Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Contest with Agent Carrie Pestritto of the Prospect Agency!

The contest is now CLOSED. Thanks for participating! 

The Agent-Judged Contest starts NOW!

1) This contest is ONLY OPEN for Diverse YA and NA manuscripts #WNDB. (Only FINISHED manuscripts.) For more information, click HERE.

2) This is for unagented writers only.

3) You should post your query pitch (not the whole query) and the 1st page on the comment of THIS post. The entry should read like this:

-Your Name
-Title of your book
-Word-count of your manuscript
-Your email
-The pitch (just the meat of the query)
-The first 250-ish words of your ms. 
- Bonus: link to Twitter (optional--explained below) 

4) Please, spread the word. I’m not going to haunt you if you don’t, but it’d make me REALLY happy if lots of people came to participate.

5) The contest will close tomorrow at 8 AM EDT (7/8/15). 

ALSO, as a BONUS!! If you read NA fiction and are considering reading my debut FROSH (Oct 20, 2015), you can win a random query critique from Carrie.  
All you have to do is tweet saying why you'd like to read FROSH. 

Sample tweet: I want to read @Monica_BW 's FROSH because [ _reason + link to Goodreads

Then, copy/paste the link to your tweet at the bottom of your entry. And that's it! I'll choose a random winner and Carrie will critique your query for you!



  1. Artemis Grey
    YA Contemporary with diverse characters.
    Word Count 83,500


    Shy, eighteen-year-old albino, Ansel, thought letting the girl with the injured ankle sleep in his parents’ shed was a good idea. That was before she passed out in his shower, woke up in a panic and accidentally attacked him. Any average guy would have called the cops but average isn’t Ansel’s style. And honestly, who would trade in a cute, albeit slightly bent, girl for a bunch of no-nonsense police officers anyway?

    Ansel nicknames the girl Catskin, and begins the dubious task of earning her trust. A few awkward conversations later, two things are clear: Catskin doesn’t want to be the way she is, but she doesn’t think she can change. Challenge accepted. Ansel won’t give up until Catskin understands that being different doesn’t mean she’s wrong.

    While the details of Catskin’s past remain elusive, she creates a new place for herself with Ansel and his family, and develops her own brand of normalcy. But when a near-drowning leaves Catskin hovering near death, Ansel is forced to contact her estranged parents. His actions provoke a shocking confrontation between the wealthy world Catskin was born into, and the starkly average one she now shares with Ansel.

    Refusing to give up the imperfect girl who fits perfectly inside his heart, Ansel goes to war with Catskin’s father, who wants his daughter permanently committed to an asylum.

    First 250:

    I have never been that guy. You know, the one surrounded by adventure and covered in awesomesauce. That would be my younger brother, Ethan. But Ethan wasn’t in the book shed that night, I was. It’s not like you get to pick and choose life-altering events the way you do socks from the bargain bin.
    I went out to the shed for a bottle of spine glue for a book repair. Simple. But when I flipped on the overheads, there was a shrunken zombie lurking just inside the doorway. I screamed. And immediately bumped a broom which slid sideways, hit the light switch and left me stranded in the dim twilight of the Alaskan summer.
    When my brain wasn’t immediately harvested, I took several deep breaths. Convinced myself that I had not, in fact, just seen a zombie in the book shed. Turned the light back on.
    It was still there. But it wasn’t a member of the undead at all. It was a girl. Filthy, tangled, rumpled and undersized, but definitely female. Definitely alive. Her mouth hung partway open, eyes wide, yet disturbingly empty. The void inside her was menacing. A sort of awful maw that might chew me up, if I got within reach. Which, I had no intention of doing.
    Hell, I couldn’t even find my voice to bother asking who she was, where she’d come from or why she was in my shed. Of course, she wasn’t exactly a Chatty Cathy, herself. The way her yellow-green eyes trailed up and down me said plainly that she couldn’t even decide if I was human.
    Being albino always seems to have that effect on people.

  2. Charley Pearson
    YA-historical with diverse characters/setting
    85K words


    The FBI wants Kristy Hara. They arrest her immigrant Japanese parents for espionage on Pearl Harbor Day, and they think Kristy helped. If they catch her, she’s dead. So she flees the country, hoping for a chance to make up for her mother’s crime. To redeem her family's honor.

    Then the neutral freighter she stows away on gets diverted to occupied Korea, to an island with a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. And the camp is home to medical experiments.

    It’s simple, really. All Kristy has to do is blend in without arousing suspicion, find a way to infiltrate the POW camp, help any prisoners she can while they accuse her of playing ‘Jap mind games,’ learn some military intelligence to prove her loyalty back home, endure Japanese prejudice against Westerners that matches anything on the POW side, and, oh yeah, survive.

    FIRST 250-ish:

    I never set out to be a spy. It sort of crept up and ambushed me. That’s what happens to naive little fools.

    Then again, how could I have known what was coming?

    Never mind. I’ll make this record, while I still have time. Others can fill in my blanks, or pretty it up, or bury the whole thing. Perhaps the latter would be for the best.

    Anyhow, here goes.

    It began with dive-bombing sea gulls swooping above the knoll, the only decent park in Alameda, sucking my attention across the bay toward San Francisco and the illusion of a tolerable life. I knew better. Frisco was too close to home. Someone would recognize me.

    I brushed a stray leaf off my skirt, exposing the high school mascot embroidered along the hem. My mother’s idea, and the world’s ugliest beaver. A reward, she’d said, for putting enough precision into my ship drawings. I still heard the taunts when others saw it swishing there around my calf. That hardly mattered, though, and neither did my mother’s gesture, paltry and belated. My mind was set.

    I reached over and adjusted the chrysanthemum perched above Maxine’s ear. My friend smiled, and the wilting flower sagged again. Everything in life was sagging. Children squealed in a nearby playground, oblivious to the fact all creation was falling apart. I hopped up to recover a wayward ball and tossed it to a short cherub who seemed to need a turn.

    Floating strands of silky, ebon tresses whipped into my mouth as I sat down.

  3. Silas Champion
    Deadwood Gamble
    NA Romantic Adventure
    73,000 Words

    The Pitch:
    Twenty-year-old Alice Lin did not have “find lost treasure” on her spring break to-do list. Then Vance shows up with an old Chinese book that he asks her to translate because she’s the only Chinese person he knows.When she discovers that it holds the secret to a lost treasure hidden somewhere in the Black Hills, they travel to Chicago’s Chinatown to meet with a man who can help them decipher the book.

    There, a violent attack shows them that hidden treasure is a hard secret to keep. It might be best to let it go, but Vance really needs the money and Alice can’t resist a chance to solve the old mystery. As two separate gangs pursue them across the Northern Plains, Alice decides a country boy with a shotgun is a good thing to have. The longer they are together, though, it’s more than his shotgun she finds appealing. As their enemies close in, Alice must also face them with a pistol of her own. Yeah, this spring break did not turn out at all like she’d planned.

    First 250-ish:
    Alice turned her glass idly while she read Vance’s email again, wondering how in the world he’d got his hands on a Chinese book. After all she was probably the only Chinese person he knew. Well, he did know Andy, but he wouldn’t ask Andy to help him. Alice jabbed her straw at the lone remaining ice cube in her drink. Was he using this as an excuse to ask her out? Hopefully meeting him in the crowded student union would keep that from happening.
    She checked the time after scrolling through all her friends’ posts about how excited they were about spring break. He wouldn’t be late, she knew. For all his faults, he was punctual. Actually that was unfair. It wasn’t really his faults it was just, well, his Vanceness.
    Vance stood next to the coffee shop in the student union, watching the light glistening on her black hair. Usually she wore it in a ponytail but not today and that only made his palms sweat more. He wiped his hands on his faded Wranglers and took a deep breath. Don’t fall for her again, he told himself. You’re just here for information. It had taken him until February to stop thinking about her every day. He took another breath and stepped forward.
    “How’s it going?” he said when he reached her table. She turned and smiled. Damn, she was as hot as ever. Her dark brown eyes sparkled as she glanced up at him. She looked so neat and proper in her white sweater and black jacket. His pulse quickened.


  4. Debra McKellan
    YA Fantasy
    Word Count: 92,000


    Princess Ghuli is all that remains of the Crystal Bearers, the world’s most powerful but reclusive healers. If she’s right, the army of metal monsters that destroyed her people is always just one dream away from finding her and killing her, too.

    At seventeen years old, Ghuli believes a nightmare of an abandoned, decayed palace she keeps having is what draws the army to her. As they have found her twice now, not even her watchmen can help erase her worries. They certainly can’t help her control her bouts of astral projection and manipulating the elements when her tension runs high. The crystals in Ghuli’s hands and feet constantly summon these powers to save her and her watchmen without her even knowing how or why it happens. It’s as though they have a mind of their own.

    In actuality, they have her mind.

    Ghuli learns the world isn’t as it once was. She has reversed time. As a result her consciousness, which controls her powers, has split from her body and struggles to reunite with it. Her consciousness guides her towards the Great Scroll, the key to repairing herself and discovering what made her reverse time. By regaining control of her powers, Ghuli will stop the metal army and finally live in peace.

    But by learning why she reversed time, Ghuli will also see how she was the reason her people were destroyed.

    First 250:

    If things went how Ghuli desired, she would swing through the air in the next few minutes. Otherwise, she would have to explain to her watchmen why breaking her arms and legs was a good use of her time. She sat on a high, steady, blue willow branch deep in the forest, tying a cluster of its switches together. Every now and then, she glanced down--the branch had hardly seemed as far from the ground when she stood fifteen heads below it.

    But her First Lieutenant would find her soon, so she clutched the bark as she stood. The knots in her makeshift swing dangled at her toes when she stretched her arms out in front of her. They seemed a fairly risky footrest. Still, Ghuli stepped onto them with one foot, closed her eyes, and stepped with the other. Her breath caught as she fell through the air.


    First Lt. Cyan stood at the opening of the Forest of Weeping Willows, staring down the black sand path of the Eastern Road. “I don’t hear her anymore.”

    Laris, his Second Lieutenant, joined him. “She may have wandered off.”

    Cyan huffed. “She was supposed to stay on the road.”

    “You know the Princess, my brother.”

    All too well. Cyan walked into the forest, leaving the road for the western trees. Ghuli liked to climb them during sunset, when the forest gained a small fraction of warmth. He had enjoyed it, too, when they were kids. Now he just wanted Ghuli to obey him for once.

  5. Lyn Hawks


    Contemporary YA with diverse characters/LGBTIQ

    106,000 words


    9th grade hasn’t started too well for Minerva Mae Christopoulos, a highly precocious and prickly girl who’s survived some serious middle school bullying. All she wants this year is to become the next Christine Amanpour and hang with her best friend, Diana. And though her first wish is looking likely—the school just approved Minerva to be the first freshman reporter—there’s no time to celebrate, because the girls who used to call Minerva “lez” now want Di for their own. They’re not only stealing Di away; they’re setting her up with a sketchy senior guy. Diana, once the innocent evangelical, is suddenly on the fast track to cleavage-baring camis and the “Hot or Not” tournament. In a twisted culture of viral slut shaming and hushed assault, Minerva will have to muster every bit of journalistic genius to keep Di from becoming #thatslut—and not lose a girl who feels like more than a friend.

    Chapter 1: I Make My Case to the Man.

    Because Dr. Redden is six-foot-five, he is fearsomely tall even when sitting behind his desk. He smirks at me from beneath a daunting mustache, the shaggy likes of which haven’t been seen since the twentieth century.

    “So Journalism I isn’t good enough?” he says. He taps a key on his desktop computer. "Minerva Mae..." A pause. "Christo-pull-us?"

    "Chris-TOP-pool-us," I say. "It's Greek."

    He doesn’t seem to hear and keeps scrolling through what must be my online registration or his top-secret principal’s files. My heart flutters and my brain buzzes in search of an answer to his first question, but I stand straight as I can, because Mom used to say, “Stand tall and speak your truth!” I pretend I’m my beloved Christine Amanpour confronting a Middle Eastern despot and that my pits are NOT soaked with a monsoon of sweat.

    “Sir, if I accelerate into Journalism II, I can handle the challenge.”

    Dr. Redden scans my five-foot-ten inches like I’m a waste of female height. “We’ve never done that,” he snaps. He glances back at his computer. “Born in ’99… thirteen years old. You skipped a grade. Now you want another exception?”

    Damn. I thought using “sir” might help my case. Di will be disappointed.

    “Her work in middle school was exceptional,” Mr. Fairlane says quietly. Standing just behind me, he’ll be my Journalism II teacher if we can surmount this obstacle. A no-drama dude with a rather protuberant nose and glasses, a square jaw and pleasant dark eyes—kind of like Clark Kent if his nose inflated—he hands Dr. Redden my last issue of The Wolf’s Den, May 2012. It bears my famous editorial I wrote after a failed bake sale where I tried to charge the boys $1 per item and the girls, 77 cents. People didn’t get my point despite my explanatory posters, nor were they lured by my kick-ass brownies.

  6. Name: Kevin E. Jackson
    Title of your book: THE PROVING
    Genre: YA Epic Fantasy with Diverse Characters
    Word Count: 94K
    Email: TheTomeWriter@gmail.com
    The pitch:

    In the Land of Pasaron, the evil Red and the benevolent Silver phoenixes battle for mankind's allegiance. Forbidden from clashing directly, they bestow select humans with supernatural powers to fight in their stead in a cycle of combat called THE PROVING.

    But teenaged Princess Kir’Ana and young adventurer Annix are unaware of phoenixes or supernatural powers except within fanciful Bard's tales. Annix dreams of knighthood, while Kir’Ana seeks freedom from royal responsibilities.

    Recently, the country has been plagued by Emergents; youths who display supernatural powers followed by fits of murderous insanity. When Princess Kir'Ana, Annix, and their friends begin exhibiting magic abilities, they must hide their talents. They soon learn of their role as the Elect of the Silver Phoenix, and of their foe. Twisted Prince Julian and his brothers from the hostile MasMindon Empire have prepared for THE PROVING for years.

