Title: Tag, You’re Dead (originally The Game)
Word count: 80,000
Genre: YA Thriller
When six teenagers play Tag in present-day Chicago, there’s a twist from the childhood version…if you get Tagged, you get Dead.
The three "Its" have their reasons for buying a place in the Game: surgically-enhanced Brandy is dying to destroy a naturally beautiful girl; untalented Robin desires his target's position on the school basketball team; and brainiac Charles craves a battle against an intellectual equal.
Three hand-picked innocents play as “Runners,” under threat to their loved ones should they refuse to participate: lovely, small-town Laura; superstar athlete William; and Amanda, gamer extraordinaire. These three want only one thing…to survive.
As soon as the Runners receive the “Go” on smart watches locked onto their wrists, the Game rockets them through the city, from the El to Michigan Avenue to the Lincoln Park Zoo. There is no time to rest; every thirty minutes the Runners’ coordinates are transmitted to the Its, which diminishes the Runners’ chances of ever reaching Home Base alive.
The Game will not end until someone is Tagged, so the Runners must choose how to play: will they accept death, murder their Its, or find a way to use their individual strengths to stop the Game before anyone dies?
TAG, YOU’RE DEAD alternates among the POVs of all six players in the Game – who will live to see it end?
First 250 words:
Friday, 8:00 PM
“I can’t choose,” Brandy Inkrott said. “I want to kill them all."
“Tag,” her mother said from her brocaded antique chair. “You want to Tag them all.”
“No. I don’t.”
“Either way,” her father said, “I’m afraid you have to pick one.”
Brandy studied the images of the teenage girls on the screen. Brunettes. Blondes. Asians. Hispanics. Light-skinned. Dark-skinned. Every one of them gorgeous. Every one of them middle-class. No-names. None of them like her. “They’re all so perfect. Can I pick more than one?"
A woman’s voice pierced the air, emanating from Surround Sound speakers. “The price for two would be extravagant, Ms. Inkrott. Plus, Tagging more than one Runner would be difficult. Almost impossible.”
“I don’t care. I can do it.”
Her father shrugged. “If that’s what you want.”
“I suggest this,” the woman said. “Play this time with one. If you are successful you may play again, and then you can go after two. I know it’s tempting when you see all those beautiful faces, but you’d be setting yourself up for disappointment.”
“What do you know?” Brandy said. “You’re probably some fat old lady in a trailer park somewhere. I could Tag you.”
Silence sizzled over the speaker.
“I’m sorry, Madame Referee,” Brandy’s father said. “She didn’t mean it.”
“Did so,” Brandy said.
“Bran, honey, please."
The girls’ faces on the television disappeared, replaced by only one, which took up the entire surface of the eighty-inch screen. The woman shown there was incredible.
Entry Nickname: Shalom Sasquatch
Title: Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things
Word count: 77,000
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Seventeen-year-old Samantha Berger is pretty sure most nice Jewish girls don’t have parents who force them to hunt 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 “Squatch” loving 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 Yalies.
Teamed up by the producers for a special challenge, Sam and Devan bond over family pressures, geek out over fantasy fiction, and learn to rely on each other. In a moment of honesty, Devan admits he may be kicked out of his anthropology program if his team fails and Sam worries about paying for college if she doesn’t win. Before they know it, understanding leads to attraction and a steamy snogging session. Now, as the competition heats up, Sam must choose between her ridiculous family and Devan. Suddenly, finding Bigfoot is the smallest of Sam’s hairy problems.
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?”
Sophie shrugged. “You’ve been complaining for weeks. It’s time to suck it up.”
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. 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.
Instead of running like hell, all five of us were 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.”
My mom’s smile tightened. She glared and gestured at me until I put on a Northern Ohio Bigfoot Society hat like my sisters. Each Sasquatch club designed their own logo. My tacky trucker cap had a cartoon footprint and a motto on it in Latin— which probably translated to “We have nothing better to do.”
I pulled the brim over my eyes and slumped down, wishing I could join the pennies and crumbs hiding in the crevices of the sofa.