Saturday, June 28, 2014

QK Round 5: Tag, You're Dead versus Girl Destroys World

Entry Nickname: Tag, You're Dead
Title: Tag, You’re Dead (originally The Game)
Word count: 80K
Genre: YA Thriller


When six teenagers play Tag in present-day Chicago, there’s a twist from the childhood version…if you get Tagged, you get Dead.

The three "Its" have their reasons for buying a place in the Game: surgically-enhanced Brandy is dying to destroy a naturally beautiful girl; untalented Robin desires his target's position on the school basketball team; and brainiac Charles craves a battle against an intellectual equal. 

Three hand-picked innocents play as “Runners,” under threat to their loved ones should they refuse to participate: lovely, small-town Laura; superstar athlete William; and Amanda, gamer extraordinaire. These three want only one thing…to survive.

As soon as the Runners receive the “Go” on smart watches locked onto their wrists, the Game rockets them through the city, from the El to Michigan Avenue to the Lincoln Park Zoo. There is no time to rest; every thirty minutes the Runners’ coordinates are transmitted to the Its, which diminishes the Runners’ chances of ever reaching Home Base alive.

The Game will not end until someone is Tagged, so the Runners must choose how to play: will they accept death, murder their Its, or find a way to use their individual strengths to stop the Game before anyone dies?

TAG, YOU’RE DEAD alternates among the POVs of all six players in the Game – who will live to see it end?

First 250 words:


Friday, 8:00 PM

“I can’t choose,” Brandy Inkrott said. “I want to kill them all." 

“Tag,” her mother said from her brocaded antique chair. “You want to Tag them all.”

“No. I don’t.”

“Either way,” her father said, “I’m afraid you have to pick one.”

Brandy studied the images of the teenage girls on the screen. Brunettes. Blondes. Asians. Hispanics. Light-skinned. Dark-skinned. Every one of them gorgeous. Every one of them middle-class. No-names. None of them like her. “They’re all so perfect. Can I pick more than one?" 

A woman’s voice pierced the air, emanating from Surround Sound speakers. “The price for two would be extravagant, Ms. Inkrott. Plus, Tagging more than one Runner would be difficult. Almost impossible.”

“I don’t care. I can do it.”

Her father shrugged. “If that’s what you want.”

“I suggest this,” the woman said. “Play this time with one. If you are successful you may play again, and then you can go after two. I know it’s tempting when you see all those beautiful faces, but you’d be setting yourself up for disappointment.”

“What do you know?” Brandy said. “You’re probably some fat old lady in a trailer park somewhere. I could Tag you.”

Silence sizzled over the speaker.

“I’m sorry, Madame Referee,” Brandy’s father said. “She didn’t mean it.”

“Did so,” Brandy said.

“Bran, honey, please." 

The girls’ faces on the television disappeared, replaced by only one, which took up the entire surface of the eighty-inch screen. The woman shown there was incredible.


Entry Nickname: Girl Destroys World
Title: MAGICK 7.0
Word count: 85,000
Genre: MG Fantasy


In fourteen-year-old Anne’s opinion, there are two kinds of quests: the kind that lead to unicorns and lollipops, and the kind that get you and everyone you love killed, horribly and painfully (possibly by zombie sharks). She knows this because her budding magick abilities have accidentally entangled her in a quest, and so far she hasn’t encountered any lollipops.

She could opt out, but then as per Paragraph 5 Subparagraph 3 of the Official Questing Regulations she’d be exiled forever and all of her friends would be tossed into a dungeon. She’d rather kiss a Steam Troll than let that happen.

Her task? Slay a silver dragon that doesn’t exist. In just three days. With only the guidance of a wizard with a platypus for an arm and a sassy holographic sparrow. It’s all pretty straightforward (“straightforward” being a relative term) until she meets Lord Oswald, a weirdo in a cryogenic chamber who wears a lab coat and comfortable loafers. As the duly licensed Antagonist, he should be trying to stop her. Instead, he swaps roles and steals her quest.

That’s when Anne learns she wasn’t on a mission to save the world, but to destroy it (so not exactly environmentally-friendly). And Lord Oswald seems more than happy to see it through to completion. With the atomic clock counting down, Anne must figure out why she’s suddenly the villain of her own quest and pray to all things platypus-related that her unstable magick can defeat Oswald’s ten-thousand-year-old “technology.”

If she stops him, she might yet become a HeroTM.

If she doesn’t, everyone dies (in which case, definitely no lollipops).

First 250 words:

At Saint Lupin’s Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children they didn’t play favorites. Each orphan was treated with the same amount of disdain and neglect. They were provided with one threadbare tunic, one pair of ill-fitting shoes, and one dusty and moth-eaten overcoat. They were given a daily ration of gruel, and they were bathed exactly once per month, just before going on duty in the coal mine. This, incidentally, was consistent with the advice given in the popular self-help guide, How to Raise Orphans and Make Money.