    Kir'Ana and Annix lead an inexperienced group of young Elect against the servants of the Red Phoenix. By learning self-sacrifice, the heroes win THE PROVING then defeat the invading MasMindon army. But Prince Julian is consoled by his dark masters; plans are already in place to ensure the ultimate victory of the Red Phoenix.

    First 250-ish words of THE PROVING:

    Kir'Ana awoke with a start during a hundred foot free-fall from the castle's moonlit heights. She gasped but could not scream as every muscle in her body tensed.

    Instinctively, she threw her hands before her face as if to somehow block the approach of death. As Kir’Ana closed her eyes for what she knew would be the last time, she still saw the castle's darkened Erin courtyard stretched out in her mind's eye. Kir’Ana pictured the triangular plaza in enormous detail, she realized ironically; shouldn't she instead be seeing her life - all sixteen Summers of it - flash before her eyes while she faced such a brutal end?

    Kir'Ana had always known that an assassin would one day bring about her demise, but how had they managed this?

    She felt cold stone on her hands and cried out as her forehead and knees smacked the unforgiving pavement. Kir'Ana rolled onto her back as a wave of dizziness struck. Clutching her forehead and panting as pain shot through her body, she sat up, opened her eyes, and fought to orient herself.

    Her eyes stung. Was it sweat? No, blood ran down the bridge of her nose from her forehead. She used the hem of her nightgown to wipe it away, ignoring her torn knees and toes, then looked around at the deserted courtyard filled with silvery light from the half-moon above. The ever-present sea breeze brought the brackish smell of the bay to her nose.

    Bonus: While I would love to read FROSH for fun, I'm afraid any critique I offered would not do the manuscript justice. I read fantasy almost exclusively, and lack knowledge about FROSH's genre. Sorry!

  7. Giora Mexico
    Contemporary YA
    69,000 words

    17-year-old Selena from Mexico wanted to find a boyfriend. But instead of one she found eleven, including a girl and a Chihuahua, waiting for her on Puerto Chiapas beach hoping that she will be their Mexican Girlfriend. With the help of American-Mexican teenager Xochitl, Selena journey to pick the one is full with surprises, conflicts and emotional roller coaster, including being kidnapped, until the surprising and happy ending. The story is set mostly all over Mexico but also in Guatemala, Chile, the US and more. Comps titles are The Heir (2015) by Kiera Cass and The Bachelorette TV Show. There is some magical realism (mermaid) and lgbt.

    First 250 words
    It was another hot day in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico. Selena was walking home and after eating a golden Ataulfo mango tried to detach her sweaty T-shirt from her chest. Her other hand was busy slapping at mosquitoes buzzing around her. A warm summer breeze gently played with her hair, while her mind was occupied with the mysterious boy from the other side of the river.
    A mild touch on her ankle interrupted her thoughts. Zancha was wagging her tail to announce their arrival at home. The single level Mayan house stood on top of greenish ground. Its layers of white paint were worn thin from many years of weather, revealing some bricks and moldy spots in the corners.
    The scent of hot corn emanating from inside the house enticed Selena to walk straight to the kitchen.
    “Where were you?” Doña Victoria asked while stirring a large saucepan with a wooden spoon.
    “Around.” Selena pulled off a strand of Oaxaca cheese from the whole braid on the table and put it into her mouth.
    “Where is around?”
    “Oh, you know.” Selena continued eating the cheese. “Just down by the river.”
    “What business do you have by the river?”
    “I’m hungry, what’s for lunch?”
    Selena wasn’t interested in getting involved in another discussion about her visits to the Suchiate River. She often waved her hand to the boy across the river. He waved back from Guatemala. When will he jump into the river and swim to me? Maybe I should bring binoculars to see his face.

  8. Name: L.N. Valín
    Title: NILE
    Genre: NA Fantasy with YA appeal.
    Word count: 99K
    Email nilelauravpvp@gmail.com
    The pitch:
    The only person that Laura can really trust is herself. Her entire life is built upon a mountain of secrets, from her father’s past to the enigmatic death of a mother she never knew.

    After an accident on Earth, physicist Laura wakes up in Haleos, a world in a different universe that resembles Ancient Egypt. In Haleos, Laura meets Arem, a young Pharaoh with a halo of fire in his eyes. When Arem sneaks Laura into the palace, Haslem–Pharaoh’s right-hand man and also secretly in love with him—poisons Laura under the belief that she is a spy.

    Laura soon discovers that nothing is what it seems: Universes are divided into three kinds of people: Coldborns, ordinary humans; Mystics, a small number of people with god-like abilities; and Deos, universe jumpers with an inborn evil nature.

    Returning home will not be an easy journey. Laura will have to locate a new black hole, although universe-traveling is forbidden. Yet, she might be the only one strong (and smart) enough to defeat Raeki, a Deo, the real menace to Haleos, and to every single universe. With his unlimited control over dark energy, Raeki plans to decimate all Coldborns so that the purest race, The Mystics, will prevail.

    -The first 250-ish words of your ms.
    Chapter 1
    Fate is an enigma only a few can decipher. Some believe in destiny, others believe in serendipity; I believe in both. If that day hadn’t been my birthday, I would have never taken that trip to Egypt. Or maybe I would have, but never at the right place, in the right time.

    [I choose light, but I also choose darkness.]

    “Happy twenty-third, Ms. Gold!” said Alan, sliding a blue envelope across the table.

    [Oh, here we go. Manufacturing smile in three, two, one…]

    Alan sat next to me and put down two plates filled with a strange concoction. Everything in the cafeteria of the University smelled horrible, even the coffee tasted like rusty iron and gasoline.

    “Gold, Laura Gold,” I retorted, grinning playfully back at him. I explored the surface of the envelope with my fingertips, attempting to foretell its content.

    “Come on, open your present.” Alan tapped his feet.

    I ripped open the envelope. My eyes widened at the sight of three plane tickets.

    “Cairo?” I raised an eyebrow in disbelief.

    “We leave the day after tomorrow. The university is paying. Professor Khaleo wants to show us some ‘significant progress’ in his research on black holes.” Alan shot me complicit look. “He would like to meet you. After all, you are the youngest Physicist at the University of California.”

    Alan was two years older than me and my best friend. He also had terrible taste in shoes. Black moccasins. Always black moccasins.

    I waved a dismissive hand at him. I was proud of graduating two years earlier than the norm, but I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, either.

    “Who’s our mystery guest?” I asked. “The third ticket, I mean.”

    “Kaley. I’ve managed to get her a job as a photographer. She had to be there. We’re the evil triad!” Alan laughed. “Will Steve be alright about it? I know you had plans.”

    I shrugged. I guess one should never shrug when asked about their boyfriend.

  9. Name: Marisa Urgo

    Title: The Signs We Missed

    Genre: YA Contemporary

    Word-count: 72,000

    Email: marisaurgo22@gmail.com

    Pitch: Sixteen-year-old Leah Woodlake gets sweaty palms and her stomach flips whenever she sees her classmate, Olivia. At first, she tries to tell herself that the bubbly feeling in her body is nerves. Olivia is a confident, pretty math whiz, so of course she'd make Leah nervous. But when Leah notices how Olivia smells like strawberries and wonders how soft her lips are, Leah realizes her feelings are something she is too afraid to name. The only person Leah can turn to is her sister, twenty-seven-year-old Brooke. Leah is hesitant to turn to her at first, considering Brooke's history of drug use when things get stressful.

    Yet, Brooke showers Leah with the support she needs to admit her feelings to Olivia. Brooke talks to Dad on Leah's behalf, but the conversation backfires. Dad admits he blames Brooke for Mom's death years ago and refuses to accept Leah's sexuality. The guilt over Mom's death and failing to help Leah sends Brooke voraciously back to her pills. Brooke struggles to keep herself together, if only for Leah's sake. However, there is no more hiding the truth when Leah and Olivia make a surprise trip to Brooke's apartment, and find Brooke unconscious on the bathroom floor. Leah must stand up for the sister she admires and the girl she loves, or lose them both.

    First 250 Words:

    My sister was late. As always.

    I sank down onto the wooden bench and dropped my backpack to the cool grass. The textbooks were wrecking my back, but I was lucky enough to have Bobby lug them for me over the past two months. Today, though, he hadn’t come to my locker after school like he usually did.

    I glanced behind me at the clock over the school’s main entrance. 3:02. Brooke was officially fifteen minutes behind schedule.

    I turned toward the row of buses and saw him. Bobby zipped out of the main entrance with his Yankees hat pulled forward over his eyes. His hood was up too, like he was trying to hide.

    “Bobby?” I called.

    He picked up the pace.

    “Bobby!” I got to my feet and took a few steps toward him. “Hey!”

    “Oh. Leah. Hi…” He avoided my eyes as if I were some stranger, not his girlfriend. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach.

    “I didn’t see you all day. What’s up?” I racked my brain for any reason why Bobby would ignore me. My hair was at least somewhat combed, I bothered to put on mascara this morning, and I didn’t even spill soda on my jeans at lunch.

    “Oh… nothing.” Bobby refused to meet my eyes. “I really have to catch the bus.”

    My chest tightened. “You’re acting weird.”

    Out of the corner of my eye, the bus rolled it’s wheels and left the parking lot.

    “Great.” Bobby sighed like someone kicked the air out of him.

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/Marisa_Urgo

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  11. Name: Erica Shaw (Ely Azure, pseudonym)
    Title: Weight of Metals
    Genre: Contemporary NA Magical Realism with diversity
    Word Count: 112K
    Email: ely.azure@gmail.com

    Query Pitch:

    Gene Cole’s body is filled with metals. Abandoned by his mother as a baby, he’s not sure if it’s why she tried to murder him in the womb or maybe it’s the reason he survived it. Now almost eighteen, Gene struggles to hide his strange sensory abilities, like being able to taste people’s emotions. Life is tough enough since he can’t seem to make up his mind about college and his affinity for roadkill isn’t winning him any popularity contests.

    So when his dad suggests he visit his mother over the summer, he’s caught off guard. And it’s not just because she has a girlfriend. Turns out, his mother’s a famous botanist and during a tour of her laboratory, one of her hybrid medical marijuana plants bites him and strange things start to happen. Leaves grow out of his pores and he glows green in the sun. Not to mention the cravings.

    His mother says he’s going through a metamorphosis. Something more than just a plant has taken root inside him and the metals in his body are making its growth accelerate at an extraordinary pace. Worse, his sensory abilities have become deadly healing powers. Just when Gene thinks he’s found a way to stop hating his mother, he learns she plans to use him to advance her experiments. If he doesn’t find a way to reverse the infection before the metamorphosis is complete, the botanic invader will completely take over.

    WEIGHT OF METALS is a contemporary NA magical realism and also contains strong cultural diversity, STEM, and LBGT themes.

    First 250:

    That picturesque campus and clock tower in the courtyard fool everybody. They think this school is safe. They don't see the halls crawling and perspiring with violence. Janitors keep washing away the blood stains. Just one more week and I’ll be free.

    I work through my sandwich quietly. Around me, there are three shoving matches and a whole lot of whistles blowing. Aryana stares at me over her Sunkist. She wants to talk about us. I don’t. I stand up, gathering my trash. My ex-girlfriend is at the next table. My gaze glides up those caramel legs until everything feels sticky. I lick my lips and Aryana moves so she’s blocking my view. She’s ready to fight, too.

    “Bruh, your pops!” Mack says, running into me.

    “What about him?”

    “He caught one in the face trying to break up a fight in his class and he started swinging back.” Mack’s eyes shine. He’s enjoying the drama. “Security thick in there. Rescue, all the Assistant Principals and shit—I saw them put your pops in handcuffs. Yo, he’s getting locked up.”

    “Shut the hell up,” Aryana hisses and her eyes squint up.

    “Why she sizing me like that?” Mack asks. “Get your girl.”

    “She’s not my girl,” I say, walking away.

    A heat trail chases me. I always feel things, emotional things. I hate that. Heaviness filled my gut this morning. I knew something bad was coming. The anger catches me, flushes through me like hot water, and I start to sweat.



  12. Name: Colleen Oefelein
    Title: 30 Days with Dr. Death
    Genre: YA Thriller
    Word count: 68,000
    Email: helicoll @ yahoo.com


    Pride and Prejudice meets Shutter Island.

    Seventeen-year-old Hannah lures wayward teen celebrities into POW-style rehab—it's the family business. Her mission: return them sober or in a body bag.

    After capturing her latest mark—eighteen-year-old Pierce, the alluring yet annoyingly arrogant son of a prominent politician—Hannah discovers his only “addiction” is his integrity, which encourages him to expose his family’s skeletons. When her orders change from "straighten him out" to "take him out," Hannah begins to doubt her psychiatrist father’s infallibility. Pierce is charming for sure, but there’s no way he’s the psychopathic woman-hater her dad’s diagnosed. As Pierce’s day of Survival Training nears, Hannah knows he’ll be left to die, and if she’s not careful, she could be left in the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness with him. Her choice is clear: betray her family, leave everything she’s ever known, and risk her own life to save his, or stand by and watch another innocent teen die.

    First 250-ish words:

    It was not the best way to end the day, sandwiched in the front seat of my car between two thugs with garlic-laced B.O.

    And it wasn’t like I needed their help. Yeah, the guy in the trunk was heavy, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

    But Dad didn’t like me driving at night, regardless of the midnight sun.

    And he wasn’t about to send me out with one goon—that’d be too much like a date. So both these idiots had to come. And they’d probably insist on heaving our latest client into the pit themselves; not because they were gentlemen.


    “The toss” was that one last slap in the face—one final opportunity to strip this guy of whatever dignity he had left. No doubt they’d shout something inane as they did it too. Lately, “How do you like me now?” was their favorite sendoff, and though they did force a fairly believable southern drawl, they weren’t even close to country. More like pro-wrestlers who’d smoked a little too much weed—big, dumb, and ugly.

