Thursday, 28 June 2012

And we’re on the home straight!

The competition is nearly at its close, so I just thought I’d let you know how you’re all going.

Currently the highest number of entries in the draw is a whopping 46 (and no, they haven’t been stocking up on tesserae). If you think about it, there are 39 entries to be gained just by critiquing all 13 posts from the critique session. Add 5 entries to that for each blog you follow and you could be in the lead over the dozens of competitors who’ve tweeted to say they’re in. And feel free to search through Lisa's or my tweets and RT any contest shout-out which tickles your fancy. With an extra entry up for grabs for every RT, who knows? That one extra tweet could be your winning ticket… 

Critique contest Entry no. 13

Many thanks to this author for submitting to our critique contest. For your own chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher, follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (

Title: The Butterfly Effect
Genre: YA Paranormal
Query pitch:

Matt should be dead. When he walks in on the murder of his best friend’s father, Matt’s split-second decision to interfere costs him the man’s life, his best friend, and his own safety. But when the evidence points to a dead man, the police refuse to chase a ghost, and Matt is forced into therapy. Now, the killer is back, targeting Matt and his friends in order to take what he failed to collect the first time – their place in the afterlife.
David can’t know the truth about what Matt saw that night, but he already knows more about the reason behind his father’s murder than he lets on. The distance between the former friends turns into hate, but when David is pushed to the edge by everyone’s pity on the anniversary of his father’s death, Matt is the only one he can turn to. Together with Sinead, Matt’s not-so-secret crush, and two mysterious transfer students, they head out on a fateful ride that ends in the deaths of all but the driver.
Sinead makes it out alive and manages to get help, but an even greater danger lies in wait at the hospital - and the only person who can help her is supposed to be dead. When the four teens find themselves inexplicably alive, it's a race to stop the killer from switching Sinead's departing soul with his own. Matt may not have been able to save David's father, his friends, or himself, but nothing will stop him from saving her. Not even death.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Critique contest Entry no. 12

Many thanks to this author for submitting to our critique contest. For your own chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher, follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (

Title: Beneath The City Of Lights
Genre: Thriller
First Page:


The thickness in the air clung to him like a jacket that was a size too small. His breath was ragged and bounced off the stone walls, echoing like he was breathing through a megaphone. The walls felt like they were closing in, getting ready to crush anything that dared to pass. It was forbidden to come down here this deep. Now he knew why and wished he would've listened. His legs were heavy, as if two lead weights had replaced where his feet should be. His knees were bloody from crawling through rock and bone and whatever else was down here. How long had he been down here? A day, maybe even a week? He had lost all sense of perception at about 250ft below the city streets. He was now at almost 400ft and the only option was to go deeper.
That familiar cold chill enveloped him and he knew he had to move. Someone was coming. Or something. He wasn't sure, but even in the darkness he could feel its eyes on him. He slung his backpack onto his shoulder and pointed the video camera straight ahead. The damn thing had outlasted all his flashlights and was now his only and final source of light. It was stupid, really. Running for his life while carting a 20-pound, professional videographer camera around because his damn journalist brother wanted the story of his career. It wouldn't be seeing the light of day if he didn't get out of here alive, so he centered it in front of him and kept moving.
The water had to be as deep as he was tall, so it was a balancing act on rocks and debris to keep from slipping into the murky depths. There was a hum behind him, chasing him. A sound like he'd never heard before. So tonal and constant it was almost as if it was burrowing itself through his skull and into his brain. He squinted his eyes together, moving faster and trying to focus. Suddenly there was a loud splash to his left, startling him and sending him flying onto a patch of rock. The camera flew out of his hand, landing sideways, the light still dimly shining on him. A shriek of pain escaped his lips as he tried to get up. His ankle was twisted, maybe broken. He wasn't sure which of the two but he knew that he wouldn't be walking on it anytime soon.
He was chilled to the bone now, shaking. His entire body was caked in dirt and dried blood. He felt like just lying down on the mossy rocks and dying. He wanted death, welcomed it. There was no way he was getting out of here alive now. He was stranded and no one was stupid enough to search for him. The humming was becoming deafening, ringing off of the walls and hitting him like a bullet. Then suddenly it stopped.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Critique contest Entry no. 11

Many thanks to this author for submitting to our critique contest. For your own chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher, follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (

Title: The Watershed
Genre: Suspense/thriller
First Page:

