Monday, August 5, 2013

Teeneyes Contest Submissions Open

Three teen editors on three blogs with three prizes. Win!

Submission Post!

Today, I'm hosting editor Grace Smith of TEEN EYES EDITORIAL on my blog for the Can You Hook a Teen? contest. The submission window will be Aug 5 from 8AM to Aug 7 at 9PM EST. Winners will be announced on Friday, Aug 9. Go here for more details and to learn about the other editors.

Grace Smith

Grace will judge first pages (250 words max.) here on my site. The winner will receive an in-depth critique of their first 20,000 words.

This contest is for new adult, young adult, and middle grade manuscripts only.

Enter the first page of your manuscript in the comments of this post. Here's how to format them...

Name: Your Name

Email: Your Email Address


Genre: Manuscript's genre

Your first 250 words here.

After you finish, make sure to stop by my co-hosts' blogs and enter for a chance to win a prize from the other two editors of Teen Eyes Editorial.

Random Notes from Holly Bodger

Holly Bodger will host editor Julie Daly who will judge logline pitches. The winner will receive a reader report/evaluation of their full manuscript.

Brenda Drake…Under the Influence of Coffee

Brenda Drake will host editor Brent Taylor who will judge query letters. The winner will receive a $100 voucher to use towards any of his editorial services.

Please be patient. The editors will read the entries during the week and will contact us with the winners.

Here's the great part, you can enter on one, two, or all three of the blogs for a chance to win the prize on that blog (one prize per person).

You don't have to follow us on our blogs or on twitter or spread the word to win, but we'd love it if you did. All you have to do is enter in the comments below.

In the meantime, if you'd like to learn more about Teen Eyes Editorial, you can find them at their website, on Facebook and Twitter, and at Publisher's Marketplace.


Old Kitty said...

What fab opportunities!! Good luck to all those submitting!

p.s call me silly but what exactly is "new adult"?

And Welcome back Mr MacNish!

Take care

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good luck to everyone. The judges will have fun reading entries.

Violet Ingram said...

Name: Violet Ingram
Genre: YA Romantic Suspense
First 250:

From my hiding place, at the back of the church, I watched as people dressed in their Sunday best, filtered in. Soon the only seats left were those reserved for immediate family. There were so many flowers that someone had cleared a path to the altar. The smell of that many roses, carnations, and lilies had assaulted my nose the moment I had stepped inside.

Even in hushed tones, once you got several hundred people in one room, the noise level quadrupled or something like that. When it suddenly got quiet, I looked to my left and found Father Rick was standing only a few feet away. It was time. I got in place and on cue walked down the center aisle; head slightly bent so as not to make eye contact with anyone.

We slid into the pew and waited. Despite my best efforts, I could not avoid looking at the rectangular box that held what was left of my dad. Over the next hour, I tried to take comfort from the many kind words and prayers but it was no use.

My mom, sat to my left. Her eyes glued to the coffin while her hands destroyed one tissue after another. I looked to my right and pretended not to see the tears in my cousin, Justin’s eyes. Next to him, his sister, Jenna, cried openly. I thought I had understood their grief three months ago,when we sat in these same seats and said our goodbyes to their parents.

Anonymous said...

Name: Meredith Mansfield
Title: Mage Storm
Genre: MG Fantasy

First 250:

At the flicker of green light, Rell raised his head from the row of corn he'd been weeding and glanced up across the open plains. Maybe it was nothing, just a trick of the light or a reflection. Everything was some shade of green or yellow in that direction except the line of clouds on the horizon.

In the next row over, Da said, "Back before the war, we'd have had a mage spell the seeds before we planted. Then the corn would grow faster than the weeds and choke them out. Things were easier then."

Rell grimaced. Once Da got started on what things were like before the war, he could go on all day. Weeding the fields was boring enough without that. "Yeah, well, all the mages are dead," he muttered under his breath. He glanced over toward the blackened stumps of what used to be the family's orchard. And a good thing, too. He knew better than to say that out loud, though.

Rell caught another flash out of the corner of his eye. Orange.
He'd swear to it. There were a lot fewer things on the plains at this time of year that could be that color. He jumped to his feet, brushing the heavy clay soil from his hands and tossing his head to get the unruly brown hair out of his eyes.

A bolt of red lightening forked down as Rell watched. He waited for it, but there was no thunder following the flash.

Jackee said...

Name: Jackee Alston
Title: The Dream Catcher’s Society
Genre: upper Middle Grade

Dad cut the engine. Truvy let out a drawn-out sigh loud enough for our parents to hear. I knew how she felt.
I’ve had nightmares more pleasant than going to one of John and Kate Best’s dinner parties. It was better just to sit in the Volvo until our parents forced us out.
“Tell me why we have to go with you to this party?” I asked my parents. Again.
My mom spared me one glance. “Because, Capone, I can’t trust you two at home alone.”
Truvy made a gurgling, protesting-sort of noise in her throat.
I muttered I was fifteen and no guy my age should be made to visit parties with their parents and little sister on a Friday night. But Mom was stubborn. There was no sense arguing with her. Once she got something into her head, I couldn’t change her mind. My little sister inherited the quality from her.
“You trust us to buy the groceries, file our own taxes, and sell our own art pieces but you think you can’t leave us alone to babysit ourselves?” Truvy tossed her dark hair behind her back. The streak of purple feathers she had woven in bounced a little.
Mom threw her palms up. “Hear me out, Truvy Klah. Yes, I trust you to do many things other teenagers don’t do, but you have to admit weird things have been going on at our house lately.”
She didn’t blame us outright. Probably because she wouldn't want to start the fight over again.

Thanks, Matt and Grace!


Name: Heather Davis
Genre: YA Futuristic Romance

Chapter 1--Mana at Twelve

All morning, Bea and I work in the fields next to Nanay and Tatay, picking green beans and cabbage, so they’ll let us explore the forest later. Finally, after lunch, they let us go. We cross under the twisted wire at the back of the Precinct then zip into the coolness of the pines. The airy space under the branches is like a fortress, with hundreds of rooms where no one will tell us what to do. We never see any Defenders or foremen, just snakes and foxes. Bea likes to pretend she’s the river princess from Nanay’s stories, or a fancy Citizen girl from the market square. I don’t think she even remembers the Ghostlands where we were born, how much our stomachs hurt before we won the lottery to get into New Eden.

I plop on the damp ground and gaze up at the trunk of a monster tree. The sun is still high but can’t scorch us here. My hand knocks against a twisted up piece of dead tree trunk half buried under pine needles. I touch its bumpy surface then pull it out. I like the shape. The last time we came, I made a box from leaves and vines for Nanay. Maybe today, I’ll make something for Tatay.

Bea squeals a few feet behind me. “Look at this spider,” she says. “It’s so gross.”

I go over. A huge spider with purple diamonds on its back bobs in a web between two trees.

Anonymous said...

Name: Molly Pinto Madigan

Email: mpintomadigan(at) gmail (dot) come


Genre: NA Urban Fantasy

First 250:

My father forbade me to go to The Hall that night.

I listened to him calmly--he was being quite rational, a welcome change--and then I went anyway.

The copper beech beyond the glass shivered in the cool October air, and the glow from the streetlight gathered golden in the leaves. Hoisting open my window, I hiked up my ridiculously impractical (but deliciously scarlet) ’50s-style dress, narrowly avoided strangulation by my purse, and climbed down the tree’s sprawling, silver-barked branches. Climbed is too generous a word for what actually transpired. I slipped on the beech bark, which was smooth as polished stone, and, in an aerial display that I can only hope amused the lone squirrel watching, I landed in my father’s petunias. After retrieving one of my black leather flats from the hedges, where it had flown seemingly of its own volition, I swore to myself that next time, if there was a next time, I would dress more sensibly.

I wasn’t quite bold enough to swipe my father’s keys
(coward, coward!), which meant that my mode of transportation for the night would be my faithfully rusted mountain bike. I don’t think I have to point out the shame of a twenty-one-year-old stealing away on her fifth-grade bicycle, but it had silver handlebars curved like a bull’s horns, and I felt like a rapscallion when riding it, which was, I thought, worth all the hideousness.

Cristin Bruggeman said...

