Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Can You Hook a Teen?" Contest

Today, I'm hosting Kate Coursey of Teen Eyes Editorial for the second annual installment of “Can You Hook a Teen?” You may enter anytime between now and 11:59 p.m. EDT (or 8:59 p.m. PDT).

The Rules

1. To enter for a chance to win Kate’s critique here on my blog, your manuscript must be a YA or new adult fantasy or contemporary or anything MG. (Please note that your manuscript DOESN'T HAVE TO BE COMPLETE!)

2. Your entry must include A ONE-SENTENCE PITCH and THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript. If the 250th word falls in the middle of a sentence, please include the rest of that sentence in your entry.

3. You must post your entry IN THE COMMENTS OF THIS POST. Your comment should look like this:

Name: [Your name]
Genre: [Your manuscript’s genre]

[A one-sentence pitch]

[The first 250 words of your manuscript]

The Prize Kate will pick one winner from the entries posted in these comments, and that winner will receive a 20,000-word in-depth critique.

The really great part is that you can also enter for a chance to win the prize from the other two editors of Teen Eyes Editorial!

For a chance to win Taryn Albright’s $100 gift certificate to use toward any of Taryn’s editorial services, check out Miss Snark’s First Victim. (You’ll need to have a query to enter the contest on that blog.)

For a chance to win Brent Taylor’s 20,000-word in-depth critique, check out Brenda Drake Writes…under the influence of coffee. (You’ll need to have a 35-word pitch to enter the contest on that blog.)

We’ll announce the winners sometime within the next week or so. Good luck!


Jeannette said...

Name: Jeannette Smejkal
Genre: YA thriller

First abandoned, then hunted, nine strangers have to fight together in order to survive, but that includes finding a way to protect the one among them who is there to ensure their failure.

I found the mouth of the cave three weeks after leaving my emptied village.  

A gasp leapt from my throat and flew towards the cave in a startled greeting.  Though my emotions were blurred my body was desperate for rest — just one night free from worry that a cougar would clamp her maw around my neck as I slept.  

Or worse, gnaw at Nell.  

And here in front of me was the solution, its entrance no more than a yawn in the rock.  Inside, we could be peaceful and numb instead of anxious and stunned.  Friends on a campout instead of a girl and a doll, left behind.  

Nell gave me the idea that we needed to flush out any occupants before wandering in ourselves.  My chatter often bounced back from her and made some sense.  If I didn’t have her, I would have likely wandered right into the claws of a wolverine.  
Fire would work, but I had nothing to light one with.  I had no knife, no axe, no weapon at all; and I would need one to defend Nell if something was calling that cave home.  I rested her in the crook of two rocks nearby, tucked her arms in comfortably, and told her my plan (she was very excited and kept interrupting).

Then I retraced my steps to a fallen tree we'd passed earlier.  There, exactly as logged in my memory, was a perfect, club-sized branch.   Ha! "Logged". 

Nell wasn’t the only giddy one.  

Natasha Hanova said...

Name: Natasha Hanova
Genre: YA Dark Paranormal

In the year 2248, Rena Moon, a free-spirited teen in a dictatorial society, struggles to control her emotion-based power to trigger earthquakes until her best friend is held ransom for the one thing that would free her from oppression.

First 250
Rena Moon wished she could swap places with the canteen, held tight and pressed to Nevan’s lips. Condensation on the bottle reflected the sunlight streaming through the trees. A drop of liquid trickled to his chin and her mouth dried. After a final swig, he wiped his forehead with the back of his wrist. The drained container echoed against the picnic table.

“Come on,” she said to her best friend, Blaze. “Let’s move closer.”

“Why are you whispering? It’s not like he can hear us from here.”


“We’ll have a better vantage point from over there.” Blaze pointed to a shaded spot across Transit Plaza, one table away from Nevan’s. “It’s outside his peripheral vision. It might be within hearing range.”

“Loving your attention to detail.”

While stealing glances at her secret crush, Rena strolled along the sidewalk under the elms. They were planted in a geometric pattern so that the trees lined up no matter which direction she looked. Recycled plastic benches and tables broke up the monotony. Nevan’s group, agricultural workers according to the sage green t-shirts they wore, always sat in the third row across, fifth row back. It was the perfect distance from the platform, where eager people lingered to catch the first CityRail home.

“Sweet Mother Earth,” Blaze nudged Rena’s shoulder, nearly knocking her off balance. “He’s picking up the spoons. They’re gonna do it, again.”

“Wha…?” Transfixed, she watched Nevan’s biceps flex as he shifted and rested his forearms against the table edge.

Marcia W said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CherylAnne Ham said...

Name: Cheryl Ham
Genre: YA Fantasy


Seventeen-year-old Jazzlyn taps into her ruthless side in order to avenge her father’s murder, but when the same rebel group takes her boyfriend hostage, she must serve those she planned to destroy or watch another person she loves die.

First 250

The twenty-four hour incense clock releases a thread of fragrant smoke. Vanilla. Saturday’s are always vanilla. The smell is as sweet and rich as my revenge will be. That is, if Tristan ever shows up.
He promised he’d be here before noon, but a glance outside reveals only darkness in the spaces between shadows.

“Un-fricken-believable,” I say.

Mother looks up from whatever she’s chopping at the counter and flashes an uneasy smile. “Everything okay?”

She crosses the kitchen to where I stand between the window and the hearth, and drops a handful of mushrooms into a pot hanging over the open flames. The firelight brings out the red in her hair, which she wears twisted into a braid over one thin shoulder.

I fake my best casual shrug. “Tristan’s late. We’re supposed to visit Zac today.”

It’s not exactly a lie. We’ll need to stop by his cave and retrieve my knives.

“Speaking of Tristan,” she says. “You two are spending a lot of time together.”

Her voice is matter-of-fact, but something in her eyes hints at a question. I grab a spoon and stir the murky liquid inside the pot.

“Jazzlyn.” She takes a step closer. “You know you can talk to me about anything, right?”

“I know.”

“Do you? Because ever since your father passed away—”

“He didn’t ‘pass away.’” The liquid inside the pot starts to boil. So does my anger. “He was murdered. Or did you forget?”

I want to say more, but years of unspoken words have solidified into a wall between us.

Tracey Joseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MPH2003 said...

Name: M. H. Leiter
Title: Nitty Gritty
Genre: YA thriller

Pitch: Dealing with faulty telepathic powers seems impossible to fifteen-year-old Marissa Martin until she becomes a Hurricane Katrina evacuee desperate to save her dad who is trapped in the war zone that was once New Orleans.

Marissa, I’ve a feeling we’re not in New Orleans anymore, I think as I glance at the mountains in the distance.

When Dad forced me to evacuate a week ago, I thought it would be temporary, that I’d fly back to him in a couple of days once the whole Hurricane Katrina threat passed. Now I live in Aunt Celeste’s guest room, my room, according to her. My real bedroom is filled with water, if it’s even still there. Even a pair of ruby slippers can’t take me home again.

Concentrating on keeping it together, I follow the slap of flip flops to the front doors of the brick building that looks exactly like a school. Imagine that.

As I make my way up the front steps, I distract myself from panicking by singing “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” to myself. Or at least I think it’s to myself until someone behind me whistles the “We’re off to see the Wizard” part. I whip around and bump into a solid chest. I lift my eyes slowly, taking in the flipped up cuffs, navy sweater vest, and this great smile. Then I lift my eyes a little higher, and I’m caught in the most intense, blue stare. My heart trips and I find myself leaning in.

Before I totally embarrass myself, I pull back.

The guy’s smile tilts up a notch. “Sorry I interrupted your American Idol tryout. Thought you could use an accompaniment.”

Lanette said...

Name: Lanette Kauten
Genre: NA Commercial

While in Hungary to research her grandfather's childhood, Amanda falls in love with a Gypsy whose family's past is entwined with hers.


Music distracted Amanda from her search for her mother’s gift. Wild, erratic tones that couldn’t be ignored. She dropped the scarf and followed the sounds through the mild scattering of shoppers, down the street she had become so familiar with in the past week of her visit and turned a corner past a peach-colored building.

In front of the café Amanda visited often, a plump woman in blue jeans fiddled on a cracked violin. Her dark hair danced and jerked with the movements of her playing. A boy, no older than fifteen, sat behind her beating a drum, and a man whose face had been baked in the sun provided harmony with his accordion. With his yellow and crimson tunic, he was the only one who wore the traditional garb of his people. Amanda had been told Gypsy bands had gone out of style, yet this group of musicians had drawn an audience on the corner of a walking path in Pécs, Hungary.

A gasp in the crowd drew Amanda’s attention to a man who somersaulted from out of nowhere. He must have been lurking among the spectators, waiting for his cue. He wore a gold vest over his bronze muscles. He looked reminiscent of idol statues often seen in India. His quick steps moved to the music and he slapped his body in a rhythmic percussion. The audience clapped as the music escalated faster and louder as the dancer kept in time. The fevered pitch consumed every movement and every thought on that corner.

Juliana Haygert said...

Juliana Haygert
NA romantic fantasy

Recaptured by the guards, Ellanue is given a choice by the ruling council of her realm: execution or go to Earth to train the new Warden and save the world.

First 250 words:

The two sets of hands clasping her arms urged her forward, their warmth against her skin almost compensated the cold of the dark, creepy corridor.
Though, it wasn’t the corridor that she should fear. Nor the great double doors at the end. She should fear whatever was past those doors.
Through the messy strands of her hair fallen over her face, she spied the two guards holding her and the other two circling her. She considered escaping before it was too late. It would only take a second while she dissolved into her true form and blasted them with her power, but that would cause an even bigger chaos.
She stumbled back on purpose. Well, nothing dictated she couldn’t give her guards a hard time, right?
“Move,” said one of the guards.
The tip of a sharp blade prickled her back. The guard’s spear. At the same instant, she stood tall and stopped pretending being too tired or hurt.
So far, she hadn’t been scared. Not really. Only mad that she had been captured. Now, seeing where she was headed and imagining all the odds against her, she held her breath as her heartbeat sped up.
This is not happening.
As the convoy approached, the doors opened with a loud cringing noise, and bright light dripped into the corridor. Sporting their shiny armors and spears, more guards emerged from the doors, creating a live corridor.
She swallowed the bile building on the back of her throat.
This is it. My end.

Anonymous said...

Name: Stephanie and Isaac Flint
Genre: YA Dystopian Adventure

When eighteen year old Jenna Nickleson leaves a utopian society, she must find her place in a world of super powers and beasties, where a manipulative telepath wants Jenna as a pawn in her schemes.

First 250 Words:
I dropped the daily pill into the toilet and returned the bottle to its rightful place behind the bathroom mirror. A flush later, the white pill swirled around the tank and vanished somewhere into St. Petersburg’s sewer system. Now all I had to do was find my stupid hair brush before I was late again.

I glanced at my watch. 7:00 AM.


I dashed out the room, stopping only to knock on the dorm room next to mine. No answer. Either Lance was sound asleep or he’d headed off without me. Great. I’d never hear the end of this. I sprinted down the hall, hoping Ivan, the community advisor, would take his normal route to the lounge and not catch me running.

The dorm’s residents were already sitting in a circle, and Lance sat across the room from the only empty chair left. I plopped down as he mouthed, “You’re late.”

I twisted my lips. He usually got there right at seven, after I’d banged on his door trying to wake him. What was he doing up so early?

Ivan Kaptsov glanced between the two of us before returning his attention to the circle. At least he didn’t say anything. Considering Ivan might be a future leader, he was a cheerful guy, even with the crisp uniform male leaders wore. Despite their flare for attractive clothing, they had to keep order somehow. So far he hadn’t reported me or Lance for our occasional tardiness.

Marcia W said...

Marcia Wells
YA Paranormal

When you’re Death's daughter, summer camp in Hell is the least of your problems.

First 250:
The problem with having Death for a father is that he can be anywhere, at anytime. From car accidents to cancer to old age, Death is waiting for us, always waiting. And watching.
Which would explain why I am grounded this weekend.
“I am very disappointed in you,” my father says during the car ride home from school. He sniffs, picking some imaginary lint off of his pressed pants. “Your behavior is shocking.”
Said behavior refers to the incident today during fifth period gym class, when Jamie Faulkner— the Jamie Faulkner, six glorious feet of auburn haired, blue eyed, hockey player muscle that I’ve had a crush on since I was twelve— approached me in the middle of some mind-numbing soccer drills.
“I need to talk to you about something,” Jamie said. “Alone.”
Is this really happening? Is he actually going to ask me to prom? My insides tangled in a nervous frenzy as he hooked his fingers in mine and led me behind the bleachers.
“Max tells me you’re good at math,” he began, rubbing a hand through his short hair. “And I really suck at algebra and I was hoping…” His voice trailed off, baby blues locked on me.
Great. Tutoring.
And I thought, Didn’t you tell Vicki you wanted to ask me to prom? but didn’t comment because something had obviously snapped in his boy brain and he was staring at my mouth like he wanted to kiss me.

Dan Burns said...

Name: Dan Burns
Genre: Middle grade fantasy

In THE PENDANT OF POWER, my 38,000 word middle grade fiction book, fantasy meets a strong sense of realism as Jon Bidwell battles dragons who are determined to take over the world.

“Jon Bidwell, in the hall now!” Miss Johnson pulled a paper airplane from the left side of her shoulder-length blonde hair as she spoke.

I turned to face Colin Thurgood, the bane of my existence. He raised his right hand to hide the smirk that lit up his freckled face, then with two fingers wiped the brown hair from his forehead to the top of his head as if to say, “Who, me?”

My fingers curled in on themselves, balled into loose fists, and then started to shake with fury. I began slowly turning, my fingers clinching tighter and tighter. I could already see myself smacking Thurgood between his two green eyes.

“Jon!” The exclamation was even louder this time. I closed my eyes and clenched my teeth but turned to face Miss Johnson. Even as I turned I could sense redness creeping into my face, but the redness I saw on Miss Johnson’s face was far greater than mine. My fists involuntarily unclenched.

I looked at the door and began to walk toward it. Even as I turned the knob Miss Johnson called out, “Wait for me outside the door.”

I stepped into the hall, closed the door behind me, and let out a huge sigh. Turning to face the blue lockers lining the hallway, I buried my head in my hands and again pictured myself hitting Colin Thurgood between the eyes.

The door to my right opened, and Miss Johnson walked out. I didn’t have to see her to know she was there.

Veronica Bartles said...

Name: Veronica Bartles
Genre: YA Contemporary

Alaina knows you have to kiss lots of frogs to find a prince, but when kissing her "prince" proves he's a frog, she may give up on love entirely.

First 250:

I’m not exactly the fairy-tale princess type. Flowers don’t bloom at my feet, and birds don’t follow me around, singing happy little songs. I’m seventeen years old, and I’ve never even been out on a real date.

Not that I’m waiting for Prince Charming to come riding in on a white horse and plant a magical kiss on my virgin lips that will suddenly make my whole life perfect, but I still wish I could find a guy who doesn’t just want to get in my pants. So when my best guy friend, Jarod, pretends to be in love with me, it’s kind of fun to play along.

“Hi, gorgeous.” Jarod meets me at my classroom door and takes my books.

“Hey. What’s up?”

He grins. Then, he wiggles his eyebrows and winks.

My cheeks blaze. “Ugh. Don’t be such a pervert. You know what I meant.”

“Yeah,” he laughs. “But you’re cute when you’re embarrassed.”

He twirls the combination and yanks my locker open. He drops his backpack on the bottom shelf and hands my flute to me. “No homework today, right?”

I shake my head.

He starts to close the locker door, but stops when he sees the tattered paper, taped below the mirror. “Where did this come from?” he demands, tearing it down and crumpling it in his fist.

I roll my eyes. “The list fairy put it there. Where do you think?”

He frowns. “Yeah, well your list fairy is a b—”

Susan Fobes said...

Susan M. Fobes writing as T. J. Shelkey
Genre: YA Fantasy

As Prince Agmund ages, failing race relations continue despite his best efforts, and he must fight who he thinks is his uncle to keep the Kingdom of Tairn Gire together.

First 250 words:
A simple round stone in the castle gardens marked Prince Agmund’s favorite thinking spot. The twelve-year old boy pictured his mother, wondering what she might think about his latest argument with his father over the arrest of a small band of malcontents. Ordinals taunting dwarf races, friction in society-something unheard of in Tairn Gire. The three-island kingdom was a world where darkness cowered to the power of light-until now. His father didn’t seem worried; every crime a summation of good, bad, right, wrong…a punishment dealt, and a lesson learned. Agmund felt differently. Did other Ordinals feel this same hatred for Otherkin races?

Agmund sighed. Why was everything so complicated? Once upon a time, he had a magical life. It included a mother, a father, and no worries. But death robbed him of this. Here he sat, wishing for that peaceful strength…his mother. If given the chance, a part of him, the biggest part, would give away everything in the hopes of reclaiming what he lost.

Agmund’s castle home was a town called Majorca, a coastal town where the sound of waves colliding on shore is as common as the grating laugh of a woodland Capercaillie grouse. It was spring, and spring in Majorca meant wind, lots of it. A cool breeze tousled Agmund’s brown curls, and he let it coax him back to another time, a happier place. He closed his eyes and touched the stone-nothing…the damp coldness, a painful reminder. A small cough from behind and he was back.

Unknown said...

Name: Ellie Heller
Title: Death God's Apprentice
Genre: New Adult Fantasy

Sent to the Sisters of the Winding Tower at fourteen, Ilia's only heard from her family once a year as she learns to shield herself from her connection to those about to die, that is until her brother arrives with a dire request.

First page:
The writing in the grimoire was indecipherable in the now weak, fading winter light in the library. Ilia sat back in her chair and rubbed the crick in her neck with half-frozen fingers. She'd let hours slide by and now it was that in-between time that came in winter, late afternoon, too early to head to dinner and not late enough to light the one, short, fat three-hour candle the Sisters allowed her at night for personal use.

A sense of urgency gripped her, making her want to pick the tome up again, risk the headache she knew would follow if she were to drag it over to the window and attempt to read there. Against all commonsense, she desperately wished for more hours of light. She felt pressured to keep going, despite the assurances of the Sisters training her, as if the opportunity might be taken away.

Foolish, she knew. After seven years of being ignored by her family and the outside world, she didn't know why, now, suddenly she was racing through her work in a panic that she'd be asked to leave.

Called away by a stepmother and a family who'd been unsure what to do with her when they'd had her. Except Johon, her little brother who'd always been fascinated and not repelled by her magic.

Maybe that was it. The note from Johon informing her of his betrothal could certainly be the root of her malaise.

Utsav said...

Name: Utsav Mukherjee
Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Pitch: Jimmy Ranfaz has a unique problem when he is heralded as the new saviour of the tree-descendant humans of Ulfitron - he is the villain reincarnated.

First 250 words:
The cavern rumbled for the third time in as many minutes.

Frank Einstein jumped back as vials and flasks smashed on the floor. The contents snaked around, hissing and creating acidic puddles.

“Not again! Dr. Jake, control your blasted fungi.” Being apprenticed to the greatest scientist in the universe wasn’t easy. The constant hum of power aged Frank beyond his years and the charged atmosphere caused premature balding.

The young apprentice heard the trademark swishing of the long coat of his mentor.

“My dear Frank! It’s not my fungi,” Dr. Jake Illhyde ran his hand through the grey streak in his mottled brown hair; one of the many appearances he used to conceal his thousand year lifespan. “You’re not fiddling with your pylons again, are you?”

“No, of course not,” Frank replied, miffed because the pylons were his first individual project.

A thunderous crash shook the whole cave. “Then what is it? A real quake?” asked the apprentice, coughing hard as stone-dust rained down from the ceiling.

“Don’t be ridiculous. You know we are shifting between planets.”

Jake’s creased forehead gave way to wide-eyed horror. “Somebody is trying to reach us.”

“Reach us here? But nobody knows where we are. Or for that matter, who we are!”

“Somebody must have accessed the memories of the two who did. And I’m guessing they are after....”

“The essences! But we have only one left.”

One of Frank’s experimental pylons keeled over and the blue crystal smashed against the floor as the ground began shaking uncontrollably.

Anonymous said...

Name: Jeff N.
Title: The Pirate of Vallenta
Genre: MG fantasy

Fourteen-year-old pirate Lesath doesn't regret trying to steal the treasure from the castle; it’s getting caught that has her considering a career change – especially if Sir Reginald is serious about that whole execution thing.

The stench was stomach-turning. A stink so disgusting, only a person equally abominable could have caused it. It came from a pirate. Lesath, the girl cleaning up the stink, was also a pirate, though she wasn’t nearly as rancid as Putrid Pete, the last visitor to the latrine. Lesath was fairly clean, and that was just one of many reasons she didn’t fit in with the rest of the Weeping Phantom’s crew.

It was also why, when the captain assigned weekly tasks, he always saved the deck swabbing for Lesath. It was all she ever got to do. Raiding foreign lands, orchestrating daring prison breaks, fighting epic battles over cursed gold? The other pirates had all the fun.

But Lesath wasn’t about to question the captain. Your first complaint aboard the Weeping Phantom was your last complaint aboard the Weeping Phantom. She kept her mouth shut, though she’d make a better pirate than any of the other crew members. So what if she was only fourteen, and the only girl aboard the most feared pirate ship in all of Vallenta?

For now, however, she swabbed, pretending the mop was a shiny new cutlass. And the bucket of black water a chest of gold. And the stench…well, there wasn’t much that could be beside the rank odor of pirate.

Unless, of course, it was an omen. A nose-cringing, nausea-inducing, odiferous, olfactory omen of the troubles that were approaching the youngest and female-est member of the Weeping Phantom’s pirate crew.

A.L. Laster said...

Name: Ashley Laster
Genre: YA contemporary fantasy

After moving to Uncertain, the line between Heaven and Hell is blurred when Ari Jones discovers a world where Shades - vampires, witches, shifters, and those called the Lumenes - exist in disgrace.

First 250:

Texas, November 1883.

The wind was cold and numbing, a promise of the coming winter. Samael Lowood sat on the sill of his bedroom window, enjoying the chill. He had always liked the changing of the seasons. The air smelled of so many contradictory things: dirt and ice, burning wood and snow, life and death.

Sam gazed downward, his eyes drawn to an unfamiliar coach rumbling up the drive. Mud covered its exterior, and the horses' sides heaved with exhaustion. In the small town of Uncertain, strangers were a rarity.

Muffled shouts carried up the stairs, pulling Sam's attention away from the window. He knew the shouts belonged to his parents. He couldn't understand their behavior, considering what had happened earlier in the week: his aunt had inexplicably gone missing.

Below, the coach rolled to a stop at the front entrance. The driver all but fell from his seat, scrambling to open the door for his passenger. Out stepped a man. The sun peeked out from behind the clouds, making his blond hair appear almost white.

An icy feeling grew in the pit of Sam's stomach. He watched as the stranger brushed past the driver and made his way up the front steps, his coat billowing out behind him like a storm cloud.

Sam slid off the windowsill. He adjusted his waistcoat and tie and strode from the room. In the hallway, he felt at ease again. The scent of roses, his mother's favorite perfume, wafted through the air.

Carolyn said...

Name: Carolyn
Title: Kate Millett is My Hero
Genre: YA Contemporary

H.S. senior must stop her school play co-star from wreaking more havoc on girls.

I've pretty much been a coward my whole life.

As I head down the corridor of AHS, I picture Julie, my best friend in middle school, and how she got picked on by some bullies for wearing glasses and being fat, I didn't stand up for her. I more or less faded into the curtains in the back of the cafeteria.

