Monday, May 30, 2011

Made of Awesome Contest - Official Entry Post

Drum roll please.....

The time has come to post your final, polished first page for the Made of Awesome Contest with literary agent judge Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson and Associates!

Judith is a literary assistant at Liza Dawson Associates, handling audio rights and digital publishing. She graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University with a B.A. in English and History on a full presidential scholarship. She is currently building her client list and looking for all types of fiction, especially middle grade, young adult, urban fantasy, steampunk, and paranormal romance. When she's not reading, she is either training for her next martial arts test or causing mischief with her Siberian Husky, Grendel.

Judith is just building her own client list, which means she's got her eye out for some amazing manuscripts! And I know you guys have a ton of talent, so hopefully she'll find some really great work she can't resist.

Please post your final, polished first 250 words. Here is what needs to be included in your comment:

Be sure to include:

1. Your email address
2. Title, genre, wordcount
3. Your polished first page (250 words) Don't stop in the middle of a sentence.
4. Where you follow me
5. Where you spread the word

That's it!

Judith will read all of the first pages and select one for a ten-page critique, which, if she finds the winner's entry intriguing enough, could extend into a full manuscript critique!

Contest rules:

· You must be a follower of my blog and/or Twitter
· You must spread the word, via twitter, fb, blog post, whatever.
· Your manuscript must be complete.
· Contest is open to works of fiction only. Sorry guys, no non-fiction here.
· You do not have to participate in the critique portion of the contest, but why would you miss the opportunity to polish that baby until it shines before Judith reads it?
· All entries must be posted by 11:59 PM (AZ time) on May 31, 2011. Any entries posted after this time will be disqualified.


  1. Email address:
    Title: Nepenthe
    Genre: Paranormal Romance (ghosts)
    WC: 99,500

    The first time I met Michael, I had no idea he was dead. I was locking up my cafe for the night, taking a deep breath of mountian air to wash the scents of cinnamon and dish soap from my nose. When I turned around, he was standing there, so close behind me that I almost ran into him.

    My heart leapt into my throat. I could swear he hadn't been there a second before, but he reminded me of a stone carving that hadn't moved in ages. His eyes stood out in stark contrast to his jet black hair, with irises the colour of blue jeans that had been washed too many times. They were bright though. Almost gleaming.

    "Good evenin', Miss." He couldn't be much older than me—maybe late twenties at the most, yet his formality and slight Southern drawl were right out of an old Western movie. He was dressed in very current looking dark jeans and white shirt, though, so he didn't look at all out of place.

    He reached out and gently took my hand to shake it. "I'm Michael." At his touch, a surge of butterflies invaded my chest.

    Kicking myself for ogling, which I never did no matter how good looking the guy was, I forced myself to return the handshake. "Kate," I said, barely managing to get the word out.

    Michael took a step back, giving me some space. "I have to confess, I've been trying to summon the courage to introduce myself for some time now," he said, looking anything but nervous.

    I follow you on Twitter and follow your blog.
    I spread the word here:

  2. jsc.indery @
    untitled, ya futuristic, 65k

    “Please welcome the five Year 12 Students elected for Internships…” The President of the University leaned over the wood podium and scanned the anxious crowd of seventy thousand. But none more impatient than me.

    The President stood below one of the tall archways of a freestanding garden pavilion in the green parterre at the heart of our campus. Behind him, the sun’s glare poked above the roof skyline of the University’s main castle, a top-notch reproduction of the Chateau de Chambord.

    In his stretch of silence, my heart produced enough noise for the both of us. Any day, old man. None of us were growing any younger, and I’d been waiting for this day since I was twelve. My last year of lower-level academics. Eligibility for election. Promotion.

    I wanted that deuced Internship.

    His thin lips pressed on the metal microphone—probably the only one the government allowed the University to possess. “First, Bryson Esper.” Applause erupted among the Student body. My ears rang as the claps echoed against bleached brick.

    That was definitely not Nasrin Wolfe.

    No, it was Bryson. My eye twitched. Even the Vice President and the President’s Cabinet standing to the left of the pavilion’s stone stairs clapped with aged-spotted hands. Bryson squared his shoulders and marched toward the green to the right of the pavilion.

    I should’ve seen it coming. But it didn’t matter. Still four more candidates to announce. I had to be one of those five. I wanted to become a Historian at the same age as Dad: as young as possible.

    (following your blog. spread the word here:


    Urban Fantasy
    75,000 words

    I'm following this blog. Thanks for such an awesome contest!

    He had found his prey at last. From across the room he took in every detail of her face, though he knew it well. The full lips, thin nose, and most of all her eyes. Green like a highland meadow or a piece of lustrous sea glass. His eyes traced the moon-pale curve of her calves, down to her stilettos. She had raven hair this time.

    One hundred and ninety-four years had passed since he’d last seen her. Since he’d last killed her. A death different than before. He’d made it so when she came back, she wouldn’t remember a thing. The power they’d shared, the life they’d lived. She’d chosen another path. Taken pity on humanity, decided she didn’t want to go through with their plan. And worse, she’d fallen in love with one of them.

    So now, as he watched her, he took a moment to appreciate the beauty of it. She stood here before him, completely oblivious to the fact that she was being hunted. Totally unaware that though she may look human, as he did, she was not. And this time, there would be no temporary death. He’d discovered a way to end her forever. She thought of herself as a human now, so she would die like one. Permanently. He’d taken her powers, her memories, her lives and her love. Over and over and over again. Now he would take the very last thing he could. Her soul.


    I follow your blog and on twitter
    I tweeted your awesome contest :D

    The Happiness of Joy
    YA contemporary
    55,000 words

    Someone once told me that happiness is fleeting, but joy sticks with you, holds onto you, and fills you up. The fact that my name is Joy is sort of a lesson in irony.
    - - - - -
    I sit here because I’m still broken. I’ll probably always sit in offices like this, because I’ll probably always be broken.
    Dr. Mayar. No, wait. Lydia - is waiting for my response.
    “What?” I wait for her to repeat the question, hoping to buy myself more time. We meet for 45 minutes, twice a week. It’s almost a game to see how many minutes I can waste. Maybe not really a game. Maybe it has more to do with me not wanting to go over certain topics - and the more time we say nothing, the less time we have to talk about things I don’t want to talk about.
    Her body doesn’t move, her face doesn’t change, but I can feel the disapproval sliding toward me in waves. “I know you heard me. One thing, Joy. One. You can do this.”
    You can do this, she says. It’s so ridiculous. It’s not like I’m lifting weights or anything. Like she’s my coach, yelling from the sidelines, one more set, one more! Push yourself, I know you can do it!
    What muscle am I exercising here? My brain? My heart? A combination of the two? Because it feels like a lot more of me is broken than just that. I mean, where do I even start?

  5. 1.
    GENRE: YA Paranormal/Mystery
    WORD COUNT: 70,000
    3. First 250:
    * * *

    The Normies were staring again.

    Rissa fiddled with her fork and avoided their eyes. Even in an Egyptian resort where everyone was a stranger, she was the strangest.

    Music crescendoed, and she glanced up as her older sister sang a clear, high note. Beneath the spotlights, Sophie glowed like a golden-haired angel—if angels wore stilettos, mini-skirts, and showed huge cleavage.

    Rissa’s fork banged onto the plate. She couldn’t leave until Andy came back. He was her responsibility, not Sophie’s, no matter what their mom said. Maybe he was lost again. She rose and wove between candlelit tables. The nearest guests paused between mouthfuls, so she tugged her sleeves down, hiding scarred flesh.

    Dancing couples parted before her, and she hurried into the garden where crickets chirped their own romantic ballads. Ripe dates from overhanging palms lay scattered on the path. Her boot heels smashed them into the concrete. At the Red Sea Divers sign, she turned toward the restroom building, eyeing the surroundings. Her eleven-year-old brother was nowhere to be seen. How could one kid have such a bad sense of direction?

    She knocked on the men’s room door. “Andy? It’s been fifteen minutes.”

    A high-pitched scream shattered the cricket concerto. She spun and searched the darkness. Sticks snapped as something blundered through the bushes opposite the bathrooms. She shrank back against the wall.

    Andy burst through the hedges, his face pale. “Rissa!” He grabbed her hand, dragged her through the underbrush to a shed, and pointed through the open door.

    * * *

    4. I follow your blog; I’ve put your blog on my visible bloglist.
    5. I spread the word on my blog, and put your name in the post title:

  6. 1.

    2. The House on the Corner; MG/YA; 120,000

    3.The last bell of the school year is like waking up on Christmas morning. The last day of school waiting breathlessly in the dark straining for some sign of life out in the world so that you know it's time to get up. The bell finally rings and dawn breaks through the window springing you out of bed and three months of days lay glittering before you, presents waiting to be opened.

    Thinking about those days of summer is all consuming at the end of the school year just like obsessing over Christmas presents all through the month of December. Planning. Anticipating. Day dreaming.

    Being told halfway through May that we were moving was like having Christmas canceled. No presents. No plans. All the anticipation of spending summer with my friends, with my best friend, yanked away. Like waking up Christmas morning to find that the Grinch had visited.

    The problem was not that we were moving; it's that we were moving out of state. My parents had decided that moving at the beginning of summer would give us, us being my brother and sister and me, time to get used to the new neighborhood before school started. Like that would make it any better. Going back to school always sucks, but, this way, they were ruining the summer, too.

    At least, I had been able to go see Return of the Jedi with my best friend, Cory, beforehand. We’d only been planning that for two years, and I would've had to hurt someone if we hadn't been able to do it.

    4. I follow your blog (here).

    5. I posted on my blog and on Facebook

  7. 1. katelarkindale (at) gmail (dot)com
    2. TITLE: Chasing The Taillights
    GENRE: YA Contemporary
    WORD COUNT: 87 000 words
    3. Your polished first page (250 words)...

    The darkness is absolute. I’m not sure if my eyes are open or closed. I strain to push the lids up, but they’re already wide. Something covers my mouth and nose, making breathing difficult. My lungs burn for air, but I can only suck in tiny mouthfuls through whatever smothers my face.

    I turn my head, crying out as a savage bolt of pain shoots through it. I teeter on the edge of consciousness, wavy grey lines wafting across the blank space before my eyes. I struggle to keep my wits about me - what’s left of them - fighting the darkness threatening to drown me. I gasp for breath, certain now I won’t pass out. Reaching out my left hand, I try to find something to hold onto. My fingers scrabble over small objects, pebbles perhaps, that skitter away beneath my touch. I reach further, wrapping my fist around them. Pain prickles my fingertips. Not pebbles. Glass. Small, sharp shards of glass.

    Using my torn hand, I drag myself forward, an inch, maybe two. A huge weight pins my legs to the ground. I can’t move them, can’t even feel them. Raising my head, I see light. Not a lot of light, but light. Red light, bright at one end, dull at the other. I know what this is. I do. My heart thumps at the side of my head and I can almost hear the gears of my brain creaking to make sense of this weird red glow.

    4. I follow your blog
    5. I tweeted about the contest, plus I linked to your site with the contest post on my blog.

  8. Email:
    Title: Shadow Embraced
    Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
    Wordcount: 55,000
    Follow: Blog
    Spread: Facebook (!/profile.php?id=601580168)


    The pale girl knocks me back against the fleshy wall of the crowd with a couple of hard smacks. I scramble away from a woman in a purple dress, my eyes on my opponent. Over the pulsing music, the crowd still keeps up their tribal chant:

    “Fight! Fight! Fight!”

    This is my first time at The Basement--innovative name for a club set up on a second-storey. The dim lights and smoky atmosphere make the red and black clothing of the crowd and the graffiti on the walls blaze. Between the pinball machines, sagging lounges, and the close-pressed crowd, there isn't much room to manoeuvre.

    “What are you waiting for?” the girl hisses. She could be Snow White with her porcelain skin and long, raven hair. “You started this. It was just between me and her.” She extends one long finger towards my best friend, Alex.

    Alex watches from the sideline. This is becoming the norm. Whenever we go out, she always gets in trouble and I’m the one to fix it – usually with some bloodshed.

    I don’t know what Alex did to piss off this poisonous cow, but now I want blood.

    “Come on, Scar,” Alex calls.

    My opponent launches at me. I shield my face from her punches. It all comes down to waiting for an opening. She’s fast, almost as fast as me. It’s difficult to maintain my balance enough to strike back.

    I duck under a right hook and seize my chance. I throw an uppercut and knock her pale ass to the ground.

  9. 1:
    2: The Event, 96000 words, Sci/Fi Fantasy.
    3: First 250
    * * * * * * *

    Days before the event happened worldwide panic set in. I remember my parents telling me we had to leave quickly. My father rushed around the house grabbing things. Our camping gear, lanterns, batteries all flew into the car. My mother grabbed food, as much as she could stuff into our four door sedan. I jumped into the driver’s seat but my dad sent me such a glare that I just mumbled a sorry and moved to the back. I had never seen my dad drive that fast before as we practically flew away from our house, while both my parents had a heated argument about a store. As my dad drove past the store he barely slowed down. Gunshots could be heard ringing from inside. Every window was broken and people were running around carrying armloads of items.
    Some of the weirdest things can stick in your head. I remember one man; his eyes were wide in terror as he held a bag of dog food in his arms. Dog food, I could never understand why a person would have grabbed that and risked his life for it. My dad gave my mom a look and floored it away from the store. Lawns and houses blurred by so fast it looked like one long strip of green.

    My Dad took us into the woods. There was an old cabin tucked away in a valley near a small lake; its waters were crystal clear. He said we were lucky no-one else came to our spot.

    * * * * * * * *

    4: I follow your blog as well as stalk, err follow you on Twitter and Facebook.
    5: I have tweeted my beak off as well as posted this contest on my blog.
    At the very least I have gained new followers and more practice writing. Thank you again for the awesome chance.

  10. Sharon Bayliss
    Title: Stormland
    Genre: Urban fantasy
    Word count: 67,000


    “Why isn’t the sky blue anymore?”

    The man sat under a bridge with his niece huddled beside him. The black rain seeped through the cracks above and left little pools of ash on the girl’s pale skin. He moved her over in the hopes of finding a dry spot. The child reminded him of a doll that had been left out in the rain and ruined. He had cut the tangles from of her hair and now it rested around her ears in uneven clumps. She deserved something better than this.

    “Why isn’t the sky blue anymore?” she asked again.

    “Lena, dear, I don’t know.”

    “Yes, you do.”

    “The sky is a giant mirror that reflected the blue oceans. But someone threw a rock at the sky and it shattered. So now we just see what was behind the sky.”

    “Can they fix it?”


    “I’m hungry,” she said.

    The brush nearby crackled and in an instant the smuggler was there. Far too soon. The child pressed herself closer to him.

    “Lena, I want you to go with this man.”

    Her little green eyes went wide with fright. “I want to stay with you.”

