Thursday, September 13, 2012

Revised Partizans Query

Please feel free to take a look at this and let me know what you think!


When sixteen-year-old Hannah Slaughtery enrolls in an exclusive boarding school, all she wants is to get into an Ivy League school and finally shed her bullied past. The last think she wants is to stand out. And she definitely doesn’t want to become a witch and fight against monsters she doesn’t believe in.

After an aerial assault by mythical basilisks, Hannah discovers she’s part of the next generation of Partizans, a band of supernatural warriors whose origins date back to the dawn of man.  In order to stand against the Formorians, a ruthless and tyrannical empire of demons, Hannah must make a choice: Either refuse her calling and enter into a supernatural witness protection program to save her adopted family or overcome her fear and accept her battle-filled legacy.

Regardless of her decision, there’s one thing Hannah knows for sure: her chances of surviving until prom are pretty slim.

The Partizans, a YA paranormal is complete at 74,000 words and has series potential and would appeal to fans of the Hex Hall series. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.

First 150 Words:

Hannah Slaughtery’s courage faltered as the iron gate creaked open. The late afternoon sunlight filtered through the snow-topped pine trees as she steered her car through the fence, the only thing separating Piaculum Academy from the rest of the world. As she inched forward, something in the air sent a shiver down her spine. It was as if the wind was charged with bursts of electricity and her skin tingled from the connection.  She couldn’t explain why, but for the first time in her life, Hannah realized she felt safe. No. She felt like she was coming home.

Up ahead was a security checkpoint with tinted windows. As she pulled up to the window, a guard with a military haircut and aviator sunglasses opened the window and Hannah thought she caught a whiff of coconut sunscreen, which struck her as odd seeing as how it was early January.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reflections on the Eleventh Anniversary of 9/11

759.45 miles away. That’s where I was when the world stopped turning.

It was my first year of grad school at Indiana University, where I was enrolled in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Program. My husband, though he was my boyfriend at the time, called and told me to turn on the TV. When I told him I was still in bed and grumbled something about another five minutes, he told me about a plane flying into the World Trade Center Tower. I thought he was joking. And it wasn’t very funny. But the alternative… the reality, if you will, was inconceivable.

I turned on the television and sat silent on the phone, watching the smoke billowing out of the building. I prayed for the people trapped on the upper floors and jammed in the stairwells. And yet pride swelled as the reports of police and firefighters charging into the building began to emerge. At that moment, I was still innocent. Surely, this was a horrible, cataclysmic accident, but it was still, “just” an accident.

And then I saw it. Coming in from right side of the frame was another plane. If an inanimate object can possess human like features, this one flew with purpose. To kill. To destroy. To instill terror. It was successful. I was innocent no longer. There was no way, in my mind, that this was an accident. My thoughts were echoed by the reporters, though at the time, all I heard was my voice repeating over and over again, “Oh my God. Oh my God. All those people.” I was shaking and like so many, tears were flooding down my face.

I reluctantly hung up the phone and threw on a pair of sweats and a t-shirt and headed to class. I didn’t know what else to do. There weren’t a lot of people in the quad. But my entire cohort was present and accounted for. I should mention that HESA is one of those touchy, feely, tell us about your problems kind of programs. So we talked about what we were thinking… for about five minutes and then we left. Many of my friends had assistantships working with the students, mostly in Residential Life. I should mention that, for a school in the Midwest, IU has a huge contingent of student from the state of New York. In fact, the Orientation Program packs up every year and sets up shop in the Big Apple, so it’s safe to say that our campus did not escape this attack untouched.

But I worked in research, so I took the day off, went back to my room, changed, and headed over to Wright Quad where I met up with a friend. One thing that stands out about that day is the sound of the campus. There was no laughter. No birds sang a sweet melody. It was as if sound had ceased to exist and the silence was deafening to my ears.

Fast forward four years later.

Eight months into my pregnancy, I can’t wait to have an October baby. I imaged costume themed birthday parties and crazy decorations. But on September 11, 2005, I sat straight up out of a dead sleep. A moment later, my water broke. We went to the hospital and sure enough, this little creature that I had spent more than a year trying to have and 8 months doing everything I could to protect it, was on his way. 

After one particularly horrid contraction, the nurse leaned in and asked, “Does it bother you that your baby will be born on September 11th?” At first, I looked at her in confusion. The first epidural hadn't worked and I was trying to get up the courage to bribe the doctor to do a C-Section, so I have to admit,  my mind wasn't focusing on the date.  But she raised an interesting question everyone else had been avoiding.

My response was, “No. It doesn’t. Because my child, and all the children who have been born since that day are proof they didn't win.” I’m sure I would have said more if not for another contraction.

My son was born the next day, and I have to admit, I was relieved he wouldn’t share the anniversary, and thought occurred to me: His birthday is still momentous. September 12, 2001 was the day the United States of America stood up, dusted itself off and stood with resolve that we would be united. We would stand tall and we would take care of each other.

Fast forward seven years later.

Our country is no longer united. The sense of fellowship is being challenged by the sense of entitlement. We are a better nation than our behavior reflects.