They were dead. They were all dead and they knew it, but the survivors of flight D41173A were too scared to put words to the thought. After the elation of surviving a plane crash wore off, reality set in for the eleven strangers that they wouldn’t survive much longer. Snow fell around them in earnest, the wind howled, and the only thing for them to do was to rush down the mountain they had found themselves stranded on.
“How do you make God laugh?” Dwayne asked.
He was walking just behind Brody, who was jolted out of a deep thought by the question. Brody had no time for riddles. He had been on his way to confront his ex-fiancée when the plane crashed in the Rockies.
The group of strangers had only been hiking for a couple hours, but to Christopher, a man unfamiliar with physical activity requiring more effort than putting a chicken wing in his mouth and chewing, it felt like an eternity. The skies had lightened a shade or two in the past thirty minutes, which only helped highlight the large amounts of snow falling. Each of them knew rescue could not come as long as the storm continued. That was, unless they got far enough under the storm where helicopters could safely maneuver in for a pick up.
“Son, maybe it’s best not to talk about God at this time,” Yuki Ikejira spoke up near the back of the pack, “Who knows, He may be listening.”
Ike was the oldest of the group. You could tell the cold was hitting him the hardest as he labored down the mountain with assistance from a cane. Each breath was a hard day’s labor for him. Yuki Ikejira, or, “Ike” as he asked to be called, had not accepted any extra clothing or blankets for himself when the extra supplies were divided. He was a globe-trotting pastor who wore a traditional black pair of pants, black shiny shoes, black dress shirt, and a recognizable white band in his collar. The only outward protection he had against the fierce wind was a purple scarf around his neck. Well, that and his faith.
Dwayne laughed and retorted, “Perfect answer, Ike, especially from a priest. Isn’t it you who should be talking our ears off about God right about now?”
Nora O’Grady, the first female detective to make the missing persons division in her former precinct, was ready to put an end to any bickering. Before she made a sound, a quick surprised inhale was heard to her left.
O’Grady turned to see Stephanie Berea struggling to breathe, her red cheeks flashing to purple. The older woman, O’Grady estimated Stephanie to be in her mid-sixties, burst into a fit of violent coughing.
This was the third or fourth outbreak from her that night. It was becoming apparent to everyone shivering down the mountain together that Stephanie was not well, crash or no crash.

Critique contest Entry no. 10

Many thanks to this author for submitting to our critique contest. For your own chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher, follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (

Genre: YA Fantasy
First Page:

Under the planet’s churning blue waves, the sandy seabed sparkled from Vis Decor’s two suns. Nothing lived directly under the surface for the suns’ radiation wiped it out, but about a half mile down, the rays twinkled on a blooming coral reef. On top of it, fifteen-year-old Alphi McClure lay.
Around her, red coral spiked up in the water in a splash of color, and pink formations slithered over rocks like worms. Green brain coral snaked around the orange tubes, which lay motionless until—Plop! An Alpha popped out of the tube. Then another, and another, their smooth, off-white scales glistening as they swam out of their houses.
"Malcorianism meeting!" one of the Alphas said. He tightened the thin membrane that attached his legs. They clamped together and he swam off, pumping his newly formed fin.
Alphi stared at the huge diamond-like formation, the Pinoe, a distance away. The Pinoe jutted out with slates of green and red coral, and every single Alpha in the village swam to it.
Except Alphi. She rested beneath a blue arch, playing with her feet as cool currents breezed past her webbed fingers and toes.
"Alphi." One woman stood next to a pink arch. Her skin was barely white enough to be called a Pure, and many mothers surrounded her, pearls hanging from their skinny white necks.
"Megna." Alphi pulled her feet apart, the fin turning into two limbs as she slapped away the fish that swam around her head. She rose to her tall height, her chest heaving.
"Will you go to your mother’s speech? Or will you hang around with the Greys?"
The mothers around Megna snickered, their deeply sunken eyes glistening.
"I’m—"Alphi started.
"Oh, Megna! Look." One of the mothers pointed a webbed finger at a fat five-year-old who swam through the arches, his scales like graphite.
"Don’t," Alphi sputtered, but Megna swam up to the dark-skinned child. Alphi hopped over some spiky coral and stared at Calt, her golden hair billowing behind her.
"Hello," Megna said.
"Megna, just leave him alone—"
But Megna stared at the boy. The difference in their skin, hers, white, and his, grey, became even more noticeable. "You can’t swim near us Pures. Don’t you know?"
"S—Sorry. I—I didn’t see you." Calt looked down. Alphi shook her head. Don’t speak.
"So you’re blind too," Megna said.
The mothers tittered. Just like the rest of the Alphas, they rose many feet off the sea floor. Hair cascaded down their backs, billowing behind them through the currents.
Calt turned helplessly to Alphi. "W-will we play in the trench today? My mother wants you to come over."
No. No.
But Alphi smiled, trying to swallow the fear that crept inside her. Calt didn’t know what his words meant…. "Sure." She didn’t dare look at Megna.
"Are you joking, Alphi?" Megna yelled.
"He’s five years old—"
"We are Pures. We don’t live in some dirty trench, like him and his dark parents."
"Yea," Calt said, "but Alphi loves coming to my house."

