Free writing workshop for aspiring authors of young adult and middle grade fiction. The first five pages may be all that agents, editors, and readers read, so get them right with the help of three authors over the course of three weeks. During the third week, an agent will also critique your pages and your pitch and pick a workshop winner - the prize is a partial request!
Name: JL Carr Genre: New Adult Urban Fantasy Title: Rain Dogs
moment the door creaked open, Bri pressed her foot into the gap and
shoved the picture of the werewolf through. "Seen him around?"
The door jerked, but the man inside recovered fast. He arched an
eyebrow at her through the cracked door, scowl twisting into a smirk.
“Well, well. Look who’s back. Not even a smile or a hello, princess?"
She lowered the photo a few inches. Her foot stayed in the doorway. "Hello."
knew him as Dirty Dan, and he seemed to have aged ten years in the
months since she last saw him. Always had sampled too much of his own
product. His face was made of jagged angles, thinned by the drugs he
tainted the block with. Dull black hair in sloppy cornrows, ashy skin
pocked with sores, his eyes glittering under the streetlight. Familiar.
Smug. It made her itch.
whole neighborhood made her itch, with its boarded-up windows and
whiskey stink and the piles of trash hiding near-feral humans who would
lash out at anyone who came too close. Bri had some bad memories of
rotting in places like that. Made her arms feel heavy and sensitive, as
if track marks reacted to memories like some kind of phantom limb ache.
plucked the picture from her hand and gave it a squint-eyed look. It
was ratty and a couple years old - wolves didn't usually pose for
portraits. She was lucky to have a snapshot at all.
"He's been in the city six months. He was using, and yeah, a wolf, so he bought from you."
smirked. "A hundred people buy from me. A dozen of ‘em are wolves. You
think I ask for personal information? I’m not a fucking bank."
stared straight ahead, not meeting his eyes, not giving away a thing.
The key to dealing with Dan was to become as close to a brick wall as a
person could get.
When she didn't respond he glanced down at the photo again. "What's his name?"
familiar. Why the hell you hunting for info on werewolves? You ain’t
shit, girl, but you’re not lowdown enough to be mixing with animals."
wall. Brick wall. Bri answered through clenched teeth. "He’s missing,
D. If you know something, tell me. If not, stop wasting my time."
looked at her, his eyebrows raising. His gaze slid up and down her body
in lazy challenge, then he simply opened his hand and let the picture
fall. "I haven’t seen him. And if I did I wouldn’t give two sour shits. I
don't make friends with dogs."
bent to grab the photo, peeling it off the damp cement step and
straightening with the glare that she was done trying to hold back. The
urge to throw an elbow in his fucking face was strong, but she couldn’t
afford to burn any bridges. Not even shitty, smug bridges who had to be
riding high on some kind of chemical just to be up and moving around.
“Fuck off, Brianna. Next time you come by either bring some cash or keep on walking.”
turned and moved down the uneven steps and to the sidewalk. Her hands
dug deep into her pockets for imagined warmth as she left the crumbling
duplex. The door slammed shut behind her, suitably loud.
end. Should have known. It was a long-shot to begin with, and she was
gonna be trailing the slimy feeling of him behind her like a slug trail
the rest of the night. But she had to try.
hadn't even met Pete Evans. He was legit, living out on Somena in the
government housing, working the shit job he'd been officially assigned.
He was doing things right, screwed over a hundred ways but suffering it
because he had to get money back to his pack.
started using, spending his money on drugs to get through the day
instead of sending it all home. That made him a disgrace to those
traditional Somena wolves, but Bri understood him too damned well.
Anyway, druggie or not his eyes were the yellow eyes of every wolf -
almost every wolf - and as much as she sometimes wanted to, she couldn't
turn her back.
was one more place to check out, and it was closer to the
tourist-clogged streets near the Sound. She didn't stop moving or lift
her gaze from the ground until a glow began spilling onto the sidewalk
ahead of her.
difference between the world east of Broadway and west was palpable. It
could be seen in the bright, thin panels of government-erected light
that started on the corner of Boren and Broadway and went into the heart
of the tourist district, glaring down from dusk until dawn in a crass
attempt to bring some fake sun to nighttime.
could be heard in the growl of traffic, the ripple of cheerful voices
speaking without fear. It could be smelled - the quality Bri appreciated
most - in the clearing of the thick rank odors behind her. The sour
smell of cheap beer and the sweat of unwashed bodies never went away,
not in a city big as Seattle. But downtown it was thinned by a breeze of
salty harbor air and then covered with layers: perfume, car exhaust,
flower stands, hot food. Endless steam from the thousands of coffee cups
carried by red-eyed humans pretending it was natural for them to be
soon as she stepped into the glow of light as she crossed on Boren,
Bri's posture changed. She forced her chin up, pushed her shoulders
back, moved more deliberately, as if she was actually headed somewhere
didn't walk with eyes down. Not most of them. Not the innocent ones.
She was risking everything even being outside at that hour, so she had
to fit in. Any of the humans around her would scream for the cops if
they guessed at what she was.
in the world of clean and respectable people she was invisible. Just a
too-skinny black girl in ratty clothes. She was as invisible to most
people as the bums sitting on the sidewalks asking for change.
than a block off Broadway, where the lights were still patchy and the
tourists weren’t clogging up the sidewalks, a scent caught her
human, but different from the odor of athletes or the stink of the
soap-deprived. This was a potent sharp sweat all its own.
The sweat of fear.
the most part humans tended to smell like shampoo and fabric softener
and garlic and stale coffee. They covered themselves in consumer-bought
scents that buried anything natural until it was almost undetectable.
Fear, though, was visceral. It rose over everything artificial.
She slowed, breathing in, filtering through the normal stink in the air. Fear, cheap cologne…
…and under it, wisps of old blood.
smell all its own. Blood itself was sharp and unmistakable, but this
was blood filtered through a cool living body. Old but not stale, not
spilt but escaping from pores the way humans leaked their meals from
Only one thing in the world smelled like a blood meal.
grin thinned her mouth. She moved, tracking the scent. Her fists came
out of her pockets and her focus tunneled. The people moving past, their
coffee steam and perfume, the clack of heels and the chirp of cell
phones, all faded to a blurry background hum.
Ahead. To the right.
passed the opening into an alley, and then froze and slipped back to
peer inside. The side of a cheap hostel made up one wall of the alley. The
other side, a boarded-up diner. The streetlights didn't put out enough
glow to infiltrate the alley, but despite the darkness she could see in
fear was coming from a human man, being pressed against the wall by a
slender, darkly dressed form. Behind them, against the other wall, a
second form stood. Watchdog, maybe.
Her lips drew back.
were more than half a million humans in Seattle, and maybe a hundred
fangs in the city’s vampire tribe. On the bright and busy streets a few
blocks away crowds of tourists, locals, punk kids and businessmen were
all keeping a night schedule just hoping to see one of the adored
Down the alley there were two of them, and the human they seemed to have cornered.