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FALL FICTION FEST: AGENT SHOWCASE

Welcome to the Fall Fiction Fest Agent Showcase!

It’s the first time for Amy, Michelle and I to square off and have a friendly competition! Many success stories have come out of their other contests over the years and we all look forward to even more of them!

Obviously, Team Merry is going to bury the competition (in snow),

but every request is to be celebrated.

There are 12 Team Merry entries below,

but agents can also make requests here, as well:

#TeamSunshine: Amy’s blog

#TeamSaucyCranberries: Michelle’s blog

 

AGENT COMMENTS ONLY

Please refrain from commenting on the entries unless you’re an agent.

But feel welcome to cheer for each other on the Twitter hashtag, #FallFest!

Remember, contests are subjective.

Our agents have a definitive idea of what they would like for their list.

If they do not request, it DOES NOT mean the entry was not worthy.

No matter what happens, you’ve got to keep querying and NEVER GIVE UP!

Agents will consider entries on all the blogs, and they might respond with a fall themed request.

We hope the agents go crazy with their requests! Each of our teams are amazing!

  

Good luck to all!

Fall Fiction Fest, CROWN OF BLOOD AND SNOW, YA Fantasy

Title: CROWN OF BLOOD AND SNOW
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 85,000

How Did You Fall for Writing: A Dragon, a wizard and a cat walked into a bar…

Query:

Dear Agent Fall Fest,

With a kick-ass heroine, YA fantasy CROWN OF BLOOD AND SNOW is a female-centric Gladiator meets Throne of Glass.

In the right mood, exiled General, Aerynn Silveris, can pick off a mosquito’s wings with the throw of a dagger or liquefy a man’s brains with the magic in her veins. Her tongue sharper than her blade, Aerynn numbs her longing for home with split knuckles earned in the fighting pits.

Ordered home by the Crown Prince, Aerynn tracks the King’s murderer. While the hunt revives her spirit, clashing wills with the Crown Prince ignites her heart. As Aerynn closes in on the killer, she uncovers the plot to steal an artifact that can release the Kruag King —a monster that fell from the stars— from its prison. If freed, the Kruag King will terraform the world until only kruag can survive.

With the killer and kruag attacking the city,  Aerynn must use the artifact to stop them, though the cost will be her magic and eventually her life. But when Aerynn learns of the Crown’s betrayal and her true ties to the killer, she must decide if the price is one she’s willing to pay —or if vengeance is worth more.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

First 250:

Aerynn stopped and drew in a breath of freedom. It reeked of piss and a hundred flavors of sweaty human flesh. She sighed. Compared to the week-old carcass slung over her saddle, the slum city of Carawen smelt like scented candles.

She shoved a strand of matted hair back into her braided chignon, and squeezed into the crowd. A stray elbow lodged in her gut. She cringed and tried to surface for air, but the push from both sides swept her along the dusty road. Tightening her grip on Faren’s bridle, she pulled the stallion through.

“Dara, dara, dara!” A group of boys stuck their hands in her face, while one slipped quick fingers into her pocket and another pawed at her sword. She ignored the pocket —it was empty anyway— but hissed at the boy who went for the sword. The boys laughed and scuttled off. Typical. Even children were tougher than death here.

Sighing, she turned down a lane of shoddy shanties with rusted, wrinkled walls. Reddish brown rags hung limp in the hot desert air and the stench of rotten flesh invaded her nose. She swallowed. She was close.

Her stomach churning, she entered the dusty lot of a looming stone building. Flies swarmed around the entrance and crowds trampled past corpses baking in the sun. Interspersed between the bustle and chatter rang a steady thwack, thwack, thwack.

Aerynn followed the rhythmic pound to a semi-detached shed. She held her breath, stopping in the crimson puddle pooling from the bloodied doorway.

Fall Fiction Fest, EYE OF THE UNSEEN, YA Paranormal

Title: EYE OF THE UNSEEN

Genre: YA Paranormal #DIS

Word Count: 85,000

How Did You Fall for Writing: I live for storytelling in all forms and found I enjoy the process of weaving words together for just the right emotional impact. I love writing stories about teens with unique challenges, who at the end of the day, have the same universal fears and struggles as everyone else. This story was important to me because I’ve taught several students with physical impairments, each with very different experiences, who need to be represented in books they read.

