Entry Nickname: Minna Gray
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. But 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.
Fortunately, Minna’s not the only one who remembers. Corrin, a boy whose path always seems to cross hers, knows about the disappearances. He tells her they aren’t isolated events: every day more people are erased.
Corrin says Minna has a magical ancestry and that her inherited power over the elements could put an end to the ghants – the gray men who perform the kidnappings. To harness these powers, she must travel to the Outlands – the pest-infected waste beyond the city walls. 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. She must race to stop the ghants before all hope for the missing boys is lost, and before anyone else she loves is 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: Jungle Vendetta
Title: Savage Jungle
Word Count: 60,000
Genre: MG Science Fiction
Twelve-year-old wimp and self-designated videogame pro Kreith Briggs’s birthday is off to a great, but scary start: a wild safari with his Uncle Tonas through the most treacherous jungle in the whole universe. The tour’s real fun, if not a bit creepy, until Kreith discovers he and his uncle have been set up.
The jungle’s got seven of the ten most exotic—and most lethal—animal species in the universe, including the super-sneaky electrocat and the giant land squid. But Wilmur Banx, the host of the tour, holds an old, even more lethal grudge against Uncle Tonas and the other twenty-four safari guests. That’s why he strands each pair of victims in separate places in the jungle with zero protection from the universe's fiercest beasts.
Kreith and Uncle Tonas head toward an old research facility where they can call for help and get off the planet alive. Only Kreith gets separated from his uncle and now he’s got no plan at all. Armed with a trusty new guidebook and his knack for all things techno-nerdy, his and his uncle’s survival—not to mention the lives of any remaining safari guests—rests squarely on his puny shoulders.
First 250 Words:
My heart rate doubles as Uncle Tonas hands me what I’ve been waiting for all day. Heck, all year—a present about the size of my fist. He always gets me the coolest gifts, like that fluorescent slug from planet Zambor last year for my eleventh birthday.
I rip the wrapping paper off the present without removing the bow, lift the lid off the cardboard box, and peer inside. A small electronic chip rests on the bottom.
“What’s—?” I ask.
“It’s a book,” Uncle Tonas says, eyes wide in his huge, muscular face. “Go on, download it.” He leans forward with those monstrous shoulders of his, a cigar between his pointer and middle finger. The total opposite of me. Sure, I’m only twelve years old, but my overly large black sweatshirt and baggy jeans hide the fact I’m as skinny as Uncle Tonas’s pinky finger.
“Uh…okay.” A book? That’s what he got me—a book? I try not to show my disappointment as I pick up the tiny chip and insert it into my Multipurpose Bracelet, my parents and Uncle Tonas looking on from the couch. I should really try to be grateful. It’s the thought that counts, after all.
“Would you like to download the book The Top 200 Most Treacherous Creatures in the Universe?” the MB asks in a voice as gruff as Uncle Tonas’s. I set the MB’s voice to that because it sounds like his and he’s the man, though I’m starting to doubt that after this sorry present…