    I hated the drive to the dump, but at least if I did it alone, I could take a moment to reflect. Maybe even say a prayer, God forbid, for the sorry soul whose own family didn’t care enough about him to pick up his remains. With these two oafs though, I’d have to remain impassive, lest one of them actually registered a thought and reported to Dad I was going soft.

  13. London Crockett
    The Forty-seven Words of the Broken Girl
    YA Fantasy with diverse characters
    95,000 Words
    When disabled math genius Jinxx Relinkerys observes imperial soldiers killing independence protesters, she swears to God she’ll find a way to stop soldiers from hurting people again.  Learning magic should have given her the tools to help, but when she accidentally casts a potent light spell, it’s mistaken for a stupid miracle and turns into a source of violent dissent between faiths.  Now she has to stop religious tensions from turning into civil war.

    Armed only with a best friend who loves scandal and whatever book they can smuggle out of her mentor’s library, Jinxx must figure out how to undo the miracle before it turns into a war that will surely kill thousands—and her brother. It won’t be easy, with both her mother and her mentor trying to keep her from doing anything. She might not understand people—or even jokes—very well, but she won’t let anyone stop her from fixing the disaster she created.

    Jinxx shifted so her skirt denied his view.

    The clerk shook his head and looked at Jinxx’s mother. "I’m sorry, ma’am, but whatever that other one told you, we send our charity to a reading program in the city. I can't give coins to every broken child who comes in here. The Strivers have an asylum for broken people."

    He glanced over at Jinxx again. "I could draw you a map, but it might be best to take her to the Convent Virgins. They accept broken girls, too, as well as orphans and widows."

    Her mother said, "We’re here to buy, not ask for charity."

    The yapper blushed bright pink. The color looked so nice with his natty brown suit that he should wear a dusty rose vest embroidered with white lilies.

    "Well, we have the finest collection outside Timodíuv. I’m sure whatever you want, we have it. If not, our brokers can get it for you. Would you like my personal assistance or to peruse our catalog?"
    "Mom, can I look at the catalog while you ask about the hymnals?"

    Her mother nodded. Jinxx walked up to the counter and the massive tome on the desk that surely was the index of books. Her smile was so big it hurt. The book emporium possessed so many books they couldn’t fit them on the copious shelves; they had stacked texts on the benches and every other surface available. The store flickered with hundreds of beeswax candles and smelled of leather, paper, ink, and…Jinxx wanted to call the scent knowledge, but of course that wasn’t an aroma. Yet this room of narrow aisles was closer to a place of pure knowledge than any she’d ever been. Anything anybody knew had to be in there if you just looked for it.

    1. I had a copy-paste-web error and didn't include the first paragraph, which makes the opening line nonsensical. This should begin with:

      The yapper at Mr. Taálix's Book Emporium frowned at Jinxx and her mother. He looked at Jinxx, his gaze moving down her crutches before pausing on her twisted foot. "Not another one.” He sighed.

  14. Author: Jacqueline Roy
    Genre: NA/Romance
    Word Count: 92,000

    For 24-year-old Hanna Rutherford, starting her career as a speech-language pathologist is the culmination of seven years of sacrifice. She lands a job in an isolated mill town, where the air is unbreathable, her caseload is unmanageable, and one handsome resident’s pull on her is undeniable. When Hanna meets French-speaking loner, Hank, the two spark an instant connection. Bonding over troubled pasts, the promise of a meaningful relationship gives them a renewed sense of hope for the future.

    Hope turns to despair when Hank walks into Hanna’s therapy room. His real name is Spencer, and in English, his stutter is so debilitating, he can’t say his own name. Hanna could lose her license to practice if she has any kind of romantic relationship with a client. For Spencer to reclaim his life, he needs to find his voice and, with no other speech therapists for miles, Hanna is the only one who can help him. The two attempt to set aside their romantic feelings and maintain a professional relationship. But when Hanna’s sister is diagnosed with leukemia, she finds solace in her friendship with Spencer, and with each fleeting touch, tension and desire rise as the rules that govern Hanna’s choices become blurred.

    First 250:

    I try not to gag. The disgusting smell in this tin can on wheels has been growing like hair on an old lady’s chin, unpleasant and difficult to ignore.

    Breathe. I need to breathe.

    Steep walls of stone flank the highway. Water from the early morning rain glistens off the towering bedrock, the veil of liquid smoothing the rugged faces, blurring their beautiful imperfections.


    As my sister’s fingers curl over the hard plastic of the steering wheel, patches of sunlight skitter across her olive skin. Kendra is as dark as I am fair—as exotic as I am plain. She may be the pretty one, but she can also be a stinker. Literally.

    The foul odour clings inside my nose and sticks to my tongue.

    “Ken, did you pop a fluffy?” I cover my nose and mouth with my sleeve-encased hand.

    “What?” With a sideways glance, she cuffs me one on the shoulder. “No, did you?”

    “No. Ugh.” I seriously cannot breathe. “Oh my God, Kendra. You’re so gross.”

    I crank down the window on the cube van and suck in the cool spring air that whips across my face. Instead of inhaling the expected scent of fresh earth, pine, and wet leaves, a blast of sulphur hits me—hard.

    I cough. “What’s making that smell?” My elbow knocks wildly against the plastic interior of the door as I reel the window shut. I pull the neck of my T-shirt over my nose. Kendra rolls her eyes and looks at me like I’m exaggerating.



  15. Name: M. M. Hoffman
    Genre: YA Post-apocalyptic Science Fiction
    Word count: 79K
    Email monica.hoffman14@gmail.com

    The pitch:

    Seventeen-year-old Zara Thornhill wants one thing, which doesn’t involve her biracial genes in an arranged pairing charged with the sole mission of repopulating the earth. Instead she binds her life to the New America Federation military in the fight against a parasitic alien race. She’s the first female Jockey pilot since Josephine “Jo” Lovett’s mysterious discharge ten years earlier who left a tarnished legacy Zara can’t escape, and male Jockeys exploit.

    When Zara meets her robot, A.I. 1408, it appears human from its dark hair to the ivory skin covering its battery-powered heart. Only an external neural box sets it apart, providing the mode of communication between the Jockey and Android. Zara gives orders. 1408 obeys. Well, until 1408 seizes control of the drone, saving itself and five others. Problem: 1408 is sentient. Future as a badass pilot: fading. Nevertheless, the more 1408 spends bonded to her mind, he’s more than a number. He’s Adam and she hides his secret. But the Androids’ creator haphazardly finds the sentient glitch in another Android and plans of eradicating the problem. Permanently.

    Something about the Androids smell worse than an alien’s behind and Zara must discover the source of the glitch to save Adam. Not to mention keep him out of the line of alien fire with each escalated battle. The deeper she digs, the motive behind Jo’s sudden disappearance falls into her lap, involving a conspiracy NAF leaders would kill for and what actually makes the Androids tick. Zara has a plan, but her own species may destroy Adam before the aliens can, blowing her life and love right out of the sky.

    First 250-ish words:

    “Cadet Thornhill, it’s time.”

    It takes several seconds before the receptionist’s words sink in. I quickly glance through the window one more time, my eyes resting on the massive sign called The Life. Most people would say the sign indicating the humans left on earth depress them. Looking at red numbers now, I’m inspired. *Eight hundred thousand fifty-six. I have to pass.*

    In my peripheral, two set of eyes from across the room study me like I’m a rat in a cage, waiting for me to do a stupid trick. My cheeks flush with heat. *Dang it, Josephine “Jo” Lovett.* She was the first female Jockey a decade ago and the subject in most of my private outbursts. Jo made darn sure she left crater-sized potholes for any girl with the same aspirations. I hope someone finds the cave she’s hiding in—I’d love to tell her where to shove it.

    “Good luck, Thornhill,” one of the Cadets says though I don’t care which one.

    I stand and brush the wrinkles from my air suit, lifting my chin. I stare at the two Cadets. Beneath their scowls, I see the fear and uncertainty. They probably don’t even know why they hate me. Well, I hate them too. And that hate will get me through this exam. I can’t show weakness. I can’t show fear. Give them an inch and they’ll take a yard.

    I clasp my hands behind my back and I say in the nicest tone possible, “Good luck on your exam. Don’t crash.”

  16. DeJanae Wortham

    Sun of the Beast

    YA Dark Fantasy w/ a racially diverse protagonist and diverse supporting characters

    94,000 words



    The sun shines blood red in an unchanging gray sky. Some believe it to be a scientific phenomenon, while others think it’s an ominous sign of a world shattering apocalypse. Sixteen year old Esther is in a world of teenage angst. She’s recovering from her first major breakup and the death of a lifelong friendship. Plus, she’s coping with her relentless anxiety. The only thing that distracts her from the anger pulsating through her veins is the mysterious blood red sun that no one can explain. The morning after her sixteenth birthday, her parents and many others in her neighborhood mysteriously vanish. She is then forced to escape her neighborhood after it is overrun by a group of vandals. She ends up in an alley community where she discovers that people have disappeared all over the world. In the alley, Esther learns just how cutthroat people are in the face of chaos.

    Then the demons arrive and unleash hell. Esther is subsequently pushed into the forefront of the war between good and evil by three angels. Esther learns that she must travel to Jerusalem to kill Gollem, a vile beast who was released from the core of the earth. In the Middle East, she will have to fight against Lucifer's version of the plagues of Egypt. Her comrades include her ex-best friend and ex-boyfriend who are keeping a secret from her that once revealed will cause a twist that even she doesn’t see coming. Esther must gain her independence and overcome her anxiety to save the world before it falls into irreparable damage. Completing her task will not only save her parents, but everyone else who vanished along with them.

    First 250:

    If it wasn’t for the sound of my feet drumming into the cement sidewalk, I’d completely get lost in the glare of the blood sun. I gaze hypnotically into its burning sunlight and shift into a sprint, fighting against the deathly heat surrounding me. A thick gray cloud forms a halo around the illuminating red mass of light. Sweat slides rapidly down my forehead and before I can stop it, salty drops settle in the creases of my eyes. I rub them furiously as I become temporarily blinded.

    “Watch out,” someone yells. The familiarity of the voice sinks in. Why does it have to be him!

    Before I can avoid tragedy, I crash into him. His chin slams into my forehead and the impact sends me crashing down onto burning cement.

    I look up and my eyes immediately meet his. His dark brown irises peer through puffy eyelids and his face no longer sports the roundness of innocence. His appearance, a far cry from the bight-eyed boy I fell in love with last summer, suggests something beyond the typical teenage stresses.

    My body doubles in temperature as we stare each other down, both unsure of what to say.

    He reaches out his golden brown arm and I forcefully slap it away. An unsettling rage lingers in the pit of my burning gut.

    “Dammit Ramsey, watch out,” I yell angrily, struggling to my feet. He opens his mouth to speak, but before he can respond I dash back toward my house.

  17. Name: Kim Johnson
    Title: Her Only Escape
    Genre: YA Thriller with POC MC and a diverse cast of characters
    Word-count: 82,000
    Email: kimcjohnson @ gmail dot com

    When Seventeen-year-old Samantha Powell goes for a swim in the chilly Willamette River, the last thing she expects is a dead girl trying to drown her. Despite her friends’ claim that it was only a CPR dummy, Samantha knows exactly what she saw. And she can’t get the girl out of her mind. Especially when her best friend, Jenna, suddenly vanishes.

    The police dismiss the case as another Oregon runaway. Samantha disagrees; she knows her friend wouldn’t choose to live on the streets. With Jenna’s life at stake, Samantha and her crush Caleb uncover the links to other missing person cases. Working together brings Samantha and Caleb closer, until she learns he’s been keeping her in the dark about what happened the week before Jenna went missing. Samantha has to decide who to trust and what to believe in a maze of Jenna’s shady ex, local street dealers, and a list of predators. Because as far as she’s concerned, everyone’s suspicious. And nothing - not even the growing list of dangerous suspects - will stop Samantha from uncovering the truth.

    First 250:

    Home isn’t an option. At least not one I’m given. Within five minutes of my text, Jenna is crouched over me while Micah rummages through my closet. They’re taking me to the river, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I’ve had days, weeks, and months of feeling paralyzed by writhing heartache seeping through my veins. Anchored so deep I thought I’d never release it. Jenna was the one that pulled me out of that. I could see myself in her. How I wanted to be again. But today the creep and slither of an overwhelming sadness floods me.

    “Samantha, you’re going to the river now or—” Jenna says.

    “Later. I pick later.” I groan and tug my blanket over my head. My body tenses at this relentless begging.

    “We’ve chosen three devastatingly embarrassing rumors to spread if you don’t go.”

    “One is gastrointestinal.” Micah crawls on the other side of me. I’m now flanked between them.

    “Let’s flip a coin…” Jenna tugs at my blanket. “Aah… Tails… you’re jacked with all three. ”

    “You wouldn’t.” My jaw drops waiting for them to laugh at their joke. They’re silent again and I don’t have the energy to call their bluff. I bite the inside of my cheek, forcing a physical pain stronger than the phantom echo pumping through my blood.

    “God you two play dirty.” I release my tight grip and the covers fly across the room. The spark and tinge in my chest is swallowed up when I see their expectant eyes looking back at me.

  18. Mona AlvaradoFrazier
    YA Realistic
    69,000 words

    The American dream becomes a nightmare when seventeen-year-old Juana Ivanov runs from her abusive husband, who falls down a staircase while chasing her. She flees with her baby but soon returns to Los Angeles and finds out her husband is dead. She is arrested and sent to prison.

    Juana insists she is innocent, but her correctional counselor tells her to take responsibility for her crime and discuss her abuse or face a lengthier sentence. When her mother-in-law sues for custody of her child two friends help her, but they are deemed outcasts by gang leader Jester, who threatens to make life miserable for Juana if she continues with the friendships. Her attempt to placate Jester places her at odds with her counselor. She must choose with whom she will align herself while trying to keep safe.

