Monday, April 18, 2011

Pitch & 250 Word Contest Entries Up

Hi all,

First, thanks so much for all the participation and for making this contest a success.

Second, I am all about learning, as I am sure you are, when it comes to writing. No matter how much you learn there is more to learn.

I did not make this a rule, so this is going to be an on your honor system. I would like to see everyone to pick three submission and make comments on them (of course you can do more).

Please, do not be rude. There are ways to critique without being a jerk. In other words, helpful comments only.

I hate having to say that, but I have seen on writing sites and blogs some people getting a little rude.

Let's all help each other on our way to publication. We're all in this together. :)

Please note: Select entries from the side column. It has come to my attention that if you select older posts from the bottom of the page that some entries might get skipped over. I would like to make sure everyone's entries get at least a couple, if not more, comments.

If you see a mistake on your entry OR you don't see your entry at all, please let me know. You can email me or contact me on twitter or facebook. I will be more than happy to fix my mistake.

There are 88 entries. My eyes started to cross after awhile. I would be rather surprised if I didn't make a mistake somewhere.

Also, because there are 88 entries, Gina has her work cut out for her. Especially with the awesome entries we have. Please be patient while she works her way through these.

In the meantime, we have entries to read, comments to post AND I'm very lucky to have authors Wayne Simmons and Nancy Holzner come and visit my blog soon. I'm very very excited about that.

Have fun and thank you so much for making this the best contest ever. And special thanks to Gina Panettieri for donating her time to making this a success.

Submission Sandra

Name: Sandra Cormier (Chumplet)
Title & Genre: MALLET -- Mystery
Pitch: When Vicky & her rich boyfriend vanish while taking his plane for fish & chips, Amanda wants to worry but she's too busy staying alive.

1st 250 words:

In the short time I knew John Rouge, I rarely heard him refer to anybody by name. Sweetheart, Dude, Pal, Buddy. When Vicky introduced us, he called me Honey.

He'd made his fortune with some dot-com company, and sold it for millions before everything went bust. Now he spent his self-imposed retirement jetting around the globe, big-game fishing and building schools in Nepal. He joined two polo clubs, one in Tottenham and another in Florida.

When Vicky called to offer a seat at the sponsors' table at a local charity match, I jumped at the chance. Sitting with the fashionable set and getting free food and drinks piqued my curiosity.

On a steamy Sunday morning, I headed for the polo grounds on the Montgomery farm in Gormley. Signs with red arrows pointed the way to the venue, and I scanned for the entrance.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a broken rail on a long row of cedar fencing to my left.

Someone should fix that, I thought. In the same moment a reddish-brown blur filled my vision.

"Shit!" I slammed on the brakes and struggled to keep my Toyota from spinning out of control. Gravel spit in every direction. I managed to bring the car to a halt on the narrow shoulder facing the way I had come.

When my heart and the dust settled, I searched the roadside, wondering if I'd hit the deer.

It wasn't a deer. It was a horse.

Submission Lori

Name: Lori M. Lee
Email: leemai82 at gmail dot com
Title and genre: SOUL WITHOUT A BOY - YA urban fantasy

Pitch: In a world where souls can be used as weapons, a 17-year-old boy accidentally creates a girl and learns that standing out can be deadly.

1st 250 words:

On his thirteenth lap around the block, London Howell ripped off the advertisement stapled to his neighbor's fence. There were only so many times he could read about City of London tourism before he got irrationally annoyed.

Dad used to say that naming him after the city they lived in had been a spur of the moment thing. To London, that meant Dad had looked around the hospital room, spotted a similar sign and thought, Sure, why not? He tried not to criticize. It could have been worse. He could be named Liverpool.

Anyway, he would have taken a dozen dumb jokes about the Tower of London over sprinting through his neighborhood at midnight.

He stopped to catch his breath beneath a lamppost, his hand braced against the cool iron. Groaning, he stretched out the cramp in his side. His mobile vibrated in his back pocket and, with a glance at the screen, he picked up.

"You sound like a goat on the rack," Amun said in greeting.

"How," London asked between breaths, "do you know what a tortured goat sounds like?" He shook out his legs, but it didn't help. Even running for two miles hadn't burned off the excess energy. Great. He considered just rolling into a ditch and staying there.

"Animal Sacrifices Hour. Wednesday nights at eight. Bring your own blood bucket."

"Brilliant mental image. Thanks."

"Did running work?"

"No." He didn't know what else to do. Insomnia alone he could probably endure.

Submission Tina

Name: Tina Moss
Title & Genre: BLOOD BOND - Urban Fantasy
Pitch: Half demon, half angel, Cassie can open portals between worlds, but she must master her power or risk insanity and losing her freedom.

1st 250 words:

“There’s no flipping way I’m going in there!” Cassie planted her feet and locked her arms against the doorframe. “Do you hear what I’m saying, Zoey?”

She stiffened as her friend pushed her from behind.

“Why do you have to make this so difficult?” An exasperated Zoey gave her another shove, this time crouching and digging a shoulder into her back.

Gritting her teeth, Cassie bent her knees and sunk her weight further into the floor. She might not have the height or weight advantage, but she knew how to make her petite size count. With a smile she said, “I think all that blond on top your head has finally sunk into your brain.” Her hand released the door for a split second to sweep around the room. “Don’t you see this place? This is NOT the answer.”

Zoey jumped on the opportunity, grabbing Cassie’s free hand and dragging her into the cramped room. Crystal skulls, long tapered candles, and navy colored drapes with sequence and stars filled the space. Sickly sweet incense wafted through the air. Two desperate looking elderly women dressed in black waited their turn on a red velvet couch. The sight had Cassie spinning one hundred and eighty degrees, pulling free of Zoey’s grip and bee lining to the exit. She’d made it to the hallway, before Zoey tackled her in a bear hug and pleaded with her to stay.

“You’ve tried everything else,” Zoey said, as she tugged Cassie back through the door.

Submission Scott

Name: Scott Springer

Pitch: Jenny O' looks for love but finds the half-life instead; so now it's #virtue vs. #zombie, and whichever wins, life as she knows it will end.

1st 250 words:

It's Friday evening after dinner and a girl just wants to have fun. Only instead, I'm sitting cross legged on my bed. Alone. I'm smacking on a wad of flavorless gum, my jaws chomping to the stale beat of a worn-out playlist. This sucks.

My mom peeks into my room and points to her ear. I pull one bud and tilt my head. She says, "Don't just sit there and mope, call Marcy."

Marcy's on a date, so I shrug my shoulders.

"Or call Carl. I'm sure he'd love to take you to that Zombie Fest I've heard so much about. And it's in Midtown." Her voice rises at the end like this is so exciting.

Only . . . so not.

Carl and zombies?

—are you kidding me right now?

I've known him since preschool. He used to eat his boogers. And he still laughs when he farts. So, let's just say he's not the one I'd swap my gum with.

But we are friends, so calling him is not totally out of line.

And my mom wants me to be happy. She stares at me. I stare back. You can totally tell I'm her daughter. Same skinny bones. Same sense of nerdy. We especially have the same red hair. Only, I hope I never look so earnest. She's got puppy dog eyes; but hey, Carl is not what I want. Friday night should be for love.

Submission Marquita

Name: Marquita Hockaday


Title and genre: THE BLUES- YA Contemporary Mystery

Pitch: Blake uncovers a secret high school drug scene when his pill pushing best friend turns up dead.

1st 250 words:

Thursday Morning 6:45 AM

Henry Knight was found bludgeoned to death early this morning.

I’m pretty sure I was whacking off to one of those phone sex commercials at the same moment that someone bashed his head in. I don’t know if anyone is going to miss him. Hell, I don’t know if anyone even remembers who he is. Maybe David Warren does. Especially since he’s our friendly neighborhood drug dealer. I know I remember Henry. He’s my best friend’s number one customer at school. Henry’s the main reason Kyle was able to buy me that badass skateboard for my birthday.

“Who is this kid?” Ma points to the TV.

I slurp up another spoonful of my Cocoa Krispies and shrug.

“You know him, Blake. You know everyone at that school. There’s only like twelve of you in a classroom.”

“He’s just some druggie, Ma. I don’t talk to him or anything.”

“But you know him?”

I nod.

“Oh my God. Blake.” Ma watches me for a moment and I shift my eyes back to the TV.

“Do you want to stay at home today?”

I shake my head.

Ma sighs as she buckles her belt around her waist. It barely makes it to the very last hole but she manages to get it around her. She really needs to lay off the late night snacks. Of course I would never tell her this. I mean, she’s allowed to gain weight right now.

Submission Chersti

Name: Chersti Nieveen
Email: chersti.nieveen (at) gmail (dot) com
Title and genre: THE LAST ONSET -- YA Dystopia

Armageddon is imminent & Myka is elected to survive. But the natural disasters and disease are really a plot to destroy those not elected.

1st 250 words:
My first thought was of my father. How his eyes crinkled when he laughed. How he shared secretive smiles with my mother, back when she was normal. How he’d tuck me in at night and tell me his war stories.

And how I would never see him again.

Anger pushed through me, giving me courage to pull up the Military’s online database. The floorcomp projected four screens around me, like a shimmering lidless box that should’ve projected an exercise sim for my fitness class. But they never did when I could get away with it.

I licked my lips, my fingers tingling in anticipation as I began to hack. The screens flashed around me as I raced from one touch screen to another to keep the monitoring chip in my hand happy. Minutes passed as I worked through the system. As long as I kept my heart rate up, it wouldn’t notify the teacher. And I wouldn’t be Punished.

At least, I’d thought so until the soldier showed up.

I’d already prepped a destruct sequence, so a tap against the screen destroyed all evidence of my actions when the teacher called my name. I nudged the projector button with my toe, the screens dissolving around me to reveal the fitness room. Sweat trickling down my forehead and I wiped it away as I met the soldier’s black eyes. I’d still had over two minutes left to hack into the Military’s database before the Intelligence Unit even had a clue I was there—so why was this soldier here?

Submission Violet

Name: Violet Ingram
Title & Genre: LILY’S HEART OF GLASS – Romance

Pitch: To save her home from the unscrupulous, glass artist, Lily must push away the one man she's loved. Can Lily save her home and get the guy?

