Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by bonalibro » June 20th, 2010, 10:16 am

Dear Mr. Bransford,

Moonbeam Highway is a 60,000 word adult novel with a sequel in the works.

When Eddie loses his family's Forbes 400 fortune to leveraged bets on Wall Street, he has nothing to fall back on but a gift for gab and a few prize winning recipes.

Eddie drives across country in a rickety Cadillac Eldorado, seeking work as roadhouse chef in the bankrupt service economy. To ensure his reputation precedes him, he engages in viral marketing over the CB radio, spinning racy tales of a lady killer chili and its peripatetic chef, which find a skeptical audience. After Eddie meets Cheyenne, a spirited woman with a price on her head, trouble follows wherever they go. When he challenges the national chili champion to a one on one cook-off, he ends up determining the outcome of a Presidential election. Reflecting on his experiences at the bottom of the food chain, he develops his Doctrine of the One True Chili, a rethinking of his elitist views on political economy, and embarks on a career in politics as a Roosevelt-like man of the people.

I have written professionally for thirty years, as a newspaper feature writer and political copywriter. The manuscript rose to the top tier of in May, and was selected for editorial revue on June 1. Readers there compare it favorably to the works of Tom Robbins, Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Sharpe, Spike Milligan and, A Confederacy of Dunces. Curiously, I've read none of them.

Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing from you.


Tim Chambers

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by michelea » June 20th, 2010, 11:03 am

When Tristin Periwinkle's license to practice Magic is revoked by the Magician's Union both for flubbing a spell--which exposed the Mayor's fondness for wearing his wife's dresses--and filling the courtroom with frogs during the trial, he thinks his life is over. But it's only just beginning.

Returning to his previous occupation as an artist, Tristin has an advantage. His amended license allows him to use already enchanted items, such as paint. Now he's able to paint animals that not only come to life, but interact with their owners. But in order for the paint to work, he must sing to it—lullabies are best. If the paint cooperates and he doesn't lose his voice, he might actually make a success of his new career.

Though eventually, with a little trial and lots of error, Tristin makes a name for himself, not everyone rejoices at his success. One artist, Orvin Brown, craves fame for himself and will do anything to get it, including stealing the Magic paint. But Orvin is ill-equipped to handle such a troublesome substance and makes some grievous errors. When he mixes Magic paint with normal paint, he creates a monster that threatens not only his life, but the lives of everyone in Colora. Unable to handle the monster himself, he turns to Tristin for help.

Now, hounded by a Magic Inspector intent on arresting him for the illegal use of Magic, Tristin and Orvin unite to destroy the rampaging painting before Colora is destroyed for the eighth, and possibly final, time.

My 95,000 word, Urban Fantasy, DARK IS THE WRONG COLOR OF NIGHT, may appeal to readers of authors such as Terry Pratchett. The complete ms is available upon request.

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by RichardLevangie » June 20th, 2010, 11:32 am

Jacob Jollimore has been having nightmares about an old lady with raccoon eyes for weeks, and that’s because he gave them to her.

It’s the very worst thing in a summer of worst things. Jacob is 14, skinny, nerdy, and adopted from Vietnam into a blended professional family. It wasn’t enough that his wealthy parents have recently lost everything, and moved to a dilapidated property former hotel to begin again. It wasn’t enough that he was enduring an endless, friendless summer in a rough-and-ready working-class neighborhood. No, he had to be chased by bully through a busy Montréal street, clip an old Vietnamese woman, and send her to the hospital with a concussion and shattered arm. If he looked on the bright side, at least he hadn't killed her.

Some bright side. So now he can add caring for a spiteful, broken septuagenarian to dreary to-do list.

But the very night of the accident, Jacob discovers a finely-crafted puzzle box in an old bureau. He's immediately enchanted, and the box soon yields a mystery. Inside, he finds a letter dated 1913, from Elliot Thompson, a daring 13-year-old who loves Sherlock Holmes mysteries, conkers, hockey, baseball, and the glamour of living in a ritzy hotel popular with traveling performers, politicians and adventurers in Edwardian Montreal. Elliot loves a ripping adventure, and so he sends Jacob on one, providing clues that lead to small prizes scattered throughout the hotel.