Name: Cristin Bruggeman



Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

My troubles began on my fifteenth name day, when I awoke to the mournful song of the desert lark—never a good omen, that. As I turned in my bed, I couldn't help smiling at that sad bird singing a curse through my window. This could only happen to me—I knew no one else with such rotten fortune.

My fifteenth name day. According to the laws of the Magi I had gone to bed a child, but awoken that day a legal adult, a woman grown, as though such things happen overnight. I rose from my bed and walked toward the wooden door that led out to my private garden, passing barefoot onto the cool, blue tiles of the rounded patio. It had a blossoming mulberry tree in the center, and the bee-eaters fluttered from branch to branch, puffing up their little green chests and releasing melodic trills to chase away the night.

Somewhere beyond my privacy walls, the lark continued his song. I began tending my roses, but had not long been at it when I heard voices within my chamber. Grudgingly I went inside and curtseyed to my stepmother, Raika, who had let herself in. Her servants moved about the room, opening the curtains of my six pointed-arched windows.

Raika seated herself before I could invite her to cushion at my table, her white silk gown covering everything but revealing all as it settled around her curvy frame.

"Good morning, Artunis." She even attempted a smile, but in fourteen years she'd never managed to speak my name without her lip rising in contempt.

Lauren S said...

Name: Lauren Spieller


Title: DIVE

Genre: YA Magical Realism

The cliff drops off so suddenly you could miss it in the dark. My people say many did, upon a time, but we’ve since learned to be mindful of the way the earth feels beneath our feet. The sharp dig of a jagged rock, the cool brush of a tall reed: they mean more to you when they are the last thing you feel before you take the dive.
I have yet to take the sacred leap off the upper cliffs of Makai, but I learned these things from the words of men. Although I always long for the dive, never have I felt it in my bones as I do tonight, standing among my tribesmen, our torches held above our heads in prayer for my father.
My brother steps forward, his face lifted to the winter sky. “We send the songs of our hearts to you, Chief Nagandi, and we ask that you carry them with you into the next world.”
Tan’s voice is strong and clear, but I know too well the sorrow that sits heavy in his chest. I wish to reach for his hand, but I’m too old for such displays, so I lift my torch higher. I should be singing the prayer along with my brother and our kin, but I cannot bring myself to voice these final words, even though a year has passed since my father died.
Instead, I stare at the grave faces of my fellows, lit by fire and moon.

JM Robbins said...

Name: Jason Robbins
Genre: YA Romantic Comedy

First Page:

It’s time for some honors history, but just because Ms. Lilly ran out of the room doesn’t mean the history has to stop. Sitting here in the desk next to Maxwell Wilson gets me thinking about the history of our developing romance. Agatha Emerson, who’s like a love-savvy second sister to me, has way more love skill than me and my real sister put together. When she says a guy is into me, I’m going with it. Ah yes, Maxwell and Nikki. It’s alphabetically pleasing.

Snap! Oh my God! No way! I just bit my pencil in half while lost in thought about Maxwell! What’s worse is that I glance over to him and see his head turning away from me! That means he must’ve watched me chomp it in half! Now I’m the weirdo who eats pencils!

We’ll be on our romantic dinner date and he’ll order for me, because he’s a gentleman like that, and I’ll end up with the pencil platter! Agatha! Help!

I get up and scurry to the waist-high, brick bookshelf in the back of the room. She’s sitting in front of it on a large rug instead of her usual seat next to me. When I get over there she asks me what’s going on because the wide-eyed whimpering look I bring with me must’ve clued her in to my distress.

GSMarlene said...

Name: Marlene
Email: writing(at)marlenemoss(dot)com
Genre: MG Sci-fi/Adventure
First 250:

Mike crammed his Space Camp application into the Tweety Bird backpack that would never be as cool as The Avenger’s Hawkeye, no matter what Mom said. His wadded up “C-” history quiz followed the application. The zipper jammed on the papers, so he flung the half-closed pack over his shoulder and sprinted from the classroom before the bell finished ringing. He burst through the front doors and dashed toward the community park.

Chest heaving, Mike slipped into the woods. He skidded down a bank covered with last year’s leaves and plunked onto a half-rotted log behind a massive oak tree. Pebbles followed him and splashed into a puddle. Even the ripples laughed at him for running away.

Hiding like a wimp sucked, but it was safer than being found by Brutus and his gang. The fart-face sixth-grader kept The List of Chumps to Be Pounded After School. Today was piƱata-Thursday.

Only outer space would be safer than Space Camp. Two more months and he’d be on his way: Space Camp, then on to becoming NASA’s youngest astronaut. Bullies wouldn’t be allowed in space, right?

After the science-fair judge labeled his zero-gravity omelet-maker as brilliant and called Mike the next Einstein, Brutus chanted Afro-Einstein for weeks. This totally baffled Mike since his close-cropped hair didn’t look anything like Einstein’s wild tufts.

The pool stilled into a mirror. A shadow loomed over Mike’s watery reflection. He leapt to his feet—right into the puddle—ready to block Brutus with his backpack.

Except it wasn’t Brutus.

A.M. Pierre said...

Name: A.M. Pierre
Genre: YA Sci-Fi

First 250:

My first run-in with Isabeau wasn't exactly "meet cute." More like "meet truly bizarre."

The last bell had rung, and I was walking across the parking lot thinking about my amazing evening plans. Namely, whether I should study for my chemistry test before, during, or after writing that 5-page paper about Macbeth and…there she was. Leaning against my junker of a car, and tapping her fingers on the hood. The sun painted the waves in her burnt red hair with streaks of gold.

I cleared my throat. "C-Can I help you?" Lame, I admit, but I didn't have a lot of experience talking to beautiful girls. Or any girls, really.

Her eyes locked onto mine with an electric jolt. They weren't blue or green or hazel or brown or violet – they were all of those at once, encircling her pupils with shimmering slivers of color. "What did they call you?"

I did a mental double-check. Yep, I had heard her right. "Excuse me? What did who call me?"

"Your parents." There was the slightest of pauses between the words – barely a hairs-breadth – but I noticed.

"My name? It's Smith. Christopher Smith." Yeah, it sounds cool when James Bond says it. I am not James Bond.

She gunned me down with those rainbow eyes. "You don't look like a Christopher Smith."

What a surprise. "Yeah, I get that a lot. My father's American, but my mother's Japanese. I know I take after her side more, but—"

She held up her hand for quiet.

Carl Hackman said...

Name: Carl Hackman
Genre: Upper MG, Humorous Fantasy

First 250:

A flash of blinding blue light filled the room, followed by a billowing cloud of dark, acrid smoke.


Now this is not the sound you want to hear from a wizard, especially a short one and Gerald was only five feet tall, meaning he wasn’t a very good wizard yet.

He had dreams of exceeding six feet, but only the best wizards in the land ever reached those dizzying heights, and at the rate he was going he would not be a wizard much longer. Four feet eight was the statuary minimum for all wizards. Anything less and Gerald knew he would be back working in the fields, or shovelling horse poop until he reached the minimum height again. At one point he had grown to five feet two, but an incident involving Lord Moleheart, the head of the village, and copious amounts of custard, set him back a bit. How was he supposed to know that creating a feast for his Lordship’s birthday would involve juggling so many words, several of which were purchased on the wizards’ black market?

He felt a rumble under his feet, steadily increasing in strength until the floor beneath him began rolling like a ship in a gale. Trying to stay upright he staggered to the window at the front of his weather-beaten cottage. The small hill which was supposed to be growing outside - to improve the view - failed to materialize, but the cotton ball clouds which were normally gently drifting on the warm summer breeze were fairly whizzing by.

Tangynt said...

Name: L. L. McKinney
Email: Tangynt(at)ymail(dot)com
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Killing was one of those things that grew easier with time, that and tight rope walking. While one didn’t have anything to do with the other, at fifteen Jay had grown skilled at both. Balanced on the balls of his feet, he raced along the length of a power line, pivoted when he reached a pole, and leapt to a nearby building. Overhead the autumn moon shone bright, slicing through the darkness cast across the roof as he searched for signs of his prey.

He shoved strands of white hair from his face, tightened his grip on the sword at his hip, and stalked forward. The wind lashed out with bitter cold, cutting through the leather he wore from head to toe. October in Chicago—arctic. His boots crunched against loose gravel. No point in trying to be quiet, he wasn’t the one hiding.