1st 250 words:

Sweat poured off her body and onto the floor. Her arms and back ached from all of the physical exertion. Lily Cavanaugh was in heaven. The blowpipe rolled back and forth forming the shape that she wanted. The vibrant blues and greens swirled together to form a circular pattern. Lily had spent the past hour shaping the piece until finally deciding it was finished. She transferred it to the punty and detached it from the blowpipe. She slipped on her gloves before placing the delicate glass into the annealer to safely cool over the next several hours.

Lily stood up and stretched sore muscles. A smile spread across her flushed face. She poured all she had into each piece of glass. Which left her both euphoric and depressed after a piece was completed. She walked out of the studio and into her kitchen, grabbing a bottle of water from the refrigerator. She gulped half the bottle down and was making her way back to the studio when there was a loud banging on the door. Irritated at the interruption, she considered ignoring the sound and returning to work. Unfortunately the banging had shattered her concentration. Eager to get rid of whoever had been dumb enough to interrupt her, Lily stomped over to the door.

“Alright already, hang on a second!”

It took several tugs to open the old metal door but when it finally opened, Lily found two men, dressed in fancy suits, looking down at her.

“Who died?”

Submission Susan

Name: Susan James
Title and Genre: Half-truth, YA fantasy

Pitch: The tale of Edan, leader of the Clan of the Stars and Rose Woodman, the young woman who will be to Faerie what Helen was to Troy.

“Rosie? Rose! Where are you?” Uncle Ben barreled out of the barn holding the pitchfork like a spear.

“Shh. It’s all right. I’m here.” She would’ve laughed if his actions weren’t so pathetic. Sweet and brave, yes, but completely unnecessary.

His broad back sagged in relief. “I swear, Rosie, your hair blends right into the evening shadows.”

“Shh,” she said, again, pointing to the corner of the field. “Oh, it’s gone. It was a stag. Such a beautiful, beautiful creature.”

“You’re sure it was only a stag?”


“You can’t be too careful, Rosie.”

“I know, Uncle Ben. I know as surely as I know Gradie is only a dog.”

Her uncle nodded but couldn’t help the frown that knit his brows whenever she spoke of her unusual senses. The wolfhound’s ears had pricked at the sound of his name. She crouched down, threw her arms round his massive shoulders and buried her face in his thick gray fur. “But you’re a wonderful doggie. Oh yes, you are.” He gnawed playfully on her head.

Uncle Ben chuckled. “I don’t know, Master Miller complains every time I go to the Mill. He says Gradie is more wolf than hound.”

“Well, Master Miller is more mouse than man, so I suppose he gets a little nervous round Gradie.”

Uncle Ben laughed. “Ah, you’re funny, Rosie. But it’s the truth, and pretty impressive as you only met the man once.”

“Once was enough. Mouse indeed. The man was scared of me and I was seven years old.”

Submission Nicole W.

Name: Nicole Wolverton


Title and genre: THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS -- Psychological Fiction

Pitch: A woman traumatized as a child by a space shuttle disaster breaks into astronauts' homes, studying their sleep habits to stop another mishap.

1st 250 words: The bulbous head of the tiny, ceramic tchotchke stared at me with the wide, innocent eyes of a horse caught cribbing the wood of his stall. Except the statue’s cheeks puffed out as though it had contracted an eternal case of the mumps, something very unhorse-like. It seemed like a stupid thing for a woman of science to have in her apartment. It seemed too frivolous, too child-like.

I used to dream of seeing my name on an astronaut uniform when I was a child, “Lela White” embroidered in white on the patch. My career interests had changed, although it still mattered to me who wore the NASA jumpsuit, and this woman . . . well, she wore Smurf pajamas as an adult. Not that there was anything inherently wrong with cartoon sleepwear, but it didn’t seem right for a serious person. The space shuttle couldn’t possibly be safe in her care. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration testing must be lacking in some way to let someone like that through.

She’d been chosen as part of the crew for the upcoming Empire mission, for the love of God. I’d expected more dignity until I’d gotten to know her a little bit through my observations. Now I thought it likely she’d own cutesy socks with bunnies and puppies on them. It would have been okay for anyone else to wear them, but an astronaut?

----- note: Thanks to you and all involved!

Submission Eliza

Name: Eliza Tilton
Title/Genre: Broken Forest: A Keening Blade Novel YA Fantasy
Pitch: 17yr old Avikar thought he was rescuing his sister from bandits, not a reptilian lord planning a world invasion.

1st 250 words:

The blueberry patch looked like a grisly crime scene. Avikar’s stomach turned as he studied the red and blue stains, covering the ground in a sloppy mess. He knelt down, swiped his pointer across the sticky substance and smelled it. Raspberries, he concluded. Thank goodness, it’s not blood. Footprints smeared the grass in a tangling design. Calli’s were the easiest to spot. He tracked her steps to where he saw two wicker baskets. One had been smashed into splinters.

Derrick stared down at the last place Jeslyn had been. “Do you think that she’s still…I mean she has to be okay.” His hand grasped the wooden emblem that dangled from his neck.

Avikar turned to his friend and put a hand on his shoulder. “I don’t know what it is, but I know she’s still alive. We’re going to find her.”

Derrick’s chin quivered, but he held his ground. “Let’s hurry, then.”

Avikar traced each step, imagining how the attack unfolded. He pictured the men his five-year-old sister, Calli, described. He was still amazed she managed to escape. The kidnappers would have headed west towards the main trade road.

His eyes spotted a red silk ribbon stuck on a tree branch, swaying in the wind. He grabbed it and held it in his hands.

“Find anything?” Derrick asked.

Avikar nodded and handed over the soft material.

Derrick’s face paled. He slowly wrapped the precious item around his wrist. “I gave this to her yesterday,” he replied in a strained tone.

Submission Annie

Name: Annie McElfresh


Title and genre: Demon At My Door—YA Urban Fantasy

Pitch: Outcast Natalie Sugarman bartered her soul to a demon-boy. To win it back, she must damn five other souls to take her place.

1st 250 words:
Someone in this room is about to die. The hum, deep in my bones, is undeniable. Shockwaves roll through me whenever I’m near a person who is about to bite the big one. I feel it now and I hope like hell it’s not me. But it’s definitely going to happen right here in the Upper-Arlington Country Club. Soon.

I scoot back further in my seat and slouch down, trying to block out the incessant hum in my skull. I don’t know why Mom drags me here all the time.

Mom’s in deep discussion with a lady in a black dress suit near the exit about ten feet away. She’s perfect, as always, in her pretty politician look. A girl around my age walks up to them. Mom’s mouth tugs down a bit, slightly annoyed by the interruption. A long, golden strand of hair falls into the girl’s face and the woman, whom I assume is her mother, tucks it behind her ear. They smile at each other for a brief second. I can’t even imagine having that kind of mother-daughter relationship.

“Natalie, sit up straight,” Mom barks at me while she smoothes back her perfect brown hair. My thoughts fade. “Say hello to Dr. Lilim Fletcher.”

Great. My new court-appointed therapist frequents Mom’s favorite hang out.

I stiffen my shoulders and hold the pose. A forced smile fills my face as I say hello. Mom glares, inspecting every inch of my all black outfit. When they look away, I slouch in my chair again.

Submission Larisa

Name: Larissa Hardesty

Email: lchardesty at yahoo dot com

Title and Genre: LURE -- YA Paranormal

Pitch: Entire SD town is reading to death--literally. Mitch's hatred of reading saved him, but can he embrace his Lakota heritage & save the town?

First 250 Words:

*You have got to be kidding me.*

“Pssst. Mitch.” Melissa jabbed something pointy into my shoulder.

For the fifth time this period.

I sighed and reached back for the note. If I didn’t, she’d just keep poking me with the dang thing until I took it. I probably had a bruise already from the first couple of times when I tried to ignore her. An encounter with Melissa was the first item on my To-Don’t list.

I glanced down at the note she’d passed me. Chris. Forward and to the left. I wondered if I could pass this one left and have Nikki pass it to Chris, but when I turned to Nikki, she was engrossed in some stupid novel, reading it under her desk. I scowled. Mr. Rose seemed oblivious as he enthusiastically explained complementary angles, but I was sure he’d notice me passing a note that far.

Melissa shoved my shoulder. “Come on!”

I stifled the urge to turn around and punch her. Every time she touched me, my stomach rolled and the hairs on the back of my neck rose.

“Pssst. Chris,” I whispered, leaning forward.

Chris turned, and I held the note out.

And Mr. Rose took it.


“Mitch. I’m surprised at you. I know you don’t exactly struggle with this subject, but I expect you to be respectful enough not to pass notes in my class.”

My body flushed. Damn Melissa and her stupid notes.

Submission Angela F.

Name: Angela Fleming
Title & Genre: ENVY (YA Urban Fantasy)

Envy Zane is the only half-Atlantean in existence and survival of The Lost City of Atlantis depends solely on her. The problem is she doesn’t know it even exists… yet.

First 250:

Ok, I thought to myself, the water isn’t that scary. One toe edged closer to the gray-tinted waves crashing onto the beach. In the early morning, the entire world still seemed to be sleeping, other than the waves, of course . They were lively, dancing across the horizon in restless ripples. When those ripples reached the sand in front of me I was tempted to take a gigantic step back. My dad was terrified of the ocean, even though he’d grown up on the island. I guess he thought it might eat him or something equally illogical, considering he was a man of medicine. Doctors should be more rational, right?

Still, he’d shipped me to the island, but not without a stern, pointed-finger warning that I was to go nowhere near the water. Period. Even if I happened to be on fire I should find anything besides the ocean to put myself out.

Sure thing, Dad. Where is this hypothetical fire supposed to come from anyway? Spontaneous combustion induced by being socially impaired?

With a slightly guilty conscience— because I’d wholeheartedly sworn to stay away, even if the sea was practically in my front yard—I eased closer until floating particles of sand tickled the tops of my feet. I was afraid too, but I wouldn’t let it stop me. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the beach for the sole purpose of swimming. What was so wrong with me that I could hardly manage a toe without hyperventilating?

Submission Jen D.

Name: Jen Duffey


Title and Genre: BOYFRIENDS, SPIES, AND LIES- YA Contemporary

Pitch: Art school seems like Carissa’s perfect escape--until she finds out her parents are paying her boyfriend to be her bodyguard

“Ms.Stein”. Mr. Jurgensmeyer, our art history teacher, eyed me with irritation. It was the third time that day I’d slipped into a daydream and missed his question. I knew if I did it again he’d blow up.