Query:

Sixteen-year-old Ember Bristow is used to the dark, but her dad is always there to light her way. When tormented spirits snatch him from their boat and carry him into the night, leaving Ember as the sole witness, the authorities are quick to brush aside her testimony and dismiss his sudden disappearance as a suicide.

After all, Ember has been blind since she was a baby.

With her brilliant and intuitive German Shepard by her side, Ember is far from the helpless girl the cops think she is, and she’s determined to rescue her dad at any cost. Investigating crime scenes, eluding the police, and coming face to face with enraged spirits, Ember relies on her resilience and unflappable nerves to keep searching. But the clues only start to come together once she encounters Reese, a stoic boy with almost as many secrets as guns, and Arianka, a whip-smart girl whose quick mouth often gets her into—and out of—trouble.

They soon discover they’re each tied in nightmarish ways to an underground shadow organization bent on controlling the spirits. If the trio doesn’t stop them before they elicit the secret to breaching the phantom realm from Ember’s father, the earth will be flooded with a spirit army and the world will go dark forever.

A fast-paced Veronica Mars meets Anna Dressed in Blood, EYE OF THE UNSEEN is a Young Adult paranormal complete at 85,000 words and told in three points of view. It’s a standalone novel with series potential.

I’m a member of SCBWI, a state representative for ALAN, and a past president of the Arizona English Teachers Association. I also worked with visually impaired teens at The Foundation for Blind Children and used their feedback to drive revisions to my story.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

First 250 words:

A black German Shepherd should have blended into the Pacific twilight nicely, but of course Ellie chose the exact moment I was under the caution tape to let out a gigantic sneeze.

I crouched behind her, listening for the cop patrolling the crime scene. Nerves slithered like eels in my gut.

Great, just great.

It was ridiculous I’d been reduced to this, sneaking around the marina like a felon. Was it too much to ask to let me on board my father’s boat for a couple of minutes? If the police wouldn’t take his kidnapping seriously, the least they could do was let me look for clues. It hadn’t even been twenty-four hours, and already they had ruled his disappearance a suicide. It was the easy excuse keeping them from finding out who—or what—had really taken him. If only they believed what I saw on the boat yesterday.

But they didn’t. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

I’d have to save my father alone.

Footsteps creaked on the pier. I pulled Ellie behind the nearest boat, ducking beside the piling. The cop’s footsteps circled the area, drumming the beat as he whistled a faint partial tune. An evening storm rumbled in the distance; waves crashed briskly against the rocky shore. The stink of rotting fish guts wafted from underneath the tarp as we waited for him to pass. Ellie sniffed at it eagerly.

“No!” I hissed, holding her back.

The steps tapped closer.

Fall Fiction Fest, THE NEEDLES WHICH UNSTITCHED AN EMPIRE, YA Fantasy OV

Title: THE NEEDLES WHICH UNSTITCHED AN EMPIRE

Genre: YA Fantasy Ownvoices

Word Count: 90,000

How Did You Fall for Writing: My mother is a librarian so it’s no surprise that I fell in love with writing. I was a huge bookworm throughout my childhood, after all

Query:

Seventeen-year-old adoptee turned spy Nahri has a simple mission: kill the Empress of North Lang Liêu, whose twenty-year long war between magic and guns split Nahri’s homeland in two.

However, revenge is never simple when said Empress is cloistered away behind three impenetrable walls in the heart of the Imperial City. Any attack requires plowing through thousands of innocents. Any assassination plot requires utmost stealth and the use of magic, which the Empress is hellbent on eradicating.

Further complicating things: Nahri’s adopted homeland is pulling their support from South Lang Liêu and abandoning the capital, prompting its imminent fall and leaving Nahri stranded behind without any means to accomplish her plan. However, the capital’s fall presents an unprecedented opportunity: the Empress, who has not left the Imperial City in decades, will begin her victory march along a “reunited” Lang Liêu, giving Nahri the shot she needs to end the woman who killed her best friend.