I round the corner in the hall and some guy I don't even know waves at me. I wave back, just in case he's cute, which I can't tell because he's way over by the lockers.

My sneakers squeak along the floor as I trek toward the audition room. In my head I hear a repeat of my two best friends, arguing. I should have stepped in and said, "Ella's moving away. Stop this stupid fighting and let's spend each precious moment we have together doing things we love."

Oh, how I wish I'd said that.

To be honest, I don't give any thought to things like that until something forces me into it. The thing that forced me today was the guidance counselor.

Her words are still banging around in my head."I know you have good grades, but now that you've lost that legal internship, you have to get the lead in the school play to get into Columbia University in the fall."

I think my brain cracked a little at that precise moment, because if I don't get into Columbia, then I'll disappoint my dad.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Nicole Zoltack
YA Paranormal

Crystal's faith in God is tested when she learns that she was conceived by witches as the incarnation of magic.

The attic stairs were hanging out into the hallway like a lolling tongue in a particularly dark and dusty mouth. Crystal had never seen them down before. The attic door was always secured and padlocked. Her mom said she kept it shut tight to keep the mice from getting down into the house, but sometimes Crystal wondered if it was really more about keeping her from going up. She could hear her mom scurrying around above her and wondered what her mom could be doing up there.

Crystal’s foot hovered above the bottom step. She wanted to climb up there, to see what secrets the attic contained, when the sound of sniffles stopped her. Maybe her mom hadn’t taken everything of Dad’s to Goodwill all those years ago. Maybe that’s why she kept the attic to herself. Maybe there wasn’t some big mystery after all.

Not wanting to intrude on her mother’s misery even though she wanted to give her a hug, Crystal backed away. It pained her to hear her mom suffer, especially when she didn’t share that pain. Her dad had died when she was only five, and she had only a few memories of him. At times she felt guilty for not missing him, but it was hard to miss someone you only knew from the few stories your mom told you the few times she spoke about him.

When the sniffling stopped and footsteps echoed closer to her, Crystal scampered back downstairs to the living room.

Suja said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M.T. said...

Name: Molly Trainor
Genre: Contemporary sci-fi

Pitch: Gail isn’t like the other kids in town, but she’s also definitely not like the other Talenteds, which means she must decide who she does want to be, before the choice is taken away.

I stepped over to the bathroom curtains and pulled them tightly shut, blocking out the black void that was the starless night sky. It was a rule here, no daytime showers, but I hated the feeling of showering at night.

Reluctantly, I stood in front of the shower getting ready to turn it on. I was shivering, because of the bathroom fan blowing and because of the cool winter chill.

“Gail, why isn’t that water running?” Ruth asked through the door. It was her way of warning me that I better hurry up.

I cranked the water on and stepped into it. It was freezing. Our building had no hot water--one of its many flaws. I stood to the side, trying to let the water pass me, but it was no use. We never had gotten the money for all the extra things that needed done. No one cared enough, I guess.

I paused, looking at the water. I’ve been taking showers since I was eighteen months. I was three when I stopped taking them cold. I don’t remember the transition, but one day I was somehow able to step into a warm shower. Just by thinking about it. I looked at the water again, and drip by drip, it turned warm. The effort it took, though. I wondered if it was really worth it.

Ladies Holiday said...

Name: Deirdre Hall
Genre: Contemporary YA

When you're seventeen and your Spark finds its match, falling in love is easy, when an embodied dark star threatens to cause a supernova, and saving the world is up to you, not so easy to do.

The phone rang, pulling me from a particularly juicy chapter. I emerged from the insulating cocoon of fantasy fiction and answered dreamily, not ready to face the real world.

“Good morning,” said Lily, my chipper best friend.

“Morning,” I replied. The sliver of light seeping in through the dusty window did little to invite my enthusiasm, a bright reminder that I couldn’t read the day away.

She got right to the point. “So last night while you were tucked in with three hundred and fifty pages of inky fantasy, I was at a party on the riverbank.” I wondered with alarm when did she get a pass to go to parties?

Her voice bounced back to me. “We were hanging out around the fire and a black sports car came flying down the dirt road. It came to a sudden stop and this wicked hot guy, who I’d never seen before, got out,” she paused for effect, “he asked if any of us knew Neeve Hawkins. Surprisingly he pronounced your name correctly with a long e.” Lily, whose first love was English, but maybe that was changing, I thought as I imagined her at a party with boys, did not tolerate misuse or mispronunciation of the language.

“I walked right up to him and asked, ‘Who wants to know?’ He glared at me, spat on the ground and sped off sending sand flying everywhere, a very dramatic exit. Weird right? So who is this mystery man Neeve?”

Mara Rae said...

Mara Rutherford
YA Urban Fantasy

When 17-year-old Friday Anderson discovers she's not only an immortal, but also the only one capable of killing another, she must leave everyone she loves behind or risk becoming a deadly weapon in the world's oldest blood feud.

Un milagro, they called me. A miracle. I heard the nurses whisper it to each other as they passed my hospital room. I saw it on the news for three days before my story was overshadowed by celebrity gossip and political scandals. And it was the first thing the Chilean doctor said to me when my scan results came back normal.

But I didn’t believe in miracles.

“Good morning, señorita,” the nurse said as she pulled back the curtains. “You are going home today, no?”

I nodded, even though I wasn’t sure what “home” meant anymore.

“Muy bien. The doctor will be in to release you soon.”

It had already been a week since the accident, but I still felt like if I tried hard enough I could wake myself up from this nightmare. Surely the real me was sitting in a café in Paris, the place I’d dreamed of going since I was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor over a year ago. But instead of sending Mom and me to France, the wish foundation had called six weeks ago to tell me I’d been granted an all-expenses-paid vacation to Chile.


My mom said it must have been some kind of computer mix-up, or maybe a trip to Chile had just been more affordable than Paris, and that I shouldn’t complain about a free vacation. On the one hand, I knew she had a point. But it was literally my dying wish. You’d think they could at least get the country right.

Jenn said...

Name: Jenn Brisendine
Genre: Upper MG Fantasy

Through an abandoned coal mine tunnel in the smoldering ruins of the hometown he destroyed, twelve-year-old Zeb Reardon enters the eerie setting of his father's bestselling fantasy novel to rescue his cousin and mend his own guilty heart.


I snapped awake standing in the dark.

Pressure on my chest, in my lungs. Fear clawed me all over. When you wake up in your pajamas, you expect a cocoon of blankets and bedroom walls. Not the hollow hush of outside.

No good light anywhere. No lit-up house windows, no cars. Just grainy glow from nighttime sky. Shadowy mounds lumped up the road underfoot, like iron moles had ripped tunnels through the asphalt.

Sleepwalking again, but where--

Up ahead, something moved in the gritty dimness. Four-legged, whitish, it dipped out of the woods, stepped into the ruined street, and went still. Looked at me.

I didn't breathe.

A growl crawled out. Ears went flat. Hairy mop of a tail tucked and hid. Wolf? Coyote? Couldn't be--too big, too tall. Then a whine split the muffled dark, and it galloped into the woods.

My heart clattered along like a rusty pick-up. I yanked my cuffs over icicle fingers and coughed on bitter air. Too misty to see down the end of the street--

Aww, jeez. Like Jason says in science lab: Zeb. That brain's been in there twelve years, time to wake it up.

Not mist. Smoke. I'd sleephiked into Martinsville. All around, in the empty yards of bulldozed homes, plumes coiled up in smoldering gardens. If you walked those yards now, you'd step in soft, hot spots of soil and vents the width of your hand. You'd take your chances with the coal fire, a fuming dragon that sprawled underground, spreading the burn on every breath.

(Thanks so much for the contest opportunity!)

Suja said...

Suja Sukumar
YA mystery

An insecure teen falls for the smoking hot guy who hauls her out of her wrecked car – only to realize he's involved in the recent murders in her town, and he's not normal.

First 250:

Most kids would do anything to have a movie star parent. Diya had long decided she'd do anything to give hers up.

She hunched over the steering wheel and peered through the windshield, trying to block out the image of Miranda belting out curses in an alcohol-induced frenzy that morning. “I should have left you in that shit-hole orphanage in India, you ingrate!”
If that woman kept up with the scowling, she'd undo all the work done by her plastic surgeon.

Forget her. Think summer vacation. Diya hooted, pumping her free hand. Thank God she'd passed her driver's exam in time for the trip to her aunt's.

The headlights of her Kia barely penetrated the darkness blanketing the road leading to Serene. Huge trees, black shadows against the sky, towered over her car. Normally this part of the road would be fairly crowded.

She reached for the car radio to drown out the silence, just as lightning streaked to the right of her car. The air crackled. Her fingers froze over the knob, and she stared through the window. A flash of blue blazed between the trees.

M.T. said...

Entry clarification: TALENTED

The genre is YA contemporary sci-fi. Sorry for the inconvenience, and thank you.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Name: Ryan Hancock
Genre: YA Fantasy with Sci-fi elements

In a world where children are segregated by the color of their glowing palm, sixteen-year-old Bruno Nazaire must either become someone else to earn his freedom, or confess his murder and save an innocent boy.

First 250:

There are three unspoken rules in high school rugby.

1. Your team members are family.
2. You support your family.
3. This support must be shown periodically with an affectionate slap on the backside.

After four years as the starting right winger, I had almost gotten used to this. Almost. At least I no longer felt the urge to bloody my teammate’s nose when they tried it.

But in the middle of the hall? No way. During school hours my glutes were off limits.

I whirled around to explain this to whichever of my idiotic team members was behind me, only to find myself face to face with an attractive redhead.

“Hey, Bruno,” Drea said with a smirk. “Ready for the test?”

I opened my mouth but no sound came out.

Even with her super-short hair, Drea was stunning. Before last summer she’d often been mistaken for a boy, but that all ended when puberty hit. With both fists.

I recovered from my embarrassment enough to nod.

She leaned against the lockers. Her pale white skin reflected the light from her blue palm. “History should be a breeze compared to pre-calc. I wanted to stab myself in the eye when I got to that section on antiderivatives.”

I mumbled something incoherent and fumbled with my lock.

Without warning she came up close and spoke in a half-whisper. Her hair smelled like coconut. “I know someone that likes you. If you hurry, we might have time to talk before the final.”

Wendy said...

Name: Wendy Wilson O’Connell
Title: Wolf Drawing
Genre: YA Horror

Protecting the town means sacrificing someone to the wolf every year and seventeen-year-old Red wants to rip out beating hearts.

Mama has to draw. I begged her not to go tonight. My face still stings from where she slapped me. She left a mark as bright as my name – Red. Her shit brown eyes glared defiance at me leaving the stench of her ignorant pride up my nose. I shouldn’t worry. She has more of a chance this year not to draw the paper with the wolf symbol. There are twenty more names in the drawing because of the high school graduates just turning eighteen. Next year, I’ll be eighteen and I dare this town ask me to go. I double dare them to lead me to the edge of those woods.

That wolf should be coming after me, not Mama. She’s all I’ve got, and being alone is the only thing I’m afraid of. I shouldn’t be here, but when have I ever done anything I’m supposed to do? My body presses farther into the tree behind me. The night air should numb me to what’s going on in that big white Plantation house on the hill, but it doesn’t.

My awareness warms me. You could even say it has made me wolf-like. It will soon enough. It’s dark, and the full moon passes behind the roof. Its six large windows on both floors make it look like a real mansion, but close up you can see the paint peeling, just like this town and all of its traditions built out of fear and superstition.

Unknown said...

Name: Sarah Nelson
Genre: YA thriller

It takes a lot of faze alleged teen murderer, Claire Alexander. But a serial killer going to town with her M.O? That'll do it.

First 250:

Most people get nervous when you tell them you're an orphan. Scared if they mention good old Mom and Dad, you'll flip out or something. That might've been true for my sister, but there was only one thing that made me flip out:

"Come on, Claire, you can trust me. What really happened?"

At least no-one went right out and asked where I hid the bodies.

I knew they thought about it. Especially in the early days, everyone pestered me with questions. Looking for a motive, waiting for a slip up. I told people that it was none of their goddamn business what happened and let them draw their own conclusions.

I'm Claire Alexander. Your friendly neighborhood murderer.


I'd been gone four years. Four years and one day, if you want to be exact about it. It'd been four years, three months, eleven days since I was accused of murder, and now I was back home. If not for the ache in my legs (being crammed into a bus for the better part of two days? Not recommended), I wouldn't have believed it.

I watched the bus splutter away and scrambled for my bearings. Could I run after it? Beg my seat back, even though I had no money? If the driver would let me on, it'd be just thirty minutes until we reached another town. Then I could sink into comfortable obscurity.

Homeless, I reminded myself. Homeless, broke, and seventeen-years-old with no work experience.

Stephsco said...

Name: Stephanie Scott
Genre: YA Historical

Pitch: In 1963 Texas, 16-year-old Evelyn risks her social standing – and her father’s position with NASA – when she falls for the enigmatic civil rights leader from the all-Negro rival school.

Texas would make my dreams come true. I was sure of it.

For months, I'd envisioned my new life: a closet filled with clothes that weren't hand-me-downs, invitations to posh society events (not like I knew anyone at tonight’s gala, but they looked important), and (please, Mother Mary) friends. As my father’s dream to walk on the moon became a closer reality, for me, his position with NASA’s Project Gemini meant my opportunity to be everything I hadn’t managed so far. In my new dress and heels, I was a girl reinvented: poised, classy, and glamorous.

If I only could stop sweating.

"Evelyn!" I jumped at my mother's presence and despite my best efforts, my dress stuck to my back. "I'd like you to meet someone," she said.

I expected another lady from The Daughters of the American Revolution (or The United Daughters of the Confederacy – both were well-represented tonight), but instead she introduced me to a boy about my age, sixteen. His sandy-colored hair faded at the tips like he'd spent all summer in the sun.

"Pleasure to meet you." He shook my hand with a firm grasp -- probably from a military family, like me. "Name's Kip."

I smiled but words caught in my throat. Kip wasn't just any boy — he was this entire package of tanned skin, athletic build and gleaming white teeth. The perfect poster boy for Texas tourism.

csoontornvat said...

Name: Christina
Genre: MG Fantasy

When eleven-year old Izzy’s little sister disappears into Faerie, she teams up with a band of outlaw changelings to rescue her and save the entire changeling race from an evil queen.

The minute the cashier with the missing teeth leaned over the conveyor belt, Izzy knew this was no ordinary grocery run.

“That neighbor of yours is a witch, or I’m a bull toad,” he said.

She closed her paperback copy of The Princess and the Goblin, and squeezed past the shopping cart to get closer. This was without a doubt the most interesting thing that had happened since they moved to tiny, rural Everton. Having a witch for a neighbor just might be enough to make up for living in a town with no movie theater, no swimming pools, and – worst of all – no library.

Her mom put on a polite smile as she zipped up her purse. “I beg your pardon?”

The cashier narrowed his eyes. “You wanna know what she came in here and bought last week?”

“I can’t ima –”

“Beef tongue. Now I ask you, what kind of person buys that? Put it in a potion or something, I bet.

Izzy’s mom started lifting the sacks into the cart. “I’m afraid we haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Malloy yet.”

“Oh it ain’t Mrs. You think anyone would marry her? Shoot, no. Marian Malloy would sooner put a curse on a man than say hello.”

Izzy slid over to where her younger sister eyed the candy. “Hen, tell Mom you’ve got to go to the bathroom,” she whispered.

“But I don’t,” Hen said.

“I know that! It’s just a diversion.”

Mary Holm said...

Name: Mary Holm
Genre: YA Fantasy

Pitch: Seventeen-year-old Taela isn’t a murderer, but when her sister is arrested for treason and executed, she vows to kill the man responsible, even if he’s the kingdom’s only hope for salvation.

Taela slipped into the cool darkness of the storage shed and quietly latched the door behind her. She wasn’t a thief. Not usually. Sometimes people had to do things they didn’t like. Sometimes they had to keep secrets. Her heart beat rapidly and she took a deep breath to calm herself. She made a silent vow that this would be the end. Tonight, she would fulfill her promise, no matter what it cost her or how much it frightened her.

Ribbons of moonlight shone through the slats of the old wooden structure, falling across the casks, crates and barrels stacked around her. She had to be quick and get out before she was noticed. She rummaged through a crate, grabbed a handful of dried apricots and few shriveled potatoes and stuffed them into her pack.

Standing on tiptoe, she reached up to the top shelf for the stoneware crock that held last season’s summerbeans. She slid the container to the edge and eased it off the shelf, but the crock was heavier than she thought. Before she could get a good grip, it slipped from her hands, fell to the dirt floor and shattered with a crash. Shards of pottery and beans scattered at her feet.

Blast it! Probably just woke the whole village.

She grabbed her pack and scrambled toward the weathered door, but the sound of footsteps approaching stopped her. Too late. She ducked into the shadows and hid behind a barrel. Blood rushed in her ears.

Anonymous said...

NAME: Cindy Bindy Boo
TITLE: The Perfect Adam
GENRE: NA Contemporary

Seratonus will do anything to find the perfect man... Even join a secret experiment that lets her create one from scratch.

The perfect man is someone who will love me unconditionally until my last breath. He will die for me, lift me on his back and carry me across a raging river, romance me every hour of every day and send shivers through my body with a single kiss.

I know the perfect man is out there somewhere but I'm so tired of looking. I've been coming to the Marmont in Times Square every week for two years hoping he'll walk through those glass doors; to whisk me off my feet and carry me on an adventure through time itself--through seas of roses kissed with honey; across skies rippling with steaming passion; and into his tender arms where I will forever stay.

It's been twenty two years and he's yet to arrive. I guess I'll just have to keep looking...

"So, John, what do you do for a living?"

"Me? Well, I run a very successful business."

I perk up instantly. "Oh, really, that's incredible!"

"Yeah it is," he says, smiling.

"What exactly is your business about?" I ask, as I take a sip of wine.

"Nothing big, I just masturbate on camera."

I choke on the sweet tang of the 1965 brandy and some fall onto the white linen tablecloth.

"Are you okay?" he says, as he gets up.

"Oh no, I'm fine--please sit, it's okay." I glance about at the other tables, and the couples absorbed in conversation under the dim ecru lighting. Thank goodness they didn't hear that.

Kate Brauning said...

Kate Brauning
NA mythological fantasy

Pitch: Nineteen-year-old Ava wants to die, so risking her life to stop the god of war from overthrowing human governments isn’t so bad- until finding a family with the Olympians makes her value the life she’s about to lose.

First page:
Years after the war, the neighbors would brag about how they used to visit the Wallace family before Ava was born. Her mother had loved entertaining. But then came the child, and after that, the wasting illness that left Ava motherless.

After the mother’s death, the neighbors stopped visiting. Her husband clearly didn’t want to see them; he wouldn’t answer the door or return their phone calls. He was a red-faced, small-eyed man.

The toddler went to live with the mother’s parents and the neighbors forgot about her. After the war, in furtive undertones, they would say, “We saw how it started, you know.” They would tell how one evening, six years after the toddler left, a rusty Toyota sputtered to a halt near the house.

Ava, now an eight-year-old child, had been sent back to her father. Her grandparents had died. The girl wasn’t crying, wasn’t screaming. She simply held on to her seatbelt and refused to get out of the car. She clutched a picture frame.

The neighbors saw leaves swirling in summer dust devils around the car. They saw the father jerk the single suitcase out of the back seat. They didn’t see the tall woman in white standing by the street lamp, watching as the child refused to budge. Her father didn’t see the woman, and neither did the social worker. That day was the first of many days they walked right past the figure without noticing her.

Chantee Hale said...

Name: Chanteé Hale
Title: HEAT
Genre: YA sci-fi

Pitch: Seventeen-year-old Arie has learned to count on one thing - her boyfriend Steven will always come back. This time she can't wait. She’s pregnant and her city is melting down in the rising heat.

A single electronic note shivers through my ears, working its way into my brain. The music caresses me – or maybe it’s my boyfriend’s fingertips running down the curve of my back – as the high pitched note of an emergency siren ricochets through my mind.

My heart stops at the siren’s sound. I lean into my boyfriend, unwilling to leave his embrace, although my mind is already clawing its way through images of death. His jaw, encrusted with golden stubble, scrapes across my temple, leaving my face feeling raw. The sensation burns through me, down my throat. It rips past my scorched heart and down to pit of my stomach, frighteningly full.

I’ve held onto my secret for a month now, waiting for him to steal back to my side. I knew tonight had to be the night, but I didn’t know it could be the last thing I’d say to him.

Leaning forward, my lips brushing his ear, I whisper his name: “Steven.”

He doesn’t respond, completely absorbed in the fantasyland displayed around us. I follow his gaze with my own, expecting the worst. In the pale light cast by a holographic satyr, a girl whose ruffled skirt barely covers her thong is dancing, her hips grinding seductively. The emergency siren’s echoing cry is meaningless compared to this. Every muscle in my body tenses, every bit of fear that he’s been playing me rising like bile in my mouth.

Anonymous said...

Name: Laurie Litwin
Genre: YA Contemporary

One sentence pitch: When she is unexpectedly dumped, Taylor Stewart's delicate facade crumbles and she finds herself turning to alcohol to solve her problems, only to find herself in a dangerous situation that will change her life forever.

First 250:

“I think we should do our own thing this year.” The words tumble out of Blake’s mouth, breaking the silence in the car. He reaches for the radio and turns it off. The only sound is the whistling of the wind through a small crack in the window.

“Huh?” I do a double take, whipping my head to the left. I shift my body in the passenger seat to face him. The scenery outside blurs into a tangle of brown limbs and green leaves as I narrow my eyes and concentrate on him.

"But we're going to see a movie?" It comes out as a question. We never go to the movies. We never go on dates. But tonight he agreed.

His hand is gripping the wheel so tight, his knuckles are stretched and white. His right arm is locked and straight, forming a barrier between us. He's wearing my favorite shirt. It's blue and green and has tiny lines forming a plaid pattern. I picked it out for him when we visited Chicago over the summer.

“It’s not you, babe. It’s senior year and we both need to let loose and have fun.”

“Are you serious?” The pitch of my voice rises two octaves above normal. My stomach does a flip. I turn my body so I am once again facing forward. I push a lock of hair out of my face and behind my right ear.

“We are happy together.” My voice is so low there’s no way he can hear me.

Mim said...

Name: Mim Caldwell
Title: Nightfallen
Genre: YA Paranormal

Pitch: Lexy must choose between obeying her family or following Kaden, a werewolf, for a chance to save Jason, the boy — I mean zombie of her dreams.

250 Words:

Three men rush me from the corners of the room. My dad stands against the fourth wall watching. I wipe the sweat out of my eyes before spinning and kicking the first of my attackers. I wince as I hear the muffled thud and his groan. The other two don’t slow down, though I know they want to.

The second attacker raises the wooden practice sword. He’s armed, I’m not. I duck down and away from him sweeping my leg in a kick low to the ground. He loses his balance and topples down. I grab the sword and turn blocking the the swing of the third attacker. He meets my gaze, blue eyes steady. With a practiced flip of my sword tip, I disarm him, and thrust my sword towards his throat, stopping just before I strike.

“It’s not natural,” says John. He’s the first one that fell today. “I’m telling you there is something unholy in the way she moves.” He stands and crosses himself before backing away from me.

“She’s been training since she could walk,” my dad says. A smile is on his face, the same one I always see when he wants to show me off to a visitor. Smugness and it doesn’t always have to do with me. “You should see her fighting the infected. You want that speed when you’re surrounded. She’s saved more than one life with the way she moves.”

“Still I’ll be glad when it’s time for me to move on,” John shudders and leaves the room without asking for my father’s permission.

Robin said...

