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FINAL ROUND for Query Kombat 2014!

  Posted by SC_Author , 01 July 2015 · 36 views


Time for the battle to the finish!!! 


After a MONTH from Round 1 to here, we've dwindled down the 250 or so submissions to the final two standing. They are Elephants Never Forget and Best(iary) Western, two AMAZING entries.


Head on over to Michelle's blog to see the Final Round!

Have fun with that judges! Both are winners, but you decide the Grand Champion! 

It's the home stretch! In the week coming up, it's all about Query Kombat wrap-up: presenting the badges to the winners of each age category, thanking the judges, and starting the Name That Judge game on Michelle's blog.


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QK Round 4: Eavesdropping Monkey vs. Librarians, Curses, and Mysteries

  Posted by SC_Author , 25 June 2015 · 27 views

Entry Nickname: Eavesdropping Monkey
Title: FAMILY REUNION
Word count: 650
Genre: Children’s Picture Book - Funny

Query: 


When the monkeys overhear the elephants planning a family reunion they decide to throw a bash for their long lost relations, too. But they’re not the only ones. Family reunions are too good to miss out on and party planning spreads through the jungle like a Savanna grass fire.

Soon the watering hold is filled to capacity with animals of different species. Tempers flare as each fight to reunite with their own kind. Talk about a bungle in the jungle. Finally, a wise frog speaks up with a better idea that blows the family reunion right out of the watering hole.

FAMILY REUNION is an amusing tale of diversity and acceptance. At 650 words, this fun-filled, rollicking rhyme will appeal to children of the 4-8 age range.

First 250 words: 

On a hot, steamy day in the Jungle of Ghee,
A sly, nosey monkey swung from a tree.
He was eavesdropping on a large elephant herd,
And he hung there and listened to every last word.

“We’ll invite all our cousins from near and afar,”
Said the matriarch queen named Ali Dalmar.



VS



Entry Nickname: Librarians, Curses, and Mysteries – Oh My!
Title: The Curious Curse of the Lonely Library
Word Count: 56k
Genre: Upper Middle Grade Low Fantasy

Query:


The Pickettsville library has moldered in silence for two hundred years, but Theodore Plumford can sense that it’s special. Not just any library was founded by a madman.

Left with relatives one summer, twelve-year-old Theodore coaxes his reluctant siblings to explore the unusually grand town library with him. Though the rest of Pickettsville refuses to darken its doors, the majestic building and its lively librarians soon enthrall the children. But when they discover that characters from the books are haunting the halls, an investigation into the founder’s mysterious life reveals a curse causing the library’s present predicament.

As the Plumfords and librarians unravel the past, the library’s future seems brighter. But Theodore’s impetuous brother Hugo would rather have an adventure than help the others, even if it throws the library into chaos. With the town clamoring to demolish the building and the characters fighting for their freedom, Theodore’s mettle will be tested when their lives and the library are endangered because of Hugo’s foolish choices. The bookworm who has always lived through others’ stories must learn how to be his own hero if he’s going to save the day.

First 250:

Theodore’s neck prickled when they drove past the building on their way into town. The rest of Main Street was a collection of shabby stores, but this place stood apart like a wild beast among tabby cats.

Six white columns guarded a wide double door, and cold, silent windows rose between the pillars. On top of the building, rosy light streamed through the panes of a glass dome. It looked like a ball of fire upon a mammoth block of ice.

“Mom, what’s that?”

Mrs. Plumford twisted in her seat to follow Theodore’s pointing finger. She squinted into the sun. “I’m not sure. You’ll have to ask your aunt.”

Theodore’s younger sister Lucy squirmed around to look at the building before it disappeared from view. “It looks scary,” she whispered.

“It looks boring,” said Hugo Plumford, elbowing Lucy in the center seat to make more room for himself. “Are we there yet?”

“Almost,” said Mr. Plumford. He turned the car into a neighborhood of prim houses in tidy rows, each so alike they might have been pressed from the same mold.

Hugo squashed his nose against the glass and groaned. “Can’t I go with you? I don’t wanna stay here.”

“No,” said Mr. Plumford. “I’d prefer you weren’t eaten by a crocodile.”

“But I wouldn’t!”

“Hugo, you’d be trying to measure its teeth the minute I turned my back.”

