Title: Roger Mantis
Word Count: 35,500
Genre: MG Fantasy
Roger McGillicutty, 12, wakes up one Saturday morning and finds out he has unexpectedly transformed into a five-foot praying mantis. His parents seem to be coping with it fairly well, and his dog Lou is okay with it, but how will the rest of the town of Highland Falls handle it? Roger has school on Monday, the carnival’s coming to town next week, and his Little League team is playing their biggest rival Centerville next Saturday. Being a giant bug will seriously cramp his style!
Or maybe not. It begins when Roger performs a spectacular rescue of his classmates from a broken Ferris wheel.
Is Roger just a six-legged freak, or does he have what it takes to be a superhero?
First 250 words:
As young Roger McGillicutty awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.
Aw, geeze! he thought.
There was no mistake about it. The drapes in Roger’s bedroom were closed, but the Saturday morning sun was shining brightly outside and the drapes glowed, illuminating the whole room.
Roger stared at his hands, which had been replaced by vicious yellowish claws at the end of spiked, emerald-green arms. Clumsily, he kicked off the covers using a lot more legs than he used to have, and looked down at himself. It was worse than he thought. He was lying on his back. Below his shoulders his middle was a narrow, hard, green cylinder leading down to where four long, spindly jointed legs wiggled aimlessly toward the ceiling. The legs were green too, except the ends, which were more yellowish. Past his legs was a long, narrow, greenish-yellow wormy-looking thing that was apparently his butt.
Roger remembered that this was called an “abdomen” on an insect, and his narrow middle part was called a “thorax.” That was all he could remember right now from that insect chapter last month in his hated seventh-grade biology class. Well, at least “abdomen” was a better word than “butt.” As he looked at his...abdomen, it squirmed and bent as though that end of him was waking up separately.
“Eww! Gross!” he said involuntarily. His own voice startled him. It was a little buzzy, like his art teacher Mrs. Clancy, who talked through her nose.
Entry Nickname: Jungle Vendetta
Title: SAVEGE JUNGLE
Word count: 60K
Genre: MG Science Fiction
Twelve-year-old wimp and self-designated videogame pro Kreith Briggs has just gotten the scariest birthday gift of his life: A wild safari with his Uncle Tonas through an alien jungle. The jungle’s got seven of the ten most exotic—and most lethal—animal species in the whole universe. That includes the super-sneaky electrocat and the ginormous, well, giant land squid. The tour’s real fun, if not a bit creepy, until Kreith discovers he and his uncle have been set up. Wilmur Banx, the host of the tour, holds an old grudge against Uncle Tonas and the other twenty-four safari guests. Not to mention he strands each pair of victims in separate places in the jungle with zero protection from the universe's fiercest beasts.
Kreith and Uncle Tonas head toward an old research facility where they can call for help and get off the planet alive. Only Kreith gets separated from his uncle and now he’s got no plan at all. Armed with a trusty new guidebook and his knack for all things techno-nerdy, he and his uncle’s survival—not to mention the lives of any remaining safari guests—rests squarely on his puny shoulders.
First 250 words:
I rip the wrapping paper off the present without removing the bow, lift the lid off the large cardboard box, and peer inside. A small chip rests on the bottom.
“It’s a book,” Uncle Tonas says, eyes wide in his thick-jawed, tightly muscled face. “Go on, download it.” He leans forward, monstrous broad shoulders and all, a cigar between his pointer and middle finger. The total opposite of me. Sure, I’m only twelve years old, but my overly large black sweatshirt and baggy jeans hide the fact I’m as skinny as Uncle Tonas’s pinky finger.
As I pick up the tiny chip and insert it into my Multipurpose Bracelet, I feel his gaze as my parents look on from the couch. My MB registers the chip, and asks if I would like to download the book The Top 200 Most Treacherous Creatures in the Universe.
“Yes,” I say, and it starts to download. I turn to Uncle Tonas and force out, “Sounds val.” Slang for “valuable resources,” they’re all anybody cares about these days now that humans have explored every planet in the universe.
But don’t get me wrong. The book really will be a val read, especially since I live on the most boring planet in the universe. But I’m confused. Uncle Tonas usually gets me the coolest presents. Last year for my eleventh birthday he got me a fluorescent slug from planet Zambor in the Orion Arm.