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The Writer’s Voice Entry

For my regular readers: below is a contest entry, displaying my query and first 250 words of one of my novels.

Dear Writer’s Voice,

I would like to present my New Adult Contemporary Romance for your consideration. SILENCE is complete at 84,000 words

As a college senior, Carli Reynolds’ goals in life are simple: survive her classes, mask her hearing loss, and suppress her debilitating headaches. If she succeeds, no one will know her internal daily struggle. Goals one and two all but combust when “Hot New Deaf Guy,” Reed, introduces her to a world where hearing loss is not a disadvantage. He breaks her hotness scale as her world shifts off balance.

Carli’s disability has hung over her head her entire life, care of her perfectionist father. Through Reed’s hands, her invisible scars heal. He convinces her to learn ASL. For the first time in her life something comes naturally to her. With him she starts to feel whole.

Reed discovers her debilitating headaches when she’s stranded without her pain meds. Headaches he deems not normal. Carli continues to straddle the line between hearing and deaf. When Reed discovers she’s abusing her pain pills, she’ll have to decide once and for all to embrace her hearing loss and Reed—or shun them both.

Like Carli, I wear two hearing aids. I’ve been Hard of Hearing since birth and have a degree in Deaf Studies from Boston University, a location SILENCE is loosely based on.

Thank you for your time.

Laura Brown

First 250:

The minute the professor opened his mouth I knew it would be a long semester. The muffled sound struck a vein deep inside my skull, vibrating a nodule of tension destined to trigger one of my frequent headaches. I slid my hand up under my long brown hair, scratched my cheek as a decoy, and then ran my finger over the microphone of one hearing aid. Static rang loud and clear, confirming my suspicions. My hearing aids were fine.

The professor was the problem.

His booming voice ricocheted an accent off the walls of the small classroom. An accent I identified as…not from around here. Dr. Ashen’s thick, bushy mustache covered his top lip. He said something to the class and gestured to our textbook. Around me, students shifted, pages turned, pens moved.

I shifted too and flicked my pen against a random page of my thick book. Nerves battled with complete and utter boredom. Words spilled from his bottom lip and I couldn’t understand one fucking sound. Survival skill 101 of having a hearing loss: blend in. I’d grown skilled at blending, to the point where I had almost mastered the task of invisibility. No cloak required. Take that, Harry Potter.

I always, always, always heard my teachers. Until now.

Big Fuck Off Mustache + My Ears = Not Happening.

Mr. Scary Mustache glared my way. He tapped his textbook, and went right on speaking.

I couldn’t see his book, tapping it did not let me know what page we were on.


58 thoughts on “The Writer’s Voice Entry

  1. Before I got involved in technical writing, I studied to be an interpreter. My ASL is probably only at a five-year old’s level now (no one to practice with), but I still love the language!

    I wanted to say that I think your query letter and the 250 are excellent submissions. I’d be surprised if you weren’t selected by a coach. Best of luck, Laura.

    • Thank you! ASL is definitely a language that needs a signing buddy. I started learning at 18, never realizing the language would become a part of my identity, and a big part of writing this story.

  2. I love the way this plunges right it with a culture, a perspective, and concerns that resonate. Wonderful reading this.

  3. Hi Laura!

    Your entry is special in so many amazing ways. Brenda, Kim, and I (#TeamCoffeeHouse) were impressed by your unique premise and how strong the voice was in your writing. We’re already hooked by your story and can tell that this is a very powerful manuscript. I personally connected with it (my mother is a volunteer interpreter and most of her friends are hearing impaired or deaf, so much of my childhood was spent having potlucks around the coolest people ever). All three of us know so many more people will connect with your voice as well.

    Our team knows we can offer you solid support and notes and would love to introduce you to our actual online “coffee house” of previous contest alumni who are also authors willing to give you advice on your entry as well.

    And if you want to know a little more about who we are as #TeamCoffeeHouse, we have a little video message for you (see next comment or check SPAM filter of your blog in case it gets lost).

    Now the only question is, do you pick us?

    Congrats & wishing you all the best!
    Nikki, Brenda, & Kim.

    P.S. “Mr. Scary Mustache” made me literally laugh out loud.

  4. I want you on my team!

    I knew from the second I read your query and opening that I had to have you on my team! I would buy this book in a second if I saw it on the shelves!.Your concept is great, and your voice in these first 250 words really shines. I know you’ll go far with this entry, but I think I can help you hone the stakes in your query so it really stands out and gets tons of requests.

    Why should you pick me? First of all, I have 2 NA romance novels out plus a novella – and at least two more on the way. I definitely know the NA market and how it’s changing these days, because I’m living it. I read a ton of it and often discuss the trends and shape of NA with other NA authors.

    Last year, I won The Writer’s Voice with the most number of requests, and every single person on my team got at least one request. Many members of my team from last year have agents now, and some also have book deals. I’ve also had great success as a Pitch Wars mentor: all three of my mentees have gotten agents and two of them have book deals. I also have an amazing guest coach, who not only critiques my NA books, but she got a 6 figure deal for her own books at auction, so she knows what she’s doing.

    I really hope you will pick me and join #TeamTRex!

  5. NOOOOO!!! Pick my team! We have a coach on the team who is published in NA. Actually, because of my contests, I read widely and know the market well because of my many agent friends. I have to keep up with the current market for the contests. I’ve been writing forever and have run contests and workshops for nearly 6 years. I have a large following on my blog and Twitter and can get you noticed. I’m known as the Pitch Queen and have had many successes from my previous team members. Okay, I’m now on my knees, begging … PICK MY TEAM! Love you, Liz, btw. *grins*

  6. Oh, I also forgot to mention that I used to be an intern for agent Jill Corcoran, an intern for Entangled, and an editor for Curiosity Quills Press. I love Brenda, but c’mon! It’s obvious my team is where you belong! 😉

  7. Did I mention that I’m a query & synopsis editor for Stark Contrast Editing? I’m also a marketing writer as a day job, so when it comes to marketing yourself and your book–I’ve got ya covered! I also got my agent via a contest like this last year, so I completely know what you’re going through. Plus three coaches are on Team Coffee House….and I gotta say, Kim & Brenda are seriously cool. A diverse group of coaches with different strengths all teaming up to cheer you on? That’s what you have in #TeamCoffeeHouse. *cues music to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” mashed up with “We are the Champions*

  8. Oh my goodness! Thank you so much to both teams for your comments. I really, really, REALLY want to work with both teams, as you are both amazing. But, alas, I can only choose one. I pick TeamTRex!

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