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Michelle4Laughs: It's in the Details


New Agent Request Round

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 27 July 2015 · 21 views


I know many of you thought this day would never arrive! It's here!

We are rolling out the red carpet and shining the spotlight on the best entries for our agents over the next three days.

(Ninja agents are welcome too. Merely leave a request, along with information on how many pages and where to email you.)

There are thirty-two entries on this blog. All fit on the front page but please use the Blog Archive in the sidebar to ensure no entries get missed. Entries are grouped by age category. They are also numbered for ease of keeping track. (Agents may prefer to look at some entries and return later for more.)

Agents can comment on as many as they want and ask for pages.

If you see a problem with your entry like a missing spacing, let me know on twitter at #NewAgent or the contest email address. 

Please the comments are only for agents, but cheer for your favorites and friends, and thank the agents on twitter under #NewAgent.

I'll be there shouting out when an agent appears!

Congrats to all for entering! Let's hope for tons of requests!



New Agent 1: THE LEGACY SCROLL, MG Fanatasy

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 27 July 2015 · 19 views

Title: The Legacy Scroll
Word count: 56,000
Genre: MG Fantasy


Ever since she could crawl, twelve-year-old Alisa watched her older siblings come and go on clan business. “It’s not your time yet,” her father told her. “Not until you can cross the caravan without starting a fistfight over a raised eyebrow.” So she can hardly believe it when he entrusts her with a mission of her own: to carry a mysterious scroll to the Foxling King.

But when Alisa returns home to find her caravan in ruins and her family kidnapped by slavers, she is certain the scroll holds the clues she needs to rescue them. With the assistance of some duplicitous thieves, a surly elf, and one very determined fox, Alisa sets off in its pursuit. Standing in her way, however, are the combined forces of dragon riding slavers and the Night itself, a sadistic embodiment of darkness. But the slavers and the Night serve an even more sinister power, one determined to reshape the earth in its own image.

Alisa finds herself deeper and deeper in the grasps of this creature, who takes on an increasingly personal form. Shadowy figures from the past suggest her father may have faced this evil years before, and defeated it only by burying its core in Alisa herself. If she has a hope of saving her family, she will have to overcome the betrayal of a brother. And if she has a hope of saving the world, she will have to overcome her impetuous need to prove herself and stand alone in the darkest Night.

First 250 Words

In the darkest hour of night, a girl waited in the mist. In her left hand, she clutched a small, ornate tube. She shook it and the scroll inside rustled. Her fingers burned white around the tube, and she knew that, whatever happened, she must not lose it.

The girl’s black hair had never been cut, and when she wore it down it tumbled to her waist. Right now, however, it wound around her head in a long braid, hidden beneath a coarse navy scarf. Her face gleamed from beneath her matching clothes like a dash of ice in the ocean’s midst.

She shivered, pressing against the wall of the hut in the vain hope it might give her some warmth. It was dark and cold, and the fog crept up her legs, circling her waist like a belt, but she kept a firm grip on the little cylinder, standing against the encroaching mist. She had waited for hours, but she knew better than to think of heading home.

Without warning, a man stepped into the moonlight, his dark cloak and broad hat rendering him nearly invisible even in the pale light. She saw nothing of him except his mouth, slicing across his face in a scowl. “What are you doing here, Alisa?”

“Father told me to wait and hand you the scroll,” she explained in a rush. “And Adam, I’ve been waiting all night. I thought you might not come.”

He raised a gloved hand. “Give it to me.”



New Agent 2: ESTER, CALLED MARIA, MG Historical

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 27 July 2015 · 16 views

Title: Ester, Called Maria
Word count: 31,000
Genre: MG Historical


Thirteen-year-old Ester Cordoba leads a double life. Outside her home, she’s “Maria,” a new Christian living in old Lisbon. But away from prying eyes and curious ears, she whispers ancient Hebrew prayers. It’s one more game Ester is good at, like the riddles she loves to make up.