As he solves each mystery, Jacob realizes that he’s found a very good friend, and seeing the world through Elliot’s eyes helps him hate the old hotel — and his new life in a new neighborhood — just a little less. As a summer of challenges tests him, he slowly finds a strength and confidence, and he figures out how to overcome the old lady’s hatred. The kid who enters a new school for Grade Eight in September isn’t the weakling who found the puzzle box in July. When he solves Elliot’s last, bittersweet riddle, his life is changed forever. And he’s ready.

This 65,000 word young adult mystery is fast-paced and poignant. I’m an award-winning journalist — holding a Governor-General’s Medal from the University of King’s College — with more than one thousand newspaper and magazine bylines who also has a compelling story to tell about overcoming a devastating illness. Additionally, my skills as web designer, working with my talented niece who is a New York City art director, will mean that I can play an active role in promoting my first book. [Insert sentence about why I chose this agent].

I am excited by the prospects, and look forward to hearing from you.
It is with the heart that one sees rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by morgankayser » June 20th, 2010, 11:56 am

Mr. Bransford,

Diana, my young adult fantasy novel’s 18-year-old heroine, is stuck. She just graduated from high school, hates her boring small town life, and is looking for something more. She finds it in the mysterious fence her father built before abandoning her family, where the gate keeps opening no matter how she tries to restrain it. She’s tried everything: pipes, ropes, latches. Nothing keeps it closed, so she decides to investigate it herself. Exploring the world behind the gate leads her on a journey to find her father, a man who has the unusual skill of bringing the dead back to life, a skill she herself may share. She is helped through her strange Georgia world—a land where sweat and contradictions shimmer in the summer heat—by effeminate friend Jack, homeless Atlanta fortune teller Cassandra, rescued dog Molly and a mysterious stranger Diana knows only as “the wild man.” This unexpected group fights the unknown of Diana’s father and his foreign world.

In a market flooded with the young adult fantasy genre, my novel, Dog on the Highway, seeks to answer moral questions with a sense of excitement, suspense and adventure instead of overtly romantic themes. This makes the novel appropriate for both male and female readers. Diana’s lonely home life and upbringing speak to a generation plagued by divorce, single parenting, or parents who just aren’t there for children. Her coming-of-age journey will resonate with a target audience of older teen readers of any background. Specifically, readers of Holly Black’s Tithe and Neil Gaiman’s Stardust would enjoy Dog on the Highway. At about 45,000 words, Dog on the Highway has the potential to impact young readers in a way not yet seen on the young adult market. Its open-ended finale allows the novel to stand alone or continue for two already planned sequels.

I chose to submit to you because of your work with young adult novels such as In the Break and The Secret Year, as well as your experience in writing your middle grade novel, Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow. I have also followed your blog for some time now, and enjoy your straight-forward and humorous descriptions of the publishing world. I believe you may be a good match for my first novel.

Following are the first five pages of my novel. I am prepared to send a complete manuscript at your request. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

-Morgan Kayser

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by M.J.Atkinson » June 20th, 2010, 5:15 pm

Dear Nathan Bransford,

Twelve year old Emily Singh wants nothing more than to be a typical Midwestern girl. When Zac Zaiser literally yanks her into the past and into a time-traveling war that she unwittingly started, her ambition to be average is threatened. He desperately needs her help to find his father and save history. Emily must decide to either blend into the background and let history fall apart or embrace her full potential.

Amidst the wonders of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, Emily and Zac forge a friendship. Pursued by other time travelers and with the evil Dr. Yin eroding the timeline, Emily continues to deny her significance. When caught, Emily is forced to acknowledge her abilities, and her logical thinking gives Zac the chance to discover where and how his father got lost in time.