    With no family in the U.S. and her limited English skills, Juana's counselor assigns her a volunteer visitor, who helps Juana obtain her husband's coroner report. She finds that his injuries were inconsistent with his fall, arousing Juana's suspicions about strangers who visited their apartment. She wants to appeal her case, but her counselor won't help her. Juana sinks into depression and hears her dead mother's voice which frightens her but puts her on a course of action where she finds hope and help for her plight in an unlikely place with unlikely people.
    We left Centre Juvenile Hall for the San Bueno Correctional Facility before sunrise. The van chugged down the side streets, through the mist, and sped up the freeway ramp. The cold handcuff on my left wrist rattled against the bottom of the passenger window. Two other girls sat in handcuffs, one behind me, the other across from me. We looked like goats going to market, tied to the corners of a truck bed.
    Blurred white lights and shadows darted by my window. I couldn’t remember the route if I tried. The van swerved and pitched me forward until the metal handcuff yanked me back into my seat. My free hand flew to the neck of my jumpsuit, where my crucifix used to be. I pressed damp fingers against my mouth to stop the sour saliva flooding over my tongue.
    Next to me, the tattooed girl scrunched up her nose while her lips curled against crooked teeth. She shifted her husky body, leaned her shoulder against the window. Blue-black letters at the bottom of her fleshy neck came into view, spelling WF 13. I'd seen those marks before on the buildings we passed on the L.A. city bus. They were symbols of gangs and their territories, a reminder to be careful.
    Handcuffs clicked against the windows like tapping fingers waiting, farther away from home, farther away from those I'd left behind.

  19. Samantha "Sam" Butler
    New Adult Fantasy with a Deaf protagonist and LGBT supporting characters
    110,000 words


    Hard-of-hearing Elle Tanning wanted a fresh start after college. Instead she got dragged into the Other, a dimension filled with creatures from nightmare and fairy tale. She’s just lucky Jonah, the man who accidentally got her into this mess, is a Gatekeeper who keeps the Other and the human world separate. As a Gatekeeper he is duty-bound to escort Elle home.

    Or rather, he would’ve been duty-bound had Elle not worked magic in a moment of crisis and sprouted horns.

    Elle’s supernatural transformation complicates more than her sense of identity. Gatekeepers are forbidden from guiding magical beings out of the Other and aren’t above committing murder to keep the worlds separate. Because Elle appears inhuman, Jonah refuses take her home… until they make a startling discovery.

    Elle’s only living family member is one of the most powerful Gatekeepers alive. And if that wasn’t crazy enough, Elle might be a Stanchion, a mythical creature with legendary power.

    At this revelation Jonah agrees to escort Elle home, claiming he wants to earn her family’s favor in exchange for his help. The duo forms a deep bond as they navigate the Other, but when Elle learns Jonah is involved in a plot that aims to use Stanchion as unwilling weapons, she begins to wonder if her companion “accidentally” dragged her into the Other after all.


    Grandmother braided my hair before bed like always, unaware I meant to steal her car as soon as she fell asleep. I would’ve found the tugging at my scalp soothing on any other night. My fingers twisted the hem of my t-shirt until Grandmother covered my hand with hers.

    “Something bothering you?” she asked, signing over my shoulder in the vanity mirror. She signed with American Sign Language grammar but spoke aloud in verbal English. When I shook my head she signed and spoke: “Cherry picking the truth won’t do you any good.”

    I didn’t answer. I tugged the hearing aids from my ears, instead, and set them on the vanity.

    After she bound my blonde hair in a tight plait she kissed the crown of my head. Her cold amber pendant bumped against my nape. I studied her in the mirror, cataloguing the crow’s feet around her eyes and the furrows at her lips. She wasn’t as old as other grandmothers but her silver hair marked her age. Though we both had blue eyes her irises were sky-colored with a midnight rim. Mine were dark throughout and not nearly as expressive. We had the same oval face, though, and the same sharp nose. It comforted me to know when I looked in the mirror I could see her in small ways, like in the curve of a nostril or my braided hair.

    Soon the echoes of her face in mine would provide my only way of seeing her. The thought made me want to sing and be sick at the same time.

  20. Name : Zareena Nazimudeen
    Title : The Banished
    Genre : YA Horror set in Singapore
    Word-count : 64,000 words
    Email : to.zareena@gmail.com

    Pitch :

    Imagine you have a phobia for fire and there's an entity who has the power to make your
    nightmares a reality. Suddenly, the room you're in bursts into flames, and a burning
    man rushes towards you. Instinctively, you grab a book and hit him, trying to push him
    away. Next second, there's a man with a crushed head lying on the ground. You've just
    committed murder because the fire wasn't real and the book was a stone paperweight.
    That's what the entity known only as 'The Banished' can do. It crosses paths with
    thirteen-year-old Zhen Yu when it lures away his little sister Su Ling who suffers from
    Down syndrome. Abandoned by his mother, living with an alcoholic father, Zhen Yu
    hasn't got much left except for Su Ling and his best friend Harun. In his attempt to save
    Su Ling, he becomes an unwilling host to the The Banished.
    Now Su Ling and Harun race against time to save Zhen Yu and stop the entity's bloody
    rampage. But can they destroy The Banished without killing Zhen Yu?

    The first 250 words :

    Goosebumps broke out on thirteen-year-old Chua Zhen Yu's bare arms and legs, and the fine hairs on the nape of his neck prickled. The narrow road he walked on wound along rows of dark, single and double storey houses. Every few minutes, a house with lighted windows watched him make his way home. Zhen Yu shivered. He had lived all his life in Jalan Leban, but tonight it gave him the creeps. The ten minutes to his home stretched out like eternity

    The streets were dead but Zhen Yu sensed eyes on his back. He concentrated on the wet asphalt road and fought the urge to keep turning around. Most nights, you could spot a late night jogger or an old man walking his dog, but a thunderstorm couple of hours ago kept everyone home.

    Zhen Yu clutched the shiny, green packet of potato chips and quickened his pace. His six-year-old sister ate the same thing every time for lunch; egg and mayo on two pieces of crust-less white bread, the sandwich cut diagonally to make two little triangles. One small packet of sour cream and onion Pringles potato chips completed her lunch. But in a moment of weakness, the last packet of chips proved too tempting, and he chomped its contents down within seconds.

    Su Ling would throw a fuss if she didn't get her sour cream chips and her triangular egg sandwiches.

    Bonus: I'm sorry, I don't read this genre so I can't help you with your Novel, Frosh.

  21. REPOST: I accidentally posted my entry with the wrong pitch (a Twitter pitch instead of a query pitch.) I'm hoping this doesn't disqualify me. In case it doesn't, I've reposted below with the correct pitch. I apologize for the inconvenience.

    Name: Lucy Mihajlich
    Title: Interface
    Genre: Science Fiction YA
    Word Count: 67,000
    Email: lmihajlich@gmail.com


    In my young adult novel, INTERFACE, people don't just worship the internet. They actually pray to it. They play Massively Multiplayer Online games instead of going to Mass. They Bleat their confessions in 140 characters or less. They make pilgrimages to Interface, a computer company that’s bigger than Apple, Microsoft and Google combined (because it is Apple, Microsoft and Google combined.)

    Pen Nowen's father was the CEO of Interface until he unexpectedly committed suicide. Now Pen is planning to spend her summer vacation on a pilgrimage to Interface’s flagship store in New York City to pray for what's left of her family (and maybe pick up the latest inPhone).

    Before she can make it to New York, Pen is kidnapped by a group of people calling themselves the Trolls. She figures they’re going to hold her for ransom. She is Hans Nowen's daughter, after all.

    The Trolls don't want her family's money. They want her help stopping Interface. Pen thinks they're crazy, but they seem to know something about her father's death that she doesn't. No matter how much she loves the internet, Pen has never been one to accept easy answers.

    The first 250-ish words:

    I always suspected Viv had been one of those genetically engineered designer babies, even though Mom insisted she’d gone natural for both of us.

    Her ad for the inSights was still trending. Interface had flown her to New York and shut down the Met to shoot her in one of the period bedrooms, even though they could have just inPainted her in later. Viv said it was all about aesthetic.

    She was standing in front of a floor-length mirror, like she was about to take a selfie. Half her face was visible in the reflection. The rest was hidden by her thick, coppery hair. It was mysterious and romantic. I wasn’t sure what it had to do with webcams, but when I asked, Mom told me to go to my room, young lady, and blog about what I’d done.

    Viv could take a selfie with the cheapest webcam Interface sold, no makeup, fluorescent lighting, and it would still look inPainted.

    Today, she was breathtaking.

    Her wedding dress was simple, except for the collar, which was studded with recycled circuit boards. Walking down the aisle of the Interface store, in between rows of demo computers, her wedding photos could have been another ad.

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/lmihajlich

  22. Heather DiAngelis
    NA LGBT Contemporary
    58,000 words


    Jack's freshman year of college was supposed to be an escape from his parochial, poverty-stricken hometown in Appalachia. That is, until his mom tried to commit suicide right before the start of the first semester. If she hadn’t found him in bed with Casey—the only boy from home who ever came close to understanding him—Jack could’ve left town and never looked back.

    Fitting in with strangers in a college town isn’t as easy as he’d hoped, especially when the only money to his name is his full ride scholarship and the only calls he receives are from his unforgiving mom. It doesn’t help that he hasn’t slept since his mom kicked him out of her room at the psychiatric clinic, or that Casey hasn’t returned any of his calls since the “incident.” No, college isn't quite the escape Jack had imagined.

    Overwhelmed with guilt, and desperately trying to understand why he needs a guy who’s too stubborn to open up about what he wants, Jack finds his mental state heading in the same direction as his mom’s. Jack must learn to set boundaries between the life he’s been dealt and the life he wants before he can patch up the situation with his mom and win back the guy he might love.

    First 250:

    I wouldn’t have recognized Mom if a nurse hadn’t led me to her room.

    The first thing I noticed was her head. Her bushy hair was haphazard and choppy, like a careless nurse had thrown a chainsaw in her general direction. Her neck was kinked to the side, her tongue sagging out of her mouth as she snored. Mom’s wrists hung from the cuffs pinned to the bed rail, as if to show off her filed-down fingernails. The sheet was tangled ’round her ankles like she’d tried to kick it off before the drugs took effect. I did my best to ignore the gauze coverin’ her left forearm.

    She wasn’t goin’ anywhere.

    I stared through the glass door leadin’ to Mom’s room. The nurse said I’d be allowed in when she was more responsive, probably in a couple days. God, I wouldn’t’ve wanted to talk to her even if they let me. I could already hear the conversation:

    “Hi Mom, how’s it goin’?”

    “What do you care, Jack?”

    “Nice talkin’ to you too, Mom.”

    I helped myself to the coffee and Styrofoam cups at the end of the hall. I paced in front of Mom’s glass door, waitin’ for my coffee to cool and grumblin’ about how the nurses weren’t nice enough to offer me a chair. It wasn’t long before I realized I didn’t need to linger—if I wasn’t allowed inside, there was no reason to stare at mom’s patchwork head and dried-up tongue.

  23. Name: Diana Hicks
    Title: Prime Vector
    Genre: YA Sci-Fi
    Word Count: 80,000
    Email: hicks.diana@gmail.com


    Born into military service on Mars, eighteen-year-old Catita Johns plans to spend her life protecting her city, its citizens and the system. Like her deceased mom, she wants nothing more than to join the Queen’s ranks of highly trained immortals.

    Catita’s dream is shattered when her grandmother is killed and the Queen’s files on immortality are stolen. Trying to recover the files lands Catita in the middle of a century-old feud to control the virus that gives its host immortality. She must find them before the thief deciphers the decrypted information and Catita becomes the queen's personal fountain of youth.

    Back on Earth, twenty-year-old Tek Dar lives on a beach off the coast of the Sea of Cortez under the rule of the Martian Queen, where her immortal soldiers patrol the colonies and take advantage of the bountiful resources still found in the ocean. Tek is desperate to save his sister from an incurable disease that affects select twelve-year-olds. He bribes a pilot to take him to Mars, so he can find the medicine his sister needs.

    An unlikely alliance forms when both Catita and Tek realize they each have what the other needs. Tek can help Catita navigate the desert lands of Mars to search for clues that will lead her back to the stolen files. But Tek has his own agenda: Catita is the girl he’s supposed to deliver to secure the cure that will save his sister’s life.

    First 250 Words:

    Wharf District, Earth
    Year 2148
    Tek’s day can’t get any worse. The upside of waking up with a massive hangover. He sits up on his bed, holding his head between his hands. It does nothing to stop the hammer drill threatening to split his skull in two.
    The events of the night before are a jumble of images. He remembers leaving the UpCycle Bar early. He wasn’t wasted then. Granted, he was drunk enough to get into a fight with a uniform. That got him nowhere quick.
    Tek touches the heel of his palm to his temple. He chuckles, thinking of the sucker punch that left the tender bump on the side of his head. At least he got a few licks in before he was thrown out of the bar. It was worth it. Even if he takes into account the amount of pain he’s in at the moment.
    “Good morning, handsome,” a female voice greets him. The bed rocks, as a warm and soft cheek presses to his bare shoulder. A mop of blond curls drop to his chest and arm.
    It all comes back to him in broken images — the fight, walking home with Dira, and the bottle of whiskey she had in her hand when she boarded his boat, which might explain the glorious hangover.
    “Coffee?” she asks, then kisses him on the lips.
    “Please.” Tek tastes mint in her breath. “How come you’re not in pain?”
    She shrugs. “I walked you home, then you proceeded to get wasted.”