Let's Heat Things Up Like A Giant Laser...

Wow, thank you so much everyone for your participation so far! I hope you're all having as much fun joining in the contest as I am running it. Currently I'm thinking I could get used to being a diabolical mastermind... *buys fancy office chair and hairless cat and starts perusing the real estate pages for a rent-to-own lair*...

Anyway, just an update on the scores to heat things up a bit. I know the contest is a raffle but at the moment the number of entries per person ranges from two to... *inserts pinkie into corner of mouth*... one meeeellion entries.

I mean about thirty two.

So don't forget to follow the blogs for five entries per blog, keep on critiquing and throw in some RT's too for your best chance to win. Only two people have spotted the mystery mistake so keep an eye out for that for another extra entry. Plus there's still almost a week to go, so send me your 500 words or less for some well deserved feedback.

And here are the critique entries so far to make things a little easier for you (because who said evil geniuses can't have a soft side?).

Entry no. 13  The Butterfly Effect
Entry no. 12  Beneath the City of Lights
Entry no. 11  The Watershed
Entry no. 10  Vis Decor: Alphi
Entry no. 9    Valkyrie Mist
Entry no. 8    Shadows of Destiny
Entry no. 7    Don't Blink
Entry no. 6    Averagely Extraordinary
Entry no. 5    Doppled in Grey
Entry no. 4    Look At Me
Entry no. 3    The Hourglass Bridge
Entry no. 2    The Fall of the Kings
Entry no. 1    Abandon

Monday, 25 June 2012

Critique contest Entry no. 9.

Many thanks to this author for submitting to our critique contest. For your own chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher, follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (

Title: Valkyrie Mist
Genre: YA fantasy
First Page:

Today might be a great day. The sun isn’t too bright, my hair hasn’t frizzed from the stubborn wind, and I got a A- on my Chem test. Of course there’s the fact that, Ben Wong is destined to die today on McGovern Street, in front of the houses with all the rose bushes. His name screamed through my skull during biology. It took everything I had to hold a smile, especially when I passed him at school.
I brush black strands out of my eyes with shaking hands as I peek out from behind an enormous eucalyptus tree along the footpath. Ben is a few houses ahead, strolling home as if nothing matters. Sort of like the voices and visions, clawing around in my head, screaming the names of people who only have a few hours to live. This time, I’m going to stop it and save Ben. There has to be a way. There must be a reason why I see them, what else could it be?
The stink from the overflowing garbage along the curb swooshes past on the afternoon wind, and I almost gag. The way Ben is scratching his butt makes me think he has fleas. Another reason I shouldn’t sit next to him in ancient history. What a slob. It’s easy to follow his trail; empty bags of chips, two candy wrappers, two apple cores and a mashed soda can, and still he’s beyond skinny. This metabolism thing is so unfair.
Only a block away from where it happens, and the image jumps into my head just as it did back in class. Its intensity as jolting as when it forced me, shirking, out of my seat, right in the middle of Mr. Colby’s pop quiz. There’s another mark in Mr. Colby’s notebook. I wanted to explain, but how could I, and just like now, my throat felt as if it was locked up.
I move out from behind the tree, passing the brick houses, an elderly woman with handfuls of shopping bags, and a ginger cat sun baking on someone’s front lawn. My fists dig into the pockets of my skirt as I stroll, trying my best to look casual. My brain is screaming at me to run up to Ben and drag him in the opposite direction. A perfect way to confirm that I am some kind of weirdo.
Chattering voices from behind catch my attention. I glance back to see Sari and her pack of she-hyenas approaching. My stomach clenches. Oh great, just what I need, some taunting and insults from her majesty.
I call out, “Hey, Ben, wait up.”
He looks back, wiping his mouth with a sleeve. “Leev? Don’t you live on Cross Street?”
I sprint up beside him. At the age of eleven he had followed me home, then asked me out on a date to a burger joint, which I declined, but that was years ago. Now at seventeen, he still remembers where I live.

Critique contest Entry no. 8.