THROUGH THE WORMHOLE is a 38,000 word middle grade novel co-authored by Jennifer Van Haaften and Máiread Ahmad. Jennifer, a museum educator, has published articles and edited books for the Wisconsin Historical Society. Máiread is a veterinarian from Ireland.

Thank you for your time in considering this query. We would love to hear from you if you are interested in reading Through the Wormhole. You can contact us at

Máiread Ahmad and Jennifer Van Haaften

Last edited by M.J.Atkinson on February 20th, 2011, 5:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by polsmurphy » June 20th, 2010, 8:47 pm

When detective Lydia Davis apprehended the serial killer she’d been tracking for months, she decided to relax with a camping trip. But after being attacked in the wild, she starts to change in a way that only Ryan Williams - a reporter who's far more than he seems - can understand.

Using his job to augment his own hunt for the feral killer, Ryan needs to help Lydia contain her budding urges through the first cycle of the full moon...or the curse will consume her soul. But how can he help her without revealing his own secret?

My short story, A Prince’s Tail, has been released in the Turbulent Seas anthology from MS Fiction. Two of my short stories have appeared in college publications.

If you are interested in this manuscript I would be happy to provide it for you. I look forward to your response.

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by slavandria » June 21st, 2010, 1:23 am

Dear Mr. Bransford:

When fifteen-year old David Heiland discovers his dead parents may not be dead and an unknown enemy is stalking him, his perfect, uncomplicated world flips upside down. Before he can devise a plan to discover the truth about his parents, David is ripped from his home in Havendale, Tennessee, thrust into the world of Fallhollow and placed in the protective care of the sorceress, Slavandria. Now, in order to find the truth surrounding his parents and return to Havendale with what his heart desires, he must first unite with an unspecified mortal like himself and recover what was stolen from the revered Gyllen Castle, all the while evading the forces trying to kill him.

But there is a bigger problem looming.

His best friend and girl he loves, Charlotte Stine, has mistakenly transported to Fallhollow with him, and in order for her to return home, David must not only complete the dangerous quest placed before him, but he must face and defeat his nemesis, the Dragon King. But when David learns Charlotte will most likely die if he accepts the path placed before him, he must make the hardest choice of his young life: decline the quest and keep Charlotte safe, though it will mean remaining trapped in Fallhollow under Slavandria’s protective care forever, or risk everything, including Charlotte’s life, all in hopes of fulfilling his lifelong dream to find the parents he’s not even sure exist.

In the Shadow of the Dragon King is a 93,000 word young adult fantasy novel and the first novel in The Chronicles of Fallhollow saga.

At present, I am the Editor-in-Chief of the International Association of Aspiring Authors first anthology, “Impressions”. I have also been on the editorial staff of a college literary magazine, and for the last couple of years, I have written technical content for various corporate websites.

I would like at this time to thank you for your time and consideration. I have followed your blog for some time now, and have learned, and continue to learn, a lot from your humorous and enlightening posts. I would be delighted to send a partial or a complete manuscript should you desire to read more. I look forward to hearing from you soon. An SASE is enclosed.


Jenny Michaud

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by moosebabble » June 21st, 2010, 4:39 am

MG Fantasy

Dear Mr. Bransford,

Marvin is stuck in the magical land of Macrru.

He got there by accident, and his only hope of return is iffy at best. His traveling companions are a grouchy prairie dog with claustrophobia, an inept stage magician desperate to get his hands on real magic, and the daughter of Macrru’s high wizard.

These four have to make a long and treacherous journey to reclaim a magic talisman called The Earthstone. It’s the only thing with the magic capable of sending Marvin back to his world. To make things worse, the evil wizard who stole the talisman in the first place plans to use it to destroy Macrru.

Marvin just wants to get home, but a hungry witch, the queen’s treacherous nephew, and a peculiar group of sunbathing penguins stand in his way. On top of that, the evil wizard has no intention of letting a clumsy twelve-year-old and his bumbling companions ruin his plans.