    He took a deep breath to hold back tears. “I am no good at taking care of you. He is going to take you to a better place. He is going to take you to a place where the sky is still blue.”

    “Will Mommy and Daddy meet me there?”

    Each time she asked about them, he felt like his heart would burst. But this would be the last time he would have to say it.

    “You won’t see Mommy and Daddy for a long time. They will meet you in heaven.”

    I follow you using Blogger and posted your contest at Thank you for the great contest!

  11. Email: hmccorkle (at) wildblue (dot) net
    Title: To Ride A Puca
    Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
    Word count: 89,000

    4. & 5. I follow you on your blog and Twitter and I have spread the word on my blog and on Twitter.

    First 258:

    Just like they had done time and again, invaders were coming to take what wasn’t theirs. Emily adjusted the druid’s spyglass with a shaking hand to get a better look at the ship that marred the perfect blue horizon of the ocean. It was still too far away to tell much about it save that it was large and imposing. Then she saw that the prow was carved to resemble the head of a dragon. Fear rose up to clamp its icy grip on her throat. Norsemen invaders had never come this far down the coast.

    “This can’t be good,” she murmured.

    Emily had never seen a Norseman and she didn’t want to. The horrible tales of what they did to entire villages was the stuff of legend. Her heart thudded with the intensity of a blacksmith’s hammer. Nervous energy hummed through her body.

    A hot summer wind blew a strand of her long brown hair across the druid spyglass, obscuring her view. Her horse shifted beneath her and stomped his foot. She didn’t need any more urging, it was time to go. The ship was at least half a day out to sea which would give them just enough time to disappear.

    The click the druid spyglass made as she compacted it made both her and her horse jump. It was silly to think they could hear but knowing that didn’t make the irrational fear go away. Murmuring soothing words to her horse, she patted the arch of his muscular, black neck and took up the reins.

  12. Email:
    Title: Venery
    Genre: Urban Fantasy (Multicultural)
    Word Count: 75K

    Trouble had a bad habit of following me. The sharp ache in my gut burned and it couldn’t be my inner wolf, it wasn’t a full moon yet. My instincts screamed at me to bolt out of the pack house, but I drew a deep breath and decided to get involved. One way or another, the argument I’d walked into would affect me.

    I closed the door behind me, and the hearth’s fire lit the darkened room.

    Radu spoke to a figure in the corner. “It’s done - you’ve killed us.”

    A tall, burly man with black eyes and a sardonic smile stepped out from the shadows - the man I considered my father. “You’ve forgotten your place.” Sandulf’s chest puffed. “I’m the wulfkin alpha and will not be questioned by any pack member.” He wore no shirt or shoes. Bandages traced the length of his arm and chest, blood seeping through the dressing on his shoulder.

    A metallic sensation slinked over my tongue, but I shouldn’t have tasted blood from across the room.

    The tension in the air hung heavy and depressing as if someone had died. “What’s going on?” I surveyed the room, and my first thought flew to Enre’s absence. My stomach scaled up to my throat. Not only was he my hunting trainer, but also an ex I hadn’t let go.

    Sandulf’s head jerked in my direction. His bushy eyebrows lowered and his voice hardened. “This doesn’t concern you, Daciana.”

    “Like hell it doesn’t.”

    I follow you on Twitter and your blog.
    I twitted and blogged, along with links back toy our blog, about this contest:


    Science Fiction Romance
    80,390 words

    I followed the blog and on twitter and posted about the contest on my blog, twitter and facebook.


    He managed to cut her off four steps from sanctuary. Vashia pressed her spine against the steel wall and watched the transport slide to a stop between her and the Comet’s back entrance. The alley she’d snuck down reeked of grease and sweat, and she held her breath for more than just a need for silence. A gutter lizard slithered up the wall opposite her, snapping its purple tongue at invisible insects. Vashia cringed and slid a half step back down the way she’d come.

    The hover sled powered to idle, and the long door panel slid open. Her father’s insignia disappeared into the housing as the gap widened and Jarn stepped out of the vehicle. Vashia’s mouth twisted in distaste at the same time she did her best to merge with the alley wall. Jarn knew about the Comet. Damn it.

    He tugged at his gloves and sneered down the street in both directions. His vulture eyes picked through the riff-raff for any trace of her. Vashia’s skin crawled. She froze in the shadows and fought off the urge to flee. She couldn’t risk one more step, couldn’t risk making a sound that might alert the governor’s aide. Instead she watched his shorn head shake and heard him bark out orders to the driver and the armed thugs standing at either side of his car. “Wait. Keep your eyes sharp.”

    She held her breath until he disappeared into the Comet, until he’d slid his skinny, uniformed shoulders through the nightclub’s entrance and the blast of music faded once more into the clatter and hum of normal street noises. The hover car whined in front of her, blocking the route she’d intended to take. Jarn’s toadies might not have genius level IQs, but they couldn’t miss an attempt to slip past them in the full light of Eclipsis’ primary moon. Vashia backed further into the alley and let out a slow, silent exhale. She was screwed.

  14. duwarrs @
    Contemporary YA
    42000 words

    Three pairs of hands fumble at the cords and tubes connecting me to the machines around my bed. The first one they remove is the tube down my throat, the one helping me breathe. If this one goes badly, the whole plan gets scrapped. The hands pause while I take a shallow, ragged breath. It's not pretty, the first time my lungs work on their own in two weeks, but I'm okay.

    "Hurry," I say, but my voice is so raspy the word is impossible to make out.

    They understand what I'm trying to say, though. The hands go to work again, disconnecting more of the imprisoning machines. The equipment beeps and complains as it separates from me.

    "Hurry," I say again and this time the word comes out stronger.

    The last thing they remove is the heart rate monitor. As soon I'm free from it, an ear-pounding blare erupts, announcing it can no longer detect my heartbeat. Outside my room, a matching blast sounds from the nurses' station. Any second now, they'll pour into my room and wreck my plans.

    A pair of hands lifts me and tosses me over a shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

    "Be gentle," Chelsea, my best friend, admonishes her boyfriend.

    I shake my head. Gentle can wait. Right now, I need to escape. I'm tired of the hospital, tired of the doctors and their tests, and tired of being sick. So I'm leaving, even though I know what that means.

    Today I'm going to die.

    I follow Shelley’s blog
    Spread the word at

  15. 1. Email: elschneider(at)hotmail(dot)com
    3. Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
    4. WC: 104,000

    I wasn’t supposed to die at sixteen.

    But then again, I didn’t really believe I was. Dead that is.

    “Excuse me? Are you totally off your rocker and I’m sorry…who are you?” I scoffed at the potentially gorgeous guy that for some reason happened to be standing in my room. I say potentially gorgeous, as right now I wasn’t impressed with him or what he was saying. “And maybe you should clarify exactly what you mean by ‘you’re dead’.”

    I wasn’t trying to be rude or anything, but come on. What normal person waltzes into someone else’s room, wakes them up from an incredible dream about almost naked male movie stars, and announces to them they’re dead? I mean, who does that?

    Unless of course I wasn’t actually awake…which I had to admit, was entirely possible.

    As I blinked and scanned my surroundings, I realized something stranger than the fact this guy was telling me I was dead.

    We weren’t in my room.

    Oh, my head was beginning to hurt and as I rubbed at my temples, I felt the scratchy plastic bracelet that circled my wrist.


    That pale yellow color was so not in season right now; I mean after all, it was mid-August and nowhere near spring time. So why was I wearing a bracelet that wasn’t remotely chic or in fashion, let alone made of plastic? Um, ew.


    5. I stalk, I mean, follow you both on Twitter and your blog.
    6. I Tweeted about this contest several times, in addition to my blog post on my website:

    Thank you so much for the amazing opportunity! And best of luck to everyone that enters!

  16. 1.
    2. The Gypsy Princess/YA Paranormal Romance/86,300
    3. “Miss?” I looked up from my computer and saw a lady with a name tag glaring down at me, although she was smiling. “Can I get you anything else?”

    I looked at my paper coffee cup, long empty, sitting beside my laptop on the table. I knew I didn't have enough money for another coffee in the Borders Cafe. “Um, that’s okay,” I said, blushing. I was not known for being out-going or outspoken. At all.

    “If you’re finished, I can get this for you,” she said, taking the empty cup from me without even waiting for a response. She stalked away.

    This morning, I had biked to the outdoor mall at Turkey Creek to finally get some internet access and something other than Pop-tarts for breakfast. The local cable and internet provider hadn’t been able to get to our new house, yet. I couldn't even watch trashy talk shows. Three days without internet for a teen is like three days without water. I had over two-hundred messages from my friends in Connecticut, on Facebook and my old Army brat friends to catch up on.

    I had jokingly warned my Dad we would melt if we moved to Knoxville mid-summer. The heat was stifling, the humidity worse, and I had discovered that people around here were more than happy to get into your business. If you were reading a book, perfect strangers would come up and ask you what the title was and what it was about.
    4. Twitter (@ealexandraki) & blogger (!
    5. Twitter and

    Thanks for holding this contest! Very generous! Good luck to you and everybody who enters!

  17. Email:
    Title: Nanoplague, thriller, 132,000

    Skipping lunch, Dr. Catherine Thomas tried some of the usual antiviral medicine with only limited success. Because Raj had merged nanoparticles into the virus, it resisted the drugs. She would have to create a new one.

    All of the sudden, her legs felt weak and her vision blurred, so she grabbed the edge of the table. As soon as the dizziness passed, she hurried out of the bio lab. Just outside, she removed her gloves and mask with shaky hands while keeping on her bonnet, coat and shoe covers. She drew a deep breath and headed for the vending machine. She ate in two minutes and then took time to go to the loo.

    Feeling better, she returned to the lab and decided to test a bit of one of the pup’s blood. She choked when she compared the altered virus in the baby mouse with that of its mother. The nanoparticle-filled virus had already mutated – again. If Raj had been there, she would have strangled him.

    Her eyes threatened to close because she had worked all night, so she decided to go home, shower and sleep a bit before Ryan’s plane arrived.

    She trudged towards her cherry Smart Roadster with shoulders drooping and feet dragging. Halfway there, she heard steps crunching across the sandy concrete. She lifted her head and spotted him: the young man in the suit from the charcoal Audi. He was striding in her direction. Their eyes met, and her pulse kick-started.

    Hi Shelley, I just found your great blog this morning and am all excited about joining! Thank you so much.

    I will be sharing it with my writing group on Writing Dot Com.

    1.YA/Upper MG Contemporary with historical plot
    2.51,000 words
    4.I followed your blog and posted on my blog:

    Sirens blared behind him. Nate glanced at the rearview mirror but knew it couldn't be about him because he was driving extra careful. Rays of blue and red lights beamed through the windows and danced across his dashboard. A squad car came up behind him. Nate frowned when a cop stuck an arm out the window and motioned him to pull over. Nate swore the universe was out to get him. He'd already spent an hour in detention and now this?
    "We're dead, man. Our parents are gonna kill us!" Malcolm said from the passenger seat.
    Surges of adrenaline raced the beating of Nate's heart. He scanned the squall of cars around them and estimated a fifty/fifty shot at losing the cruiser in Boston's rush-hour traffic. But the cruiser darted in front of him, forcing him to slow to a crawl and squashing his escape plans.
    The cruiser signaled a right turn and the cop again motioned Nate to pull over. Nate had another urge to bolt but followed him onto a quiet side street.
    A middle-aged white cop with a beer belly straining against his uniform got out of the car. He started over. Nate gripped the steering wheel.
    "We need to bounce, man," he said to Malcolm.
    "Are you kidding? How hard would it be to trace this car back to me?" Malcolm rubbed his palms against the khaki pants their school forced them to wear. His maroon polo shirt with the B-Prep logo showed perspiration beneath the arms.

    Thanks everyone for helping me polish this!!!

  19. 1. loralie.hall (at)
    2. 'Uriel's Fall', Contemporary Fantasy, 75,000 words

    Mortality wasn’t the epic adventure Ronnie had imagined.

    She paused near the kitchen of the small diner where she worked, blowing black bangs out of her eyes, and resisted the urge to take off her worn sneaker and rub her foot. Supposedly that kind of thing was unsanitary. She didn’t get what the big deal was. It wasn’t like she let the dirt stick to her hands. How gross would that be?

    Invisible flame sliced her skin like razors, pushing away everyone else’s emotion and distracting her from her sore feet. She focused, resisting the urge to whimper from the pain. Normally she adored her empathy and how it translated to physical sensations. Things like contentment brushing her cheeks with rose petals or joy on her lips like raindrops. It was one of the perks of being an angel in a physical form. But she was so getting tired of the creepy void guy who came in day after day and sat in the corner sucking all feeling from the room.

    *He’s back,* a voice whispered. Ronnie forced it aside, not interested in the muttering of the captured demons sharing her mind. She scanned Formica tables and vinyl benches until she spotted the source of the pain across the room. At least he wasn’t in her section that day.

    *He’s like Ace.* That voice was always loudest. *Not worth your attention. Focus. Gentleman on table twelve.* The others ran together until she couldn’t tell them apart.

    4. I follow you on twitter and on your blog
    5. I spread the word on Twitter

  20. Email: jodymarielamb [at]
    Title: “Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool”
    Genre: Middle grade
    Word count: 32,300

    Shelley, I follow you via twitter, blogger and Google Friend Connect. I spread the word about the contest to the writer world on twitter, on my blog and by email to writer friends and critique groups. Thanks again for the opportunity!

    · · ·
    Okay, seventh grade, bring it. I’m ready. Grandma Dottie once told me that sometimes you have to pretend you have a ton of confidence until it’s there on its own.

    This year is essential. Positively vital. It’s the year we officially become teenagers. Coolness at this point can totally wipe out my kindergarten through sixth grade ultra shyness and predictable dorkiness.

    That funny-feeling thing makes its way from my stomach, heads up and lands, lump form, in my throat. It’s one-hundred percent absolutely worse than the moment before the nurse gives you a shot. Butterflies have a dance party inside of me.

    Get a grip, Easter.

    I stand in the roped-off half of the parking lot where parents and buses unload kids to wait for the first bell.

    This is going to be a good one. The kind that I need.

    This year, I have Operation Cool, my official plan to make seventh grade awesome. It’s in a notebook prettified with a purple squiggle-underlined title on the cover. For good luck, it’s stuffed between ten folders in my backpack. I review it in my head for the hundredth time:

    • Step 1: Make a good friend. She doesn’t have to be a best friend just a good friend to do stuff with outside of school.
    • Step 2: Stop clamming up and turning into a statue around boys, especially Tommy Hansen.
    • Step 3: Have a cool thing I’m known for. Everyone has a thing they’re good at like ballet or basketball or guitar. So far, I’m only good at school. I’ll keep getting good grades but not mark the bar so high that it bugs people.

  21. E-mail:
    Title: Dark Moon
    Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
    Word Count: 90,000
    (I follow on Twitter and Blogger, and shared via both.)