Many thanks to this author for submitting to our critique contest. For your own chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher, follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (

Title: Shadows of Destiny
Genre: YA fantasy
First Page:

Taylor took one long, deep breath before opening the door to her own personal hell.
Two dozen heads turned to look at her as she walked in, then the whispers began.
"Why doesn't she just stay home?" one girl said.
“I swear, I shiver every time I look into her eyes," a boy whispered.
“Then don’t! I bet she’d curse you,” his friend said next to him.  
A few students laughed.
Taylor ignored the snickering, she was used to it. She walked past the staring eyes with her head held high. She wouldn’t acknowledge them. Wouldn’t show how they affected her.
Sitting at her desk, she carefully pulled out an envelope, but flinched when she heard a grunt from behind her. Turning her head slowly, wary, she saw a pretty blonde girl smiling at her.
"Yes?" Taylor asked, realizing the girl was trying to get her attention.
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Go right ahead." Taylor responded, annoyed. She hardly expected a sleep over invitation.
"What's it like having a murderer for a father?" the girl said more loudly, her smile never leaving her face. Taylor didn’t recognize this girl. She realized she must be new in town, already jumping on the bandwagon.  She learns fast, Taylor thought.
A dozen responses ran through Taylor's mind, "What's it like being a total…"-- no, no need for another trip the office.  "It's great! He taught me how to skin a human right before he died. I really like your pigmentation, by the way." She held back a laugh. But then she stopped and really thought about the question.
"I don't have a father," she finally said.
That really was how it felt most of the time. Her father died when she was 4 years old, now at 17 it's like he never existed. He's just a ghost. All he's ever been able to do is haunt her.
The bell rang to signal the start of class, cutting her riveting conversation with the girl behind her short. Mr. Macintyre, a large man with a bushy gray beard, stood to face the class. He began babbling on about some famous historian.
 It didn’t take long for Taylor’s thoughts to float away from the teacher in front of her to the students surrounding her. She couldn't for her life figure out why people hated her the way they did.
Even when she was 4 years old she had heard the whispers, saw the looks. Sometimes she wished she had been younger, like her brother Caleb, when her father died. Young enough that she couldn’t remember. Then she could have escaped the nasty rumors that followed their family after the crash. But then she wouldn't remember her father's kind eyes.
She didn't believe for a second what they said about him. Caleb didn't have that luxury. At least she knew if her father wasn't the monster they made him out to be, maybe she wasn't either.

Critique contest Entry no. 7.

Many thanks to this author for submitting to our critique contest. For your own chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher, follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (

Title: Don't Blink
Genre: Mainstream
First Page:

Gasping, Jimmy Rickliefs rocketed up in bed, sweat rolling down his face. Pain shot from his stomach to his back in waves and the night-darkened room spun around him. Looking for relief, he sat up on the edge of the bed, clutching his midsection, rocking back and forth. His breath came in short spasms and he felt his right side go numb; he’d never felt such pain before.
 His wife stirred, the black sheets rustling as she sat up, and he felt her hand on his shoulder. “What’s wrong?” she asked, her voice laced with sleep.
  He turned towards her and tried to smile. “Just a stomachache. I probably shouldn’t have had that left over sushi last night, that’s all. I’ll be fine.”
 She rubbed his shoulder, but he shrugged it off; his skin felt like it was crawling. His skin felt hot and clammy all at once and he stood, putting on a brave face, headed for the bathroom.
 The bathroom was the smallest room in the house. The toilet was tucked into a tiny corner, his knees bumping the wall when he sat. The floor was covered in ugly green tiles, and they’d been saving up to replace them. The vanity was next to the toilet, and while Jimmy wasn’t a large man, he just fit in the space.
  When nothing happened, he took something to calm his stomach. Just his luck, the chalky pink liquid acted more like ipecac than a soothing balm; he grabbed the trashcan near the toilet and heaved into it, his stomach muscles clenching painfully. He started sweating more profusely and sat on the ugly green floor in an attempt to cool down, his skin erupting in goose bumps. When the dizziness got the better of him, he leaned against the toilet, welcoming the coldness on his cheek.
 Moments later, his wife leaned over him and hauled him to his feet. He didn’t have the energy to walk and every step made him more nauseated. When she sat him on the bed, he had a vague idea what might be going on, and sure enough, she helped him get dressed. Her hands were shaking and her breathing was rapid. She only did that when she was scared. Moving made his pain worse and his stomach roiled in protest. He held the offended organ as they made their way through the bedroom, pausing long enough for her to grab a trashcan. He set it on the floor of her car, holding his stomach. He barely noticed the houses zipping past as his wife headed for the hospital.
 Allison stopped the car at a light, and he heard her ragged intake of breath. She offered him a wobbly smile, but he knew she was going to cry. He was feeling worse and was relieved when she proceeded into the intersection at the green light, even as a particularly violent spasm raked his back. All of a sudden, there was a flash of light, and Jimmy felt as if he were being crushed.

Critique contest Entry no. 6.