Name: Robin Hall
Title: Lovesense
Genre: Magical Realism

Relationship reading Rae doesn't believe in love until she sees her soul mate in a photograph, but there’s a catch: she doesn't know who he is.

I’m tapping my cross trainers in time with the photo processor’s whir, whir, flip as it spews three hundred prints of the same two smiling faces. No more reading relationships at work, I remind myself. Never again, especially after last week’s debacle with Mom’s friend Barb. Trust me, being the first to know that your mom’s best friend’s husband is leaving her for their pool boy sucks the big one.

I will not be weak today. I’m breathing out of my burning, Altoids-crammed mouth and eyeing the trashcan, wanting to spit Altoids faster than the machine prints pictures. But if I do, some seriously foul odors are going to invade.

When I see a photo of a couple, my nose goes into overdrive and then my eyes cross. Next thing I know, I’ve read when their relationship will sour like the stink on cheese. I’d much rather look at engagement pictures and see what the rest of the world sees: two people in love. But I’m not that lucky.

I sneak a quick look at the screen. One hundred thirty-seven copies done. Not even halfway there. I spray Windex on the counter and put my weight into cleaning the glass to a streak free shine. Whir, whir, flip. The machine is louder than our cheesy elevator music. Don’t think about the photo.

My track record is horrid. If I look, the bride will definitely pick up these pictures, and right on time too. So I’m not looking. But I peek, just a little, at the edge of the screen, getting a nose full of raunch.

Anonymous said...

Name: Michelle Mason
Genre: MG magical realism

Being whisked into the music is ok when it’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” but 13-year-old violin prodigy Miranda Harper could do without visiting “Psycho” or—even worse—being trapped forever in an alternate reality.


I knew it wasn’t really possible. Near perfection, yes. Total perfection, no way.

I’d learned that lesson after years of playing the violin. Something that sounded flawless to the average person was bound to have minuscule errors.

A tone so slightly off pitch that even someone with a highly trained ear couldn’t tell.

A note played a hundredth of a beat too soon.

A bow pulled at the wrong speed to produce the right sound.

A measure performed in mezzo piano instead of pianissimo.

Joshua Bell, classical music superstar and my idol, once said: “When it’s perfect, I feel like I can do no wrong. I could change my fingers--do it on a different string--because I have that much concentration. Also, you feel like you’re inside the music.”

That was what I wanted to feel--that I was inside the music. That I was the music.

I especially wanted that sensation today, my first day as concertmaster of the youth symphony.

Miranda Harper: concertmaster. I loved the sound of it. I should have had the title last season, but Dr. Kamensky had said I needed a year to observe. It probably hadn’t helped that my first year was the previous concertmaster’s final year before college, and it would have really sucked to be bumped by a seventh grader.

Instead he’d named me principal second violinist. At least we’d played some Mozart. Good old Wolfgang sometimes let the second violins outshine the firsts.

Now it was my turn to shine, and we weren’t playing Mozart today.

Kaitlin Adams said...

NAME: Kaitlin Adams
GENRE: YA Fantasy
If sixteen-year-old Lori Gibbs impresses the Talent Show judges, her parents get to move into the palace for life- but if she fails to impress, she'll hang.
My talent was about the only thing that made my parents happy. And in my sixteen years of experience, I had learned their happiness usually ended in my suffering. So when they called me for dinner, their voices high and excited, a hard knot formed in the pit of my stomach. I walked into the kitchen where they sat at the table, holding hands and smiling. The knot in my stomach grew.

“Lori,” Mom said, “sit down.”

I stayed where I was. Our best silver platters were piled high with fish, chicken, and rice. Fruit and rolls topped our porcelain bowls. And our crystal pitchers were filled to the brim with tea. Eating well was not rare for us. Eating for a family of ten was.

Dad cleared his throat. “Your mother and I,” he said, “have decided-”

“Wait until she sits,” Mom said.

I didn’t sit, and I didn’t touch the food. It wasn’t like it was poisoned. If I died, my talent would die with me, and then I’d be about as valuable as the platter of dead fish were to their parents. But if they were going to wait until I sat to tell me what they were about to tell me, I’d stand for the rest of my life.

They exchanged a glance and then looked back to me.

Dad sighed. “It’s time,” he said.

I leaned against the table and tried to soften my glare. “Time for what?” I asked, even though we all knew I knew.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Name: Angelica R. Jackson
Genre: YA Urban fantasy

Avery wants to evict the creature who has taken residence in her boyfriend's body--until she starts to fall for the corbin, and learns sending him back before he has fulfilled his mission will plunge our world into another Dark Age.

First 250:
Mom woke me as we hit the outskirts of Crow's Rest. "Brace yourself, Avery Girl." It's what she'd said the first time we'd come to visit Uncle Tam, and every time since, as we got close to town—and the Castle. Anticipation and dread surged through me as I sat up.

The June air streamed in through the open window, coating my tongue with heat and iron-rich dust. Houses flashed by: a few McMansions probably foreclosed on before they'd even been built out, along with the farmhouses from the 1840s on. Buzzing insects circled the weeds, already drying and brittle among the oaks.

As we took that last curve on the approach, tree branches arched over the road, blocking our view until there it stood—a castle, a brick anomaly glowing red in the afternoon light. Looming over the Gold-Rush-era town from the top of a hill, making my shutter finger itch. The usual mass of turkey vultures and ravens soared above it, sinisterizing the turrets even more.

"The Castle's so solidly out of place," I said to my mom, "but kind of elemental. Like it grew here with the oaks."

"Is that the start of one of your poems?" Mom teased. "Material for your next show?"

"Maybe," I said, with a quirk of a smile.

Mom was overly-proud of my first gallery show, featuring my photographs and digital paintings paired with three-line, atmospheric poems.

Lela Casey said...

Name: Lela Casey
Title: Liora
Genre: YA Coming of Age

From behind my book, I watch them, the Empty Ones. Once upon a time they were girls, just like me, jumping rope and forming secret spy clubs.

But then Adolescence, the Grim Reaper of childhood, slinked in beside them, hissing sweet secrets in their ears.
“You’ll be the belle of the ball.” he breathed. “Boys will love you” he purred. “Girls will kill to be like you,” he whispered.

And one by one they succumbed to him, handing him their souls in exchange for a shiny pink cell phone and a new pair of boobs.

The Empty Ones seek each other out, forming bands of mindless drones that prowl the mall with only one goal in mind: Boys.
Because without their souls, what choice do they have? Someone has to tell them they’re pretty and smart and skinny. Someone has to fill their hearts back up.

And what happens to the rest of us? The ones the Grim Reaper has neglected?

Mostly we try to blend in. The Empty Ones can be ferocious.

As I lay here on the grass, my I spying eyes concealed behind a hardcover copy of Villete, I see them, strutting and giggling and bouncing and I feel.. I feel….


A white object comes hurtling towards my face. I try to seek cover under the shelter of my book, but as usual, my reflexes suck. The ball smacks me right in the middle of the forehead and sends me hurtling towards the ground.

Chris V said...

Name: Chris V
Genre: middle-grade epic fantasy

Pitch: Branded "ungifted," twelve-year-old Dwyth flees his village of telepathic Luddites and enters the enemy technocracy, Metrod City, where he discovers his true talent—an awesome power he'll need to prevent his homeland's decimation.

250 words (I specify where I use italics):

Dwyth Oruf focused on the giant lizard a few feet in front of him. He extended his Telepathic Influence toward it like a finger, and poked its brain.

Come on, you big stupid lizard—let me in! [this para is in italics]

Two hundred and fifty pounds of tough yellow skin and muscle—all of which stood completely still inside his log hut—stared back at him. The beast’s head came up to his waist, and the rest of its thick, seven-foot long body lay sprawled behind it.

Zeph, the older boy who stood a few feet to the side of the lizard and was administering Dwyth the test, also had his gaze trained on Dwyth. If Zeph hadn’t been controlling the beast with his Influence, it would’ve been running wild around the straw-floored hut.

Dwyth gritted his teeth. It wasn’t working. He couldn’t penetrate the lizard’s brain with his own Influence. No matter how hard he tried.

No surprise there. But no way was he giving up. Not this time. Of all times, not this time—his last chance to be somebody.

Come on, come on…[last sentence in italics] He tightened his mind’s extension, made it firmer to pierce through.

Please, just this once…[italics]

Then he felt Zeph’s Influence give a tug, and the beast slithered up to Zeph, who tenderly stroked its head.

No—that couldn’t be it! It was over too quick.

“I think that’ll do, Dwyth,” Zeph said softly.

“No—wait.” Dwyth’s voice reached a high pitch. “Give me another chance. I swear, I got it this time.”

Robbin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amber said...

SCREEN NAME: Amber Mauldin
GENRE: YA narrative memoir

Fifteen-year-old Amber has to choose between extending her foreign exchange trip to stay with the boy she loves, or return to Va. to testify against the man who kidnapped and raped her.

I know at any moment he’ll kill me. His scorching breath is on my neck. His odor is imbedded in my nose. It’s only been minutes since he crawled off me, but the rape keeps replaying in my mind, torturing me over and over again.

He’s had me in his clutches for at least an hour. Or maybe it has been ten minutes.

Time seems to stop right before you die.

Why am I still alive? What more- I stop myself. I won’t think about how he plans to kill me. And besides, I refuse to die in whatever way he’s chosen. I’m certain I won’t live much longer, but there is one thing I can do, if escaping is out of the question. I will not be going home to my family tonight, but I will send them my killer, my rapist, or rather his DNA buried beneath my fingernails when they find my dead body. At the first sign he’s done with me, I’ll strike. I know the second I claw his face off he’ll end my life. So I wait, patiently, for him to try to kill me.

The car stops. This is the moment.

He lets go of my head and snarls, “If you tell anyone, I’ll kill you,” then reaches across me and thrusts open the door.

I see my escape and move so quickly I topple out backwards onto the curb.

Daylight is almost gone, granting me just enough luminescent to see my surroundings.

mm.runyan said...

Name: Michelle Runyan
Genre: YA Steampunk

Pitch: After she's thrown off a moving train, Aurora wakes to find that her father and her best friend are most likely dead, the United States is under attack from Austria-Hungary, and she might be the only one with the means to stop them.

5:18. When I was a child, and fussing that I had nothing to do, Papa would tell me, “Aurora, you’re the brightest girl I know, so there is no reason for you to look glum and complain that you have nothing to do. There is an enormous world out there and it needs to be explored. Go. Explore.” Then he’d push me out into the hallway.

That was when I was a child. That was before Garrett.

I look down at Papa’s pocket watch. 5:24. My ruminations have only taken six minutes and I let the case on the watch snap shut, wanting some sort of physical proof to my irritation. Boredom should not be on my itinerary -- hadn’t Papa assured me I’d have plenty to do? Plenty to distract me from the wreckage of my coming out ball? From the fight I’d had with Garrett?

I put the pocket watch into my reticule and stand up in the small room, looking from side to side and out the window, searching for something to do. Just as the last time I looked there is nothing, and I heave a loud sigh for the benefit of the empty room. Papa has probably run into one of his colleagues, which could mean hours of discussion on matters “not for the ears of a lady.” If that is the case, he probably won’t be back until the train has stopped in Fairhaven.

Writer Tessa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wendy Jo said...

Name: Wendy Knight
Title: Feudlings
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Two teenagers on opposite sides of a magical war must find and kill each other to bring it to an end, but falling in love with the nemesis Arianna has been hunting her entire life is not part of the plan – especially when he tries to kill her.

First 250:
The heavy oak doors flew open and crashed into the walls on either side. The Duke looked up from his desk to see his only child storm through them with all the fury of a hurricane. Ada’s blond hair was loose and tumbling about her shoulders, despite common decency demanding she wear it up, and her light brown eyes sparkled with indignant rage. Licks of red fire sparked, unnoticed, from her fingertips as she advanced on him.
“Father, I demand you send them away at once!” she shrieked. He sat back in his chair and sighed. Ada was known for her temper. In hindsight, it was possible he had spoiled her a little. But even this display was more than he usually saw. His eyes strayed to the window, taking in smoke from the distant factories of industrialized England, and he prayed for patience.
“Ada.” He raised his eyebrows and cast a meaningful look at her hands, where sparks still shot from her fingertips and singed the expensive rugs beneath her feet. She was an Edren sorceress; red fire flowed through her blood the same as it did any Edren flame thrower.
She looked down in confusion, realized she was throwing hot embers on her silk skirts, and waved her hands dismissively, her eyes narrowing in annoyance. “Father! Are you listening to me?”
“Yes, Ada. Who am I dismissing immediately?” the Duke heaved a long-suffering sigh.
“Governess Buttercroft and her two children.” The Duke steepled his fingertips and studied his daughter. This was a surprise.

Sareh said...

Name: Sareh Lovasen
Genre: YA science fiction

In the future, seventeen-year-old Xander Fletcher, just wanted to win a hoverbike tournament, but when his friends and family are charged with crimes, can he prove their innocence or will more people die?

“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the twenty-first annual Skywind Hoverbike Tournament!” the announcer boomed in Xander Fletcher’s ear piece. He knew that in homes across the world millions of viewers were cheering with excitement. Even though it was his first time competing in the race, this fact did not make him nervous. Xander was more nervous about how he would do, competing against hoverbike veterans from around the world. He drummed his fingers against his pants and then wiped sweating palms on them. The young racer flipped open the control panel attached to his sleek black and blue suit and adjusted the temperature to a colder degree.

Xander stared around the lounge, watching his competitors mill aimlessly around, chat with other people, or like himself, stand alone. He already had had several of the other racers come up and talk to him. Including his idol, Luke Aachen, the best hoverbike racer in the world.

He had been dreaming of entering this tournament since the very first time he had ridden a hoverbike ten years ago. Even though he had been seven at the time, the dream of being the best hoverbike racer in the world had stuck like super glue.

Tonight was the deciding vote, his whole dream depended on whether or not he won. If Xander did, not only would he be the youngest person in the world to win a Skywind Tournament, but it would finally convince the Academy to let him become a professional racer.

Ryan said...

Name: Ryan James Burt
Title: Bodyguarding Evil
Genre: YA Paranormal
Word Count: 54,000

She is pure evil and has a plan to take over and control the world but thousands will do anything and everything to kill her and her bodyguard.

A thin line of drool was dripping down from a foot long tusk and almost fell on my head. I hate drool. I guess no one really likes drool, but this slobber is even worse than what people imagine when they first think of saliva. It is thicker than most slimes and it has a green hue to it. As horrible as the drool is the drooler is even worse. Imagine an ugly hairy walrus but instead of the tusks pointing down they point up. Then put this hairy ugly walrus head on top of a giant man. The drool is falling off this ugly walrus face because it is mad. Luckily for me I am not the object of this madness. I am just a measly little assistant. I am no more than a gopher.

What is a little assistant doing next to a salivating walrus headed giant? I am the assistant of the person Mr. Ugly is looking at. My boss used to be a bounty hunter. He was paid to hunt down anything weird or unusual that needed to be brought before the AHT. The Alternate Human Tribunal. The governing body of all Alternate Humans. Alternate Humans is the politically correct term for anything supernatural. Ugly walrus head is an Alternate Human. I am not sure what type but I am sure he is one. Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, zombies and the like are all Alternate Human life forms. I helped him hunt, track and sometimes kill these Alternate Humans.

Writer Tessa said...

Name: Tessa
Genre: YA Thriller

Sixteen-year-old P.I. agency intern Jayna Kumar pisses off the wrong people while investigating her best friend’s murder, a death the police ruled a suicide—she needs to catch the killer before the killer catches her.

No one ever suspects the nerdy brown chick. That’s one of the top ten reasons I kick ass at this job: junior-investigator-in-training at ACE—Action, Confidentiality, Excellence—P.I. Agency.
I take a sip of my chai latte and look over the well-gelled heads and blown-dry locks of the business casual set crammed into Starbucks. It’s the middle of the week, but summer means casual Fridays don’t just happen on Fridays.
The PUS—party under surveillance—runs a finger along the collar of his pale blue button up. He’s a good-looking guy for someone who’s almost thirty. He glanced my way when I came in but hasn’t looked at me since. He doesn’t see me as a threat. What kind of threat has frizzy hair—I don’t blow dry let alone use the round brush when I head out on assignment—wears oversized glasses, baggy jeans and a T-shirt three sizes too big, and lugs around a five-ton calculus textbook in the middle of summer vacation? He probably figures I’m too engrossed in maintaining my four point oh to get into a great college and then an awesome med school. Or a crappy med school in the Caribbean. Who cares as long as I wind up a doctor, right? Isn’t that every brown kid’s dream?
Um, no.
But whatever. Keep believing the stereotype, folks. As long as you don’t pay attention to me paying attention to you, it’s all good.
I flip the page of Calculus Made Simple and doodle a smiley face in my Mead notebook so it looks like I’m studying.

Feaky Snucker said...

Tamara Mataya
Upper YA urban fantasy

When the corrupt fae council manipulates Syxx into attending a Fae breeding ceremony, she has three options; submit, die, or overthrow the system.

My hearing may suffer for it tomorrow, but I can't resist dancing in front of the huge speakers. My heart screams with joy as the bassline tattoos its heady rhythm across my skin, further claiming me with every pulsing beat. I suffered on a greyhound bus for thirty seven hours to see this band, and there's no way I'm going to go all shrinking wallflower now.
The concert ended an hour ago. I follow – (stalk) - the band's blog, and when I read Beajenn was throwing an after party at a club downtown, I had to go. Anyone can go to the concert, but everyone knows that the after party is where the magic happens. Or so I've heard. I've never actually been to one before. The band isn't here yet, but the club has been playing their CD. I dance a little harder when my favourite song plays. I move with complete abandon. Owned by the beat, I don't think about what my next movement will be. I move with the sound, becoming the music, losing myself in it.
I'm not the only one. All around me people are smiling and dancing. My favourite song is their favourite song. They love my favourite band. Affection surges through me. I grin at the girl dancing nearby. She's mouthing the words as she stomps and sways, too caught up to notice me. Seeing how the music has snared her makes me happier than if we'd shared the moment.

erin said...

Name: Erin Rosener
Genre: YA Sci-fi (soft!)

When Lily goes back in time to search for her mom and save her best friend, she never could have anticipated what she'd find, or the price she'd have to pay.

The siren shattered the quiet library lullaby of fluttering pages and whispered voices. Lily cringed at the three long, ear-piercing bursts, and strained to hear the garbled voice over the school’s audio system. Just as the floor began to shudder, she swept her bag into her arms and dove under the table. Her face landed inches from the scuffed boots of the guy who’d been sitting across from her.

“Get under the table!” Lily grabbed the white cord hanging from his pocket, yanking the earbuds from his ears.

Understanding finally dawned, and the color drained from his face. He fumbled with his notebooks as though protecting them was more important than keeping his head intact.

“Leave it! You need to get down!”

He half fell from his chair and
upended it as he slid under the table. They both curled into the position that had been drilled into their brains--heads between their knees with fingers laced over their necks.

Her hammering heartbeat and the dull thumping sound of books shaken loose from their shelves filled her ears. All she could feel was the rough carpet under her knees and his warm breath coming fast and hard against her arm.

The unmistakable sound of cracking glass made her stomach do a sickening flip. She hugged her arms tighter around her head as the small window behind them exploded, sending shards of glass skittering over the tables.

Then it was done; and it took Lily the space of several shaky breaths to understand that the ground had stilled, and her hands were only shaking of their own volition.

Dannie Morin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeanmarie Anaya said...

Name: Jeanmarie Anaya
Genre: Contemporary YA

PITCH: Crushing on the hottest senior in school whose already got the perfect girlfriend makes sixteen-year-old artist Abby Wheeler a card-carrying member of the Losers In Love Club, until a shady frenemy with similar woes proposes a foolproof plan for attaining the unattainable, but it’s got social suicide written all over it.

First page:

No less than five minutes into Global Studies and I already had a migraine. The first stab of pain pierced my left eyeball right after I shoved my hand into a paper bag and pulled out a slip of paper with Ian Koch’s name scrawled on it.

“First partnership: Ian Koch and Abby Wheeler!” Mr. Rausch said with a flourish as he handed the paper bag of names to his next victim.

You could hear a pin drop. The entire class looked up at Mr. Rausch like he’d said, “Ian Koch and Osama bin Laden!” They all stared at Ian with these big, concerned eyes, like he was going to the gallows or something.

Really? Was I that bad of a partner? I might not have been valedictorian material, but I wasn’t exactly special needs either.

Ian lifted one hand, looking like it pained him to wave me over. Great. Exactly where I wanted to sit—the front row. I threw my bag over the back of the chair next to him, then slammed my ass down so hard I almost paralyzed myself.

I don’t like sitting up front. Aside from looking like a bonafide dork, Mr. Rausch has this charming habit of spitting whenever he gets passionate about war (which, in Global History, is just about every day). And since they don’t sell spit-shields in the school supplies section at Staples, I usually steer clear of the front row. Hiding somewhere in the middle suits me just fine, anyway.

Dannie Morin said...

NAME: Dannie Morin
Title: FINE
Genre: YA Contemporary

The sole survivor of an attempted triple murder, sixteen-year-old Abbie Benson turns to her dead father's first love--cocaine--and a boy her friends despise to prove that she is FINE.

I’m a friggin’ miracle. Sorta.

That’s what my dad always says anyway. He’s said it twice so far today, first as I helped him straighten his tie and later when I pinned the delicate stephanotis to his lapel.

My biological mother died the day after I was born. Complications from pregnancy combined with cystic fibrosis. She knew going into the whole ‘I’m keeping the baby, no matter what’ thing that it could kill her. That I could kill her. She wasn’t even supposed to be able to have kids because of the disease she passed down to me. So, yeah, I was her miracle. Or her “accident,” as my dad once said when he was high. I’m still not sure he was kidding.

Miracle or not, I got pretty lucky. CF hasn't kept me from wearing this pale peach bridesmaid’s dress and standing up for my dad tonight. I help his bride, Angela, pull the last of what seems like a million bobby pins out of her hair, letting it cascade down the back of her new, white linen suit in elaborate blonde curls. I wish I had her hair. Instead I inherited my birth mother's dark, boring brown hair, along with lungs that don’t work right, a too-thin frame, and a piss poor immune system.

“Are you sure you won’t come with us?” Angela asks.

“Yeah, I’m sure. I’ll hang out at the new place, get the rest of my summer reading done, you know. I’ll be fine.”

Rachel Russell said...

Name: Rachel Russell
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Catalina loathes mucking manure from the pegasus' stalls at the Myth Rescue Center, but fleeing murderous mages isn't exactly the alternative she pictured.

Catalina glanced at the closed door, wishing someone would come in and rescue her from this douchebag. “I told you already, I’ve never seen him before in my life.”

Marshal Sycamore slammed his hands on the table.

Catalina flinched in the plastic chair. She shifted her weight, her shoulders aching from the awkwardness of having her hands cuffed behind her back. It would figure she’d get caught bypassing the security check-point her very first time doing it. How could she be so stupid?

“Now, Ms. Bramson, I know you’re lying. Why else would you look so guilty?” He leaned forward, smirking, his southern gentleman’s accent greasy enough to coax rust off iron. “I urge you to make this easy on yourself and just come out with it.”

Catalina’s face heated. “I’m telling you the truth!”

Like hell she’d confess anything to him. Maybe the Marshal could smell the secrets on her, maybe he couldn’t. Until she knew more, her lips stayed sealed. A bead of sweat ran down the side of her face. If Marshal Sycamore so much as suspected what she’d done—told Will about everything—some serious shit awaited her.

The Marshal loosened the cravat tied at his neck, pulling it out from under his waistcoat. “Do I strike you for a fool?”