Theodore stifled a sigh and hunkered over his book, determined to ignore the hundredth round of this debate.


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QK Round 4: Give a Girl a Redo vs Life Sucks, I'm Stuck in Podunk

  Posted by SC_Author , 25 June 2015 · 22 views

Entry Nickname: If You Give a Girl a Redo
Title: The Art of Almost
Word count: 104,000
Genre: Upmarket Women’s Fiction

Query:

32-year-old Anna Marin already carries too many regrets. She’s still pining for the one who got away and can’t forgive herself for the fallout from her mother’s stroke. On a flight home to marry the wrong man, Anna realizes she must take control of her life and stop living in the past.
But when she wakes as her 20-year-old self en route to her semester abroad in Australia, it seems fate has a different idea: a second chance with Charlie Beckham, the older man she was drawn to but never pursued. This time Anna falls hard, and being with Charlie is even better than what she’s imagined.

Yet if Anna’s history plays out as it once did, in a few months her mother will suffer a debilitating stroke. And Anna’s baby sister will begin a downward spiral from which she never recovers. When Anna’s efforts to change the future from across the Pacific fail, she must make an impossible decision: walk away from the love of her life—again—or stay with Charlie and abandon her family.

Adding to Anna’s distress, her on-and-off college boyfriend (and future fiancé) flies to Australia to win her back. Seeing him as the boy she fell in love with, Anna finally realizes she also played a part in their relationship’s unraveling. As he shows a side Anna’s never seen, and it becomes clear Charlie cannot leave Australia, Anna wonders whether part of her mission is rewriting her first love story.

First 250 words:

I tried to steady my breathing as Nick lowered down on one knee. A cool spring breeze blew petal confetti toward us, so gently that bits of white and pink remained suspended in midair before fluttering to the ground. Shushing spread through the people surrounding us; suddenly it made sense why our family and friends all happened to show up at the same benefit. Even the river, humming low and deep like a bass line just beyond the hotel courtyard, slowed to a crawl.

And yet I couldn’t hit pause, take a second to reflect on how I’d let it get so far.

“Anna Jane, you are my past and my future. You’re all of my best memories and the center of every great moment to come. And so to you I present—” here he paused to allow sufficient time to appreciate his pun—“this ring. It’s time we made it official!”

The choreography was perfect.

I tried to speak, to tell him it felt like I was disappearing. That putting a ring on my finger would sever the last threads tying me to the earth. But the words went sliding down some shadowy passage, piling on top of all the other things I never said.

Nick’s speech kept going, though not a word registered. I searched the gowns and tuxedoes for a flash of crimson and looked up. My eyes met my sister Claire’s and I immediately regretted it. Hers held a question; mine, a plea.

I had to look away or I’d cry. Or scream.



VS



Entry Nickname: Life Sucks—I’m Stuck in Podunk
Title: Middle of Knowhere
Word count: 70K
Genre: YA Contemporary

Query:

Truck-driving, tobacco-chewing rednecks. That’s what seventeen-year-old Hailey Nelson pictures when her dad decides to up and relocate their family from vibrant Chicago to the middle of God-Knows-Where. She plans to hate this small, rural three-stoplight town. But what she doesn’t anticipate is falling in love with a Pepto-Bismol colored antiques store and the quirky woman who runs it. A woman who shows her more love and affection than Hailey's always absent, TV journalist mother.

Misery does love company, and when Hailey finds out her parents are getting divorced, anti-social Ryker Evans—a local teen outcast and bearer of hideous posture—is surprisingly supportive and understanding. Probably because his family is even more messed up than hers. When Hailey gets a glimpse of what Ryker could look like with a little TLC, Project Ryker is on. Only she doesn’t expect Ryker to be hot with a capital “H.” Or sweet and fun, writing her songs and taking her dumpster diving for donuts. Now she has more to worry about than her parents’ divorce and her mother’s abandonment. She has her own stupid feelings for Ryker to work through too.

But falling for Ryker could present a whole new set of problems. Because ever since his mother took her own life, Ryker has blamed himself. And if Hailey tries to find out the truth of what happened that day, she could lose him forever.

First 250:
This is what hell looks like.

