Title: Down Track
Word Count: 83,000
Genre: NA Sci-fi
Query:Life should be lemonade and caviar for twenty-year-old Tori Montgomery, since she’s a member of the nobility of Texas. Then her daddy goes bullbat crazy, murdering her mother and little brothers before committing suicide. Left penniless, and deemed a social pariah by the rest of the upper crust snobs in her psychic world, Tori tosses away her morals. Thieving’s profitable enough for a desperate young lady, especially with her telekinetic abilities.Kaiden Hale is a gun-slinging Texas Ranger. His psychic ability turns him into a human lie detector. Good for him, bad for Tori. But Kaiden has secrets of his own. When his brother goes missing, Kaiden decides to dirty his boots and ask his ex-neighbor, Tori, to help track him down.Tori thinks helping the lawman will be a quick paycheck—until they stumble over a murdered body. While investigating, Kaiden and Tori discover a pattern of kidnappings linked to a doomsday cult. Talented psychics are what the cult is after, and Tori’s name is next on their list. Kaiden is drawn to the recalcitrant Tori and determined to protect her at all cost—whether she agrees or not.When the cult’s true intentions of releasing a deadly virus is revealed, Tori realizes it will take more than her telekinesis to save them. Trusting a person is dumber than floating in an airship leaking helium. But if she and Kaiden are going to rescue his brother and survive with all body parts intact, Tori must accept Kaiden’s help.First 250 words:I might be a thief from a disgraced family, but I still have my pride. Mama always told me that posture and attitude mark a lady, so I straighten my back and plaster a polite smile on my face. In thirty minutes, the National Nighttime Airship Race commences. This is the first time the city has hosted the event, and the population seems to have doubled in the last couple of days. The setting sun gleams in a pinkish-orange smear across the sky. The metal, cigar-shaped ships are anchored on the landing green, waiting for dusk to fade to dark. Fans, wearing their team colors on sashes, mill around the area like worker ants. And since it’s Texas, any crowd this size requires a Cook-off, ‘cause nothing completes a party more than barbeque, beer, and brawling.The aroma of grilling brisket and onions floats on the dusty wind. My stomach gurgles, but I ignore it. Business comes first. I weave around grill pits, tipsy revelers, and trucks with their tailgates down. Music blasts from a hundred different radios, drowning out the announcer on the squawking loudspeaker. I leave the good-natured melee, heading toward the iridescent force field that protects the wealthy from the peons. The field does a nifty job of keeping out mosquitos too.Private security protects the gate. The nearest guard’s expression doesn’t change as my dark blue silk dress, with the fashionably small bustle and frilly overskirt, is unmistakably upper class. I stole it specifically for this job.
Entry Nickname: Making Boys Cry
Title: Virtual Rebel
Word count: 90,000
Genre: NA Science Fiction
The warrior. It's a title 18-year-old Kali Ling earned bringing men to their knees -- inside video games.
In 2054, fully-immersive virtual reality plugs a player directly into the game. So when digital fighting tournaments become a national sport, Kali's life transforms into a whirlwind of fame, fake smiles, and nonstop partying in L.A.'s hottest clubs.
But when her teammate Nathan O.D.'s, Kali slams into the dark side of virtual gaming: drug addiction and insanity. As a gamer who's swallowed a few too many pills herself and a Chinese-American whose Taoist father taught better, reality abandons Kali at the crossroads of identity crises and adulthood. Realizing she might not last until the season's end, she trades partying for Asian philosophy and nightly sparring sessions with her team's latest recruit (who she can't help picturing in nothing but a strategically placed controller). But just as Kali finds peace within herself, the Virtual Gaming League erases Nathan from its database and whitewashes the truth behind his demise for the sake of ratings.
For ratings? Oh, it's on like Donkey Kong.
Furious, Kali swaps fame for fighting in her friend's honor in the VGL's championship tournament. But the industry threatens to strip away everything she's become if she doesn't back down. Now, Kali must choose: keep the career, identity, and newfound peace she worked so hard to achieve or stand against an industry that cares more about its popularity than its athletes. This time it's game over. Permanently.
First 250 words:
This wasn't the first time I'd died. Sure as hell wouldn't be the last either. But while most eighteen-year-old girls studied, gossiped, and swooned over boys, there was no other way I'd rather spend my Saturday night.
Crouched high on the tower's parapet, I overlooked a sea of wheat fields. The scent of lavender and the taste wheatgrass wove together in the air, drifting alongside the breeze that swept through my hair. I took a deep breath and smiled at the irony, as thick as the mountain air filling my lungs. Lavender. Wheat fields. Tranquility.
Peace, in a place anything but peaceful.
Movement in the fields caught my eye, down and right. A zigzag carved its way through the ten-foot tall stocks, heading straight for the tower. My smile pulled wider. Maybe this sucker had the balls to take on Kali Ling.
I stilled inside. Even breaths. No fear. At the field's edge, the stocks trembled violently. The air filled with the rainstick rustling of brush and dry grass. Yes. Someone would emerge. I gripped the sword sheathed across my back and waited, muscles tight, mouth watering. Come on. Give me something. A brute. Six -- no -- seven feet tall, wielding a mace. Or an axe.
Give me anything.
A rabbit scurried out from the field. Nothing followed. The grass fluttered in the breeze. Birds chirped, nestled in the nearby sycamore trees. It was the rabbit, and only the rabbit.
I punched the parapet's brick wall, but instead of frustration, irony reverberated through me again.