Saturday, June 28, 2014

QK Round 5: Shalom Sasquatch versus Cozy for Geeks

Entry Nickname: Shalom Sasquatch
Title: Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things
Word count: 77K
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Seventeen-year-old Samantha Berger is pretty sure most nice Jewish girls don’t have parents who force them to hunt Bigfoot, especially on national T.V.  Just when Sam thinks she couldn’t be more humiliated, she meets the competition: a team of snobby anthropology students from Yale who are set on wiping the floor with her “Squatch” loving family.

The captain of the other team, Devan Mehta, is impossibly cute in a Bollywood Romeo-meets-Sherlock Holmes sort of way — until he opens his perfect British mouth and calls her family a bunch of low-class wankers. Sam’s no longer just embarrassed. She’s livid, and determined to beat the ascot off Devan and his crew. After all, the prize money will allow her to study pre-med at the college of her dreams, far from Yetis and Yalies.

Teamed up by the producers for a special challenge, Sam and Devan bond over family pressures, geek out over fantasy fiction, and learn to rely on each other. In a moment of honesty, Devan admits he may be kicked out of his anthropology program if his team fails and Sam worries about paying for college if she doesn’t win. Before they know it, understanding leads to attraction and a steamy snogging session
. Now, as the competition heats up, Sam must choose between her ridiculous family and Devan. Suddenly, finding Bigfoot is the smallest of Sam’s hairy problems.

First 250 words:
On a good day, my parents were just mildly embarrassing. The day the camera crew came to our house was not a good day.

I squinted at the bright lights illuminating our dingy living room, and turned to my older sister, Sophie. “Hunting Bigfoot in private isn’t bad enough?” I whispered. “Now Mom and Dad have to humiliate us on national television?”
Sophie shrugged. “You’ve been complaining for weeks. It’s time to suck it up.”

Colin, the producer of a new TV show called “Myth Gnomers,” stood behind our scratched-up coffee table shooting pre-interviews with my parents, me, and my two sisters. The awful title of this lame reality show should’ve served as an obvious warning we were about to do something ridiculous, but nope, it sure didn’t.

Instead of running like hell, all five of us were squished together on our stained, saggy brown couch, smiles frozen in place. At least our butts hid the holes in the upholstery.

“Checking. Checking one, two. Your mics should all be on now.” Colin peered over the camera at my parents’ matching neon green shirts that read, “Ohio is Bigfoot Country.”

My mom’s smile tightened. She glared and gestured at me until I put on a Northern Ohio Bigfoot Society hat like my sisters. Each Sasquatch club designed their own logo. My tacky trucker cap had a cartoon footprint and a motto on it in Latin— which probably translated to “We have nothing better to do.”

I pulled the brim over my eyes and slumped down, wishing I could join the pennies and crumbs hiding in the crevices of the sofa.


Entry Nickname: A Cozy for Geeks
Title: The Genuine Fake
Word Count: 75,030
Genre: Mystery Cozy


You'd have to be drunk or crazy to hire Dahlia Moss as a detective, and her client was conveniently both. Drunk was verifiable-- there was a wine glass in his hand. Crazy was self-evident: Dahlia had no experience, no money, and the only thing she'd been reliably good at finding were pink slips. 

The details of the job only make it seem stranger. The client wants her to recover the Bejeweled Spear of Infinite Piercing, a powerful and breathtakingly gaudy weapon from the online game "Kingdoms of Zoth". The pay is insane, a thousand bucks just for looking, and double for finding it. Dahlia thinks the job is certifiable, but pragmatically signs on; two thousand bucks buys a lot of Ramen. 

Her investigation takes her through the student slums of St. Louis and into the on-line jungles of Zoth, interviewing aggrieved gamers, drunken fire-mages, misogynist golems, and an extremely petulant tree. But just when she gets a handle on the case, her client turns up dead-- skewered by a 3-D printed replica of the very spear she was looking for. 

Suddenly, the police are involved, and Dahlia is in the middle of a murder investigation. Gamers are showing at her doorstep, detectives are trailing her, and more 3-D printed spears are mysteriously showing up in the mail. It's exactly the wrong time to learn that her client's decision to hire her wasn't so random after all. 