I stare out the window of Dad’s Ford Explorer. Along the curvy road, dilapidated double-wide trailers that look like they belong in some independent film version of a horror flick, litter the sparse lawns. An old couch, unused tires, and even a rust-stained toilet lay strewn next to one particularly neglected trailer.

“Please tell me no one lives there,” I mutter.

Dad glances in my direction, his mouth set in a firm, disapproving line. “Now, Hailey, try to remember that these people aren’t as fortunate as you and I.” His eyes grind into me, like a pestle trying to turn me into bits of shame. “They do the best they can.”

I sigh and turn back to the window as another trailer comes into view, this one even more unkempt. Amazingly enough, one of the occupants is sitting on the sagging porch steps blowing a cloud of smoke into the humid summer air. The man is grease personified. Like if someone wrung him out, they’d have an entire vat of frying oil. I wrinkle my nose and look down when I make eye contact with him. Suddenly, my nails are desperate for attention.

“How long until Mom joins us?” I ask, digging at one particularly bothersome cuticle.

Mom’s been gone for weeks now. As a broadcast journalist, she jet sets around the world while Dad acts as homemaker extraordinaire. Not that I’m knocking my dad’s skills. He can make a mean BLT.


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QK Round 4: Best(iary) Western vs A Girl and Her Serial Killer

  Posted by SC_Author , 25 June 2015 · 20 views

Entry Nickname: Best(iary) Western
Title: Fugitive Motel
Word count: 90K
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy

Query:

By day, fifteen-year-old Iris Vox sleepwalks through high school. By night, she plays a grown-up behind the reception desk of her father’s Kansas hotel, checking supernatural Others in and out. Quick with a dart gun or a convenient lie, Iris provides her guests with live food, fresh blood, or a quiet place to spin a web.

It’s the only life Iris has ever known, but it was safer when her dad didn’t spend so much time as a human smoothie. Born with a hereditary curse, he liquefies then pupates back to his normal shape. Dad’s metamorphosis used to happen on a schedule. Now it comes without warning, leaving Iris to hold everything together.

Just as sleep is a luxury to Iris, so is the truth. Her father won’t admit that something’s changed in his curse, or where her mother went. Enraged by her father’s silence, Iris turns to her guests for human contact. Consoling a vampire’s fading blood moll, soothing the self-hate of werewolves, and helping a handsome insect learn to fly, Iris finds her role as listener and solace. While Iris navigates her anger, the curses that fuel the Other world get stronger and stranger. Deeply buried magic is rising to the surface, bringing with it ancient beings who lack the “humanity” that makes Others worth protecting.

Faced with how these new beings will corrupt and endanger the world of Others, Iris finally learns her father’s secret, and its cost to her family. Now she has to decide whether she wants to become the next Innkeeper, or leave the Other world behind.

First 250:

5:45 a.m.

A man staggers in through our automatic doors. Glad for some action, I slide last month’s National Geographic under the counter to focus on my customer. Nothing special about him; anyone else would see a regional salesman coming in after driving all night. An older man with skin like a re-used paper bag.

But the stagger…it’s not quite right. Drunks weave. This guy lurches forward like he’s got an absolute goal. Our desk. Me.

Yep. Pale, sullen, haggard with a side of desperate determination? Definitely looks like one of ours, but I have to be sure.

“Can I help you, Sir?”

“Have you got a room, Miss?”

The man grips the rim of the counter to steady himself. His well-groomed fingernails point toward me. With a great effort he lifts his left hand and slaps it on the counter twice. That’s good. It’s half the sign. Still, he’s not finished performing.

“What are you looking for exactly, Sir?” I prompt.

There’s a long anxious pause as he tries to remember. He grips so hard that his nail beds turn whitish gray. My right hand creeps under the counter so that my index finger can rest on the pebbled steel of the trigger. I feel it and my heart rate drops.

“Rest and feed,” the man answers finally, fishing the words from some hard-to-access place in his brain, laying them out heavily on the counter.

Bingo.


The words before the knocks would have better though. Doing it backwards means he’s starving.



VS



Entry Nickname:
A Girl and Her Serial Killer
Title: The Confidant
Word count: 62k
Genre: NA Thriller

Query:

18-year-old Stella Stokes has a secret: Gideon, a dashing English serial killer in the novels she writes, actually talks to her. He’s been by her side, offering somewhat twisted peanut gallery commentary, advice, and affection for every pathetic turn in her adolescent life. Sure, some of his darker suggestions scare her, she’s never been worried about his presence. After all, she’s the only one who can interact with him; he can’t really kill anyone.

