Title: Asher Locke and the Knights of Arcadia
Word count: 54,000
Genre: MG Fantasy
Thirteen-year-old Asher Locke would do anything to be able to see his dad one more time. And when a sword-wielding wall of pecs named Gareth saves him from a bloodthirsty Grimhound, the moppy-haired seventh grader discovers that he may just get that chance.
Asher learns that his dad isn’t really dead. He’s being held prisoner by a madman named Lord Balor. And to make things worse, this slimy dad-nabber isn’t even in Asher’s world. He’s stowed away in a place called Eden Worn, the world hidden behind the middle school’s boiler room. Lord Balor is keeping Asher’s dad hostage unless he can get something Asher has – the key to unleashing the magic trapped inside the mountains of Eden Worn. Too bad Asher has no idea what in the heck that even is.
Along with Gareth, two loony enchanters, his best friend and the girl of his dreams, Asher launches a rescue mission as epic as it is insane. If he fails, he can kiss seeing his dad – and his own world – goodbye.
First 250 words:
The straight razor made a satisfying snikt as Asher freed the blade from the handle. He loved that sound.
Well, he used to anyway.
Just holding his dad’s old blade was a kick in the gut. He loved how his dad used to set him on the sink and let him pretend-shave with a spoon. Part of him wanted to forget, though. The memories were nice, but they still hurt. Because that’s all he’d ever have.
But he wasn’t going to cry. It’d been three whole years and he’d been tough for that long. No need to start boo-hooing now.
Besides, today was the Big 13. Officially a teenager. And if what Em told him was true, a thick wad of facial hair was right around the corner.
Asher glanced up at the mirror. About ten pounds of white foam covered his face. Okay, so maybe he went a little overboard on the shaving cream.
Too late to redo it. Time to become a man.
He pressed the blade against his face and a white-hot pinch of pain instantly seared his chin. Asher sucked in a quick breath, dropping the razor as a bead of blood welled up under his lower lip.
“Seriously?” Round one with the razor and he nearly sliced off half his face. This was pointless. He washed off the shaving cream and decided he’d just spend the first day as a teenager looking hairless and unmanly. And reeking of his mom’s Pink Mango-Splosion shaving cream.
Entry Nickname: Whispering Willows
Title: Amber and the Whispering Willows
Word Count: 63K
Genre: M/G Fantasy
Eleven-year-old Amber lives with her godfather and his son, Justin, in the tiniest house among the mansions of Helmsdale — a well-to-do village on the outskirts of NYC. Downtrodden by her classmates, Amber finds refuge in the Willows — an enchanted willow tree grove, where her only friends are the creatures that dwell within.
A plague erupts, contaminating the Willows and Amber is summoned by the princess of the fairies to help find the source from the human realm who is aiding Sedah, the sinister being who created this deadly disease. A distraught Amber has no idea where to begin.
In Amber’s first ever ballet class, help comes to her. She is befriended by Nina, a rich, but down-to-earth, effervescent girl who understands the situation a lot better than Amber. As their friendship develops, the two girls discover each has a secret supernatural power. But their combined talents are not enough to find the culprit. Amber enlists a skeptical Justin and convinces him to help.
As Sedah’s power grows the plague spreads into the human world. They need an antidote, and fast, but it must come from the fairy realm. Once again Amber is summoned by the princess. Amber alone may enter the Willows, but at great danger. Sedah is hunting for her. With the help of the fairies, butterflies, hummingbirds, and a curious long-eared rabbit, Amber manages to collect the antidote, but it may not be enough to heal the earth and and banish Sedah forever.
First 250 Words:
A short way away from the metropolis of New York City, a tiny hamlet existed where everyone who was "anyone" lived. Large stately homes with sprawling emerald lawns dotted the landscape, and locals motored through town in the latest of luxury vehicles.
Each mansion towered over the narrow cobblestone streets, and oddly enough, almost all were inhabited by a family of three— and their servants — of course.
However, one simple dwelling bordered the village and was occupied by a single father named Paul Sanders. Her currently bobbed and weaved between a pileup of dishes. A bead of sweat collected on his brow as a plate slipped through his fingers and crashed to the floor.
"Where is she?" he muttered, and dashed to the window, scoping the horizon.
Not far, a mere stones throw away, Amber leaned against a lofty Weeping Willow tree daydreaming. It was one of many that edged the overgrown meadow dusted with an array of multi-colored wild flowers.
A soft breeze caressed her cheeks and with the flutter of two heart beats, her eyelids dropped like a fallen leaf ....
She woke with a start from something soft and furry tickling her nose. As her vision cleared, several butterflies took flight from the Black-eyed Susans. A small bump appeared to be mowing its way through the foliage.
Amber smiled and shook her head. "Thanks, Jasper," she called out. The tip of a black ear flicked.