When word comes that the Inquisition has landed in Portugal, Ester’s world unalterably changes. Her grandfather reveals to her why and how their people came to hide their true identity. Ester is proud and excited when she encounters her first open Jew, a handsome boy form Salonika. But she is outraged when he tells her he doesn’t consider her Jewish. Who and what is she then, and what’s the point of living in danger? Even worse, her younger brother, Isaac, may have given away their secret when bullies beat him up.

No matter what else, Ester is still a Cordoba, and she will do anything to protect her family, especially Isaac. Afraid the adults aren’t doing enough to conceal them from the Inquisition, Ester sneaks off to the home of Dona Gracia, the most powerful secret Jew in Lisbon. She agrees to help them. Ester is relieved until she faces the shocking consequence: her parents send her with Dona Gracia. Sailing away to an uncertain future, and leaving her beloved family behind, Ester is on her own to make sense of her parents’ decision to make her go and to answer a question she never imagined she would have to ask: can she truly belong anywhere?

First 250 words:

Who taps my shoulder as if they’re hammering a stake?

“You’re Maria Cordoba, the tailor’s daughter, aren’t you?”

“Yes, Senhora Romero, good morning.” I curtsey. I wish I could run.

She has a blue wart on her chin. Her onion breath dampens my face. At least Isaac isn’t with me. He might say anything.

“Ah, I see you already know who I am, as all devout New Christians should.”

She looks me up and down. I keep my gaze low. I can outsmart her.

“What is your favorite food, child?”

“Mutton and chickpeas, Senhora.” The first thing I think of.

“Tell me, do you add milk to the sauce?”

That would be meat with milk. A trick to find out if we follow the Old Laws. But I’m cleverer. “I don’t prepare the dish, Senhora.”

“Hmmm.” She scratches her ear. “Well, I would like to invite your family to dine with us this Friday night, my dear. Will you be able to join us?”

Friday night, our Sabbath. Another trick. “I’m sure our family is honored by your invitation, Senhora, but we only dine at home.”

Her eyes widen. “Oh really, on Fridays?”

She trapped me. What do I do? I cough while I try to think.

“I meant every night, Senhora. My grandparents tire easily at night and my parents don’t want them to eat alone.”

“I see.” She picks up her skirt. Finally, she’s leaving. Then she lets it go. “You have a brother, don’t you?”



New Agent 3: THE WOUNDED BOOK, MG HIstorical

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 27 July 2015 · 26 views

Word count: 52,000
Genre: MG Historical


After Mamma leaves for Constantinople, a leather-bound book appears on the breakfast board. Twelve-year-old Bella of Arezzo can sing anything, but she can’t read the book’s strange, musical symbols. The smooth parchment against her cheek and the scent of the bookbinding, however, bring back snatches of her dead papa’s exquisite lullaby. This book is her past, but the music it contains may give her a future.

Before she glimpses more than a note or two, the book ends up in the hands of Papa’s old enemy, Nikodemos. With the keepsake as leverage, he pressures Bella to return a sealed bundle to the most powerful people in the East: the Patriarch and the Emperor of Constantinople. Nikodemos says the bundle contains tiny wrist bones stolen from St. John the Baptist’s arm, a valuable and highly-guarded relic touring in the West. If the bones are missed, the tiny cracks between East and West will split the Empire in two.

If she does what Nikodemos wants, she’ll frame Papa for theft and her family will pay the penalty, landing Bella in the orphanage. If she doesn’t, she’ll lose her only chance to know Papa’s world and to learn the secrets of THE WOUNDED BOOK.

First 250 words:

Bella crouched on the stone window sill of her chamber and stared down into the shadowy street. Just as the morning star rose over Arezzo's city wall, the woolman's cart rattled around the corner. When it passed underneath, she dropped into the back. The cart shuddered. The woolman swore at his donkey, but drove on. Wriggling between two firm sacks of wool, Bella pulled her knees up to her chin. The steep descent pressed her against the woolsacks in front and the herringbone bricks under the wheels jostled her up and down.