I shook my head hoping to clear my thoughts and focus on what he’d written on the board in front of us. “I’m sorry, what was the question?” I asked again.

Mr. Jurgensmeyer repeated the question and somehow I bullshitted my way through the answer. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Eric’s shoulders move up and down with laughter. We shared our first class and sat next to each other. Usually he kept me awake and alert; today he’d fallen down on the job. I knew I’d have to give him a hard time after class.

Eric packed up his bag and ran out of the room before I had my books packed. I chased after him in the hall.

Not realizing he stopped, I slammed into his back. “Damnit.” He chuckled.

“You know if you’d slow down you wouldn’t have run into me.” He turned and steadied me.

“Bastard.” I punched him in the shoulder. True to Eric, he didn’t even flinch. Then again I couldn’t put much force behind it while standing on my toes to reach him. I should have gone for the stomach instead. “Why didn’t you help me out today?”

Eric shrugged. “Things on my mind I guess.” With that he sauntered off down the hall.

Submission Meredith

Name: Meredith Allen Conner
Title: Tall, Dark and Furry - paranormal romance

Pitch: Sela must learn to control her Element, find her sisters and trust a werewolf to find her happily-ever-after.

1st 250: I’m going to die tonight.
Sela shivered. The chill permeated every cell in her body, even her bones felt frozen. She hated the cold. And wet. Right now she was both.
Gulping in air, she twisted her head from side to side, as she strained to hear any movement, any hint of her pursuers. Nothing. She couldn’t hear a thing. Her pulse thundered and pounded in her ears. She couldn’t see through the dark shadows of the woods. How far back were they?
Damn those fanatical bastards.
She took another step. Her foot slammed into a large branch, throwing her off balance. She wobbled, and barely had time to thrust her hands out as she toppled head first. The rough bark dug into her skin, blood welled in tiny droplets. Sela bit back a moan. She clenched her fists on the pain. Rough splinters clung to the blood on her palms.
Head down, breathing heavily, she ran a quick inventory. Nothing broken, a few more scrapes and bruises, but nothing to keep her down. The wind rustled the canopy of leaves above. A sliver of moonlight broke through. Her long sleeves rode up on her arms, exposing the complex circular tattoo on her inner right wrist.
In the moonlight the mark appeared to glow.
Glaring at the mark, Sela hissed, “Some help you are! Do something! Help me!”
Of course nothing happened. The mark never did anything.

Submission L. J.

Name: L.J. Boldyrev
Email: ljb (at) ljboldyrev (dot) com
Title & Genre: GREYSKIN-YA Paranormal

Pitch: Charlie just wants Jack. Not the dead girl in the trunk, the hellhounds on her heels, or a murderous voodoo sorcerer as her enemy.

First 250:
There’s a dead girl in the trunk and all I can think about is how white the trees are. There are no street lamps on this stretch of road, but still the trees glow like they’re lit from the ground up.

“Not much farther,” Jack says. I want to tell him he’s driving too fast, to slow down so I can get a better look at the trees, but I know we've got to hurry. This dead girl won’t stay dead for long.

“Hey.” Jack grabs my knee and squeezes it. I like the way his hand feels there, but I can’t tell him so. He’s five years older than me and Mama says it ain’t right, me and Jack together. But I like him, and I like the way his hand feels on my knee.

“You okay, Charlie?”

I tip my head down and smile because he calls me Charlie, and not Charlene. Charlene never did fit me, but only he gets that. “Yeah, Jacky. I’m all right.” My fingers itch to reach out and grab his, but I can’t. Ain’t right, Mama says. And I don’t know how Jack would react.

That’s the worst part.

“You done good tonight. Couldn’t have done it without you.” It’s dark in the car but his smile, lazy and a little crooked on one side, is lit up by the dash lights. Jacky puts his hand back on the wheel, the ghost of his touch still lingering on my skin.

Submission Bronwyn

Name: Bronwyn Scott-McCharen

Email: bscottmcc (at) gmail (dot) com

Title and genre: ALL THAT GLITTERS--YA Paranormal

Pitch: Belén never believed in spirits. Until she meets the ghost of a girl who wants to see justice for her killer, Belén's former neighbor.

1st 250 words:

Until now, I never knew that ‘peso devaluation’ was a code for ‘moving to the other side of the city’ or that ‘the crisis’ meant ‘switching schools and spending my last year as a high school student away from my best friends.’ I never paid attention to the news headlines that constantly spoke of the shaky and fickle Argentine economy. That wasn’t my world. I didn’t care. It didn’t affect me. It wouldn’t affect me.

Or so I thought.

“This place is quite…bohemian.” My mother remarks.

“It’s nice enough.” My father sighs and puts his hands on his hips. He glances around our tiny new living room, while my mother cuts open one of the many cardboard boxes that lay on the dusty, hardwood floor. “You shouldn’t complain when we could be homeless.”

My mother frowns. “Not like this is any better,” she mumbles.

“At least I don’t have to share a room with Belén!” my younger brother Facundo shouts as he runs into the hallway. He surges through the open door and plops down on his bed. “She snores!”

I roll my eyes. “Belén, your room is over there.” My mother points to an open door at the far end of the hallway. She turns to my brother. “Facundo, quit it.”

Why not? I shrug my shoulders and decide to explore my new surroundings, my own private oasis where I can sit alone and read, or listen to music, or just think. Solitude is a virtue.

Submission Nicole Z.

Name: Nicole Zoltack
Title & Genre: RIONA'S PEN -- YA Fantasy

Pitch: When fifteen-year-old nerdy Riona uses a cursed magical pen, her people turn into demons - the very thing she is trying to save them from.

1st 250 words:

Mr. McMichaels hated me ever since he confiscated a story I wrote during class last week. A story about an evil goblin warlord. Named McMichaels.

I guess I can't blame him, but wouldn't most English teachers love students who wanted to be authors? But no. I was lucky he only threatened me with detention.

I took my time walking to English class, seeing no need to rush. The crowded hallway slowly thinned out as kids ducked into their classrooms. The scent of mold and putrid gym clothes wafted toward me when a junior slammed his puke-green locker shut, and I gagged.

"Riona?" someone called.

I turned and spotted Artex, the new guy. He smiled and waved a piece of paper in his hand. Wow, were his teeth white! "Hi." I smiled back, unsure why he was talking to me. After all, I was decidedly unpopular. I refrained from shuffling my feet.
Good-looking boys always made me nervous.

He jogged down the hall, and a lock of dark hair fell across his forehead, giving him a messy but dreamy look. "I think this is yours." He handed me the story I had started in Spanish class.

"Thanks." I shoved it into a notebook. "I guess I accidentally left it behind."

"You really wrote poor Roderick into a tight spot. Those bloody pirates are more than he can handle." He fell into step beside me.

My cheeks grew hot. "You read it?"

Submission Ruthanne

Name: Ruthanne Reid


Title and genre: THE SUNDERED--Speculative YA

Pitch: A world that hates you is bad; slavery is worse; but nothing tops having to choose the survival of someone else's species... or your own.

1st 250 words:


The world I know is flooded.

I believe it wasn’t always that way, but that doesn’t set me apart. All we know now is swamp, tufts of land here and there, occasionally islands or muddy peaks big enough to sleep or build on. Everybody knows, though, that the water wasn’t there before. That there used to be dry land all over the place. What sets me apart, makes me different, is I believe it can go back to that.

We walk on the tufts, knob-sized things that stick out of the water with limp grass all over them. When there are a lot of them, we have to carry the boats. The water’s black.

You don’t go in the water. You don’t touch it. If you do, it will get you, drag you down, and you’re gone. The only safe way to interact with the black water is in a boat or inside the nets, at least if you’re a human. The Sundered can do anything they want in the water. Who knows why.

Maybe that’s one of the things I’ll learn when I find the Hope. It’s supposed to have all the answers.

“Hey, Harry!” Toddy, one of my younger travelers, is pointing at something. He straddles the black water, each boot on a different tuft, standing with the easy balance we all must learn or else we die. “There’s something over there!”

The Hope. I have to find the Hope. Whatever he wants to show me, it’s not the Hope, but I’m young, and I can fake interest.

Submission Darcy

Name: Darcy Drake
Title & Genre: WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING DEAD --- Post-Zombie-Apocalyptic Mystery
Pitch: A superhuman optimist battles zombie packs, charms bow-wielding strangers, and solves murders while showing survivors how to truly live.

First 250 Words:

After waiting five hours for her husband to die, Philena Hennessey was getting impatient.

Smoothing out her inventory book's ink-stained pages with shaking hands, she straightened a piece of scrap paper labeled as the following week's menu. There were as many lines through mistakes on the tavern's meal offerings as those crossing her time beaten skin. Salt clung to those markers of age, the last sign of her tears now hours past.

A pained moan came through the barred door of her bedroom.

Her hand shook as the sound chilled her straight through. 'Corned Beef' now read more like 'Corned Beaks.'

“Might leave that one,” Philena muttered. “Served worst.”

The door rattled.

“Quit that, Harry!” Philena knew there was no point in yelling at her husband. Five hours ago the man she'd loved for near forty-seven years had gone. His body was still there, but he wasn't. Telling him to stop shuffling and moaning wasn't going to do any good.

Her poor Harry was just another zombie now.

Submissio Nicole

Name: Nicole Green
Title & Genre: KISS VIRGIN, YA Contemporary/Realistic
Pitch: Chrys Jameson loses her sex virginity, but not her kiss virginity, during a beach week trip gone horribly wrong.

First 250 words:

I had to stop. He was going to catch me staring. Then I’d have to explain myself.

Danny and I sat in my kitchen with our school stuff strewn over the table. Our papers were weighed down by books so the fan wouldn’t blow them away.

Time to go back to pretending to read my AP Government class notes. Hopefully he wasn’t paying attention to the fact that I hadn’t flipped the page in a while.

I needed to stop obsessing over it. If he’d gotten the email, and he was interested, he would’ve said something. Asking about it would make me look extra creepy. And if he hadn’t gotten it, maybe that was for the best. I was starting to regret writing it in the first place.

Giving up, I put my hands over my face and said, “Why can’t I just learn things by osmosis?” The heat—among other things—was making it impossible to concentrate.

I heard the grin in his voice. “It’s not so bad.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You’re addicted to this stuff.” I pushed my chair away from the table and stood in the path of the fan that circulated in the corner. Unfortunately, turning on the air conditioning in my house was verboten until June. “I need juice. You want anything?”

