Award-winning Writer of Poetry and Fiction


The Writer’s Voice Entry 2015–SUN AND BONE


Dear Insightful Agent:

Eve Thomas loves her five younger siblings—she just can’t stop killing them. At sixteen, she’s crippled by an agonizing form of OCD linked to her eidetic memory, one that makes her see herself committing the most perverse acts.

But Eve is stronger than the dark thoughts she can’t forget. Born on a commune called Nova Vita, an Amish-like community with unforgiving rules, she’s learned to hide the worst of her anxiety. She believes life in rural Virginia is as close to paradise as she’ll ever get—until her brother falls ill with a genetic disease the sect won’t treat, and she begins to question her faith.

While using an off-limits computer to research her brother’s illness, she’s approached by one of the sect’s migrant workers, a resourceful eighteen-year-old named Mana Aquino.

Mana suspects that the sect’s brilliant leader, Bishop Conner, murdered his sister years ago. Desperate to know the truth, he offers to sneak medicine to Eve’s brother if she’ll find, memorize, and draw the schematics for the Bishop’s latest invention—a groundbreaking solar generator the Bishop believes will save the world. With the schematics in hand, Mana will force the Bishop to confess what happened to his sister and two other missing migrant girls.

If Eve accepts Mana’s offer, she’ll deceive the people she loves to expose a crime that could destroy her home. If she refuses, her beloved brother’s as good as dead.

Complete at 83,000 words, my YA Psychological Thriller SUN AND BONE is Gated meets The Butterfly Clues, with a dash of Eleanor and Park.  Told in two voices, it was shortlisted for the Janklow & Nesbit UK Debut Novel Competition.

I hold an MA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University and have published reviews of children’s books in The NY Times.

Thanks for considering!

First 250 Words:

Dying children can’t shock me.

Whether I’m stabbing them with a kitchen knife or they’re burning in a house fire. Whether it’s me or a disease or a natural disaster doing the killing. It happens every day in the dark corners of my obsessive mind.

Though I’m ninety-nine percent sure I would never act on these thoughts, for a few seconds I see myself suffocating my six-year-old sister instead of helping Mama wrestle her into the kitchen chair. While the Attendants stand by, waiting to fill a vial with Theresa’s blood, I blink four times to make the image retreat.

“Let me go!” Theresa shouts, bucking like a wild animal.

Her bare foot wallops my gut. For a second, I can’t breathe.

“Theresa Marie Thomas, you cooperate right now,” Mama says in a voice that could freeze the sun. “The Healer is watching you.”

My sister must be more scared of Mama or The Healer than the needle because she stops thrashing. Once the tip pierces the crook of her arm, her hazel eyes widen. The thin red stream shooting up into the glass is beautiful, though it seems wrong for the blood to leave her body.

After we release Theresa, I avoid Mama’s eyes and mouth a prayer, then tap the back of the chair four times. Not because I want to, but because I can’t stop myself. That way it won’t be my fault if Theresa tests positive.

Sarah’s next. Nearly nine, she’d rather live with nonbelievers than let anyone see she’s scared.

My Short Story “The Ocean at Night” Has Been Published in Beach Anthology!

beach readsMy second published short story is out now as part of the anthology Rehoboth Beach Reads: The Boardwalk.

Now Available!

A fortune-telling machine with a mind of its own, professional killers hanging out by the hotel pool, granny run amok in Funland…what’s happened to Rehoboth? Some very talented writers have created a book of great beach reads, that’s what. If you liked The Beach House, you’re going to loveThe Boardwalk. Short stories set in and around Rehoboth Beach, guaranteed to entertain.

Check out Cat and Mouse Press for more information. These are fun collections.

Help My Brother Battle Crohn’s Disease!

BRYAN HIKINGHelp Bryan Davis in his fight to stay healthy despite Crohn’s Disease. Please show your support as he undergoes regular drug infusions.

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Bryan Davis has been living with Crohn’s for most of his adult life. He was officially diagnosed over ten years ago while living and working in State College, PA. At that time, he had a major flare up that required doctors to perform major survery and remove a portion of Bryan’s intestines. Since then, he has had other significant flare ups that require hospitalization, but no further surgeries.

Bryan’s insurance does not fully cover his 3-hr infusions of a standard treatment drug. His last hospital stay was also not fully covered. People suffering from Crohn’s often experience low energy and fatigue. It is a chronic disease, so this means patients will likely experience periods when the disease flares up and causes symptoms, followed by periods of remission when patients may not notices symptoms at all.