Marvin must rely on his new friends if he hopes to make it home, saving all of Macrru in the process.

TO SAVE A KINGDOM is a middle grade novel complete at 65,000 words.

Thank you very much for your consideration.
Last edited by moosebabble on June 22nd, 2010, 8:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by GoldenBoy » June 21st, 2010, 5:58 am

Dear Mr. Bransford:

The wisdom you share in your blog has helped to improve my writing. Additionally, through your various posts, I have grown to respect your eye for a good story as well as your knowledge of the publishing industry. I believe that we would work well together and that you have the skills to sell my project. Please allow me to introduce you to The Orphan.

While earning less than a living-wage, The Orphan knows firsthand what misery and struggle are. His apartment is a hole in the wall inside a filing cabinet of other hole in the wall apartments that are all decaying with every door slam. His refrigerator sits unplugged, because it’s too expensive to operate; besides, it is empty anyway except for the fast food condiments. To make matters worse, reminders of how comfortable his life once was haunt him, and that haunting knowledge makes his present life, if what he leads now could even be called a life, all the more bleak.

Hopelessness shifts to dread once he is convinced that he is the only suspect in a violent robbery. His paranoia reveals the guilt that has tinged his life since his days as a teenaged slaughterhouse farmhand, when he first learned about love, life and the slaughter, and when his apathy prevented him from making any attempt to save the life of another, thereby dooming his own future and illustrating that villainy can be as simple as failure to act.

The Jungle meets Catcher in the Rye, The Orphan chronicles the struggles of an unremarkable existence while illustrating the utility of social welfare programs for those who have no one to fall back on for financial support. The target audience is recent college graduates who are not only burdened by the baggage accumulated as they’ve grown up, but who are also drowning in debt from student loans and car payments and unrealized potential after being taught their entire lives the lie that a college degree guarantees a job that will pay off years of student loans and other debt and still allow for a full life. The Orphan will also resonate with those of any age who struggle to afford groceries while dreaming of the day when they will see the ocean again on a proper vacation.

I hope you enjoy the first five pages below. May I send you the manuscript?

Thank you for your consideration.


Tom Camus

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by sbp725 » June 21st, 2010, 10:23 am

Dear Nathan:

Lucy Sheridan powers through another day at the cutthroat Chicago law firm where she works, looking forward to a glass of Tempranillo and making dinner with her musician boyfriend, Mark. Upon entering their apartment, she finds it ransacked. Is it a break-in? No, it's a break-up.

Lucy is left with no trace of Mark but his old ski gear, music magazines, and dusty hairballs from the dog they shared. Just when she thinks she's cleaned up the last of Mark's messes, Lucy learns that he slept with one of her closest friends. Lucy starts to lose her appetite—for men, risk, and even the food and wine she once loved. When, four months later, Mark gets engaged to a kleptomaniac groupie, Lucy loses her thirst for life completely. To get it back, she leaves the cold city and journeys to the sunny vineyards of Spain where, free from the weight of others' expectations and her own harsh rules, she finds an unexpected love: viniculture. Lucy learns everything she can about wine, with her eye on a new career as a sommelier. Meanwhile, two men, a young Australian backpacker and a visiting American professor, have their eyes on Lucy. When she returns to Chicago, where grapevines exist only in step aerobics class, Lucy must decide whether to stick with her safe, though soulless, law firm job or explore the uncertain terroir of a new vocation and new relationship. Just when she thinks she has it all figured out, Lucy gets a call from Mark. It's his wedding day, and his eleventh hour phone call could either stall Lucy or set her free.

I am seeking your representation of EXcelente, a 75,000-word work of commercial women's fiction, because I follow your blog and know that you represent work in all genres. I have a law degree and a B.A. in English and Spanish, and have lived and traveled extensively in Spain. An essay I wrote about non-traditional options for college graduates was published in Delaying the Real World: A Twentysomething's Guide to Seeking Adventure, by Colleen Kinder (Running Press, 2005). I have included the first five pages of EXcelente below and would be happy to send a partial or full manuscript at your request. Thank you for your consideration.