“Not initially.” Despite the churning of her stomach, she forced a tight smile. Play it cool. Just play it cool and she’d make it out of this in one piece. He had yet to hint about Will and she wasn’t about to volunteer the information.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Name: Chantele Sedgwick
Title: BLINK
Genre: YA Thriller/Para-elements

When Karsyn discovers a pattern in the murders of teenage girls from her town, she teams up with their ghosts and the boy next door to try and find the killer ... before he finds her first.

Dead bodies didn't bother me anymore ... unless they sat up.
"It's okay, Karsyn. Just push him back down," my mom said. Her hands were full, and she went back to whatever she was doing. Not at all concerned that I almost had a heart attack when the dead man practically hugged me.
I ignored my racing heart as I placed my hands on the man's cold chest and pushed him back down on the embalming table. "I hate it when they do that." Especially when I knew them. I shivered, knowing a shower was in order as soon as possible.
My mom looked up as she set several tools on the table. She pulled her dark hair back in a ponytail, her eyes not leaving mine. "You should be used to all this by now."
"I am used to it, Mom. Just not when they sit up like that." I shivered again and backed away from the table, trying not to look at the body again. I don't know why my mom decided to be a mortician. Worst. Job. Ever. As far as I was concerned.
She laughed. "Was this the first one you've seen do that?"
"Second," I said. “The first one was a few years ago when I was down here by myself.”
“Oh, yes. I remember now. Mr. Burke, right?”
“I don’t know, Mom. I don’t remember all of their names.”

R.A.Desilets said...

Name: R.A.Desilets (Rachel)
Title: RUHE
Genre: YA Contemporary

After Sophie's vicious gossip ruins her friendships, she refuses to speak in college, but this might prove impossible with a new, complicated social circle.

My father dropped the last bag with a huff and gawked at the brownstone building. "Are you sure you don't want us to come in with you?"

I shook my head.

My mother arched her eyebrow. She looked at the measly two bags I had packed. "We could come back with more of your stuff, you know. It's not a far drive."

I shook my head. I didn't want anything else. Everything was left at home for a reason. The old letter jacket from Ched, the worn out mini-skirt... everything was a reminder of who I used to be. This was a fresh start, or it was supposed to be. I didn't know how much of a fresh start I could get here.

My mother wrapped her arms around me and held me for a little too long. I was used to this, after everything I had put them through. I patted her shoulder, attempting to let my thoughts cross to her head. It would be fine, I wanted to convince her. Of course she never heard me; it was hard to hear someone who doesn't speak. Even though I loved my parents, I had learned that they listened about as much as everyone else: They don't.

My father hugged me for a moment before walking back to the car. "We should at least bring your bags up, kiddo. What if they start asking too many questions?"

I held up the pad of paper and tried to smile convincingly.

Kristen Wixted said...

Name: Kristen Wixted
Genre: YA Contemporary

Pitch: Even though life in the big house on the lake is singed with cruelty, fifteen-year-old Penny Devlin doesn’t choose to leave and live in the safety of her brother’s home—she stays; she stays too long.

First 250:

When they find me, I hope I’m not in this closet—it smells horrible in here. It’s probably stupid to worry about the odor right now, in the last minutes of my life, but on the crime dramas the rookie detectives always throw up if the crime scene smells bad.

I don’t want my crime scene to be one where the rookie detective throws up. I want to be the beautiful sixteen-year-old whose life was taken too soon, my hair fanned out beneath me as I lie peacefully on the floor. There should be a bruise or two on my cheekbone, and my face angelic, like in a movie. I don’t think a heart-breaking crime scene is too much to ask, considering. It’s only fair.

The pathologist will find evidence of my killers under my fingernails; I will make sure of that. I hope the whole town feels terrible. “I had no idea!” they’ll say. “Penny Devlin was murdered? By—no! How awful. She was a good kid, wicked smart.”

Most of what led to this moment is in my notebook and statuses online. The detectives might not even need the pathologist’s report to solve the crime.
But a charred notebook won’t be much use to anyone, and the burned remnants of a house make for difficult crime scene investigation. I’m hoping those matches at my feet are just to scare me.

They might slice my throat, but they won’t go through with burning the whole place down.

It’s too beautiful here.

Mrs. Dub said...

Name: Laura + Ginny Sanderson
Genre: YA contemporary

Pitch: Fifteen-year-olds Liesl Jelly, a stunning SoCal cheerleader, and Minji Pak, a snarky artist from Chicago, have nothing in common until they discover that their parents’ employer has played a puzzling role in developing the prodigious talents of the 100 youth aboard a company cruise to Alaska.

“I’m so sick of you stealing every guy I try to date!” Alexa sobbed as we sat atop the hot Malibu sand on a sunny Memorial Day.

She had a point—the male gender did have a tendency to fall for me, and I had a weakness for kissing them. However, this was the sixth time she’d uttered the same line in a single afternoon, and I felt less remorseful with each confrontation.

“Please, his name is Brad. Do you really want to be the kind of girl who dates a Brad?”

“CUT!” a voice yelled from behind us. Its booming nasal tone verified it was Monty Michelson, producer extraordinaire. Monty’s present masterpiece was Ocean Cove, a reality series starring all of my friends at Ocean Cove Academy, Malibu’s swankiest (not to mention snobbiest) prep school.
“This fight is turning out to be all about Liesl. How many times have I told you that WE CAN’T SHOOT SCENES THAT CENTER AROUND LIESL?” Monty yelled in disgust.

“But sir, this fight between Alexa and Liesl is what all the sophomores are talking about,” argued the assistant director. “If we don’t include it, the viewers will lose context for other scenes we’ve already shot.”

“Fine,” Monty sighed, throwing his hands in the air. “Then get me Teegan.”

Ugh, Teegan—the actress hired to play me during pivotal scenes. Rumor had it that her name was really Amanda, but she’d changed her name to Teegan, because reality stars always use wacky names like Vesper or Peaches.

Melinda said...

Name: Melinda Gray
Genre: YA contemporary

One-sentence pitch:
Friends Summer and Ryan need to figure out that avoiding decisions doesn’t make them go away before he leaves for the wrong college with the wrong girl.

First 250:
His music is too loud—not exactly a problem, except that it’s louder than mine. I jack up my iPod. My tiny speakers can’t drown out the noise.

Especially since they aren’t just competing with music, but laughter, splashing, screams. Fun. That’s what’s on the other side of the fence.

My phone buzzes and skitters across the swing’s seat. Amber’s name flashes on the screen, followed almost immediately by Max’s. Their texts are identical. She’s headed to his house, his parents are headed out, I can come if I want.

Half an invitation from each that doesn’t add up to a whole.

Can’t make it, I text back. Family movie night.

Not a complete lie. The windows flicker with light from a DVD.

I give up the fight with the music and shut mine off. Despite the dark sky, the air is hot.

I could join my parents, but instead I stay outside, between my house and Ryan’s, pushing myself in the swing, digging my bare toes into the grass, listening to the party I’m definitely not invited to.

Until the soccer ball lands in my lap.

I clutch it and blink into the darkness, trying to see if anyone’s there to claim it.

A head pops over the back fence, followed by a body, which lands with a two-footed thump on my side.

“Nice one, man,” Ryan yells over the fence, then jogs toward me.

I could throw the ball back, but I wait for him to come to me.

S.A. Turnbull said...

Name: Sarah Turnbull
Genre: YA dark fantasy

On an isolated island, beneath a canopy of resurrection ferns and palmettos, a preternatural plague is unleashed on a grotesquely insular Victorian colony when orphans Haeden and Veanne unearth the dark legacy of their bloodline.

First 250
Inside a black oak coffin, Raymond Able lay carefully arranged with arms neatly folded across his cold body. Gold-rimmed spectacles tucked inside the left pocket of his vest, the chain of his still ticking pocket watch dangled from the right.

“At this time individuals may step forth, if they so wish, and share pleasant reminiscences of the doctor,” said Alister Wraeb. The satin hem of the high parson’s robe brushed over mottled grass, collecting specks of damp leaves. “Governor, perhaps you would begin?”

With a measured wave of his gloved hand, Edric Caruman declined. His eyes, a brighter green than usual, grew moist. Affronted by his unsuccessful movements, the spindle-back chair holding his bulky mass whimpered as he fumbled for a pocket silk.

Beneath an elaborate tower of blackberry-dyed lace, the Governor’s wife examined her husband out of the corner of her eye. She made no motion to comfort him.

A peasant girl, out of place amidst the gentry, offered out her own, tatty but clean, handkerchief.

“Here, sir.”

“Bless you, doll.” Accepting, the Governor gave the girl’s fingers an appreciative squeeze before dabbing at his eyes with the borrowed linen.

From within the throng of peasants weeping prayers, Josephine Gaeylor, coal black hair tucked into a tight bun at the nape of her slender neck, emerged.

Under a sea of bobbing top hats and black ribbon, the gentry males fidgeted with ostentatious swords garbed in unfamiliar ebony buckles. Their whispers grew heated.

Silvia said...

Name: Silvia Park
Genre: YA Fantasy

After a terrorist attack puts her mother, an infamous politician, in a coma, fourteen-year-old Misha uses a spell to disguise herself as her mother in order to find out why someone would want her mother dead.

When Misha started seeing holes in people, she told her aunt. This happened about three years ago and at the time, she didn’t think too much of it. She reasoned she was eleven, she was scared, and her mother was never home. The last part was only half-true.

Misha folded her hands in her lap as her mother slammed a white stone on the table. It was midnight and the chandelier in the living room was dimmed to a soothing shade, pale as the newborn moon. A fly buzzed, fat and confused by too much space. Every night Misha faced her mother across a giban, a square table with squat legs, to play baduk. Every night it was a game of war constrained to an innocuous grid on a polished wooden surface.

“Your turn,” her mother said. “Try and attack.”

Fine-boned with a face of white glass, her mother was a doll of a woman who wore purple toe socks, the socks of middle-aged men inflicted with athlete’s foot. The toes were wiggling, a sign that her mother had laid a trap, a good one at that.

Baduk was nothing like chess. No king, no queen, no pawns. The stones equally didn’t matter, so long as they made territory. Misha chewed her lower lip to mush. Too many white stones had lodged into the upper board, cutting off resource points, staking her land as theirs.

The future of the Black Stone Kingdom looked bleak.

Correction: Black Stone Republic.

Brandi M. Lynch said...

Name: Brandi M. Lynch
Genre: YA Fantasy

When sixteen-year-old Trisha starts hanging out with willfully unsociable Jesse, she is drawn into his struggle to rid himself of a cursed gateway and blood magic while learning the reason behind her sister’s suicide.

First Page:
Kelsie draped across the bed. The pink and white quilt she didn’t have the heart to tell Grandma she didn’t like had slipped halfway off so it puddled on the floor. Her golden hair draped over the edge of the mattress, too, like the clocks in the Dali painting we studied in Art last year. The smoky eye shadow around her green eyes was perfect, her rose-tinted lip gloss smudge-free on her parted lips. She stared at me but didn’t see me. A wondrous smile stole across her expression, and an empty pill bottle with our father’s name printed neatly on the label rested loosely in her manicured fingers. Even as my lungs filled to call for help, hers exhaled her last breath. Her frozen smile mocked the tears that ruined my mascara. The DVD slipped from my shaking fingers and I began to scream.

I was almost downstairs before I realized that no one was home. Dad was still at his office, and our mother had gone to the salon to have her hair highlighted. She’d offered to take us too when she made the appointment, but it was Kelsie’s first trip home from college, and I had begged her to spend the day with me. We hadn’t seen each other since summer, and I was dying to tell her about this guy. I was going to bring it up during the movie… but her plans were different than mine.

The police came; I couldn’t remember if I’d called them.

Meredith said...

Name: Meredith Johnson
Title: Southern Gypsy
Genre YA Paranormal


After rejecting her Gypsy culture to try and fit in with the oh-so-proper southern belles in her small North Carolina town, 16-year-old Rawnie Stevens is forced to rediscover her secretive roots in an effort to save her boyfriend after witnessing his future murder during their first kiss.

First 250:

Jenny’s fingers typed away on her lime-green laptop as she googled my name. The sound soothed my anxiety until she shut off the computer and started frantically organizing my closet. Being best friends with the product of some weird science experiment involving Martha Stewart and Mark Zuckerberg came with its perks.

“Relax. The internet world is still Rawnie-free. You’re just overblowin’ this whole thing,” Jenny said.

“I am such a freak!”

I smashed the pink polka dot pillow against my face, hoping to smother the vision burned into my brain. Flinging your body into a snow cone stand right in the middle of your first kiss was bad enough, but having it filmed by half the school on their cell phones practically guaranteed instant YouTube fame.

“Stop bein’ so dramatic Rawnie.”

That was easy for her to say. She still didn’t know what caused the whole horrible kissing debacle.

Maybe she was right. Doubtful, but it didn’t really matter. What I saw when Seth kissed me was much worse than my falling social status. Why didn’t I listen to my mom’s wild stories about the family “gift?” I was so concerned about looking normal that I tuned her out. It never seemed possible, but the only other option included a free stay at the psych ward. Either way, most normal sixteen-year-old girls didn’t see their boyfriend’s murder during a kiss.

“He was dead.” The words flew out of my mouth before I could stop them.

Claire Gillian said...

Name: Iris St. Clair
Genre: YA Contemporary

When a teen discovers her popular, trusted teacher is a sexual predator, she must make a difficult choice—snitch but become the school pariah, or hold her tongue for a shot at the boy who got away.

I hadn't meant to say a word, hadn’t meant to talk about my whacked out home life—that was nobody’s business but mine—but he was Mr. H. He said he wanted me to open up to him. I didn’t realize he meant my legs. Bastard.

I pull my limbs in tighter to my chest where I’m perched on the toilet seat in the girls’ bathroom, every breath held in check to prevent my hiding place from being discovered. I don't have a hall pass. I didn't think he'd offer one after I wrenched myself out of his arms and ran for the door. I damn sure wasn't going to ask.

He said he understood my unique "situation", said he wanted to help. Everybody loves Mr. H, the most popular teacher in school. He listens when kids talk to him. He nods and asks gentle questions, never pushes, never judges. Why wouldn't I have trusted him?

Maybe it was my fault. Maybe I looked at him the wrong way, said something more suggestive than I'd intended.

I snatch a shuddery breath of the blissful silence, comforted by my solitude in the bathroom. For now anyway.

Why was I so stupid? I didn't pull away...not soon enough. So that had to be my fault, didn't it?

I can't believe he kissed me. Why'd I let him? I should have dodged him when I first saw him moving closer. I should have pulled away, shouldn't have let it go on as long as it did.

RAD - Dot Painter said...

Name: Rachel A. Dillon
Title: The Lion Within
Genre: Science Fiction

Sixteen-year-old Renna Healy already had anger issues, and when an enraged lion attacks and infects her with a secret virus, her rage becomes nearly uncontrollable--but she'll need to learn to tame her temper and new abilities if she's to be prepared to stop the lion and end a natural disaster.

Insects skittered across the outside of the shower curtain. Renna ignored them and focused on the warm bucket of water running through the spout over her head. After two years in Kenya she had the timing down. Three minutes. Shampoo. Soap. Rinse. Fast.

She couldn’t remember how many days it had been since she’d thoroughly washed up. The village was a dusty place and water was heavy to carry. But she wanted to be clean for her last hiking date with her dad. And showering had other benefits. Renna knew her boyfriend Sean loved running his fingers through her thick brown hair after she conditioned. Only one week, she thought, and I have to say goodbye to the only guy I’ve ever fallen for. She bit her lip to keep from crying, again.

A flash of green distracted Renna. Climbing in the middle of the shower curtain was a lime green beetle about the length of her pointer finger. She’d never seen a specimen like it. It stopped, lifted its wings, and vibrated them without taking flight. A chainsaw-like hum shook its platform. Renna jumped a little and the other bugs flew away or plopped to the floor.

Cool, she thought. With soap running down her cheeks, dangerously close to her eyes, Renna leaned around the curtain to get a better look. It would be a perfect subject for her next painting. She smiled.

“Ren,” Sean’s voice called from outside the hut.

“Crap,” she mumbled leaning back into the water.

Amanda said...

Name: Amanda Burckhard
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Caught in a wager between God and Lucifer, psychic Alita accidentally unleashes The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and sending them back to the stinking hellhole they crawled out of requires sacrificing the boy she loves.

I clutched my head, wincing in pain. No, please no. Not again. The throbbing intensified. I pushed my chair away from the desk, trying not to draw attention to myself. My heart hammered with erratic beats. I flashed Mrs. Thompson a weak smile. She eyed me curiously, but didn’t pause in her lecture on mythology. I let my long curtain of hair shield the painful expression I couldn’t mask any longer.

I ducked into the hallway and leaned against the wall. Bending over and bracing my hands on my knees, I took a deep breath. Searing heat pooled in my stomach.

Don’t throw up. It’ll pass. Calm down.

Another breath. Another. It didn’t help.

The light above me flickered. A harsh thumping echoed in my ears and images flashed in my mind. My eyes stung with fresh tears. I covered them, trying to block out the pain and panic.


Mobs of men attacked each other.


Fires ravaged forests, fields, and cities.


Livestock covered in black sores died where they fell.


A gentle hand touched my shoulder. “Are you alright?” a voice asked.

The pain stopped. My pulse calmed and my stomach settled. The images and drumming ceased. I uncovered my eyes to see a boy I didn’t recognize.

“I’m fine.” The words were barely coherent. I straightened. My cheeks warmed and I wiped my eyes before hurrying back into the room, wishing I could run much farther away. Being branded some freak extraordinaire was the last thing I needed right now.

Robbin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Valerie Lawson
YA Contemporary

Sara Peterson, a 16 year-old girl admitted to Whispering Sands under false pretenses, has to navigate the unfamiliar and often violent world of true deviants and sociopaths by pretending to be one so she can get back home in time to save her sister from the real psycho in the family.

That last rum and Coke was a big mistake. I gripped the aluminum ladder. The world swirled around me. I burped and the sickly sweet smell made me gag. Mom would be so proud. I giggled at the thought, letting loose with one hand and swaying a little.
“Damn it, Sara, hold on with both hands up there,” Dylan called from below.
“Shhh,” I held a finger up to my lips and looked down at my date. “I got this.” I adjusted the plastic crown that had slid to the side of my head. I smoothed down the fly-away toile of the dress I borrowed from my sister Sam, straightened my shoulders, and started climbing. Man, is this thing wobbly. I started giggling again. I tried to choke it off, but ended up snorting instead. That only made me laugh harder.
“C’mon! You’re gonna wake up your parents.”
I sighed. Dylan was getting tiresome. He’d been awesome at the Spring Fling dance. He’d told me that I was beautiful and the kissing – oh, my God. I could’ve done that all night. My heel slipped on the metal rung.
“Ahhh!” I hugged the cold metal. It felt soothing on my cheek. Everything was spinning.
“Shit!” Dylan said. “Are you all right?”
“Mmm, hmm.” I clung to the flimsy ladder, still swaying. “Gimme a minute.” Looking up, I could see my sister’s light was on. She had called me freaking out. I didn’t know why. So, I was out after curfew. No one else had noticed.

Unknown said...

Name: Robin Weeks
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

When human-pracin hybrid Brina proves she’s too powerful for a half-breed, supernatural rebels launch a world-changing coup—and Brina will have to choose between freeing the cursed pracin and preserving humanity.

Brina knew better than to go out in public looking less than her questionable best. But she was late, it was rush hour, and home was thirty minutes away by car… but only ten by air. So she dumped her school bag, gym bag, and purse in her best friend Moira’s closet, threw open the window, and sat on the sill.

“Watch out for birds,” Moira said, pulling the ponytail holder out of her long blue hair and toeing off her gym shoes. “It’s not faster if you have to go to the hospital again.” Then she smirked, lifted one slender, light blue hand, and headed off to her shower.

Brina stuck her tongue out at Moira’s long blue wings, gripped the edge of the window sill, and closed her eyes. Concentrating on the gland behind her heart, she pumped black dust into her bloodstream. When her fingertips started to tingle, she thought SMALL and opened her eyes to see the window frame slowly rising large around her as she shrank down, down, until she was the size of a small mouse, buffeted by the warm fall breeze.

With a twist and a push, she launched herself out the window into the sweltering air of San Antonio, gliding above the manicured gardens that stretched out under Moira’s window.

The first flash came from her left and, like an idiot, she twisted toward it. Which is how the photographer’s zoom lens caught her: eyes opened wide, long braid slicked back from her face with her own sweat, and limbs sticking out at startled angles from her workout tank and short-shorts.

Marianne said...

Name: Marianne Khalil
Genre: New Adult Fantasy

When skirt-chaser Silas Wolfe is confronted with news of Hades' plan to unleash a deadly plague upon the world, he learns that Mount Olympus has fallen and the spirits of the gods are now channeling their magic through him.

Silas Wolfe was used to women staring at him. He did, after all, have a reputation as the town skirt-chaser.

But he didn’t think a blind woman should see him, let alone be staring at him.

Her eyes white and gleaming, she stood frozen mere feet away from him, whereas the market was very much alive around them. He heard the shouts of gold-toothed merchants as they beckoned customers to their stalls, the laughter of the children winding down the crowded avenues, and the festive music that tied it all together. The air was warm with the scent of freshly-baked bread, an aroma rivaled only by that of the tavern nearby. Patterned cloths and the finest of furs dangled from the awnings, while more practical wares like fruits and herbs lined the streets in woven baskets.

But she stood still. Staring.

Silas ducked his head and swiftly moved to the next stall, embarrassed and slightly unnerved to think she may have been looking at him because he'd been gawking at her. Still, even after he looked away, he couldn't shake the feeling of her colorless eyes upon him.

He snuck a peek at her again.

She was still staring.

His skin chilled all too suddenly.

“Silas!” He peered over the heads of the passersby. Madeleine waved eagerly at him with their brother, Adam, in tow. He waved back, but he couldn't bring himself to smile. No, something was wrong.

Screams brought the bazaar to a complete standstill.

Anonymous said...

Name: Janeal Falor
Genre: YA Fantasy

Pitch:Seventeen-year-old Serena struggles against her Father's beatings and hexes. When she gains a new unpredictable master, she must decide if she can take a chance and stand up for herself.

First 250 words:
My blood will entice warlocks to ask for my hand in marriage, so of course Father wants it spilled. The sooner he can have the magic within it measured, the sooner he can be rid of me. Despite knowing this my whole life, I'm still unprepared for the demand. I'm not ready to enter the marriage pool. However many warlocks desire my hand, he won't think them enough to make up for my being the eldest of fourteen girls.
Is there any way to say that without a fist flying my way? Or a hex? Father hasn't done one of those in a few days. I hazard a glance at him.
The predawn rays aren't enough to brighten his face as he sits close by at his desk, just enough to cast a faint glow. I'm not worth using an electric lamp for, nor a candle. It makes it harder for him to read my expressions, at least. Easier to mask my words than my face. Yet it masks him as well. I can't tell if he's in a forgiving mood or not, but I can't stay silent. What if this is my only chance?
“Not all girls get tested at seventeen,” I say.
“You will enter the marriage pool.” Father stands.
A fist knocks my face so hard I plummet off my chair onto the wooden floor. “You're more stubborn than the Envadi. We are going.”
He marches from the study. At least it wasn't a hex.

Laura Moe said...

Name: Laura Moe
Genre: YA contemporary

Kicker Stevens joins a gang, and the stakes for staying in grow increasingly deadly.