Many thanks to this author for submitting to our critique contest. For your own chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher, follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (

Title: Averagely Extraordinary
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
First Page:

The entire cavern rumbled for the third time in as many minutes.
A young apprentice shook his head and continued working. In front of him lay hundreds of vials and a variety of coloured viscous liquids.
His mind was buzzing from the constant hum of power around him. He was not young but the rough environment had aged him beyond his years. And the constant flow of high energy around him had caused his hair to fall out prematurely.
Growing his hair back was on the agenda as soon as he finished on his current project. The one which was bubbling in front of him; an apt fertilizer for a special kind of fungus his mentor was growing.
He picked his head up to marvel at the genius of his guru. He was helping the fledgling population of a planet survive the harsh and unfertile land by providing them with an edible strain of fungus.
Another tremor shook the cavern causing the vials and bottles to clink and jingle.  The apprentice sighed as a splotch of brown goo fell on his trousers.
He heard the trademark swishing of the long coat and turned around to see his mentor enter the cavern. To conceal his thousand year life-span, Jake often changed his appearance. Presently he had settled on a stout middle aged body with handsome streak of grey running through his mottled brown hair.
“My dear Frank! Come now. Do not be so sullen. I did not take you to be my protégé simply because your last name is Einstein. It does remind me of my favourite experiment though,” said the old man, with a toothy grin.
“This infernal buzzing is driving me crazy, Jake. Plus this constant rumbling. You have to stop your fungi growing such deep roots. It’s irritating to keep moving my vials.”
“The rumbling is not being caused by the fungi,” said Jake, surprised. “I thought you were trying to build your pylons again.”
Frank was miffed. The pylons were his first individual project and although, Jake was very supportive, he didn’t seem to think much of it. “Then what is it? A real quake?”
“That is impossible. You know we aren’t on a specific planet.” The great inventor looked puzzled, a look Frank had never seen on the man’s face.
A thunderous crash shook the whole cavern and the vials smashed on the floor, hissing and creating acidic puddles.
“What was that?” asked the apprentice, coughing. The ceiling was raining stone-dust on them.
“Somebody is trying to reach us,” said Jake, trying to move away a chair which had tripped him.
“Reach us here?” Frank asked, incredulously. “But nobody knows where we are. Or for that matter, who we are!” Frank was proud to be the apprentice to the great inventor but he hadn’t wagered his life for it. 
The old man looked worried. “I think I know. Do you remember the time we tried combining essences a couple of centuries ago?”

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Critique contest Entry no. 5.

Many thanks to this author for submitting to our critique contest. For your own chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher, follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (

Title: Doppled in Grey
Genre: Science Fiction
First Page:

The beast is gasping for breath, swaying and stumbling. B is still shooting, I can feel the vibrations in the air, but it is no longer doing any more damage. The monster is too far gone. I finish it off, watching blood pour out of both orifices. I try to slide off of its side, but before I do, it is on the ground, crushing my leg with it. It screams of pain, and I do in return. I can’t feel anything except for the shocking pain emanating from my leg. B runs towards me, but halfway there he pixelates out, and I am all alone, save for the thing on top of me screaming just as loud as I am. I shut my eyes and bite my lip, taking in the pain. None of this is real. Once it dies I will be back on level eight and everything will be fine. None of this is real.
Seconds turn to minutes, which turn into hours that drag by slower than a slug. The beast has stopped heaving awhile ago, but I am still here. I push on the thing’s cold scaly back to see if I can push myself out. I don't budge. I push harder still and my leg only moves slightly but enough that I know what I am supposed to do.
I scream louder than I ever have, and tears prick my eyes as I try to push myself out. The pain is unbearable, but I stay conscious as I keep pushing. My eyes are squeezed so tight nothing would be able to break my concentration. I push again. The thing is only covering my knee now but my thigh is covered in blood. I need to get out, I must.
Another scream escapes my lips as I push again. Only to the ankle now. I take a deep breath the same words still going through my head.

This is not real.
I am determined to get out with this last push. All my muscles scream out with me and my heart pounds in my throat. Sweat drips from my body and I can feel it giving way. I am almost there. Every last bit of will in me is going into this last push. My eyes flutter and for a moment,and I can feel golden light surrounding me. I breath a sigh of relief before finally falling to the ground once more. My ankle is still caught but I am still pushing. I am almost done. I can feel it. I'm almost there.
And then a last sudden scream of shock escapes my cold lips.
“Welcome back to reality, Daze.”

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Critique contest Entry no. 4.