Something moved the slightest bit in the shadow of a ventilation shaft. He locked gazes with a pair of yellow, pupil-less eyes. Gotchya, he smirked.

Caught, the creature bounded toward the end of the building. Jay took off after it. His steps thudded against the concrete, mirroring the pounding of his heart. Ahead, claws flashed and raked against the roof, kicking up loose bits of stone. The howling panted hard and heavy around a warning growl as it threw a glare over its shoulder, baring a mouth full of gleaming fangs.

A shiver chased a thrill the length of Jay’s spine.

ashland said...

Name: Ben
Genre: Upper MG

First 250:

Yesterday they cut down the last tree. It was not special. Barely more than a sapling from what Elder Markena said. But they needed its wood for the final canoe. And it was not like it was going to do any good at this point.

“Riki, it is time to go.”

“But what will you do?” I asked.

“I shall stay. Someone needs to.”

“What good will that do? There is nothing left.”

I looked around at the barren hills and empty plains. All I saw were rocks and grass. We had taken all we wanted and more. For years we had devoured everything in sight and now there was nothing left.

“There is nothing for me where you go.”

“How do you know? Father said the stories have been passed down for thousands of cycles. There are other worlds out there. Worlds with trees aplenty. Woods so thick and lush you cannot see past them.”

“Your father has said a lot of things.”

Even though my years did not measure half of half of Elder Suarie's, he was right. My father was always talking but did not seem to say much. Sometimes I believed he did it for the enjoyment of breathing.

“But I do not understand.”

“You are too young to understand. Right now you must do as you are told.”

Everyone liked to tell me that. For as long as I could recall all I had heard was 'do as you are told.’ I only wished once I would be told why.

Melanie Schulz said...

Melanie Schulz
The Newstead Project
YA Thriller

It was one of those moments in my life that I wish I could have a do-over; like that instead of going to my coach’s office between third and fourth period, I would’ve done something else; anything else. Even that wasn’t my last chance to escape what seemed to be a fixed course. If I’d just pulled my head back into the hall once I saw my coach’s blank stare, then maybe I wouldn’t be writing this now. But I didn’t do either of those things. I went to my coach’s office and I turned on the light and when I did, I didn’t walk away.
“You must be Joel,” the man standing behind my coach’s desk said confidently, like he already knew it was me. He held out his hand and I stepped into the room to shake it. “My name is Mike Arberdean. I’m here to represent Newstead, a private high school in Vermont, that-”
“Newstead-never heard of it,” came Coach’s cocky voice from somewhere behind Mike.
Mike’s smile stayed fixed on his face, at least the outline of it. There’s something freaky about a mouth that’s smiling and eyes that aren’t. After a second or so of that, I decided there needed to be some more space between us, so I took a step back and took my hand with me.
Surprise flashed across his fiery eyes before they dropped to my freed hand. I took another step back and angled myself toward the door. My breathing was the only sound in the room until Mike looked back up and cleared his throat, smiling brightly again, like nothing had happened.

Sarah Turnbull said...

Name: Sarah Turnbull
Email: saturnbull [at] gmail [dot] com
Genre: MG contemporary fantasy

First 250:

“You need me, Gideon. Become a friend of the shadows and they will gladly embrace you.” From his hiding place somewhere in the second story balcony, the evil sorcerer laughed. “I will embrace you as a friend.”

Gideon Hardy stood on the stage of a large opera house. Rows of empty wooden benches stared back at him. Thick velvet curtains hung from the flyloft, the hems nailed to the floor by rusted railroad ties, closing off any possible retreat.

Lightning shot across the domed ceiling, nearly missing the enormous chandelier. Thunder boomed with no delay between sight and sound. Impossible from inside a building, but then this was a dream. Gideon knew that much.

It didn’t matter.

Beneath him, the orchestra pit glowed with amber light, as if a thousand fireflies hid below the lip of the stage. Gold and grand, the opera house made Gideon feel undersized.

The sorcerer cackled, still out of sight.

“Perhaps you need more demonstration of my power?”

Another hiss of lightning. This time the ceiling chandelier shattered. Glass shards drummed the wood floor.

Gideon widened his stance, squaring his shoulders. Warrior pose, like his mother taught him. In his right hand, he held an oak wand. He’d never used a magical wand before, but it somehow felt natural in his grasp. Familiar.

Gideon scanned the house, looking for movement. The brim of a pointed hat. A wisp of black cape. Anything.

Again, he saw a flash of lightning and heard the boom of thunder.

Melinda said...

Name: Melinda Gray
Email: melinda.a.gray (at)
Genre: YA

Choosing what to have for breakfast won’t change my life, but I’ve never been good at making decisions. I drum my fingers on the kitchen counter, staring at the fridge covered in family photos. Waffles or cereal? My stomach growls. Waffles. With strawberries. You only live once. I open the freezer as Drew honks outside. Damn. I don’t have time. Granola bar then.

I shut the freezer and my head swims for a moment, blurring the last photo of Grandma in her garden to a blob of purple and green. I blink and shake it off, then grab the box of NatureOne bars from the cluttered pantry.

The toaster oven dings. What in the… I go to check. Two toasted waffles sit on the metal rack.

Mom and Dad are both gone before seven on Tuesdays, and Elliot’s still upstairs. Did I put those in when I first came down? I must be losing my mind. Or I’m still half asleep. Whatever, they look delicious. Drew can wait. I text him that I’ll be a minute and grab a plate.

I slather the waffles with butter and slice up strawberries. I’m just lifting my fork when my ten-year-old brother walks into the room. His sun-bleached hair sticks up in the back and he’s wearing his standard outfit of baggy soccer shorts and a random player’s jersey.

“Mmm, waffles. Are there more?” Elliot asks.

I shift my eyes. “In the freezer.”
He glances at the microwave clock, then groans and reaches for the cereal.

Jay Noel said...

This is awesome! Going through all the entries they're going to get won't be easy, I'm sure.

Good luck to those who enter.

Anonymous said...

Name: Glenn McCarty
Genre: MG Fantasy
First 250:

Here’s the main thing about finding out your great-great grandfather Tom Sawyer was a big time monster hunter, that he killed Dracula, and that your Dad’s running the family business out of the former Indian cave behind your house.

(You know, in case that ever happens.)

So here’s the thing to remember – it’s a hit-or-miss proposition. Like literally, hit or miss. Sometimes you hit the crossbow target your Dad sets up for you in the backyard. And sometimes you miss. And hit your neighbor’s poodle.

In the tail.

Yeah, that was a thing.

There’s major upside - missing school to jet to Peru and track a wicked cool, giant sloth monster called the Mapinguari. But even that’s got its drawbacks. Sweat being the biggest one. Hunger, too. That’s pretty much all I can think about on day two in the Amazon rainforest. It’s late afternoon. Heat still in the triple digits. Everywhere green on green, the sun strafing the leafy canopy.

I mop the sweat from my already-drenched St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap. Dad skids to a stop and points at a spot on the ground inches from my right foot.

“Freeze, Lang.”


I don’t know much about the jungle, but I’ve read about the snakes. Fire hose-sized ones. With a proclivity for squeezing people until their insides turn to Cheez Whiz.

“Python?” I ask.

Dad scowls. “No. Mapinguari. Remember? The thing we’re tracking?” Eyes wide, he holds his hands a foot apart. “Step around it. Carefully.”

Alison Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alison Miller said...

Name: Alison Miller
Email: alisonmiller20 (at) gmail (dot) com
Genre: YA
First 250:

Getting with Susan Milton should be the last thing on my mind.

I should be thinking about Northeast and their defensive line, the one that racks up eight QB sacks a game. I should be running through Coach’s five new plays—the ones the Panthers won’t see on the scouting tapes. I should think about how David and I are going to get a keg for the beach after the game. Or how if I don’t play the game of my life, we won’t even need one.

Maybe I should focus on my senior project.

Or the Pre-Calc test I have in thirty minutes.

But I just can’t get my mind off her.

Ever since she walked into English on the first day of school, I haven’t been able to focus on much else. And not just because Susan Milton’s the hottest chick I’ve ever seen. I mean, she is: tight little body, sexy smile, shiny blond hair that smells like the flowers growing in my backyard. She has a habit of wearing these low cut tops, and if she bends over just right, I almost get a free show. And God, her voice. The way she recites poetry, it’s like she’s singing—just to me. I used to hate English. Now I hate the wait until third period for my new favorite class.

