Thursday, June 20, 2013

QK Round 4: The Decapitator versus Minna Gray

Entry Nickname: The Decapitator
Title: The Art of Severance
Word Count: 82,000
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy


ATF Special Agent Alexandra MacPherson can’t decide which is worse -- a witness who dies or a suspect who won’t stay dead.

A routine investigation escalates to FUBAR when one of the accused turns up dead, his body untouched, but drained of blood. Within a month, three more have died. The only link among the victims? Wounds mirroring the attacks of creatures that Alex can't believe exist: a vampiric witch, a revenant, and a bogeyman.

It’s the ugliest, messiest case of Alex’s career, but she can more than handle that. Maybe it will keep her from jogging the streets of Philadelphia at two in the morning or drunk-dialing her dead husband’s cell phone number. When her only viable lead is killed, Alex is forced to accept that some myths... aren’t.

Finding the man responsible is easy. Killing him and his spawn won’t be. Alex is fighting time and an enemy that no human can match. If she’s not up to the task, she won’t stay human for long. 

First 250:

Sometimes it all came down to the gun. SIG Sauer P226 .40 S&W or Rossi .357 Magnum revolver with a six-inch barrel. I’d picked the SIG. I should have gone with the Rossi.   

I stole a look at the battered clock on the wall of the loading dock. My dealer was only five minutes late. Not so long I worried he’d had second thoughts, but he needed to show soon. Before my unease fermented into something harder to conceal.

“He’s late,” Mike said.

I shrugged, and played like I hadn’t noticed and didn’t want to hiss at Mike for his observational skills.

“You watch the game last night?” Mike asked.

“What game?” 

“The Sox.”

A Sox fan. God help me. I’d kept hundreds of mindless details straight for six months but couldn’t for the life of me remember whether Kate Campbell gave a crap about the national pastime. “I don’t follow baseball.”

“They play the Yankees tomorrow.”

“Well, I do hate the Yankees.”

“Who doesn’t?” Mike dropped the remnant of his cigarette to the floor of the dock and crushed it under his shoe.

Kate Campbell was a vegetarian who sold lattes at an internet cafe and lived in a dump near Temple University. A fugitive from the United Kingdom for alleged involvement in a train derailment in North West England, she fancied herself a modern day Guy Fawkes.

I was done being Kate Campbell, the annoying twit.


Entry Nickname: Minna Gray
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. But 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.

Fortunately, Minna’s not the only one who remembers. Corrin, a boy whose path always seems to cross hers, knows about the disappearances. He tells her they aren’t isolated events: every day more people are erased.

Corrin says Minna has a magical ancestry and that her inherited power over the elements could put an end to the ghants – the gray men who perform the kidnappings. To harness these powers, she must travel to the Outlands – the pest-infected waste beyond the city walls. 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. She must race to stop the ghants before all hope for the missing boys is lost, and before anyone else she loves is 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.

“A beetle.”

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.


  1. This comment is reserved for judges. Go get 'em judges!

    1. Victory to Minna Gray.

      This is definitely going to be a difficult round - loved them both, but Minna Gray's premise won me over. The Decapitator great job with voice!

    2. Victory to Minna Gray, solely because the 250 was more interesting. This is tough!

    3. Victory The Decapitator

      I just really like this one, :)

      Both are stellar! Good luck!

    4. This is not going to be easy, is it? Shame on all the kombatants in Round 4 making this so difficult for the judges!

      Victory to THE DECAPITATOR for voice.

    5. Victory to Minna Gray. The first 250 really captured my attention!

    6. Victory to The Decapitator for a great voice.

      Minna, this wasn't easy. Both of you have done an amazing job

    7. Victory to: Minna Gray. Both are fantastic and love the voice in Decapitator, so this was purely subjective based on the story premise!

    8. Victory to Decapitator. I love the grit in the voice here, and the opening has that great mix of a contemporary crime noir with urban fantasy elements to come based on the premise. Works very well.

      Minna Gray you have a great premise as well, but the voice in Decap just got under my skin!

    9. Victory to Minna Gray.

      I'm not a huge fan of either of these queries, but the 250 are fabulous in both. I love Minna Gray's imagery, and I love Decapitator's attitude. This came down to what I'd prefer to read :)

  2. Victory to Minna Gray: I love the world-building. I really want to read this book.

    The Decapitator: You've been one of my long-term favorites, but I can only choose one of you.

    Good luck to you both.

  3. Glad I'm not judging. lol This one is the hardest.