  24. Name: C E A Boissiere
    Title: Solo
    Genre: Fantasy Thriller
    Word-count: 71,000
    Email: bananamagnetphone@outlook.com

    The pitch
    Solo is the story of Nadine Torres, a single mother fighting to conceal her son’s hereditary condition from a society that, at best wants to destroy him, at worst - well there are worse things. Ruben supplies potions with a sideline in mutilation and murder to source a controversial ingredient called Solo. Oblivions to this danger, twenty-three-year-old Nadine couriers for him. But the cops are onto her and they’ve placed her six-year-old son in ’protective custody’ while she’s set up as bait in their sting operation. Nadine however, has other plans. And when she meets a willing partner in seasoned child charity worker Galeno, she enlists him in a wild scheme to free her son. There’s one problem, Ruben’s discovered that her six-year-old son’s a carrier of Solo. Now she must locate her son before Ruben and with revenge on her mind, she intends to destroy his Solo business in the process, permanently.

    The first 250
    5 Days 0 Hours and 49 Minutes
    Nadine trod over uneven flagstones, head down against a warm wind as she passed once colourful shacks. Her stride faltered when a tall figure slipped from an archway and stepped into view, and with a racing heart, she glanced back along the alleyway. There was still time to run, yet her feet remained rooted. Hues of orange and blue seeped from the surrounding decay and grime, as if they could defy the dullness through sheer force of will alone. In truth, they couldn’t.
    Despite a fluttering unease in her stomach whenever she entered anywhere designated under the veil, Nadine edged closer. Perspiration beaded in her armpits, not just from heat, though it was sultry and close, but from her pounding heart too.
    ’Back so soon, must be good shit.’ The honeyed voice vibrated through the air, almost singing to her. They could be friends meeting in a park for a Sunday afternoon stroll, except neither of them lived that kind of life.
    ’Tommy. Is that you?’ Nadine whispered into the silence seeking confirmation her eyes hadn’t deceived her.
    ’Who else would it be, eh?’
    They hadn’t.
    While Nadine let the breath she’d been holding flow through her lips, relief washing through tight muscles, Tommy kicked two discarded chairs and the creak of worn metal whispered along the alleyway.
    Another step closer and a slow waft of musky cedarwood filled the air between them. His narrow nose, like a sharp arrow sat perpendicular to his broad mouth, unmistakable. Inelegant, yet engaging at the same time.

  25. -Melanie Bailes
    -Crazy in Love
    -YA Contemporary

    -The pitch
    Love can be found in the craziest of places.

    At nineteen, Jamie McDonald, a bipolar patient at a Glasgow psychiatric hospital, is a volunteer DJ on the hospital station endearing himself to patients and staff. Not one for routine, Jamie has had a hard time becoming stable and every time he’s been released, he has spiraled out of control and back into the hospital.

    New Yorker and math genius Molly Blum sacrificed friendships and fun to graduate high school early. While interviewing at universities in the UK, she suffers an emotional collapse and is admitted onto Jamie’s ward. Molly’s abusive family wants her back in the Bronx and under their control, but in Glasgow she can get the treatment she desperately needs.

    Molly distrusts Jamie’s motives at first, but eventually finds comfort in his fun-loving and frenetic nature. Their lives intertwine but they must hide their growing love or risk being separated. They fight to stay together despite their illnesses, hospital rules and their families. Only then can they help each other fulfill their dreams, his to become a professional DJ despite his disorder, hers to become a writer against her family's wishes.

    -The first 250

    The lass was flat on her back and passed out on drugs. Jamie McDonald tried to sneak a peek at her, but the sheet covering was hiding her face. All he could see was her long locks of curly brown hair. The ambulance technicians rolled her stretcher down the women’s corridor on Ward Eight. I wonder if she’s my age.

    Jamie’s heart pounded at the thought of someone new. Anyone new would be a distraction from the boring days at this hospital. Please, be my age. Maybe I can finally make a friend here.

    He dashed over to Nurses’ Station pushing past Nigel and Ronnie on the way. Rose, the charge nurse, was behind the desk. Jamie drummed a random beat on the cool tiled counter faster than a band playing Wipeout. Rose glared at his hands and he stuffed them in his pockets. I better calm down or they’ll try to sedate me. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Hullo,” Jamie said to Rose, trying to be casual, “Who’s the new patient?” At first, Rose didn’t say anything and Jamie could guess why. She’s always going on about patient confidentiality. And she knows I’ve tried this before.

    But he was wrong. “I’m glad you stopped by, Jamie. Our new patient, Molly, is a wee bit younger than you. This is her first time in hospital. I was thinking of asking you to be her guide. Do you think you could handle that?”

    “Aye, that would be great!”

    -Link to my tweet for the bonus, Alex, erm, Monica

  26. Name: Elizabeth Roderick
    Title: THE HUSTLE
    Genre: NA Crime Thriller (LGBTQ themes, MC is of mixed race, Hispanic/Native American)
    Word Count: 78,000
    Email: elizabethroderick@att.net

    Liria is nineteen, homeless, and addicted to heroin. She’s determined to not end up dead, like her mother, but every time she tries to get her life together, it falls apart again.
    She manages to kick her habit, and lands a good job in a Vegas nightclub. There she meets Arty, who seems to be the girl of her dreams: beautiful, funny, and rich. But then her coworkers start turning up dead, and Arty is acting strange. Is the nightclub a front for something more sinister? Is Arty really who she seems, or is she using Liria as a pawn in a deadly game?
    Starting a new life isn’t easy.

    First 250:
    Liria slumped low in the passenger seat of Lee Harvey's Mazda, watching as he disappeared into the sleeper cab of a truck with some middle-aged white guy. He was Lee’s third job of the day; after this they should have enough to get a couple of grams.
    She blew a raspberry and stared out the window. At the other end of the parking lot, a woman got out of her car with her daughter, a girl of about eight, with long, dark brown hair, clear olive skin and big brown eyes. She looked a lot like Liria had at that age. The girl smiled up at her mother and said something, skipping as she walked. The mother smiled back, leaning down to kiss her on the forehead.
    Liria’s eyelids drooped closed, and her own mother’s face bloomed up behind them, yellow skin hanging over her cheekbones the way it had just before she’d died. She smiled, her oversized dentures tilting slightly askew. Then she raised her skeletal arms, holding up a syringe the size of a calk gun.
    Strange patterns swirled in the brown liquid within, twisted faces and the shadows of printed words. Her mom’s eyes glinted with cruel humor. She waggled the needle tip in Liria’s face, flinging droplets of oozing dope and flakes of dried blood. Then she lunged.

    Liria’s chin jerked up abruptly when Lee Harvey opened the driver’s side door. She wiped the drool from her lips, blinking the foul images from her mind.
    “Have a nice nod?” he asked, grinning.


  27. Ann Rose
    Pulled in Pieces
    YA Contemporary with diverse cast of characters
    81,000 words
    annmrose (at) yahoo (dot) com

    The Pitch-

    The abuse Cal witnesses doesn’t leave scars, but how she copes with it does.

    Fifteen-year-old Cal may look like she has it all, but what happens inside her lavish house leaves Cal PULLED IN PIECES. Chaos surrounds her life with her self-absorbed mother and tyrannical fiancé, she calls Jerk. The fighting. The backhanded comments. The name calling. Cal cuts herself to take control of the only thing she can in her dysfunctional home life.

    Cal doesn’t understand how her mom can be so selfish and materialistic, thinking diamonds and flowers can justify the abuse they endure. The effect of her mom’s so-called relationship takes its toll on Cal and she finds comfort in Zach. However the solace is short-lived. As their relationship moves to the next level, Cal runs out of places to hide the side effects of her broken home life.

    After Jerk threatens Cal’s mom with a gun, there's a glimmer of hope they will move out of his house and start a normal life on their own. But when Cal’s mom decides to give her relationship with Jerk another try, it shatters the dreams Cal had of regaining a life outside his walls.

    Letting Zach through the barrier she has built proves to be more than she can handle. If she can't find a way to let him in, and make peace with her mom, her next cut could be her last.

    The first 250-ish words –

    Usually I ignore the fighting, but something’s different today. They’re louder, more forceful. Tension fills the air. I yank my headphones off, put my book down and sit up. It’s not that I really want to listen, but I should. It’s like my life’s a circus and I’m the tightrope walker, one misstep and BAM – I’m falling. Things get ugly fast and I have to be ready for it.

    “Where the hell have you been all night?” Mom’s voice echoes through the foyer, and the front door slams.

    “Who the fuck do you think you are? I’m a grown man. I can do what I want, when I want,” Mom’s boyfriend yells back.

    His name is Derrick, but his friends call him Derk. Well, “friends” is a huge exaggeration. Most of them are on his payroll. They put up with him because they want a paycheck. As for me, I call him Jerk, but not to his face. I’m not stupid. I put up with him because of Mom. Though, getting some cash for dealing with his drama would make it a whole lot easier.

    “I’m supposed to be your fiancée!” Mom says.

    I grab my book and slide it back on the shelf. Mom parades around with that rock on her finger like it’s supposed to mean something. But love in real life is nothing like it is in the stories I read. Some heroic guy risks life or limb for the woman he loves. Yeah right.

  28. Jacqueline EberliJuly 7, 2015 at 2:26 PM

    Name: Jacqueline Eberli
    Title: White as Snow
    Genre: YA, Fantasy with Diverse Characters
    Word Count: 90,000
    email: eberlibeans@gmail.com

    Once upon a time... wait, no. This is not that tale.

    Ten years ago the Chapter started the burnings. Bianca was six and remembers almost nothing from her old life. The life before Ma and Pa collected her and seven younger children, hiding them away in a cabin in the mountains. She and her family have managed, but supplies are short and new dangers threaten their welfare. She is forced to make a decision, wait until her brother can go with her like they planned, which might never happen, or go alone.

    If she goes alone, Bianca must travel from the isolated retreat into the city where the Chapter reigns. If they catch her they will burn her alive.

    Without knowing the reasons for the Chapter's actions how can she defend against them? She decides she has to go, because only the city has the resources her family needs to continue to survive, and only in can she learn what she needs to know. What's waiting there for her to discover has the power to change everything... about the Chapter, her family, even herself.

    White as Snow is a modern, young adult re-imagining of Snow White set in a parallel world, where Fairchild syndrome, and its gifts, are as common as autism.


    The milk steamed in the chill air as it squirted into the bucket, hitting the rapidly filling bottom again and again. My vision, narrowed by my ebony hair and the black side of the cow, was focused on the ropes holding my broken shoes together. Only the heat of the cow's udder kept my hands from cramping with the cold. The smell of the livestock was comforting and warm all by itself.

    Pa’s words from long ago echoed in my head, “the rhythm is everything in milking.” In the still of the barn in the morning, I closed my eyes and felt his calloused, gentle hands on mine as he taught me how to milk the animals. The cow shied away from me and my eyes snapped open.

    “Fine. I’ll look, but if it’s only a mouse again I swear you won’t get another pumpkin treat,” I pushed myself from the stool and inspected the barn.

    Three stalls from the cow I knew why she was upset.

    “Oh no,” the bull was missing. I climbed into the stall to double check, I knew he was in his place the night before and I couldn't fathom why he would have gone back out into the cruel winter. While I walked out into his pasture my unease grew. Where the fence weaved through the trees I found him, I found what was left of him.

    My stomach clenched as I looked on the mess. Almost every part of him was gone, blood stained the snow around the remains, and everywhere there were paw prints, the paw prints of wolves.

  29. Name: Samantha Reed
    Title: Fair To Hope
    Genre: YA Magical Realism
    Word Count: 56,000 words

    The Pitch
    Everyday there are two groups secretly fighting for control of souls. It is a control tipping the scales for the Final Battle by powering the Kachina –  the only ones able to fight for the last soul and the fate of the world. Yeah, it was hard for Velma to understand too. But a former foster kid recruited to fight, she’d already given up on the idea of a regular life, and found this new one full of ritual and lore coupled with punching and saving right up her alley. Until against every logical bit of prophecy she discovers she is Kachina, though she never should be. All made blindingly clear in the face of the ultimate betrayal. All of it infuriating enough to make her think she can hide from a life no-one would believe and build the normal life she never thought possible. Until he comes back, because there’s always a he, even for her. Josh. Her best friend. The other Kachina. With him comes every reason to remember skills she’s run from, and accept new ones giving her powers she never expected. All while trying to forget that she loves him - and that he's shown up with the one girl who just might make her run again. But now running won't matter. He will always find her because it's his destiny to kill her. And he’ll be damning the whole world if he does.

    The first 250-ish
    It had been twenty three days. I wrapped and rewrapped the bandage around my waist praying my ribs were bruised and not broken. I bought more ramen in packs of ten and camped out in the motel eating the chicken-flavored noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I tried to sleep, but he was always in my dreams. Once I closed my eyes, every attempt to forget came roaring back like waves before a storm.
    In the brightness of day I could remember it as a fairy tale, detach myself like it was someone else he’d sat next to that first day eating an ice cream cone and an apple, telling me I was beautiful. That we were forever.
    At least it wasn’t just me. He’d had Nita fooled too. She’d watched the two of us after quarantine training, sitting to hear from the elders, eating lunch outside in the sunshine, whispering secrets, laughing, trusting—she would have warned me if she’d known. She was the only person left to trust.
    It was easier to think about Nita, even though I waited every day for her to come. To find me and drag me back. At night the sound of cars, people in the hallway fumbling with their motel keycards, the muted tumble of the ice machine all bruised the air like an omen. I kept the shades closed. The volume on the TV low.

  30. Your Name - Kosoko Jackson
    Title of your book - A KISS OF BLOOD AND GUNPOWDER
    Word-count of your manuscript - 74,000
    Your email - Kosoko.Jackson@gmail.com

    The pitch -
    17-year-old Tanner Mills never wanted to go to college, but growing up in a wealthy Boston family, with a prominent doctor as a mother and moyal candidate for a father, came with certain expectations. Instead, taking a gap year between high school and college, he decided to volunteer and teach English in the newly established Eastern European country of Esteria. While abroad, Tanner simply planned on finding himself, learning a new way of life, and polishing his resume. He never expected to find best friends, a romance of a lifetime with a British-Indian fellow volunteer, or be caught in a nations civil war. When Tanner's boyfriend gets gravely injured, surviving turns into a question of morality when the rebels offer him an out--help them take down the US Embassy, and they'll not only heal Vincent, but also let them both go.