    I pushed myself off the ground. Dizziness rushed upon me in waves. The swelling in my ankle had returned, only now it throbbed in agony.

    The hedges guarding the house from the road blotted Miles from view. He wouldn’t return even if I screamed for him, and I had to return to the house, to safety.

    I turned.

    A shrouded form stood between me and the lighted doorway. I fumbled backward, staggered, tripped on my skirts, and rolled.

    Another creature appeared from around the side of the house, black robes limp in the absence of a breeze. More raven forms surfaced in the night following the first, murderous eyes, a great rolling tide of black.

    I had only one course to follow.

    Scrambling blindly away on hands and knees, I veered to my right, to the left, landing on my elbows, tearing my skirts.

    Why hadn’t they overtaken me? They could move so much faster! Did they enjoy my flight? Perhaps they mocked me with the hope I might escape?

    I lunged between gateposts that marked Father’s property and froze.

    Multiple crimson pupils burrowed into me from the wooded shadows—hungry, piercing. How many? Forty maybe?

    Miles stood only a couple paces ahead of me, whimpering in terror.

    They circled us, eyes crushing down.

    This is how it would end. I had seen it a hundred times in the prophetic nightmare, but never wanted to believe.

  22. E-mail:
    Title: REDDO
    Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
    Word Count: 96,000

    The footprints started at the edge of the trail.

    Sophie Rowan propped herself up on one arm to look at them, squinting through the torrential rain that was splashing out of the imprints and onto her already filthy raincoat. Five feet away from her, mud had been chaotically smeared across the trail from where she’d fallen moments before. Before then, her steady, careful footprints led to the slightly raised edge of the trail. They were the only prints on the trail—prints that would be washed away in a matter of minutes, judging from the onslaught of rain and powerful gusts of wind that were tearing leaves off branches.

    None of this explained the unidentified footprints, half-hidden beneath the bushes lining the path. They emerged abruptly and led into the fog that was quickly consuming the forest. Sophie traced one broad track with her finger, noticing how the zigzag tread barely left a mark in the mud. She’d seen enough boot prints to know these hiking boots had been bought years ago.

    She also knew they had no right to go beyond the edge of the trail.

    Sophie pressed her hands into the ground, feeling the muddy, stringy weeds beneath her fingers. If she were her best friend Jacqueline, she would get back to her feet, walk away slowly so she wouldn’t slip again, and try to forget about what she saw. Jacqueline never let stuff like this faze her.

    Instead, Sophie remained immobile in the mud.

    I follow your blog, and posted your contest on my twitter with a link to the page. Great contest!

  23. Email: Greyvaledesigns(at)gmail(dot)com
    Genre: YA Fantasy Retelling
    Word Count: 71,500

    The first arrow nearly killed Beauty. If she had not had the good luck to trip over her injured coachman at just that moment, it would have pierced her breast. Instead, the black shaft of the arrow passed through her ruby curls as she staggered sideways. The coachman cried out when she trampled his broken leg in an attempt to regain her balance. Beauty ignored him, turning to look in the direction from whence the arrow had come.

    She could see the archer then, facing her directly, a second arrow aimed at her heart. Although he stood in the underbrush a great distance away, he seemed much closer, his features explicitly defined. His long hair danced in a breeze that touched nothing else, the silver-blond strands sparkling in the dappled sunlight. His ivory skin glowed luminously, eyes solid black. He seemed a spirit, rather than a mortal man.

    “Lady Beauty!” The injured coachman pulled on the skirts of her gown, breaking her trance.

    Beauty heard the hiss of air and swirled, throwing herself to the ground. Three arrows whistled, following her motion with astonishing speed. All missed their mark by only fractions.

    When her coachman pushed himself onto one elbow to shield her, she caught sight of the archer, again with an arrow directed her way. He held this one though, his unearthly face contorted in rage.

    Greatly offended by the attack, Beauty set about getting out of the mud puddle she’d landed in.

    1) I follow you on Facebook and Blogger

    2) I posted on Blogger about the contest, but it ate the post during the Great Blogger Rebellion... :(

    3) Facebook

  24. Email: blankenship.louise at gmail dot com
    Title: Course Corrections
    Genre: Hard SF thriller
    Word Count: 77,400

    First 250 of Chapter 1:

    Five years ago

    Neal was cooperative, even docile, until he saw the chair and the halo scanner at its head; then he planted both bare feet and backpedaled. His two guards had him by the elbows, his hands cuffed in front of him, and they picked him up easily in the low gravity.

    “No. No, please!” Neal twisted in their grip, and with a bootstrapper’s instinct for low gee shoved one foot down hard behind him. He spun, facefirst, wrenching his elbows out of their hands. Shoving his palms against the floor, he zipped back a meter, put his feet down again and was bolting for the door when they tackled him.

    “No!” His voice cracked, ragged, as they dragged him back to the chair. “Don’t do this! Don’t take her away!”

    “Don’t be ridiculous,” the doctor said, sitting lightly on a stool beside the halo scanner to check the data on his handheld display.

    “Don’t wipe me,” Neal pleaded, tears coming. He flinched when the nurse touched an injector gun to the crook of his elbow, just below the uniform’s sleeve, and dosed him. “Don’t wipe me, please. Don’t take her away. I don’t want to forget.”

    “Neal McBride,” the doc said as his patient was strapped down. “I’m Dr. Seitz and I’ll be seeing you through the first stages of therapy.”

    The guards stepped back once Neal was tied to the chair and his head clamped under the halo scanner. Seitz nodded to them and they left the doctor and nurse with their patient in the white therapy lab.

    Follow: Both blog and Twitter
    Promotion: Tweeted

  25. I follow you on Twitter and your blog - I tweeted and posted about the contest. You are made of awesome Shelley Watters! (or maybe steam - LOL)

    YA Contemporary

    The lined notebook paper was beginning to tear in the crease. I folded it carefully. It was stupid really, carrying around this list, this dream of a perfect life.

    “Sadie!” Miss Myra hollered.

    “Coming!” I yelled and slid the paper into the pocket of my jeans. I hopped down the stairs two at a time, careful not to land in one of the laundry baskets dotting the risers. At the bottom, I almost collided with Katherine.

    Of all the caseworkers I’d had - eight if you count the “still with birth mom” time - I liked Katherine the best. She was fresh out of graduate school and had told me she was determined I would be her first adoption, her special case. Difficult case would be more like it. Because, come on, who was going to adopt a mixed-race sixteen-year-old, and a lesbian at that?

    “Any news?” I asked.

    Katherine was already headed back to the cramped utility room that Miss Myra had outfitted as an office, just for these kinds of visits. I followed and tried to see into her briefcase, the manila file folders jammed in so tight I doubted she could zip it shut.

    She slung it onto the small table and motioned for me to sit down.

    “Well, did they call you? Have you heard anything?” My feet tapped a nervous rhythm on the bottom rung of the chair.

  26. 1.

    2. Title: My Mistake
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Wordcount: 140K 

    3. The first 250 words of Chapter One, A Girl and Her Horse

    Saoirse almost couldn’t help laughing out loud but pressed her lips together instead. The effort of the restraint caused her mouth to quiver. She had a loud and merry laugh and it would really ruin her plans for fun right now if someone heard it.

    She finished tying the last crossbow to her tree and then delicately slid the wire through the trigger, but didn’t let it pull. It wasn’t yet time, the soldiers weren’t in the grove. A wicked smile crossed her face as she scanned the area for her horse. Perfect. Her horse was invisible in the underbrush of the forest. Cea was a smart little thing.

She had staked out this spot for two weeks, making sure the enemy showed up here at the same time every night, learning their movements. They were so stupid that they never looked up. It made the ambush almost unfair, for them, and nearly tarnished her record. Her perfect record.

She had marked out in her head where they all sat or leaned. Men are creatures of habit. But just to be on the safe side she had pointed some of the crossbows at random angles. And of course she had her own bow with her, her quiver strapped across her naked body. Hopefully not ruining her carefully done dark blue war paint. She had a sword too, but that was for mercy killings once the soldiers were shot. It would be foolhardy, even by her standards, to jump into a group of thirty men alone.

4. I follow you on Twitter.
5. I spread the word via Twitter (marykate_leahy) and through my blog (

    6. Good luck to everyone and thank you so much for doing this contest.

  27. 1.
    2. The Courier/ YA Post-Apocalyptic / 65K

    3. “The winds have changed,” Father says as he tugs a pair of thick woolen gloves off his hands, his voice lowering a bit, like it’s a secret. He speaks this way when he wants me to make note of something, to see how a scuffed tree trunk in the woods tells you a deer has marked it, or the way the leaves show their silver undersides before a storm. “Winter’s coming in.”
    “Early this year,” I venture.
    “Early. We’ll need another cord of wood, and soon.” There is more grey in his beard, I notice, than last year. He is getting to the age that I’ve begun to think I owe him grandchildren to ease his work on the trap lines and the fields, but that is far in coming. I turn back to jointing a chicken for supper. “And village council meeting tonight.”
    My mother wrings out her dishrag and laughs. “You say ‘village council meeting’ with that same cranky old codger voice you use when you say ‘early winter.’ ”
    “Well, they’re quite similar. Long. Tiring. Never know when the next storm will spring up.” He acquiesces to my mother’s teasing and laughs. “Besides, we’re talking over next year’s apprenticeships and there’s sure to be a row over a few of them.”
    I’ve waited for the last week for him to mention the apprenticeships, so I prick up my ears.
    “Which ones?” Mother asks, though I know she knows the answer.

    4. I follow this blog and your twitter account
    5. The Twitter :)

    Thanks for this contest! I really wanted to participate in the crit-exchange portion, but was gone all weekend (there are pics on my blog to prove I was in another century, didn't have internet access :) )

  28. Email:

    Our novel, called Blood Bond, is an urban fantasy/paranormal romance crossover complete at 80,000 words.

    by Yelena Casale & Tina Moss
    The scream died in his throat. A foreign sound he couldn’t set free. The surrounding quiet enfolded him, ironically deafening in its intensity. He closed his eyes, struggling for control.
    Blazing pain struck, sweeping through his body like a wild fire. He knelt at the edge of the dark water, watching his muscles contract beneath smooth skin. With a shaking hand, he reached back to touch the empty space by his shoulder blades. He grunted at the contact, an alien noise in the absolute silence of the night.
    City lights shimmered in the distance, the only signs of life. No creature stirred in this desolate place. It was as if humans and animals alike felt the dangerous current in the air and chose to stay away. Only the full moon reflected in the water, an indifferent observer to his torment.
    He caught his image amongst the water’s ripples and stilled. The face that stared back at him, usually so stoic, now contorted in agony. His eyes held wildness that could not be contained, highlighted by a mess of disheveled dark hair, damp with perspiration. Nothing remained of the control, of the precious order that had been the pinnacle of his existence.
    The light autumn breeze cooled his naked body but offered little relief. His blood burned from the inside out. The scorching fire threatened to consume him. Every inch of his being, from the tips of his nails to the ends of his hair, buzzed with soft electric blue energy.

    Tina Moss and I (Yelena Casale) follow you on Twitter and Facebook, and I have spread the word about this contest on both.

  29. Email: bdrake(at)comcast(dot)net
    Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
    Word Count: 90,000

    I swallowed my breath mint the moment some hot guy across the reading room busted me staring at him. I completely froze, blinking, unable to pull my eyes away from him. He totally stood out in the conservative atmosphere of the library with his messy brown hair and tight leather gear. His intense gaze held me for several seconds before I shot my eyes at Afton. Submerged in a book on the Salem witch trials--a strand of her dark hair-weave all twisted around her finger--she hadn't even noticed him.

    A gust of air came from his direction and rustled the pages of her book. I swung my eyes back to him. He was gone.

    "What the . . .?" I blurted and stood to get a better view of the large reading room. The biography on Samuel Adams slipped from my hand and clunked onto the table.

    "Shhh, Gia." Afton glared over her book at me. "Hello? We're in a library."

    We weren't in just any library. We were in the Boston Athenaeum, an exclusive library with a pricey annual fee. Afton's father got her a membership at the start of summer. It's a good thing her ticket in allows tag-alongs, since my pop would never splurge like that, not when the public library is free.

    "What's wrong?" Afton asked.

    My eyes flicked around the reading room searching for the guy. In the core of the room, a collection of antique furniture and sculptures surrounded large walnut tables with leather chairs.

    **Okay, so you know where I stalk you and I've been promoting your contest on twitter, which you know. Thanks for the great contest, Shelley and Judith, you both are fantabulous!

  30. 1. Email
    2. Banished/ YA Historical Fantasy/ 62k


    Prince Caenus deflected a thrust from his friend’s sword. Dodging Galen’s advance, Caenus darted between fluted columns near the edge of the otherwise sparse palace courtyard. The prince sidestepped another lunge while retreating several steps, but Galen’s sword point bit into his ribcage. Again.

    No matter what he did, Caenus could neither escape Galen’s sword, nor his father’s searing gaze. During a lull in sparring action, the prince shot a brief sidelong glance toward where the king brooded. Disappointment bent the lines on King Kranos’ forehead.

    “I need a strong son to reign when Hades darkens my doorstep!” The king barked. “You can’t beat your friend in a swordfight. You can barely ride a horse. When will you be strong enough to command the military?”

    A shaft of sunlight streamed through thickening clouds and onto the royal palace. King Kranos remained in the shadows. Studying. Assessing.

    Galen cut off the prince’s evasive maneuvers. And again, wood beat against wood. Thrust. Swipe. Swing. Block. Dust rose from the ground in random clouds, kicked up by the rapidly moving feet of the young men. Their sparring swords danced against one another as familiar foes.

    “Is that your best, Caenus?” Galen ducked beneath a half-hearted swing. “Is there no more fight in you than this peasant’s display of swordsmanship?”

    Galen knocked the sword from Caenus’ grasp and, with the flick of his wrist, guided the tip of his own sword to Caenus’ throat. “King Me!” Galen beamed with victorious confidence.

    4. I follow you on Twitter and on Blog
    5. I spread the word on my blog, Facebook, and on Twitter

  31. *

    On Fallen Wings
    YA Fantasy
    88,000 Words

    For as long as I could remember, Faeries had danced at Stone Meadow.

    I loved dancing and the night was perfect, like a dream. I was innocent to its graces. Raising my arms, I leaned my head back to absorb glowing blue rays on my face and hands. Then I closed my eyes and caressed the cold tips of grass with my feet, repeating the familiar sway of my steps. As a frosty wisp of air stirred me from my trance, I swept my gown in a circle and spun to kneel where my young sister, Leila, sat watching.

    She reached up and parted a long strand of hair from my face. “That was wonderful,” she said. “Are you nervous for tomorrow?”

    “Oh, yes.” I fell to the grass. “I can’t believe this is happening.” I covered my face with both hands and cried out with joy. “My Day of Promise, at last.”