Tomorrow, my little preemie will turn seven. He is still proof that the terrorists did not win. He’s is joyful and happy and innocent. And though I know he too is better than his behavior reflects, especially when dealing with his little brother, he loves with his whole being. There is such goodness in his heart and true compassion in his eyes. He is just one example of what makes this nation great.

A few years ago, we started a tradition of take a birthday cake to local first responder stations in our town as a way to remember and honor those who run into danger while everyone else is fleeing from it. This was his idea and, next to the presents, I think it’s his favorite part of his birthday. Tomorrow we are taking treats to the men and women of the Greenfield Police Department and he was concerned that there might not be any cupcakes for the men and women working the night shift if we took them in before school. So we are making three deliveries: one before school, one after school and I’ll drop some off after shift change.

Today, as we remember, I challenge each of you to think of something you can do to help our country unify behind the greatness we are capable. And as always, BE PASSIONATE about the ones you love. We never know when our fragile time on this earth is up.

So, where were you when the world stopped turning? And more importantly, how has 9/11 made you a better person? If you don't have an answer, what can you do, starting now, to have a response next year?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pitch Polish Blog Hop Post

I was pretty lucky to get in to the Pitch Polish with my YA Paranormal, but I decided to go ahead and post my YA Thriller to get some feedback from the awesome GUTGAA participants. Please feel free to be brutal... goodness knows I haven't been easy on some of you!!! If you would like to check out my official submission for the Pitch Polish, please go HERE!

Sarah J. Schmitt
The Acada Chronicles
YA Thriller
89,000 word count

Revised Query: In 2017, a virus destroys the world’s population leaving less than five percent of the human race alive. Sixteen-year-old Emily Tate is among the lucky ones. But her perception of luck changes when the Committee, a de facto organization that brings stability and supplies to survivors, sends her to work on the Human Sustainability Program. As a member of the program, Emily is forced into a conspiracy that involves biological terrorism and the genetic manipulation of future generations by way of made to order babies.

After her mother's mysterious death, Emily begins to unravel the truth about the Committee’s involvement in the viral outbreak and the real intentions of the program. The Committee isn’t just responding to the Acada virus – they released it in the first place. Their goal: total domination of the planet. As the Committee’s henchmen close in, she must find a way to protect the one thing that can bring hope to a bleak future: a test tube creation named Ava, who, by Emily's design, embodies everything the Committee fears: courage, creativity, and individualism. But keeping Ava and her surrogate mom safe may jeopardize the personal future Emily is trying to build or even her life.

THE ACADA CHRONICLES is an 89,000-word young adult thriller with series potential.

First 150 Words:

“Holy crap,” I say, taking an involuntary step back from the hurricane of perkiness lurking behind my locker door.

Jessica Millhouse, in her drama queen glory, beams a sugary sweet smile in my direction. “Emily Tate,” she says, with a fake but accurate southern accent. “Such language.”

I resist the opportunity to roll my eyes and instead look down at my planner. “What do you want?”

Sensing my immunity to her charms, the glimmer in Jessica’s amethyst eyes dulls. She leans in. Her breath smells like cherries and I almost gag. I hate cherries. “It’s about the biology project…”

This time I don’t stop the eye roll. There’s only one reason someone like Jessica would talk to someone like me. She needs help. “You do know this isn’t a group project, right?” I ask.

Jessica stares at me like I’m speaking a tribal dialect of Swahili.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pitch Polish - I'm IN!

Now, I don't want to brag, but I was able to get into the Pitch Polish on GUTGAA (Gear Up to Get an Agent), and I am thrilled. Those successful entries won't be up until Monday, however, I'll be spending the weekend blog hopping to check out and comment on those who didn't make the list... You know, polishing up my polishing skills. Check out the queries/first 150 words and give some constructive feedback if you get a chance!

#GUTGAA Meet and Greet

-Where do you write? One of two places: Starbucks (when I need a dose of human interaction) and in my home office.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see? Easy: My computer tower and my printer. They take up the entire left side of my desk.

-Favorite time to write? Late at night, when the kidlets are in bed. I find it easier to focus when I don't hear, "Mommy?" every five seconds. Call me crazy.

-Drink of choice while writing? Depends on the season. In the summer, it's passion tea lemonade, which I learned to make at home, saving us thousands of $$$; In the fall, caramel apple cider; Winter is peppermint white chocolate mocha, and spring is any kind of fruity tea. 

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? Music, please! When I'm editing, I listen to Pandora, but when I working on a new WIP, I normally set up a station for each book.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it? My current books that are ready for querying are all about saving the world... in one form or another. My current book is about saving the cheerleader. I tend to write about redemption, which is fine, but can also become very emotionally exhausting. The new book is more fun and upbeat and while we see the character grow, she will hopefully keep us laughing from start to end.

-What's your most valuable writing tip? Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, without a doubt. You know when you find that book that just opens your writing up? That would be this one. It's the first book I recommend when a new writer asks what's on my shelf!

Wow... I started the post thinking I was more Harry than Sally, but I'm starting to reconsider! Anyway. That's me in a nice and tidy package! I look forward to getting to know you all better over the next 5-6 weeks!!!

By the way, if you want to check out the blog hop, check out the links below!