    The first 250-ish words of your ms -
    6 DAYS ACD (AFTER Coup D'état)
    25 miles outside of Esteria Capital
    It was the faint whistling of bombs in the distance that shattered Tanner’s sleep. Even though the symphony of gunfire and the explosive rumbles were several miles away, that gave him little comfort. Those were explosions, and they were close enough that in the seemingly endless early morning skies, they illuminated the edges with vibrant hues of copper and gold. It was an ironically beautiful reminder that despite everything he had been through the past 46 days, he was still no closer to getting home than he was before.

    The rusted feeling of his joints hadn't disappeared. Flexing his fingers hurt. Pushing himself up into a sitting position hurt. Everything hurt. A twinge in the back of his mind reminded him it was too early to be awake. He should be pissed, but in the larger scheme of things, he woke up. That was more than he could say for others.

    It took him a few moments for his eyes—correction, his right eye—to adjust to the dim light. His body resisted his command to wake, but eventually the stressed limbs and swollen joints caved to his orders. His vision was, thankfully, perfect. As much as one eye could be. His olfactory senses worked just fine, confirmed by the tangy scent that brought tears to his eye and made his stomach crawl up his throat. Tanner scowled. He should have done a better job burying the body. If the light hadn’t woken him, that growing putridity would.

    Bonus: link to Twitter - https://twitter.com/KosokoJackson/status/618472801880678401

  31. Name: Elle Marr
    Genre: NA Romantic Mystery with diverse/LGBTQ characters
    Word count: 81k
    Email: ellemarr1@gmail.com


    Twenty-two-year old Michelle Fortes didn't have an easy childhood. Discovering her self-harming, schizophrenic father in a bathtub of his own blood created a life-long phobia that makes her blackout. As an adult, when she learns her boyfriend cheated on her with her best friend, Michelle moves to France for a fresh start and to obtain a promotion in her international law office. If she can keep her heartache and painful family memories in check, she’ll return to California as a legal assistant in two months’ time.

    Once she arrives, Michelle learns the promotion hinges upon the impossible: speaking French fluently in an oral exam. Throwing herself into the task, she works as a high school teaching assistant in Normandy, where she meets the mysterious alpha male, Alexandre. He offers to tutor her in French, showing her castles, delectable wines, and how to French-kiss. Despite her growing attraction to him, Michelle’s suspicions are raised when she finds photographs of women in his locked armoire, strange track marks on his arms, and discovers he's been stalking her since she disembarked the plane.

    When Alexandre reveals his true identity and his need for her blood, Michelle must determine if she can face her greatest fear to save him, and risk losing her sanity and her career in the process.

    First 250:

    (** denote italics)


    My fingers dig into the teal leather seat before me, as I struggle to maintain composure against the throbbing sensation emanating from my leg. A thousand tiny knives stick my tender skin and I bite back another anguished cry.

    My foot is asleep.

    A pair of bright-eyed flight attendants salutes me on the way out as I wince my thanks. The pins and needles recede, and I place my weight almost evenly on both feet. Crisis averted. Hobbling to the doorway, I step from the airplane hatch, and fall flat on my face.

    Great. What a beginning.

    “*Ça va*? Are you okay, *mademoiselle*?” A mustached flight attendant pulls me to my feet.

    My pride smarts from tripping on a carpet ripple, but I nod. “Yes. I mean…*Oui.*”

    “You are bleeding. You are okay?”

    For a second, the stars crowding my vision turn to fireworks as I catch sight of the blood creeping from my thumbnail. *Crap. Not here, not here.* I stare hard at the blue and white runner leading to the terminal, taking deep breaths until my vision clears.

    “Fine, thanks,” I mumble, and aim for the extended jet way with wobbly gait. It’s been two minutes since I left the airplane and I already almost blacked out. Between the twelve hours of air travel from Los Angeles, four-hour layover through Swiss Customs, and the signs in French I’m lucky I made it this far.

    Bonus: https://twitter.com/ellemarr_/status/618444666216681473

  32. Name: Laura Creedle
    Genre: YA Contemporary —Neurodifferent
    Word count: 62,000

    16-year-old Lily Michaels- Ryan breaks things— dishes, school property, random rules. She’d like to be better, but she doesn’t like the way the ADHD meds make her head ring like and empty bell at night.  When Lily decides to stop taking her drugs she winds up in detention with Abelard, the boy with Asperger’s she hit with a hello kitty lunchbox in first grade. He’s brilliant, beautiful and thirty seconds behind the rest of the world.

    When Abelard shows up on a Tumblr thread seeking the girl of  “surpassing beauty and purpose among you”, Lily recognizes the quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise.  She knows that Abelard is looking for her. A whirlwind exchange of texts follows, but even the poetry of 12th century love letters might not be enough to bridge their disabilities when Abelard and Lily are finally alone together. 

    First 250:

    The day I broke the wall we had a four hour English test. Seriously. It’s hard enough to sit still for a four hour test even if you’re normal, and I’m not normal. I am Lily, a female Frankenstein’s monster trying to blend in, continually embarrassed by the random movements of my arms and legs.
    After the test, crowds of students swirled around in the fluorescent drabness of the cafeteria, everyone talking about the test as though we’d all been on a chartered bus that had turned over on the highway and miraculously left us unscathed. Relief, and a desire to run as far away from the scene of the accident as possible, in case something worse happened.

    The bell rang. Time to go to sixth period.

    I told my feet to take the stairs up to the third floor and Geography.  Every fiber of my being wanted to run out the front door and into the warmth of the April sunshine. If I didn’t tell myself where to go, if I let my mind drift, I’d find myself in the quiet calm of the art wing where the wiring is bad and the fluorescent lights flicker at appealingly low cycle in semi-permanent gloom. Or I’d stand in the empty bathroom just to be alone.  Sometimes I think I’m not attention deficit but attention abundant.  Too much of everything. I wanted to sit in a dark room somewhere, but I couldn’t. I had Geography.

    I want to read @Monica_BW 's FROSH because: got to love a type A protaganist!

  33. Susan Stella O’Connor
    Trebled Times of CeCe Santos
    YA Contemporary with diverse characters
    68,000 words


    Sixteen-year-old CeCe’s barrio is where gangs prey on the young and Tejano music blasts from the stoops. CeCe longs for her voice to boom from those speakers but her overprotective Papi shelters her in their cramped apartment. Determined to break free someday and prove herself, CeCe spends every free moment perfecting her pitch, rhythm, and tone singing everything from Paulina Rubio to Whitesnake.

    Her opportunity appears when an eccentric stranger reveals information about CeCe’s dead mother. With the hope of stringing together episodes of her mother’s life back in Colombia, and the lure of fame, CeCe abandons her Papi to tour with the stranger. The roar of the crowd and her dream of a record deal blind CeCe to the stranger’s manic episodes and reckless ways. But she can’t ignore them for long. The stranger encourages rum and Coke consumption, sleeps with people’s husbands, and deserts CeCe in the ghetto at midnight. This hard-living stranger turns out not to be a stranger after all but the one person her Papi has been protecting her from for all of these years.
    Dejected and confused CeCe sets off on a pilgrimage to the underbelly of New York to uncover the shocking truth about the stranger’s real relationship to her dead mother. If she fails, her song may be silenced forever.

    First 250ish words:

    Chapter 1:

    Bob Marley once said the good thing about music is when it hits you, you feel no pain. I believed that in the days leading up to the stranger.
    Now I know Mr. Marley was a liar.
    The stench of mothballs and mold smacked me in the face as I entered the Salvation Army Store. It was the same smell I inhaled every time I came in to buy the kind of music Papi hated, bubbling with bad language and boiling over with raunchy lyrics. Holding my breath I rushed down the middle aisle past the women’s jeans. My little cousins, Eduard and Bertita, sifted through the maze of families in the children’s section to catch up to me.
    Eduard, decked out in his Spiderman shirt, wrinkled his nose. “It stinks in here.”
    “Until you get used to it, breathe into your shirt like this.” I buried my nose in my shirt.
    Bertita, being the dramatic second grader she was, threw herself against a glass display case and announced, “I’ll never get used to it, CeCe!”
    “It’s amazing what you’ll get used to if you have to,” I said. “Like babysitting you two every day.” Smiling, I palmed the tops of their heads and guided them to the back of the store toward the overflowing bin of CDs.
    After several minutes of digging through the bin, shoving aside Barney CDs and Christmas carols, I unearthed gold. Two rap albums from the nineties. One by 2 Live Crew had a parental advisory label warning of “profane or sexually explicit” lyrics. Perfect.

    1. My correct email is: suegraceoconnor@gmail.com

  34. NAME: Byron Sadik
    TITLE: The Killing Blog
    GENRE: YA/suspense with an Indian-American MC
    WORD COUNT: 73,000
    EMAIL: byronsadik@yahoo.com

    After witnessing her Indian father's horrific death, sixteen-year-old AMY FICKETT is forced to move back in with her all-American mother and half-sister. Scarred from years of physical and emotional abuse from her father, Amy finds solace in the world of the Internet and video games, but high school and her home life push her to her breaking point, and is suspended from school. She encounters death again when she snaps pictures of a girl overdosing and posts them online. The pictures become a viral hit, but when Amy kills for the first time, the response is unbelievable. With the help of her online friend OLIVER, Amy creates the Killing Blog, her online diary of murder.

    The Killing Blog becomes a hit, and Amy kills again to the cheers of millions around the world. She embraces death and devotes her life to the blog, and uses her newfound wealth to remake herself into a sweet and successful girl while moonlighting as the first serial killer of the Information Age. As the police and the demands of her life close on her, she finds comfort in painkillers and Aiden, the toddler she babysits. But the more she kills, the more the blog creeps into her daily life, with horrifying results. And when the police come dangerously close to catching her, Amy vows to walk away after one more kill. But one more kill becomes another kill, and then another until Amy's own life is at stake. Can she save herself before it's too late?

    FIRST 250 WORDS:

    Amy opened her swollen eyes. Her stomach still ached from the punches and kicks; the nap-induced amnesia cleared her mind but emptied her stomach. She toed through the gloomy hallway, lit only by the sterile glow of the television. Her dad sprawled on the couch with a dwindling bottle of scotch and a bag of chips. His glasses reflected the dull, lifeless light from the TV. She toed quietly into the kitchen, illuminated by the white walls, white refrigerator, and white tile. She reached for a green apple and gazed at its reflection. The lights turned on and stung her eyes while her father stood before her, rubbing his hands together and gazing the floor. Amy squeezed the apple and her knees filled with a gnawing fear.

    “Amy,” he slurred.

    “I'm studying. Promise.”

    “I am sorry.” He always gave a token apology after beating her, and Amy, trying to be a good daughter, offered her token forgiveness. That was how it was; Dad beat her mercilessly, and Amy, always the good daughter, accepted his apology until he washed his guilt away with scotch. But he didn't leave the kitchen. His hands fumbled in his frayed khakis and he stared at his toes. Maybe he was remorseful. Maybe his hands hid in shame from punching her in the face. Amy didn't care; after seven years of crying to her mother she succumbed to it. 'It's not that bee-ad, A-y-y-mee', Mom would say. 'My dee-ad used to beat me with an Atyaa-ri.'

  35. Your Name: Layne Alkis
    Title of your book: SKIN DEEP
    Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
    Word-count: 59,000
    Your email: laalkis@hotmail.com
    The pitch:

    Seventeen-year-old Zoe has met the girl of her dreams—despite the fur and fangs.

    Zoe couldn’t care less when super-popular Ryan hits on her. When she reject's Ryan's advances, his anger flares and he tries to grab her. Zoe flees into the woods.

    Exhausted and afraid, she stumbles across an isolated mansion and Isabella—a cursed girl who’s had no human contact in years, afraid revealing herself would land her in a lab. After Isabella nurses her injuries sustained during her escape from Ryan, Zoe finds herself drawn to her hostess, even with her oddities.

    As their feelings grow, so does Ryan's rage towards Zoe. When he discovers Isabella, he threatens to expose her to the world. To protect the girl she loves, Zoe must break the curse before her beast is locked away in a lab.

    -The first 250

    “I bet Zoe’d spread her legs for me,” a guy behind me says.

    My cheeks burn with embarrassment, and I grip my dress, wishing for the nerve to confront them. The trees blotting out the moon’s light cast eerie shadows across their faces.

    I turn around in time to catch his buddy nudge his side. “Just say something smart.” He takes a drink from his cup. “Dumb chicks love that. Oh! Get her to go skinny dipping with you.”

    What chicks don't like are guys who speak like Neanderthals.

    The crisp night air mixes with the sizzling burgers, hotdogs and chicken cooking on the grill, but my stomach is tangled in knots it makes me queasy instead of hungry.

    Why did I let my friends talk me into going to this party?

    “It’ll be fine, Zo,” my best friend Jenny says, coming up behind me. She places her hand on my back and leads me away from them. Warmth fills me, and it’s times like these I remember why I put up with her yearning for popularity. “Don’t listen to those idiots. They’ll believe whatever they want to.” As she runs her fingers through her curled black hair, the golden bracelets jingle along her arm. She scans the crowd with interest. “There are plenty of other guys here to take your mind off things.” Of course, we’re back onto that now.

    “I just want a nice boy,” I confess. Or girl, but I doubt she’d like to hear that.

  36. Name: Danielle Doolittle
    Title: BASTION
    Genre: NA Dystopian with paranormal elements/ LGBT
    Word count: 65,000
    Email: d.doolittle.author@gmail.com


    Accused of being an accomplice in the murder of a high ranking vampire, Eighteen-year-old, Luca Rollens has no one to turn to but Tiger, the mysterious biker who's always simultaneously made him nervous and all gooey inside. When Tiger tells Luca their only hope is to run, he's not sure who's crazier: Tiger, or himself for climbing on the back of the probable fugitive's bike and holding on for dear life.