She looked up, between the sacks, at the stars. It had been easy enough to leap out the window of Uncle’s house. Had Papa passed as easily through Heaven's gate?

The old question made the place between her neck and shoulder pinch. She didn’t like to think about death. And now Papa’s music, written in his own hand, was gone too. Uncle had sold it. He’d had no right. She’d held Papa’s book for a moment and almost remembered how it felt to hear his voice. She shook her head.

A tuft of wool tickled her nose and she sneezed. Had the driver heard? She pressed her hands over her mouth and nose.

The cart slowed. 

She held her breath. 

The cart stopped. 

If he threw her out here, she would never get home before Uncle noticed. If Uncle noticed, there would be trouble. She forced her head between her knees.



New Agent 4: THE BOOK OF AGES, MG Fantasy

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 27 July 2015 · 16 views

Title: The Book of the Ages
Word count: 72,000
Genre: MG Fantasy


Thirteen-year-old Brooks Edison finds a small, black book in the public library. Four strange hieroglyphs adorn the cover. More fill the pages inside. Fortunately, he can read the spell scribbled on a piece of paper that falls out. It mentions a door. He and three friends try the spell out, sure it won’t work.

It does.

The spell transports them to Kilandia, a world where elves make the worst chefs, dwarves are bodybuilders, and pint-sized dragons can’t even breathe fire. Wizards once reigned over the land, but now only one remains: the Black Wizard. He imprisoned all those who opposed him under magic domes, which isn’t winning him any Ruler of the Year awards. 

Brooks learns the book is a powerful weapon of magic only wizards can use. The White Wizard disappeared with it a hundred years ago. Brooks happens to look exactly like him, which is helping his popularity in ways he wish it wouldn’t. Everyone believes the White Wizard has returned and will use the book to free them.

Problem is, Brooks isn’t the White Wizard.

And someone steals the book the moment he arrives. 

Unless Brooks and his friends can find the book, figure out how to use it, and defeat the Black Wizard, the domes will collapse in four days, crushing everyone inside. No small task for the White Wizard. For Brooks, it's all but impossible.

First 250 words:

Brooks Edison eased his front door closed, pressed his ear against it, and listened. He let out a long breath he’d been holding.


Adjusting his backpack, he took off down the street. His bathrobe billowed behind, and the warm August breeze blew his stark white hair off his forehead. Brooks’s hair stood out like a beacon, a gift from his great grandfather, Albert. Although the comments and stares stopped bothering him long ago, he didn’t want anyone recognizing him now if they happened to be up this late.  

He glanced at the moon and then his watch.

One minute. I’ll never make it.  
A bark erupted from the side of a house. A huge German shepherd rounded it at the speed of sound, displaying a killer set of sharp teeth. Brooks jumped sideways, his heart pounding. The dog stopped an inch from Brooks, growling like a rabid wolf.

“Sadie.” Brooks caught his breath. “It’s me. Brooksy. Did you jump the fence again?”

Sadie barked and offered Brooks a paw. 

“Good, girl.” Brooks shook it before wiping sweat from the back of his neck. “Now get back inside.”

Sadie flew around the side of the house and jumped the fence into the backyard.

Brooks bolted, glancing again at his watch.

Midnight. I’ll murder that stupid alarm clock when I get back.

He swallowed hard when he reached the woods at the end of the street. Black holes had more light. Wind whistling through the branches sounded a lot like we’re ready to eat you now.




  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 27 July 2015 · 10 views

Title: Violet Gloom and the Curse of Downcast

Word count: 46,000

Genre: MG Contemporary Fantasy


A few months after her mother’s death, ten-year-old science-mad Violet Gloom moves with her broken-hearted dad to the dreary town of Downcast. There she resigns herself to a life of boredom and sadness and exactly zero super-cool, bathroom-destroying science experiments. But when Violet stumbles across a ghost, she learns Downcast is cursed. 