Kicker rolled up her sleeve and studied the barbed wire on her left bicep, her skin swollen around the tattoo. Getting it turned out to be a bigger deal than she imagined, but there was no turning back. The ink etched her closer to becoming a full- fledged Flygirl.

Unknown said...

Name: Chris Shaw
Genre: YA Fantasy

When Rian learns his brother could’ve saved their father but didn’t, Rian becomes a half-willing pet for an evil that wants Rian’s brother dead.


When the soldier came, Rian stood on the porch with Mother.

He nodded to the empty praises heaped on Father, listened as the soldier’s speech marched. No pauses, no word better than the next, each evenly in line, an army sent off to war.

“Zarccheus arrived the noblest of all men and died the noblest,” the soldier finished. “Normal or converted, he was the best human I’ve ever met.”

“It’s wrong,” Rian said, still nodding. “Father wouldn’t die. Something’s wrong.”

The soldier wiped his battered nose with his finger and avoided Rian’s gaze. “He knelt to help a wounded comrade. A Sarcour pierced him through the back.”

“You’re lying,” was all Rian said.

The soldier backed down the porch steps, leaving the bag of Father’s belongings on the first. “I’m sorry.”
Mother gripped Rian’s arm, her nails biting through his skin. Rian folded his hand around hers and tightened her grasp.

Only after the soldier disappeared around the corner of their cottage did Rian stop nodding.

Rian had tried sneaking out enough to know that Father could hear anyone coming, and Father was fast. He used to be a footracer. He couldn’t have died, not like that. It was a lie.

Mother reached for the bearhide bag on the step, but with her shaking hand she pushed it away from the porch. It fell onto the lower steps and spewed its contents, a twirling knife, tumbling boots, a Book of the Maker, an empty coin purse, all clattering into the trodden grass.

Stephanie Garber said...

Name: Stephanie Garber
Genre: YA Fantasy/Science Fiction

After being abandoned on the smallest planet in Lost Galaxy, all Violet wants is to find her father again, unfortunately the one person who can help her is a young pirate who’s almost as dangerous as her father.

First 250

The lightships always came to port on Sunday. Sometimes if I looked hard enough from my boardinghouse window, I swore, I could see this planet’s murky brown sky change color. Fragments of blue and white, like pieces of broken stars, signaled the great ships arrivals.

“I don’t know why you like to go there instead of congregation,” said Moira, my roommate. “Pirates, pickpockets, and children with naked feet belong at port. You’ll never meet a decent young man there.”

“And what if I don’t want to meet a decent young man?” I sat on my bed to lace up my boots, which Moira also disapproved of. “Maybe I want to meet a pirate and breed children with naked feet.”

Moira’s jaw dropped. “Why would anyone want that?”

Poor Moira. The girl had no sense of humor. Even when I was annoyed with her, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. If I’d grown up on this planet, feet always so close to the ground, head always too far from the stars, I probably would have been humorless, too.

If not for port and the life that thrived there, I’m sure I would have lost my mind. Mascar wasn’t the worst planet I’d lived on. As a desert plain it was always warm, making it a favored tourist spot for ice dwellers. I was ready for my time there to be up, though. Pretending to be a privileged exchange student from Regar didn’t suit me. I imagined that Moira wasn’t the only girl living in Suwell’s Boardinghouse who had noticed.

Stacey Hays said...

Name: Stacey Hays
Title: Seer Touch
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Pitch: Seventeen-year-old psychic apprentice, Ashton Greenly, is a master at predicting the future except her own; when Paul Monday trudges into her mom’s psychic shop, she never foresees falling for a vampire prince.

Chapter 1
I blew out the remaining candles, extinguishing the creepy shadows that had been dancing around my peripheral in my attempt to write an essay on warlocks of the 1800’s. I could have done it with magic but mom looks down on witches who use their magic for household chores. She says, ‘that it helps witches build moral fiber and gives them a good work ethic,’ whatever that means.

The only thing that was left to do to close down the psychic shop slash our two bedroom crowded doll house apartment was to empty the trash, close out the cash register, shut off the neon open sign and lock the doors. I did the first two in less than five minutes; it was a slow night so there was hardly any cash in the register. I threw a black silk sheet over mom’s antique crystal ball that had been passed down for eight generations and smoothed out the wrinkles.

The rain pelted against the glass window and a loud trembling rumble made the candelabras tinkle in distress. I quickly walked towards the front right shop window, drew the curtain and clicked off the open sign but before I could lock the door, the doorbell chimed. I had a customer.

I went to the door and barely cracked it open, “Come back tomorrow,” I said rudely. I wanted to shower and get to bed as soon as possible, it was hard enough trying to keep my eyes open until eleven o’clock at night when I had to be up at five in the morning for school.

Alison Miller said...

Name: Alison Miller
Genre: YA Paranormal

PITCH: JD Marshall is “cursed” with the power to get with any girl he wants, whenever he wants; but it’s a demoralizing curse he needs to break, and unfortunately, the probable curse-breaker is his hot new English teacher.

FIRST 250:

Getting with Susan Milton should be the last thing on my mind.

I should be thinking Northwest and their defensive line, the one that racks up eight QB sacks a game. I should be running through Coach’s five new plays—the ones the Monarchs won’t see on the scouting tapes. I should think about how David and I are going to get a keg for the beach after the game. Or how if I don’t play the game of my life, we won’t even need one.

Maybe I should focus on my senior project.

Or the Pre-Calc test I have in thirty minutes.

But I just can’t get my mind off her.

Ever since she glided into English on the first day of school, I haven’t been able to focus on much else. And not just because Susan Milton’s the hottest chick I’ve ever seen in my life. I mean, she is: tight little body, sexy smile, shiny blond hair that smells like the jasmine growing in my backyard. She has a habit of wearing these low cut tops, and if she bends over just right, I almost get a free show. And God, her voice. The way she recites poetry, it’s like she’s singing—just to me. I used to hate English. Now I hate that I have to wait until third period for my new favorite class.

But Susan Milton is forbidden. Off limits. I can’t have her.

And unfortunately I can get practically anybody.

Molly Lee said...

Name: Molly Lee
Title: Judges
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Pitch: A faithless Harley Locke is Called to be one of God's Judges and finds herself facing a malicious cult, demons, and a forbidden romance with her mentor.

Chapter 1:
“Whenever the Lord raised up a Judge,
He was with that Judge and
rescued the people from their
enemies throughout the Judge’s lifetime.”

~Old Testament, Book Of Judges, 2:18~

“Harley? Do you want to come to church with me today?” Dad gave my door a light tap.

I rolled over on my bed, and kicked the covers off. “Not today, Dad.”

He let out a heavy sigh before shuffling down the hallway.

I had to give Dad credit; he never gave up. Every Sunday morning was the same. I’d wake up to his invitation and then disappoint him.

I used to go to church diligently. I’d read the Bible cover to cover before my tenth birthday. I didn’t understand all of it but I knew how I felt when I read it. How it felt to go to church and hear the choir sing the hymns, listen to the pastor’s soothing voice work out the riddles within the pages. But that all changed. My passion for the Bible, church, even my faith, died when I had turned eleven.

The doctors said lung cancer killed my mother. I didn’t think so. Someone took her from me. Stripped me of my best friend in a matter of months. She’d never smoked a day in her life.

First I blamed God. Then, after seeing my dad in the aftermath of her passing, I decided there wasn’t one.

SStokes said...

Name: Stacy Stokes
Genre: YA Magical Realism

After an accident, Taylor must climb a seemingly endless stairway into the sky; a journey that reveals the surprising truth about her best friend’s betrayal and the life Taylor thought she wanted to leave behind.

First 250:

I thought about death at least twice the week before I died, but it wasn't my death I fantasized about. It my best friend Sunny's.
I wanted to kill her.

The first period bell wouldn’t ring for another ten minutes, which meant I had ten minutes to find Sunny and fix the mess she made. And by fix, I mean I was going to kick her skinny little ass in front of the entire school.

Sunny was taller than me by a few inches, so I wasn't confident I could land a punch. That, and I'd never hit anyone before. Sunny was the fighter, not me. The only advantage I had was our history. I knew everything there was to know about her, including the fact that her head was so tender she could barely sit through a haircut. My plan was to grab a fistful of her fiery hair and drag her down to the ground until she squealed for mercy and admitted she was a dirty, pathetic liar.

I swallowed my nerves and saddled my anger, riding it through the crowd of students as they made their way to first period. The whispers had been following me all morning, but now they grew heated, almost fevered, as everyone watched me march purposefully ahead.

I found her leaning against a locker at the far end of the hallway, talking animatedly to our formerly shared friends.

justJoan said...

Name: Joan Stradling
Title: Books of Bestowal: Destroyer's Hope
Genre: MG Fantasy

Twelve-year-old Rachel Clark loves getting lost in a good book, until she's pulled into one and finds herself a part of a story from which she may not be able to escape.

Photographs can be changed, but reflections are honest. That's how Rachel Clark knew her mom was a liar.

Rachel released her t-shirt's neck and let the material cover the pinkish scar on her chest. The scar her mom said was barely noticeable, but the mirror said, "Holy crap, look at that thing. I wouldn't advise wearing low necklines anytime soon."

Her bedroom door creaked open. Leigh, her aunt, peered around the door. She grinned when she saw Rachel, and stepped into the room.
"I see you're out of bed." Leigh shut the door.

Rachel frowned at Leigh's reflection. "I've been out of bed for months, remember?"

"I meant this morning," Leigh said. "Your mom thought you might still be sleeping."

Rachel sighed. "I've been awake for hours, but I faked sleep when she peeked in earlier. I thought you had school this morning."

"I do, but it hasn't started yet. Besides, I'm in college. I don't have to go to class if I don't want to." Leigh winked.

"It must be nice to have a choice. Dr. Behring said I could go back to public school three months ago, but Mom still insists on homeschooling. I lived with the hole in my heart for twelve years before they fixed it, and she let me go to school then. Ever since surgery, Mom's been super overprotective."

Leigh swept some of Rachel's crumpled drawings aside and sat on the unmade bed. "I know. Every time I come to visit, she makes me scrub till my skin is pink and change my clothes before letting me come up here."

Robbin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Name: Lauren Harris
Genre: NA High Fantasy

When Princess Arianna’s kidnapping threatens to rekindle war, she faces a difficult choice: warn her kingdom of the enemy’s approach or risk her life to help the slave who sacrificed his freedom to rescue her.

First 250 Words
It was never dark when Lenis watched the future. Though the stone room was windowless, thousands of bright threads shone around her, weaving a pattern she seemed to understand, though it made little sense to Alukale. Five-hundred years with her had taught him only that the thick, shining rope of light hanging below was the past - already out of Lenis's power to affect. The spectrum of futures began where the rope frayed and spread glowing fibers in every direction like the branches of some infinite, phosphorescent tree.

Time was a mutable, inconsistent thing, new possibilities unraveling every thread into a thousand potential futures, which faded and unfurled as major players made choices and invented new possibilities.

Alukale didn't envy Lenis her job of keeping track of them. He didn't envy her Mark's power, or the responsibility it endowed her with. As Rizellen's former Heir Apparent, he knew something of the weight; his crown had included a matching set of shackles and a collar for good measure.

Sometimes, when she was Seeing, she noticed Alukale come in. Today she had not. Her brow was tight over her luminous eyes, her lips cracked from ignoring the water and wine he'd brought earlier in the day. A knot constricted around Alukale's belly as he took in the hard chill of her gaze, the tension in the flexing tendons of her pale neck. That was the look she got right before she asked him to stick his hands in whatever mess was mucking up what she called "the brightest thread".

Krista McLaughlin said...

Name: Krista McLaughlin
Genre: YA Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Edom is the oldest healer in a country where his kind are hunted and killed for their gifts, but after accidentally kidnapping Princess Dalia, he must choose between protecting his sister and trusting his enemy.

First 250 words:
Freedom was never worth the price that was paid.

It was time to relocate again and the storm wasn’t a good enough cover for them to flee. Edom urged the horse to go faster as he clutched the warm bread to his chest. It was barely a mouthful for the two of them, but it would fill his little sister’s empty belly. They hadn’t had food in two days. She never complained to him, but he knew. She was his sister and he would do anything for her. The storm had provided enough cover to steal half of the bread cooling in the window of the hut. He couldn’t take the whole loaf. A lot of people were starving nowadays. Either way, it was time to move again. They’d already spent a week in the same place. The Guard was bound to be nearby since a woman in the village was due to have a baby any day now.

Edom rode towards the small hut, deep in the forest. The owners were gone seeing family elsewhere and Edom had been hiding his sister there.

“Please, we need help!” a young woman’s voice said over the sound of the storm. “It’s Marta, open the door. I know you are in there Edom.”

Liora was alone. Edom pressed his heels into the sides of the horse, forcing the mare to move quicker into the small clearing. Lightning lit up the sky, illuminating the dark sky and revealing the hut concealed by the forest.

S.Q. Eries said...

Name: Sakura Eries
Title: Cynisca and the Olive Crown
Genre: YA historical

The Games at Olympia have ever been a competition of men–until Princess Cynisca's brother convinces her to race her chariot for the sake of the Spartan Royal Family.

First 250:
The royal bloodline was an illustrious one, tracing back to Zeus, the king of the gods himself. That was why, my sister insisted, we were duty-bound to exemplify dignity and mastery over the social graces. Anything less, and we would surely incense our divine patriarch.

I disagreed. Because if Zeus' expectations were remotely close to hers, I should've been reduced to ash several times over.

But even without divine thunderbolts, Proauga's punishments were bad enough.

Nails digging into my arm, she dragged me into an empty storage room and cuffed my ear. "Gods, Cynisca!" she exploded. "How could you embarrass us like that?"

"I said I was sorry! Besides, maybe Polycles' wife was flattered I mistook her for his daughter–"

A second whack informed me otherwise. "You're almost eighteen; you should know all the aristocrats and their families by now. Considering how often you race against Polycles' son, you should at least know he doesn't have any daughters."

"Lichas and I don't exactly make small talk while harnessing up," I muttered, rubbing my stinging skull.

"Well, maybe you should." Snarling in frustration, she stamped hard enough to rattle a shelf. "Why are you always so much trouble?"

It's not like I want to be here. Though I did my best to avoid aristocrat functions, I couldn't avoid this one. Not when the event was preparing the agora for the king's victory homecoming. And especially not when Proauga was its organizer.

Proauga inhaled deeply, sucking air through her teeth. "Anyway," she said, regaining her poise, "can you try not to insult anyone else? And fix your hair."

Emily said...

Name: Emily Cushing
Genre: MG Adventure

Two cousins, with their quirky grandpa Jim, race against a dangerous thief to find Butch Cassidy’s hidden gold and save a camp for troubled youth from closing it’s doors forever.

First 250 Words:
Twelve seconds until summer vacation. Maggie’s eyes locked on the jerking hand of the classroom clock that counted down the last seconds of sixth grade. Someone in the back of the room began chanting, “Ten, nine, eight—”

Everyone else joined in, “Seven, six—”

Almost time! Maggie thought, sitting at the edge of her seat.

“Five, four—”

Just a few more seconds.




RRRRINGGGG!! The class erupted into cheers.
Maggie jumped out of her seat, slung her pink backpack over her shoulder, and slipped out the classroom door. As she ran down the school’s rickety old steps, she pulled the “to-do” list she had carefully prepared the night before out of her back pocket.

Fourteen minutes. That’s how long she’d given herself to make it home. She studied the large crowd in front of her and took a deep breath. She looked down at her bright blue digital watch, pushed the start button, and took off running.

“To your left,” she called, pushing past a circle of fifth grade girls in a group hug. “Coming through.” Maggie sidestepped a large boy picking gum off the bottom of his shoe. “Watch out.” She darted around a curly-haired girl rummaging through her backpack. Just a few more steps and Maggie would bust out of the crowd. She glanced at her watch. One minute down, thirteen to go. So far so good. She thought she just might make it home in time.

Boy, was she wrong.

A.J. Cattapan said...

Name: A.J. Cattapan
Title: Seven Riddles to Nowhere
Genre: Middle Grade Mystery

Pitch: In this “39 Clues Meets The DaVinci Code,” seventh grader Kam must solve seven riddles tied to religious artwork in order to become heir to a fortune and save his financially-distressed Catholic school from closing.

First 250:

Kamryn Boyd wanted to faint. But fainting isn’t something a seventh grade boy does in front of his classmates. To keep himself from passing out, he gulped repeatedly. He knew Mrs. Harris was watching him.

He looked up into her eyes, hoping his pathetic puppy dog look would work the same magic on his teacher as it worked on his mom. However, the glare on Mrs. Harris’s tortoise shell glasses made it impossible to tell.

Next to Kamryn (or Kam, as he preferred to be called), Delta Parsons waved her hand wildly. She was always waving her hand wildly.

Mrs. Harris shifted her gaze slightly. “Yes, Delta?”

“I think your suggestion of giving an oral presentation on the life history of a famous person is the best idea any teacher has ever had. Plus, it gives me an opportunity to really demonstrate my flair for drama. I, for one, have already decided on the perfect person to give my talk on—that famous songstress and star of the American stage, Bernadette Peters!” At the mention of the actress’s name, Delta gave her classmates her typical Broadway smile, as if expecting them all to burst into applause at the mere mention of her idea.

Kam turned to his left to look at Cooper Parsons, his best friend and Delta’s brother. Kam raised a quizzical eyebrow at Cooper, who simply shrugged. Apparently, he didn’t know who Bernadette Peters was either.

Adrianne Russell said...

Adrianne Russell
YA Contemporary

A teen girl discovers that choosing between sure-thing hookups and risky love isn’t as easy as it seems.

I breathe slow and deep, trying to catch my breath. The ceiling fan moves the air made warmer by our thrashing about, slowly cooling the sweat on my body. The room has a certain scent that I couldn’t have placed a short month ago but now is as familiar as my name.
JP’s smoking fails to improve the air quality. I steal his cigarette, take a few quick drags and pull on my clothes. He smiles and lights another.

Completely at ease naked, sprawled across the blankets, he sighs and asks, “Where are you going?” The blue plastic ashtray on the end table looks like a whale. I grind the cigarette into its blowhole.

“Some of us work for a living.”

“You could try depending on the kindness of strangers.”

“That only works for pretty people like you and Blanche DuBois.”

“You’re beautiful and you know it.”

“You have to say that.”

He looks at me with heavy-lidded, dark brown eyes and gently kisses the back of my hand. My everything tingles.

“I don’t say things I don’t mean. So I’ll see you later?” I nod. The answer’s always yes.

His arms wrap around me, fingers tickling my belly, pulling me to the bed. I fight the urge to stay there. I give him a quick kiss goodbye, wishing for the thousandth time that his confidence was contagious.

Being with him should be a dream come true. So how come I’ve never felt so afraid in my life?

Jamie Krakover said...

Name: Jamie Krakover
Title: The Adviera Adventures: Abducted
Genre: MG Science Fiction

Pitch: After gaining an amazing ability that he didn’t ask for, Gary must juggle life while paying service to the aliens who gifted the ability, learning to perfect it and discovering why he’s their prime interest.

First 250 words:
Gary would do anything to be free of his prison guard. Although a floor separated them, his mother was the gatekeeper to the world. Despite the distance, she managed to wrap him in an invisible choke hold, suffocating him.
He leaned over to grab the ear buds hanging off the edge of his bed. A moment later, he shoved them deep into his ears. Scrolling through the list on his iPod, he found some heavy metal and blasted it. That ought to drown Mom out.
Her scream pierced through his music. "Gary Elliot Jones, get down here this instant and walk Buster before he pees on the floor!”
Uh Oh! How can I possibly be in trouble again? And why did she have to use my full name? It’s not like I got escorted home by the cops again. UGH!
He knew he had a minute, before his mother marched up the stairs and pounded on his door. After that came the threat to take the door off its hinges. She’d done it before and he’d hated it. He needed a barrier between him and his mother. With slumped shoulders, he slid off his bed and unlocked the door.
Trudging down the steps, he found his mom standing in the kitchen, arms crossed, dog leash in hand. Buster, their golden retriever, looked up wagging his tail and panting.
"It’s about time young man." She tapped her foot.
Gary shrugged and pointed to his ear pretending he couldn’t hear. With a swift movement, she yanked the wire hanging around his neck and ripped out the buds.

Jennifer Walsh said...

Name: Leigh Michael
Title: Sprite (Annabelle's Story Part One)
Genre: YA paranormal adventure

Imagine waking up one day as a normal teenager. The next thing you know you are abducted, drown, and told you are the only one who can fulfill an ancient prophecy.

The screaming was deafening. It was impossible to hear anything else. I pressed my fingers to my ears and still, the muffled sound roared.
Looking around me, every single girl was doing the same thing. We all had our faces as close to the opened windows as possible. The cold wind from the night snapped against our skin, but no one seemed to care. In fact, we all sported huge smiles.
It had become a tradition of ours. Of my swim team, that is. After every W we brought home, we would scream our brains out when our bus came within a mile or two of the high school.
It was our way of announcing our return home after each and every victory. And this victory, in particular, was extra special. We were now the New Jersey High School State Champions.
Boy did it feel good.
For me, it was even more special. Not only was it my eighteenth birthday, not only did I set a personal best in the butterfly, but it was also my last swim meet before heading off to college.
It was something I was definitely ready for. I worked my butt off in high school. And it sure paid off. In just a few months, I’d be packing up and heading across the country to UCLA.
Sure, my parents, especially my mom, weren’t thrilled with the idea of me moving so far from home, but it’s the best pre-med school in the country.

JEN said...

Name: J.E. Neville
Title: Caught Away
Genre: YA

When Abby receives a mysterious signal from her long-lost father, she defies her oppressive society to find him.

My six fellow students were stretched out on the tables, but I was strapped to a slab the school borrowed from the morgue. The clinic smelled like someone had just mopped with bleach, but that didn’t completely mask the sour smell of body fluids and iodine.
We were the first group of the day. My friend Pea Smith was on the table closest to me. She was already hooked up to the needles.
I wasn’t.
Sharkface, the nurse with the shark-fin nose, was gone. She had tightened my restraints but then left me lying here without a word. We students thought the restraints were overkill, but the Nats claimed a student once got in a fight with a nurse. The needle ruptured an artery and he died. Hence the NO TAKING CHANCES sign on the wall.
Rupturing an artery sounded kind of cool. Sometimes I thought about giving it a try. It had been two years and seventeen days since I last wanted to live.
The marble slab was better than the tables. It had grooves along the side for cadaver blood. It was cold, so it drained heat from my body—one of those laws of thermodynamics or whatever. I loved feeling numb because it was like dying.
But today I didn’t want to die. The Nats took me off the school bus and escorted me directly to the clinic. They forced me onto the slab. I could have fought back and maybe ruptured that artery, but not today.
Today I wanted to live.

D.R. Graham said...

Name: D.R. Graham
Genre: YA Contemporary

While searching for the outlaw biker who murdered his dad in front of his little sister, Cain learns the truth about his dad and discovers the person he’s willing to become to protect the people he loves.

The party from the night before was still going on in the living room, so I crept down the hall towards the front door. As I was bent over tying my boots, a big shadow slid up from behind me. Then I smelled the mixture of alcohol and sweat. Since sneaking out was no longer an option, I stood up and turned to face him. He crossed his massive tattooed arms and stared me down. “Don’t you want to join us for breakfast, Cain?”

I grabbed my leather jacket off the hook and put it on. “Uh, no thanks. I have to work today.”

“Good. So, you’ll have the rent money you owe by the end of the week?”

My throat tightened and made a weird sound when I choked out, “Yeah.”

“This month and last month.”

“I know.” I reached for the doorknob.