Sneaking across the border offers Nahri the best chance to attack the Empress as she leaves the Imperial City. To accomplish this, Nahri enlists the help of five ragtag magicians. Bonded by a mutual hate for the Empress, the magicians understand that if they fail to kill the Empress, her reign of terror will begin unrestrained as the war culminates in a reunification of north and south—and the elimination of all who wield magic.

As the last days of the war wind down, the war for Nahri and the five magicians has just begun, as they combat lies, bullets, and one another. And if they are not careful, they will join the casualty list alongside the millions who have already perished under the Empress’s reign.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

First 250 words:

“Who are you, Nahri Savage?” Matsu’s voice floated in the crowded marketplace but Nahri caught every single word.

I’m the girl who will kill Empress Nguyen.

She shivered despite the humidity—though the thought had been fermenting in her head for some time, she had only begun planning last night.

To not give Matsu insight into her plans before he revealed his, Nahri asked, “Where are we going?”

Nahri’s mentor had roused her from sleep and barely given her enough time to dress before setting out. Matsu shook his head and led her deeper into a sea of bodies. Nahri bit back a sigh: it seemed her mentor would keep their destination secret for the time being.

Normally, Matsu would have stuck out like a sore thumb with his pasty white skin. However, the market crawled with Ambrosian soldiers haggling over items ranging from ripe-red tomatoes to durian, a fruit banned in some places for its notoriously awful smell alongside locals.

In most wars, there were two sides. In this war, there were three: North and South Lang Liêu and the Ambrosian Empire.

Nahri came to a halt as she caught sight of old Ambrosian dog tags hanging off a table, which had most likely been stolen off corpses.

Licking a suddenly parched throat, Nahri ran her fingertips over the dog tags Raelle had pressed to her heart the night before she departed for Lang Liêu. They were the only thing Nahri had left of her best friend; they hadn’t had a body to ship back.

Fall Fiction Fest, VIVA LA VALIANTS, YA Spec Fic

Title: VIVA LA VALIANTS

Genre: YA spec-fic

Word Count: 91,000

How Did You Fall for Writing:  From the moment I could hold a pen I turned the images in my head onto paper. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Writing’s bled into my bones.

Query: 

Dear Agents,

For seventeen-year-old Eliza, being the ordinary, powerless daughter of a superhero dad isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be—especially when he dies at the hands of an ambitious mayor, leaving her alone. After a stint in juvie, Eliza’s bitter depression turns to rage when she returns to a city out of a nightmare. Ever since the power-hungry Mayor Inkman cast out Valiants, the team of heroes like her dad, the city’s been left under his strict command. Even his ugly bronze tower transmits a power-cancelling signal no Valiant can conquer, leaving the city defenceless.

And Eliza won’t stand for it anymore. She recruits a team who, like her, have suffered at Inkman’s hands. Eliza’s determined to take the city back and honour her dad’s memory, even if she has to steal or con her way to do it. But with no super-powers to face Inkman’s cruel inventions, they need more than wits and bravery, and more than the skills of her misfit gang of teen geniuses—they need the Valiants.

If Eliza’s team wants to bring back the heroes and stop Inkman’s rule getting stronger, they must use their own unique—yet very human—gifts and break into the bronze tower before it’s too late. It could be a fool’s game, but with the city on the verge of collapse, there’s only a limited time for Eliza to put aside her fear and stand against Inkman—or be crushed like her dad.

VIVA LA VALIANTS is a diverse novel set in the UK. It’s SIX OF CROWS meets BIG HERO 6 and THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE, with a cast of queer characters. I’m a UK author, delightfully queer myself, and a freelance editor. I was a PitchWars mentee in 2017 with my YA Fantasy novel, where I was mentored by Cat Scully.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

250 WORDS:

Mercia was no longer the city her father died to defend.

Eliza repeated the words as a deluge of rain smothered the car: every time the sliver of hope reared its head she’d choke it back. Nothing but memories remained in the city. Still, as the windscreen wipers squeaked and her guardian, Ian, bent over the steering wheel to navigate their approach to Mercia’s gates, Eliza’s pulse quickened.