The summer following high school graduation, Stella and her best friend, supernatural-obsessed, trans-man Quinn, decide to take a few weeks to explore California. However, their first stop at an idyllic beach town isn’t quite as calming as they would’ve hoped: a local’s prank gone horribly wrong leaves Quinn and Stella standing dumbstruck over four dead bodies. As they clean up the mess and flee town, Stella can’t help but notice Gideon’s signature all over the murders.

Now, Stella has no choice but figure out what Gideon is: ghost, demon, byproduct of mental illness, or something else entirely. Because if Gideon is more than an imaginary friend, not only could he really begin a murder spree, but maybe he really could force her to kill with him. As bodies stack up around them, Stella has to keep one step ahead of the authorities, keep Quinn safe, and most importantly, prove that the writer is more powerful than the creation.

First 250 words:

"You're barmy if you don't think a paid professional screwing up your haircut is enough reason to kill them.”


I open my drawer and snatch the first two pieces of water-friendly fabric I see. The unsolicited advice comes from Gideon, who lies on my bed tossing a dragon figurine from hand to hand. We’ve been talking for five minutes, and I’m so done.
“No, Gideon, you’re…whatever you just said if you think I'm going to murder someone because she cut my hair too short,” I say. “Besides, you’re English. Your people would rather suffer in silence than complain about a subpar haircut. Turn around.”

Gideon rolls his eyes and turns his back to me. I slip into my bikini.

“This figurine is a good density. An ideal bludgeoning weapon—”

“Don’t change the subject.”

I reach for my cover-up, but stop as Gideon wraps his arms around my waist.

“C’mon, poppet. Have I steered you wrong before?”

I resist a smile as he presses his lips to my throat. The moment almost lasts, but a thunk from inside my bathroom brings me back to reality: my best friend Quinn is changing in there, and when he comes out, he won’t be able to see Gideon.

After all, I'm the only person who can interact with him. 

I pull away and return my figurine to the shelf, hoping Gideon gets the message. His words roll around my mind, and my eyes linger on the golden dragon.

It is dense.


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QK Round 4: Queen of Drones vs Elephants Never Forget

  Posted by SC_Author , 25 June 2015 · 30 views

Entry Nickname: Queen of Drones
Title: The Chimera’s Snare
Word count: 85K
Genre: YA Sci-fi Postapocalyptic

Query:


June was only a child when a failed scientific experiment spawned an incurable chimaera-virus, dissipating humanity. Now, at sixteen, she lives confined to a bunker at Alpha, one of the twenty-four armored settlements scattered in the ruins of North America. Unlike the other settlers, June is never allowed above ground. Her only link to the outside world is the streaming feed on her holographic monitor; her only companion is her stoic, infuriatingly secretive guard Kyle.

When ravenous, flesh-eating chimaeras destroy Alpha, June’s isolation is shattered. Together with Kyle, she treks across a mutant-infested bayou to the neighboring Omega, where they encounter three other Alpha survivors. But, each person remembers the attack differently and June must race to piece together the truth behind their conflicting memories before the survivors turn on each other and before the monsters strike again. Alpha’s subterranean database could hold the key to reconciling their stories and finding a way to defeat the chimaeras, but with four other settlements already fallen, time is quickly running out.

June and Kyle return to Alpha to search for clues, instead they unravel a past that ties them directly to the horror of chimaeras. June discovers she is a clone, engineered to turn the world into a beehive of zombie-like drones, and Kyle is an assassin sent to stop her. An assassin, whose wiped memories are beginning to resurface. If June isn’t strong enough to override the monstrous program in her DNA, she must persuade Kyle to follow his orders and kill her.

First 250 words:


June felt the vibration in her bones seconds before the emergency siren shrilled to life. The wave of sound passed through the thick layer of earth, slamming against the bunker’s titanium bearings. The walls and ceiling shuddered and the silver chess figurines on the table knocked against each other, June’s careful strategy scrambled into chaos.