Bryan struggles with fatigue and never knows when a flare up will occur. The flare ups result in swelling of the intestines, blockages, and vomiting, among other symptoms.

Bryan works for a very understanding nonprofit organization that serves the poor in the Pacific Northwest. He lives very frugally and cannot afford to fly home from the West coast to Pennsylvania to be with family. Please help us raise money to offset Bryan’s medical expenses and get him home for a much-needed visit.

Poem Accepted for Anthology Three Minus One

I’ve had  a poem accepted for an anthology on miscarriage and still birth. It’s a difficult topic but this anthology should bring light and comfort to couples who have been through this loss. Check it out:


My First Short Story to be Published!

beach bookThis summer, while on vacation at Rehoboth Beach, I noticed a flyer in Browse About Books, one of our favorite spots, for a short story contest. The winners would be published in an anthology called Rehoboth Beach Reads. This was clearly a way to lure us back to the beach for a book launch. I needed to be in this book!

The theme for the anthology was “The Beach House.” Since I’ve been in young adult fiction-writing mode, a story came to me in the voice of a teenaged boy at the beach who loves ghost hunting and also is in need of a friend. He’s saved his money to book a spot in a big late-night ghost hunt in Lewes, Delaware but that’s not where he finally meets his otherworldly match.

I worked on the story for a few weeks, getting to know this sweet and goofy kid, then sent it in. Lo and behold, the editors accepted “The Ghost of Henlopen Avenue” for the anthology.

The book will be out in late 2013 from Cat and Mouse Press.

Check the website here to order copies. Should be a fun collection!


Heads Up for Baker’s Dozen Contest

An amazing writer’s blog called Miss Snark’s First Victim holds a contest for aspiring authors of adult and YA fiction that allows agents and editors to bid for manuscript requests. Check out how it works by clicking on the link below. The competition will be fierce but the real value of these contests is getting feedback from other writers.

The contest begins October 29 for adult and November 5 for YA. Submissions are the first 250 words of your manuscript. Good luck!

See Miss Snark’s post here:

WriteOnCon 2013

Just posted my query, first 250, and first 5 pages to the forums at WriteOnCon. This is an amazing online conference with lots of chances to read the work of other writers.

I’ve changed the title of my YA Sci-Fi Romance and have also added a new first chapter.

New Title is…

If I Promise You the Sun

New query:

Mana Aquino and Eve Thomas have no business speaking to one another. In the technology-free territory of New Eden, non-natives like Mana work the fields while citizens like Eve enjoy higher pursuits. Contact between them is punishable by death.

But for Eve, who’s been plagued by a freakish photographic memory and strange tics since childhood, paradise becomes a pretty version of hell when her little brother contracts a disease New Eden’s leaders won’t treat. To save his life, she’ll have to find someone who can help her break the law—and that means overcoming her insecurities fast.

Having come to New Eden ten years ago, Mana lives to destroy the bishop who murdered his sister and treats all non-natives like slaves. But he can’t seem to get close to his prey. When he stumbles on the secret of Eve’s memory, he makes her a bold offer: he’ll bring illegal medicine to her brother if she’ll serve as his human camera, gathering information that could topple the bishop.

Though Eve knows better than to trust an angry outsider, she finds herself drawn to the fiery boy with the dark sun eyes. She’s determined to show him that she’s no pampered child he can use and throw away. If she accepts his offer, she’ll jeopardize her entire family and help commit a crime that could spark war. If she says no, her brother is as good as dead.

Told by both Eve and Mana, If I Promise You the Sun is YA futuristic sci-fi with cross-cultural romance at its heart. A stand-alone novel with series potential, it will appeal to fans of Under the Never Sky and Article 5, and is complete at 115,000 words.

I hold an M.A. in creative writing from Syracuse University and have published several children’s book reviews in The New York Times. My first book of poems won the 2007 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award.

Writer’s Voice 2013!

“The Writer’s Voice” is a multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by Cupid of Cupid’s Literary Connection, Brenda Drake of Brenda Drake Writes, Monica B.W. of Love YA, and Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat.) I’ve won the Rafflecopter lottery to submit my query and first 250 words to the contest. Should be fun!

Query for The New Eden Chronicles:

Mana Aquino and Eve Thomas have no business speaking to one another. In New Eden, unauthorized contact between non-natives and citizens is punishable by death—but execution is the least of their worries.