He leaned over and rested his palm on the door. “I’ve let it slide this long because of who your dad was and because of what happened, but that’s only going to take you so far. I want it all by Friday or you’re out on the street.”

“Yeah. I’ll have it.” I glanced up at him and my heart stalled out.

His mouth twitched under his moustache then he reached down and opened the door. I stepped out onto the porch and waited to get jumped or punched in the back of the head. When I heard the door close behind me, I glanced over my shoulder, exhaled, then walked over to my bike.

Kelly Metz said...

Name: Kelly Metz
Genre: YA paranormal romance

Pitch: AJ Ashford unknowingly gets dragged into the eternal battle for Earth when she dies and is sent back with a mission from a sarcastic angel to help the antagonistic punk who caused her death.

First 250:

Four-hundred thirteen, four-hundred fourteen, four-hundred—

“Mademoiselle Ashford,” old maid Travers snapped, her nasal inflection sharp enough to break crystal. Or, in AJ’s case, give students a headache.

Feeling one begin to form, AJ dropped her gaze from the holes in the ceiling tiles to the annoyed eyes watching her from behind thick glasses perched on what looked more like a beak than a nose. Beneath that nose, thin—the only part of her teacher that could be called thin—lips frowned at AJ. She held the textbook open in one thick hand while her other grasped the stapler sitting on the desk at the front of the classroom, which she’d apparently been banging on to get AJ’s attention.

Well, she had it now.

“Yeah, Mrs. Travers,” AJ said. Whoever had made two years of foreign language a requirement for graduation really deserved to be hit with the book Mrs. Travers held, and the stapler, for good measure.

A few stifled giggles broke out until Mrs. Travers glared the offenders to silence. “En francais, s’il vous plait, Mademoiselle Ashford.”

AJ set down the pen she’d been doodling with, her notebook decidedly more graphic than note. “Oui, Madame Travers. Comment puis-je vous aider?”

She stumbled a little over the words, but the sarcastic intent wasn’t missed. With a raised eyebrow, Mrs. Travers launched into a full on discourse, during which her French flew so quickly and eloquently, AJ only caught about every other word.

And only understood every five of those.

Durango Writer said...

Mandy Mikulencak
Hannah’s Half
YA Paranormal Mystery

Reluctant psychic Hannah ignores her daily ghostly visitors until Adam, who possesses the other half of her soul, returns to beg for her help, even though she’s already died for him three times.

“You got a name, kid?”

The boy sitting on my bedroom floor couldn’t have been more than four or five years old. The cowlick in the back of his blond hair needed taming. As he sat cross-legged, holding a half-inflated red balloon, I noticed that the bottoms of his bare feet were dirty.

I rarely asked questions anymore because the Visitors never speak. I mean never. I’ve been seeing dead people for as long as I can remember and it’s always the same routine. Stare with haunted eyes, linger in the room, disappear.

“The silent treatment again. How original.”

I sighed and pushed back my comforter. I’d gotten over being shy in front of the dead a long time ago. If they were going to invade my space, then they’d have to deal with seeing me in my panties.

As I rummaged through my dresser to find a pair of jeans, the sweet, burned smell of kettle corn filled my nose and carnival music played in my head. In strobe-like flashes, I saw the little boy walking hand in hand with a girl about his height. She handed him a cardboard cone wrapped with mounds of pink cotton candy.

I shook my throbbing head as if that could make the images disappear. Unless the Visitors suddenly decided to tell me why my room was a ghost magnet, I vowed to ignore them.

God, I’d give just about anything to have a dead-free day.

Dee White said...

Name: Dee White
Gentre: YA Thriller

Mindy Palmer searches for her rapist in the TeenSpeak chatroom where nobody is who they seem, but her obsession with bringing her attacker to justice could prove fatal.

The first time he killed was easy. She was dying anyway - couldn't breathe on her own anymore. All he had to do was unplug the plastic tubing, disconnect the oxygen tank while she slept.

He took out a tissue and wiped away any trace of his prints from the line. She'd only had days to live anyway, but as death was forced upon her, she struggled instinctively against it.

She gasped and gurgled, tried to lift her head, like a drooping flower on the end of a withered stem. Her mouth opened, groveled for air. He waited till her head sagged back on the pillow, watched calmly as her lips turned blue. Arms folded across his chest, he leaned back in the cane chair next to her bed, as if he was enjoying a favorite movie.

After she stopped twitching, he reconnected the oxygen, wiped for prints again, and left. He wasn't sure what to do next. Should he call for help, pretend he had come upon her like this? Or should he leave and wait for news that his mother was dead?

For the first time ever, he was in control. He strode to his room, exhilarated by what he he'd done. He wanted to tell someone, but who?

He turned on the computer, logged into the TeenSpeak chat room and
checked to see who else was online. The girl was there. He didn't speak, just watched the typed conversation unfold. Now he had someone else in his sights.

Dee White said...

Name: Dee White
Gentre: YA Thriller

Mindy Palmer searches for her rapist in the TeenSpeak chatroom where nobody is who they seem, but her obsession with bringing her attacker to justice could prove fatal.

The first time he killed was easy. She was dying anyway - couldn't breathe on her own anymore. All he had to do was unplug the plastic tubing, disconnect the oxygen tank while she slept.

He took out a tissue and wiped away any trace of his prints from the line. She'd only had days to live anyway, but as death was forced upon her, she struggled instinctively against it.

She gasped and gurgled, tried to lift her head, like a drooping flower on the end of a withered stem. Her mouth opened, groveled for air. He waited till her head sagged back on the pillow, watched calmly as her lips turned blue. Arms folded across his chest, he leaned back in the cane chair next to her bed, as if he was enjoying a favorite movie.

After she stopped twitching, he reconnected the oxygen, wiped for prints again, and left. He wasn't sure what to do next. Should he call for help, pretend he had come upon her like this? Or should he leave and wait for news that his mother was dead?

For the first time ever, he was in control. He strode to his room, exhilarated by what he he'd done. He wanted to tell someone, but who?

He turned on the computer, logged into the TeenSpeak chat room and
checked to see who else was online. The girl was there. He didn't speak, just watched the typed conversation unfold. Now he had someone else in his sights.

Rachel said...

Name: Rachel Pudelek
Genre: YA dark fantasy

As part of a secret society of female folkloric creatures, sixteen-year-old Allura takes center stage in a plan to revert back to the man-hunting ways of her ancestors.

First 250:

“Why do you keep picking the thinnest branches?” my oldest sister, Arlana called out from a mature, towering evergreen as she paused in her tree-jumping to reassess our location.

“What’s the fun in catapulting from the thick branches?” I crouched, positioning my body to leap from the narrow limb covered in pine needles to a thread of a twig ten feet higher, on a nearby tree.

“Um, I’d say not falling on your ass when the tiny, weak branch breaks!” Celine, my other older sister, laughed.

I pulled my body low, my thighs clenched like powerful coils preparing to release bursts of energy. There was no need to stay still, to concentrate on the movement of the wind through the trees, or to remind myself of the correct footing for such a jump. I’d done it countless times before, mastered the art of tree-hopping. I aimed a quick smile at Arlana as the coils of muscle beneath me shot out and launched me much higher than my sisters. The moist night air greeted me with a gush, wrapping itself in my black hair as water droplets pelted my face. My hands, outstretched in front of me, parted the needles and pine cones before my feet found their place on the spindly branch.

“It’s a gift,” I joked, leaning my back against the rough trunk of the pine tree.

“More like it’s the shoes.” Thanks to our ability to see in the darkest of places, I spotted Arlana roll her eyes when she spoke. Having superb vision over long distances helped too.

Rena said...

Name: Rena Rockford
Genre: YA fantasy

Pitch: 1 Princess + 1 Prince = Happily Ever After; 3 Princesses + 1 Prince = complete nightmare for the faerie godmother who has to sort out the mess.

First 250: Shoes. If anyone ever asks what I was thinking as I fell through the interdimensional portal to Underhill, I can honestly say shoes. As the gate collapsed around me, I watched my shoes, mocking me, heels sunk firmly into the lawn as if to say “Only fools go to Underhill.” And really, how much more of an idiot could I be if even my shoes knew not to follow cute boys into the magical realms?
And being dumber than my footwear pretty much summed up my week.


I stretched out on the grass just outside the band room twirling clover blossoms in my hand while I waited. I wasn’t a complete band geek, or anything—I don’t even play—but Kelly and Maria both played flute, so by default I knew all the band nerds and had even gone to cheer them on at marching competitions (sorry, band reviews). Apparently my skills with a comb and a can of hairspray are invaluable to boys who can’t get their hair into a shako.
And Jason Garvie plays trumpet.
I used my fingernail to slice a tiny hole in the stem of the clover and strung another blossom through while I waited. The afternoon sun beat off the side of the dull building bathing the little scrap of lawn in glorious, mid-may sunshine.
I heard them long before I could see them. The band played the same song for the five-hundredth time before the drum major called them to a halt on the access road between the band room and Ukiah High stadium.

Deena Graves said...

Name: DB Graves
Genre: YA Paranormal/Fantasy

Pitch: Her Control lies with him, and only through her will he be free of the Taint, but together they may save the world.

“Damn it, Moira, focus!” Pop snarls, sounding on the verge of bursting a blood vessel. “You can do it.”

I squeeze my eyes shut, straining to keep my focus. My heart pounds and my clenched fists are sweating something fierce. I grip my pant legs like they’re my salvation. There’s no saving, though. I need to maintain my center or the whole place will go up in a fiery blaze of failure.

I control the fire; the fire doesn’t control me.

Burning wood pops and snaps near me. Crap! A sooty smell drifts under my nose. I don’t dare open my eyes to check. That will only end in another verbal lashing from Pop. Keep my eyes closed or be blindfolded, those are my options.

I take a deep breath, cough on smoke, and again try to pull in the fire. The fire’s energy pulses under my ribcage, keeping time with my heart. Like Pop instructed, I zero in on the swirl of power, closing my mind around it.

A memory flickers behind my eyes. I shake my head to clear it. No, not again.

“Focus, Moira.” Disappointment taints Pop’s voice now. He knows. He sees.

The flicker returns with sound. Exploding transports, flames reaching for the sky, a cavernous fracture in the earth, biting rain, ripping wind, and piercing screams wash over me. Releasing my pants, I dig my fingernails into my thighs. My teeth cut into my lip, drawing blood. The screams echo around my skull and my breathing hitches.

Anonymous said...

NAME: Ashley Gipson
TITLE: Drego’s Sword
GENRE: YA epic fantasy

After leaving his quiet hometown to stop a ruthless dictator, Drego is caught up in a sprawling war as he falls in love, becomes an assassin’s target, and fights a startling darkness inside of himself.

Drego didn’t look back as he headed down the dirt road, small pack slung over one shoulder and heavy sword strapped to his back. He knew if he looked, he’d lose his resolve. And he had too many questions to allow that to happen. He could feel his coastal home town of Karo dropping further and further behind him, pink dawn light blossoming across the sky. The thick forest ahead was waking up with the sounds of birds and insects.

He felt doubt prod at the edges of his mind, but he shoved it away. Too much had happened yesterday to be ignored. All that led to one conclusion: he had an important future.

He shook his head with a half-smile. He figured he was about as normal as a fifteen-year-old could get. Granted, he had just turned fifteen yesterday, but he already felt older. Which was odd in itself. It seemed no one ever felt older right after their birthday.

A warm breeze blew his thick blonde hair, his brown eyes adjusting to the increasing light. Drego was of average height and build, but perhaps more fit than others his age. He knew that was due to the hours spent sparring with his uncle, Tandem. He let a sigh escape his lips. He would miss Uncle Tandem; a retired soldier who had spent years teaching his nephew how to fight, despite the protests of Drego’s protective, pacifist parents.

I’ll miss them, too, he thought. And I’ll miss Roy and Daisy.

Petre Pan said...

Jen Veldhuyzen
Issue 339

After alien invasions, a girlfriend gone zombie, and his parents' deaths, this young comic book character's suffered enough--he kills his writer. Now he has to live with that decision.

"Why would you kill off a superhero's fourth girlfriend--and his parents--like that?"

The calm voice broke at the word "that," and the young man in the ski mask clenched his fingers. That was his first movement since entering the writer's office and lowering himself into the rolling chair in front of the huge mahogany desk.

The balding man behind the desk jumped a little and coughed, ruffling the top pages of the stacks that towered like armed guards beside him. "You okay there, buddy? I--didn't see you come in. What's with the--oh, I see." He pointed the eraser of his pencil at the faded red sharpie scribble over the intruder's left eye. "You're a Gavalon Mask. Wow--a 'hardcore' fan. I never published 'Gavalon.' I--"

"Answer my question, Mr. Writer," the masked man interrupted.

The balding man stiffened. "Your question. Yes. I'm sorry." He wasn't. He felt disrespected, but he was above norms like 'respect'; he'd tolerate the freak. "Issue 339, right?"


"Here." The writer smiled, closing his laptop. The cover of the comic he pulled from the shelf showed a muscular black-haired man, torso twisting, hand grasping towards the fourth wall as his mouth opened in a silent scream. "Betrayal" with an exclamation mark, in bright red letters, bulged above his head. "Rave reviews. Sold out in stores first week."

"Why that ending?"

"You mean how'd I come up with it?"

"No. Why." The teen's knuckles whitened. Teeth clenched. The writer raised an eyebrow.

Jolene Louise said...

Name: Jolene Haley
Title: Bump in the Night
Genre: YA Horror

Pitch: 16-year-old Samantha’s mentor dies, leaving Sam to fight monsters alone, while she grapples with growing pains, her first love, and loss.

First 250:

Blood everywhere.

I let the gallon of milk that I had just returned with, slide from my fingers.

I had been gone, what, fifteen minutes?

“Eliza?” I called, the fear showing in my voice.

As I walked from the door I checked the surroundings.

Everything was in the same state I had left it. The gaudy flowered arm chair was still slightly angled away from the television. The ancient sofa with a plastic covering wasn’t turned over. The floor lamp was still on. Nothing registered foul play.

Well, nothing except for the blood that was speckled over everything in the room from ceiling to shag carpet.

“Eliza!” I yelled as I ran through the living room to the kitchen, the last place I left her.

The chicken was defrosting on the counter. Chocolate chip cookies were cooling next to the stove.

Eliza, my grandmother, would only eat cookies with a glass of milk. I cursed myself for requesting that she make them for dessert.

“Eliza!” I started screaming as I ran through the house. My desperation took over, looking for any clues. Anything at all. From attic to basement, nothing was found. Except for what I could only assume was her blood.

My parents found me several hours later crouched in a corner of the living room, behind the polyester drapes, when they came to pick me up from the summer I had spent at my grandmother’s house.

Instead of holding me close and whispering reassuring things in my ear, my parents berated me for hours for not immediately calling their cell phones.

AimeeLSalter said...

Name: Aimee L. Salter
Title: Where's the Love
Genre: YA Magical Realism

When Nikki Hamilton's ex-best-friend, Jake, shows up in her dreams, she faces the ultimate choice of winning or losing love forever.

First 246 Words:

Dex pulls out the chair next to me at the lunch table. The legs give an almighty shriek. Heads snap throughout the cafeteria to find the offender, but when they land on him, their eyes soften. One of the guys three tables down yanks a chair across the floor in solidarity. They both duck chins.

Good grief.

“How you doin’ babe?” Dex kisses my cheek, slipping a surreptitious hand between my arm and my breast, his fingers digging just a little too hard into the soft flesh. My breath hikes and my cheeks redden, but not for the reasons he thinks.

His hand slides away as he sits. Then he winks and steals an apple from my tray. “Looking good,” he murmurs and waits for me to melt.

I force a smile. An effort that almost cracks my cheeks. “Hey.”

Two more bodies – big, shouldered and displaying letters like plumage – drop into seats across from us. Chris and Brian. Dex’s fan base. My smile is a little easier to maintain when Dex’s eyes don’t immediately turn to them. But the way he’s staring is hard to read. I swallow a knot of fear and pretend I haven’t noticed.

“Hey, Dex, Nikki. So, when’s the big day – or night, should I say?” Chris is Dex’s best friend. His teeth flash white against his dark skin as he waggles his eyebrows.

Dex looks at me, smiles, leans closer to nudge me with his shoulder. “Your call,” he says.

Jennie Bozic said...

Name: Jennie Bozic
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Lina, the world’s first six inch human with wings, is forced to participate in a reality tv show to select a husband from among the only young men her size, but she’s already fallen in love with a boy she met online - only he doesn’t know that thumbelina1847 could literally fit inside his heart.

Today’s Objective: Outwit Petunia in a possibly lethal game of hide-and-seek.

My Reward: George has to make me a fresh batch of tzatziki sauce. Enough for me to swim in.

So far, I’m winning.

The sun is not even at the top of the sky and already I am drenched in sweat beneath the grass. The humidity has frizzed out my blonde hair which is now sticking to my arms and back in a truly itchy marriage. But there’s nothing I can do about it. I cannot move. I cannot breathe.

I know she’s gliding above me in slow, patient circles, her beady eyes searching for signs of movement along the ground. She’s looking for rodents, small birds, maybe even a dragonfly. And me. A slight breeze passes through the grass and I will my blue damselfly wings to remain motionless.

Ever so slowly, I lift my hand and slide aside the blade of grass that’s blocking my view. I rise up on tiptoe - slowly as a sprouting seed - to check how far I am from safety. About one hundred feet away, a red arrow dangles from a wire and points at a section of pipe sticking out of the ground. It’s just wide enough for me to slip inside, but too narrow for Petunia. A wry grin stretches across my face as George’s huge red arrow sways in the breeze. Subtlety is not his strong point.

I slink down beneath a dry leaf. As I poke my head out the other end, I catch sight of Petunia for the first time today.

Kate Larkindale said...

Name: Kate Larkindale
Title: The Boyfriend Plague
Genre: YA Contemporary

Pitch: Shaken by her sister’s cancer, her mother’s desperation and abandoned by her friends, Livvie finds comfort and an attraction she’s never felt before with Bianca, but persecution and bullying force Livvie to decide how far she’s willing to go for the people she loves.

1st 250:
I squirmed on the splintery wooden bench. The room was too small and the irregular buzzing that crept over the lopsided swinging doors set my teeth on edge. Each burst sent a cloud of rusty orange scattering through my skull.
“Is this okay, Livvie?” Mel leaned over and pressed a slip of paper onto my knee.
I studied it for a moment, still trying to shake off the burning color my synesthesia had painted the world. “Yeah. It’s perfect.” I grinned at her, but my lips trembled so much I’m sure it was more a grimace.
“What about yours?” Mel turned to Hannah who had her paper crumpled in her fist.
She smoothed it out against the taut fabric of her jeans. “It’s good. I don’t think Mom could tell she hadn’t signed it.”
Mel sighed and glanced down at her own scrap of paper. “At least they’re all different. And how close are they going to look?”
Hannah’s eyes roved the enclosed space, photographs curling on every wall. “It’s a business right? They want to make money. I bet they just ask for these things ‘cos they have to.”
“You’re probably right.” Mel stood up and folded her permission slip back into her pocket. “I wish they’d hurry up though.”
“Me too.” I shifted again, my butt numbing against the hard surface. Coming here had seemed a good idea, but now, after almost half an hour on the wrong side of the doors, the stinging scent of rubbing alcohol drifting across us, I wasn’t so sure.

Ella Schwartz said...

Name: Ella Schwartz
Title: Temple Falls
Genre: MG Fantasy

Nara, 14 year old banished princess, must work with her nemesis, a mere commoner, to decipher the cryptic clues sent by the Gods and end the plagues battering the kingdom.

First 250 Words:

Nara pushed her way through the soup of darkness. Her shoes clicked against the marble pathway towards the royal palace. Blackness covered her like a thick cloak, weighing her down; even though it was only lunch time. The absence of daylight still gave Nara the creeps. It had been like this for three weeks.

But she knew how to fix it.

And she would tell her stupid cousin, even though he hardly deserved it. Anything was better than living under a dark cloud all day, every day.

It was strange coming to the palace without her maidens and royal guardsmen. But now that Nara and her mom were no longer palace residents, the entourage was gone.

The guardsman at the palace gate, a fellow by the name of Warner who Nara had known since birth, bowed his head slightly as he pushed open the heavy iron gate letting Nara inside. “Good day, Lady Nara,” he pronounced.

Nara with a dismissive flick of her wrist said, “Day? Is that what this is? I can’t tell anymore.”

The oppressive darkness covering the kingdom of Chernadova indeed made it hard to tell day from night. For three weeks, since the death of Nara’s father, it was as if the Gods decided it would be a good idea to cover the kingdom with a large, dirty, dishrag. And every day the dishrag grew dirtier.

“Yes, my Lady. It certainly is a strange phenomenon.” Warner paused for a moment, shuffling his feet before continuing. “What do you make of this oddity?”

P J O'Leary said...

Name: P J O'Leary
Genre: YA Contemporary

Pitch: The last thing Mike Fitzroy wanted was to play hero again, but when he started making the wrong friends at his new school, it put him right in the crosshairs of Lee and the rest of the school's ruling elite.

First 250:

Some days just aren’t worth waking up for. High school seems to have a lot of them.

“Hey, Snowbird, think fast!”

Like today.

There's the soft thump of shoe-on-soccer ball, followed by a loud whistle of air. And from the Doppler shift of the whistle, it's heading right for me.

I glance up from my book and lean right. The ball hurtles past my head, ricochets off the palm tree behind me, and flies back.

Looks like their aim's improving, if not their hospitality.

The ball clips the top of the low retaining wall in front of me (the one that marks the drop-off to the main field where the rest of the herd roams), angles up enough to hit one of the goon squad in the chest, staggering him back.

I go back to my reading as whichever one it hit yells, “You're dead, loser.”

Don’t they ever get tired of this? Apparently not.

“Nice moves, Snowbird.” Sounds like Lee, the local King Badass, at least for the sophomore class. And since this is the underclassman’s lunch, that seems to make him the big dog here.

But if Lee’s offering even sarcastic compliments, I guess it didn’t hit one of his boys.

More’s the pity.

No, I can't go there. Better to just let it go.

Too bad.

Whatever, it’s too hot anyway.

I think the concrete's beginning to melt and those idiots are running around playing soccer for the hell of it. And they say I’m the weird one.

Shelley Koon said...

Name: Shelley Koon
Title: Axiom
Genre: YA Dystopic Mystery

"Trained as a killer for an elite army a teen girl discovers she may be killing those who most need her protection."


Imp reached back and slid the stealth suit’s probe into the port at the base of her neck. Grabbing her long dark hair she twisted it into a ponytail, pulled the stealth hood on and tucked her hair inside. She adjusted her headset and slid her hand across the C-port embedded in the sleeve activating the suit. Patches of black and charcoal bloomed across the suit’s surface bleeding into one another until it matched the bleak backdrop of the dead forest. Sensors embedded in the fabric, gathered information from the surrounding area and sent it surging through her nervous system. Imp gasped as her skin reacted to the data and turned a mottled grey. She held her hand out and wriggled her fingers, straining to see them against the ground.

They blended in perfectly.
She took a few quick steps to test the feel of the incoming information as it changed in relation to her surroundings. The muscles in her back tensed as the new data flowed down her spine. Her nerves buzzed as if her whole body was laughing. A grin slid across her lips, not that anyone could have seen it in her current state.

She took off in a sprint up the hill. The suit and her skin shifted hues rapidly to match the passing scenery. As her pace quickened, so did the data flow. What had begun as a pleasant buzzing was replaced by the feeling that her nerves had become live wires and someone was stripping off the casings.

Katharina Gerlach said...