Danny studied one of the flashcards we’d made. “Nah.” His curly, blond hair hid half his face as usual. I wish his eyes weren’t hidden behind it most of the time.

Submissio Shallee

Name: Shallee McArthur
Email: shallee.mcarthur [at] gmail [dot] com
Title and Genre: Devolutionaries -- YA dystopian

Pitch: Ash must sacrifice his ability to talk in order to hone his telepathy and save his grandad from a Government experiment on thought control.

250 words: Grandad lied to me a lot. I’d known that for a long time. But standing at the counter at the Distribution Center, I decided everybody lied.

“You only gave me four potatoes,” I said.

“Well, you only gave me four Produce coupons.” The clerk tossed her braid behind her shoulder. She smiled, making her pox scars wrinkle across her face. Was she flirting with me while she cheated me?

I ignored the smile. My eyes went to the shelves that stretched behind the counter, piled high with tin cans and semi-fresh produce. Including two more potatoes that should be mine.

“I gave you six coupons.” I glared at her through the damp brown hair hanging in my eyes. The ceiling fans circled above me, totally useless.

Her smile faded. “Maybe you dropped some. I only counted four.”
“Look, my boss doesn’t give me enough—“ I clamped my mouth shut.

Working in Kessler’s bike repair shop should have given me more coupons than it did, but Scavengers had an unspoken rule. We didn’t rat each other out to the Government. I didn’t want Kessler’s death on my head.

I glanced toward one of the military policemen in his blue uniform. He scanned the silent line of people that trailed out the door and bounced the butt of his automatic rifle in his pox-scarred hands like he was bored. Nobody made a sound under his watch. We knew the rules: silence and order. We knew the punishment, too. That gun was loaded.

Submission Jay

Name: Jay Eckert
EMail: eckertnj [at] gmail [dot] com
Title & Genre: URBAN MYTHOS, YA Urban Fantasy
Pitch: When teenage Zydeco's friends disappear, the transformed Griffin unravels a plot to send fellow ex-mythological creatures to their death.

First 250 Words:

"My name is Zydeco, and I am a recovering mythological creature." I stood at the makeshift podium and looked out over the musty, high ceilinged room, my fingers clutching the stone hanging on the black rope around my neck.

It was Tuesday, which meant two things. First, this clandestine support group meeting, for which it was my turn to speak, and second, chemistry homework with that done-at-midnight quality. Moments ago, the regulars had finished up their conversations and hunkered down into the rows of folding chairs with stale donuts in hand. Some newbies continued to mill about the cramped YMCA gymnasium, their eyes darting around nervously. This was the most popular group of its kind in the city, and as a result everyone sat in rows instead of a circle.

As one out of tune voice, they answered, "Hello, Zydeco."

The canned response didn't always make me crack up, but after hearing it about eight hundred times, I couldn't help but chuckle a little. I swear, sometimes I thought they were sheep -- the weird, legendary kind that flies and craps rubies. Don't get me wrong, these guys were great and everything. They had done the human thing for a heck of a lot longer than I had.

Octavio, the support group organizer, bustled to the front row, shushing everyone and motioning the stragglers to their seats. As usual, when he parked himself, coffee slopped over the edge of the styrofoam cup and onto his yellow tie.

Submission Solomon

Name: Solomon J. Inkwell (James Grea)

Thelma Thimblewhistle must complete two tasks: pass the sixth grade…and kill the boogeyman. Dead people think they know everything!

1st 250:
Now that the worst has passed, I believe I can begin. As I write here in the darkened library with the flicker of the dancing firelight to guide me, I realize the task which I have been charged with is not a simple one, mind you, not simple at all. Nevertheless, it is a necessary duty bestowed upon me by Ms. Anna Peterson, or “Dead Anna” as she likes to be called. Wretched name, really, but you know Anna has a flair for the dramatic.

Or maybe, you do not know Anna. Ah, but you will very soon, I am sure. You see, her tale is a fascinating one. Of course, it was not always fascinating. For many years, she was simply your standard ghost in the Neither Realm, spooking her way around, avoiding duties assigned to her. She was, how would you say…a slacker. However, when Anna was placed in charge of a certain special girl, well, the adventures began for all of us, and now for you.

It is common knowledge that vanquishing a Boogey Man is a very difficult thing to do—something that we of the Neither Realm believed a mere child could never accomplish. Is the Boogey Man real? Yes, indeed! At any given time, there could be hundreds of Boogey Men roaming the closets of terrified children all over the world. So, what is a Boogey Man, really? Your standard Boogey Man begins as a nuisance. The threat lies in what it can become.

Submission Shannon

Name: Shannon MacDougall
Title & Genre: TALON’S REACH – YA Dystopian

In a future America, rival camps vie for control before the Second Civil War and Lillie Forester trades a fast-food spatula for a Revolver.

1st 250 words

Chapter 1: Whatever
“Anthony, you can kish my saggy, white ash …” Jeanne cackled a drunken laugh.

“ASH!” She yelled the word, as if it would help her form it better. “You … you lef! Ah’m sill HEER!”

She pointed at her bed, but her hand slipped. Her face hit the pillow and her hysterical laughter was muffled for a precious moment. She pulled her makeup-smeared face off the pillow and blinked in slow motion trying to keep me in focus.

I didn’t respond.

She wasn’t talking to me.

I finished shoving her right leg and arm under her covers, careful to make sure she was on her side. I placed her trash can in easy barfing distance and closed her door. Her vibrato of incoherent slurs wafted down the hall as I headed for the kitchen.

I waited for my oatmeal to warm up and watched my dog’s dark shadow sniff around our tiny backyard. The darkness engulfed her for a moment until she took off after something white.

The morning note. “Lillie.”

“That’s me.” I sighed.

“We need bread. Get me some Quervo too. You got paid yesterday. Mom.”

I shoved the note in my pocket and grabbed my backpack. ‘Mom’ was the least used word to identify Jeanne.

My pace would have put a speed-walker to shame. The autumn mornings were my favorite, but I wasn’t stupid.

Submission Neal

Name: Neal Wollenberg
Title/Genre: 13TH SUMMER -- Middle Grade Realistic Fiction

Pitch: A Halloween prank gone way wrong, a stolen truck and the bully with a death wish… yours. Where’s summer break when you need it?

1st 250: Bing Stanley and his best friend Hayden Carter raced through the darkness along the deserted street. Each step carried them first through pools of illumination from streetlamps then the darkness between. They finally stopped to catch their breath underneath one lamp’s phosphorescent glow.

“Bing, I think they saw us!” said Hayden.

“No way. It was just the automatic lights on the garage that came on.” Bing hissed each word between ragged breaths. “We got away.”

His laughter began deep along his sides, silent at first then bursting from between his lips in gales. Within seconds Hayden’s laughter blended with Bing’s and soon the two were clutching the lamppost in order to stay upright.

“When you said you wanted to fork someone’s yard, I didn’t know it would take that long!” Bing hiccupped and tried to stifle more laughter.

A low rumble interrupted Hayden before he could respond. Both boys froze.

“Hey peckers!”

The Camaro crept down the street and slowed to a stop beside the boys.

“I said, ‘Hey peckers!’ Don’t flippin’ ignore me.” Chad Craven rested against the inside of the driver’s side door. His left arm hung from the window, and an amber long-neck bottle dangled from his fingertips.

Bing’s breath came slow and shallow. He was nervous, but tried to cover it. “Hey Chad, ‘sup?”
Chad’s passenger yelled, “The sky!” then erupted in shrieks of laughter.

“Shut up, Evan, you idiot. I’m talkin’ here.” He leaned out of the window. “Why you ‘tards out so late?”

Submission Brenda

Name: Brenda Corey Dunne
Title/Genre: TREASURE IN THE FLAME/ YA-Historical Fiction-Fantasy

Pitch: Aminda's father lies in a cursed sleep. She's seeing visions. The villagers are pointing fingers. Can she trust a treasure map to save her?

First 250:

The opportunity had presented itself in the form of a map. Just a piece of parchment on the ale-soaked wooden floor of a Ste Anne’s pub. More than likely dropped by a drunkard on his way home to his hungry wife. Finder’s keepers, Jonas had told himself as he scooped down and picked it up.

It was a treasure map.

Not just any treasure map, but the Treasure Map. The one he had heard so much about. Slurred whispers in the candlelight of maps, gold and curses. Of treasure and death on the Koac stream.

He had fished there before, ignoring the superstitions. There was nothing on that stream but fat fish and a beautiful waterfall. Yet Jonas had to admit that the place had made him uneasy. He was not a superstitious man, but he swore he had felt eyes on his back.

The map had a stream that wound in a wide S, just like the Koac. There was an X on a path—just beyond a waterfall. Even solid, hard-working Jonas couldn’t deny the pull of curiosity. Was the parchment really a treasure map? Could the rumours be true? Could this be his opportunity to give his daughter a life he’d been working so hard to provide?

She was so brave. So beautiful. He owed her the chance.

And so, as Jonas Ingerham walked into the blackness of the new moon, he had only his daughter’s best intentions in mind.

Submission Robin

Name: Robin Weeks
Email: robinweekswriter at gmail dot com
Title/Genre: GEAS / YA Urban Fantasy

When rebels use human-pixie hybrid Brina in their bid for power, she must choose: tradition or freedom, safety or justice… humans or pixies.

First 250 (well, 258):

Brina’s only warning was a light brush on her upper left wing. A second later, an elaborately folded magazine cover landed in her lap: a pterodactyl this time. Original. The complex folds obscured the picture, but Brina already knew that her face was lost somewhere inside. It had been taped to her locker (marked over with devil horns and a forked tail), stuck to the bathroom wall (with bat wings and fangs), and slipped inside her Biology book (with blacked out teeth and crossed eyes). It had been folded into airplanes and rolled into spit-wad shooters. It had been scribbled over with slurs of every kind. An anti-tribute to the only human-pixie hybrid in the world.

After the first ten, she’d stopped smiling and thanking the sender. After the first twenty, she’d stopped feeling sick every time and settled for numb. By 3:30, she had a collection of fifty or more. Us Magazine must be making a killing.

Without taking her eyes off the stage, Moira reached over, snatched the newest offering, viciously crumpled it, and jammed it into her backpack.

“Nice picture, freak,” hissed a voice behind them.