    Leila rolled onto her stomach and leaned on her elbows, propping her chin with her palms. “What is it like to be in love?”

    I grinned at her curiosity and stretched my arms straight. “It’s like dancing barefoot in the meadow under moonlight,” I told her. “Love tickles your toes and then climbs to your heart.” I rolled on the grass. “It spirals toward your fingertips as you spin and spin. Then it reaches up to the moon, grabs its rays, and pulls them down like a warm blanket.”

    Leila sighed. My sister’s wide eyes revealed their wanting.

    * I follow you on twitter and follow your blog(Sadly, I'm not a fireman)
    * I spread the word on twitter and on my blog

  32. Name: Kimberly A Miller
    Title: TRIANGLES--YA urban fantasy--59,000 words

    First Page:

    If I'd known I was going to end up in my cabin with a hot guy on my bed, I would've worn sexier panties.

    Not that I’m easy or anything, but you know, just in case he caught a glimpse. Is there anything worse than having a guy see your granny panties in the heat of the moment?

    Of course, when I’d packed for my cruise to Bermuda, I had no idea how critical my choice of underwear would be. I had more immediate concerns.

    Like my mom crashing in the ICU for the past six months. I didn’t think it was right to go on some wild spring break blowout while she was drugged up and tubed out. But what my sister, Jessica, said, being my ‘guardian’ and all, pretty much was what I had to do.

    So I went. With her. On this humongo ship to Bermuda, a place I didn’t care to see. Hell, I didn’t even know where it was.

    But it changed my life. It saved me, actually, from my worst enemy—myself.

    T minus one day to departure, I met my best friend, Nisha, for lunch. I wanted to chat with her one last time just in case I didn’t make it back for some reason—like, I don’t know, a sham marriage to some rich dude.

    “What’s your problem, Autumn?” she asked as my face no doubt sported a scowl. She could read me like a shorthand text message.

    “Joey’s outside.”

    *I follow your blog.
    *I spread the word on my facebook page.

  33. EMAIL: marcykate(a)
    GENRE: YA Sci-fi
    FOLLOW: Blog via Google Reader & Twitter
    SPREAD THE WORD: Twitter:!/MarcyKate/status/74477867148394496

    Weightlessness is a funny thing.

    One moment ago, Dean and I were joking about the stupid, lime-green dress his ex-girlfriend wore to prom. His cheeks dimpled when he laughed.

    Now his car skids over the embankment. Our bodies are a blur of pink satin and black tuxedo. My insides lurch and jerk, like knots trying to untie themselves. Dean’s face is a blank sheet of confusion and me, well, I don’t know how I look but I’m sure it isn’t pretty.

    The free fall ends when we hit the tree. All that remains is pain and panic. And noise. All kinds of noise. Screams, creaks, and cracks from all sides. I can’t feel my legs or arms, but I’m standing and screaming and tugging at the crumpled car door.

    Dean’s stuck. I have to get him out.

    Gas fumes sting my nose and burn my chest. I tear the door off the car and nearly tear Dean’s arm off, too. He tumbles out and I drag him toward the field. The car explodes, the flames consuming it in a burst of red and orange. The force throws us back from the wreck. I sit in the long grass in my tattered cocktail dress, barely aware of the hot metal in my hands or Dean unconscious at my side.

    I can’t tear my eyes away from my left arm.

    It’s ruined.

    The skin is ripped open, gaping from wrist to elbow, but I hardly bleed.

    Shock is an understatement.

  34. Thanks for the great contest!

    Email: contact (at) jamigold (dot) com

    Title: The Resurrected
    Genre: Urban Fantasy
    Word count: 93K


    Daniel’s switchblade clattered to the floor from his slackened fingers, the knife the least of his worries. He fell to his knees and ripped open the shirt of the man sprawled on the linoleum. The slash across Demetri’s skin ended at a bloody hole over his heart. Not good.

    “I’m sorry, Demetri. I swear I didn’t mean to. But it’ll be okay, you can heal this.” Daniel fumbled to block the wound in Demetri’s chest. “You’ll be fine. Just fix it.”

    Nothing changed.

    The truth sank into his brain around the same time the pooling blood soaked through his pants. His hand clenched with the temptation to punch the body. This accident would ruin everything. Before his fears gelled, Daniel forced his mind to send a coherent thought to Renaldo, “There’s been a complication.”

    A complication? The understatement prompted a panicky snort. Welcome to the freak show his life had become in the past year. He waited, unmoving, unthinking. Running away and regret would both be pointless.

    Renaldo entered the apartment, his usual poker face in place as he took in Demetri’s form. “This was not part of the plan.”

    No kidding. But Renaldo would hear the truth in any excuses.

    At Daniel’s silence, Renaldo’s gaze moved past him. “And the experiment?”

    Right. Clusterf*** number two. Daniel looked behind him, where the apartment’s resident lay on a futon, the lone piece of furniture in the studio unit. Unlike Demetri, the stranger’s body appeared okay. Appearances were deceiving.


    Follow: GFC and Twitter
    Spread the word: Twitter (

  35. Name: Rebecca T. Little
    Title: Blood Thief
    Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
    Word Count: 65K (but prone to increase as I continue to tinker with the finished product)
    Where I Follow: Twitter and blog
    Where I Spread the Word:!/RebeccaTLittle/status/70541679408582657

    "It's Celeste, anybody home?" I called out, but received no answer as I headed to Catherine’s brightly-lit kitchen. I've seen enough death that I should have recognized what I was seeing, but I stood there frozen as I looked at Catherine. She was sprawled on the floor, her head severed. A dark pool of blood was spreading out beneath her, the red a stark contrast against the cool white tile. I stared for a bit before my brain registered what I was viewing. When it did, I knew what I must do.

    Catherine was the Keeper. She guarded the reliquary vital to our bloodline. Now, temporarily, that task would fall to me as few members knew where it was secreted away. I moved silently through her darkened living room. Barely daring to breathe, I opened the panel at the bottom of the Grandfather clock. A relieved exhalation escaped me as I lifted the reliquary from its hiding spot. My fingers caressed the heart-shaped enameled glass vessel that held the comingled essences of my bloodline. This was the safety and source of our vampiric abilities.

    Stepping outside into the dark pre-dawn hours, I opened my phone to check the time, squinting at the bright screen. Snapping my phone shut, I realized my mistake as faint footsteps followed me. I'd taken the reliquary from its hiding place and whoever had killed the Keeper was now somewhere behind me, waiting on the chance to take it. I had played right into their hands.

  36. Julie Daines

    YA Fiction with an element of fantasy (time travel)
    56,000 words (complete)

    When you kill someone, your life is never the same again.

    Most people can’t understand that.

    My parents couldn’t. They tried pretending it never happened. Impossible. Might as well try to pretend the sun wouldn’t rise in the morning.

    They wanted to put me in counseling, but I refused. No way was I going to confess all to some balding stranger. Besides, I was concentrating more on suppressing.

    They tried waiting. Waiting for this phase to pass.

    Turns out killing your boyfriend is not something you can recover from very easily.

    Then they decided what I needed was a change of scenery—to get away. At last I thought they might be on to something. Dad invited me to go work with him in Alaska, digging up decaying dinosaur bones. Given their previous attempts, this idea was not half bad. A whole summer without people prying into my emotional wreckage.

    I accepted.

    We left Seattle at the crack of dawn, just me and my dad, flying in his airplane on our way to the North Slope. I turned my face to the warmth of the window, then reached up and smoothed down my bangs to cover the scar that outlined half my forehead, just below the hairline. My own scarlet letter—a permanent mark telling the world what I had done. That and the jagged scar that ran down the side of my left leg. An exquisite gash connecting my knee to my ankle. Shame and guilt pressed down on me so hard I was surprised we could maintain our altitude.

    I follow your blog and I follow you on Twitter
    I spread the word on my blog and on Twitter

  37. *I follow you on your blog, and I spread the word on my own blog and on twitter.

    email: mrso_d at yahoo dot com
    Title: Scott and the Naughty Boy Factory
    Genre: Young MG
    Word Count: 19,700

    Pink pony piñata . . . check.

    Invisibility . . . check.

    Cup of worms . . . check.

    I crouched in my favorite tree, fourth branch up from the ground and only one branch over from my sister’s piñata. The perfect place for a ninja ambush. I just needed those girly girls to come a little bit closer.

    My little sister, Victoria, spent all morning picking out her perfect party dress, pink and lacy, with a bow in the back. She and her frilly friends had a fashion show with fake jewelry and feather boas, played “Pin the Crown on the Princess,” and paraded around Fancy Nancy style through the back yard.

    Boor-ing. Time to show Victoria how fun is done.

    I waited above her piñata, holding an old soda cup filled with worms. Only the best ones, though: long and fat and slimy. If worm-collecting was an Olympic sport, I’d be a gold medal winner for sure.

    Oh, yeah. This was gonna be good.

    When the girls finally got close enough, I took careful aim and dumped. The worms and dirt tumbled out of my cup and then—splat!—Victoria screamed and started hopping up and down. I raced down the tree for a better look.

    Victoria’s hair and the shoulders of her pink, frilly dress were covered in dirt and wriggly worms. Excellent! She shook her head and flipped her blond ponytail like it was on fire. Dirt and worms were everywhere, even on some of her friends—and they were screaming too.

    It may have been the greatest moment of my life.

  38. Yamile Saied Mendez
    Word Count: 87,000 words
    Genre: YA Literary Fiction

    I follow your blog and on twitter, and I tweeted about your contest.

    Thanks for the opportunity!!!

    Lies have short legs. I’ve known this ominous proverb since before I could speak.
    Who among my ancestors brought the saying across the Atlantic all the way to Argentina?
    My Russian great-grandmother embroidered it on a pillow after her first boyfriend broke her heart. My Palestinian grandfather whispered it to me every time my mom found his stash of wine bottles hidden in the unlikeliest places, like underneath my bed. My Andalusian grandmother repeated it like a mantra, lost in her old woman insanity, before her memories and regrets called her to the next life.
    Perhaps the saying doesn’t belong to any language, and sprouted from this land the early explorers thought encrusted with silver, and my immigrant family adopted the expression like its own.
    In spite of seventeen years of practice, my lies’ legs haven’t grown stronger or faster. I know the consequences of lying to my father. A reflex slap that will leave my face burning for hours. A session of yelling and blaming his worries on a daughter who’s not as beautiful as her mother nor as smart as he is. A litany of all the reasons he gave my mom for not having any more children after Pablo—perfect, beautiful Pablo—was born.
    With all these thoughts clamoring in my head, I still went to the stadium to watch my brother play in the Scoundrels’ opening match of the season. My brother and that other boy whom the press calls the Titan because on the pitch, he’s more than a god. Diego Ferrari.

  39. Email address:
    Title: CODE
    Genre: Medical Thriller
    Word count: 67,000
    I follow you on your blog and on twitter.
    I posted about the contest on Twitter, my blog, Facebook, and the QueryTracker website.

    The woman lay naked on the old barn door, arms tied out from her tiny body, making her look like she was being crucified. Her long blonde hair coiled under her head, which was taped down to the rough, splintered boards beneath her. A tube snaked into her lungs and fogged with each breath. She struggled with her bonds. Spotlights had been hung in the corners of the room, and the beams focused on the woman on the bench.

    Her scrubs were piled in the corner, white coat crumpled on top. A young man bent over the coat and pulled off a pin. The diamonds that created a shape of a bone sparkled in the bright light of the barn.

    He pocketed the pin and went over to a box in another corner of the structure. He pulled out a brown bottle and a scalpel. He placed a surgical mask over his mouth and nose and walked over to the woman. She screamed against the tube in her throat. No sound emerged.

    He stood to her left side. She squinted in the bright light shining down on her. He opened up the brown bottle and poured the liquid onto the woman’s left side. The woman’s breast and chest were stained amber under the solution. He reclosed the bottle and set it aside. Hoisting the scalpel, he examined the blade. The woman closed her eyes tightly

  40. Email:
    Title: The Collected
    Genre: YA paranormal
    Word count: 81,000

    Through the walls of Emma’s glass bottle prison, the tiny basement room appeared curved and distorted. The door crashed open and the Collector limped over the threshold. Sweat glistened on his forehead and dripped down his cheeks. His stringy, blond hair covered his eyes as he dragged his left leg, smearing a thick stripe of blood across the linoleum floor.

    Emma’s heart sank. She didn’t need to see his eyes. The blood was enough to know he needed her talent again.

    Other glass bottles surrounded her cell on the shelf of the curio cabinet. Spotlights illuminated the carefully placed bottles, casting colorful shadows. Emma prayed he'd choose one of the others, but she knew it was useless. None of them could give him what he needed.

    His fingers trembled as he grasped Emma’s bottle and removed the lid. He brought it to his mouth and inhaled, drawing Emma’s soul in to share his mind and his body.

    His pain hit her instantly and she gasped. She could feel the heat from his left leg as it throbbed with each beat of his heart. He squeezed his eyes closed and blocked Emma’s vision of the small room. When he opened them again, the room lost focus and tilted. He plopped down on the only chair.

    *Fix it,* Emma heard his thoughts as if he were speaking out loud. *And no funny business. If I have to force you this time, I’ll make you remember George for me.*

    I follow your blog and I follow you on Twitter. I tweeted about this contest several times and included a link on my blog.

    There are some really great entries here! Seriously guys...Wow! Judith may have a hard time picking a winner.

  41. Name: S. Kyle Davis
    Email: kyle(at)skyledavis(dot)com
    Title: Blackbird
    Genre: YA Fantasy Thriller
    Word count: 90,000
    Where I follow: I follow your blog and twitter
    Where I spread the word: various tweets (also linked back in my crit post)

    I saw him halfway through the guitar solo for "Die Love, Die." We were playing The Hell Hole in Austin-the most appropriately named metal club ever-when there he stood in the second row. I admit, the twenty-something self-confident creep looked kind of hot with spiky green hair and strong, angular features. Some might have been into that, but he was staring at me... not a good thing.

    The staring itself didn't bother me. I wasn't what you'd call "attractive" (unless short, skinny, and pale is your thing), but I was at least a novelty. I mean... a sixteen-year-old girl playing lead for the biggest metal band in three states? You'd stare too.

    No, his inhumanly green eyes were the real problem. And they were on me.

    I knew where I'd gone wrong. I played too good to be quite human. And there was the bridge on the last song. I just had to show off, didn't I? And now, all my attempts to stay hidden were for nothing. I mean, I cultivated my hardcore "leave me the hell alone" image. I avoided conversations and kept my nose in whatever rock biography I pretended to read this week. No one talked to me. No one knew me. I was invisible.

    And yet, here he was, an elf staring at me while the ameobic mass of bodies churned around him.

    Crap. I really didn't want to die today.


