Title: The Awakening of Minna Gray
Word count: 89,000
Genre: YA Futuristic Fantasy
Sixteen-year-old Minna Gray’s life in SilCorp’s Emerald District is shattered when the two boys she’s babysitting are kidnapped. Guilt turns to panic when she discovers no one is looking for the boys. No one even remembers them.
It’s as if they’ve been erased.
A mysterious letter from her deceased grandmother leads her to Corrin - a boy who knows about the disappearances. They aren’t isolated events: every day more people are erased. Corrin claims Minna has a magical ancestry - that her visions, her tree-speech, and her hidden power over the elements could put an end to the ghants – the gray men who perform the kidnappings. Only Minna’s not sure how.
Corrin says there are those who understand her heritage in the Outlands – the pest-infected waste beyond the city walls. Going there could be the only way to hone her powers, but no one survives the Outlands, and Minna’s not sure she’s ready to trade life in Emerald for a slow suicide. She’s not even sure she can trust Corrin.
But soon she’ll have to decide. Time’s running out. Minna knows too much, and she’s next on the list to be erased.
First 250 words:
She’d seen one once before - years ago, with Cameron, by the seaside. Its little round body flitted between palm fronds like a tiny jeweled fairy. They were supposed to turn it in. But they hadn’t. They’d watched it all afternoon, until finally it leapt into the sky and flew away, back over the Outer Wall. Their secret.
This one seemed even more out of place, amidst the asphalt and the early evening glow of the podcar lines. For a second, she thought she was imagining it. But then Ethan saw it too.
“What is it?” he asked, gaze transfixed on the emerald blot making its way across the dull bronze shine of the hood.
His brown eyes widened. “A real one?”
Minna nodded. “Don’t touch it.” But she was mesmerized too.
He frowned, waving his PestDetector wand over it. “It doesn’t beep.”
“Maybe it’s not infected.” Yet.
They watched its twiggy, spindle-legged progression from latch to windshield. “I don’t want anyone to kill it,” Ethan whispered as he backed away.
Technically it was a vector. Technically they were supposed to destroy it. But it was so small and round and innocent. Suddenly, it lifted off. Humming, it vanished into the protective green and white flurry of the nearby jasmine. Minna exhaled.
“Probably escaped from a DomeZoo.” Ethan said, glancing at her with a shaky laugh.
“Probably, but you still need to disinfect.” Minna puffed her emergency spray into the air, enveloping them in shivering white mist. Silently they counted out the seconds ... eight, nine, ten. Safe.
Entry Nickname: Misfit Apocalypse
Title: The Last Road Home
Word count: 60,000
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Josh is sixteen, haunted, labeled as autistic. Home schooled all his life, he has emerged a little from his shell thanks to the teacher who has restarted the tiny school in his rural Kentucky town. During the school’s graduation ceremony, the world goes dark; when the light returns the fields beyond the school have turned to forest.
Maria is fifteen, an orphan who has grown up in boarding schools. She is flying back to her school with two nuns and two younger girls when the world outside the plane goes dark. When the light returns, all signs of civilization are gone, and the plane is forced to land in the Ohio River. Continued distress calls find only one response, from the small Kentucky town where only the school remains.
Now Josh must try a dangerous rescue mission across a world where humanity died out in the 1940’s, while Maria must keep her small group of survivors alive despite injuries both physical and emotional. Neither has ever been a leader, but the end of the world might just be the best thing that ever happened to them…if they can survive long enough to find each other.
Facing wild dogs, a flooded river, hunger and more, the two groups will learn about the best and worst of the human spirit. Along the way they will find glimmers of answers, not just to the events that brought them together, but also to themselves.
First 250 words:
You don’t belong here. You shouldn't exist.
The rain was falling heavily, streaking down the car windows. Josh stared at his reflection in the glass, caramel skin and frowning brown eyes. His short cropped hair had improbably lightened to blond from the summer sun. Beyond his reflection he could just make out the tobacco fields, dark green with a fuzz of white flowers at the top.
You don’t belong here. You shouldn't exist. Josh ignored the voices almost as easily as he ignored his father, who had given up attempts at conversation to concentrate on driving. The dirt road was filled with potholes left over from the spring rains, and the current storm was only adding to them.
The voices had been there long before he understood speech. It had been years before he understood that they were for him alone, that no one else heard them. He didn't think they’d actually been using words back then…but it didn't matter. The message had always been the same.
The Subaru hit a pothole hard, shaking the car, and Josh’s father stretched out a hand in front of him, as though his seat belt wasn't already better protection. The silence stretched for a moment, then his Dad tried again.
“Josh, I’m very proud of the work you've done in Ms. Moore’s school. I’m glad that you've--” There was a pause, and Josh filled it in mentally—actually done something, anything, with other human beings—then his father went on. “That you've found something you enjoy. Teaching is a wonderful vocation.”