The world passed beyond the fog on the windows, and Eliza took in the umbrellas that danced along the pavement. Goodbye, Blackwater, and the rules and regulations of the wayward house. Toodle-oo to the freedom of news, movement, and generally not living under the laws of a glorified idiot.

Good riddance to the place that wasn’t, and never could be, home.

Thunder rolled as Ian muttered about schedules, and timing, and ‘bloody weather’. England definitely didn’t do storms by halves, but Eliza tuned him out, immune. If you weren’t moaning about the weather, were you even British?

“Remember what I told you.” Ian waited to make sure she was listening. “No punching people and taking names.”

Eliza rolled her eyes. It had been one girl, and one punch, and she already knew the bitch’s name. Granted, Eliza ended up breaking the girl’s nose, but it had served her right. Eliza drew in a long breath—counsellors would be proud of her—and exhaled.

“I’ll restrain my fists,” she said.

“Good. Because—and I mean this in the best way possible—I don’t want to see you ever again.”

Fall Fiction Fest, ENGRAM, YA Thriller

Title: ENGRAM

Genre: YA Thriller

Wordcount: 79,000

How did you fall for writing: When I was ten years old, I wrote a book of bedtime stories for my younger sister, and I haven’t stopped writing since!

Query:

Dear Agent,

Seventeen-year-old Elle is the snarky, wise-beyond-her-years daughter (and unofficial apprentice) of the legendary Max Brooks, a semi-retired CIA operative. When they’re attacked on a routine job, Elle learns that her dad has been keeping secrets from her. Big ones. Her name isn’t really Elle Brooks. She wasn’t really born in America. And when her father brought her and her brother over from the small European country of Auldwynne, he wasn’t running toward the American dream—he was running away. From everything.

In an effort to uncover the truths her father tried so hard to bury in Auldwynne, Elle accepts an assignment forced on them by their attackers: kill the crown prince of Auldwynne and his two sisters. They plan to kidnap the royals instead, intending to keep them safe from Nicholas Price, the man who hired them. But their plan goes awry, resulting in Max’s disappearance. That’s when Elle discovers that the assassination plot goes much deeper than just politics.

When Elle and the royals find the remnants of an old experiment, terminated due to ethical concerns, they realize that it isn’t as abandoned as it seems. It’s all connected—the experiment, the assassination, and Max’s secrets. But some secrets would be better left buried—and digging them up might mean giving Price exactly what he wants.

ENGRAM, a YA thriller, is complete at 79,000 words. ENGRAM will appeal to fans of Ally Carter’s EMBASSY ROW series.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

First 250 Words:

“Marcus said the shooter would be up there.” Dad points out the window of our favorite waffle place and across the street to an older building halfway down the block. “The senator and his son will be walking back to their hotel after an official state dinner.”

I take another bite of waffle and lean across the table, craning my neck to see past the awning. The building Dad is pointing at looks like an old factory—it’s made of drab gray stone and half the windows are completely gone. “Walking?”

“Walking. Their hotel is only two blocks from the banquet center, and their car is going to mysteriously break down as they’re leaving.”

“They got all this from an anonymous tip?” It’s almost not a question. Dad’s told me stories from his days at the CIA, and usually when they get a tip, it’s a tiny, almost useless piece of information. Then they have to dig and extrapolate and hope they can get there in time to save someone’s life. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.

It’s no wonder my dad retired a few years ago.  Not being able to save everyone had taken its toll on him.

“Here, let me play you the audio. She called the police, but they transferred her over almost immediately.” He grabs his phone, hands me an earbud, and clicks a few buttons. I stick the earbud in my ear, and a moment later, a woman’s frantic voice comes through the speaker.

Fall Fiction Fest, THE LAST HUNTING SEASON, YA Historical Fantasy

Title: THE LAST HUNTING SEASON

Genre: YA HISTORICAL FANTASY

Word Count: 65,000 WORDS

How Did You Fall for Writing: I have always loved story and the way you get lost in a great world. So, I wanted to write a story others could get lost in – and that would challenge the current systems of oppression (without being too obvious).

Query

Dear AGENT,

Seventeen-year-old Roslyn McGregor lives in the shadow of the Woods, an uncharted territory of Montana home to an infamous Beast. While monster hunters from around the world come each summer, Roslyn longs for life outside her small town.  Her grandmother’s uncanny visions promise that this year will be different. It could be the end of the hunting season once and for all—and an opportunity for Roslyn to leave her responsibilities to the family store and see the world.