In the space of a heartbeat she was up, her ear pressed to the concrete, straining to catch familiar sounds beyond the blaring wail.

The main generator was silent.

We can’t stop the apocalypse, but we can survive it.
June scowled at the enclave’s oh-so-optimistic motto flickering on the holographic monitor above her bed. Clinging to a false hope wasn't surviving.

She climbed on the mattress, licked her fingers and reached towards the air-conditioning ducts. Nothing, other than a faint scent of mildew. And apples. In the settlement, apples were a luxury. Wondering which chemical compound could've produced the odor, she didn’t notice when the siren cut out.

For several long moments the walls trapped its echo, fainter with each iteration. But the air conditioner, the generator, and the intercom system didn’t come back online.

“Kyle?” June’s voice pitched high, amplified by her room’s armored carapace. In response, something groaned and from above issued a long, plaintive screeching.

“Kyle, where are you?”

Not in the bunker. Otherwise, he would’ve already responded. Her stomach went weightless; in the last two years, Kyle rarely left her side.

She jumped off the bed and rubbed her bare foot against her calf.



VS



Entry Nickname:
Elephants Never Forget
Title: THE IVORY NEEDLE
Word Count: 72K
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy

Query:

Only two are yet remaining,
Precious magic ever waning . . .

That’s just part of the mysterious message 16-yr-old Chessie receives when she’s forced to visit her great-grandmother for the summer. Bad enough Gram lives in middle-of-nowhere, Kenya. But when Chessie’s contacted by the spirit of Jhelani, an eons-dead elephant, things take a total left turn toward weird. Communicating with cryptic songs and strange symbols, Jhelani’s message slowly emerges: if someone cannot save the last of her once-immortal tribe, the Earth may pay an unknown price. Freaked out and overwhelmed, Chessie shuts down, breaks communication, and refuses to help.

Meanwhile, Kenyan teen Daniel can’t feed his family when his crops fail. Desperate for work, he’s coerced into a gang of poachers with their sights set on a huge payday: the remaining elephants of Jhelani’s tribe. Just this one job, he swears. Then he’ll find honest work. Hold his head up again.

Chessie finally comes to a decision. She wants to be the kind of person who, as Gram would say, “grabs life by the tusks.” But by the time she finds the missing elephants, the poachers are closing in. With elephants charging and bullets flying, Chessie’s taken prisoner and her world and Daniel’s collide. To survive, Chessie must conquer her fears and seize a dangerous opportunity to escape. And Daniel must decide where he’ll draw the line: thief, poacher, or accessory to murder.

First 250:
When your family falls apart, I suppose you shouldn’t expect anything to be the same again. Not even your mother’s smile.

Mom’s goofy I-love-my-life smile hadn’t been seen in months, and I’d become all too familiar with the distant impostor that had replaced it. But the smile she wore right now? Pretty sure I’d never seen that one before. Like something you’d grab at the mall without stopping to try it on, it was too tight and way too bright.

And she was cooking, for the first time in months. “Mom? What’s going on?” I dropped into a kitchen chair and watched her pull something from the oven.

“Roast chicken? Dibs on the drumstick,” Bent shouted, slamming his scrawny ten-year-old frame into the chair nearest the chicken. He leaned across the table, freckled nose practically up the bird’s butt, and took a deep sniff. “Look, Chessie, mac-n-cheese, too.”

Mom set a tray of steaming cornbread on the table and sat down, still beaming. “Your great-gram has invited us to visit her. In Africa.”

I paused, forkful of mac-n-cheese halfway to my mouth. My stomach felt hollow. I had the feeling no amount of mac-n-cheese was going to fill it, not even one with four gourmet cheeses and a crispy crumb topping. “Can you get enough time off for a trip like that?”

Her smile flickered like the lights during a thunderstorm, right before the power went out for good. “I . . . I can’t go. But you two will go without me.”


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Query Kombat Round 4 is LIVE!

  Posted by SC_Author , 25 June 2015 · 38 views

GO GO GO!

Same rules, as always! This round will end on Friday, 8 pm EST. Judges - get your votes in before that time! 

There are three of Mike's team, three of Michelle's, and two of mine (the #Writerbees) still in the competition. This is going to be amazing (and brutal).

GOOD LUCK!


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Query Kombat Round 4 Match-Ups!