The curse transformed most of the ghosts of Downcast into shadows, ghosts-gone-bad with no other wish but to destroy the town. Only three good ghosts remain: a kindly soul wistful for sunsets and her long-lost family; a ghost with no name who is almost shadow; and the witch who cast the curse, forever remorseful of the hurt her actions have caused. The good ghosts are the only barriers between Downcast and the curse, and Violet must move them on to the Great Beyond before the shadows escape on the anniversary of the curse.

In order to break the curse, Violet must steal a ghost machine away from magic-obsessed evil inventor, Doctor Fair-Weather (and his brain-munching pet zombie). If she succeeds, she will save Downcast and cure her family’s sadness. If she fails, she’ll lose her new home and the only family she has left to an ancient curse.

First 250 words:

‘You know, Vi, some people say that Downcast is cursed,’ said Dad as we zoomed past a rickety old sign by the roadside that read: DOWNCAST: A HOME FOR THE MELANCHOLY. On the very top of the hill in front of us, I could see the inky silhouette of a town against an orange-red sunrise. 

Past Violet (before it happened) would have jumped up and down in her seat and asked hundreds of questions and, before you knew it, devised a really cool experiment to determine once and for all whether curses actually exist. It would probably involve: a) voodoo dolls; b) explosions (because every experiment needs explosions); and c) a reconstruction of the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb. It would be very, VERY cool and I would have definitely won the Young Scientist of the Year Award for my extraordinary and outstanding commitment to Science. If I closed my eyes, I could picture the massive trophy they’d give me, and hear the clapping and cheering as I stepped up to the stage to receive my prize.

Then I remembered: I wasn't Past Violet anymore. So instead I just shrugged and said ‘hmmph’ and pushed all of the bitterness right back down inside of me. Sometimes I felt like a bag of fireworks all waiting to burn up in the night sky.




  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 27 July 2015 · 12 views

Title: Sunny Beringer's Totally Awesome Plan for Romance
Word Count: 48,000
Genre: MG Contemporary


At a time when most eleven-year-olds are navigating first crushes, Sunny Beringer finds herself trying to ignite a spark...between her own parents. Mom's moved Sunny and her sister miles away to live with a grandmother she barely knows to get some fancy degree, and Sunny seems to be the only one bothered by the whole situation.

Turning her worries into action, Sunny Beringer’s Totally Awesome Plan for Romance is born--a list of sure-fire ways to make her mom and forever boyfriend Scott, her real dad as far as she’s concerned, fall madly in love again. While working on a photo album guaranteed to make Mom think about the good old days when she and Scott were young and in love, Sunny discovers a photo. And not just any old photo. A photo that changes everything.

Mom and Scott have been keeping secrets from her. Now Sunny knows that there's nothing stopping her mom from taking a job across the country or her "dad" from finding a new girlfriend who could have a family of her own. Sunny needs to get back to New Jersey to make sure Scott never forgets her, even if he moves on to someone new. She must do something to make her grandmother kick them out of her house so they have nowhere to go but home, even if it means lying, sneaking around, and hurting the people who care about her. Without a marriage, divorce, or custody arrangement, if Sunny doesn't get her mom to move the family back home ASAP, she'll risk losing the only dad she's ever known.

First  250:

Sunny Beringer's Totally Awesome Plan for Romance was guaranteed to succeed. It was fail-proof, inspired by love, sprinkled with a touch of magic from somewhere out in the universe, and would solve all of my problems because...well, because it had to.

At least that's what I told myself as Mom and I walked up the front steps of Piedmont Middle School on my first day of sixth grade. All three stories of the old brick building looked down at me in a threatening way, and if you think that buildings cannot glare at you then you have never seen this one. I could just hear the low and rumbling voice: "Hey, little sixth grader! Go back to elementary school, where you belong!"

I couldn't help sticking my tongue right out. Because of course I belonged in elementary school. If it were up to me, I'd be starting sixth grade at Alexander Elementary back in New Jersey with my best friend Madeline, in a nice friendly little school that would never growl at me like this one was doing. And if my Plan for Romance worked out the way it was supposed to, in a few weeks I'd be waving goodbye and good riddance to Piedmont Middle School forever.