    The pair set out on a cross country journey based on a map sketched in a journal and a few crazy clues hinting at a city held by a group of humans. Together they must escape Vampire ruled west coast, survive the desert rumored to be the home of rogue werewolves, traverse the minefield of secrets and pent up attractions, and avoid being dragged back to LA. But what they find at the end of the map may be worse than donating a few pints of blood a week.

    First 250:

    Luca Rollens

    Type AB positive*

    On behalf of the Council we would like to extend our congratulations upon reaching maturity. As you are well aware your new status requires immediate action on your part. One week from the day you receive this notice you must report to your local deposit center to receive your account number and schedule. We look forward to your cooperation in the matter. Please accept our deepest gratitude to your decision to do your part in contributing to the Greater Blood Bank of Los Angeles.


    Vladimir Markov

    Undersecretary to the High Vampire Council

    I snorted before closing the window on my vidcom. The message had been sitting in my inbox for four days now but I really hadn't seen the point in opening it. Everyone knew what the damn things said. Just a handful of platitudes stating from now on I was officially on tap.

    Freshly eighteen and the rest of my life whittled down to five overly polite lines.

    The vamps could phrase it however they wanted, everyone knew our participation was far from voluntary. I wasn't foolish enough to think if I went down to the deposit center and said "thanks but no thanks" they wouldn't just slap that tattoo on my wrist and take their pint regardless. I'd seen it happen more than once. Some macho guy had something to prove had it in his head he could deny them. I preferred my gray matter unscrambled thank you very much.

  37. If we can only enter one MS, please disregard this post; I'll enter my NA MS above only.

    Your Name: Elizabeth Roderick
    Title of your book: THE OTHER PLACE
    Genre: YA Contemporary/Magical Realism with diverse characters
    Word-count: 74,000
    Your email: elizabethroderick@att.net

    (MS is stand-alone, with series potential)
    Justin just wants to draw and be left in peace, but when his mother takes up with a man who thinks his schizophrenia can be cured with prayer, he has to find a new home or risk involuntary commitment in a religious facility.

    He runs off to San Francisco, where he’s discovered by a gallery owner. His bizarre and beautiful drawings create a stir in the art world; people rave about his genius and flock to see his work. Meanwhile, Justin is homeless, couch surfing and battling his mental illness.

    Then he reconnects with a girl named Liria, who has been appearing in his visions since they met back in his hometown. Liria, it turns out, has been sharing those visions. Compelled by their deep connection, she leaves her jealous girlfriend in order to be with him, supporting them both on her meagre income.

    Then they discover that the gallery owner has been hiding something, and Justin realizes that being a genius can have a downside. Surrounded by people who want to exploit his talent, he must fight not only for his career and his freedom, but perhaps for his life.

    First 250:

    Mom sits in front of her laptop, the screen glow showing every mark in her tired face.

    It gives me the jitters. “Why are you on your computer so much, mom?”

    Her frown lines deepen, walls that imprison her mouth and keep it from ever smiling. “None of your goddamn business, Justin,” she says.

    “You’re not finding another man on there, are you?” I ask.

    “And what if I am? What if I’ve met someone?”

    I wrap my arms around myself. “Mom, your men are always trouble. We’re fine on our own.”

    Her blue eyes finally leave the screen and find mine, poking like needles. She slams her fist down, and a pile of bills and religious pamphlets slides off the table like a waterfall, pattering onto the floor. “Shut up! Do you think it’s easy having a son like you? I need someone, something else in my life. I’m not going to let you ruin it for me again!”

    My guts clench up, and I need to get out of here. I duck into the mudroom, pull on my shoes.

    “Don’t you run off again!” Mom yells. “Goddammit, Justin.”

    But I hardly hear her. I dodge out the door and through the streets, running past the school and out into the vineyards.

    I breathe in, breathe out, trying to cleanse the bad vibrations from my lungs, but the air is hot and thick; the rising heat makes it like rippling water, warping the world around me.

  38. Heather Lynne Davis
    Sun and Bone
    YA Psychological Thriller


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

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

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

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

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

    Told in the voices of both Eve and Mana, Sun and Bone was shortlisted for the Janklow & Nesbit UK Debut Novel Competition.

    FIRST 250:

    Dying children can’t shock me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  39. Name: Raymond Morris


    Genre: YA Urban Fantasy (Main character, Elijah, is LGBT along with Dimitri, a supporting character/love interest. He’s also an Ogre, but not sure how diverse they are these days. Hehe.)

    Word Count: 100k

    Email: raymondmorris81@gmail.com

    Meat of the query!

    The boy was only ten years old when he woke up in a burning airplane, with no knowledge of who he was how or he’d gotten there. In the hospital, they told him his name was Elijah, and he was lucky to be alive. Only one other person survived the crash, a girl named Sara.

    Six years later, Elijah discovers the crash was no accident when the creatures who sent him into that burning plane return to complete the mission he failed: take the girl, or kill her. They believe Sara is a Conduit, someone destined to harness an ancient and terrible power. Now, those who once tried to kill Sara will instead use her and her power to reshape the world, starting with the enslavement of the human race.

    First 250 words:

    Something is trying to break through the wall above my bed. A vibration, then three deep blows so hard they rattle my headboard against the wall. At first, I know it must be something left over from my dream, or maybe I’m still dreaming. Another loud crack and a muffled growl bring me fully awake.

    My eyes pop open, heart slamming against my chest. The pounding had been so loud and violent that I half expect pieces of the wall to be raining down on me. Nothing is falling yet, but I know it’s only a matter of time before the thing breaks through.

    Another vibration only inches from my head. I start to roll away, get the hell out, but a shout from the other side of the wall stops me.

    “Elijah! Answer your damn phone for Christ’s sake; do you know what time it is?”

    It’s Jim’s voice, barely muffled. His fist pounds into the wall again to put an exclamation mark on his rage, followed by a softer yet insistent vibration. It’s my stupid cell phone.

    I reach behind my bed and find my phone wedged between the box spring and the wall. I don’t bother checking the number – only one person would call me this late.

    I flip the phone open, squeeze my eyes shut against the bright screen, and press the earpiece to the side of my head.

    “Sara, Channing Tatum better be in your living room, shirtless, and desperately wanting to meet me.”

  40. Name: Deborah Kreiser
    Genre: YA LGBT Contemporary
    Word count: 55k
    Email: deborahkreiserfrancis (at) gmail.com

    The pitch:

    A PLAGUE ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES is a contemporary Romeo and Juliet with a twist of House of Cards. It will appeal to fans of Shakespeare and WHEN YOU WERE MINE by Rebecca Serle. A full manuscript is available upon request.

    Paris Escala is the perfect progeny for an aspiring Republican Presidential candidate: straight-A student, star basketball player, Ivy League shoo-in. Except Paris has a secret that even his sister Rose doesn’t know. It’s not Julia Capua--his ideal political partner--he’s attracted to, but her forbidden boyfriend, Montae Romero. Still, dating Julia would put an end to all of the rumors about Paris, and might finally make his control-freak dad proud.

    But a nosy reporter from the Washington Post is doing her best to get a Pulitzer by investigating Paris’s family; his sister is struggling with managing her diabetes and her love life; and his best friend is starting fights that land him in the hospital. Paris has to deal with these problems and decide how to keep his life from becoming a tragedy.

    The first 250-ish words:

    My palms were moist. I’d never been able to control my nerves completely, despite the number of appearances I’d made alongside my dad. I took a deep breath to steady myself.

    Yup, smelled like money--like all of these events we attended.

    Trying to focus on my role as official sidekick, I surveyed the scene from the top of the ballroom stairs. It was then that I caught my first glimpse of him mingling below: he was pure young hotness, making him stand out from the older, fleshier crowd. I couldn’t ignore the color rising in my cheeks and the sudden twist in my stomach; part dread, part anticipation, and part something I couldn’t--wouldn’t--name.

    I struggled to compose myself and straightened my tie one last time. My Dad brushed by, the odor of his cologne enveloping me, distracting me from my reverie. His aide, Sam, standing at attention, asked, “Ready, Mr. Secretary?”

    Picking at imaginary lint on my sleeve, Dad examined me one last time, then nodded and gave a thumbs-up. “Born ready, Sam.” Dad let out his trademark guffaw, beaming as he began his descent down the marble stairs to the ballroom below, strutting in his custom-made designer tuxedo and Italian shoes. Music boomed from the speakers hidden around the room while lights glistened off the beadwork on the women’s fancy dress gowns.

    Carefully, I trained my eyes away from that spot below where I knew Montae Romero had last been standing. He was forbidden fruit in more ways than one. Son of the Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, his reputation as a bad-boy ladies’ man had preceded him.

    Bonus: link to Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeborahKreiser/status/618512017540956161

  41. Name: Carolyn Chambers Clark
    Title: DARE
    Genre: Contemporary YA Coming of Age
    Word Count: 64,000 words
    Email: fictionwriterccc at gmail.com:


    Jewish-Italian Raz Rinaldi can’t trust anyone enough to share her secrets. That’s why no one at school knows Raz’s father is so depressed; he doesn’t get out of bed anymore. Or that her stepmother stole her college fund. Or that the only creature that shows her affection is her dog. Raz’s got to get the only track scholarship and money for books or she won’t be going to UW next year. Worse, she won’t be able to break her mom’s track records, something she promised her dying mother. Lucky her dead grandmother, an ex-Mossad agent, appears to give her some advice or is that just her grief?.

    Logan, a red-hot, girl-magnet, biracial Catholic boy in a black leather jacket bursts into her life and accuses her of stealing his track scholarship. After that, every ounce of attraction she had for him evaporates. She doesn’t want to spend evenings at his house tutoring him in Advanced Algebra while he jokes around, but he’s her only shot at making the money she needs. Raz has no idea how much his life sucks or that his joking style covers up his anger and guilt about his alcoholic mom, abusive cop/dad, and the countless one-nighters with faceless white girls, only to be beat up by their boyfriends. His only friend is his dog. When he dares Raz to share secrets, she asks herself whether she has the courage to try and what they’ll both risk to find out.

    First 250 words:


    Everybody thinks of me as a math genius with a four-point average who’ll sail into college next fall. They’re so wrong.

    Running is my medicine and I sure need a shot of it now. I take out my best pair of jeans and spread them out on my bed. I’m not sure what I’m going to wear for a top yet, but today’s my first day as a senior at Ash City High and I’ve got to pull myself together. I yank underwear and socks out of the top drawer of my dresser.

    No one knows Dad's so depressed, he doesn’t get out of bed anymore, or that my stepmother stole my college fund so she could spend it on shopping sprees. Of course, I can’t tell anyone at school that. They’d just use it against me. That’s what my stepmother does.

    Heat starts up in my stomach and rises to my forehead. I can’t let any of this rattle me. I pull a brush through my hair. I’ve got to stay calm.

    No headaches allowed. I yank on my underwear and socks. Tree limbs creak outside my open bedroom window and dark clouds roll in. The sweet, pungent zing of ozone tickles up my nose, telling me rain’s on the way. I’ve got to get away from here for at least a short run and cool my brain. Right now my head feels hot enough to explode.

    Then I remember…As if I could ever forget.

    My running partner is missing. A deep sigh escapes from my lips

  42. F.T. Lukens
    The Star Host
    YA Sci-fi with LGBTQ main character

    Captured by soldiers and taken from his village, planet-born Ren is forced to become a slave of the despotic Baron Vos. Ren attempts to remain inconspicuous while plotting his escape from the citadel, but it is a difficult task. The general of the Baron’s army believes Ren to be something out of legend, and he intends to use Ren to further the Baron’s interests off-world. Except Ren can’t control his power, and according to the myths, all his predecessors went insane.

    Afraid and pushed to his limits, Ren finds companionship in the occupant of the cell next to his, a drifter named Asher. A member of the distinguished Phoenix Corps, Asher is gruff, mysterious, and exactly the person Ren needs to anchor him. As Ren drifts perilously close to losing his humanity, Asher becomes Ren’s tether and his close friend. Together they must escape the citadel, warn the Corps of the Baron’s plans for expansion, and master Ren’s growing power. In their few quiet moments, when they’re not outrunning mercenaries or bargaining with ships’ captains for passage, they must also navigate the growing attraction between them.

    First 250-ish

    Ren sprinted.

    Chest heaving with laughter, he ran toward the lake. He shucked off his homespun shirt and dropped it on the beach. Hopping from foot to foot, he pulled off his boots, only stumbling slightly. His younger brother emerged from the forest a few strides behind. Red-faced and sweating, Liam was unable to keep pace with Ren. He was still growing into his limbs, his legs not as long.

    “No fair,” Liam said, panting. “You always beat me.”

    Down to his trousers, his clothing thrown into a haphazard pile on the white sand, Ren glanced over his shoulder and smiled. “I’m older. It’s my right.”

    Liam huffed as he wriggled out of his shirt. “I hope you burn.”

    “Sore loser,” Ren said. He waded into the lake, the cool water lapping at his calf muscles. “Are you coming?”

    Ren didn’t receive a verbal reply, but the splash next to him was answer enough. Liam sent water spilling over Ren’s head. Ren laughed as he wiped the droplets off his face, and then he dove under the low, rolling waves.

    Spring had finally arrived to their little village on the planet Erden. The sun burned above them, the brightest star in the cluster. It warmed the ground, and melted the snow and ice off the mountains in the distance. In the late afternoon, the shadows of the forest grew longer, casting dark blobs on the small beach. Twilight would creep in soon, the sky already darkening toward sunset.