  Posted by SC_Author , 24 June 2015 · 20 views


Here we are-- THE ELITE EIGHT! The PB, MG, NA and Adult Champions have all been determined. We're heading for the final countdown. The BEST OF THE BEST!
Below you will find Round 4 match-ups. I'm feeling very sorry for the judges. They are going to be pulling their hair out. 


Round four will be hosted at my blog. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please leave a comment or tweet me @SC_Author.


The Round starts on Thursday and only lasts two days. There will be 10 judges assigned this round and next but all judges are welcome to vote. Then we will jump quickly to round 5 on Sunday and the Finals on Wednesday.



All entries that were knocked out should have all their requests unlocked. If you've been knocked out and your requests aren't unlocked, please contact the blog host. Those requests will send 50 pages!

Round 4 Match-ups

Eavesdropping Monkey vs Librarians, Curses, and Mysteries
Give a Girl a Redo vs Life Sucks, I'm Stuck in Podunk
Best(iary) Western vs A Girl and Her Serial Killer
Queen of Drones vs Elephants Never Forget



Good Luck Kombatants!


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Query Kombat 2015 Round 3 Match-Ups!

  Posted by SC_Author , 18 June 2015 · 39 views



By this time, all entries that were knocked out should have all their requests unlocked. If you've been knocked out and you're requests aren't unlocked, please contact the blog host. Send in your revisions, if you wish to revise, by 8pm EST today!

Below you will find Round 3 match-ups. Trust me when I say this is going to be a tough round to vote. Just matching these entries was tough. Best of luck judges. You have your work cut out of you.

Round three will be hosted on Michelle's blog. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please leave a comment or tweet me.

Round 3 Match-ups


Give a Girl a Redo v. A Thousand Miles
Paper Girl/Yesterday v. Librarians/Curses/Mysteries
Middle Grade Leverage v. Evesdropping Monkies
Fake Heirs v. Elephant Never Forget
Guinness v. Best(iary)
Guilt by Asso. v. A Girl and her Serial Killer
Life Sucks-I'm Stuck in Podunk v. Forget You Stalin
My Monster is Rotting Twin v. Queen of Drones

Good Luck Kombatants!




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QK Round 2: Zip vs. A Thousand Miles Astray

  Posted by SC_Author , 15 June 2015 · 31 views

Entry Nickname: Zip
Title: Splinters and Clay
Word Count: 72,000
Genre: Adult Book Club Fiction

Query:

If there is one thing fourteen-year-old Zip thinks she can count on in Sweetgum, Alabama, it is that change comes slowly if it comes at all because time moves, in Sweetgum, to the speed of the sluggish brown river that steadily pushes past the outskirts of town. Zip grows to the tempo of that river and, until she’s fourteen, her family – her mother, grandfather, and older half-sister, Kam – all swirl easily and gradually along, as if trapped together in a slow, warm eddy. But then Kam leaves, and change all of sudden comes flooding in.

Neither Zip nor Kam know who their respective fathers are -- their mother won’t tell them. Their mother won’t tell anyone. Zip has never really minded not knowing the identity of her father, though, because she’s never felt like something was missing in her life. When Kam runs away to find her own father, however, questions suddenly bubble to the surface, and Zip begins to wonder if maybe she is missing something after all. As the heat of summer unfurls, Zip must navigate the void left by Kam's departure and the changes happening to her family, herself, and her town.

Although primarily narrated by Zip, SPLINTERS AND CLAY is just as much about her mother’s coming-of-age as her own. From constantly planning her funeral to hosting a surprise menstruation celebration for her daughter, Zip’s mother has all the crazy that a good Southern mother should have...and then some. Zip’s narrative is interwoven with chapters from her mother’s past, which give perspective to her mother’s silence concerning Kam and Zip’s mysterious fathers. After Kam leaves, Zip’s mother must decide whether holding on to past secrets is worth alienating one daughter and possibly losing the other. She must decide whether she’s not too old to still grow up.

First 250 Words:


“I pick here.”

My mother was lying face down in the field of wildflowers, her thick dark hair splayed like a shade over the brightness of the blooms.

“Here. Right here. This is where I want to be buried,” she said.