Eighteen-year-old DeRay Maxwell lives in the shadow of unjust laws in the Jim Crow South. He may be good at baseball, but his great love is Shakespeare. Before he can afford to provide for his family after the death of his Pop, and maybe even go to college, DeRay must first use his unique gift—the ability to always hit what he’s aiming for—to outwit other huntsmen, slay the Beast, and claim the prize money.

When Roslyn’s little sister and grandmother are kidnapped by a malicious huntsman, she turns to DeRay and finds an unlikely friend and romance in the middle of segregated Montana. Together, they must navigate the Woods, find Roslyn’s family, and outsmart traps set by rival huntsmen, all without becoming another pair of victims of the legendary Beast.

Told in dual perspective, THE LAST HUNTING SEASON is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in 1950s Montana, complete at 65,000 words. This will appeal to fans of THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater and UPROOTED by Naomi Novik.

I have poetry published in Lilliput Review, and have an essay included in Time And Relative Dimensions in Faith: Theology and Doctor Who. I am a regular contributor to the FAITH LINK Bible study series from Cokesbury Press. This is my first novel.

Thank you for all your time and consideration.

First page:

Strangeness wove its way under the fingernails of Winter Hollow, Montana. It poured down from the mountains, and whispered in the steamy air. Why anyone came to visit—to settle — in this place baffled Roslyn McGregor.

A full week of May remained, and already every fan in the village buzzed. Summer dripped from the bridge of Roslyn’s nose. If she was in California she could just go to the ocean. She dabbed her forehead with a handkerchief and pushed out into the crowded store front.

At least three dozen tourists milled around, pressing against the aisle shelves. Several men gawked at plain zippo lighters. A couple ogled cans of Campbell’s tomato soup like they were an exotic spice from the far East.

Tourists were ridiculous.

So were the huntsmen, but they didn’t stay long. They went into the Woods and never came out again, or they got some sense and caught the train to Chicago.

At least, huntsmen didn’t fondle the matchbooks or snap photographs of soup cans.

Roslyn took a deep breath. Heat irritated her, made her fiery temper bubble closer to the surface. Tempers were bad for business. Business is what the store needed. She forced a smile and snuck past a stick-thin gentleman in a suit. He murmured to his wife about the “wonders of modern man” while holding a collapsible army-issue shovel. Mother stocked those strictly for the tourists who dreamed of being huntsmen out loud, but secretly were grateful for their sedans and suburban beds.

 

Fall Fiction Fest, THE EYES OF FIRE, Adult Epic Fantasy OV

Title: THE EYES OF FIRE

Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy Ownvoices

Word Count: 134,000

How did you Fall for writing: I was an avid reader as a child, and as I grew older, I felt like trying my hand at writing my own book. It was difficult and challenging, but so much fun. I got to be the author and tell any story I wanted! Throughout high school and college, I kept writing and writing, honing my craft, in hopes of one day becoming an author.

Query: 

Dear Agent,

Rayth Emberlan is haunted by a demon. Being human, however, is his real curse.

Imprisoned in a land where humans are despised, Rayth is condemned to the Arena, a massive battle pit filled with the kingdom’s deadliest prisoners. To earn his freedom, Rayth must win over the entaari crowd, but many centuries worth of hatred between humans and entaari stands in his way. Rayth must overcome that hatred and show the entaari that he’s not some human monster, but a man like themselves.

Oh, and the whole haunted by a demon thing doesn’t make it any easier.

A personification of darkness, Lilyth is bound to Rayth’s soul. She corrupts his thoughts and actions, craving bloodshed and seeking to bend him to her will. Rayth’s battle to survive is three-fold. He must conquer Lilyth’s pull on his humanity, survive the onslaught of prisoners, and sway the entaari hearts, if he’s to escape the Arena in one piece.