    Title: The Devil's Gate
    Genre: Epic Fantasy
    WC: 140,000

    Jet Taley looked up at the ceiling of his room, shocked that his last moment of life would be spent staring at a wooden beam as it snuffed his life from existence. There was no way he could react in time, even if he knew how his latest power worked, it would be too late. His house was destroyed and he had no hope of escape.

    His day hadn’t started any better and from the moment he woke, he knew something was in the air, something on the horizon. But who could have guessed it would have ended like this.

    It all started when the air exploded as something hit his bedroom window early that morning. He forced himself out of bed and pulled back the curtains. The moment he visualized the window, he was blasted by a round of despair. His eyes landed on a reddish-brown falcon twitching on the ground just a few feet away.

    He looked up to see what had caused the bird to lose control. A thick layer of fog suffocated the air ten feet above the ground. It cast a shadow over everything. The fog was deep blue in color, enigmatic, and embraced the dread now infusing through him. A sound berated his ears from outside his window, as if bones were painfully being broken. He cringed and tried to locate the source of the sound. A forest stood at the far edge of the grass, twenty feet beyond a small pond. Six broad trees stood just a few feet from the forest’s edge. They had been snapped and shattered, like toothpicks in a tornado.

    I follow you on twitter and your blog
    Spread the word through

  43. Email: kimberlee.turley (at)
    Note to Self
    Steampunk/Gaslamp Fantasy
    77,000 Words

    The silver dollar and train ticket Mr. Minchin pushed into her hand at the iron gate of the orphanage meant one thing to Gracie—freedom. Freedom to search for her family.

    The pretense that Gracie planned to spend the rest of her life plucking feathers off dead chickens was as much a ruse as her shrewd caretaker’s parting words that he regretted sending her away. She even suspected this job recommendation was his final revenge for all the fights she’d started with the other children. Though in her defense, she’d ended most of the spats long before Mr. Minchin had need to intervene with his yardstick.

    She didn’t know why her aunt and uncle had never come to claim her, but if they were still in Chicago, despite the passage of eight years, she intended to find them. She refused to believe Mrs. Minchin’s explanation that they simply hadn’t wanted her.

    Gracie’s skin pebbled in the cold spring air while she waited for him to unlock the gate.

    “That money is only to be used as a last resort.” Mr. Minchin wagged a liver-spotted finger at her. “Things are different in the real world. If you’re sassy with your supervisor he’s going to garnish your wages rather than slap your knuckles with a ruler. And if you lose your job at the Rochester poultry factory, don’t bother returning here, since once I close this gate, you’re on your own.”

    “Don’t worry. You won’t be seeing me again.”

    I follow you here as: K. Turley (Clutzattack)
    I spread the word at:

  44. Email:
    Title: Hellhound
    Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense
    Word Count: 95k
    Where I follow and spread the word: Blog and Twitter

    I recalled my father’s perceptive warning earlier today. “You are the daughter of Elders,” he said to me, “ordained for a life on the Council, and on the steady road toward reclaiming greatness. A concentrated flurry of ancient abilities pound within your veins, and have turned you into a ruthless and worthy future ruler. Some view you as a prodigy, while others see an unfurling expanse of troubles. Be careful.”
    His words echoed against warring thoughts. I didn’t care for the life of an Elder. I didn’t appreciate their unjust control over our people, their tight grip on tradition, and their dastardly execution of rebels.
    Perhaps this emotion led to a torrent of rebellion, including my interest in Demetrius, the Black Angel. Our illicit inclinations could unravel the very foundation of our clan. The lowly tracker lived out his days in servitude to our people while I was blood-bound to inherit a throne and marry Nathanial. Our roads should not have collided.
    At first, I didn’t think much of Demetrius. I knew my worth, and any man in his right mind wanted a woman like me-young, beautiful, powerful, and in line to ascend to governing power. Unfortunately, I enjoyed his attention, and soon I realized that I even liked him, arrogant swagger and all.
    His haunting whisper crossed the expanse of space between us in passing. “Selene,” he called out to me in a way only I could hear.

  45. Email: alissa.bilyk (at) gmail (dot) com
    Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy
    Word count: 65,000
    I follow you on Twitter (@lissawrites)
    I spread the word on Twitter, my personal Facebook profile, and my public page

    I am not a protector of the innocent. I am a punisher of the guilty.

    That’s one aspect of my ancestry. My banshee blood screams for the sins of others.

    The pounding of hooves got louder, and I could hear the men – the Storm Riders – bellowing at the top of their lungs. It was no match to my banshee keen, but it was still loud – and terrifying.

    “I won’t leave you,” Laysa said, her eyes wide. “You didn’t leave me.”

    The Riders came into view over the hillock, whooping their war-cry and swinging their swords, their horses frantic and foaming at the mouth, hooves tearing up the soft earth. Tagodan by my side growled horribly, his hackles raised, lupine teeth exposed. Laysa panicked, and shoved me. “Run!”

    But I couldn’t run. Not anymore. My injuries, blood loss, and the weight of my unborn baby were just too much.

    I planted my feet and prepared to meet the Riders head on. They jumped off their horses and came at us, swords drawn.

    Tagodan leapt at the Riders, teeth bared. I quickly lost sight of him among the sea of brown hair and glinting blades. The scent of their sin made me dizzy.

    I twisted my palms down to the earth, and thought, Winter.

    The temperature dropped immediately and the icy wind cut through the warm summer’s day. Snow that burned to touch whipped through the air and ice crusted at my feet.

    But it wasn’t enough.

    I couldn’t protect the innocents.

    YA Paranormal Romance
    *I follow your blog and Twitter*
    *I spread the word on my blog and on Twitter*

    One thing I can say for sure is I’m the only muse in history to ever have been grounded. I know this is true because my father told me. Well, more like screamed it at me while gripping the heck out of a lightning bolt, holding it over his head like a maniac. He totally over-reacted, of course. I mean, come on. Revoking my Inspiration License and grounding me for a hundred years? That completely sucks!

    "Sucks" is a word I learned from my sister Calliope. She spends a lot of time with humans and picks up the best phrases. Whenever she comes home from a case she teaches them to me. Calliope’s a lot more fun than my other sisters—and there are many of us, not just three or nine like humans are misled to believe. And the only one who’s ever been suspended from inspiring? That’s right: me. It’s so unfair. My father says I had it coming, but I swear I’m not a trouble maker; I’m just misunderstood.

    But that’s all over with now. I’ve served my time and I’m about to get my freedom back. Don’t get me wrong, Mount Olympus is pretty much the most beautiful place ever, but I’ve had it with being locked up here unable to do what I was born to do.

    The last step toward my ticket out of here is a meeting with my Inspiration Officer so I can get my license back. That’s where I am now: sitting in his little office of cloud-white walls, rocking back and forth on the hind legs of a rickety chair while I wait for him to show up.

  47. Erica Olson (the profile is for our blog)
    email: ericao75(at)hotmail(dot)com (or the one from the profile)
    A New Day, YA contemporary romance, 67,000 words
    We follow your blog and twitter and spread the word at our blog and by retweeting. :)

    I slammed the car door and rushed past the men putting pieces of my life into a big white truck. I stopped right between my mom and the two movers she was leading toward our house.

    "What are you doing? It isn't time yet! Get my stuff out of there!" I resisted the urge to climb into the truck and push my things back out. Barely.

    "Quit it, Kenz. You have two nights left to mope around. They're only here for the big furniture."

    "I'm not going, Mom. I hate it there and I’m not going." I crossed my arms and blinked back tears. Embarrassing, yes, but they wouldn't stop.

    "We've discussed it a hundred times. This life isn't for us anymore and we're going home." She turned toward me and put one finger in the air when my mouth opened for another protest. "Spend tonight with your friends. Tomorrow will be busy and we leave first thing Sunday morning. Both of us."

    My original plan was to give one last rational argument for staying in Missouri until I went to college. Seeing the moving van in my driveway a day earlier than expected pushed all my rational thoughts to the side. I left without saying another word.

    Two months before, my mom announced we were moving back to Vespa, Wisconsin. I didn't talk to her for a week. Even after that, I refused to acknowledge we were going and she refused to acknowledge that I had any say in the matter.

  48. Email:
    Title: The Trouble with Twenty-Two
    Genre: Women's fiction
    Word count: 99,000

    I follow Shelley on Twitter and I spread the word on my blog and Twitter.

    The first 250 words:

    Gabi took a deep breath, wishing she could disappear. Shrieking children launched handfuls of strawberry and chocolate ice cream at each other, smearing their taffeta dresses with sticky streaks. A small boy, his nose wet with mucus, strangled Gabi’s balloon animals, bringing each one to its death with a pop. Gabi winced. The intricate poodles had taken her hours of training to perfect.

    “Are you having a good time?” Gabi asked a little girl with pigtails. The child’s face crumpled and reddened as she erupted into tears. “Mama!” she cried out, turning on her patent leather heel and stumbling towards her mother.

    Beads of sweat trickled down Gabi’s back underneath the polyester fabric of her jumpsuit. Her scalp itched. She wiggled a finger through the tightly wound curls of her red Afro wig to scratch the dry skin. She wanted to tear off her foam nose and breathe the summer air in deep, yoga-like breaths. But she couldn’t break character.

    Mrs. Prescott glowered at Gabi, her vivid blue eyes smoldering against her tangerine colored spray tan. If it weren’t for the Botox, Mrs. Prescott’s attractive features might have contorted into a snarl. Gabi straightened her back. She wouldn’t let this Real Housewives prototype break her confidence. After all, she was a self-assured twenty-two year old who’d graduated summa cum laude.

    But as Mrs. Prescott curled her collagen filled lips in disdain, Gabi’s heart sank. She was a University of California alumna hired as a clown at a toddler’s birthday party.

  49. 1) E-mail: grayghost98 (at) gmail (dot) com
    2) Title: Undead Chaos
    Genre: Urban Fantasy
    Words: 82,700
    3) (entry below)
    4) Follow: Twitter, blog, and FB.
    5) Spread: Twitter and blog.

    Every so often a single event changes your life forever. For some it’s the appearance of a lost love. For others, it’s discovering your inner passion.

    For me, it was killing a woman’s husband.

    “I’m looking for Marcus Shifter,” the lady on the phone said. There was a muffled banging noise in the background.

    I paused the movie I was watching. “That’s me.”

    “My name is Carly Banks and I was told you were the magician to call for, um, unusual problems.”

    “We call ourselves Skilled, Ms. Banks,” I corrected, grabbing a notepad off my coffee table and jotting her name down.

    “Whatever. All that matters is whether or not you can help me. I need an experienced fixer who doesn’t ask questions. You aren’t a government magic-guy, are you?”

    I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Technically I am a licensed Combat Warlock for the Delwinn Council, but I do a lot of freelance work. Odd jobs are my specialty.”

    “How odd?”

    I’d heard that many times. “People have different definitions of the word, Ms. Banks. What’s yours?”

    “My husband died a month ago and now he’s on my lawn with a shotgun.”

    “That works. Give me the details.”

    “Anthony, the cheating bastard, had a heart attack the day I kicked him out. Three nights ago he showed up on my lawn. He was gone the next morning, so whatever, right? Then he returned last night and chased my boyfriend off the property. Tonight he’s armed.”

  50. Email:
    UNDISTURBED, YA Paranormal Romance, 78,000 Words

    I never believed I was safe. No one at Weller Prep with the exception of Bobby Vincent was, but that was about to change. I elbowed the doorbell, my hands too sore to bend, and unclenched my jaw as his mother approached the door. “Good morning, Mrs. Vincent.” I’m here to kill your son.

    “Deyan, long time no see. Come in,” she said, opening the door. “I love your gloves. There was a girl wearing a pair at our benefit last week, but they weren’t as cute as yours.”

    “Thank you.” Today wasn’t about being fashionable. What I needed was to blend in. I had hoped picking a pair closest to my skin tone would work.

    “I was hoping to catch Bobby before he left for school. Is he still here?” Of course he is, his LX is parked outside. He was lucky I liked his mother too much to slash his tires. After six years of his pranks, there was no telling what I might do, especially since I had skipped my meds.

    “Let me check,” she said, looking up at their iron staircase. “Bobby? Deyan’s here to see you.”

    My phone buzzed for the thirty-fifth time. His jokes were one thing, but posting my phone number online was going too far. He knew I would be looking for him after receiving his list. He hadn’t replied to any of my texts. Granted they contained some of the most offensive f-bomb mash-ups my best friend, Nikki, could conjure up.

    I Follow you on Twitter and Your Blog
    I spead the word via twitter and my blog

    (Also, I had to post anonymous because google wouldn't let me sign in)

  51. Email:
    Title: Chronicles of a Demonsbane
    Genre: YA Dark Fantasy
    Word count: 55,000
    I follow you and spread the word on Twitter :3

    Fay leaned her upper body out of her burrow’s lid, sighing at the carefree nature and happy song of the local sea birds that flitted above her head. Everyone said that they were the most beautiful birds in the area, that they made perfect pets for royalty. But what did that matter? The noise of their wings flapping annoyed her. She picked up a nearby rock and nailed one right in the chest. Ten points for the artful nosedive, but the landing sucked.

    “Come eat your breakfast, Fay,” called her father, Val. Foster father, really, but it made no difference to either of them. Fay was blind and didn’t see their physical differences, Val was open minded and didn’t care. You’d have to be open minded to adopt a fair skinned child.

    Fay huffed and closed the dreadful heat and salty air away as she skulked back down the ladder to the table. “My potato is shaped like a foot.”

    “Fay,” warned Val.

    “No, really, it has five toes and everything…” She poked each toe with her finger. “No, it has seven. Close enough.” She made her potato foot skip merrily around the rim of her plate.

    “Don’t play with your food, honey. Come on, now, you’ll be late for school.”

    Fay sighed heavily. “Do you think they need potato-foot dancers in the circus?”

    “For the last time, you’re not joining the circus.”

    “At least I’d fit in there.”

  52. Title: Dream Girl
    Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 75,425
    Follow: This Blog
    Publicity: Posted the link on my FB page.

    For most of my eighteen years, everything had been as normal as the Cheerios I’d eaten for breakfast. I was still getting used to living in my apartment but confident that I’d be all settled by the time college started in September. Summer stretched out before me like a lazy cat. Nothing about it, or my regular drive to work, indicated that the Gothic adventures I so loved to read were about to become more than fiction.

    Ten minutes late, as usual, I hustled into the public library, my workplace for the past three years. Ditching my purse in my locker, I strode into the workroom, an open space populated by cubicles for the librarians and long tables for the support staff. I held my breath as I scurried past the row of supervisor offices on my right. The last thing I wanted was for one of them to glance at their clock and see that I wasn’t manning the circulation desk yet.

    Escaping detection in supervisor alley, I made it to the staff copy room, where our mailboxes resided. Hoping to just duck in to retrieve my nametag, I discovered my boss, Laura Faust, talking to a guy who wore his brown tee shirt and rumpled jeans really well. At least, he looked good from behind, which was all I could see of him.