“Mom.” I stood near her head and looked down at her. “You can’t just pick any random spot to be buried. It has to be authorized or something. And anyways – get up. You’re not going to be buried for a while.”

“You never know.” She rolled over, spreading her arms wide, palms up. “You’d better be prepared. And you’d better take notes. Because this is it. This is the spot.”

She squinted up at the sun. “You don’t think it will get too hot here in the summer, do you? You might have to plant a tree over me. You know – just for a little shade every now and then. Oh,” she bit her bottom lip. “But what kind?”

She closed her eyes again to think.

“Mom.” I shook my head and picked dandelions with my toes, pulling them from their bases, right against the ground, and tossing them onto her one by one – sprinkling flowers, dirt, and grass across her stomach. “Mom – we don’t even know whose land this is. I seriously doubt they’ll plant a tree smack in the middle of their field with your dead body beneath it. Come on. I’m gonna be late for the doctor’s.”

“Huh.” My mother looked up at me, her sky-blue eyes narrowed against the sun, then closed them again.



VS.



Entry Nickname: A Thousand Miles Astray
Title: PERMANENTLY UNDECLARED
Word Count: 60,000
Genre: NA Contemporary

Query:

Eighteen-year-old Lotus Adams has no time for college. Classes are boring, the frat boys are too slobbery, and the beer is downright nasty. Lotus’s free spirited dad has been out of contact for years, so what mom says goes, and mom says college. Lotus has a plan to find her dad that includes Flora, her dad’s vintage RV. But Mom has the keys, and to get them, Lotus has to give college her all.

For eighteen-year-old Aaron Kim, the anonymity of college is a relief. After finding his girlfriend and a friend in bed together, he threw himself into homework, work, and working out. Afraid that having fun will lead to another broken heart, he’s all business. Aside from his family and his best friend, he’s cut himself off from everyone. But after meeting cynical Lotus, he wonders if he was wrong to drop out of life.

Only Lotus knows that their time together is limited. She will find her dad. Nothing will stand in her way, not even love, because she can’t look forward without answers from her past. When Lotus has to hit the road, Aaron will be left behind, and he may not recover from a second bout of heartache. And while Lotus thought she wanted the open road, her heart may lie on a different path. They may each lose everything if Lotus goes after the only thing she thought mattered.

First 250:

The grassy quad stretched out in front of me, an endless sea of students adorned in Crandall State’s colors. I was too busy sweating my ass off to look for my new roommate, so I plopped down on the edge of the lawn.

“Like sheep,” I muttered. This was too much; I needed space and the open road. I needed to know where dad was, not waste another year at school.

“What’s that?” asked the guy next to me.

“We’re sheep,” I replied. “What’s the point of all this, anyway? Some form of torture?”

“I think they call it ‘freshman orientation,’ actually.” He sounded amused and I sneaked a peek at him, wondering why he was wasting his breath. He stared at me from under black Ray-Bans, while his white hat was turned backwards. Dumb. “I take it you aren’t a fan of higher learning?”

“It was my mom’s idea. You know, if that hat was on the right way, you wouldn’t need the sunglasses.”

He smiled broadly, his shiny perfect teeth flashing at me. “I always need the sunglasses. This way, the hat stays out of my way.”

Ridiculous. “Then why wear the hat at all?”

“Bad hair day,” he replied. Everything in me said turn away, kill this conversation now.

“What, out of mousse before the first day?”

Dammit. I chided myself for encouraging him.

“Maybe I misplaced my flat iron,” he replied. He yanked off the hat, and pulled his hand through glossy black hair.


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QK Round 2: Fake Heirs Do it Better vs. My Life as a Teenage Pirate Queen

  Posted by SC_Author , 15 June 2015 · 36 views

Entry Nickname: Fake Heirs Do It Better
Title: The First Law of Loyalty
Word Count: 97k
Genre: YA Fantasy

Query:

Every night, seventeen-year-old Arun climbs above the mud and grime of the streets into the grand hotels to steal the foreigners’ gold. The gang she serves follows the old philosophies, demanding strict obedience to elders and superiors. Arun is proud to serve them loyally, as her father does, too.

When her cousin, Jaruk, is one of several boys kidnapped by a Grand Duke as part of a plot to put a fake prince on the throne, her loyalties are torn. Gang rules forbid her from meddling with nobility or politics. Disobedience means death for her and dishonor for her father. But Arun loves Jaruk like a little brother, and the duke is torturing the boys in his attempts to recreate the long dead royal family’s magic.

