Title: No Such Thing
Word count: 60,000
Genre: YA Southern Gothic
It’s easy to overlook an old house being reclaimed by the woods; it’s a common sight near Candor, North Carolina, where seventeen-year-old Virginia “Dare” Cleaster lives with her family. But on a sweaty summer night, Dare and her ex-boyfriend Bobby unintentionally wake something sinister that’s been dormant in the crumbling Waters residence for years, and it refuses to be ignored.
Dare doesn’t believe in ghosts, but the tragic spirit of Atheleen Waters appearing to her all over town quickly changes her mind. As Dare and her friends are drawn into the mystery surrounding Atheleen’s life and untimely death, it soon becomes clear that she isn’t a troubled apparition seeking closure. She’s a twisted killer driven mad by love, and death hasn’t made her the least bit remorseful for her crimes.
Now Dare must figure out how to lay her powerful spirit to rest before Atheleen can add to the body count she began over a hundred and fifty years ago.
First 250 words:
When I was little, I believed in everything. I thought aliens, Bigfoot, the Tooth Fairy, and even the cartoon mascots from cereal boxes were out in the world somewhere, driving cars and wearing suits to work like men I saw on TV.
I had a big imagination because I lived in a small town where most of the men I knew didn’t even own a suit.
The two men sharing a booth in the old café were as well-dressed as they came in Candor. Nothing too fancy, but at least they wore neatly pressed uniforms.
As I watched from behind the counter, wiping crumbs from the surface with my rag, the sheriff stared down at his untouched plate of bacon and eggs. He poked them with his fork as if expecting them to spring to life and attack him at any moment.
“Somethin’ wrong with your food, sir?” I said. My voice carried across the empty room. The sheriff and his deputy were pushing the limits of common courtesy by keeping us open past eleven-thirty on a Friday night.
“Huh?” Sheriff Thompson grunted, looking up.
I weaved between tables with practiced ease to reach their window-side booth in a flash. “Look. I know the bacon’s probably too crisp for most folks’ taste. But if you don’t want it, I’ll eat it. Mr. Forrester’d be happy to make you somethin’ else.”
I gave them a smile and tugged my apron down. It stopped several inches above my knees, but it was still longer than the skimpy cutoffs I’d worn to my shift.
Entry Nickname: Multitude of Death Stars
Title: RED AND BLACK
Word Count: 86,000
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Seventeen year-old Pon Devrier is one of the best thieves on her planet—even though she doesn’t particularly approve of stealing. She spends her days collecting money to give to the poorest people in her Sector, and her nights sabotaging the Galactic Empire, but she’s still hesitant to become overly involved in the Rebellion her friends support. After all, both sides have already shed more than enough blood with the war that’s tearing their Galaxy apart.
But Pon soon finds herself engaged in a more personal war when her childhood foe, Cose, reappears in her life and is readily accepted by her friends. Pon can’t find proof Cose is a liar sent to infiltrate the Rebellion, but Cose’s ability to control minds is shared by only one other person in the Galaxy: the Empress.
Amidst the chaos Cose has brought to her life, Pon is chosen to have a private audience with the Empress during a photo-op interplanetary tour. Pon is glad to bring her planet’s grievances to the Empress, but instead she finds that the whole thing’s a ruse and is interrogated for information on the Rebellion. With Cose watching from the sidelines, and the girl’s relationship with the Empress still unclear, Pon is thrust into her Galaxy’s Civil War, and will have to decide if freedom is something worth dying—or killing—for.
First 250 words:
This was taking too long. Pon paced around the narrow alley, counting the seconds that trickled by as she waited for the signal. Two small flashes of light were all she needed, but as time stretched on the unbroken darkness taunted her.
They shouldn’t have tried to do this tonight, but once Jorl set his mind to something, he couldn’t be talked out of it. The Empress’s announcement would provide them with a decent distraction, but that was only if they could get into the Aquifer in time. If they started too late, they probably wouldn’t live to see the end of whatever surprise Empress Letienne planned to unleash on the Galaxy tonight.
Pon glanced up at the second window on the second floor. Still nothing. Stars Above, what was taking him so long? She should have been the one to break into the Aquifer – she was quicker and way better at sneaking around. He was too clumsy. He could get hurt.
“What’re you doing here?” The guard’s voice broke through the silence as his hand tried to break her nose. She grabbed his hand, twisting it around his back and shoving him against the wall.
Rius stepped out from behind the corner, knocking the guard out with the hilt of his sword. Pon let the guard fall to the ground, focusing on Rius’s light brown eyes. They shone in the moonlight, sending a wave of warmth through her body. She fought the urge to run her hands through his dark brown hair.