Name: Katharina Gerlach
Genre: MG Fantasy

Pitch: To turn his ghostly sister back into a human, twelve-year-old fraidy-cat Tom must fight the Beast, a century old demon stealing kid's souls.

It was a dark and stormy night.

Tom's handwriting wriggled along the top of the page like a family of worms on a picnic. Sally longed to hug Tom as he chewed on the end of his pen and stared at the nearly empty, sheet of paper.

She bent over his shoulder. "You shouldn't start like that." She wished she could wipe away the smudge of ink across his bronze forehead. "You should begin with my death.

"It's hard to find the right words," Tom said.

She floated around, looking at the few belongings he had brought from home. "Start with the reason why we live in a tiny room in a stranger's house."

He replaced the cartridge in his fountain pen. "I'm not like you. I never put my shoes on before my jeans."

Sally laughed. Before her change, her breath would have moved the wind chimes over the window. Now, it barely reached her own ears. She cocked her head when Tom blinked away a tear. Why was he so sad? Why didn't he look at her?

She walked to the middle of his table and bent down. That way, he should be able to better see her freckled face with the wide grin. Worried, she gazed at him as he squeezed his eyes shut. Why was he behaving so strangely?

Perhaps, she should take him somewhere. A sister had to look after her younger brother. But he seemed determined to write this story – for whatever reason.

Ashley Maker said...

Name: Ashley Maker
Title: SEER
Genre: YA sci-fi

Pitch: After a few freaky visual occurrences, Clare Palmer finds out she’s a Seer and is immersed against her will into the world of the Corasha, scientifically enhanced humans at war with an underground society of rogues.

First 250:

My heart lodges in my throat as I slip through the gap left by the open front door. One palm pressed flat against the cool steel and the other gripping the brass doorknob, I push the door closed as quietly as I can, but the click of it sealing into place still makes me flinch. Holding my breath, I close my eyes and wait.

Please, please let him be sleeping.

When nothing happens, I release the breath in a slow sigh, letting my shoulders slump and my spine relax. If he was awake, he would have heard me come in. He would have already been spazzing out, shouting at me to deadbolt the door, and then he’d go around peeping out the blackout-blinds until he was sure no one had followed me home.

Paranoid doesn’t even begin to describe my father.

Then again, the word father doesn’t really describe Chris Palmer either. Who cares if we share the same genes? I certainly don’t, and it’s obvious he feels the same way. But apparently the State of Colorado disagrees. For that matter, so does the press—their headlines painted him as a man to be pitied, the poor loving father reunited with his daughter after nearly sixteen years apart. They had an absolute field day with my story. Of course, why wouldn’t they? It’s not every day a girl’s mother vanishes, and in the aftermath a shocking secret comes to light.

My death certificate.

Yttar said...

Name: Christina Early
Title: No Leaf Clover
Genre: YA urban fantasy

When 17-year-old Pai Saphyr inherets the ancient Korean sword, Byung, she must defend it from a Korean mummy, her new swordfighting instructor, and her crush who's almost a black belt--all to prove she's the sword's true heir.

First 250 words:
Pai Saphyr knew something bad was going to happen that night at tae kwon do. She just knew it. It wasn't something she could explain; it wasn't something she understood. She shouldn't have gone to tae kwon do that night, but she couldn't stay away.

Sweat ran down her forehead and stung her eyes, but she was used to it. She used the back of her uniform sleeve to wipe the sweat off her face. And looked away from her sparing partner to the cute guy who stood three red belts down. 


His short brown hair fell over his smoky gray eyes. Pai sighed. They'd only need to change partners two more times and she'd be able to spar with him.

Brad, her partner ki happed, startling her. She faced him, assumed a ready stance, and ki happed. Since Zach was watching, she might as well show off. Pai punched directly to her partner's solar plexus, pulling her punch just short of hitting him. He blocked and punched twice to her abdomen and once to her chin.

Ugh. He was so sloppy. Unlike Zach. Brad was second gup, a red belt. He should've been better than her, but he was as sloppy now as she had been as a green belt. She could've compared him to her skill as a yellow belt, but she wasn't that mean. 

Their instructor ki happed. They were going to change places. Pai couldn't wait. Only one more time and she'd be able to spar with Zach.

Ellen Rozek said...

Name: Ellen Rozek
Genre: YA thriller

Pitch: Recruited by the government to help fight Renegade terrorists, Naomi must keep her growing friendship with a gang member a secret from her employers—and the Renegades themselves—if both of them are to survive.

First 251 Words:

The clank of her cell door opening startled Naomi upright.

“Williams, you have a visitor,” the guard said.

Naomi stared blankly at her, legs dangling off the edge of her bunk. “What?”

“You have a visitor,” the guard repeated. “There’s a man here to see you.”

“But it’s not my parents’ day to visit, and my dad—”

“You. Have. A. Visitor.” By now there was no masking the irritation in her voice. “Get your ass up and come with me.”

Picking herself up off the bed, Naomi attempted to straighten her wrinkled uniform before her hands were cuffed. A small calendar on the wall, checked off boxes counting down the time on her sentence, read September 4th, 2025. The guard held her by an elbow as she escorted Naomi through a maze of hallways to the small visiting area at the front of the facility.

The room was about half full with girls and their families or friends. They talked in low voices, their volume occasionally flaring up on a shout or a curse. Laughter was all but unheard of here.

It took Naomi two seconds to identify the man who’d come to see her. He sat by himself at a table in the farthest corner of the room. His posture was perfect, better than hers, even though her mother had been snapping at her to sit up straight for years. As the guard led her up to the table she noticed his expensive-looking suit and his neat, close-cropped hair.

jennie said...

Name: Jennifer Davies

Title: Children of Annwn:The Promise.

Genre: YA Romantic Fantasy.

One line pitch; Mia is desperate to be normal, not some kind of freak that see's people die or dreams of a fantasy world and a beautiful boy called Ryder,but colliding into the said boy in real-life changes everything.

Gusts of wind made the front door at Felicities diner swing back and forth, the bell jingled every time it opened. Mia’s eyes darted towards it, in case any last minute customer should enter. She stood behind the white countertop leaning up against it, her arms bent and hands cradling her face as she chewed and blew bubbles with her gum.

This was her last shift before the new school term began next week. Usually, the trendy fifties rock and roll diner was heaving, but today had been slow. Her phone vibrated a message from her friend Danni and she quickly messaged back. Another five minutes and she’d be on her way.

Her eyes lifted towards the over head television once more. The weather channel flashed a warning of severe thunderstorms heading in the direction of the North shore, Massachusetts. It had been relaying storm watches all day long. And now large red arrows made a direct path for North Littleton. New England weather was weird usually but today even the locals said it was strange.

Earlier when Mia had watched the news, she’d wished she was at home. Seconds later Sam the silver haired owner and widower dressed in his make shift cook’s outfit had brushed through the kitchen’s swinging doors and announced they would close early due to the bad weather and possible loss of power. She’d grinned with approval and then frowned. Was his decision more than coincidence? Nah, he’d probably seen the television the same as her.

kiwing said...

Name: Ki-Wing Merlin
Title: Bird
Genre: MG contemporary with scifi and magical realist elements (maybe think Rumpelstilskin meets Godel, Escher, Bach?)

Pitch: Twelve year-old Liz Song has grief issues and starts to literally fly.

First 250 Words:

The first time I flew was after Anna died.

The sky was Cinderella blue and cloudless, and Mother gave up holding my hand many blocks ago. Every few steps, she turned. "Hurry. Hurry, please."

I darted between two plodding boys and tapped an orange before the grocer could see. If I tapped eight without getting caught, good luck was coming. Seven, I sang and skipped around the corner.

I slammed into Mother's back.

But she didn't yell. She had stopped short. I peeked around her puffy coat at the giant lady.

Mother snatched my hand, walked stiffly forward. "Eldest Aunt," she said, bowing her head. I tugged at Mother's coat to hide under it.

"The other daughter." The lady flicked her eyes over me. Her voice stung like ten thousand pinpricks from jagged glass. "Let's get this over with."

My heart squeezed, the Cinderella sky swayed, and Mother's coat slipped out of my grasp.

I perched on top of the swing set in Columbus Park. The big-kid set with four flat rubber swings and a car-shaped plastic one. Across Mulberry, I could see Mother and the giant lady still. Now, Mother was whirling around, looking for me. Now, the lady was huffing and hustling into the funeral home.

Father stumbled out, his eyes blurred and red.

I watched him and Mother wave their angry arms at each other.

At last they found me.

Mother wept. "Oh Lizzie, how did you even get up there?"

Lynn Lindquist said...

Name: Lynn Lindquist
Title: The Society of Seven
Genre: Contemporary YA

Pitch: Two seniors at a boarding school for at-risk teens receive a mysterious invitation to join a secret society that was banned from campus twenty years earlier, when its original members allegedly murdered the school's founder.

250 Word Sample:

I can be such an ass. I know this, and yet I can’t seem to stop myself.

The closer we get to the graveyard, the tighter Melina squeezes my arm. It’s always the same. No matter how tough a girl acts, she’ll always latch on to me the second she sees the cemetery gate.

With that as my cue, I lower my voice. “So this is it.” I take a single dramatic breath. “The site of the infamous Singer School murders.”

She gulps so loud, she could wake the dead here.

The air, chilly from a rain shower earlier this evening, smells like moss and damp dirt. With a full moon casting blue shadows across the trees and tombstones, this location looks like something from a B horror movie. Perfect.

“If there ever was such a thing as a haunted place,” I say it softly so she leans closer, “this would be a sure bet.”

The chatty girl I met a week ago has disappeared and left this trembling waif as a substitute. Okay, so maybe it’s not the nicest place to bring a new student, but visiting the Singer graveyard is practically a rite of passage at our school. Heck, most of my script comes from Marcus’ annual hazing of the freshman football team. And Carter used the same tour when he dragged half the JV baseball roster through here last Halloween. I can’t help it if I prefer the company of women. What can I say? I’m all about equality between the sexes.

SM Johnston said...

Name: Sharon Johnston
Title: Karma
Genre: YA Speculative Fiction (SciFi, Fantasy and Greek Mythology)

Justin is proud to be an Apportioner, someone who dishes out karma to unrepentant scum, but when his next assignment is to bring in an innocent girl he must decide between duty and what’s right.

My fingers tingle in anticipation as I go in for the kill, the unsheathed dagger humming in my hand. The dark-haired man on the footpath ahead of me is oblivious to the closing distance between us. Two more strides and I’ll be upon him. I can already smell his aftershave in the still night air. No sound comes from my boots as I step forward. Time stands still as I grip his shoulder, stabbing the blade into his back and executing the death sentence.

As I pull back my blade and put it back in the sheath at my hip, time resumes and the man continues on his way. No blood dribbles from beneath his suit jacket; there are no cries of pain. He has no idea anything out of the ordinary has just taken place.

My younger sister, Megara, watches my victim until he disappears in the night. I creep up behind her, reach down and ruffle her hair with my invisible hand.

“Justin! Would you hurry up and rematerialise already!” she snaps.

“Okay, over there.” I point to a nearby alley.

“I can’t see where you’re pointing, douche-bag.”

“The alley, two blocks up.”

“I don’t get it,” says she, looking as though she is talking to air, “why didn’t you just actually stab him and get it over with?”

“Because, my dear,” I say with a grin that she can’t see, “that’s not how Karma works. I infused the blade with Mageia to enable me to deliver the cancer deep within him, ensuring that the blow was terminal."

Shiela Calderón Blankemeier said...

Name: Shiela Calderón Blankemeier
Genre: YA paranormal

15-year-old Valerie Garcia-Daniels must rescue her comatose grandmother's soul from the Hell-like Underworld of her Aztec ancestors while navigating her own personal Hell of starting a new high school and life with a severely autistic little brother.

First 250:
Most of life’s biggest decisions are made in under a second. Like whether to go left or right when you’re all that stands between a penalty kick and a loss. Especially in a small town where girls’ high school soccer rates right up there with varsity football. Forget that I didn’t make the penalty in the first place. If I went wrong, the loss would be my fault. Welcome to my life.

My hands twitched. I crouched, ready to spring in whatever direction the ball went. Breaths came deep and slow as I tried to quiet my mind so I could hear my body. Not the easiest thing when a thousand eyes were on me. Even harder when none of those eyes belong to my parents. But to block this kick, I needed to let my body in control. Something that hadn’t come easy since we moved there. More twitching. More breathing. Kick already!

The moment finally came. Along with a soccer ball at a good 40 mph. Now’s time for that huge life decision. Left. Or right. I wanted to block it so bad, I ached.

Of course, I didn’t. Went left instead of right. But not for any reason you’d think. My body wanted to go right, but at the last moment, a dark smoky shadow popped into my periphery. My left periphery. That’s all it took to pull me in the wrong direction. The ball sailed to my right and disappeared into the net along with any delusions I had about not being a loser.

Mia K Rose said...

Name: Mia K Rose
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Pitch: Sixteen-year-old Talitha Martin’s whole body manifested into smoke three years ago, and now two battling factions and their war have spilled down on earth--one wants her help, and other wants her dead.

First 250 Words:
The shadows across the road were oddly darker than the midday sun warranted. Unlike normal shadows were you could still see the ground underneath, these shadows swallowed the ground. Nothing but darkness. Goosebumps prickled down my neck.

Drawn by the oddity I stepped away from the wall. It was good to move. The rough stonework of the wall was about to permanently imprint on my skin.

Something, or someone, stood in the darkness. Large glass windowed office buildings towered over them. The figure swayed like branches caught in a breeze. My eyebrows furrowed. I stood at the gutter staring across the road. The shadows writhed and crept towards the buildings. In the safety of the shadows the figure moved.

“Talitha?” I spun and faced my grandma’s inquiring face. She’d finished inside the lawyer’s office. I swallowed hard and glanced back at the shadowed trees and sidewalk. They were normal once more.

“Everything sorted?” I asked and shook my head to clear it. It wasn't the first time I'd seen the writhing shadows.

She squinted at me through her round glasses. “Yes.” Grandma thought I was too young to know about all the legal affairs. So a simple yes was the best I could’ve hoped for.

My mother is dead because of me.

Smoke inhalation the coroner’s report said.

Problem was there was no fire.

The freakish mutation that's plagued me for three years was the cause. Not that I could admit that, unless I wanted to become a walking science experiment.

Lyla said...

Name: Lyla Lee
Genre: YA Futuristic Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Norah Peterson, a highly trained student of a military academy that specializes in the extermination of shapeshifters, has to solve the mystery behind her family's death and figure out who to trust—the shapeshifter boy that she was assigned to kill or the potentially corrupt government that took her in when she lost everything.

First 250:
The Phoenix is watching. The walls of the virtual simulation room flicker around its flames, and the legendary bird stares me down with its scarlet, ruthless eyes.

Before its image can fade away, I get out my pistol from my pocket and fire, again and again. The beast shrieks and before I can even blink, it takes flight and swoops down towards me, its soot-colored talons reaching for my face. I go flat on my back and continue to shoot at it, aiming at its head this time.

The bird recoils from the bullets and flies past me, landing several yards away. The flames that make up the phoenix’s feathers bristle for a moment, crackling like a hungry forest fire, before absorbing the bullets. Just like it absorbed all the heat and energy from the bomb, the grenade, and the rocket that I’d used against it in previous simulation rounds.

The gun had been my last resort.

There’s got to be a way to kill it. I try to remember the list of weapons in one of the books about primitive warfare that I’d read before in class. After mentally going through that list, I decide on one of the weapons.

I drop my gun, and wait with my hand outstretched beside me. The simulation, reading the signals coming from my brain, flickers once more, working to give form to the weapon I have in mind. And when I close my hand, my fingers wrap around a long, metal stick that the book had called a lance from a place called Medieval Europe.

Unknown said...

Name: Rachel Solomon
Genre: NA contemporary

Jordan, a grad school dropout with inescapable debt, is waiting tables at a failing Indian restaurant. With kadhi-stained clothes, she craves a real career but can’t resist fixing the restaurant — or romancing a sweet customer.

First 250:
I knew that face. Unblinking eyes. Stiff jaw. Brows parallel to the line of his lips.

The customer was recalculating my tip. He’d whittle it from eighteen percent to ten, or maybe down to an insulting fistful of coins that had attracted lint in his pocket all day. Quarters if I was lucky, nickels and pennies if I wasn’t.

“Doesn’t this come with chapatis?” he asked before the thali plate touched down at his table, like I had already ruined his dinner.

Someone had told me what a chapati was. In fact, I was certain several someones had, probably followed by a list of ingredients. But the word banged around in my brain’s dictionary, the entry blank. Maybe it was the oily bread bloated with potato crumbs, or the minty yogurt customers used to dilute the curries they insisted on ordering five-stars, too spicy for most American palates. I hoped the customer couldn’t sense my panic.

“I'm sorry?” I asked, sliding the plate and accompanying tin of rice onto the table. The bowl of red goo I was balancing for table two was starting to burn my other hand.

“Doesn’t. This. Come. With. Chapatis?” He metered out the sentence, a frustrated breath punctuating the final word.

“Let me check,” I promised, but then the woman at the table spoke up.

“You don't know?” she asked. I shook my head and smiled forcedly, as though the corners of my mouth were magnetically opposed to twitching so far upward.

Dana E said...

Name: Dana Edwards
Genre: MG, contemporary

Pitch: Harold has ruined twelve-year-old Jake’s social life for the last time, but his knowledge of expert plays might come in handy when Jake’s baseball team plays the undefeated Comets and perhaps Harold can teach Jake that friends come in all sorts of packages.

On the first day of sixth grade, I cracked open the door and looked outside. The bus stop was empty. So far, so good. I’d figured Harold’s mom would drive him this year like she did when he was in kindergarten.

Harold has trouble when it comes to new things. Well, that’s one of his problems.

I walked toward the stop a free man. Then from behind I heard, “Hey Jake! Jake! Wait up, Jake! It’s 8:03. Bus Number 6 will be here at 8:07.”

I walked faster and called over my shoulder, “Thanks for the update, Harold. I didn’t know I was so early. Tomorrow, I’ll sleep in a whole 4 minutes.”

Harold caught up with me and said, “I woke up at 6:32, but Mom said I couldn’t come out until I saw you.”


“Hey, Jake, have you ever heard of Harvey Haddix?” he asked while he rummaged through his bookbag.

I knew what he was looking for. Each year before school started, Harold added one green composition notebook to his school supply list and in that notebook he kept track of the times he beat me at anything—Texas Hold’em, NCAA 12, checkers. He’d write down the date, the game, and the score. He also wrote down baseball stats.

“Yeah, Harold, I know all about Harvey.”

I didn’t have a clue but I thought just this once, Harold wouldn’t go into his never-ending monologue about one more Major League ballplayer I’d never heard of.

Shanika L. Bynum said...

Name: Leiann Bynum
Title: Superteens in Training
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy with Sci-fi elements

Pitch: Five sixteen-year-old girls of various races develop a bonding friendship while dealing with the stress of becoming secret teenage superheroes.

First 250 words:

The seatbelt restraints barely held her in place as she was jolted in her seat. The whole spaceship rumbled and shook as it came to an abrupt stop. Its engines purred softly as they powered down. Then, silence.

Malaysa breathed a sigh of relief, and figured it was safe to open her eyes. The way her seat was slanting, she could tell the ship hadn’t landed as it should have. She glanced at the control panel in front of her, and saw its multi-colored lights flashing wildly. She guessed that meant something had malfunctioned, but since the ship’s course hadn’t been set by her, she couldn’t have done anything wrong.

Her hands fumbled with the clasp of her restraints, and when she had freed herself, she stood up out of the half-spherical seat, holding onto the sides as she tried to get her wobbly feet to support her. The flight had lasted about six hours, and she had barely moved at all in that time, which was why she was so stiff. Her anxiety about traveling so far away from home for the first time had left her paralyzed.

She felt alone…but then, she wasn’t alone.

She looked up and checked the five other occupied seats. To her relief, all the babies appeared safe. She stumbled her way over to each child, giving them closer inspections. The Sleep Plugs in their ears had kept them from waking during the ride, but the devices only lasted for eight hours. In less than two hours, Malaysa would be dealing with five hungry, crying infants all by herself.

LadyBug said...

Name: Amy Smith
Genre: YA Magic Realism

Pitch: When a fairy godmother grants an obese teen's wish to be thin, she finally pursues the guy of her dreams.

When Tanner Knight asked me to the Winter Ball, I lied and said I’d go with him. Seriously, I’ve had a crush on him forever. He’s kind of tall with messy brown hair, hazel eyes, and the most amazing smile.

We’ve been messaging and texting for the last couple of months but he thinks my name is Ella and I go to a charter school and compete in equestrian shows. He has no idea I sit one row over and a desk behind him in AP English. And he has no idea how much I notice about him like the little rip in the cuff of his favorite gray hoodie, or the tiny scar on his jaw, or how he always folds his gum wrapper instead of wadding it into a ball.

But Tanner never really notices me because I wear my biggest flaw for the whole world to see. Some girls cheat on their boyfriends or backstab their friends, but you can’t tell that just by looking at them. Everyone sees I’m 127 pounds overweight—I’m basically the elephant in the room.

So no way am I going to the Ball. I’d rather die than see the shock and disappointment on his face if I went. Part of me knows I should give up even thinking he’d ever be interested in me, but part of me can’t give up dreaming that if he knew the real me, he’d see past my weight.

Anonymous said...

Name: Jennifer M. Hartsock
Title: Battleground
Genre: Realistic YA

Sixteen-year-old Lilly Dawson was never one to question fate, but after befriending Gabriel Parker, new meaning shapes Lilly’s world — our choices, not some ultimate plan, define who we are.

First 250 Words:
In the city of Kinhedge, California, surrounded by the loud buzz of party chatter, horns and cheers boomed from outside in celebration of the New Year. With the last few days of Christmas vacation drawing near, everyone was eager to have a bit of fun before sophomore year started again. People in party hats with whistles and streamers gathered in clusters throughout the house—smiles and laughter galore—guzzling down alcohol. I remained seated in the kitchen corner, imagining myself somewhere different.

Samantha Withnell stood across the kitchen island from her friends, Ping-Pong ball in hand. She had teased her blond-streaked chestnut hair, but from the humidity of many people in a small space, it looked like a sticky mess of styling product. Her eyes peaked over her shoulder, and my hands shielded my face.

“I’m not here.”

“Lilly, quit pouting and help me.” The stern look in her eyes confirmed her impatience with my attitude. Sam abandoned the island, catching me up in her whirlwind, and plummeted into the armchair with me. “Young lady, we’re getting down to the wire!”

The small crucifix around my neck rested at my collar, and I gripped it in my hand, making sure the pendent was tightly secured to the chain. If I was stranded in a pit of drunken classmates, I needed the best guidance possible.

“I’ll play only if we go home early.”

Sam furrowed her eyebrows. “Deal.”

Carrie-Anne said...

(Pen) Name: Carrie-Anne Brownian
Genre: Upper MG historical with elements of social satire

Pitch: When Katherine Brandt immigrates to an unusual Atlantic City neighborhood in 1938, she dreams of becoming a real American girl without compromising her Jewish faith, while her new best friend Cinnimin learns there’s more than one way to be an American.

First 250:

Cinnimin Filliard reached for the candy bowl on her father’s desk and popped a handful of gumdrops into her mouth. Her father had said the five longterm houseguests they were expecting would arrive today, and she figured indulging her sweet tooth would help get rid of her nervousness and put her mind on other things.

“Can I see your photo albums, Daddy? I wanna know what they look like before they move in. I hope they’re nicer houseguests than Aunt Lucinda, Uncle Jasper, and stupid Elmira.”