First 250: 

The only time I ever met Jonah Long he was wearing a fake beard, a blue pinstripe captain's outfit and a toy pipe that blew soap bubbles. He did not seem like someone who was about to change my life. 

"I have a proposition for you," he had told me. Admittedly, that does sound like the kind of thing a life changing person might say. It's right up there with "it's dangerous to go alone-- take this!" and "you are the chosen one." But a plastic bubble pipe really takes the edge off this sort of thing. 

It was a nautical themed party, which partly explained his ridiculous outfit. I'd thought he was hitting on me. “I’m in a non-dating phase," I'd told him. Not entirely true, but I repeat: bubble pipe. 

"A financial proposition, Dahlia." 

I had no idea who he was. I was irked that he knew my name but it was clear from the way Charice was hovering over him that my roommate was involved. She was wearing an over-sized mermaid's outfit that made her look faintly seal-like-- especially with her mugging at me as Jonah spoke. Eh? Eh? I felt like I should throw a fish at her. 

But really: what could I do? I had seventeen dollars and twenty three cents in my bank account at the time of this exchange, with less in savings. I could only use ATMs that dispensed tens. Despite my correct sense that Jonah was 1) ridiculous and 2) trouble, at the phrase "financial proposition" he had my undivided attention.


  1. WHYYYY do you do this to me?! Ascots versus bubble pipes... this is the toughest match-up of the whole game! The concept and characters of SHALOM SASQUATCH sound so, so fun, and the voice is pretty darn good too. But the voice in A COZY FOR GEEKS just blows me off the page, and I really think the awesomely unique genre (combined with the fact that NA is such a great, expanding market right now) decides this for me. VICTORY TO A COZY FOR GEEKS!

    1. Argggggg I would so read both of these. But one of these has had my heart since the start ...


  2. Both brilliant, and -- I expect -- both will snag agents, but I adore the idea of the family as strong supporting characters (so often missing in YA) so...

  3. I like my humor best served with a dose of steamy snogging..


  4. Argh! These are two of my favorite entries in all of QK! Love the voice in both of them! Based on premise alone, I have to go with SASQUATCH, because I love the idea of a Bigfoot-hunting family!


  5. Can these guys write or what? I'm awed.

  6. Book Boyfriend ConnoisseurJune 28, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    Again with the awesomeness here! It's too hard to pick because...well, there is nothing I would change for either of these entries. So once more, this is personal choice for me, not because one entry is better than the other.

    Victory to: SHALOM SASQUATCH

  7. Back in round two, if you'd told me I would vote for anything against SHALOM SASQUATCH I would have laughed in your face. How can anyone compete with a family of Bigfoot hunters?

    But then I read A COZY. The first page slays me every time. (And at this point, I've read it many, many times.)

    Great job both of you. I have zero doubt that you'll be on the shelves one day.

    Victory to A COZY FOR GEEKS

  8. These entries are both going to have many well-deserved requests, but I've got to give this one to the book that hooked me more from the very first sentence of the query (solely based on concept- both have fantastic writing- ugh, this is hard!!!).

    Victory to...SHALOM SASQUATCH!

  9. Great job w/ both entries... I have to go with the one I want to read RIGHT NOW:

  10. Girl with the Golden PenJune 28, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    These are both awesome with great voice, but put me at gun point to choose and I have to go with what is more my kind of book. And that would be the geeky, quirky tone of COZY.


  11. So not fair that I have to choose! But I've kind of been rooting for one of these since the first round...

  12. This...this is NOT FAIR! I adore both of these voices and premises. This is torture. I think I'm in the mood for a murder mystery today.


  13. At this point, I have to go with my heart and my heart gives...


  14. Oh, how I hated choosing between these two! Ultimately, I went with my personal choice. I have no doubt that the other entry will find an agent!


  15. ghostbuster_extraordinaireJune 29, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    OMG, I'm in love!!! I'm a hard sale with YA Contemp rom, but!!!!

    VICTORY goes to: Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things

    Also, that is an awesome title!!! Rock. On.

  16. Victory to SHALOM SASQUATCH.

  17. Mrs. Malcolm ReynoldsJune 29, 2014 at 7:49 PM

    NOT EASY, GUYS. But since I have to pick, VICTORY to SHALOM.