Title: Secrets in the Stone
Entry Nickname: ESTELLA+AYRON
Word Count: 77,000
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
England, 1912. After Estella Ripley witnesses her grandfather's suspicious death, she is convinced her aunt and uncle played a hand in his murder, though she cannot prove it. Desperate to escape the eerie manor for a life of her own, she is trapped when she learns her grandfather left her his entire estate, along with a mysterious message: "Trust me." But when Estella discovers that Edward Maxwell, the estate's attorney and her new fiancé, is conspiring with her aunt and uncle to usurp Ripley Manor, Estella flees, lest she fall victim to their scandal.
Retreating to the solitude of a remote forest, Estella discovers an ethereal glen inhabited by Irish fugitives whom she quickly befriends. She has no intention of returning to the life she left behind, until she realizes that the glen-folk possess proof her grandfather was murdered. When Edward Maxwell discovers her hiding, Estella is forced to decide: surrender control over her own life, or extinguish Edward's wrath before he destroys all her grandfather trusted her to protect.
Stabbing someone was a messy endeavor. Still, it got the job done.
Admittedly, the closest Estella Ripley would ever dare come to touching her aunt was in her imagination, where she could repeatedly stab Florence with her mechanical pencil. She could plunge the sharp tip into her chest, but since the woman had no heart, this would be rather ineffective. Stabbing her in the stomach would prove futile, as her whalebone corset would likely obstruct any puncture. A pencil to the eye would merely blind her and she'd still be alive and able to speak. A swift, determined stab to the neck was the ideal, albeit obviously homicidal, option.
Yet if her aunt could get away with murder, then so could Estella.
"Mrs. Allchurch will attend tonight," Florence said. They were alone in the drawing room's paling sunlight. "We'll have to open the double doors just to enable her entrance. Why are most women in the older families so terrifically fat? Perhaps it is providence they're wealthy, so their husbands can afford the yardage of material required to dress such a Clydesdale of a woman."
Estella sat perfectly straight and necessarily silent, as she had for the past ten years in her aunt's presence. She promised herself she would not engage in this game of ignorance; it was too easy to become Florence and veer toward that clearly paved, spiteful path. Estella must endure just a little longer, until she was free of her aunt's hideous lacework of self-righteousness and could move on to a new life.
Title: My Life Without You
Entry nickname: Rye’d or Pie
Word count: 60K
Genre: YA Historical / Ownvoices LGBTQ
Fifteen-year-old Rye Riordan is fat, bisexual, and sick of being an outcast. She’s taunted at school, neglected by a drunk dad, and treated like a constant self-improvement project by her perfectionist mother. The only place Rye feels safe—where she can be her true self—is Haven Diner, where cliques put their differences aside over blueberry pie. It’s also where Rye watches for a glimpse of the girl who smashed her heart.
When her beloved diner is threatened by a gentrifying developer, Rye and her gay best friend Birdie join local activists in a fight to save their slice of safety. Planning protests and speak-outs, Rye gains the confidence to stand up for her beliefs. But when she and Birdie fall for the same guy, they’ll stop at nothing—including destroying their friendship—to win his heart. With her friendship in crisis and a public showdown over the diner's fate on the horizon, Rye has one last chance to speak out for what she wants. If Rye wants to reconnect with Birdie, fix her family problems, and find love on the front lines, she'll need to use her new skills rather than run from her problems.
The mean girls linger outside Haven Diner. I'll have to walk past them to meet my best friend Birdie. I scan Harvard Square, hoping to spot someone from my old school who can walk into the diner with me, hoping to spot Erica.
We haven’t talked .
I sweep Erica to the back of my mind. Then I shake my hair loose from its ponytail, letting my cherry red swirls give me a boost of confidence. Punk girls don't give a crap what anyone thinks, right?
The girls eye me for a minute before the tall one calls out. “I met someone who knows you. She said you’re a dyke. So, are you?”
Her friends giggle, but she doesn’t crack a smile. My hands shake inside my sweatshirt pockets. One week at my new high school and I’m already the outcast—really, can a fat girl be anything else?
I hide my nerves behind a smirk. Maybe I can quash these rumors with a good comeback. “It’s cute you believe everything you hear, Clarice. Or is it Charice? I can't tell you ditzy blondes apart.” Hardly original, but it makes her pout. I pull open the diner’s heavy door and hurry inside before they say anything else.
Haven smells like fried onions. Afternoon regulars hunch over orange vinyl stools, shouting complaints like usual. I spot Birdie at the counter, his backpack claiming my stool. As I slide in beside him, my heart wells up with joy. I’m in my safe place now.