We stopped at the office to get my schedule. I stared out the large glass window at the swarm of kids zooming this way and that.

“Do you want me to walk with you?” Mom asked.




  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 27 July 2015 · 12 views

Title: These Wicked Waters
Word Count: 68,000
Genre: YA Thriller


After her rock climbing trip is cancelled, seventeen-year-old Annie plans to spend a boring summer working at her mom’s island resort—until she stumbles upon a human skeleton. Though a closer look reveals the skeleton isn’t human at all. Humans don’t have fish tails.
Days later, a guest’s bloated body washes ashore. Law enforcement pronounces the death an accidental drowning, yet Annie wonders if something sinister is at play. The skeleton would give investigators a better lead, but Annie keeps quiet, aware her discovery occurred while scaling the Forbidden-By-Mom Cliffs. Instead, she channels Nancy Drew—minus the skirt and pearls.
While scavenging the island for clues, Annie finds a siren tangled in submerged netting and cuts her loose. The sea-woman’s thank you is a warning: others are coming and, fueled by vengeance for a past murder, they will not rest until every human on the island is dead. When Annie’s childhood crush is found next, mutilated and half-eaten, the sea-creatures' vendetta gets personal. No more waiting for another attack. Annie’s bringing the fight to the sirens.
Complete at 68,000 words, THESE WICKED WATERS is a YA thriller narrated through alternating views of Annie in present day and her eventual siren ally centuries in the past. 

250 Words

When Mom bought the island investors called “cursed,” I figured she wanted a challenge. Even still, the last thing I expected was for her to build a multi-million dollar resort on its sandy shores.  Or that I’d spend my first five minutes on Viaii Nisi throwing up in the women’s bathroom.
“This is disgusting,” I groaned, rubbing my watering eyes as I banished the remains of a once delicious grilled cheese sandwich to the island’s plumbing. Seasickness was a terrible weakness. A penchant for fainting and waking up in the arms of a hot guy would be much preferred.
I exited the bathroom stall with the tattered remains of my dignity and maneuvered through the crowd of women at the sinks. A water fountain at the entrance screamed my name.
Outside, the blast of fresh—if humid—air eased the tightness in my chest. I took a slow inhale and curled the bill of my baseball hat as I waited for a guy to finish slurping from the fountain. Hordes of people milled about the Welcome Center, a cluster of shops and information booths, as they waited for the resort bus to arrive. A group of elderly ladies toddled toward the bathroom, sporting panicked looks of weak bladders and a desperate need to go.
I took my exit cue and hurried toward the pier, grabbing a sip from the now-free water fountain on the way. Ten minutes prior, I’d torn down the ferry’s ramp, begging my stomach to show mercy until I found a toilet.



New Agent 8: HER ONLY ESCAPE, YA Contemporary Thriller

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 27 July 2015 · 13 views

Title: Her Only Escape
Word Count: 82,000
Genre: YA Contemporary Thriller (Diverse)

When seventeen-year-old Samantha Powell goes for a swim in the chilly Willamette River, the last thing she expects is a dead girl trying to drown her. Despite her friends’ claim that it was only a CPR dummy, Samantha knows exactly what she saw. And she can’t get the girl out of her mind. Especially when her best friend, Jenna, suddenly vanishes.
The police dismiss Jenna's missing person case as another Oregon runaway. But Samantha disagrees; she knows Jenna wouldn’t split town. With the help of Caleb, her crush, Samantha investigates the case on her own. And when hallucinations of the girl from the river connect to other missing person cases, Samantha is convinced time is running out. Desperate for the truth, she and Caleb plot breaking into her school's counseling files and police case records. Working together brings her and Caleb closer, which comforts her, until she finds out that he's hiding a shocking accusation Jenna made the week before she went missing.
Now Samantha has to decide who to trust and what to believe. And when more evidence stacks up, revealing Samantha was the intended victim, it’s not just about saving her friend anymore. If she fails, she might be the next to disappear, but to succeed she’ll have to confront her fears.
First 250 words:
Home isn’t an option. At least not one I’m given. Within five minutes of my text, Jenna crouches over me while Micah rummages through my closet.