Moira’s face hardened, but Brina shook her head. “Not worth it.”

In the dim light of the high school auditorium, thirty minutes into auditions for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Brina was too nervous to care anymore. Moira flashed a one-finger salute to the rear, Brina sighed, and they both went back to watching the stage.

Until the jerk behind them yanked on Brina’s glowing White wing, making her yelp.

Submission Haley

Name: Haley Whitehall
Title/Genre: SHADES OF WHITE / YA historical fiction with crossover potential

In antebellum south, after Zach is sold, he pretends to be white and battles his faith and a manipulative lover, all to protect his family.

First 250:

Michael grabbed the boy’s arm and pulled him aside. “Yuh tryin to get yo’self sold or worse?” he growled.

Zachariah’s eyes widened. He shook his head vigorously. “Nosuh.”

“Coulda fooled me. De way yuh been talkin,” Michael whispered as his gaze narrowed into a hard stare.

Zachariah swallowed. The hair on the back of his neck prickled. He hated getting in trouble by the man he thought of as his pa. He pulled his arm back in an attempt to free his arm from Michael’s firm grasp but was unable to.

Michael used his free hand to pull up his left pant leg.

Zachariah’s jaw dropped as his eyes caught a glimpse of the disfigured flesh.

“Look real close, boy.”

There was a gouge in Michael’s calf as big as his fist. Zachariah had always wondered why the man walked with a limp. Looking at the scar turned Zachariah's stomach.

“Dog bit me,” Michael explained. “Dat ain’t de only place neider. I was talkin freedom when I’s bout yo age. Den one day I let out. Dam dogs caught ma scent right off. I spent dat nigh in chains in de barn. In de mornin dey took me to de market an had me whipped fo’ all to see. De jailer was awful mean bout it. Massah say he needed to teach me a lesson I ain’t gwine to forget.”

Michael paused. He saw the horror gradually sink into Zachariah’s blue eyes.

Zachariah opened his mouth then quickly shut it.

Submission Lindsey

Name: Lindsey Edwards
Email: Lindsey (dot) write words (at) yahoo (dot) com
Title and genre: SUCCUMBING TO SIN - Historical/Fantasy Romance

Pitch: On an isle unseen to mortal eyes, there lives a group of beings blessed with untold powers, yet a secret from the past threatens destruction.

1st 250 words:

Under an ominous sky threaded with swollen gray clouds, the surf broke against the bank far below the old ruins with frothy malice, imbuing the very air with a brackish sting.

Ignoring the biting nip of the wind as it lashed against his skin, Hayden James Ramsey, heir to the dukedom that was this godforsaken stretch of land reigned in his mount.

Sensing his riders mounting unease, the dappled horse danced sideways, rolling his head with a savage snort.

“Easy Prometheus,” sixteen-year-old Hayden soothed in a voice husky from lack of use.

Sliding down from his saddle, Hayden surveyed the area, seeking any clue that would lead him to his father.

Mrs. Potts had come to him in a frenzy, speaking of the soulless eyes of a desperate man and begging Hayden to save the old man from hell’s eternal damnation.

Hayden, who had long awaited the duke’s demise, knew his father was not destined for such atonement. It seemed that the head housekeeper’s faith had clouded her judgment, leaving her with a belief that her employer could be saved, forgiven by her merciful god.

A peculiar sound to his left led Hayden away from the ruins to the maw of the stable. With merely a single door remaining, and that one hanging precariously from a rusted hinge, the stable was a volatile hazard from the moment of entry, ready to collapse at any given moment.

It made a perfect rendezvous for a man bent on suicide.

Submission A. J.

Name: A. J. Spindle

Email: ajspindle (at) yahoo (dot) com


Pitch: Dreaming of saving the world is one thing, it’s another thing entirely when that dream becomes a frightening reality.

Fiirst 250 words:
Bennett stared out the car window, watching the tree whirl past, hoping to find something to take his mind off the trip.

“Make sure you behave for your dad. He’s doing me a favor by letting you stay with him this summer,” his mom said from the driver’s seat. “And I want you to brush your teeth everyday. Just because you’re not at home doesn’t mean you can get away with bad hygiene.”

“I know,” he mumbled back. Doing me a favor, the words rang in his head. Shouldn’t his dad want to see him? Shouldn’t he beg Bennett to come and visit? Or is he still too busy with his job? Bennett’s mother snapped and he looked away from the window.

“Are you listening?”

“Your dad said he’d meet you when you get off the boat. He’s sending someone named Charlie to keep an eye on you, and I’m glad. I still don’t think you’re old enough to go alone.”
“Dad owns the boat, he helped design it, Mom. I’m sure it’s safe. Plus, who’d want to kidnap me,” he said, with a laugh. This made his mom give him her famous worried look, where her eyebrows pulled together and her lips made a hard line. Maybe it was the divorce that did it to her, made her worry so much, because ever since his dad moved so far away, she’d been protective of Bennett, like she was afraid he might leave her too.

Submission Leiann

Name: Leiann Bynum


Title and genre: GRIMLY -- YA Paranormal Romance

Pitch: Xia, a seventeen-year-old grim reaper, won’t let even Death stand in her way as she breaks the Rules of Reaping by falling for a human boy.

1st 250 words:
I sounded cruel thinking this, but he was taking too long to die. Then again, since I knew he was going to die soon no matter what, my thought was harmless. Not like anybody else knew I was thinking it anyway.

At least I got to wait in one of my favorite places in the meantime. I was standing on the edge of life and death, literally. I mean, I guess standing on the precipice of a cliff would be described that way. Life was the solid rock underneath me, death was the freefall ahead of me.

Life and death. How ironic. I wasn’t alive, and I wasn’t dead. That’s what made this so exhilarating, standing here with my hair and dress fluttering in the wind.

But today, I wasn’t here because I wanted to be here.

I crossed my arms, staring off to my left. I hated that I had to be here early. Death had some pretty stupid rules. I could be doing something else rather than waiting for this guy to kick the bucket.

He was probably in his mid-twenties. A guy of average build, with black hair like mine. He had on a backpack and held a camera in his hands; an expensive one with a large lens like what photographers used. He was taking pictures of the birds in the trees, while standing way too close to the precipice.

A nature buff. Great. I’d picked up another one of these last week.

Submission Jessica L.

Name: Jessica Lawson


Title/Genre: Tripp Parker Vs. The World, MG Adventure

Pitch: 12-year-old Tripp trades prep school for an African adventure and must save his parents from being sacrificed to an idol of ancient legend.

1st 250 words:

Each tooth was enough to make me pee my pants right there in the coffee house. The pillowy foam on my Socrates latte had long since disappeared, but I couldn’t stop staring at the photograph. The beast’s raw gums glistened with saliva and three ropes of drool tangled in the air while it charged. I wondered if the creature would smell fear and attack it, like bees and dogs. If so, I’d be a goner within the week.

“You drink a lot of coffee for an eleven-year-old boy,” said a sweet voice. “I thought your people liked tea.”

“You know it’s decaf. And you know I’m twelve.” Oh beautiful, beautiful Angela of the coffee shop, I thought. How I’ll miss you, especially if I die.

She was my favorite barista at The Forum, one of my hang-outs on Yale University’s campus. There had been nothing so pleasant back at Cambridge. We left England when I was nine, and the British make a stink about little boys hanging around university students, even if they have large vocabularies and professor parents.

“And this fellow,” I pointed to the photo, “is about to become my closest acquaintance.”

Angela offered a sad smile. “Still leaving tomorrow?”


Tomorrow I would leave behind four-hundred and fifty-three days of perfect attendance at Winston Prep, one undefeated debate club record, nineteen stuffed animals and action figures, and zero friends to possibly be torn apart by the jaws of the most vicious, terrifying, murderous animal on the continent of Africa.

Submission Keith

Name: Keith Pyeatt
Email: keithpyeatt (at) yahoo (dot) com
Title and genre: DAEVA -- Paranormal thriller

Pitch: Sharon upsets a demon's plan to influence mankind and becomes the key to its success. Her death will either empower the demon or destroy it.

1st 250 words:

Rothsirge crouched in a dark corner of the barn and waited. He excelled at waiting, having had centuries of practice, but tonight didn't test his patience. Only a few minutes passed before Fineena's slight silhouette appeared in the open doorway. Backlit by the moon, her blond hair glowed, but darkness hid her expression.

"Hello?" Her thin voice was scarcely more than a whisper. "Are you there?"

"I'm here," he said, rising to his full height, "just as I promised."

She made a soft sound he couldn't interpret, but when she glanced over her shoulder toward her house, Rothsirge knew she was trying to decide if meeting him here was a mistake. He could chase her if she ran, of course, but she'd probably scream as only a young girl could, alerting everyone in her house. He'd end up either fleeing the area or abandoning this body before her family could get their hands on it.

She glanced at her house again and shuffled back a step. He was about to lose her, and there was little he could do about it from inside this host. The simple mind gave him control of the body but limited use of his power. Maybe it would be enough. After all, he'd enchanted her easily enough this afternoon, and she'd come this far. He only needed to charm her a few more steps forward.

He moved into the moonlight and bowed theatrically. "At your service."

Fineena giggled and entered the barn.

Submission Liz F.

Name: Liz Fredericks


Title & Genre: COUNCIL OF RUTH -- women’s contemporary fiction with romantic elements

Pitch: When a funamentalist cult murders famous women and a feminist author disappears, a detective works to stop the Atonement Killer.

1st 250 words:
Remember the Alamo. Yeah. Cole wouldn’t forget this one. The report on a serial killer with an agenda rolled into the Renaissance Unit from New York a week ago. And now – San Antonio. Sociopathic bastard.

“Jones. Homeland.” He badge-flashed the last of the three perimeter checks set by locals for that morning’s body.

At least somebody around here knew protocol. Surprising, it being so far from the east coast and civilization. New York was on the ball. Barely a day from time of death until the report went to the Fusion Center. The attack was more subtle than blowing up a building, but the Big Apple didn’t dick around with terrorism. They posted the incident within an hour of Atonement’s first press release. Cole was en route in two.

The New York victim’s ID was too easy. The WABC news anchor was famous for her beauty and her staunch defense of same sex marriage. That Atonement wrapped her media credentials in pages from the Bible was – as the queasy young officer shuddering next to him would say – ‘gravy’. You gotta admire a southern metaphor.