But Susan Milton is forbidden. Off limits. I can’t have her.

And unfortunately I can get practically anybody.

Thanks, Grace and Matt!

Kim and family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim and family said...

Kimberly Lay
YA Fantasy

Robin strained to see movement through the trees when she stumbled over a fallen branch. Her nightdress clung to her legs from the damp night air. She clenched her jaw, and her cheeks flamed with fury, while she searched for her older brother in the forest.

Why? Why do I do this? Robin wondered. How did Raven talk her into playing night games while everyone else slept? The same way he promised Robin he wouldn’t break the rules and fly. Yet he always hid above her in the canopy of leaves where she couldn’t reach him.

She let go of a tree branch and it whacked her upside the head. Robin stopped and glared at the branch. Even the trees were trying to knock sense into her. She should stop being so gullible since she was fourteen-years-old and knew better.

A bush rustled beside Robin. She jumped as a rabbit darted out from underneath it. Robin leaned on a tree and clutched her chest to recover from the scare. She waited and listened. The leaves visited with one another as the wind lightly stirred them.

“Where are you?” Robin whispered. She opened and closed her fists over and over. Birds suddenly burst out of the trees. She ducked even though they were nowhere near her head. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up, and a shiver ran from her neck to her toes.

“I’m going in!” Robin yelled.

The rustling leaves changed from visiting to whirling chatter.

Sarah Ahiers said...

Name: Sarah Ahiers
Genre: YA Fantasy
250 words:

When I was seven, I told my mother I wanted to be a courtesan. I didn’t know what it meant, but courtesans owned all the beautiful things I could imagine: dresses and makeup and half-masks. My oldest brother Rafeo said they spent their nights at balls and parties entertaining the nobles.

Rafeo was only trying to protect my innocence, but his explanation simply encouraged me. I wanted their life of beauty and luxury and not one of blood and death.

Mother had not been happy. My confession was more proof I wasn’t the daughter she wanted, that I wasn’t the proud Saldana girl-child she felt she deserved. After that, I stopped telling my mother what I found beautiful, like gold filigree dresses and feather half-masks, and instead focused on things she found beautiful: knives and poisons and masks crafted from bone.

It was the first time I’d wished I had a different family.

Now, I squatted quietly on the roof of a bordello, cloak pulled around my body, bone-mask secured against my face. Below me, a man stumbled across the flagstone street like a drunkard.

The man bumped into a water barrel. He dunked his head and shook his hair like a dog, the water flashing in the light of the sweet-smelling oil lanterns outside the bordello.

Of course, courtesans didn’t actually live that life of beauty and romance. There was darkness in their world, too. Even if it was concealed by rouge and paints.

K Callard said...

Name: K. Callard

Email: kimberlycallard(at)gmail(dot)com


Genre: Upper MG Fantasy

Zane slouched in the shade of a stall, casually eating a fig, as he watched the man he was hunting move with purpose through the market. His prey seemed anxious to keep out of the sunlight that drenched the market in heat and light, but whether it was to keep cool or to protect his shadow, Zane didn't know. Either way, he would have to be careful.

Dropping the fig skin onto the ground, he double-checked the sketch in his pocket. Same fair hair and beard, same crinkly eyes, same snaggle-toothed smile. Definitely the same man. Zane peeled himself off the wall and slipped across the sand toward his mark. Three scraggly chickens clucked out into his path, looking for food. Sidestepping them smoothly, he checked to see if their squawking had called attention to him, but no one seemed to have noticed. The market was practically a ghost town, just the way he liked it. Most Catchers worked when the market was crowded, and the shadows long, but he preferred the precision of getting up close.

The man strode past without even a glance. Zane took a pinch of Silkshade powder from the pouch on his belt and waited. When Snaggle-tooth stepped into the sunlight to buy some withered olives, Zane slipped up behind him and dropped the powder onto the tiny patch of shadowy ground. Deftly, Zane sneaked his foot forward, simultaneously removing a handkerchief from his pocket.

Now for the tricky part.

Michelle 4 Laughs said...

Name: Michelle Hauck
Email: Michelle9Hauck(at)aol(dot)com
Title: Pygmy Hazards
Genre: MG Adventure

Tom stared between the bars of his two-foot rectangular prison in the corner of the classroom. Close by, fellow prisoner Jerry the Third hunkered near their water bottle, chewing on a Kleenex box. There had been no brochure telling Tom what to expect when he was snapped up from the animal menagerie store two months ago. And if there was, he wouldn’t have believed it. Tom shook his head with a sigh, and then refocused on his guard duty.

Across the room, the pygmies sat in a circle on the floor, their two legs bent crisscross applesauce, as they passed around a stuffed rabbit. The giant in the ugly brown and purple striped dress at their center had a look of patience plastered on her face.

One of the pygmies, Squeezer, held the rabbit. She gave it a shake so that its long ears flung in every direction. Tom winced and fingered his own neck. “Now that I’m seven, my mommy says I’m a big girl,” Squeezer said. “And when I’m eight, I’m going to marry Joey.”

The pygmy with red hair and freckles, sat up taller. “Not happening.”

“It’s my birthday. I’ve decided,” Squeezer hissed.

The giant cleared her throat. “Please pass Mr. Flopsey, Maggie. You’ve told us all about your birthday. Now your turn is over.”

Squeezer scowled, then threw the rabbit over.

Tom turned to whisper to Jerry. “When the big hand is on the twelve and the little hand is on the three, we make a break for it, recruit.”

Chase T.M. Anderson said...

Name: Chase Thaddeus Maceo Anderson
Genre: New Adult Science-Fiction/Fantasy

The first 250 words:

I feel the lights within people. There is no other way for me to describe the fantasy that exists in how I see our reality.

Ares screamed as the nightmare claws around his throat tightened and warm crimson dribbled down his neck. Auburn eyes bulged and he clenched his teeth, desperately hoping to stop the shadows slithering across his mouth from tearing out his soul. Skylar and Arthaen cried out, their feeble shrieks barely audible over the howling torrents of rain. No one was coming to help them. Trembling fingers scratched against the granite wall, fighting to grasp the slick stones, trying to find purchase. His glasses were too far away and he couldn’t see anything.

“Let’s end this game before you gain your powers and remember everything,” said a voice near Ares and his ear burned. His feet shook, knocking against the stones. “Scream once more for me before I end your life.”

Black talons constricted and Ares’ broken nails scrabbled at the scaled hand gripping his neck, unable to even gasp. “Ares! Skylar! You—” The sickening crack of stone and body colliding stopped Arthaen’s shouts. The veins in Ares’ neck throbbed as he tried to call to his brother.

A feminine voice cackled, “Oh, don’t hurt him too much! I just love when they—”

“Let my—” panted Skylar, “Friends—”

The slap echoed even in the downpour plastering Ares’ clothes to his body, Skylar’s shout twisting his insides. His gut clenched. “Shut up, Queen of Dreams. You should wait your turn,” laughed the woman, Ares’ flesh rippling, attempting to flee the sound.

rextremendae said...

Name: Justin Moore


Title: Release

Genre: Young Adult

At the risk of seeming arrogant, I am going to let you in a secret that may very well rock your world: All the inspiring books you’ve read, all the tear-inducing interviews you’ve watched, all the life-changing stories you’ve heard and passed on, all the Sunday school lessons you’ve learned about what happens after people die are wrong. Dead wrong, if you’ll excuse the phrase. Please take a moment to let that soak in.

Now seems like as good a time as any to correct a few widespread misconceptions and give you some tips for recognizing when someone is full of it when they assert that they’ve had experience with a dead person: (a) “The door to Dad’s office was closed all the way. I’m sure of it! He must have opened it because there’s something in here he wants me to find.” Dead people can’t open doors. They can’t wiggle doorknobs. They can’t rattle chains in the attic, turn pictures around, hide your keys, or turn your television on in the middle of the night. Doing any of these things requires something essential that dead people do not possess: hands. (b) “Grandma appeared to me from Heaven in a dream last night. She was with Grandpa. She was smiling and laughing, and she told me not to worry, that everything is okay and that she is happy.” The human brain is a very powerful organ and is known, from time to time, to throw you a bone when it knows you need it.

Anonymous said...