    I tried to inconspicuously snake my arm around them to access my mailbox but Laura stopped me.

    “Christine,” she said. “I’d like you to meet Gabriel, our new page.”

  53. Email -
    Title - Hidden in Shadows
    Genre - Urban Fantasy
    Word count - 96,000

    I follow your blog and twitter and mentioned the contest on my blog.


    Heavy breathing. His - the hunted.

    My unsuspecting prey muttered a curse as he lost his footing and slid a few feet down the mountainside.

    I smiled. Easy pickings, compliments of cocaine.

    Rocks tumbled down as he stumbled again, splinters of shale forcing me to hide behind a tree. I'd waited four days for this - my chance to hunt and kill him at my leisure with no eyewitnesses. I wasn't about to let him see me and make a break for it.

    I peeked around the oak, and the setting sun momentarily blinded me, blood reds and flaming oranges blurring together like the gates of Hell. How appropriate.

    He stood, hunched over, his hands on his knees. His labored breathing shook his large frame, the back of his neck the same bright red as the sunset. If he continued at this pace, I might not have to kill him. His heart could give out. Perfect... Save me the trouble.

    But I couldn't rely on the possibility of a heart attack. He had to die by my hand if I wanted to get paid. I removed a throwing knife from its sheath inside my right boot and took aim.

    Voices sound, loud and near. Other hikers. I grimaced. Now was not the time to make my move. Not yet.

    The man now sat on the edge of the path in a stupor, idly picking up pebbles
    and letting them fall into a pile. The red Louisiana clay of Driskill Mountain stained his trembling fingers.

  54. Title: The Trajectory of Dreams
    Genre: Psychological Drama
    Word Count: 86,400
    Follow: Twitter and blog
    Publicity: Posted on twitter and my blog

    Breaking into Colonel Janet Markowitz’s house had been the easy part; cataloging her living space annoyed me. The bulbous head of the ceramic knick knack stared at me with the wide, innocent eyes of a horse caught cribbing the wood of his stall. It seemed like a stupid thing for a woman of science to have on her bedside table. It was too frivolous, too child-like.

    Silly tchotchkes didn’t litter my bedroom. I might not have been an astronaut like her, but I believed in science, too.

    When I’d been a child, I’d dreamed of seeing my name on a NASA uniform, “Lela White” embroidered in white on the patch on my chest. It still mattered to me who wore the space shuttle patch on a jumpsuit, and this woman . . . well, the adult Smurf pajamas she currently wore just didn’t fit the gravitas of someone who’d be rocketing into space. Not that there was anything inherently wrong with cartoon sleepwear, but it didn’t seem right for a serious person – maybe if she’d known I planned to break in to watch her sleep, if my studies were done through formal channels, she would have worn something more dignified.

    She’d been chosen as part of the crew for the upcoming Empire mission, for the love of God. I’d expected more of her until I’d gotten to know her a little bit through my observations over the last few weeks. Now I thought it likely she’d own cutesy socks with bunnies and puppies on them. It would have been okay for anyone else to wear them, but an astronaut?

  55. email:
    Genre: YA Para. Rom.
    Word Count: 88,000
    I follow your blog and your tweets
    I tweeted and facebooked about contest

    The books reeked of salt and rotting fish. I kind of liked it. But my nose was from out of town and probably the only one that noticed. Colorado libraries only carried the scent of aged paper and dust. Not nearly as charming.

    I continued browsing, finding the search as satisfying as the read. It was definitely better than choosing between name brand cream cheese and the cheap stuff. Running errands for Mom really bugged, but it at least gave me an excuse to get out. Alone.

    This summer my wallet was finally home to a plastic card with my name and face. The picture had turned out dreadful, but fortunately, a glamorous photo wasn’t a requirement for the freedom it offered. Well, a little bit of freedom. Mom didn’t let it flow freely, but every ounce she let leak, I soaked up like an old sponge. Anything to make my life less vanilla.

    A man at the end of the aisle caught my attention as he sat near the window to read, bright colors parading over the comic section. My gasp brought his interest from the paper to me. Strings of black hair fell over his forehead, screening his sunken eyes, and the bones in his face stuck out sharp beneath skin that could snap. An invisible darkness hung around him so flawless I could almost taste its putrid flavor.

    But there was more. Something ran deeper, radiated from within. Something I sensed more than saw.

  56. 1. email: formlit at yahoo
    2. title: My Ancestors, My Blood; genre: Urban Fantasy; wordcount: 70,500
    4. Where you follow me: google reader. twitter.
    5. Where you spread the word: twitter.
    3: first 250 words. (260 words really). sorry about the ten extra words

    The witch doorman’s aura hovered above his dark hair like a weak green halo. I allowed him to tie a thin green ribbon around my wrist as proof of payment. “Keep it on,” he told me. “You will regret it if you don’t.”

    The ribbon was warm and soft as a flower petal. The charm had probably started out as a plant. It glowed against my skin, obvious to anyone with a smidgen of magic. A symbol that I was a normal human being, just in case anyone failed to recognize I didn’t leak magic. Just as well. Considering the effort I had put into my glamour, it would be humiliating if anyone saw through it.

    It was dim inside. I spotted Mags at the bar, giving his lady a drink.

    No female witches to supervise. Odd. Not for the first time, I wondered where Mags found so many males witches willing to work outside the coven.

    “What’ll you have?” the bartender asked. His aura was strong for a male witch, a speckled forest-green. It waved back and forth over his head like a demented bird. Leeching magic damaged auras like that, but it wasn’t proof.

    “Surprise me.”

    He drew me a cold mug of beer. Green pinpricks of a leeching spell lay across the top like sprinkles on ice cream. Not enough to affect me, but enough to affect someone with very weak magic.

    All the evidence I needed to call in a raid.

    I slipped the signal mirror shard from my pocket and crushed it under my boot.

  57. Thanks for this contest, Shelley, and thanks Judith for your time!

    Title: Heartstoppers
    Genre: YA/Contemp 47k words
    Where I follow + spread: Blog, Twitter respectively :)

    First 250 words:

    It’s not my fault Hailey Demetropolis wants to punch out my teeth.

    She doesn’t punch, really. Like all pretty girls she prefers the roundhouse, open-hand slap. The one that’s easy to stop, and even easier to counter with my signature face jab. I call it the Nose Job. In Hailey’s case, it'll be her second. Her eyes flare as she pulls a perfectly manicured hand back. I lash out with my knuckles. Her body crumples backward, and the greenery surrounding the eleventh hole streaks red. When her head comes up, her hand is pressed over her torrentially bloody nose as her minions screech.

    “You bitch!” A blonde growls.

    “Look; unibrow, cameltoe, orange tan,” I point to the three of Hailey’s lackeys, “Do me a favor and put some ice on that for her. And give her the name of your plastic surgeon, okay? He’s obviously much better.”

    From behind them I can see the golf course security sprinting towards me, visors bobbing. I take off running down the green.

    “Stop!” The security yells. I can barely hear their voices over their panting.

    “Too many Doritos, boys?” I dance around a sand trap. Women with cardigans on their shoulders and men with expensive watches all gape as my entourage and I speed towards them.

    “Afternoon.” I nod breathlessly as I pass, taking one of their golf bags and throwing it to the ground before trotting into a sprint again. The security swears and maneuvers around the bulky shape.

  58. This comment has been removed by the author.

  59. Wow! Great contest idea. Thanks!

    I am a follower and have posted this contest on my blog.

    Title: Left of Unsaid
    Genre: Literary Fiction, 83K words
    I follow through blogger and posted this contest on my blog

    The morning Daddy died, Leanne stayed back at the lodge. She might have gone along she often thought afterwards. But she was the ‘good sister’ and let herself be waved away without any fuss at all. She chewed the collar of her t-shirt until it was as moist as the weedy rim of the lake and watched as Daddy pushed the canoe out past the shallows, her older sister Claudette sitting stiff and straight in its bow.

    Leanne waited until they were an indistinct hump on the far flat horizon then she went inside to tidy up. She was standing at the kitchen sink when she first heard the shouting, tourists with high, frightened voices. “Holyshit! Holyshit!” they honked over and over like the calls of some strange bird.

    A bass boat headed for the put-in, and Claudette was hunched inside it, her pale hair streaming, her face all fury and fear. The boat scraped up on the ramp and, Claudette leapt to shore. She stood in the wet sand, the corners of her mouth pulled wide as if in preparation for some monstrous scream.

    Where was Daddy?

    Leanne ran. It wasn’t far; the ramp had once been part of the Idylwilde’s scant allure. But before she got there, Claudette took off down the state highway and into the brushy woods, away.

    “Holyshitholyshitholyshitholyshit!” the men kept on. And she saw that Daddy lay in the few inches of water at the bottom of their boat.

  60. Email: abfennerwriter (at) gmail (dot) com
    Title: Miss Floret and the Luministe: A Cautionary Tale
    Genre: Fantasy with Regency sensibility
    Word Count: 130k

    A proper lady would not have locked herself in the manor library with a corpse. A proper lady would have overlooked the desecration of her dead sister, placed the holy oak and apple branches in the casket, and closed the lid—if only for the sake of moving past this entire unpleasant drowning episode.

    Miss Lyanne Floret, bastion of Floret decorum, clutched the holy oak and apple branches and stared at the splayed angles of Rya’s newly-broken fingers. Leaning over the coffin, she considered her obligations. The last two days she had marinated in lung-crushing grief. Now, as she touched her younger sister’s cricked fingers, fury heated the grief to a boil.

    With a squeal, Lyanne turned on her heel, the floor-length skirt of her bombazine dress wisking with every step. She slammed the library door, wedged a chair under the knob, and shoved the tip of the fireplace poker in the keyhole for good measure.

    Lyanne’s brothers and father came half an hour before the scheduled burial. First her father Gared tried the doorknob. Muffled voices conferred in the corridor before he knocked and called her name, his words escalating from an empathetic rumble to a booming shout. Lyanne stood beside the coffin, patting her younger sister’s swollen cheek.

    “This is Bralla’s fault, verity,” she muttered, smoothing Rya’s brown hair, setting the creases of her dress as naturally as the coffin would allow, and lacing the black boots on her feet. “Of course Father sent in that woman the instant I stepped away. Look at the state she put you in! On my word, she’ll be given notice for what she’s done!”

    Thanks for another awesome contest, Shelley! I'm following your blog and Twitter. I also spread the word here:

  61. -

    - “In Irons” YA Fantasy 58,000 words

    Liz Kavanagh wasn’t quite sure when she had decided today was going to be life-changing for her . . . but she had. No more being a wallflower; no more being the shy bookworm. Liz was determined to be more social. After all, she was now a teenager.

    Liz pulled out the small vanity chair and looked at herself in the mirror. She grabbed a clip off of the dresser and twisted her hair, then secured it. Her long orange tendrils hung over the clip. Liz cocked her head, pursed her lips and studied herself, trying to decide if her hairdo made her look any older.

    “Nope, nothing,” Liz said under her breath. I hope this year is different, she thought.

    Liz turned to her younger sister, who was snoring in the twin bed next to her. “Get out of bed! We have so much to do today!” she sang.

    Eleven-year-old Anne tried to ignore both the sunlight coming through the bedroom windows and her abnormally bubbly sister being normally bossy. Anne shoved her head under her pillow with a groan.

    When her head finally emerged from under the pillow, she saw her sister staring at herself. Anne rolled her eyes and smiled knowingly.

    “Do you think he’ll come?” she asked Liz.

    “I don’t know,” Liz replied, trying to sound indifferent. “I haven’t even thought about that.”

    Both girls knew that was a lie, but Liz shrugged off Anne’s teasing. She wouldn’t let anything spoil her special day.

    - I follow your blog and twitter
    - I spread the word on twitter, facebook and my blog

  62. Title: DARKLING
    Genre: YA Fantasy
    Word Count: 68,000
    Follow you here and on twitter
    Spreading word on Twitter and on my blog


    The heavy stoneware crock slipped from Taela’s grasp, and smashed to the dirt floor. She jumped back as shards of pottery and summerbeans scattered at her feet. She bent to clean the mess and heard footsteps approach from the other side of the weathered door. Cursing herself for her carelessness, she ducked behind a barrel.

    Blood rushed in Taela’s ears. Ribbons of moonlight shone through the slats of the storage shed illuminating the casks, barrels and crates stacked around her. The sour smell of vinegar soaking the dirt overpowered the scents of aging wood and hay.

    The wooden handle turned and the door inched open. Taela hunched in the shadows, holding her breath. A young woman wearing a white nightdress entered, flickering candlelight illuminating her face. Selita. Long brown hair hung loose around her shoulders and she carried a wooden spoon as if it were a club. Misshapen shadows cast by the candlelight danced on the opposite wall.

    Taela shifted to ease a cramp and her boot scuffed the hard-packed dirt. Selita turned toward the sound. “Who’s there? Show yourself or I’ll let in the dogs.” She was bluffing. The dogs weren’t anywhere near or their yapping would have given Taela away. Selita took another step toward her hiding place.

    Taela cursed under her breath. She'd almost gotten away with it. Conceding defeat, she stood. “Selita, it’s me.”

    Her cousin shrieked, then laughed. “Taela, you nearly startled me to death! I thought you were a Terrinian raider.”

  63. Email: mculi (at) aol (dot) com

    Title: BLINDED

    Genre: Y/A Contemporary

    Word Count: 58,000 words

    Follow you on your blog and twitter. I spread the word on my blog and twitter.


    One moment I’m my Dad’s personal punching bag, and the next, well, I’m a pawn in his maniacal master plan. That is, until Danny discovered my secret.

    Once again, I found myself at a new school, the third in two years. It sucked having a dad in the military.

    The final bell rang. The halls cleared with the slamming of doors. As I wandered about searching for my classroom, I heard someone approach me from behind. I turned and saw a blonde guy walking up the center of the hallway. He completely ignored me. Long bangs fell over his eyes as he loped past me with a kind of natural ease.

    “Hey, dude. Could you tell me how to get to room 305?”

    A slight curl formed on his lips as he faced me. He tossed his head. Platinum fringe shifted to the side and revealed freakish blue eyes that glanced toward me, unfocused.

    “I’m heading that way.” His deep voice held a trace of a southern accent.

    He turned and continued his long strides.

    I envied his height: well over six feet and me just an average dude.

    “You better move. Conners loses it when you’re late.”

    I rushed to catch up to him. His hand overshot the rickety, metal banister. On the second swipe, he made contact and climbed the stairs.

    “What’s your name?” he asked.

    He never turned back, not even when he spoke.

    “Aidan,” I said, as I caught up to him at the top of the stairs.