Cole glanced over to the gray features of his local liaison. The poor kid was gonna hurl again. “Do we have ID?”

“Yep. We’ll verify, but most everyone knows Reverend Best.” The younger man caught Cole’s glare. “Er, sir. Tentative, sir. We think the deceased was an Episcopalian minister.”

Cole caught sight of the body. “Oh hell.”

Submission Liz

Name: Liz Fredericks


Title & Genre: FIRST PASSAGE -- paranormal romance

Pitch: Sera is the reincarnation of her lover’s childhood abductor. Absolution must wait until they defeat Lord Demislon to save Earth.

1st 250 words:

Davis grinned up at the newcomer, hoping she’d notice his missing tooth. The big lady didn’t smile. He looked to his mama. But she, busy with the squirming toddler tucked between her knees, didn’t notice the deserted playground’s latest arrival.

“Wanna share?” He held out his new red shovel.

The woman crouched. Davis flinched. His instincts kicked in and he scrambled back.


His mother dropped Sissie’s half-finished braid. The stranger grabbed him.

“Davis! Put him down, damn you – that’s my baby!”

His kidnapper sprinted toward the memorial in the center of the park. She hurdled into the fountain, swiped her palm against the sharp edge of the rock in its center, then raised her bleeding hand to the sky.

The small fire that always burned at the top of the rock stretched out and grabbed them both.

Davis stiffened, then laughed. Mama said fire hurt bad. But it didn’t, not even a pinch.

He called out, “Mama, it’s ok,” but she was all orange and wriggly. Like looking through the funhouse glass at the fair.

Her face was squenched up and her mad voice was really mad now. And scared. Like when Daddy didn’t listen.

“I can’t come, Mama.”

The big lady’s arms didn’t feel so mean anymore. Mama and Sissy got orangier, harder to see. Davis closed his eyes. Big brothers didn’t cry.

Submission Terry

Name: Terry Tibke


Title/Genre: Black Dawn/YA Fantasy

Pitch: On a planet of feuding dragon tribes, a young dragonrider races to warn his country of a coming assault.

1st 250 words:

The wind whistled through Turim’s helmet as tears like slivers of diamond tore from his eyes. He strained—even with his half-elven eyesight—to see six Chromaback dragons, sun glinting off their scales. A few of the beasts were like emeralds, others onyx. But most important, perched between the creatures’ shoulder blades were riders.

For the last several hours, even before he could clearly see them, he’d suspected the dragonriders were Dark Knights. Now that he’d confirmed the Chromabacks weren’t birds, griffons, or even wyverns, he didn’t like it. The Dragon Army had never come so close to home. It was too bold a move. One Wing? What are they doing here?

The Plains of Sirik streaked along far below. Wind whipped shreds of cloud past Turim’s face, sending his mustache fluttering. Around him, his Wing spread in a loose Heron formation, as their dragons’ metallic-colored scales glinted in a way the colored Chromabacks’ never could.

Sand was first to react aloud. “We have to move now, Commander!” His hand whipped forward.

Turim barely heard him, but read his gesture. He sighed at his friend’s impatience. “Hold yourself!”

“But Commander, we’re going to lose them!”

This isn’t time for rash thought, Lieutenant!”

“But the coast—” Sand waved past the approaching forest, swirling his arm to signify the sea.

Turim cut him off. “Past the Modukaz, I know!”

He’d heard enough words to catch the cracking in Sand’s voice, rising in threat. It didn’t matter right now.

Submission Julie

Julie Mulhern
Juliemulhern at msn dot com
Elixir – YA Paranormal

The Pitch – Inspired by Pride and Prejudice (without the zombies). When mysterious strangers move in to the house next door, Eden Frost is intrigued. When her sister, Helen, falls head over heels for one of them, she’s alarmed.
Now Eden must protect her sister from mean girls and love gone wrong - all while battling dark magic, primal evil and the stirrings of her own heart.

Eden yanked on the belt of her dark blue robe and tiptoed down the front staircase. Her soft slippers muffled her footsteps and she kept close to the wall to avoid the squeaky risers. Every few steps she paused, straining to discern something she wasn’t sure existed.

Something had awakened her. She’d laid in the comfort of her bed and idly listened for sounds in the house. She’d heard nothing. With a lazy yawn, she’d punched her pillow a time or two, nestled more deeply into the covers and closed her eyes to go back to sleep.

She’d begun to drift, her mind catching at the edge of a dream when she’d smelled something. Magic. A magic she didn’t recognize. It floated in breeze, wafting through her open window.

Eden jumped out of bed, grabbed her robe, jammed her feet into slippers and abandoned her bedroom for the hallway to search for its source.

At the bottom of the steps, shades of night cast the foyer in darkness. Eden sniffed. She smelled cinnamon and cayenne and lime mixed with something deeper and wilder. The scent bubbled, like it rose steaming from a roiling cauldron.

She made her quiet way through the formal living room, her mother’s office and the conservatory. Furniture loomed, monstrous in the shadows.

Her hand tightened around the handle to the screen porch and she paused, her heart beat running away from her. Suddenly, sneaking outside to investigate strange magic seemed foolish.

Submission Kyle

Name: S. Kyle Davis

Email: kyle(at)skyledavis(dot)com

Title/Genre: BLACKBIRD (YA Fantasy Thriller)

Pitch: Spy chick bypasses a top-of-the line security system to steal an object before the sorcerers do in this "Mission:Impossible w/ magic" tale

1st 250 words:

I couldn’t imagine a more appropriately-named metal club than The Hell Hole. I mean, the place smelled like rock and roll. Of course, the stench of sweat, cigarettes, and stale beer was a sort of welcome home to me. I grew up in the ass crack of the foster care system, so about half the places I stayed in smelled like that.

I sat with my back to the crowd, my chair leaning against a metal support pole. My too-short legs stretched to their limit, my red Chuck Taylors barely able to prop up on the rickety table at the back of the room. Behind me, a horrible industrial band covered old pop songs. Seriously, who wants to hear a growling industrial version of “The Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing?

Answer: no one.

Thankfully, the pole blocked the worst of the noise, because otherwise, I’d hear every missed note and garbled word. You see, the club, being a reformed warehouse, really was a hellhole. Other than having enough floor space to cram in over a thousand people, there was only one reason anyone came here. The Hell Hole boasted 80 decibels at the back wall. The volume in the “sweet spot,” the center of the pit about four rows back from the stage, was loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss.

Of course, if you were stupid enough to brave the pit at The Hell Hole, then damage to your hearing was the least of your worries.

Submission Jenni

Name: Jenni Merritt
Email: jennimerritt.writing (at) gmail (dot) com

Title and Genre: PRISON NATION (YA Dystopian)

Pitch: The majority of Prison Nation is kept incarcerated at all times, even those born inside. Now Millie is eighteen and set free, only to discover what freedom really is.

First 250 Words:

My name is Millie 942B.
Next week is my eighteenth birthday. And I dread it with every fiber of my body.
I guess I should start at something close to a beginning. My name might seem pretty strange to someone who doesn’t know the world I live in. It is a symbol of my existence. ‘942’ is the cell number I was born and raised in. ‘B’ is the floor level of which my little cubicle resides. I have no brothers. No sisters. Only a silent father and a state-proclaimed unstable mother. And it is because of them that I live in this cell.

I stopped and looked at my scribbled handwriting that darted across the yellowed page. There was something about the words I had written that seemed strange to me. Something that I wanted to hide. Scanning over the words, my stomach twisted into knots.


The voice jarred me from my thoughts. Forcing my eyes to lift from the page, I looked up at the woman sitting across from me. Her face was thin, the shadows long and harsh as they cut across her pale flesh. My eyes trailed to her lips. They were pursed tightly together, small wrinkles spraying out in every direction like an angry sun. With eyes bearing into me, she readjusted the glasses that sat perched on her nose as she stiffly leaned back in her chair.

“Millie, I asked you if you had finished your journal entry.”

“Yes,” I replied softly.

Submission Heather

Name: Heather McCorkle
Email: hmccorkle(at)wildblue(dot)net
Title & Genre: TO RIDE A PUCA Young Adult Historical Fantasy

Pitch: During the 12th century invasion of Ireland, one of the last of the druids, must master her power to keep her kind from being annihilated.

1st 250 (240 actually):

Just like they had done time and again, invaders were coming to take what wasn’t theirs. Emily adjusted the druid’s spyglass with a shaking hand to get a better look at the ship that marred the perfect blue horizon of the ocean. It was still too far away to tell much about it save that it was large and imposing. Then she saw that the prow was carved to resemble the head of a dragon. Fear rose up to clamp its icy grip on her throat. Norsemen invaders had never come this far down the coast.

“This can’t be good,” she murmured.

Emily had never seen a Norseman and she didn’t want to. The horrible tales of what they did to entire villages was the stuff of legend. Her heart started to thud with the intensity of a blacksmith’s hammer. Nervous energy hummed through her body.

A hot summer wind blew a strand of her long brown hair across the druid spyglass, obscuring her view. Her horse shifted beneath her and stomped his foot. She didn’t need any more urging, it was time to go. The ship was at least half a day out to sea which would give them just enough time to disappear.

The click the glass made as she compacted it made both her and her horse jump. It was silly to think they could hear but knowing that didn’t make the irrational fear go away.

Submission Barbara

Name: Barbara Watson
Email: barbarawatson94(at)gmail(dot)com
Title and Genre: ROCKY SHORES (MG Historical Fiction)

Pitch: Discovery of his hippie mom's 1967 journal and hearing of a neighbor's bolt from 1963 Birmingham lead Mitch toward a calamitous decision.

1st 250 words:

“Grab the box labeled typewriter!” Mitch’s dad shouted. Mitch tramped down the porch stairs with shoes of heavy steel and walked to the moving truck parked in the driveway. The box was huge and heavy. Mitch struggled under its weight.

“The typewriter. The typewriter. It’s always the typewriter. I’d like to smash this typewriter on the rocks down by the ocean,” Mitch mumbled to his dog Jasper.

“What, honey?” Mitch’s mom asked as he passed through the small living room. Celeste stood in the middle of the room, pulling her waist-length blond hair into a bun and securing it with a pencil.

“Nothing, Mom. I’m just getting hungry. Can we take a break for lunch?”

“Lunch? It’s already lunchtime? I’m not even sure we have any food.”

Mitch plodded down the hall to his father’s new office and handed him the typewriter.