Name: Susan Crispell
Email: sbcrispell(at)yahoo(dot)com
Genre: YA Magical Realism

The rules of summer were simple—only one ice cream sandwich per day, no swimming without appropriate supervision, and always be home before dark. On the day Luca Grable died, she broke all three. The first two were acts of seven-year old rebellion. The third was an unintentional side effect of drowning in her best friend’s pool.

But even dying couldn’t keep Luca from growing up. It was one of the perks of becoming an Imaginary friend instead of going to heaven. She got to keep aging along with her best friend as long as Katie needed her. And there was nothing her mentor Math could do about it, no matter how late she was for their weekly meeting.

He could, however, put her on bathroom duty. Again.

Luca checked her watch as she hauled ass the last few feet to the entrance of Imaginary House. Ten more minutes and not even being a few months shy of legal age could save her from scrubbing toilets and bleaching tile grout every Saturday night for the next month.

She flung herself through the front gates, gripping the smooth metal bars for balance, and shot up the sidewalk. The house cast dozens of crooked shadows on the lawn from the various additions that jutted out at odd angles from the main building. A few younger Imaginaries chased each other around the half-acre of thick grass, using the shadows as safe zones. Their laughter pierced the air.

Taylor Lavati said...

Name: Taylor Lavati



Genre: Fantasy

I pull in a ragged breath hoping to regain my composure but it’s no use. My heart races and spots blur my visions making me stumble out of the bathroom. I collapse onto my bed and the chills take over, wracking my body in long tremors of terror.
With numb hands, I reach towards my night stand for my cell phone needing my crutch. I send out a quick SOS text and hope that Junior is awake.
Shooting pain travels up my chest making my short breath even shorter. With the lack of oxygen I start fearing that I might pass out and the full on panic starts to take over.
“What’s wrong?” A worried voice rings out in the room seconds later. My vision is still spotty but I’d know that voice anywhere.
“I can’t—“ I start to say but I don’t have enough breath to even complete a god damned sentence. I’m frustrated with myself for letting the panic take over me again so I start banging my fists on the bed hating this empty person I’ve become.
“Shh. I’ve got you now, Ryder.” Junior soothes me, holding me tightly in his arms so I can’t break free. I try to fight him for a second but eventually melt into his arms loving the comfort he continuously brings me.
Whenever he comes to my rescue like this, it brings me back to my first panic attack about two years ago. I used to be this bubbly, outgoing typical popular girl in school but then one day, my life turned upside down.

Mark Fenger said...

Name: Mark Fenger

Email: mfenger (at) shaw (dot) ca

Title: ProXy

Genre: Science Fiction

I wake in an unfamiliar room that smells of cigarettes and sweat, and check what sort of body I have. Large breasts, a ring of fat around the middle, and the ashtray taste in my mouth tell me all I need to know.
The body lets out an involuntary groan as I grope for the bedside lamp. Its light reveals a small bedroom. Computer desk in one corner, glass doors lead to a balcony and there’s an open door leading to the rest of the apartment. A small pile of clothes lies beside the bed.
There’s no phone in sight.
I roll awkwardly out of bed and fumble through the clothes on the floor, revealing a smart phone. The welcome screen tells me the body I’m in belongs to Megan Tate.
The phone is code-locked, but lets me dial 911.
“Hello, 911, what is your emergency.”
“Help me.” I scan the bedroom for anything I can use as a weapon. No luck.
“What is the nature of your emergency?”
“They’re coming for me.” I rush out the door and into a small living room. Beyond are the kitchen and the main door.
“Can you tell me who’s coming for you?”
“I don’t know. They’re going to kill me. Please hurry.” I can hear the tinge of panic rising in my own voice.
I’m wasting time. I should just run.
“What is your current location?”
“I don’t know! Send someone now. They’ll be here any second.”

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I entered Brenda's contest already and I think this is a great way to help authors with their books.

SC Author said...

Good luck everyone!

D. L. Cocchio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D. L. Cocchio said...

Name: Debbie Cocchio
Genre: YA Speculative Fiction with paranormal elements

I glance down at my arms, hairs standing at attention, causing me to shiver as the icy coldness rakes its fingers up and down my spine, gripping my soul. Cool sweat beads form across my upper lip.

It’s definitely not the first time a spirit has walked through me. Typically unexpected, it catches me off guard.

You’d think I’d be used to it by now.

Cripes! I hate when this happens.

My heart thumps louder.

Trembling, I lean over and prop myself up against the wainscoting to my right, my cheek presses against the coolness of the wood. A ball of electricity surges through me, jolting my inner core and knocking the air from my lungs. Ringing reverberates in my ears as I close my eyes and gasp for oxygen like a drowning victim in an icy lake.

I shudder spontaneously and struggle for composure.

In through the nose and out through the mouth, I inhale deeply, centering myself as we do in yoga class. I push myself upright and my eyes instinctively dart around the room in automatic mode like a guilty child.

Good, no one saw.

Phew! I take in two shallow breaths so as not to draw attention. Slow and steady.

Another quiver disperses as it vibrates down my neck and spine, trailing down my legs, tickling my toes. I glance past the main counter of Jones’ General Store where the cashier’s helping two customers, scan the candy counter and over to the magazines, where I unexpectedly lock eyes with caramel-colored pools.

Kimberly VanderHorst said...

Name: Kimberly VanderHorst
Title: Through a Glass Darkly
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy

My bedroom mirror had too much room for monsters in it. I dragged it to my window and tilted it upward, watching it fill with stars and darkness. I pretended that if I filled it with other things, the monsters couldn’t get in.

The stars became frozen fireflies, trapped in the rectangular jar of the wood-framed mirror. The dark oak grated against itself as I shifted the mirror to set them free. Now, with the mirror facing me, I was the one trapped in the jar, caged and flightless.

And then the monsters came, the mirror churning with shadows the way it always did before they appeared. I touched it lightly with my fingertips, holding in a flinch as their massive, reptilian heads butted against the glass. You don’t scare me anymore, I thought at them. But I knew it was a lie.

I liked to think I was brave, that standing here every night in front of a mirror I could have hidden or destroyed actually meant something. But with graduation on the horizon, it was past time to admit the truth. All it meant was that I’d been fooling myself for nearly seventeen years.

As if they could hear my thoughts, the creatures clawed more frantically at the barrier between us. Their scaly hides glistened in the strange half-light of their shadowed world, rippling with the churning power of their heavily-muscled frames. One of them smashed a triple-clawed hand against the barrier, its nostrils flared, its fang-studded mouth snapping silently.

Cait said...

Name: Caitlin Sangster

Email: ayakouselle (at) gmail (dot) com


Genre: YA speculative fiction

I've never been called a hussy before. The word kind of reminds me of the Gores for some reason. And cats. All teeth and claws. Harlot. Strumpet. Slut. They all seem like such antiquated terms for some reason. Words usually spoken in whispers and behind closed doors. But, if I get caught up here, I have no doubt Malekai's mother will break them out in to the open.

Unfounded, of course. My intentions are as white as snow. White as the stars pinned to my collar. I guess I'm just an easy target, and Malekai Talan too important to pass up, when it comes to City gossip. Not many of the high-ranking Reds allow Whites within a block of their homes. Much less inside, sitting across from their handsome young sons at the dinner table. War news can't beat out good gossip from the Steppe.

Luckily, I don't think anyone is home. Being tripped over by a Grey is possible, but unlikely. I think Malekai still cleans his own room. Any self-respecting Red should, since we're all supposed to be equal. Even if he did just get a fancy new job with the Watch.

Loitering next to his door, I turn the knob, looking both ways before slipping in. My clicking heels quiet as they sink in to the thick carpet, the City's falcon and beaker seal cut in to the deep red fibers just at the foot of his bed. Nothing has changed much in here since we were kids. Everything so red. Down to his striped sheets, the accents in his splintery bookcase, and the portrait of Moltin Argrafe on the wall above the bed. Matted in red. It makes me wonder if sleeping in this room makes him dream in red paint.

Mira Waters said...

Mira Waters
mirawatersauthor (at) gmail (dot) com
New Adult/Fantasy

Chapter One--ENA

Day 26—Full Moon, Melchior

Farren told me he’d be okay. He’d find Cyrene and stop the invasion. Everything would be okay. But, it wasn’t. It won’t ever be again, and it’s all my fault for letting him go. For involving him. I’m so tired of being a pawn in everyone else’s plans, and as I see my cousin, Cyrene, her short white hair and empty eyes standing next to the witch Calynn, I realize that I’m the only one who can put a stop to this.