There were three ways to leave Saint Lupin’s. The first was to get adopted. Perhaps by a nice family who would whisk you away to your long dreamed-of castle on a hill—one surrounded by forests and glens, filled with interesting and friendly people, rich with history and bright with promise and hope. The board of governors was extremely pleased with its track record in this regard as it had managed to prevent all adoptions since the Institute’s foundation.

The second way was to reach the age of fourteen and be unceremoniously kicked out on your bottom.

The third way was to embark upon a quest. Although quests were heavily regulated (so they could then be heavily taxed), there were no restrictions regarding age or background and thus anyone could apply. The secret to a successful application was first to fulfill a prophecy (also heavily taxed). At Saint Lupin’s, both of these topics, that is, quests and prophecies, were considered particularly taboo subjects of inquiry.


  1. Love the premise of TAG, YOU'RE DEAD, but I'm still a little concerned about so many main characters. I'd still like to read it--but I'm *dying* to read GIRL DESTROYS WORLD, which has the whole package and one of the best voices I've ever read. VICTORY TO GIRL DESTROYS WORLD!

  2. Both are fantastic, but for the voice, the concept, and the unique approach --

  3. .GIRL is terrific and has really improved, but TAG had me at hello.

    Victory to TAG, YOU'RE DEAD

    1. ghostbuster_extraordinaireJune 28, 2014 at 9:01 AM

      Me too, AA!! I want to read ALL of TAG! Even tho there are many POVs I would gobble that up in a hot second!!!

    2. These are both so unique and so catchy. The concept of TAG makes my heart pound, and GIRL has this great Lemony Snicket-esque voice.

      Victory to GIRL DESTROYS WORLD.

    3. Hate having to choose between these - they are both fantastic. Honestly, it comes down to which one I'd read first, and the first is right down my alley -

      I give VICTORY to TAG, YOU'RE DEAD.

    4. Victory to Tag, You're Dead. Because I have to pick one and so I picked the one I've had stick with me longest.

  4. ghostbuster_extraordinaireJune 28, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    Wow! Both of these are fantastic. I loved the title for Girl Destroys World, and the concept seems fun and fresh. Also, the MC's voice is hilarious in such a dark time. Great job.Tag, You're Dead really improved their query and first 250. I appreciate that they took suggestions to heart and made great revisions. Now, I have to say I LOVED the concept for Tag, You're Dead (which I'm so glad you made that the title) from the first time I read it. It just needed polishing. So, without further ado... The victory goes to:


  5. At this point, the entries are so strong that it's really hard to choose. I'd enjoy reading both of these, but I have a feeling TAG would be harder to put down.

    Victory to TAG, YOU'RE DEAD

  6. Both entries are great, but I have to root for my team. Go Team Michelle! Hooray for Girl Destroys World.

  7. Book Boyfriend ConnoisseurJune 28, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Wowzas, this is tough. Both queries are amazing, and your voices are pretty darn impressive too. So to me, I'll have to go with personal choice here, only because to pick between the queries and 250 on how well done they are, is impossible.

    Victory to: Tag, You're Dead

  8. I love both these entries so much. I'm confident you're both going to find well-earned success very soon, and I've flip-flopped about five times as to who I'll vote for just while writing this message! Ha. That just shows how strong the writing is here, and your concepts.

    Being a huge fantasy fan, however...


  9. VERY tough choice and I've changed my mind million times already, but I think I have to go with

  10. Girl with the Golden PenJune 28, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    AHHH! NO! Why do you DO this to me? I don't WANT to choose! *pulls out hair*. Both of these are so good in different ways. But from the very first round, TAG had my heart. Its my long time favorite.

    Victory to TAG YOUR DEAD

  11. Garg... um.. umm... Victory to TAG YOUR DEAD

  12. Wow, these are so amazing. I really love TAG, but the voice in the first 250 of GIRL caught me immediately. Love it!


  13. Both amazing. I would buy both books, but the first 250 would have me buying one of them first and that is...

    Victory to TAG YOUR DEAD

  14. I love both of these, but TAG has had my heart for quite a while now.


  15. Wow! Tough call, but GIRL DESTROYS WORLD hits so many of my buttons, that I just have to choose it.
    TAG YOUR DEAD was my favorite last time I was judging, and I still think it is a great query and first 250 words.

    I'm hoping to see these on shelves soon!


  16. Mrs. Malcolm ReynoldsJune 29, 2014 at 7:45 PM

    This isn't easy, but I'm going to have to give VICTORY to GIRL DESTROYS WORLD!!!