I am a 24-year-old teacher with an insatiable love for fantasy novels. As a Muslim-American, named Jihad no less, I’ve experienced much discrimination first-hand. I wanted to tell a story that parallels some of the things myself and other minority groups have faced in our day to day lives. THE EYES OF FIRE isn’t just an epic fantasy novel filled with magic and adventure, it’s one with a deeper meaning, one that puts the reader in the shoes of a young man at war with an intolerant society ruled by a bigoted queen.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

First 250 words:

Kill him.

Rayth parried his father’s blade and took the offensive. Rage burned like molten iron in his core. It craved destruction, and his father became a fitting target.

Faster!

Rayth’s body blurred as he drew speed from his blessing. His muscles, unaccustomed to these bursts of acceleration, screamed in pain, but he ignored their cries. With a roar he swung his blade, the blunted steel becoming a grey phantom thirsting for blood.

Opposite him, Aeron tapped into his own blessing, using the burst of speed to duck beneath Rayth’s attack. He swung the blade in a wide arc that nearly took Rayth’s head from his shoulders, before striking his son with a kick to the stomach.

“You’re going to need to be faster than that to beat me,” Aeron teased, darting back out of reach. He wiped the sweat from his brow and loosened his sword arm. “I didn’t kick you too hard, did I?”

He mocks you… Paint the grass crimson with his blood.

“Shut up,” Rayth snarled, trying to suppress Lilyth’s bloodlust. It had become increasingly difficult of late. Still grimacing from his father’s kick, Rayth turned his gaze to the sky. The sun was nearly free from its hiding spot behind the clouds. He wouldn’t have to deal with Lilyth’s pull for much longer.

You wish.

Rayth ignored her voice, unable to silence it, and studied his father. From the lag in his step to his quickened breath, it seemed like the old man was on his last legs, but Rayth knew better.

Fall Fiction Fest, BLOOD SONG, Gothic Fantasy Romance

Title: BLOOD SONG

Genre: Adult Gothic Fantasy Romance

Word Count: 85,000

How Did You Fall for Writing: My husband and I had a discussion one night about what our dream job would be if time, money, etc. were no object. I told him I would write novels for a living. He paused, looked at me, and then asked, “So why don’t you? You can start today. Write when you have time, and who knows what will happen.”

I didn’t start that day. I came up with many more excuses why I couldn’t do that. However, about a month later I started seriously writing and haven’t looked back.

Query:

Dear Agent:

BLOOD SONG is set in a world inspired by 1800s Wales with fantasy elements, and is best described as BEAUTY AND THE BEAST meets THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

Ceridwen Kinsley lived for her love of music—until the trauma of her mother’s death convinced her that music only brings death and sadness and should be kept away from the world. When Ceridwen witnesses the latest casualty in the vicious murder spree haunting the city of Teneboure, committed by something not quite human, she’s convinced things cannot get any worse. However, life throws her a pleasant change when the reclusive Lord Protector Drystan Winterbourne shows up at her door with an offer she can’t refuse: play music for him at his castle in exchange for the money her family desperately needs.

At first, Ceridwen is put off by Drystan’s unkempt appearance and harsh demeanor. Not to mention the secrets he keeps or the odd ailment that plagues him at times. But as she grows closer to the man who keeps everyone else at a distance and he reignites her passion for music, her feelings for Drystan transform from fearful indifference to love. It’s the perfect arrangement until Ceridwen learns his secret—he’s the monster haunting their city, the one who committed the murders.

Ceridwen yearns to flee the horrible truth, but turning her back on the man she loves proves just as hard, especially when Ceridwen learns that Drystan’s ailment is the result of his struggle to overcome the dark magic threatening to overwhelm their country. The truth leaves Ceridwen with a choice: return to the safety of her home and the quiet life she lived before or risk her own life and use her music to help Drystan control his monstrous side and halt the encroaching darkness.

I am a member of RWA and have ten years of experience at one of the world’s largest consulting firms in a position involving a significant amount of business writing.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

First 250:

Mother, are you watching tonight?

The chilly night wind brought with it the scent of pine from the nearby forest, mingled with a twinge of algae from bay to the east. I adjusted the shawl around my slim shoulders, a defense against the ever-approaching winter. The cool metal of the flute touched my lips as I began my fourth song of the night.