Celeste’s voice followed down the corridor, “Nelson, we forgot groceries on our way out of Cambria, and Mitchell is hungry. I’m heading back to town. Bye, my loves.” The screen door slammed her second good-bye.

“Yeah, I guess we did,” Nelson said, scratching his head and looking for a place to set his typewriter until the desk was fully functional.

Mitch quietly left the office, walked to the front porch, and sat down on the top step. His mother gave a hurried wave from the car window as she sped away. Mitch placed his elbows on his knees and dropped his chin into his hands.

Submission Lisa

Name: Lisa Fields

Email: lisafieldsbooks(at)gmail(dot)com

Title & Genre: Healing Her Heart- Regency Romance

Pitch: A tender-hearted beauty with a dark past becomes governess for the troubled niece of a cynical Earl.

First 250 words:

England, 1820

Air. I need air.

Abigail clenched her fists, her knuckles pressing against the unforgiving wood of the pine casket. She could not tolerate the consuming darkness any longer. Hurry. Everything hinged on this moment. If her plan did not succeed then she would rather die here, right now.

“Hang on, Abigail. I will get you out of there,” Jane whispered.

The coffin squeaked as Jane managed to crack the lid open. Abigail gulped the cold air. It smelled of late March, a mixture of chimney smoke and budding Hyacinth.

The heavy wood only moved an inch with each thrust of Jane’s body against it. “It’ll just be another minute.”

The vile mixture of laudanum and valerian root stuck to the roof of her mouth. Abigail never thought she would use her own knowledge of elixirs to fake her own death.

“You did it! Just a few more hours and you will be free of that hateful monster.” Jane pulled Abigail to her feet and gave her a thorough once over. “I find it hard to believe that even when you’re dead you are still beautiful.”

Abigail thanked God for having Jane in her life. Jane ran the local orphanage and they’d become fast friends when Abigail was able to treat a virulent type of winter fever that ran rampant amongst the children.

Abigail’s lip quivered. “Did anyone see you?”

“Not a soul.”

Submission Amanda

Name: Amanda Kurka


Title/Genre: THE NIGHT--Epic YA Fantasy

Pitch: In a world of magic and false gods, 15-year-old Aerael discovers the power to overthrow them all within herself, if she can control it.

1st 250 words:

Aerael leaned across the basin to reach for a half-used cake of soap. Her necklace slipped free, the obsidian stone casting its thin, silver light over the soaking dishes.

“By Yirai,” she muttered, tucking it back inside her shirt with wet fingers.

“Watch your language, young lady.”

Aerael jumped. She hadn’t heard her mother come downstairs.

“You must be more careful. Anyone could’ve seen it.” She stepped into the kitchen, and the light from the hearth washed her thin frame in gold and orange.

“No one’s here,” Aerael said, glancing quickly into the tavern’s dining room to be sure. “You really shouldn't be up--Amos said you should get as much rest as you can.” She picked up the kettle. “Tea?”

She shook her head dismissively. “He’s been saying that for years. And yes, tea will be good--it’s why I came down, anyway.”

“I’ll get the water going, then. I can bring it up when it’s done.”

Her mother sighed. “I suppose I’ll be in my bedroom.” The steps creaked beneath her as she left.

Shaking her head, Aerael put the kettle over the fire, prepared the ginger-lemon mixture, and poured the hot water over the leaves to steep. She considered the dishes. If she started now, she might forget the tea and let it get too strong. Better to wait.

Checking the dining room again to be sure she was alone, she took a seat on the stone hearth and drew out her necklace.

Submission Jenn

Name: Jenn Wood

E-mail: woodfamilyof5(@)yahoo(dot)com

Title/Genre: Mountain Escape (YA Contemporary)

Pitch: Severely scarred Adahlyn will do anything to avoid wearing a bikini, but when her lies ruin her friend, she must bare all for the truth.

First 250:

It was Summer of ’69. That’s what was playing when I lost my virginity. In the back of a pick-up truck. Stoned out of my mind. And I had just turned sixteen. Fortunately, I didn’t get any diseases or pregnant, but I did enjoy the next few months. Immensely. When people say sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll are overrated, they’ve never lived. Too bad I got caught, several times. Too bad my parents set up an intervention to ruin my summer.

That’s how I ended up on a trail, in this God-forsaken valley, climbing six miles and 5,500 hundred feet to my new home and job. Sucks when the ‘rents have family willing to help out the wayward daughter. I wanted juvie, at least there I’d fit in with my black-lined eyes and heavy make-up, piercings, and fresh tattoo. It would also give me a chance to kick my cheating ex-boyfriend’s ass.

Maybe I could wander off the trail and find a nice cabin to spend the summer in. Not like Mom and Dad would know, because they sent me to a place with no phone or Internet. Hell, no electricity for that matter; only the little energy the solar panels put out.

I tripped over a stupid tree root and fell to my knees. Pain sliced through my legs. This hiking thing was hard. It had been almost a year since I did anything physical, except run from the police.

Submission Jessica

Name: Jessica Olivarez-Mazone

Title/Genre: Forsaken-YA Supernatural

Seth has chosen against the Archangels placing into motion a disruption of balance. Blood is the entrance to everything but who is the key? Seth or his love Miranda?

First 250 words:

Michael walked silently down the tabernacle, wings slack, as Gabriel told him the news. He sighed heavily, the number of fallen had been increasing every day. Even his most loyal warriors were not protected from the temptations of Earth.

Uriel stood rigid at the end of the hall outside of the throne room guarding a bloodied young man who struggled against the ties binding his wrists. His breathe was ragged as the ropes dug deeper into his flesh causing his wounds to bleed. Michael watched as his brother’s wings rose, opening so all could view their glorious darkness.

“Seth, why did you not come to me?” asked Michael gazing into his apprentice’s slate grey eyes trying to find an ounce of the naïve, yet willful young angel.

He grunted weakly as Gabriel pulled him up by one arm to his feet, staggering only for a moment as the heavy gilded armor was ripped from his body. The will to fight was gone now as he followed Michael into the throne room.

“Angel, I see the darkness that stains your wings, but I fear it has tainted your inner light as well.” said a hooded figure sitting upon the throne of life.

Seth no longer cowered in front of the Creator instead he defied him by staring into his golden eyes which burned with the power of the sun. He would not answer until the question was poised.

Submission Marie

Name: Marie Rearden

Email: marie (at) marierearden (dot) com

Title and genre: DEADLY DARK DREAMS--Paranormal YA

Pitch: Kat Wake escapes death by agreeing to steal her teacher’s memories of the afterlife. But he’s on his own mission. He wants her soul.

1st 250 words:

Prep schools aren’t just for the preppy. Poor schmo types like me migrate to places like Harrington Dove Academy to escape the greatest horror of our seventeen-year-old lives.


I woke to two, tone deaf voices making sounds that were parrot, monkey, and tornado siren all at once. Okay, so maybe they were singing. My roommate and I had the pleasure of cheerleader suitemates, and though I try not to believe stereotypes, these girls confirmed every one I’d ever heard about pom-pom pushers. I cringed at a particularly loud warble and wondered how much booze they snuck by the resident advisor last night. Or with her help. Our RA wanted to be legal like elephants want peanuts.

By quarter past nine, the brain children next door were quiet/passed out/dead, and I rolled out of bed to pack for the holiday break. I pulled onto the highway an hour later, cursing the sprinkles that dotted my windshield. Mom hadn’t called back after last night’s fiasco, but I wasn’t surprised. She didn’t know how to check her texts without help, and forget Dad. He was hopeless when it came to cell phones.

I passed a caravan of senior citizens using the left lane for sightseeing and set the cruise control with more force than necessary, plastering my eyes to the road. Honestly, I didn’t trust myself not to snarl at the lead driver of what had to be a Henry Ford original.

Submission Luke

Name: Luke Piper


Title and genre: LIGHTNING CHILD Paranormal YA

Pitch: With her life spiraling out of control Jessica's new backyard neighbor teaches her there is more to life than her own self interests. Oh, and he channels lightning!

1st 250 words:
It was bedtime and Phil escorted Cheryl Russell back to her room down the west wing corridor of Twin Rivers Psychiatric for the two hundred and ninety-fifth time. However, for the first time, Phil was sick and he had a pressing need to run to the men’s room. Cheryl was pregnant and her abdomen appeared ready to burst. Her normal shuffling steps, similar among all the patients, were even more belabored as she made her way up the corridor. Phil's brow broke a sickly cool sweat, as each step Cheryl placed seemed to take longer than the last. He couldn't believe he'd been stuck on this double shift, sick as a dog, and all the while his pal Jerry was playing around on the beaches of sunny California.

Man I need a vacation. Phil thought.

Outside the season’s first summer storm pounded the building with its wind and rain. Lightening flashed and thunder clapped. Light strobed momentarily into the dimmed hall and adjoining rooms repeating as the storm approached. The storm seemed to keep resurging throughout the day making life even more difficult.

From their rooms many of the residents whooped and hollered at the loud thunder claps that rattled the building following the lightening strikes. It was an exciting show that would surely keep them up and make the night an even longer one.

Phil looked back. Had he only moved ten feet? The building pressure became too much. He new he wouldn’t be able to wait any longer.

Submission Sherry

Name: Sherry Auger

Title and genre: WILLOW BROOK ya paranormal

pitch: Her town is disappearing, and in Janet's sleep she sees a little girl hanged as a witch. Can Janet discover how to save both--before the witch hunters detect her powers?

1st 250 words:
As fourteen-year-old Janet Marley slices tomatoes for her salad the knife slips and pierces her skin. Putting the punctured finger in her mouth, unbidden memories cut through her just as the knife had. Those memories served to fuel the rage at her father’s actions so many years ago and even now.
Damn memories.

She angrily dashes the wasted tears from her eyes.

I don’t want to remember. He made me feel so incompetent, so useless.

She was only seven when things fell apart in her world.

“Daddy,” wailed an inconsolable Janet. “Where’s mommy? I want mommy!

“Humph,” replied her father.

His eyes glistened with unshed tears. He barely heard his daughter’s plea.

“I want mommy, mommy, mommy,” demanded Janet stomping her feet.

“Oh… ah… what do you want Janet? Can’t you get it yourself?”

“I want mommy,” cried Janet, crossing her arms and pouting.

“Mommy isn’t coming home. She has gone to live with God.”

“Then I want to go live with God too.”