[contact info]

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Hillsy » June 21st, 2010, 10:42 am

Dear Nathan

Please consider for representation my epic science fiction novel, OF SHADOWS AND ANGELS,

In the hostile wastelands of the world, humanity survives as a network of isolated cities mired in a war with the Gangs - individual city states championing ambition and power. The thousand year stalemate finally shows signs of cracking, but Layne is about to face the true cost should the war ever end.

Layne barely survived the latest Gang attack – a bold strike at the heart of the Garrison, the city’s military facility. Still in training and with a slew of discipline issues to his name, Layne is surprised when his superiors task him with uncovering how the Gangs managed to penetrate Garrison security so thoroughly. However, someone powerful in the Garrison ranks has another role for him: Traitor.

Framed as a conspirator, Layne’s only choice is to infiltrate the Gangs and discover whose name his implication was designed to mask. But instead he uncovers a Gang plot to tilt the balance of power irrevocably in their favour.

Ignorant of life within the Gang’s Fortress he finds many of his prejudices are just Garrison propaganda, designed to demonise the Gangs and make the war easier to swallow. Faced with an enemy he finds increasingly difficult to hate, Layne struggles to stop not just the Gangs, but also his own people forging a lasting peace from the Gang’s plans for conquest.

While war exacts a grave toll, peace will be cataclysmic.

OF SHADOWS AND ANGELS is 197000 words long and I have included a synopsis and the first 5 pages of my manuscript below.

I look forward to hearing from you

Heidi J. Johns
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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Heidi J. Johns » June 21st, 2010, 11:03 am

Dear [Mr./Ms. Agent]:

When Iven Taylor moves to Mia Holden’s sleepy town, he sets loose the turbulent world of Norse mythology – a place where gods reign, giants destroy, best friends lie, and worlds end. Oh, and where love between humans and gods is forbidden.

Set in a small Montana ranching community outside of Yellowstone National Park, PEARL EDDA is a complete 109,000 word Young Adult fantasy novel that brings ancient Norse myths to the twenty-first century. Using both main characters’ first person perspectives, this initial book in a planned series has Mia and Iven navigating a relationship hindered by murderous Frost Giants, jealous Norse gods, and – perhaps scariest of all – high school. PEARL EDDA is packed with adventure, humor and romance and appeals to Twilight and Percy Jackson fans.

A former high school teacher of Norse mythology and a native of Montana, I currently write and edit for a graduate school. I have spent every summer for the past twelve years in the valley where PEARL EDDA is set, and I am a member of the Montana chapter of SCBWI.

From reading your [website, blog, interviews], I think PEARL EDDA would be a great fit for you. As per your guidelines, I am attaching [synopsis/chapters/other]. If you have any questions or would like to read further, please contact me at [phone number] or [email]. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!


Heidi J. Johns
[phone number]

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by thejaimie » June 21st, 2010, 11:41 am

Dear Agent:

When ARES, God of War, regrets his life of senseless slaughter, he leaves Olympus to live as a single father in America. He’s happy passing as a human to his adopted, teenaged daughter, CHLOE — until the Olympians show up. APOLLO, God of Truth, wants to rule humanity again, and he needs the help of his War God to do it.

But Ares isn’t the same God he used to be. He knows that if the Olympians rule again, billions of humans will suffer. Including Chloe. And he also knows that if Chloe learns of his true identity, she’ll want answers about his past — and hers — answers that might drive her away from him forever.

When the Olympian takeover is more violent than Ares imagined, Ares confronts Apollo about the evils that have destroyed their friendship. Chloe threatens to disown Ares because he’s lied to her, leaving Ares to choose between his Olympian family and his human one, between responsibility and the familiar path of bloodshed.

WE WHO ARE GODS is my first novel, an urban fantasy complete at 82,000 words. Although WE WHO ARE GODS works great as a standalone novel, I have plotted two sequels if the novel is successful.