    - Bonus: link to Twitter: https://twitter.com/writer_reese/status/618548534615388160

  43. Cassandra Newbould
    Signal Against Noise
    Urban Fantasy with diverse characters

    The only thing sixteen-year-old mutant-born Haley ever dreams of is the touch of her mother— that, and what it would feel like to melt down the compound she’s been raised in from birth. When you’re stolen from your parents by the government it’s hard not to harbor a slight bit of resentment. Add to the fact that Haley can retain first memories, and those consist of her mother’s screams; suffice it to say, Haley is slowly losing her mind.

    Haley’s an anomaly; healer, killer, and the Front’s prized possession. Haley’s trained from childhood to be leader of the Leet squad, however, their idea of policing humans to breed mutants is too much, and Haley wants out. When Haley escapes she runs into someone who changes her life forever. KC, a time-traveling boy raised on horror stories of his sister’s kidnapping.

    Fear of rejection raises doubts when KC claims Haley’s his lost sibling. In denial that KC could be her brother, Haley follows him just in case. When KC falls victim to a deadly seizure Haley needs to harness unstable emotions from her ever-evolving powers and rein them in to heal his brain. KC survives the seizure but loses all memory of his sister. Haley could lose her sanity for good if she doesn’t find a way to get KC’s memories back. If Haley’s willing to give up her old identity she just might save KC, and no one will ever be able to control her again.

    First 250

    Their first mistake was keeping me alive. Unfortunately for them, it wasn't their last.

    I need to get out of here. Today. Now. The words tumble, tripping over each other in urgency.

    It’s a cadence that builds and ebbs like the tides of the sea. It’s starting to pull me out again. The Front’s grasp kept me locked and collared for three weeks after my last escape attempt. Three weeks without feeling.

    I pace the new floor of our bedroom while plans flitter through my mind on how to skip school. The urge to leave the compound is so strong. What’s it like not spending every day in training becoming something you loathe?

    Ugh. How do you escape the only life you’ve ever known?

    I glance outside my room. Sparrow’s stupid lizard face glares at me, “Haley, where do you think you’re going? Mutant.”

    That one word, that little tiny label, is the cause of all my grief.

    She’s so lame, we’re all frecking mutants here.

    If I were a simple human I’d be out in the communities; playing in the sunshine, enjoying a childhood, the likes of which I’ll never know. Instead I’m forced into a life of servitude. One that’ll eventually lead to being part of the Elite army. Yippie-frecking-do.

    “Bite me, Lizard breath.” Sparrow’s face turns green and I back away laughing. Slamming the door’s a joke, it slowly creaks on its hinges, lessening the effect tenfold. The sounds of Sparrow’s laughter echoes through the empty bedroom.

  44. Victoria Smith
    Lost to the Limelight
    New Adult Contemp. Romance


    Thomas Ashton never asked for fame. Or Aspergers. While struggling to adjust to the pressures of Hollywood’s spotlight, he reconnects with Elle Edwards, the girl he’ll do anything to win back. She calms his high-strung nerves and makes him question the logical reasoning he thought was infallible. But his drinking problem and inability to cope with the demands of his skyrocketing acting career threaten to derail his reconciliatory efforts.

    Elle strives to get back on track after a dramatic year, complete with a lawsuit from her two-timing ex-boyfriend. Soon after Thomas’s return, her closest guy friend confesses stronger feelings for her, and the prospect of two potential love interests roadblocks Elle’s path toward an uncomplicated life. When someone starts leaking her personal information to the press, she battles to keep her legal troubles a secret and worries her life will change too drastically if she chooses Thomas.

    With the prying press at Elle’s doorstep, her unpredictable temper and Thomas's lack of emotional understanding collide. To move forward, Thomas and Elle must decide how much they are willing to change their lives for love.

    First 250:

    "Thomas! Thomas! Over here!"

    The shouts and camera flashes struck me the moment I stepped out of my car. Lately, I could always count on a group of paparazzi waiting to descend outside my condo building. Shielding my face, I pushed through the pack of vultures and headed to the door. Their hurried footsteps followed me and I resisted the urge to turn and flip them off.

    I fumbled with the key, the barrage of personal questions hammering me in the back. Safely inside, I closed my eyes and tried to focus. Getting upset wouldn't help, or get my privacy back. It had only been two months since my acting career took off. The stress of it all made me feel much older than twenty-five. The circles under my eyes echoed the sentiment.

    With a thick stack of scripts under my arm, I took the stairs two at a time, then unlocked my door. Dirty dishes littered the kitchen and discarded clothes decorated the floor. I needed to clean up before Jackson came over. I also needed to pack.

    Settling onto the couch, I scanned the twenty-or-so scripts Angie, my manager, had given me over breakfast. I tossed some after ten or fifteen pages. Too fluffy. Uninteresting characters. I wanted to focus on tough roles, trying to steer away from the romantic drama types that had brought on my success. Being a handsome face wasn't my goal. I wanted raw, intelligent characters.

    Twitter: @vsmithauthor

  45. Heather Murphy Capps
    YA Thriller with light Sci Fi; Diverse and LGBTQ Characters
    -78,000 Words

    When Leila confronts her cheating ex-boyfriend, music seeps out of thin air and a car alarm blares without provocation. Her fury has triggered her latent talent for telekinesis, but because she doesn’t believe in pseudoscience, she writes it all off as bizarre coincidence.

    Her best friend Dane, whose nickname used to be “Ghostbuster” because he does believe in extreme possibilities, is grappling with his own new phenomena -- telepathy. Then again, he believes his dead father is still alive, so Leila blows off his insistence that something unusual is happening to them.

    But their emerging talents take on new significance when masked commandos kidnap Dane’s mother and almost succeed in grabbing them too. Suddenly they’re on the run – and to save Dane’s mother and avoid capture themselves, they must learn why they’re targets. This means untangling an old family intrigue that includes the kidnappers, who used to be their parents’ colleagues, and a personal connection to experiments in fringe science. Secret experiments in which Leila and Dane were the primary subjects – which explains their extra-sensory gifts.

    Dane’s bitterness about the all the secrets threatens to derail their search, as does the fact that people around them keep turning up dead. Unless they want to be next, Dane must learn to move on, and Leila must use a power she doesn’t believe in to save their lives.

    EXQUISITE SENSES is told from two perspectives: skeptical Leila and searching Dane. It would appeal to fans of the science-y extra sensory powers of V.E. Schwab’s VICIOUS or the CW channel’s TOMORROW PEOPLE.

    First 250:

    Music smoothed out all my jagged edges. Which is why today I was eavesdropping on violins in the practice rooms, hoping to fill my head with so much beauty I’d forget everything else. And perhaps, bonus, squash my desire to break things.

    Fail. Even here, I couldn’t unsee the snapshot that had made me the source of gossip and the object of too many hastily-smothered smiles.

    All too soon, the bell rang. I dreaded leaving my safe haven, but I couldn’t skip Biology again. I slipped out with just enough time to grab another book out of my locker and run to class.

    “Hey, babe.”

    Damn. I hadn’t heard him slither up behind me. Don’t call me babe.

    “Antonio, aren’t you supposed to be in class?” I asked.

    He snorted. “Like I ever go to class. C’mon, Leila.”

    I finally turned and as I did, I heard it. The same song that had risen sotto voce from the steam in my shower this morning, when I was fuming about him. It had glimmered briefly in the wet air and faded just as quickly.

    Antonio tilted his head. “Where’s that coming from?”

    The notes thrummed with hushed rage, and then just like before, melted away leaving only the suggestion of their keening fury curling up my spine.

    My very recently ex-boyfriend narrowed his eyes. I remained silent, my gaze deliberately dead.

    PS: I tweeted!!!

  46. Maura Jortner


    YA contemporary fiction




    She's Jewish. He's in a strict Christian community everyone in town claims is a cult. He's not supposed to talk to her—or any other woman—unless it’s to evangelize. The mixing of the sexes is forbidden. Just one of the rules.

    But when Isaac's little brother is declared not of God and “Separated,” secreted away somewhere on the community's massive property, Isaac must go against all he’s been taught; the last person who was “Separated” was never seen again. He knows someone who can help—Rebecca, the Jewish girl. So Isaac hides a note only she will find and asks to meet her in private. He’ll tell her what’s going on. He’ll break every rule to rescue his brother. He’ll risk everything—his community, his faith, his home. It’ll all start with talking to a girl; it’ll end in things far more forbidden.

    First 250:

    Wednesday afternoon

    Rebecca raised her eyebrows. Her friend Kate, who sat across the lunch table at Midway high school, glowered and frowned. “What is it?”
    Kate shook her head and called over the din of students, “Bad news. White shirt approaching, ten o’clock.”
    A White Shirt. Rebecca groaned. Whoever it was, they were coming to talk to her.
    “Who is it this time?” Brittney, Rebecca’s other friend sitting nearby, asked. She turned to look and then leaned in over the table. “Oooh, that’s a change. It’s the hot one. What’s his name?”
    Rebecca answered, “Isaac.”
    “How do you even know that?” Brittney asked. “He’s never talked to me. Has he ever talked to you?”
    Kate said, “Talk to a girl? Come on, Brit. The White Shirts have rules against that.”
    Rebecca sighed in something like disbelief. How could it be Isaac? For the past three and a half years—since she’d moved to Texas—a White Shirt had bothered her every day at lunch. They were all the same, and what they had to say was always the same: convert now or burn in hell. Just what she wanted to hear. They always gave her some kind of pamphlet. As if she’d read it. As if she’d change her religion. Normally, she didn’t give their diatribes much thought. They were easily dismissed and the pamphlets thrown in the trash along with the rest of the lunchroom rubbish. But the principle bothered her. Why did they keep at it?

    Twitter: @maura_jortner

  47. Leiann Bynum
    NA Romantic Thriller with diverse characters
    62,000 words


    Alane’s world shattered when her older brother was killed, and to make matters worse, the cops freed the drunk driver responsible. Now she is sick of the law and being a good girl.

    Thief Jace lives on the road, stealing from rich people who take advantage of the lower class. He isn’t all bad though; he draws the line at murdering people and gives most of his loot to those in need. When Alane gets mixed up in one of his robberies, she is surprised by the thrill of getting away with it, and invites herself on Jace’s crime spree across the country. He isn’t happy about her joining in at first, but he gets used to the idea and even helps her become more badass, teaching her how to shoot a gun and defend herself.

    At every turn during their ventures, they dodge close calls with the cops, security guards, and even gang members who are willing to kill for their riches. Amidst these dangerous thrills, sexual tension mounts between Jace and Alane, and they find themselves falling for each other. But Alane begins to think she can’t handle this lifestyle, even if quitting means losing Jace. She must figure out if love is worth the risk of jail time, or even death.

    First 250-ish words:

    I knew he was trouble before Mara said he was.

    “Him,” she said, raising her voice over the music that pulsed throughout the room. She pointed him out with her brown eyes.

    “Him?” I echoed, gazing back over at the guy I’d already laid eyes on when he first walked in.

    “Yes. Look at him. Tall, and obviously Latino, like you. And see how the front of his dark hair falls slightly over his eyes? Then there’s the leather jacket and Timberland boots he’s wearing.”

    I almost snorted martini out of my nose. “Leather jacket? Isn’t that a little cliché?”

    “Maybe. But you can mostly tell by the way he carries himself. Look how he’s slouching back against the bar with his hands in his pockets, checking out the room. Now I’m not saying he’s perfect for you, but that’s a suggestion on what type of guy you should be going for.”

    “Mara,” scolded Claudia, my other best friend. “One step at a time. We just convinced Alane to step into a club for the first time. She can take it slow.”

    “I’m telling you, she needs a bad boy. That’s an important step in the change she’s going through.”

    I giggled, while Claudia rolled her eyes and shook her head.

    “I think I’m feeling a little tipsy,” I said, seeing the room start to spin.

    Claudia looked at the glass I held. “Maybe that should be your last martini.”

    “No,” I snapped.

  48. S A Thomas
    Native Control
    YA Science Fiction

    Blurb thing...

    From the ruins of a failed colonisation ship, humans strive to build a society on the alien planet of Ahoy. 245 years later, 17 year old Tile is hoping to make a better life for herself and her mixed race daughter Pebble beneath the sea. But when Pebble refuses to grow up, Tile is forced to confront the might of the Stone family, whilst striving to find a familiar love on an unfamiliar surface.
    Romeo and Juliet meets a Clockwork Orange, with traces of Enders Game and a dash of Monty Phython...

    My first 269 words.

    Trademark. Stone Corp.

    Son and Stars

    Bloody and blistered,
    These ten fingers,
    Crawled over the mountain,
    The Son on my back.

    The journey long,
    The ground hard and uneven,
    To the stars,
    We look in Wonder.


    An upright man appears in Tile’s field of vision.
    He is reaching for something, else is about to pull the curtain down, reveal the things very nature. His silhouette is framed by one of those Tie-Die sunsets, photo-shopped to perfection.
    An upright man disappears from Tile’s field of vision.

    Trademark. Stone Corp.

    “To the stars, We look in Wonder.” That was Tile’s favourite part. She often wished she could look at mirrored stars and trace the constellations that she was taught as a child, when Pebble Snr guided her clawed hand.
    24.3. 24.2. 24.1. 24 metres underneath the Carltian Sea, in Fishtank Victory, Tile lumped past the drab storefronts of the through-fare. The area was thick with the morning limb traffic, as vendors set out their wares for the coming day. The smells of the surface lingered in the recycled air of previous smells.
    Tile could feel the crush of the people surrounding her, could feel their prying eyes searching her skin. It made the dividing lump-lanes seem shrunken, like some devious graffiti artist had rubbed them out, then decreased their width for giggles.

    Lump lump, went Tile.

    She felt Pebble move on her back, a beautiful golden-brown baby, who reminded people of Degree. Tile didn’t see any resemblance. Tile thought Pebble looked like a little Pebble, and would grow up to be an intelligent strong Pebble, with a Pebble-like personality.

    1. Sorry. I just saw on the Prospect website that you're not looking for sci fi. My bad.

  49. The contest is now CLOSED. Thanks for participating!