I feel the magic ignite with my loathing. Blasts of hot air stir around us. My hair lifts from my shoulders and the heavy velvet folds of my gown ripple around me.

“Ena!” Cyrene screams. “What are you doing?”

I lift my hand, feeling the magic burning its way through my veins. Laia, I am your instrument. I am your weapon.

“Ending this,” I say, clapping my hands together and releasing the magic in a blinding bolt of lightning.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Pete Catalano
MG Magical Realism

My head snapped back.

I was hit squarely from behind, with no warning and certainly no consideration to how much I had been struggling to carry the over-sized box of spare parts I salvaged from the computer lab’s Annual Spring Cleaning.

Falling to my knees, I watched helplessly as the box flew through the air. In the second it took to hit the ground, all the painstaking work I had done sorting the smaller parts into glass jars was lost, as they burst into a thousand razor-sharp shards upon impact and scattered across the sidewalk. I froze, waiting for the tinkling sound of broken glass to stop before I dared move again.

“Where’s my laptop?” a voice said as I kept my head down.

“It’ll be done tomorrow,” I said nervously. “I promised you it would be ready on Wednesday.”

“Today’s not Wednesday?” the voice asked.

“Nope,” I said, making sure nothing but the jars was broken, “it’s still Tuesday. Just like it was earlier at school when you demanded it then.”

“Well.” He looked for something to say. Of course it would be anything but an apology. “I’ll be back.”

“Looking forward to it.” I smiled and half-waved as he stomped away. “Oh yeah,” I said to myself as I gathered up my things. “Just another day in paradise.”

My name is Luke Price, I’m thirteen years old, and I’m waiting, sometimes rather impatiently, to be . . . older. Having lived in the small town of Claxton for my entire life I’ve been very comfortable, and exceptionally bored, but encouraged by the fact that I know it can’t last forever.

Mia Lansford said...

Name: Mia Lansford
Title: The Library of Journals
Genre: YA Historical/Contemporary Romance

Everyday this year I’ve written in my journal something about my life. Today I’m distracted. I want to insert the key into the lock of the trunk sitting across from me, and hear the soft click of release. I mean what is in them? A quick glance at my sister Maya, and I know not to ask her to stop moving them. She still hasn’t adjusted to living here. My dad’s work sent him on a two year project back to Maine. We’re living in my grandma’s house, dad’s old place, for the duration. Which means Maya’s stuck with just me until she makes friends. It’s probably why she’s pissed. Our relationship is based on fighting over my snooping into her social life. It’d be easier if she just told me everything.
We’re in the process of fixing the attic up so I have a place to draw my sketches. The last person to use this area was my Grandpa Wickham. He was a fisherman and kept all his nautical possessions up here. The attic still smells of the sea and his tobacco pipe. I’m going to love this space as my work area.

Andrea N. Jackson said...

Name: Andrea Jackson
Genre: YA sci-fi

Six — minutes I am late.
I hesitate, but that only makes it worse.
I quickly place my hand on the pad that scans my fingerprints, unlocking the door, but also starting the timer, telling them what he and I already know: this is my fault. A smothering feeling of unease, invisible snowflakes in the form of discomfort will fill every corner, every crack, every wide-open space. And if I wanted to, I could stretch out my tongue and taste apprehension.
Thirty — extra minutes we have to stay now because I was late.
Five hundred and forty-three — days since the last time this happened.
Taking a deep breath, I walk quickly in the room careful not to make eye contact or look in his direction, but I can feel the heat of his eyes on me. I know what he wants. I will have to look at him eventually. The door slides shut, trapping me with tension.
I understand numbers, they are logical, rational, safe…perfect for collecting.
Five — how old I was when I came here.
Seven o'clock — when I am required to be in the room with LE4XI7.
Two — the amount of friends I have.
0.0000001 — the percent of people who are like me.
EWH17 — the virus that did what it was supposed to: end world hunger — just not the way they thought.
LE4XI8 — what is tattooed on the inside of the wrist of my right arm. It’s my identification; it’s my name.
The numbers stay with me, filed away, ready to use at a moments notice.

Jamie Krakover said...

Name: Jamie Krakover
Email: jamiekrakover at hotmail dot com
Genre: Upper Middle Grade Science Fiction

First 250:
Gary risked a glance at the living room window. His mother’s gaze pierced him. She looks like an angry gargoyle. A shudder rippled through his spine before she turned from the window and disappeared.

His mom had scolded him countless times because he went looking for trouble. Gary, however, thought it was the opposite—trouble always found him. Although, exactly how he might step into some kind of mess while walking the dog, he had no clue.

He grabbed for his earbuds and shoved them into his ears. Bobbing his head to the thundering drums and crashing guitars, he stepped in synch with the music. Buster, his Golden Retriever, had other ideas and dragged Gary down the street as if on a mission. The dog stopped at a dimly lit street lamp near the end of the block, barked, and pulled hard on the leash. In an effort to hold him back, Gary grabbed Buster’s collar with his free hand.

“What is it, boy? What are you barking at?”

Gary looked around the darkening street. Despite the parked cars, no one was outside. Following Buster’s gaze, he found the cause of the disturbance—white lights floating across the sky.

“It’s just a plane. Come on.” He tried to yank the dog back toward the house. Buster planted his butt on the ground and whined.

Crouching down, Gary smoothed the golden fur on the dog’s head. “It’s okay, I promise.”

Hearing the soft whir of an engine, Gary tracked the lights drawing closer in the sky.

Karyn Riddle said...

Name: Karyn Riddle
Email: karynriddle3(at)yahoo(dot)com
Genre: YA Coming-of-Age

First 250:

What is so special about palm trees anyway?

They’re just trees. They have trunks on the bottom and leaves at the top. That’s it. When you think about it, they’re just like any other tree, only worse. You can’t really climb them, for example. And don’t get me started on the lack of shade.

I get it, though. They’re symbols of warm weather and tropical locations and vacation and blah blah blah.

I just don’t see what all the fuss is about. Apple trees, for example, are way superior. Half my childhood was spent climbing the apple tree in our backyard. In second grade, I spent an entire afternoon spying on my sister while nestled up in the branches.

Can you nestle yourself in a palm tree and spy on someone?

No, you cannot.

Oak trees are also pretty great. My friend Stacey’s parents have a cabin on Lake Whitewater, and it has the most amazing oak tree in the side yard. One summer they hooked up this massive tire swing to one of the lower branches and Stacey and I pushed each other for hours.

Have you ever seen a palm tree with a tire swing?

No, you definitely have not.

So don’t try to tell me I’m gonna enjoy moving to California because of the palm trees. Don’t EVEN try it. Cause believe me – I’ve heard quite enough about how amazing California’s going to be, and it apparently boils down to one amazing feature: palm trees.

Unless one of those palm trees is going to sit with me during lunch, or take me to Homecoming, or walk with me in the halls during passing period, or gossip with me on the phone…….they are no good to me.

Leslie Dobkins said...

Name: Leslie Dobkins
Genre: YA Apocalyptic Science Fantasy

More days than not, I wished the noise and crowds at Jefferson High would disappear. Had I known fate had a sick sense of humor, I would’ve bugged Dad about the broad opportunities in online education.

I squinted under the banks of fluorescent lights as backpacks and shoulders knocked me side to side. My nose crinkled at the stench of stale grease—two more doors to the cafeteria and four to reach French.

Someone yanked off my fleece hood, jerking my head back. The brush of fabric stung my skin. I bunched my hands into fists and whirled, ready to punch the idiot in the face.

The vice-principal took a half step back and raised an eyebrow. “Mikino, no hoods up at school. You need to read the dress code.”

What I needed was for him not to touch me. I forced my fingers open and shoved them into my pockets. Without the hood, my skin itched. “Yes, sir.”

Mom told me God provided what I needed, not what I wanted. Did I need to be sensory defensive? Not just teenage girl overly sensitive, but medically diagnosed hypersensitivity.

A tickle ran up my neck, and I looked past the vice-principal to scan the thinning mass of students.