Many thanks to this author for submitting to our critique contest. For your own chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher, follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (

Genre: YA Magical Realism
First Page:

Chapter One

Men are wolves. They are hairy, snarling, creatures of the dark, with teeth that snap and hold. They’ll drain you lifeless before they release.
You disagree? That’s because most hide their slinking predator behind bright eyes and easy smiles, hands in pockets, and let me get that for you. But my eyes see the truth. My eyes pull the truth from their jaws. My eyes split their handsome skins to reveal the animal beneath.
Men are wolves and I hunt them. Watch and learn.
Tonight’s wolf is skittish.
I caught his eye this afternoon, whispered promises in his ear and had him cornered before he’d finished chewing his donut. But that was hours ago. My charms have worn off and he’s beginning to realize he’s come to the middle of nowhere, surrounded by black forest, with a woman he doesn’t know.
His instincts kick in his gut.
It doesn’t help that I’m sitting in his beige-leather passenger seat, legs crossed at the ankles, back rigid for what I’m about to do -- what he’s about to do to me. I haven’t looked at him yet. He is still thinking clearly.
He clears his throat. “Uh, so what did you say your name was, again?”
“Monique.” It’s Carly, actually. But the wolf doesn’t need to know that.
“Monique…” He tastes my name, tempting the wolf inside to out. He’s feeling weak, uncertain. He wants to feel strong. I will make him feel strong. For a time.
I suppress a shudder. “And you’re Evan? Evan Gregory?”
He nods, his eyes flipping to the rearview mirror. “Yes.”
“You’re the Founder and Managing Director of IT Solutions –- Virginia’s newest and most successful technological corporate?”
His lips curl away from his teeth. “Yes, that’s ri- wait, how did you know-?”
I turn then, meet his gaze with mine and it all happens very quickly.
His jaw drops. His eyes widen. His pupils dilate and the wolf arrives; Teeth close, tongue traces the bottom lip, muscles bunch.
My hackles rise.
“Monique,” he growls and lunges across the console between us, his hands already tearing at my clothes. He is faster than I expected -- not as soft as I imagined -- and frightening in his focus. His eyes remain clamped on mine as forces himself over me, leaves bruises on my thighs, my arms, my stomach in his hurry to take me.
I curl into a ball, but do not close my eyes. Let them see what a monster he is. Let them remember what hides in all of them. Let them be sure know what kind of heart beats in all their chests.
But in his frustration, he tears my skirt from hem to waist. A blade of fear slices through my stomach and I open my mouth to scream the safe word-
Light bathes the car. We are transported from darkest night, to brightest day. But his maddened eyes don’t break. They shine with the hunger for me.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Critique contest Entry no. 3.

Many thanks to this author (me!) for submitting to our critique contest. For your chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher  just follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (
Title: The Hourglass Bridge
Genre: YA Fantasy
Query Pitch:

When an unexpected nap during history class has Diamond sleep-ranting about a plot against evil, she thinks the worst is over at being scolded by her favourite teacher and giving her bullies more to laugh at. However that’s before Arthur, a breathtakingly chivalrous teenage wizard, pulls her into the sixteenth century, expecting her to save his life.
Convinced he’s got the wrong history buff, Di is ready to throw a panic attack and demand to be sent home – until she learns the truth. Arthur is about to inherit the legendary powers that protect his hidden, magical civilization; Malicia, an immortal witch whose looks can kill and whose temper shatters mountains, intends to destroy him for it; and a cryptic message says if Di can’t protect him, she and her twin brother will be next.
It just fails to mention that her nap through class may have triggered Malicia’s plan in the first place.
Desperate to keep her brother safe, even if he is a pain in the butt who probably deserves time on the rack, Di agrees to hide Arthur in the modern world until he is powerful enough to fight. Caught in a double life of sword fights, covert magic lessons, and numerous near death (by embarrasment) experiences as she involuntarily swoons all over him, she fails to notice the destructive forces growing inside her. But when sixteenth century spies attack her ancestors, and her brother’s saintly new powers make him the most vulnerable target of all, Di realises she must finish the war she started – even if it means succumbing to the darker side of herself.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A Spot of Bother for the Web-less Blogger

It may seem ridiculous, but I am a blogger with no internet. My house sits in a complete black-spot (see very scientific government diagram), and no amount of standing out on the road with my laptop in the middle of the night is enough to get more than one teeny little bar of service. And that’s why all this happened…

Diagram A: a diagram.
About a month ago, while browsing Google & definitely not procrastinating, I discovered a competition offering publication as the prize. Anyone familiar with that epically tense moment as one quickly checks the submission dates to ensure the competition isn’t long in the past will understand my relief when I saw there was a month to go.

And you’ll understand why that relief kicked me in the guts when I saw I needed a one page synopsis.