Mr. Filliard smiled indulgently at his pet child. “You know you never need my permission to do anything.”

Cinni took a photo album and plopped down on the floor. “Oh, brother, this Katherine girl really needs a makeover. No one wears long skirts anymore.” She pushed her long curly hair out of her face. “Who better than the Most Popular Girl to make her over?”

“They’re religious Jews, I told you. They do things a little differently. I don’t know much about Jewish denominations, but they’re not the strictest one. I’m sure Katherine will tell you she’s got reasons of her own for wearing clothes that look a little out of fashion to you. You know most girls these days have much shorter hair than yours, but you have your own reasons for never wanting another haircut.”

Cinni went to the front window and raised the curtain. “I don’t see their taxi yet. Do you think they got lost?”

Rachel said...

Name: Rachel
Genre: YA edgy contemporary

One-sentence pitch: Told in non-linear chronology, 16 year old Jenna tries to figure out how she spiralled out of control and ended up with her parents divorced and a dead boyfriend.

First 250 words sample:

Today was the day.

My fingers drummed impatiently on desk as my ears honed in on the hands of the clock inching forward.

Tick, tick, tick...

God, could it go any slower?

I slid my gaze over to glance at Cass. He grinned back at me, tapping the pocket of his jeans. My eyes were immediately drawn to the bulge there. I couldn’t suppress the smile that took over my face and he winked back at me. Our flirting caused Mr. Garrison to cough impatiently in our direction, but I ignored him. Right now, nothing mattered to me but Cass and our plan.

I couldn’t wait. I couldn’t wait to prove them all wrong. They were all a bunch of idiots if they thought they could keep us apart. My pulse danced inside my wrist and I flicked my hand back and forth, stopping for only a moment to realize this would be the last time I ever felt it.

The bell rang, sending everyone scattering out the door. I raised my eyebrows at Cass, but he shook his head, “Timing is everything, Jenna.”

As we filed out into the hallway, Cass grabbed my hand in his sweaty palm. How was it possible for Cass to be nervous? He was the one had suggested this. Did it mean he was having second thoughts? Should I be having second thoughts? He must’ve been reading my mind because he squeezed my hand tightly.

John Sankovich said...

Name: John Sankovich
Title: The Gifted
Genre: YA Supernatural

One-Sentence Pitch: When people with supernatural gifts are hunted, sixteen-year-old telekinetic Rebecca Stevens has come to terms that people want her dead—her brother included.

First 250 words:

Rebecca Stevens stared at the crate twenty yards away; the breeze blew her hair across her eyes. The weight of the railroad spike hovering nearby rested on her mind. The sensation of a foreign object inside her head quickened her pulse like always. At her command the spike spun. Her skill had improved over the past months, during her very limited practice time, but one thing remained constant; if she didn’t manage her emotions she lost any sort of accuracy. Perfect concentration was required, and she hardly ever achieved that.
With her energy focused, sweat ran down her back and neck. A stiff wind chilled her cheek and rattled the nearby trees. A twig snapped and she glanced toward the sound. A dog stood in the clearing, its brown eyes studying her. At least he wouldn’t give away her secret.
A tingle intensified in her fingertips to the point of triggering an adrenaline rush, and she flung the spike toward the target. With a whoosh, the spike nailed the target a bit to the left. The wood box splintered, the crack of the wood echoed, and birds scattered from the nearby trees and the dog barked once before his escape. The spike drove into the ground, out of sight, behind a puff of dirt, as the force propelled it deep. Someone shouted in the distance, and she bolted toward the cover of the trees. She hid in the shadows of the trees like a criminal. Her body shook from the telekinetic exertion and with someone hearing the sound, they would come investigate.

Anonymous said...

Name:Maribeth Graham

Mel Whitlock thinks doing “Scents” at the secret underground clubs of NYC is awesome until she gets kidnapped and taken to The Orphanage. A place where people are hypnotized into believing it’s where they belong.

Someone once asked me how it felt to have faith. My reply was, “Having faith when you know you are a sinner gives you promise that even you can be saved.” I never thought that my faith would make me a catalyst to defeat evil. I wasn’t looking to save anyone. I was just hoping that in the end I would be saved


I am sitting on a cold floor in a dimly lit hallway. In the distance I could see the glow of fluorescent lights. Random shuffles of movement can be heard. I squint. Three figures are moving towards me.
My breath escapes me as the figures get closer. My body is paralyzed with fear. I want to get up and run but instead I do nothing. Two beautiful boys stand in front of me smiling while a beefy woman in the center looks at me cautiously. My eyes dart from each face. The boy to the right of the woman looks like a Greek god with caramel colored hair. The style reminds me of Michelangelo’s famous David sculpture. His dangerously inviting smile illuminates the darkened space.
The second boy is just as stunning as the first. His body is leaner. His hair is darker and his bangs are longer but his wicked smile replicates the first boys. I am looking at their faces but not their eyes. An inexplicable instinct warns me not to look straight into their eyes

Bill Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill Scott said...

Name - Bill Scott
Contemporary YA

Electrocuted in sixth period physics lab, sixteen-year-old Margaret Ethel is given two options — go to Heaven or return to Earth to save the girl who killed her.

It's not every day someone dies in Mr. Sample's sixth period physics class. I guess if Freddie Johnson were telling this story, she'd say, "It's not every day you kill your best friend in the Samp's sixth period physics class." But she's not telling this story. I am.

Killed, not murdered. It was an accident. Freddie's crazy, but not psycho crazy. She doesn't go around willy-nilly killing people. But she is always getting into trouble, which was both great fun for me and a royal pain in my you know what.

We were in lab and Mr. Sample was going on about something, but I wasn't listening. I was updating my Facebook page to say I'm now completely and definitely single. Just so you know, we're not supposed to use our cell phones during class or even in the hall, but this was an emergency. Thankfully, I did, and just in time. Now Kent Adams will always be remembered as the guy who broke up with me on the day I died.

Perfect, it's what he deserves. He dumped me at lunch. I was devastated during fourth period, angry in fifth, and over him by sixth. I'm a quick griever. I told him I wasn't ready. I'm barely sixteen and we'd only been dating for three measly little weeks. I guess when it didn't happen at prom, he figured he'd move on. That's fine. Bye-bye.

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

Name: K. Garnick Giarratano
Title: Grunge Gods & Graveyards
Genre: YA Paranormal

Pitch: Set in 1996, seventeen-year-old Lainey Bloom must uncover a greedy politician's hand in the murder of her ghostly boyfriend, but in order to save her lover's soul, she must lose him forever.

First 250 words:
June 1996
My skin ignited where he kissed me. His soft lips brushed the nape of my neck and I shivered despite the warm summer night. He brought his mouth to mine and kissed me harder this time. His fingers played with the hem of my worn cotton t-shirt, grazing the skin above my hip bone. I could barely catch my breath.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” I whispered into his chest.
“Me neither,” Danny said. He moved back slightly, separating us by inches, and tilted up my chin. “Lainey, I’ve always liked you.” It didn’t sound like a line or maybe I just didn’t want it to be, even though I was hooking up with Winter Woods’ boyfriend, my high school’s reigning mean queen. But Danny and I were at Irving Plaza, at least eighty miles from our isolated town. No one knew us here.
It seemed like forever ago when The Afghan Whigs fan club newsletter arrived in the mail. I waved the piece of paper at my sister Liz, who had been home from college for the weekend. “Take me, will ya?” I asked, my eyes bright with excitement. It was not everyday The Whigs went on tour and I just had to go. Had to. I mean what if I died tomorrow and never saw them perform live.
Liz just shook her head no. “Take Wilder,” she said.
I put my hand on my hips. “You know her uncle hates me. He won’t allow it.”

Kristy Shen said...

Name: Kristy Shen
Genre: YA Fantasy


15-year-old Persephone is obsessed with getting into Heaven, but she just can’t seem to stay dead and she has no idea why.

First 250 words:

You know that ringing you get in your ears? Like, when you stand too close to a speaker at a concert? Not a lot of people know this, but that’s actually the sound of the cells in your ear dying. What you’re hearing is actually the last time you’ll ever get to hear that particular note. When it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

And when your eardrum gets blown apart like mine just did, it’s kind of like that, times about a million.

It was as if there was an entire orchestra of notes, all ringing, all dying, and even though my other ear still worked I couldn’t hear a thing. That sound just drowned out everything. It drowned out the sirens, it drowned out the screaming. It even drowned out the firefighter who was trying to drag me to safety. I think he was yelling something at me. Was he saying “No”? Or maybe “Go”? I couldn’t tell. I couldn’t hear. And I was never really good at reading lips.

I blinked, staring up at the sky. Everything was coming in and out of focus for some reason. Blurry, sharp, blurry, sharp. Was there something wrong with my eyes too?

Ironically, it was actually a nice day.

The sky was blue, bluer than I had ever seen before. And in the distance, flocks of birds twittered, darting this way and that, chasing each other like playful children. Briefly, the sun winked at me before disappearing beneath a group of puffy white clouds and I sighed as a warm summer breeze washed over me.

Unknown said...

Sarah Negovetich
YA Urban Fantasy

When Stacie learns she can hear thoughts, theoretically, she finds out even powers you don’t want come with strings attached.

Leaning against the wall of lockers, staring at room 103, I pictured a flashing, neon sign glowing above my head. Amidst all their cheerful greetings, exaggerated due to a three month summer hiatus, the subtle whispers of 'new girl' scratched at my ears. In a town this size, new faces stuck out like a church in Hell. What I wouldn't give to peek inside a few heads and find out what they thought of me. Although, what I wanted even more was Anna standing next to me.
Thinking about the best friend I left behind wrapped a wide band around my chest and squeezed. I blinked my eyes in rapid succession to fight back the tears prickling up. Crying on the first day of school was not an option. Anna wasn’t here and no amount of boo-hooing on my part would change that. Her voice rang loud and clear in my head. Stacie Marie Gunthar, they are gonna love ya. Do you think I’m best friends with a big ol’ looser? Heck no! Now get in there and show ‘em what you’re made of.
Despite growing up in Memphis, where the southern accent isn’t nearly as thick as the movies would have people believe, Anna talked like molasses flowing in January. She always complained about inheriting her parent’s Louisiana way of speaking, but I knew she secretly loved it. Anna had a way of making different fabulous. Today, different was the last thing I wanted.

Anonymous said...

Name: Heather Riffle
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Hypnotherapy confirms Ali’s suspicions that a Vampire illegally glamoured away two days of her memory – and she wants to know why – but she never counted on having fallen for him or that she has become the target of another, more powerful Vampire.

A tear rolls down his cheek. His hands are cold on my face, and the intensity of his eyes hold me enthralled. Their blue depths swallow me like a wintery river. I struggle against the current but quickly realize the futility. I can’t make it back to the surface. He won’t let me. I am drowning. I’m freezing… But, somehow, I hear his voice through the ice above.

“This is the only gift I can give you, Ali. Forget. I do not exist. I never did. I am but a figment of a memory of a dream you cannot recall.”

And, just like that… all I have of him is gone.


I sit across from my new therapist and study my interlocked fingers with the utmost diligence. The black polish on my nails is in need of a touch up.

“So. Alison – ”

My head jerks up. “Ali. Everyone calls me Ali.”

He stares at me for a moment before nodding. “Ali. Why don’t we start at the beginning? Why are you here?”

“Dr. Albert – my old therapist – had a couch. You don’t have a couch.” I glance at the matching armchair beside me.

“Would you be more comfortable if you could lie down?”

“No. I was just making an observation. I never used Dr. Albert’s couch. I’d feel too vulnerable lying down.” My eyes go back to my fingers, as I chip at the polish.

“You seem nervous. Why do you think that is?”

Katie Dunn said...

NAME: Kathleen Doyle
TITLE: The Changeling
GENRE: YA Paranormal Romance

Just released from a mental institution, Amanda comes face to face with the creature that sent her there in the first place.

FIRST 250: (246)

I came home from the hospital on the anniversary of my sister’s death. Mom chatted away with nervous energy, fingers tapping on the wheel of the car as she drove. I watched the trees go by, wondering what the new house looked like. Mom brought pictures on a visit once, but pictures don’t always tell the whole truth.
“I got you registered for school last week,” she said.
I blinked. “What?”
“I got you registered for school. Eleventh grade.”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
“You have another week before school starts, so you’ll have time to prepare.” She cast a quick glance my way. “Besides, Dr. Morris said you should get used to a normal routine and what’s more normal for a sixteen-year-old than high school?”
I shook my head and turned to the window again. Normal for me was different than most teenagers my age. I knew as soon as I stepped foot in the school everyone would know me as the crazy girl who spent four-and-a-half years in the nut house.
“So you talked to Dr. Morris about this?”
“Of course I did, honey,” she said, exasperated. “I’m not going to do anything that would-”
“Send me to Nutsville again,” I said.
“Hey, Dr. Morris has said time and time again the emotional trauma you went through would have left its mark on any young girl.” She choked up a little. There were tears in her eyes she refused to let fall.

Louisa said...

Name: Louisa Clarkson
Genre: MG Fantasy Adventure
Pitch: Mastermind Academy’s latest recruit, twelve year old Isabelle Tresdon has five days to save her magical, silver strand of hair before it drains her life, but the two tricksters sent to revive it have other plans.

250 words:
“Earth to Isabelle. Earth to Isabelle.” A computerised martian voice shook Isabelle from her thoughts. “Do you copy Captain Tresdon?”
Isabelle glanced up at the eyeball peeping through a scrolled up notebook. Normally her best friend, Bianca’s silly voices had Isabelle in stitches, but right now she wasn’t in the mood. Not when a dull ache had inflicted grief upon her scalp since mid-morning. One particular spot near her right temple felt like a needle was poking through her skin. If she had worn her shoulder length, auburn hair in a high pony tail she could blame that, but today she wore it out.
She massaged the top of her forehead for several moments hoping it might relieve the pain. Fat lot of good it did. The tender skin flamed at her touch and she winced. Squeezing her text book tighter to her chest, she groaned and leant her head against the row of lockers lining the wall.
“Major Higgins is preparing for takeoff,” Bianca repeated in her little, green man voice, gesturing with her stumpy thumb at the stream of seventh graders filing inside the classroom.
School shoes squeaking on the linoleum floor sent ripples of pain through Isabelle’s head. Clearly this was no ordinary headache. Maybe she’d copped a bruise from colliding with Jemima’s bangled wrist during gym class in first period. Whatever it was, why did she have to cop it right before Mr Higgins class? Out of all her subjects at Hilton High, science was by far her favourite.

Morgan Hyde said...

Name: Morgan Hyde
Genre: YA Fantasy

When stealing her cousin back from the king goes horribly awry, 17-year-old farmer's daughter Renata lands in the gladiatorial arena, fighting for her own and her cousin's life.


When I arrived home from the market, Mother was waiting in for me the doorway, eyes wide.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Rumour has it the High Priest is coming to town.”

I swore. I knew what that meant. Still, I tried to reason with her. “If rumours are just starting, surely we have some time yet. Leta and I don’t need to -”

“You’re going into the attic tonight.” Her tone brooked no dissent.

“Yes Mother.” I dropped my market basket on the kitchen table with a sigh and joined my cousin Leta our room.

I hated hiding. But it was better than being taken, and so I grumbled only quietly as Leta and I grabbed the personal belongings we would need for a few days living in the attic. It wasn't much, mostly knitting and books to stave off the boredom. We weren't even supposed to talk, not if we could help it, in case someone overheard.

A few minutes later, the whole family gathered at the top of the stairs to open the hidden door to the attic. It was designed to be difficult to see and even harder to open. Father had to lead out precariously over the stairs and hoist little Theo onto his shoulders so he could press the catch.

The trapdoor swung open smoothly. Once Leta and I were inside, we would pile heavy trunks atop it so even if the latch were pressed the door would not open. But first we had to get inside.

Deserae McGlothen said...

Name: Deserae McGlothen
Genre: MG Science Fiction

Pitch: Alien Drew Vardaman runs away to Earth in order to take control of her predestined life, but when a parasitic shadow starts possessing the students of Planet Jr. High, Drew has to learn to hone her powers in order to save her friends and change her own future.

First 250:
Planet Jr. High is weird; there’re no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Hesitantly, I step out of the Beyond and into an indent in the dusty blue carpet. As I assess my surroundings, I decide that this room is strange, indeed.
A solid wall of books wraps around us: stacked one on top of another, thousands of tomes stare spine first into the circle, isolating us from the rest of the world. There are no windows but the Beyond radiates light. Behind me, the wisp of smoke that transported us here curls lazily around the beam shining through it, and ahead, the elder twin waits expectantly, his dark arms hanging rigidly at his sides.
It is quiet here, wherever here is. My noiseless footfalls take me further into the open space. As Wyatt walks around the room running his hand along the wall, I watch him go around once, and then twice, and then a third time, for good measure. Then he stops, exhaling impatiently through his nostrils. I turn away from him as he crosses his arms and leans against the books. He is not easy to talk to, I’ve found.
My heart pounds against my chest. Finally, I’m on Earth, but I do not feel safe, yet. I fear this is a dream. That I am not here. That any minute, now, the sifka will be coming for me. I shudder at the thought of my commanding officer, Egrea, finding me gone in the morning.

Simeon G. Mann said...

Name: Simeon G. Mann
Title: Magicia: Birth of the Twins
Genre: Adult Fantasy

One sentence pitch: In a world permeating with magic, a teenage boy barrels down a dangerous path searching for truth about his father’s kidnapping while trying to resolve the surprise addition of twin siblings who possess unmatched magic for reasons no one can explain.

First 250 words:
It was still a deep black outside when Jeeloo Choss and his mother, Elyla, left the house to participate in the Morning Bend. It had been over three years since they last participated, and it was something every Yoophorian looked ahead to eagerly. But as they walked along lantern-lit roads towards the Bend’s site, Jeeloo was focused on his mother, and not on the coming ceremony. She was fourteen months pregnant, almost at the end, and with Jeeloo’s father having been kidnapped by the Krawlings just after Elyla’s pregnancy showed itself, Jeeloo felt a bittersweet need to keep a watchful eye upon his mother.

So much had changed since their last time at the Bend. Then, Jeeloo was just fourteen and none would have mistook him for a man. Now, though his face was still young, his body was older, taller, broader. And his eyes were tired. Then, it was he who felt watched over, protected, as he walked between his father and mother. Now, he wasn’t sure who was leading who as his mother walked beside him, one hand on her belly.

Reaching the site, Jeeloo and Elyla moved among the people, stopping to greet friends and neighbors. This latest site of the Morning Bend was just inside the border of their province, in front of the Banyan trees. The Banyans almost reached the clouds, but bent inward and intertwined at their tops, blocking the rays of the Sunstar, which hung permanently in the sky above.
Standing among the people, the Tatee waited patiently.

Lorie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Don McFatridge said...

Name: Don McFatridge
Genre: Upper MG Fantasy

When thirteen-year-old Mike’s crush, HS freshie Teagan and her painful pal, Rachel get trapped in Teagan’s comatose twin’s nightmare, Mike must decide: call 911 and risk losing Teagan forever, or rescue the two Sleeping Beauties‭—‬oh, and maybe Rachel too.


A bobblehead on steroids wobbled inside my chest as I waited to see Teagan in a dress, hair combed and not under a cap. She had decked out to visit her twin sister in chronic care, knowing somehow it made, Sleeping Beauty happy.

Well, she didn’t make me happy, stepping off the bus with her dress tucked into track pants. The ponytail draped outside her baseball cap along with pal, Rachel, whose nickname for me, MGM‭—‬middle-grade Mike, completed the disappointment. As they neared the porch, I touched my chin for sympathy.

“Jaw hurt more than your pride?” Rachel asked.
I smiled at Teagan. “You could have punched my shoulder.”
Her eyes sparkled. “You could have asked permission to kiss me.”
“I got excited seeing the future Mrs. Grabczyński strikeout twelve guys.”
“Baker’s dozen counting you?” Rachel laughed. “Also, if you wanna crack at little Miss Teacup. You better take shop. Build a time machine, and have your parents drink that bottle of wine two years earlier.”

There, Rachel said it, the reason ‭Teagan fouled my pitch. Simple as 1-2-3. ‬One year. Two months. Three days. Our age difference and my Kryptonite. “Two years won’t matter after we’re married for fifty.”
“Careful,” Rachel said. “Hold hands during the séance and you might be engaged.”

I ignored Rachel, hoping she would leave on her broom. “Why we messing with voodoo dolls anyway?”
“I promised my sister, and they’re not voodoo dolls.”
“Good, because I forgot to bring a chicken.”

JShelby said...

Name: Jennifer Shelby
Title: The Incredibly Truthful Diary of Nature Girl
Genre: middle grade fiction

Things happen in the forest; things you would never believe.

January 3rd
I saw a unicorn once. I can feel the pages of this diary smothering their laughter so I’d best explain myself (very naughty of you, diary, considering we’ve only just begun).
My family and I were camping in Fundy National Park when I rose early one morning to watch the forest. I wanted to walk in the enchanted Acadian Forest all alone in the dewy morning before any other human wanderers woke. I knew the low sun would set the golden tendrils of the yellow birch alight with faerie magic. I desperately wanted to be a part of the faerie world that would awaken there. I quickly scampered over the marshy boardwalks and into the forest where the wet ground muffled my footsteps, careful to make sure that Mom and Dad could still see me from the tent if they needed to. Few birds were chirping and the silence settled around me like a mist over the forest.
Then one noise did come to me as I silently bounded up a small slope; a twig cracking to my left. I looked over quickly and caught sight of a lovely black rump disappearing silently into the forest. I instinctively knew, without a doubt, that it was a unicorn. For a moose, even a calf, was never so elegantly shaped. This was rather like a small thoroughbred, and the light that reflected off the well-muscled hindquarters revealed the coat to be short-haired, sleek, and black as night. A moose would have been shaggy and brown.

John Hansen said...

Name: John Hansen
Genre: YA thriller

Pitch: For sixteen-year-old Alex Tanner, finding a webpage of himself five years into the future is totally cool and all until he logs on one morning and his status reads: DECEASED.

First 250:

[F-word is ***ed out. Please note that it is one of only two? F-bombs in the whole book, so it isn't like it's on every page. :-)]


It rolled off their tongues, sliding out before they even realized it was said. It was a simple word—so perfectly innocent and commonplace. Perhaps Alex Tanner shouldn’t have let it bother him. Perhaps he should’ve just kept his head down and let it go. It wasn’t like his father’s death was their faults. But in just a day, he’d heard “Sorry” so often that it was almost meaningless—and f***ing annoying.

In reality, maybe it wasn’t the word that bothered Alex so much. Maybe it was the thought behind it that bothered him. By muttering a simple “sorry,” they thought they could make it all better. They thought everything would magically fall into place. Well, here was some news for them: It never did.

When Alex forced himself through the front doors of his school that first day back, things started to suck even more. Heads turned, students hushed each other, and within seconds, a thick silence washed over the locker area. A sea of curious faces stared. All eyes were trained on one unlucky soul.
Oh, for the love of god.

After a minute of exchanging stares, he took a tentative step forward. They shuffled to the side, huddled against each other. Were they scared of him or something? Another step. Another shuffle. A sigh propelled Alex down the hall, and they all parted to let him pass, as if the murder was somehow contagious. He broke into a fast walk. The berth between him and everyone else widened. He felt like he was walking down the aisle at his father’s funeral all over again. The slight nods, the fake sympathy, the grim faces.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks for all your entries! The contest is now closed. Because of the overwhelming response, it may take Kate a little longer to go through all the entries, but I'll announce the winner as soon as she picks one. Good luck!