Mournful notes rang clear in the night from my perch atop our city house. It would never be home. That title was reserved for our country manor, or rather, our former manor—the one where I had grown up, the one where Mother died.

Every night I played for her, just as I had before our lack of fortune forced us to this out-of-the-way city. Almost every night I felt her eyes on me. A tingle across my cheek, a shiver down my spine, the slightest hint of a reply on the breeze. Always from the north where the city’s castle rose up just two blocks from our house.

I longed to play for others, but no one would pay to hear someone play the flute, a mistral’s instrument, especially here in Teneboure. Nor did Father consider it a proper occupation for a young woman of marriageable age. Instead, my greatest source of joy brought my family sadness.

On the roof, none of them heard me but Mother.

My mind added the words of the song that my fingers tapped out over the keys of the flute.

Fall Fiction Fest, MINIMUM VIABLE PLANET, Adult Sci-fi OV

Title: MINIMUM VIABLE PLANET

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi Ownvoices

Word Count: 95,000

How Did You Fall for Writing:

I wanted to imagine a positive future for our world and get to know a feisty geek facing the dilemma of self-interest and interdependence. She changes her life and, as a result, transforms the planet. I hope her story might embolden readers to attack climate change, solve intractable challenges, and have a few laughs.

Query:

Dear Agent:

In a tech-utopia on Earth in 2218, cyber-engineer Willoy Kapule builds weird robots from discarded parts in her spare time. Subsisting on the lowest tier of society, she’s desperate to create a game-changing invention, earn a promotion, and upgrade her meager status.

Empowered by code Willoy filched from the net, her newest invention, JayBee, shocks her by predicting an imminent disaster and saving the city. She finds the shy genius, Pramesh Patel, whose software gave JayBee clairvoyant powers. Pramesh reveals his secret: a team of magical digital avatars predicting the dynamics of society and the environment. Willoy pressures him to join her and form a startup company to build prescient robots.

To sponsor their launch, Willoy and Pramesh pique the interest of a powerful industry leader. But when Willoy discovers their benefactor’s plans to cut Pramesh out of the deal and destabilize the planet with their tech, she faces a terrible choice—betray her ally to gain elite status, or scrap her dream to save the world that undervalues her.

MINIMUM VIABLE PLANET features a diverse cast of humans, robots, and virtual characters. The book would appeal to fans of The Murderbot Diaries (Martha Wells) and Bandwidth (Eliot Paper).

I’m a Boston-based geek with relatives born in Hawaii, where much of the novel takes place. In this #ownvoices manuscript, I channel the experiences of a mixed-race woman striving to advance in tech. My non-fiction writing on design technology has appeared in journals and in two book chapters. My short fiction appears in the anthology 2047: Short Stories from Our Common Future, by Bisgaard, T. (Ed.).

Many thanks for your consideration.

First 250 Words:

Warning

BosCam, Mass; 2218

The commercial zone buzzed with the energy of a million citizens, cranking out services, keeping the utopia humming. Fifty floors below, in the airlock separating the high-rise lobby from a noxious atmosphere, cyber-engineer Willoy Kapule pressed her sweaty forehead against a metal panel and tried to predict the future.

The moment to retrieve her brainchild was evaporating. She tested the seals of her ash-colored environmental protection suit and tapped the time code on the side of a scuffed gray helmet packed with communication systems. Thirty minutes left.

Grub through trash for parts, hack, debug, reboot. She’d been attacking that cycle for years. Last night something clicked. This latest robot she built from discarded components passed every test and she smelled a breakthrough. If this junkbot succeeded in the final underwater trial, it would crush her competition. She could demo a killer product for the CEO and win a promotion. But if it failed, she’d skulk back to the office empty-handed. Again. No mind-blowing surprise for the boss, no accolades, no lunch.

The hatch jerked open, and a couple stepped into the space. They removed their headgear, exchanged a kiss, and turned toward her as the entry resealed.

“You’re supposed to be upstairs,” said the engineer who’d stolen the last promotion out from under her.

“Babysitting? Haul that weirdbot upstairs so we can reverse engineer it,” said the other, and they both laughed.

Willoy glowered. “Damn seal broke. This airlock just filled with toxic assholes.”