Entry Nickname: Guerrilla Geek
Title: Ellie and the Arborites
Word count: 40,000
Genre: MG Fantasy


All twelve-year-old Ellie Emerson wants to do is make some friends. Problem is, that’s kinda hard when the kids at school don’t want a science-geek around, and she’s too shy to come up with a way to change that.

But when Ellie discovers Arborites living in the woods behind her house, she gets her chance. The elf-like beings, born from the seed of a tree, actually need her geek-flag to fly. Trees and Arborites all over the forest are mysteriously becoming sick, and they think Quercus Supreme, leader of the Oak Arborites, is to blame. Rumor has it he’s conducting evil experiments in a secret laboratory to get rid of anyone who’s different. The Arborites must find out what’s going on and come up with a way to stop it, but they can’t do it on their own. If Ellie can find the guts to help them, she might not only save lives, but also learn how to make friends.

First 250 words:Ellie’s favorite tree was lying on the forest floor in a tangled heap.  The only branch still covered with the yellow leaves of autumn waved in the breeze like it was signaling for help.

Everything’s fine, Ellie thought.  Just don’t look.“Hey Cassie, wanna read some more Gulliver’s Travels?” she asked, patting the old chestnut.  “Or I’ve got a new book,Remarkable Trees of the World.  There’s like a whole section on ‘Trees in Peril.’  Now they’ve got some major problems.”

Ellie pulled away from the tree and felt around for her backpack, opening one eye just enough to find the zipper.  As she reached inside for the books, she noticed dozens of ants crawling up her sleeve.  

“Eww,” she yelled, her eyes popping wide.  She flicked the ants off and ran her hands up and down her body, straining to look at her backside, just to make sure there weren’t any more.  And that’s when she saw the massive army of black ants marching along the fallen trunk.  No, no, no, no, no.“Shoo, get off,” she shouted.  “Leave her alone!”

Ellie pulled off her sneaker and beat them like she was trying to put out a brush-fire.  Squished segmented bodies with wiry legs were scattered everywhere, but it did nothing to scare off the new arrivals.  Ellie could almost hear them laughing.  I can’t let them do this.  They’ll destroy her.  Ellie hurled the shoe and snapped a branch off a straggly pine. Holding it with both hands in front of her, she dragged the needles back and forth across the trunk, flinging ants in every direction.