Title: The Awakening of Minna Gray
Word count: 89,000
Genre: YA Futuristic Fantasy
Sixteen-year-old Minna Gray’s life in SilCorp’s Emerald District is shattered when the two boys she’s babysitting are kidnapped. Guilt turns to panic when she discovers no one is looking for the boys. No one even remembers them.
It’s as if they’ve been erased.
A mysterious letter from her deceased grandmother leads her to Corrin - a boy who knows about the disappearances. They aren’t isolated events: every day more people are erased. Corrin claims Minna has a magical ancestry - that her visions, her tree-speech, and her hidden power over the elements could put an end to the ghants – the gray men who perform the kidnappings. Only Minna’s not sure how.
Corrin says there are those who understand her heritage in the Outlands – the pest-infected waste beyond the city walls. Going there could be the only way to hone her powers, but no one survives the Outlands, and Minna’s not sure she’s ready to trade life in Emerald for a slow suicide. She’s not even sure she can trust Corrin.
But soon she’ll have to decide. Time’s running out. Minna knows too much, and she’s next on the list to be erased.
First 250 words:
She’d seen one once before - years ago, with Cameron, by the seaside. Its little round body flitted between palm fronds like a tiny jeweled fairy. They were supposed to turn it in. But they hadn’t. They’d watched it all afternoon, until finally it leapt into the sky and flew away, back over the Outer Wall. Their secret.
This one seemed even more out of place, amidst the asphalt and the early evening glow of the podcar lines. For a second, she thought she was imagining it. But then Ethan saw it too.
“What is it?” he asked, gaze transfixed on the emerald blot making its way across the dull bronze shine of the hood.
His brown eyes widened. “A real one?”
Minna nodded. “Don’t touch it.” But she was mesmerized too.
He frowned, waving his PestDetector wand over it. “It doesn’t beep.”
“Maybe it’s not infected.” Yet.
They watched its twiggy, spindle-legged progression from latch to windshield. “I don’t want anyone to kill it,” Ethan whispered as he backed away.
Technically it was a vector. Technically they were supposed to destroy it. But it was so small and round and innocent. Suddenly, it lifted off. Humming, it vanished into the protective green and white flurry of the nearby jasmine. Minna exhaled.
“Probably escaped from a DomeZoo.” Ethan said, glancing at her with a shaky laugh.
“Probably, but you still need to disinfect.” Minna puffed her emergency spray into the air, enveloping them in shivering white mist. Silently they counted out the seconds ... eight, nine, ten. Safe.
Entry Nickname: BourneMW
Word Count: 88,000
Genre: YA science fiction
Sixteen-year-old Valora knows how to talk, how to play games, how to socialize… the problem is, she shouldn’t know anything.
Newly awakened from the widespread Hallucinations, a nightmarish sleepwalking state, Valora’s supposed to start life almost like a newborn. Instead, she’s able to live alone and fit in with her peers from the moment she wakes up. In the new world, where brainpower controls everything from lights to cars, Valora learns she needs to help prepare for a looming war.
Valora's gift of premature knowledge reminds her she's terrified of reading before she even touches a book and that a locket should lie on her chest. And when she gets a memory flash of her father kissing her on the forehead, Valora knows, unlike others, she lived before she woke from Hallucinations.
Although her leaders forbid her to, Valora wants to go back to her family. But she has no idea leaving means she might awaken something more sinister than the war itself.
First 250 Words:
The first thing I see is the light. It shines down on me like the sun except it’s much smaller than the actual thing. It’s about the size of my fist and nothing but the glow it generates. Staring at the ball of light above me, I prop up on my elbows, one by one, and sit, cross-legged, on the giant bed.
I lower my eyes to look around me and a room filled with pale purples stares back. Darting my eyes, I brush my disheveled dark hair with cold fingers. I blow on my hands, trying to warm them, but they won’t. So instead, I lie down again and curl into a ball like a dog as I cover myself with the thick blanket.
For minutes, I stare at the door across the room. Not because I’m waiting for someone, but… I don’t feel anything. Emotion. I feel no emotion. My head is just hollow; there’s nothing in it. I dig my head into the pillow and rub on it, smelling the rosy scent of the pillow. Then like a truck, a barrage of thoughts rushes into my head and I jump off the bed.
Where there once was no feeling, my heart is packed by a longing to find something. Breathing fast, I reach for the drawer by the bed and empty it. I dig through all the contents, but whatever it is I’m looking for… it’s not there. I want the longing to stop. It hurts. My entire body is stinging like I’ve been skinned.