Nineteen-year-old Mana is desperate to destroy the bishop who murdered his sister and who treats all non-natives like slaves. Nine years ago, when his parents won the lottery to leave the Ghostlands and work in New Eden, he had no idea it would lead to the deaths of everyone he loved.

Eve dreads her seventeenth birthday, when she must choose between marriage, joining the sisterhood, or government service in a far-flung settlement. Haunted by a freakish photographic memory and the strange tics that accompany it, Eve’s life in paradise becomes even more ugly when her little brother shows signs of a genetic disorder that’s been killing local children. Because interference with nature is a sin, treatment is forbidden.

Then Mana stumbles on the secret of Eve’s memory and makes a bold offer: he’ll bring illegal medical treatment to her brother, if she’ll serve as his human camera, gathering information that could bring down the bishop in a world where technology is sacrilege.

Though Eve hates having to trust a non-native, Mana is her only hope. If she accepts his offer, she’ll place her entire family in jeopardy and become entangled in an uprising that could leave New Eden in ruins. If she says no, her brother is as good as dead.

Neither one expects to need the other for long—or plans to fall for the enemy.

Told by Eve and Mana, THE NEW EDEN CHRONICLES is complete at 118,000 words. This dystopian romantic thriller combines the quiet intelligence of Matched with the Romeo-and-Juliet tension of Under the Never Sky.

I hold an M.A. in creative writing from Syracuse University and have published a book of poetry that won the 2007 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award. My poems have appeared in numerous journals, such as Cream City Review, Gargoyle, Poet Lore, Puerto del Sol, and the Sonora Review. I’ve also published several reviews of children’s books in The New York Times.

First 250 Words:

Theresa’s a kicker. Mama and I struggle to keep her down so the medics can find a vein and fill a vial with her blood. I feel like a monster, wrestling a seven-year-old while her hot-poker screams skewer the space between my ears. But once the needle’s in, the thrashing subsides and her hazel eyes glaze over. The thin red stream shooting up into the glass is beautiful. As we let her go, I tap the back of the chair four times so the results will be negative. Theresa stumbles to her feet and stalks off. In a few minutes, she’ll be bragging to everyone about her ordeal.

Just 12, Sarah would rather die than act like a baby. She practically jumps into the chair, though her arm quivers. She closes her eyes and turns away, her lips mashed together as the needle finds its mark. When the medic caps the full vial, she beams in that self-satisfied way she’s adopted. Four-year-old Rachel doesn’t understand enough to be afraid. We promise sweet treats and a new dress for her ragdoll if she’ll behave and it works like a charm. In his cradle nearby, David sleeps through the commotion, too young to be tested. Because I’m 16, I’m past the danger zone. To my siblings’ disappointment, there’s no big sharp needle for me.

Josh’s blood is the last to be collected. His calm amazes me. Instead of looking away or crying, like most 10-year-olds would, he watches the medics with curiosity.

Thanks to the Bethesda Lit Festival

Somehow, I won second place in both the poetry and the essay categories in the 2013 Bethesda Literary Festival contests. That was a nice surprise and I really enjoyed ready my pieces at the festival. The Bethesda Magazine will publish the winning entries on their website soon. My essay, Breeder’s Ball, explores secondary infertility and young egg envy. My poem, Wear This Song, is below:

Wear This Song

–for Con Burch

In a music video by Beth Orton, the song she sings
is a dress you put on and dance in down the dirty city street,
that you pass to neighbors and strangers, women and men,
that you wrap around children, and that you force
onto anyone foolish enough to refuse it.
The song is thin and red with white flowers. It swings
and shimmers. It flips. When Orton takes it off,
she’s clothed only in a slip but
she has to share the dress, to see
how it fits the large ladies bumping, and the old man
smoking, and the guy with the huge muscles and the tattoos
as he skateboards over pavement, the silky notes flapping
like wings behind his back.

Diversity in YA Best Sellers

Author Melinda Lo has done some great stat crunching to analyze the number of diverse main characters and supporting characters in recent best selling YA.

Not many bright spots here although there seems to be an increasing number of supporting characters that qualify as “diverse” in her definition, which includes characters of color, LGBT, and characters with disabilities.

Can’t help thinking that if the industry stopped white washing covers and was willing to really promote more diverse YA lit, those books would surface and would sell.