Sean stood across the hall and rummaged through his locker. He froze then slowly turned. His chestnut-colored eyes peered at me through locks of dark hair.

I wasn’t the first girl to crush on her brother’s best friend, but feeling attracted to a boy—anyone for that matter—was a first for me.

CarrieFenn said...

Carrie Fenn
YA Fantasy

Falling. I’m falling. Again. I’m always falling when my dreams bring me to this place. This time it’s a vast and empty desert that stretches out below me. Last time, it was a dark, angry ocean. There’s no sound but my desperate, uneven gasps while I fight to breathe against the wind rushing past me as I fall out of the sky. I can’t hear the wind, even though it’s so strong that it whips my hair and clothing around violently. I can’t hear the snap and ruffle of the fabric as it threatens to tear from my body. I can hear only my breath and it’s louder in my ears than it should be.

Color is also absent from this place. Though my eyes are stinging and tearing up, I’m able to see that everything is a blurred and muted black and white. As I fall, the details of the desert are at the center of my vision, but the edges of the scene are fuzzy, out of focus. I’m able to view it calmly at first. I’ve experienced this dream so many times that I’m able to push past the initial feeling of terror and take in as much detail as possible. I’m not sure why it’s important for me to do this.

I’ve never experienced this level of clarity in any of my other dreams. In this dream, I know that I am dreaming. I know that I’ll wake up soon and it will all be over. This helps me past the panic.

That is, until the very end.

Krystal Sutherland said...

Krystal Sutherland
krystal.m.sutherland at gmail dot com
YA Psychological Thriller

The letters have been arriving for two months. Every Friday morning, hand delivered, no postmark. I have seen their deliverer only once, a man in a black coat cinched at the waist, his face obscured by a wide brim hat. For twenty minutes I watched him watch my house from the street, hands in his pockets. He might have looked casual if it hadn’t been three o’clock in the morning. That was four weeks ago. I learned to stop watching for him after that.

This morning I do what I’ve been doing every Friday since the letters started. I rise with the sun. I don’t remember having slept, but there are black webs of nothingness in my memory where time passed without my knowledge, so I must have. The morning is crisp, early springtime not yet able to shift winter’s chill. A dark blue bathrobe is laid across the end of my bed. I pull it on, shivering, and make my way into the hall. My hand is closed around the screwdriver hidden in the robe's front pocket. Just in case he is waiting.

At the front door I pull on a pair of leather boots, unlaced, and head outside. The lawn is dipped in ice. It looks like little splinters of glass, painful to walk across. But at least the sun is starting to feel warm again, when it hits your skin, instead of pale and watery.

Meradeth Houston said...

Name: Meradeth Houston
Genre: NA sci-fi

The dead don’t blink. My father’s blank stare seemed to follow me around the room. My mother beside him had a narrow-eyed glare that made me flinch.

I couldn’t bear to look at my sister.

The wail of a siren in the distance settled reality around me like a heavy shroud. I’d called 911 when I saw the front door ajar. I hadn’t expected to find this inside. Now I had to get out before anyone saw me.

Blood, cool and sticky, seeped through the knees of my jeans. Hitching back a sob, I pressed my lips to the forehead of each of my family members. A silent goodbye that should have been so much more.
With stumbling steps, I hurried through my darkened house. They’d made sure not a single bulb worked, which pissed me off enough to worm through my grief. Out the back door, I hurried out the gate to the side yard as the police siren cut off out front.

I couldn’t be there when they arrived. I couldn’t explain to the police what happened. They wouldn’t believe me when I told them strange, horrible, shadowy creatures created the carnage. That the clues planted didn’t mean I’d killed my family. No one ever believed me when I mentioned them.

Hurrying down the darkened street, my wet jeans slapping against my skin, I succumbed to my tears.

The overwhelming grief ate at me from within, taking too-large bites from my soul.

I didn’t care where I ended up, so long as it was far away from here.

Anonymous said...

Driving up the dusty graveled drive to the ranch my family owned–my home–seemed surreal. I had gone home just once during my six-year stint in the Army during my very first leave after boot camp, but had not been back since. The first tour I did in Afghanistan left me more of a solitary man instead of the outgoing, sociable kid I used to be.

Lowering my window to punch in the gate code, waiting for the metal gates to open, I saw a new addition to the family. There amongst the horses, in the vast green pasture, stood a small black donkey with the most beautiful white markings on her face. The ranch’s eldest Tennessee Walker, Molly, seemed to have taken a liking to the burro since they were joined at the hip. Looking closer for my horse, the one my dad gave me when I turned sixteen, proved to be difficult.

Name: Jennifer Garcia

Email: itlnbrt @ att (dot) net

Title: Just Rewind

Genre: New Adult

Once the path was cleared, I drove the rest of the way up to the house. That was when I spotted Nugget. The beautiful, bay colored, Quarter horse with a silky black mane stood by the fence closest to the house almost as if he knew I had arrived. Jumping out of the truck, I ran to him, and he stretched his neck out for me to caress. Wrapping my arms around him, I blew my breath toward his nose so he would recognize me, which was unneeded since he knew exactly who I was.

Anonymous said...

Name: Jennifer Garcia

Email: itlnbrt @ att (dot) net

Title: Just Rewind

Genre: New Adult

Driving up the dusty graveled drive to the ranch my family owned–my home–seemed surreal. I had gone home just once during my six-year stint in the Army during my very first leave after boot camp, but had not been back since. The first tour I did in Afghanistan left me more of a solitary man instead of the outgoing, sociable kid I used to be.

Lowering my window to punch in the gate code, waiting for the metal gates to open, I saw a new addition to the family. There amongst the horses, in the vast green pasture, stood a small black donkey with the most beautiful white markings on her face. The ranch’s eldest Tennessee Walker, Molly, seemed to have taken a liking to the burro since they were joined at the hip. Looking closer for my horse, the one my dad gave me when I turned sixteen, proved to be difficult.

Once the path was cleared, I drove the rest of the way up to the house. That was when I spotted Nugget. The beautiful, bay colored, Quarter horse with a silky black mane stood by the fence closest to the house almost as if he knew I had arrived. Jumping out of the truck, I ran to him, and he stretched his neck out for me to caress. Wrapping my arms around him, I blew my breath toward his nose so he would recognize me, which was unneeded since he knew exactly who I was.

Laura Felicetti said...

Laura Felicetti
YA Magical Realism Thriller

Rumor has it crazy skips a generation. But according to my mom, the chance of inheriting crazy is less than one percent if neither parent is a nut job. And though neither of my parents is nuts, Gran suffers from some weird disease called paranoid audio hallucination disorder. She’s not a murderer or anything, but she’s totally wacked.

Gran sits on the couch, staring at the television. She rocks back and forth, mumbling to herself, and her head twitches, making her blue cloud of hair dance like an epileptic ball of cotton candy.

My mirror image, Alex, sits at the dining room table. Her eyes are unfocused, fixing on a space somewhere between the tip of her nose and her sketchbook. She’s supposed to be sketching designs for the final outfits of our back-to-school wardrobes. Military chic. That’s what we agreed on. She designs. I sew. But she’s not doing her part. Just like she didn’t do her part to help take care of Gran or finish the chores. No thanks to Alex, the house smells like a mix of lemony fresh Pledge and macaroni and cheese.

Taking care of Gran and the household is like number one hundred and fifty on my list of top one hundred things to do on a Saturday night. But I don’t bitch. Not to my parents. I don’t want to add to their problems. I just want things to go back to normal.

But normal feels like a lifetime ago.

jsnicholas said...

Name: J Nicholas
Title: Sam Vale: Private Investigator
Genre: MG

Sam Vale craned her neck around the corner of the shed and eyed the figure staggering toward her. This was not what she'd been expecting. Its head seemed too big for its body, and it moved with an awkward gait that made it seem less than human. Maybe it was the darkness or her nerves, but Sam no longer wanted any part of this. That would teach her to set a rendezvous with a mysterious, unidentified being. She'd have to make a note about that for next time, if there would be a next time.

Freddy, as Sam would have expected, was frozen next to her. Had Sherlock Holmes had as much trouble with Watson when they first started out? She considered hoisting her assistant over her shoulder and ducking for cover in the nearby woods, but decided against it. Hiding in the forest probably wasn't very good for a detective's reputation.