What the gang doesn’t know, they can’t punish. Behind their backs, she trades information with some nobility, but she quickly realizes that even if she gets Jaruk out of the Grand Duke's hands, there will be nowhere to hide when his "prince" controls the country. To protect Jaruk, Arun must outwit the duke and discredit his prince with her own more convincing fake heir. It's a con too high-profile to hide. If she fails she's dead, and Jaruk will suffer, but success will bring the gang's wrath down on her, Jaruk, and her father.

First 250:

I would've rather been with my brothers, slinking through darkened hallways and snatching treasures from empty rooms. Instead, I sat at the back bar of a dockside inn. The stench of booze and sweat strangled me, the pressing heat like chains. Through the smoky haze, I stole glances at the unfortunate pair of foreign sailors beside me, their misfortune being they were idiots about to lose a bunch of money. At least, that was the plan.

They watched my accomplice, Petch, move three cards in circles on the bar top. Their thick, hairy arms folded across their chests gave them an intimidating edge, but the ignorant curiosity plastered on their pale faces indicated they'd make fine marks.

Petch stopped shuffling the cards. "Which one is the queen?" he shouted. The din of the off-key piano and the men bellowing along nearly swallowed his words. I placed a silver coin on the middle card. He flipped it, showing me the face of our country's first queen. Black smudged the edge of her gold headdress. I sent a silent apology her way for Petch shoving her face into the bar’s grime like that.

Petch pushed me two silver coins. Now came the part where I persuaded these sailors to throw money at the game, and therefore convinced Boss Suttirat I wasn't a completely incompetent con artist.

"You look intrigued." I turned to the sailors, tried to make my voice feathery and cute—not so easy with all the noise.



VS



Entry Nickname:
My Life as a Teenage Pirate Queen
Title: Bones of the Rabbit
Word Count: 88,000
Genre: YA High Fantasy

Query:

Eighteen-year-old Uriel Edan knows what people say about her. She’s a killer, a child of destruction, more like a savage dog than human--and the last heir of a dying line of sea lords. Uriel’s sure where she stands when it comes to her own people’s hate and fear of her. With her newly betrothed, she’s not just uncertain, she’s clueless.

Uriel knows her father is desperate to get rid of her—the daughter that killed his wife and son—but she expects poison, not a proposal to Askeladden Nyström, a powerful man from an ancient seafaring family. With Askeladden, Uriel expects lonely days and painful nights, but is surprised when he treats her with kindness. Slowly, she finds herself falling in love with the only person who sees her as something other than a murderer.

Her fragile peace is shattered when Askeladden reveals his plan to destroy the sea lords’ ocean kingdom and rebuild it from the ashes—a plot he urges Uriel to join. Joining Askeladden may give Uriel the respect and love she’s always craved, but she must decide if it’s worth her kingdom, culture, and proving the killer reputation she’s longed to leave behind.
First 250:

As my captor forced me to his master, I at least had the grim satisfaction that I’d put up a hell of a fight before going down. The bag coveringmy eyes didn’t stop me from guessing where I was headed. When I was pushed down on the coarse floorboard, the warship rocking beneath me confirmed my suspicious.

From across the cabin, I heard his voice. “It took all this?” Disapproval dripped from his voice. No change there. He sounded like he had six months ago.
My captor said, “She’s not one to come quietly.”

“Leave us.”

Footsteps retreated until a door slammed shut. I swallowed as the sack was lifted from my head, blinking away at the lights of myfather’s quarters.

Jorah Edan stared at me with more fury than any storm. Father like daughter, I gave him the same look back.

Finally, he spoke, “Well?”

I observed him. “You’ve grown bald.”

My father sat down on his berth with a huff. The bed creaked and groaned; it was older than both of us combined. “Six months. Six months and all you can say is I’ve grown bald?”

“It was on my mind,” I said, pulling at the bindings on my wrist. He noticed, but made no effort to untie me. I longed for my dagger; the ivory-handled weapon sat beside my father. A bit of dried blood colored the brown leather. At least I managed to cut the bastard. He won’t be using his hand the same again.


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