Despite my apprehensions, I told the word count gods to bring it and started editing my existing two page synopsis with the precision and delicacy of a stamp-collecting brain surgeon. The day before the contest ended I visited the library to check the entry requirements and, to my horror, found conflicting information regarding the closing time (yeah, I’ll bet you’ll understand that feeling too). If I took the earliest mentioned date as true, it meant I no longer had a whole day of last minutes to play with. I had to be finished that night.

With my lunch break over I emailed myself the entry form, rushed back to work, minimised my web browser so my account manager wouldn’t see and opened the email. I hit print, snuck to the printer, and received only the first few lines, thanks to Google docs being terrible and me not having my browser big enough to see it. When I returned to my desk, my account manager was waiting. I couldn’t escape until home time, so when I did I decided to duck back to the library. That’s when the fiancé called to say dinner at his parents’ place. In other words, come spend ‘the-evening-when-I-should-be-fixing-my-entry’ sitting around watching television instead. My only consolation? Unlimited internet.

That is, until it crashed exactly one minute after I arrived.

I spent the rest of the night acting like I wasn’t going silently crazy. The minute it was socially acceptable to leave, I packed up my laptop and their wireless internet dongle and drove into the city to the nearest sports field car park. Sure it was the middle of the night and I kept expecting drug dealers to come knocking at my windscreen wanting their deliveries, but I was confident I could defend myself, (namely because my laptop had started acting up and I was ready to murder the next person who even looked at me the wrong way). Finally, though, I managed to download the entry form and drove home to print it.

Only to discover that we had no ink.

And then to notice, on the miniscule terms and conditions staring back from my laptop screen, that the proper submission date wasn’t until the next day after all.

So if you know how this feels, please feel free to share my story. Because if you can’t laugh about these things, what else can you do? (And don’t say write a lame blog post about it because I am waaaaay ahead of you).


Saturday, 16 June 2012

Critique contest Entry no. 2.

Many thanks to this author for submitting to our critique contest. For your own chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher, follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (

Title: The Fall of the Kings
Genre: Epic Fantasy
First Page:

Gareth looked at me with such tenderness, I was almost undone.  When he reached across the table and grasped my arm, only the iron discipline forged as Overseer prevented me from breaking down and giving my grief full reign.  Never mind he was the longest serving of the twelve kings of Gaelladorn, and I the Conscience of the Kingdom.  Because of my exalted position no one had as much as patted me on the shoulder since Alyssa died.
“I'm so sorry – it shouldn’t have happened.”
Although he hadn't known her, he knew me well enough to guess the depth of my suffering.  I should have looked him in the eye and at least mouthed the familiar platitudes, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  In the privacy of his study, I let the cloak of office slip and dropped my head, fighting to regain my composure.
When I was sure I wouldn't betray myself, I let my gaze drift around the deceptively casual trappings of the King's personal bolt-hole, feigning an interest in the exquisite tapestries so I wouldn't have to make eye contact.  I'm sure Gareth wasn't fooled, we'd known each other for decades, and I'd never had time for the trappings of wealth.  But at least when I spoke my voice was steady.
“Are you really going to step down then?”
He gave me a hard look, then to my relief, relaxed back into his chair and started to laugh.  A warm belly-deep rumble that gained momentum and lit up his craggy features.
“Why does everyone keep asking me that?”
I didn't quite have it in me to laugh with him, but I bestowed an indulgent smile.
“I think everyone is looking for the slightest sign you might actually hand over the reins.”
“I will.  At the Dedication.”
My head snapped up, surely he was joking.  But to my surprise he was staring out of the window at the Sanctuary; its spectacular honey-coloured silhouette dominating the skyline of Tamar.
“But that's only two weeks away.”
He spun around, eyes flashing.  He wasn't used to being questioned, and I held up my hands as if to remind him who he was speaking to.
“It's not a problem, I just didn't expect this - so soon.”
Gareth ran his hands through his hair, and sighed heavily, the anger dissipating as quickly as it came.
“The building's magnificent by the way.  How did you pull it together so quickly?”
I shrugged.  Building the Sanctuary had been my great passion, another way to draw people to the One who laid the Heartstone.  But now it was all but finished, I found no pleasure in it.  When I didn't elaborate he let the matter drop.
“I don't know why everyone's so surprised I'm stepping down.  I'm getting older -” He gave me another hard look, daring me to contradict him.  But unlike many that surrounded the King, I wasn't in the business of flattery.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

On Mosquitoes & Soul-Searching: Review of Catherine Ryan Howard's BACKPACKED - A RELUCTANT TRIP ACROSS CENTRAL AMERICA

I’ve been struggling to decide on an angle to take for this review, because every time I think about the book I’m distracted by fond memories of how good it is. Backpacked, by Catherine Ryan Howard, is the story of a reluctant traveller’s journey across Central America, and from the very first page I could tell it was a journey I needed to take too. The first line had me laughing, the rest of the prelude had me gagging to know how things came to such dire circumstances in the first place, and the remainder of the book certainly didn’t disappoint.

