Title: Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things
Word count: 77K
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Seventeen-year-old Samantha Berger may not have gone to Hebrew school, but she’s pretty sure nice Jewish girls don’t spend their free time hunting for Bigfoot, especially on national T.V. Just when Sam thinks she couldn’t be more humiliated, she meets the competition: a team of snobby anthropology students from Yale who are set on wiping the floor with her amateur “Squatch” hunting family.
The captain of the other team, Devan Mehta, is impossibly cute in a Bollywood Romeo-meets-Sherlock Holmes sort of way—until he opens his perfect British mouth and calls her family a bunch of low-class wankers. Sam’s no longer just embarrassed. She’s livid, and determined to beat the ascot off Devan and his crew. After all, the prize money will allow her to study pre-med at the college of her dreams, far from Yetis and Yaleies.
Forced by the producers to spend days in the forest together while they search for evidence of Bigfoot, Sam and Devan bond over family pressures, geek out over fantasy fiction, and learn how to rely on only a compass, some duct tape, and each other. In a moment of honesty, Devan admits he may be kicked out of his anthropology program if his team loses and Sam worries about paying for college if she doesn’t win. Before they know it, anger turns into understanding, attraction, and a steamy snogging session.
But if Sam doesn’t want Devan kicked out of Yale, she’s going to have to help him win —even though the money would change everything for her family. As the competition heats up, Sam must figure out whether her loyalties lie with her ridiculous family or with Devan, who might be perfect for her…if he can just stop laughing at her Shalom Sasquatch shirt long enough to kiss her.
First 250 words:
On a good day, my parents were just mildly embarrassing. The day the camera crew came to our house was not a good day.
I squinted at the bright lights illuminating our dingy living room, and turned to my older sister, Sophie. “Hunting Bigfoot in private isn’t bad enough?” I whispered. “Now Mom and Dad have to humiliate us on national television?”
Colin, the producer of a new TV show called “Myth Gnomers,” stood behind our scratched up coffee table shooting pre-interviews with my parents, me, and my two sisters. All five of us squished together on our stained, saggy brown couch, smiles frozen in place. At least our butts hid the holes in the upholstery.
“Checking. Checking one, two. Your mics should all be on now.” Colin peered over the camera at my parents’ matching neon green shirts that read, “Ohio is Bigfoot Country.”
The awful title of this lame reality show should’ve served as an obvious warning we were about to do something ridiculous, but nope, it sure didn’t.
When my parents told us we’d been chosen to be on the show, they were so proud. They couldn’t wait to tell the other members of the Northern Ohio Bigfoot Society. Yeah, there’s such a thing as a Sasquatch club. They have them all over the country.
My folks even had tote bags and trucker hats printed with their club’s motto in Latin – which probably translates to “We have nothing better to do.”
Entry Nickname: Searching for Eden
Word count: 69K
Genre: YA Dystopian
On Gajagamini “Grit” Kapoor’s eighteenth birthday, she flees the Los Angeles children’s home, taking her best friends, Speed and Eyeball with her. In a world of failed weather experiments and scarce food, Grit sets off to find her father, who went searching for a modern day Eden in northern California.
Grit knows hunger isn’t their worst obstacle, and neither is shielding her albino skin from the scorching sun. The government is forcing people into federal food camps, where they’re fed SynPro, a synthetic protein source. The protein was tested on homeless, and the streets are now teeming with mutant humans she calls “spazzes” - smart, super-strong, flesh craving maniacs.
Nearly starving and chased by both soldiers and spazzes, Grit leads the younger boys through treacherous mountains and dangerous cities, fighting off other holdouts in hopes of finding her father and the mythical paradise valley.
The blaring loudspeakers woke me from dreams of roast chicken and mashed potatoes. I came aware still savoring the tender meat in my mouth, cursing the rumbling FEEBL busses for stealing my precious respite. The hills and gorges around Greystone Park muffled the message, but I knew the words by heart.
By order of the President, all residents of Century City are hereby ordered to the Los Angeles Nutrition Camp for food and medical care. Busses will be picking up at the following locations….
Beneath a blanket of morning dew, cradled in a bed of pungent pine needles, I wept my despair into my knapsack, afraid of waking the boys from whatever dreams they’d escaped to. Six months into eighteen, I wasn’t much older than either of my friends, and the only girl, which somehow got me elected to “the leader”.
The sky glowed the faintest pink, coloring shadows into living trees and brush. Not much birdsong carried on the misty air, only a few brave warblers risking birdshot and breakfast frying pans.
With my sleep stolen, I stood from the bushes where we’d slept, brushing dirt from my jeans while checking the grounds for spazzes. The park appeared empty, so I slipped on frayed sneakers and wandered through rusted swings and broken teeter-totters to the restrooms, anxious to scrub away the cruel illusion still lingering on my tongue.