  64. Email:

    Title: Sanctuary
    Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 52000

    It had been so long since Laina was free to move around in the sunlight that she had almost forgotten what it’s warm embrace touching her skin was like. Even the winds cool fingers brushing against her face caught her off guard. When its refreshing memory came rushing back to her finally, Laina sank into it with a grateful smile.

    “One day, Laina.” Rain was glaring at her from where he was leaning against Sanctuary‘s wall.

    Laina just smiled. She wasn’t always afraid of Rain. Lately though, her feelings towards him had changed. As had his actions.

    “I mean it, Laina. Lotus only gave you one day to do whatever you want. If you’re not back by-”

    “This time tomorrow. I know. I know. Now may I go, Rain?” She started braiding her long chocolate tresses nervously as she waited for him to give her the freedom she was desperately craving. Once she had thought being sixteen forever was the greatest thing in the world. After a few centuries however, that feeling had worn off.

    Rain ducked his five o’clock shadowed head and mumbled something that Laina couldn’t understand. Before she had a chance to ask him; Rain looked up. “Fine. Just remember.”

    As soon as his raspy voice reached her ears, Laina nodded quickly and started running as fast as her legs would carry her, kicking up dust as she went. Every step that she took brought her one step closer to where she longed to be.

    She was glad that the Sanctuary had given her a something to wear.

    I follow you on twitter and your blog!

    I spread the word on twitter and my blog.

  65. Name: Alison Miller
    Title: Envious
    Genre: YA Paranormal
    Word Count: 73,000

    I follow you here and on twitter. I blogged and tweeted about the contest.

    Mookie’s suicide hit like a sledgehammer to my chest.

    He didn’t leave a note. No call. Not even a farewell text. Not a single clue as to why he jumped off the top of our bleachers—over fifty feet up.

    They found his body early Sunday morning. They being Mr. Graham, my tenth grade Geometry teacher with a pug nose and a body to match. He arrived at school for a pre-dawn run and spotted Mookie’s sneaker sticking out of the new fallen snow. Then a frostbitten hand nearby it. A frozen pool of blood.

    A police car arrived shortly after, then an ambulance. Even a fire engine although I wasn’t sure what that was for. A fire had already been put out—a burning heat that used to fuel my existence was long gone.

    Mookie lay on his stomach at the bottom of the bleachers, a short rusty stake the claim to his demise. The police concluded he hurdled the protective back, and the stake gouged his heart when he fell on it. Tox reports would take a week, but I knew Mookie’s system contained a combination of weed and booze—how much remained the question. Enough to delude my carefree best friend into thinking he should jump, ending what had seemed to be a great life with a bright future.

    Yep. Mookie was my best friend. Most of the time—my only friend. And on January 3 he took his life.

    This is where his story ends.

    And mine begins.

  66. Name: Taryn
    Email: tarynalAThotmailDOTcom
    Title: PLAYING GOD
    Genre: YA futuristic
    WC: 75K
    Following: blog
    Spread word:


    The inscription was faded and scratched, but Kalyn had never seen such potent words.

    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

    It had probably been there for centuries—one, at least, since no one had believed in the silly myths of religion for over a hundred years—but the weathered lines suggested longer.

    Every time she came to this spot, it seemed bolder, deeper, more prominent than the last, as if time itself were going backward and erasing the very marks of age. At that ridiculous idea, Kalyn gave a rueful laugh, the sound echoing in the empty ruins of the old building. Progress. That was the key word of this era. Moving forward step by step and leaving behind anything that would suggest man did not have control of the world.

    Her gaze slid from the thick gray wall and searched the sky above. Through a jagged hole in the roof of the crumbling structure they used to call a chapel, she saw the moon hanging like a fat fist amongst a glimmering array of stars. A burst of light cut the darkness in half, and for a moment Kalyn could almost bring herself to believe she’d seen a shooting star.

    But no. Reality told her it was most likely a shuttle, or a passenger plane, or even a ship off to the colony on Mars. Not something as natural or uncontrollable or beautiful as a shooting star.

  67. Email: jenduffey81 (at) gmail (dot) com

    Genre: YA Contemp
    Word Count: 60,000

    I opened the door to the New Orleans School of Creative Arts and inhaled deeply. It was the first day of my junior year. Only two years ago I had walked through the same heavy oak doors with wobbly knees, unsure and afraid of what lay ahead. Now, I sashayed in with my shoulders back and chin high. I had to be on top of my game this year to get into my first choice design school.

    My confidence wavered as soon as my phone played The Devil Went Down to Georgia, the ringer I'd chosen for my parents.

    "What?” I knew my parents deserved my respect, but those days were long gone. They only called when they needed me to do something or to pretend like they cared about me. The conversations were never longer than five minutes and usually tense.

    “Well, I wanted to make sure everything was ok.” My mom’s voice cracked. That was unlike her. Mom was a master of emotion, the queen of putting on a smile and hiding any sour feelings.

    I paused, “Umm…yeah, everything’s fine. Why wouldn’t it be?”

    “I just got a call. I mean I wanted to check on you. Wanted to make sure you were okay. Well, I suppose I should be going now. Good..." Mom started, but I interrupted.

    “Wait, you got a call? From who?”

    “A call? What are you talking about? I didn’t say anything about a call.” Her words tumbled out.

    - Posted on twitter and blog (
    - Follow you on Twitter and blog

  68. Jackiefelger(at)gmail(dot)com
    BREATHE FOR ME/YA urban fantasy/79,000 words

    I buried my nose in the sleeve of my hospital gown, but it did little to mask the stench. “Next time, warn a girl before you show her a corpse.”

    “He isn’t dead, Hadley.” Dr. Ramsey pushed the bed railing down, causing a loud clank to echo throughout the room.

    I jumped. The body didn’t.

    “If that noise didn’t wake him, nothing will.” I inched closer to the bed. Scarlet puddles seeped through the sheet at one end. Ten toes poked out at the other. Was this his not-so-subtle way of letting me know I’d be next?

    Dr. Ramsey tugged on the sheet, revealing a guy who could’ve served as an extra in a horror flick. A gash on his forehead nearly leaked brains, and his face sported numerous cuts, making his head look like it had been used as a piñata.

    The smell of rancid meat grew stronger and almost knocked me to the floor. I gripped the mattress, trying to anchor myself. “What the hell happened to him?”

    “That’s not your concern,” Dr. Ramsey said, ignoring my freak-out fest. “Your focus should be on healing him.”

    “That’s what this is about?” I clenched my teeth, anger surging inside. “You kidnapped me because you thought I could heal him?”

    “I didn’t kidnap you.”

    “Hello? When you barge into someone’s bedroom in the middle of the night and take them by force, it’s considered kidnapping.”

    “We’ll discuss that incident later. Right now, I need you to heal him.”

    **I follow your blog and twitter.

    **I spread the word on twitter:!/JackieFel
    and on my blog:

  69. Maryanne Fantalis
    (1) shaxpeare(at)live(dot)com
    (2) "Finding Kate" YA Historical Fiction/ Shakespeare Adaptation 49,500 words
    (4) I follow you on FB, Twitter and your blog
    (5) I spread the word on Twitter and my blog

    First page of "Finding Kate: The True Story of the Taming of the Shrew"

    Oh, the weekly torment of market day. The entire village gathered on the green at the center of town to buy and sell, to visit with neighbors, to chat with friends, to flirt, to laugh.

    I detested market day but Father, as the self-appointed most important man in town, insisted that I go as an escort for my younger sister, Blanche.

    I detested Blanche as well.

    Every Monday, carters and merchants from all around set up their carts on the grass of the broad common, vying for the best spots in the shade of ancient apple trees. Merchants who had businesses in town opened wide their doors and set baskets of wares on their front steps. Within an hour after dawn, the market was as alive with activity and sound as a beehive. And just as a beehive has its queen, this market had my sister Blanche.

    One’s eyes were drawn to her; it was impossible not to notice her. She stood beside a fruit carter’s wagon, one hand lightly on the rough wood. Her pink lips were parted in a smile revealing her perfect teeth, her hair cascaded over her shoulders in waves, and her eyes gleamed golden brown, a perfect complement to the honey of her hair and peach of her skin. Around her were gathered her followers: the two Eleanors, three Alices, three Margarets and three Marys of Whitelock who formed her little flock.

    Shelley and Judith, thank you so much for this opportunity!

  70. 1.
    2. Blood Hex, YA Supernatural
    3. I am now following you on Twitter!
    4. And I spread the word on Twitter!

    Sarah cut the headlights to her Escalade as she pulled into the circular driveway. Her heart thundered as the GPS's tinny, indifferent voice said, You have reached your destination. She put the vehicle in park and peered up at an old style Victorian house. The porch light lit up a sliver of the enormous home, casting a yellow glow over the cracked cream-colored paint. Weird, but it's just how she imagined it would be.

    Only one downstairs window showed signs of life. A stream of different colors flashed onto the glass. A TV played.

    The clock in the dash read 10:30. It took her longer than she thought. “Crap, it's late.” How late do old people stay up? She threw herself back into the leather seat and let out an annoyed grunt. Like I know.

    Her fingers thrummed against the wheel and after taking a long look over at her passenger seat, “Ugh. Don't wimp out now,” she hit the call button. It beeped. “Call Mom,” she said. The car's Bluetooth dialed and then rang.

    The phone picked up, nothing but loud music and her mom's laughter came through for a few seconds. “Hel-lo,” her mom shouted in a voice dripping with alcohol. “What's up girlfriend?”

    “Mom, I asked you not to call me that.”

    “What-ever,” she crooned. A male voice erupted in laughter over the speaker.

    Sarah rolled her eyes. “You know it's Tuesday, right?”

    “Of course I know it's Tuesday. Fat Tuesday! I'm at the Clamshell!” The speaker bounced her shrill voice around the SUV and then giggles took over.

  71. Word count for the above is 56,000. Sorry! Forgot it in my original post.


    LILITH; Dark Fantasy; 78,000 words

    Commander Sammy Crane’s footfalls echoed through the corridors of the darkened ship as the Navy chaplain made his way toward vulture’s row on the port side of the ship’s island. It was where he liked to go to relax, to think, out under the stars, the salt sea air caressing his skin like a warm lover.

    He reached the final passageway, lights the color of blood illuminating his path.

    Blood. Always so much blood.

    He shook the thought from his mind as he undogged the door, stepped out and gently closed it behind him.

    The one-hundred-thousand-ton behemoth sliced through the ocean water effortlessly, as if it weighed nothing at all. Sammy stood at the edge by the railing and looked down at the flight deck, planes and helicopters lined up like soldiers at attention, ready for action. He gazed up at the stars and was mesmerized by the sight of thousands of points of light like pinholes in the black fabric of space. He always imagined what it would look like if you could see every star, every planet and every galaxy—nothing but pure light. It would be like looking into the face of God.

    Sammy reached into the pocket of his uniform shirt and fished out the cigarette he had brought, put it between his lips, then pulled a lighter from his pants pocket and lit it, watching the flame dance like a marionette on a string. The flame temporarily blinded him, but his eyes quickly readjusted to the dark.

    Following you on Twitter.

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    Thanks for the opportunity - this is a great blog!

  73. Name: Haley Whitehall
    Email: unionadvance4ever (at) gmail (dot)com
    Genre: Adult Historical Fiction set in the 1840s
    Word count: 90,000 words
    Your polished first page (250 words)...

    Screams pierced the humid summer air. Loud, urgent, desperate.

    Zachariah laid in the grass behind the restaurant his flesh quivering. A copper-haired man loomed over him, bloody cowhide in hand.

    “You know better than to spill a tray. And in a customer’s lap no less,” Master Norton said.

    “Yes, massah,” Zachariah choked out. “Lawd, forgive me,” he moaned, over and over and over as he felt the whip dig sharply into his back.

    Master Norton plied it freely over Zachariah’s shoulders. With a steady hand, he raised the cowhide, generated strength, then the instrument of torture descended upon Zachariah’s awaiting flesh.

    It cut the skin, raised large welts, and warm blood trickled down his back. Tears watered the lawn, his hands cultivating the earth, clawing the dirt.

    Finally, Norton stopped. “Get up and fetch firewood for the cooks,” he said gruffly. “I’ll have Rachel clean up your mess.”

    “Yes, Massah.” Zachariah chewed his cheek to keep from voicing pain as he stood. He picked up his white shirt and black coat but did not put them on. He didn’t dare stain his restaurant attire.

    The ax stuck in the stump in the middle of the lawn stared at him. Bending over, thrusting the ax into wood brought agony. His fresh welts burned. He bit his tongue to keep from shouting with each swing.

    He examined his pale arms as he had done countless times before. His skin was called yellow, though it looked white to him. His flesh wasn’t even tan.

    Following you on Twitter.

    Spreading the word on Twitter.

    Thank you for offering another awesome contest. I appreciate the opportunity. You are a wonderful author to encourage others.

  74. Here is the link to my tweet:

  75. Email: riouch.sara (at) gmail (dot)com
    Title: CLEAVE
    Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
    Word count: 70,000 words
    Following you on the blog, spreading the word on twitter

    Andra couldn’t help the cry that escaped her as the pain in her chest reached new heights. The words on the book she’d been staring at for the past hour blurred and her breakfast threatened to make an unwelcome reappearance. She took a deep breath, and prayed to Gods she knew couldn’t hear her for the pain to stop.

    “Are you all right?” the girl sharing her table asked, looking at Andra over her glasses.

    “Yeah.” She tried to smile, but her smiles weren’t cheery at the best of times, and she wasn’t surprised when the girl’s concern morphed to suspicion. She probably looked like a junkie jonesing for her next hit. Which wasn’t that far from the truth.

    In her more pathetic moments – the truly pathetic ones, not the ones she had whenever she contemplated her failed star-crossed affair with Declan – Andra wished she were a drug-addict. At least then she could get some relief from the dealer on the corner. A metaphorical corner, of course, because she didn't have the foggiest idea where to find a real dealer in Bakersfield, California.

    “Shit,” she said, and pressed her palm against the center of her chest in the delusional hope she could push the pain away. Not for the first time, she silently cursed her brother, then immediately felt guilty about it.

    Andra snorted and rolled her eyes. True, pain always made her maudlin, but this was getting ridiculous. Resenting Jamie for the pain she was in was like resenting a toddler for having a tantrum.

  76. email:
    Rockapocalypse-A Boy's Tale
    YA fantasy
    68,000 wc

    It was the toss that sealed the deal, nothing more. Not the when, or the how, or the how many.
    Just the who.
    The coin reflected light as it arced up and fell back into the palm of a hand. “Heads. Looks like I’m on that bird tonight!” Richie Valens grinned at Tony, feeling only a small amount of guilt at the outcome. The thought of spending one more night on a cold bus was unbearable. The heat never seemed to work on those things.
    Tony patted his shoulder, conceding his loss with grace. “You just round up the booze and the ladies and have them waiting for me in Moorhead.”
    They both laughed at this and parted ways, Richie grabbing his luggage and pushing through the backdoor of the building, Tony watching him go. Lucky guy, he thought. I just hope they get the heat fixed before we pull out for Minnesota.
    1200 miles southeast as the crow flies, the power grid for a map dot called Swift’s Cross, North Carolina went down, sending Singleton Baptist Hospital into total darkness, and most of the staff into a panic. Madge Thorsten, Head RN of the Maternity Ward was sipping coffee and reading Dr. Zhivago when the emergency lights kicked on. At fifty-two, she had been around the block a few times, seen all kinds of things to get upset about, but this wasn’t one of them, at least not in her department, on her shift. She placed the book and coffee by the scheduling board and stood.