“You’re going to the river now or—” Jenna rips the covers from my head. 

“Later. I pick later.”

“Has later ever become an actual later?” Jenna doesn’t look amused.

“For the record, yes. Practically all the time.” Never.

“You’re losing your best friend status to Micah real quick.”

“Hey! What happened to the trifecta?” Hurt flitting across Micah’s eyes as she exits the closet.

Jenna playfully swipes Micah's face. “Oh, Micah,” Jenna says. 

“Just go without me.”  

“We thought you’d say that, so we chose three devastatingly embarrassing rumors to spread if you don’t go,” Jenna says.

“One is gastrointestinal.” Micah crawls on the other side of me so that I’m now flanked between them.

“Let’s flip a coin…” Jenna tugs hard at my blanket and flashes a quarter. “Aah… Tails… you’re jacked with all three.”

I let my covers fly across the room, giving them both the stink eye. Micah pounces on me, squirting Mixed Chicks detangler in her hands and fingers them through my curls. When she’s done, she fishes three swimsuits out of her bag. 

“Red, orange, or black?”

“I’ll freeze.” Micah gives me her I’m not playing look and launches my pillow at me. “Black.” I roll my eyes and snatch the suit from her hands, resisting the urge to jump out the window, hop over the fence, and make a run for the bike path.



New Agent 9: THE FREQUENCY OF BLUE, YA Magical Realism

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 27 July 2015 · 9 views

Title: The Frequency of Blue
Word count: 74,000
Genre: YA Magical Realism


Three friends make it out of the crash alive.

Drew, the driver, walks away with a single scratch, easily mended.

Gopher loses his sight.

Ryan falls unconscious in the ambulance, but she’s awake and talking when her mother kicks Drew out of her room.

But when Drew goes to visit her the next day, Ryan’s bed is empty, and the hospital staff informs him of her death. Her mother shuts off her phone, surrenders her precious pug to the local shelter, and ships her body to Louisiana for a private family funeral – all before Drew realizes the need for farewell. The only connection left is the notebook they shared as a creative outlet – she to write, he to draw.

When a mysterious new entry appears in the notebook, Drew learns that Gopher has been hearing Ryan’s voice. Despite Gopher’s reluctance to serve as translator, Drew quickly realizes that he may not have to say goodbye after all. When his desire to prolong their conversation jeopardizes his only remaining friendship, Drew struggles to move on without leaving Ryan behind.

First 250 words:

Drew couldn’t shake the stench of blood and lilac. The metal bed frame dug in behind his knees as he watched the medic talk to the nurse and gesture in his direction. He should smell antiseptic and cotton swabs and tile, but the thick sweet aroma persisted and dragged him back to that slick stretch of highway. To the hypnotic pattern of red, blue, and yellow flashes that turned his stomach.

He remembered the sick panic when he’d seen the black cocoon on its stretcher. He’d made it only two paces before the medic stepped into his path. She’d pressed her hands firmly against his shoulders. “Stop.”

He’d tried to keep moving. “Who is that? Who’s in the bag?”


Drew stopped. What was he planning to do? Tear down the zipper and find Ryan or Gopher lifeless beneath the plastic? The tremor started in his hands and moved up his arms.

“Look at me.” The medic snapped her fingers an inch short of his nose. “The EMTs are working to help your friends. That’s the other driver.”

The tightness around his chest eased, but the tremor remained. He closed his eyes. His lids muted the flashing, but they’d done nothing to ease the clench of his fists as the rescue workers loaded Ryan and Gopher into separate ambulances.

Even now, even though he knew he was safe in the ER, behind his eyes he saw the only things that mattered – Ryan and Gopher flat on their backs, cobwebs of mist forming on their hair.


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