse of buckskin in the sycamores. The old man always told her that 
wild animals knew where there was danger and would run away. So maybe it’s nothing–maybe it’s just too hot for April. Maybe that’s what makes me feel so sick. 


Then the utter silence yielded to 
the faint clip-clop of horse’s hooves.


No one should be coming. No one ever came. She tasted the sharp metal of fear. As the hoofbeats close
d in, she took up an old Sharps rifle and moved out onto the sagging porch, into the shadows of its roof.


Round the edge of the cottonwood grove, the horse 
ambled into sight. Its rider had dark hair, dark clothes, a dark gun sitting low on his left hip.There isn’t anyone in the Territory who doesn’t know who he is. And where he comes from. Squaring her shoulders and raising the rifle, she took a single step into the light.