Per your submissions guidelines, I have included the first XX pages below. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

Jaimie Teekell

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by MagsMunro » June 21st, 2010, 11:54 am

Dear Mr. Bransford,

Staggering unemployment numbers continue to rise in today’s ailing economy, leaving at least ten percent of Americans unemployed and an additional nine million working part time to cover living expenses. There is an enormous talent pool competing for fewer jobs making it tough for both the unemployed and those seeking greener pastures to land a respectable job. The masses looking for work today have done their homework and know how to put together a strong resume and interview like a pro, yet despite their preparedness, are often passed over for someone “more qualified”. Isn’t it curious that HR always says that someone more qualified was found? In my book, The Secretive World of HR and the Real Reason You Didn't Land Your Dream Job, jobseekers will finally get the scoop as to what really is happening behind HR’s closed doors.

My book will put the spotlight on corporate America’s HR function by presenting twenty case studies (all of which I have witnessed at various organizations) highlighting the actual reason candidates were not chosen despite being told otherwise. The cases range from illegal actions to policies that are the accepted "business of recruiting", neither of which is ever discussed with candidates. At the conclusion of each case study I will articulate how a candidate can avoid the scenario described to increase their chances of being selected.

My background in human resources, and more specifically in recruiting and staffing, began in 1998 at Amgen, a renowned leader within the biotechnology industry. Since then I have held a variety of roles within the staffing function with the following organizations: The Walt Disney Company, Baxter Healthcare, Medtronic Corporation, Microsoft, Discus Dental, Elan Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, BioSpace, Parsons, and the largest DC lobbying group representing the life sciences, the Biotechnology Industry Organization. I am qualified to write this book (and am feeling a great sense of catharsis while working on it) and know that job seekers will find it informative, timely, and overdue.

All My Best,
Magdalena Munro

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Re: Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog

Post by jmbattisti » June 21st, 2010, 12:42 pm

Dear Mr. Bransford:

Destiny has chosen TRINITY MORRIGAN-CAIN –local vet, monthly housecat and all-around wiseass. Trinity doesn’t believe in destiny –but it believes in her.

Trinity’s life isn’t exactly normal, but it’s as close as she can make it. She lives in an apartment with her cousin and drives a beat up Toyota. She has an affinity to animals, mainly cats and dogs. Of course, turning into a kitty once a month and being able to understand animal conversations makes her job as a vet a bit more interesting.

Half-breeds like Trinity, a magic-challenged witch/werecat hybrid are barely acknowledged by the local coalition of supernaturals, the Genesee Valley Society of Others (GVSO). Her only concession to the supernatural society is her monthly community service of patrolling. A token effort as nothing ever happens in Rochester, New York.

Except now. Someone has summoned a demon to harvest supernaturals and Trinity is the first to find the evidence during her community service patrol.

Her friend and mentor, Vincent, a vampire, and gifts her with the Amulet of Ma’at, a highly prized magical artifact. He tells Trinity she is a special breed of supernatural, born when the need arises, called a Guardian of Bastet. He urges her to put away her childish feelings about her lack of magic and try to be the person he knows she is destined to be. Before it’s too late.

The amulet changes Trinity –unleashes the magic within her and a third wereform emerges –a huge, alpha black jaguar –the symbol of a Guardian of Bastet. Now Trinity must embrace this newfound power in order to stop the demon, Ash, from killing those closest to her.

THE GUARDIAN OF BASTET is a completed contemporary urban fantasy/paranormal thriller manuscript of 78000 words. It includes romantic elements. You can read the first three chapters on my website

I am a member of Rochester Writers Group and an associate member of Romance Writers of America. I attended Judy McCoy’s aspiring authors RWA class in 2009 and am looking forward to attending more workshops in the future. I am also the Rochester Motherhood examiner writer for the website.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my submission. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Jacqueline M. Battisti
Last edited by jmbattisti on June 22nd, 2010, 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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