    I follow you on Twitter
    I spread the word on Twitter and Blogger

  77. EMAIL:
    GENRE: Paranormal Romance
    WC: 81,000

    Emma had always loved coming here. It was her refuge in a crazy world that couldn’t seem to accept her. How many times had she ducked under the branches of the weeping willows as she wandered along the waters edge of the man-made lake? Lost in thoughts and daydreams she had traversed the many small paved roads stopping here and there to smell the pretty flowers. This place understood her.

    With her back against the tree trunk Emma pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapped her arms around her legs, and leaned her head against the rough bark. This had been a place of solace; its quietness stilling her mind. Emma’s gaze took in the marbleized stones, granite monoliths and cement crosses. Lakeside Cemetery used to be beautiful, but not anymore. Nothing would ever be beautiful in her world again.

    “Momma, are you here?” A soft wind blew, gently caressing her face. “I warned you. Why didn’t you listen?” Burying her head into her hands she whispered as the tears fell. “I need you Momma. I can’t take it anymore.” Emma felt the wind lift her hair. She looked around and saw the shadows then heard their whispers. She ignored them. All was dark in her world now that momma was gone. There was no happy light left in her anymore and she couldn’t help them. Emma sniffed. I can’t even help myself.

    Emma swiped the tears from her face on her sleeve then stared at the small, granite heart that marked her mother’s new home.

    I follow you on blogspot and Twitter.
    I spread the word about this AWESOME contest on Twitter.

    Thank you.

    S.A. Hussey

  78. E-mail: MelissaBarlow777(at)yahoo(dot)com
    Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
    WC: 94,000
    Followed both on Twitter and your blog. Spread the word on my blog -

    A fencing champion destined for the Olympics, a martial arts prodigy, an organizer for Habitat for Humanity. Someone was murdering the brightest, most brilliant teens in New Jersey. Now in the middle of the night, the persistent ringing of my cell phone broke me out of my sleep.

    I scrambled to get my bearings in the darkness. I was in my bedroom, the Bruce Lee posters on the walls told me that much. Through bleary eyes, I could see the alarm clock flashing 3:11 back at me. I stopped, fighting to shake off the last remnants of sleep, my breath catching in my throat. Why would someone be calling at 3am? I didn’t think I wanted to know the answer, and yet I picked up the phone. “Hello?”

    “Hi, Justine. I’m sorry to be calling so late.” I immediately recognized the shaky voice on the other end of the line, it was my best friend’s Mom, Mrs. Martinez, but I had never heard her sound like this. “Gwen’s not with you, is she?”

    My mouth dropped open, the question like a punch to the solar plexus. This wasn’t good. This was one of those calls you never wanted to get. Not at 3am on a school night. Not when everybody was talking about the murderer out there, cutting down the best amongst us. And Gwen? She was the most incredible person I had ever met. The girl had an inner light, a compassion that shone like a beacon.

  79. Name: Angie S.
    Title: Nikki's Wish
    Genre: YA paranormal
    Word Count: 87,000
    I follow your blog.
    This was my twitter post:!/adktd2bks/status/75206543175454720

    Please note that the dialogue between the sisters should be in italics.

    I plucked the wallet out of a crater-sized pothole and shook the mud off. Its owner was already halfway down the block. He looked tame enough - leather jacket, faded jeans, dark hair that played freeze tag with the wind. He sprinted across Nicollet Avenue, skipped up to the curb, and proceeded on his way without a sideways glance around him.

    Forget about meeting Dad and catching a safe ride home. I had more important things to do. Like chase a stranger through downtown Minneapolis. On a Wednesday night. In the dark. Alone.

    As I took off after him, I imagined what my sister would have said: You have no common sense, Nikki. He could be a drug dealer or... or a murderer. This Alice in Wonderland act of yours could get you killed.

    And I would have replied: Give. Me. A. Break.

    Shani’s “the world is full of freaks who are out to kill you” attitude came directly from the fact that our father put those freaks in prison. It was a given that I would try to prove her wrong, but there was more to it than that. I was like a wind-up toy springing back to life, and after so many months of feeling like shit, it was a welcome change. Besides, he looked pretty good in those jeans.

    He entered the Foshay Tower, and I followed half a minute behind. I came to a full stop, blinking as the door shut behind me.

    “Holy mother of rabbit holes,” I whispered.

  80. 1.
    2. Title - Kali Jacobs, Please Take a Seat
    Genre - YA contemporary
    Word Count - 60000
    3. Random thoughts float towards me under a veil of sleep like wisps of cloud drifting across a mountain. I can hear only snippets of their meaning as they zoom past.
    ‘Life is a vast and meaningless void…’
    ‘Eventually all pain must end…’
    ‘Not everything is what it seems…’
    The fog of unconsciousness lifts slowly and gradually I become aware of my surroundings.
    I am lying on my back on a firm mattress; my head cushioned by a pillow; a sheet tucked securely around my body.
    As my eyes flutter open the vision before me comes into focus.
    The room I am in is white; pristinely white and painfully clean. Beside the bed is a complicated looking piece of machinery that beeps at regular intervals, an array of tubes and wires from the machine disappear under the sheet that covers me. Above my head a swollen bag of saline hangs on an IV pole, the tube snaking its way to a cannula in my right hand.
    My thoughts are still clouded, fuzzy around the edges, as I try to determine where I am. Then as I look down at the misshapen sheet that covers my body everything comes flooding back. In that single heart wrenching moment I remember where I am; I remember why I am here. Invisible hands compress my chest.
    I am in The Sydney Children’s Hospital.
    I am lying in the recovery suite having just come to following a general anesthetic.
    I am not the same person I was just a few hours earlier.

    4. I follow you on Twitter and your blog
    5. I spread the word on Twitter

    a life of inches
    general fiction

    i follow you on twitter and this blog. i promoted on facebook, twitter, and my blog

    the 250:

    Pushing with all of my strength, my arms lift an inch. I think of Molly, I think of Woodie, and I think about pitching a baseball. Another surge of effort, another inch, but the thoughts fueling my workout remain the same. I think of her. I think of him. I think about baseball.

    “Ryan, let’s switch it up. Give me some pushups,” Ho Ban, the team’s trainer, says.

    Separating myself from the stench of the padded floor, I push, as I kiss Molly. Another push and I strike-out Woodie, a player so good they call him, “Mr. Luck.” For years he and I have battled for baseball glory, and for Molly's attention. So far, we've had better luck on the diamond.

    I push.

    My body aches as I grunt, but I don’t allow any sign of doubt or pain show on my face. I’m not going to let anything stand between myself and the Triple-A Championship tonight.

    “Keep your back straight. I don’t want to see you favoring your right side anymore.”

    Ho, a former baseball star from South Korea, is one of only three people aware of my shoulder issue.

    “Embrace the pain Ryan,” Ho says, “Embrace the pain, and rise above it.”

    I think about the love of my life, Molly De Leon, and I push.

    I push.

    I push.

    I push, faster.

    The sweat feels good, the warmth of motion feels good, and, to be honest, even the pain feels good. Woodie, here I come.

    thanks again for a great contest. thanks to the others who offered great feedback!

  82. Email:
    Title: Chronicity
    Genre: MG Fantasy
    Word Count: 92,000 (I know, I know! I'm cutting as we speak)

    I follow you on Twitter and Google Friend Connect. I spread the word on Twitter.

    First 250 words:

    Grim hated his name. It wasn’t short for Griffin, or Grissom, it was just Grim, and he’d never understood why his parents called him something that meant “extremely unpleasant”. Some kids at school, mostly girls, thought it sounded mature, but to him it just sounded depressing, and he usually thought about it on days like today, when he was supposed to be having one of the best days of his life. Why couldn’t he have had some nice, normal, average name, one that didn’t make him stick out like a sore thumb?

    But then, his parents never had been exactly average. And although the Grinnerts lived in an average town, on an average street, in an extremely average house, it only took one peek inside to see that they were anything but.

    The front foyer was filled to overflowing with every sort of gadget, gizmo, and useless doodad imaginable. There were machines that paired socks and threw away the strays, prototypes of vehicles that ran on powdered Tang, and widgets that molded earwax into jewelry (this last had been a pretty profitable business until someone at Broadbend General Hospital got curious as to why all the patients had such impeccably clean ears, and discovered Grim’s dad posing as a nurse and Q-tipping everyone in sight).

    Every room in the Grinnert house was as cluttered as the foyer, with one exception. Grim’s bedroom was as neat as the rest of the house was jumbled. The bed, dresser and walls were bare, with not so much as a knick-knack or trophy in sight.

  83. email:
    Title: Any Fae May Apply
    Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
    Word count: 90,000

    I follow your blog and twitter, and spread the word on both. See

    I stood at the library door, itching for the sun to go down. The librarian was helping a kid get his first library card, so she didn’t give a second thought as to why I was lingering by the doors.

    Once the sun had set and it was safe for me to leave, I headed out for my nightly cuppa tea. A shooting star raced across the sky and I crossed my fingers to make a wish. It was a kid thing and I was too old for that now. How many times had I wished for friends? But I'd already crossed my fingers, it was too late now. I wished for something interesting to happen.

    I walked in and out of the pools of light from the streetlights, the silver charms on my pockets jingling softly with each step. Sometimes car headlights would pick me out of the darkness, but I wasn't concerned. My glamour was up and I could pass for human. Tall, but human.

    The telephone pole on the street corner was littered with signs and posters. Ads for weight loss, garage sales, a local band. The normal dross of human society. But the scent of magic caught my attention.

    My nose twitched and I stopped to give the posters a more thorough look. There was one that was dusted with glamour. Humans probably only saw a poster for a lost pet, or something. What I saw was the flier that changed my life. It said simply, "Job opening: Night Hours. Any fae may apply."

  84. 1.)
    2.) Title: Unnatural
    Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: appx. 109,000

    3.) First 250:

    I was standing under the bleachers in the gym of my high school, West Palm Prep; my back was pressed up against the cool stone wall. The leftover scent of sweat, stale popcorn and spilled soda lingered in the air from the last basketball game. Boom…boom boom…Boom… the music of the homecoming dance kept playing as an unfamiliar hip hop song blared and echoed off the cavernous walls. The bass vibrated my chest. Colorful lights bounced in the otherwise dark space.

    Shivering, my vision from that afternoon resurfaced. I regretted taking a nap before the homecoming dance, but I’d been so tired lately, I needed it.

    “Come with me, Alexa,” Said a voice in the shadows. It came from deep under the bleachers.

    “Whose there?” The fear from my vision crept in, taking over.

    “Come with me, Alexa,” The voice repeated.

    “Why?” I moved away from the wall and crossed the small space to the shadowy rafters.

    My heart said run, my mind disagreed. I couldn’t see the person with the ambiguous voice, but I felt the weight of the words they spoke, that there would be dangerous consequences if I listened. I felt conflicted and confused, but more than that, I was scared.

    The monotone voice took a strange, possessive tone. “Because you’re the one we’ve been looking for.”

    I stopped and took some steps back, the fear pulling me away. Bumping into the wall, in a blink I was trapped there by a man with piercing dark blue eyes.

    4.) I follow you on your blog and Twitter
    5.) I spread the word on Twitter

  85. beckyanncarlton (at)
    Smoke Rising, Young Adult, 118k

    I follow you on Twitter and on I spread the word via twitter since I only have two blog followers!

    I don’t blame anyone for how my life started, but I’m less than thrilled by how I’ve been told to live it.

    I remember what it was like when I was little, before I knew Conner was my father. The first time he stood up in front of our class in Precademy I felt a connection to him that pulled me in. I was fascinated by his ability to answer any question we had for him and how he’d get so excited when we would mimic something he was working on with us. The excitement faded the day that I noticed our resemblance.

    Conner was teaching us a lesson in observing our surroundings and asked us all to look around and find something another person may not have noticed. I caught a glimpse of my own reflection in the window behind him. I sat there, amazed at the exact replica of my eyes on another person. I was an orphan and my twin brother looked nothing like me so I’d never shared a likeness with another person. The similarity made me feel even more connected to Conner and I wanted him to feel the connection as well. When it was my turn I announced my observation with pride.

    “Your eyes are just like mine.”

    I expected the typical cheerful response from him, but instead his facial expression left me feeling as if I’d disappointed him with a wrong answer. Now I know that I wasn’t supposed to have noticed our resemblance.

    Title: Isadora DayStar & The Death Bringer
    Genre': Sci-Fi Noir (adult)
    Word Count: 61,000
    Follows Shelley on Twitter

    The white faded into dull grey, room contracting into a narrow rectangle lit from above with dirty artificial light. She sat on a bunk that extended from the wall that was hard, cold and covered with blanket and sheet the color of gun metal. Forty eight hours earlier Isadora had been tossed into the brig for insubordination and then tossed into solitary for starting a food fight with another inmate that escalated into a fist fight with Isadora on losing end of the battle.
    Now she sat on the bunk, head down, staring at the floor at nothing in particular, waiting out the silence and boredom of her sentence. The door of the cell slid open and Renan Marcus entered. He pulled the chair seat down from the wall niche and dropped onto it. Isadora refused to look up at her commanding officer.
    "Isadora," he said in a quiet voice.
    She did not respond.
    "Isadora, do you even understand why you’re here?"
    She snorted.
    "Yeah because I wouldn’t obey your stupid orders and because I kicked somebody’s ass in the mess hall." Her lower lip stuck out like a pouting three year old. She remained staring at the floor.
    He sighed.
    "Isadora, orders exist for a reason. One of these days you’re going learn the hard way what they’re there for; as for the fight I heard you were on the losing side." He tried to conceal a small smile, but Isadora’s head snapped up and she glared at him.
    "That’s a lie! I wasn’t losing anything—"
    He sighed and stood up pulled out a remote and aimed it at the camera in the upper corner of the cell and then sat back down.
    "There. The camera is off Isadora. I want to talk to you. You have such potential but you waste it by not thinking through anything that you do. You take the easy way and you respond with anger and rebellion whenever someone points that out. It’s a damned shame Isadora because you would make one hell of a soldier if you’d just tighten up your attention and learn to control your emotions." He paused and Isadora looked at the floor again. Renan stood up and sighed one more time. "Such potential, Isadora," He brushed a strand of hair from her face and then pulled her up and kissed her.