The figure was getting closer, lumbering across the empty football field toward the shed at the edge of the park. Through the shadows, Sam made out the shape of something in its hand. A gun? That would be unfortunate; she would have liked to make it to middle school before saying goodbye to this world.

At the very least, she wanted to survive her first case.

Sam stepped back behind the shed. “Freddy, this could get ugly.” Freddy nodded, but said nothing. Sam tried to calm her nerves, but it was no use. Things had just gotten so bad so fast.

rosie.pova said...

Rosie Pova
MG science fiction

Holly Hart covered her mouth to contain her giggles as she peeped around the hallway corner, camera in hand, waiting for her big brother to come out. She kept an eye on her parents’ bedroom door, making sure they wouldn’t ruin it all.
Kyle was taking longer than she thought and there was a chance she might miss the school bus if he didn’t finish with his primping soon. Still, she had no intention to move. Hopefully, all that waiting squished against the far end of the wall, for the last fifteen minutes, would pay off. Not in a big way, as she sometimes wished, but amusing enough. Just thinking about it made her anticipation grow. And being able to share her masterpiece with the bunch of Kyle’s adoring followers would definitely make the payoff that much sweeter.
And no, she wasn’t doing this to be mean, Holly told herself, but it was about time someone else appreciated her talent, if her own family wouldn’t. She expected that appreciation in the form of laughter. Was that too much to ask? No. And now, with her most recent attempt, “Mr. Popular” was about to help her. Involuntarily.

It was time. Holly knelt down when she heard the whirring noise coming from behind the door. That was her cue to get in position for the shot and be ready to run.

Kellie Bowe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Veronica Bartles said...

Name: Veronica Bartles
email: vbartleswrites (at) vbartles (dot) com
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Everyone in town came to Mom’s funeral.

The church was overcrowded and stuffy, and Missy couldn’t hear Aunt April’s eulogy over the chorus of sobs and sniffles. It was exactly the kind of sad, solemn occasion that Mom always said she didn’t want.

Missy crossed and then uncrossed her legs. She leaned back against the pew and then sat up straight, wiggling and shifting in her seat until Grandma shot her a look that said “stop fidgeting and show some respect.” But it was impossible to sit still on the uncomfortable pew, squished between her older brother Xander and her two younger sisters, Lyn and Annie.

When the services were finally over, Missy gratefully followed the crowd of friends and family out of the church behind the casket. But after a second sob-fest at the gravesite, Missy only wanted to go home and crawl into bed, where she could pull the covers up over her head until this awful day was over.

She wanted to curl up in a pile of fluffy pillows with Marika and Jocelyn, her two best friends, at her side. To pretend the world wasn’t falling apart, the way they did when Jocelyn’s mom was in the hospital after her car accident last year. But in the push and bustle of the crowd, Missy couldn’t find her friends. Mrs. Smythe and the Davidsons joined the crush of mourners who converged to hug Dad after the final prayer, but Jocelyn and Marika weren’t with them.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Name: Nicole Zoltack



Genre: MG Fantasy Adventure

Princess Cassandra's horse thundered along the green path. With a whoop, she glanced over her shoulder. Her friends never could keep up with her. She stopped her horse. "Come on, Kylie, Vance! You're too slow!"

"It's not fair," Vance grumbled. "Our workhorse has to carry two of us." He tsked with his tongue. "Horse thief," he whispered loudly to his sister
Kylie covered her mouth as she giggled.

"I'm not a thief! I'll bring the horse back like I always do." Cassandra crossed her arms. Since her parents refused to give her a horse due to her running off, she was forced to "steal" from the pages. "Hurry! We don't have all day."

I wish we did. Ever since the three of them had decided to see all of the creatures in her bestiary up close, they had been sneaking out of Sun Haven every chance they could. So far, they hadn't seen any of the unusual creatures from her book. Cassandra hoped today they'd see one. Or two.

Flicking her wrist, Cassandra urged her horse forward and weaved through the trees. Once she reached the Falls, she pulled back on the reins. The teal water flowed forward as it churned, restless and desperate. Like her. Obedient with her royal duties—most of the time—yet restless for adventure.

Today was far too glorious a day to be sad. She called over her shoulder, "Let’s race to see who can find a magical creature first."

"Yes," Vance shouted.

"Hurry, Vance!"

Seth Z. Herman said...

Name: Seth Z. Herman


Title: THE 37TH

Genre: YA/urban fantasy


Fair warning.

If you’ve picked up this book, if you’re reading this – you’re in grave danger. I’d finish it as quickly as you can. Lock yourself in the bathroom, get ready for one of those leg-numbing throne sessions, and start reading. Fast. After all, just because I’ve written this book to warn you doesn’t mean I’ll be there to protect you. It just means you’ll know what you have to face when it comes. Which might help. Or it might not.

My name is Matt Weinberg. I’m the 37th.

And my guess is, if this book has made it into your hands – you are, too.


The first time I got shot by a demon was about a year ago.

It was September, which meant High Holiday time. I was bumming around on the Sunday morning after Yom Kippur, taking my sweet time picking out an _esrog_. On that stretch between Shimon’s and Benjy’s Pizzerias you have a different vendor selling _Succos_-stuff every three feet, and I figured God might like me to spend as much time choosing a holy citron as I spent picking a movie last night (which was a disaster, by the way, but whatever).

Anyway, I was haggling with a kid at least three years younger than me. He had a classic citron-selling face; freckles, red hair, velvet yarmulka six sizes too big. Then somebody tapped me on the temple – that’s right, the temple, not the shoulder – and said:

“You are now trained in anti-terrorism.”

Carrie-Anne said...

(Pen) Name: Carrie-Anne Brownian
E-mail: CarrieAnne79 (at) yahoo (dot) com
Genre: MG historical with elements of satire

Cinnimin Filliard reached for the candy bowl on her father’s desk and popped a handful of gumdrops into her mouth. Her father had said the five longterm houseguests they were expecting would arrive today, and she figured indulging her sweet tooth would help get rid of her nervousness and put her mind on other things.

“Can I see your photo albums, Daddy? I wanna know what they look like before they move into our house. I hope they’re nicer houseguests than Aunt Lucinda, Uncle Jasper, and stupid Elmira.”

Mr. Filliard smiled indulgently at his pet child. “You know you never need my permission to do anything.”

Cinni took a photo album and plopped down on the floor. “Oh, brother, this Katherine girl really needs a makeover. No one wears long skirts anymore.” She pushed her long curly hair out of her face. “Who better than the Most Popular Girl to make her over?”

“They’re religious Jews, I told you. They do things a little differently. I don’t know much about Jewish denominations, but they’re not the strictest one. I’m sure Katherine will tell you she’s got reasons of her own for wearing clothes that look a little out of fashion to you. You know most girls these days have much shorter hair than yours, but you have your own reasons for never wanting another haircut.”

Cinni went to the front window and raised the curtain. “I don’t see their taxi yet. Do you think they got lost?”

Kristin Van Risseghem said...

Name: Kristin Van Risseghem
Email: kristinvanrisseghem(at)msn(dot)com
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Our afternoon walk home from school started like every other. The sun shone, the trees started to bud, and some of the flowers bloomed for early April. We talked about the latest gossip from school and our plans for the weekend.

We stopped at a four-way intersection. Off in the distance, two menacing hooded figures walked from opposite directions toward us.

“That’s her!” One pulled something from a jacket pocket and the other drew something from their back.

“Zoe!” Kieran yanked my arm. “We have to run!”
Kieran ran ten paces ahead of me. “Zoe, come on! You need to keep up!”

“I’m trying but, I have a blister on my foot; slow down for a second!”  I yelled. “I’m not wearing the best clothes for running; I’m wearing a dress,” I grumbled to myself.

“We can’t stop, or slow down.  I think they’re still following us.”

“Kieran…what?   Who? Who’s following us? Do you know those two guys?”

“Hurry, Zoe!” He scanned the area.

“I’ll tell you more, later. Right now, we have to go!”

“Just let me take my shoes off. I’ll catch up; I promise. Two seconds…”

Kieran led us into an abandoned warehouse. Where were we?  How did we get here? I didn’t know this place was here, it would be a cool place to hang out after school. We could rummage through anything the previous company had left behind. The architecture of the building was very unique, contemporary style.

Matthew MacNish said...

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