Although it detailed a true story I still (as always) want to look at it from a writer’s perspective. So with that in mind, why was it so good? Well first and foremost, the voice of the book sold it for me. It’s confident, funny, and brilliantly shows not just the author’s personality but the culture she comes from and the alien world she finds herself stuck in. At very rare moments I thought the editing could be tightened up a little – perhaps a sentence could be re-written in the active voice or a minor bit of repetition could be fixed up – but most of the time I was too enthralled to notice.

Another wonderful part of the book, largely thanks to that excellent voice, are the ‘characters’. The author and the best friend she travels with make a hilarious odd couple that emanate enough girl-power to have walked straight out of the pages of some chick lit novel, and you can’t help but wanting to hang out with them. Then there are the strangers they meet along the way. Whether it’s the crazy, the kind, the scary or the more-annoying-than-a-million-Honduran-mosquitos, they’re all painted so vividly I could have met them myself (although for some I’m glad I didn’t).

The same can be said of the settings visited throughout their adventure. The memories I have of this book feel like my own, as if I were the one doing the travelling. The attention to detail in the descriptions is excellent, and as you step off the bus into each new place you can see it, smell it, hear it and feel it too. And with just the right mix of drama, humour and a wee bit of soul-searching, the entire trip was a joy to experience.


Sunday, 3 June 2012

Critique contest Entry no. 1.

Many thanks to this author for submitting to our critique contest. For your own chance to win a 10 chapter professional manuscript edit and $20 ebook voucher, follow @katherineamabel and @lisaslanding on twitter and tweet "I'm in!" Share your thoughts here for extra entries in the draw, and check out the rules to score even more! (

Title: Abandon
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic Dystopia
When Darcy Hallow is attacked on her way home, she is taken to a training centre and told that she will now take her sister's place in Riverside city, where the first born teenagers from each household, between the ages of 14 and 18, are sent to tackle mutants and monsters, protecting their home. But when Raina Hallow goes missing in action, Darcy must complete her term in service and fulfil the requirement. So until Raina is found, Darcy must fight and survive in the deadliest city on earth. She will find out what happened to her sister…or die trying.

Critique Session - And Giveaway!

UPDATE: The critique session is now open to any piece of writing less than 500 words long, and if you don’t have anything you want feedback on, no problem - you can still follow, tweet and critique for a chance to win a 10 chapter line edit and $20 e-book voucher!

Fancy getting some feedback on your work? Or would you rather score some awesome prizes? Well the amazing writer /editor /blogger Lisa Terry and I have come up with a contest that offers both!

Lisa, a journalist and newspaper editor with more than fifteen years’ experience, is offering a COMPLETE LINE EDIT for TEN CHAPTERS of your MS. So if your punctuation prowess doesn’t go further than dotting your t’s and crossing your i’s, Lisa can help fix it. And if that’s not enough, I’ll throw in a $20 voucher to an online bookstore of your choice. PLUS, you can get feedback on your work from your fellow writers, too!

The contest will run from now until midnight (EDT), Sunday the 1st July. Joining the contest is easy peasy, and we’ve got plenty of ways for you to stack up extra entries.

To join the contest, simply:

Follow me on twitter @katherineamabel and tweet "I'm in!" = 1 entry
Follow Lisa on twitter @lisaslanding and tweet "I'm in!"= 1 entry

1. For your first extra entries:

Follow/subscribe to my blog (or be an existing follower) = 5 entries
Follow/subscribe to Lisa's blog (or be an existing follower) = 5 entries (
And retweet the contest each time either of us tweets it. Each RT = 1 entry.

2. For FIVE extra entries (and here's where the feedback comes in):

Email anything you want feedback on (providing it's 500 words in length or less) to katherineamabel at gmail dot com, and I’ll post it on this blog for critique. (Don't worry if it takes a few hours for your work to be posted - I come from the land down under so our times are a little out!)

Please format your email as follows:
Name: (for our use only)
Logline/first page/query pitch/whatever!:

3. For EVEN MORE!!! (yes that's a unit of measurement) entries:

Critique one of the pieces of writing. (To be exact, take three entries for each piece you critique). Please be kind AND constructive with your feedback. If there’s something you think the author can improve on let them know, but I won’t give entries for deliberate snark.

4. And for ONE last entry, spot the sentence I stuffed up in my explanation of the contest above and tweet the mistake to either myself or Lisa.

Sounds fun? Let’s get to it, shall we?