“Janet,” said her father wearily. “You can’t live with God. You have to live here with me.”

“But I want to live with Mommy.”

“Janet, go to your room. I need to think.”

“I’m hungry. I want peanut butter and jelly.”

Why does Daddy keep looking at Mommy’s picture? I want to look at Mommy’s picture too. She looks just like me only bigger. Why won’t he make me a sandwich?

Janet grabbed for the framed picture of her mother in her father’s hands.

Submission Lindsay

Name: Lindsay Cummings


Title and genre: The Murder Complex, YA Dystopian Thriller

Pitch: A girl must survive random assassins in a world where the govt creates pre-determined murders to keep the population down and save resources

250 words:
When I was younger, I used to imagine the sand was made of brown sugar. I’d squish it between my toes, pretending it was one massive spread, stretching for miles and miles along the shoreline, full of sugary sweetness that would make my tongue water. I would pile clusters of it into my mouth, pretending the sweetness was just beneath the grainy surface.

Back then, it was easy to pretend. It was easy to feel like happiness was something tangible, something that could easily fit into the sweaty palm of a child’s fist on a hot summer day.

Now as I pace the ruined beaches of the Shallow alone, watching my little sister dig for seashells along the shoreline, I cannot pretend things are the same. Just as I cannot ignore the feeling of cold steel grasped between my fingertips.

It is the key to survival, the key to life. My father’s old dagger.

“Peri!” I call out over the waves to my little sister. An old beer can bobs up and down in the ocean, mesmerizing me for a moment. But the sun is going down. It isn’t safe anymore. “It’s time to go!”

She holds up a tiny hand and gives me the signal: two stubby little fingers held up high above her head. Is it possible that two fingers can have such attitude?

Two minutes. It’s always two more minutes with her.

The sun is sinking beneath the waves now in the horizon, a massive orange ball of flame melting away into the sea.

Submission Dawn

Name: Dawn Cassandra Heather’s


Title and genre: The Keys: Life, YA Urban Fantasy

Pitch: When Kayla Smith finds out that her dreams are another reality, she must make a decision between the boy she loves and the very world she wants to save.

250 words:
Kayla Smith was ugly. She knew it the very first moment her mother showed her a picture of the beautiful princess in the fairy tale book.

She pushed the image of the princess hugging her prince charming from her head and slammed her locker close.

“Look its Kay-ua-la,” someone chuckled to her friend.

“I already had to look at that face all year.” The friend sighed as if Kayla couldn’t hear. “Glad I won’t see her during the summer.”

She choked back a sob and tried to ignore them. It was the last day of school and the torment was almost over her. She frowned putting her things into her book bag. The only thing she would remember about James Henry Middle School was getting pushed in the hallways and being teased in the cafeteria.

Kayla walked out of the school and saw her so-called best friend, Lisa Bitts, standing by Emily Littleton.

She trembled, not knowing if she should speak. She was with Emily— Lisa’s never the same when Emily was around. And yet they had been best friends once. So she decided not speaking was silly. It was, after all, the last day of school— what could possibly happen?

Taking a deep breath, Kayla, walked over to them.

“Hi, Lisa,” Kayla smiled and moved her un-straightened hair from her face.

Lisa’s eyes bore into her, and then she gave a nervous laugh. “Hi, Kayla.”

Kayla’s smile turned into a full-faced grin. Lisa was actually talking to her.

Submission Becky

Name: Becky Regalado


Title & Genre: EYES OF STONE - Fantasy

Pitch: To save her family from monsters, she may have to become one.

1st 250 words: Anaiiya had approached the Tower many times—always prior to sunset, while the beasts still slept. To venture near the monolith at night was dangerous and foolish. Some might call it suicidal. But if she wanted the gargoyles to chase her, she needed to get their attention…and the only way to do that was to make them feel threatened. A dangerous idea; an insane idea.

Well, who would miss her if the worst should happen? Penniless vagabonds were mourned by no one.

The gravel in the courtyard skittered before her mincing steps as she approached the door to the Tower. She bit her bottom lip and wrung the sacks in her hands. Sweat trickled down the back of her neck as she watched the balcony three hundred feet above. No challenge came. No sound but the wind blowing in her ears. It looked like she’d have to do this the hard way. She swallowed and hurried onto the ancient stone steps.

Anaiiya reached out and touched the door with one hand, surprised at how smooth the petrified wood veneer felt under her ragged fingertips. The door was actually eight inches thick and cast from solid iron; like so many things about this place, the door’s rotted appearance was little more than an illusion to keep the occasional curiosity-seeker at bay.

As she lingered there, a vision flashed through her mind of a monster pressed against the door, watching her with shining teeth and barely-contained rage.

Submission London

Name: London Crockett
Electronic missives: London (at)
Title & Genrre: THE FORTY-SEVEN WORDS OF THE BROKEN GIRL (YA/Cross-over Fantasy)

The massacre is just the beginning. Can a naïve girl on crutches learn magic and the ways of the word fast enough to save all she loves?


“Can you help a man, ma’am?” said the broken man sitting on a thick palm root next to Mr. Taálix’s Book Emporium. “You can understand. Is not so easy for us,” he pointed to Jinxx, whose crutches had sunk a bit into the mud near the palm. “Especially when we get on a bit.” His left arm ended with a hand whose fat fingers bent all akimbo and the side of his face drooped, but didn’t move with his words.

Jinxx looked up at her mother, tugging gently on her skirt. Her mother nodded and handed her two copper splits. Jinxx dropped them in the man’s tin cup. “May God bless you, sir.”

“And God bless you both. I can’t say the last time I heard those words.” His smile didn’t involve half of his face, but the other side more than made up for it. “God bless you both.”

Jinxx carefully placed her crutches to avoid the missing cobblestones as she and her mother left the man and went to the entrance of the shop. It was larger than their Prayer House back in Naserys—the village nearest their farm—built out of stone with small round windows at the top of the second story, and crammed so tightly between two date palms that the walls had insets around the trees. Compared to the rest of the buildings they’d passed in the trade faire, it was the most conventional.

Submission Michelle M.

Name: Michelle Merrill


Title and Genre: Three Weeks--YA Paranormal

Pitch: When Brielle gets her first genie assignment the Council has other plans for her. Plans that need magic she won’t have until the first wish.

First 250 Words:

I stepped away from the window and slapped a hand on my favorite poster. The same thing I did every morning after making sure the dune behind my house was still there. Proof that my life was wasted on a bunch of sand. I couldn’t wait to leave the desert.

I glanced up at the picture beneath my hand. One day, I’d actually get to drive a real car. Any car would do, but a Lamborghini with a lime green stripe would be preferable.

The front door closed and I spun around.

By the time I reached the staircase, the smell of ash and lemon overwhelmed me. Mom was back from her assignment and had tried once again to cover the smell of ash with her sour perfume. It gave me a headache every single time.

She eyed me from the bottom step with arched brows and a firm hand on her hip. “Nothing?”

I let out a sigh and rolled my eyes. “Please stop looking at me like that. I haven’t had an assignment for the last four years. Obviously the last three weeks haven’t been any different.” I stormed past her on my way into the kitchen. I shouldn’t be so hard on her. She was just being optimistic.

I could smell her as she followed two steps behind me. “Maybe you need to appeal to the Council again. See if they can find your lamp.”

I grabbed a can of juice from the fridge and slammed the door.

Submission Kalen

Name: Kalen O'Donnell

Email: kalenodonnell (at)

Title and Genre: DUST TO DUST -- YA Fantasy

Pitch: Neither Micah nor his siblings know where their magic comes from or why they're cursed to try and kill each other on sight.

First 250 words:

For my sixteenth birthday, my oldest brother tried to kill me.


I was at Starbuck's getting a celebratory scone when the shadows peeled off the walls and came for me. I cursed and dove for the floor. The hot chick waiting in front of me turned, eyebrows raised over heavily made up eyes. Her perfect lips parted. For a split second I fantasized she was about to ask what I was doing later. Wait, nope, I wasn't getting laid anytime soon. That was actually just her screaming because magic shadows were slashing through the fabric of her Grateful Dead t-shirt. One more reason to hate my brother.

I grabbed her leg and yanked her down to the floor with me. Terror was the coffee shop's new special of the day as patrons and employees stampeded for the exit. I suffered a few accidental kicks when dragging my damsel in distress and me under the nearest table for cover. Said cover was of course brimming with shadows.

Brilliant, Micah.

A midnight black hand reached for my ankle and I tapped my own magic. Dust raced from every corner of the room and stormed the air in furious clouds. The shadows kept coming, undeterred - and Mom wondered why I had insecurity issues. Trent could kill with shadows. Serena could drown you with your own tears. Alice walked through mirrors, Dennis could pull blood from a stone, but me? Oh yeah. Fear the mystic might of my magical dust bunnies!


Submission Joylene

Name: Joylene Nowell Butler


Title and genre: OMATIWAK: WOMAN WHO CRIES, Suspense

Pitch: RCMP Danny Killian, Aboriginal, must put aside his innate distrust of the white man’s establishment to apprehend the killer of Canada’s retired Minister of National Defense.

250 Words:

Blood. So much blood. Pooling on the slate tiles around his head.


I always assumed he'd outlive me. Mean people are lucky that way. But maybe that's what’s wrong. He used to be mean. After our sons died, he stopped.

My palm firmly pressed to my chest, I quiet these erratic thoughts. Giddiness overwhelms me. I drop my purse and grip the edge of the countertop. Tears blur my vision. An uncomfortable heat descends upon me; so like those hot flashes I suffered for ten years. Ohmigosh, now I'm blubbering like a fool.

Leland gone? I don't believe it.

I slip off my ankle boots. Bare feet on cold tiles ground me. The kitchen phone is on the wall next to the breakfast table, clear across the room. I can't make it that far. My fingers grope across the marble countertop and connect with Leland's cell phone. I detach it from the charger and gawk at its keypad. A second passes before I'm sure I hear Leland shout: 911. Dial 911, you stupid woman!

Morning light, struggling to force its way through a ceiling of black clouds, makes the space around me grainy. Like salted air. I suck back sobs and, despite the rancid taste of death, take two deep breaths.

"911 Emergency Services. Fire, police or ambulance?" a man says.

“Oh, uh,” I stare at Leland’s body.

“Ambulance–and police.”

My call is redirected. Suddenly, a woman is speaking to me. I’m not sure what she says.