Word count: 82,000
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Niobe is guilty of many things: bar brawls, affairs with married mayors, and of swaggering through life like a drunk cavalier. She is also the best biohunter east of the Rockies, a fact that has helped her avoid serious censure from the Guild of Biohunters - neutral agents who are part paramedic, part microbiologist, and part CSI.
Orphaned at a young age, Niobe joined the Guild to help other victims of the constant biological warfare over what few resources remain in a North America devastated by climate change.
But when Niobe is framed as the source of deadly new weapons wreaking havoc across the north-east, she faces execution or worse: exile from the Guild and from the closest thing to a home and family she has ever known.
As a rising and ruthless new power shows its hand and proves it will commit unthinkable crimes to achieve its goals of controlling what’s left of civilization, Niobe must prove her innocence, find the real criminals and save her new friend. If only she wasn’t handcuffed, but you can’t keep a bad girl down … at least not for long.
First 250 words:
The ambush came as Niobe hauled her dusty turbocycle saddle bags along the dimly-lit motel walkway. It had been a long day on the road, and she really didn’t have the patience for it.
She had to credit their stealth - she didn’t hear a thing until the snub nose of an ultrasound injector pressed into the exposed flesh at the back of her neck, snuck in above the worn leather of her jacket. Her neck hairs rose in ineffectual defense, and she suppressed a shudder at the contrast of cold metal on warm, sweaty skin.
Niobe mouthed a silent curse. “For Gaia’s sake, can’t we do this after I’ve had a shower?”
She eased her head to one side, hoping for a glimpse of her attackers. One stood just beyond the downward cone of light that lit the door to her room, too far to be holding the weapon to her neck. Two of them, then. There was a whiff of salty, smoky body odor that suggested a long time between washes. She heaved a sigh. “Fine. What do you want?”
Niobe could have answered the question for them. Most likely gold, or her comms unit - something they could sell to buy a meal or some water. Resources were scarce and a biohunter was an obvious target. There was precious little technology around these days, and what did exist was priced sky-high. People would kill for it if enough was at stake, and she had enough.
Title: Virtual Rebel
Word count: 90,000
Genre: Science Fiction
The warrior. It's a title 18-year-old Kali Ling earned bringing men to their knees -- inside video games.
As an athletic avatar for the Virtual Gaming League, Kali's living a better life than any college kid in 2054: ultimate fame, zero responsibility, and nonstop partying in L.A.'s hottest clubs. But when her teammate Nathan overdoses and Kali is named the new captain -- the first female one in history -- she realizes it's time to be an adult. She gives up the parties for grueling training sessions with fellow gamer James Rooke (whom she can't help picturing in nothing but a strategically placed controller).
Rooke's love of Asian philosophy motivates Kali to rediscover her Chinese heritage, where she finds strength and maturity. But just as Kali is ready to lead the team, she uncovers a sickening fact behind the sport she loves. Too many hours inside a realer-than-life virtual world drives gamers to drug addiction, insanity, and even death. Instead of helping, the Virtual Gaming League pushes gamers to the brink and whitewashes the truth for the sake of ratings.
For ratings? Oh, it's on like Donkey Kong.
Furious, Kali fights to expose the corruption behind virtual gaming. But the industry threatens to expel her from the league if she doesn't back down. As leader of her team, it's not just her future on the line, and as a female captain, thousands of girl gamers are counting on her to prove women can compete on the same level as men. But when the industry erases Nathan from its database and spits on his memory, Kali's not sure she can back down. Role model or rebel. Either way, it's game over. Permanently.
First 250 words:
This wouldn't be the first time I died. Sure as hell wouldn't be the last, either. But while most watched this virtual world from the safe haven of reality, there was nowhere else I'd rather spend my Saturday night.
Crouched high on the tower's parapet, I overlooked a sea of wheat fields. The scent of lavender and taste of wheatgrass wove together in the air, drifting with the breeze that swept through my hair. I took a deep breath and smiled at the irony, as thick as the mountain air filling my lungs. Lavender. Wheat fields. Tranquility.
Peace, in a place anything but peaceful.
Movement in the fields caught my eye, down and right. A zigzag carved its way through the ten-foot tall stalks, heading straight for the tower. My smile widened. Maybe this sucker had the balls to take on Kali Ling.
I stilled inside. Even breaths. No fear. At the field's edge, the stalks trembled violently. The air filled with the rainstick rustling of brush and dry grass. Yes. Someone would emerge. I gripped the sword sheathed across my back and waited, muscles tight, mouth watering. Come on. Give me something. A brute. Six -- no -- seven feet tall, wielding a mace. Or an axe.
Give me anything.
A rabbit scurried out from the field. Nothing followed. The grass fluttered in the breeze. Birds chirped, nestled in the nearby sycamore trees. It was the rabbit, and only the rabbit.
I punched the parapet's brick wall, but instead of feeling frustrated, I realized another irony.