Saturday, October 25, 2014

NoQS Spooks 7: THE BATTLE BORN, YA Survival

Genre: YA Survival
Word Count: 76,000

My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:

Out of food, gas, and water, John Lockwood's most fearsome obstacle is the Nevada desert.


Seventeen-year-old John doesn’t know what caused the blackout 21 days ago, and he doesn’t know why help has yet to reach his rural Nevada town. The water pumps are out, their gasoline storage is depleted, and most of the town has already evacuated. Cut off from communication, John’s fifteen-year-old brother, Stew, is convinced it’s the zombie apocalypse. But John was left in charge of him, and he knows the power will be back soon, they just need to wait it out.

When a group of men rob them of their food and water storage, that plan changes. They’ll have to attempt the impossible: walk 90 miles down one of the most desolate highways in the state to reach help.

Teenager Cleverly and her younger brother are also desperate to reach help. When John agrees to let them tag along, he knows he’s making a mistake. After all, cutting their scavenged water supply in half is not exactly conducive to surviving a three day walk through the desert. And as Stew falls into a pessimistic downward spiral, John has serious doubts about their chances of making it. Not only are they dealing with physical exhaustion, unbearable heat, and a dangerous lack of water, but he’s not convinced they’ve seen the last of those men who robbed them.

If they’re going to beat the odds and survive this disaster, John will have to let go of past mistakes and learn to trust his instincts.

First 250 words:

Dad always said if things get desperate, it’s okay to drink the water in the toilet bowl. I never thought it would come to that. I thought I’d sooner die than let one drop of toilet water touch my lips. Yet here I am, kneeling before a porcelain throne, holding a tin mug for scooping in one hand, and my half-gallon canteen in the other.

Don’t worry, I’m going to boil it first.

Behind me, my brother Stewart is making gagging noises. “I’m gonna throw up,” he says, which is something Stew says all the time, but does he ever actually throw up? No. He doesn’t do most of the things he says he’s going to do, like run away, or kill himself, or kill me—I was actually already dying when he said that one. “C’mon, John,” he says, the whine in his voice setting my teeth on edge, “do we really need this?”

I stop mid-scoop and stare up at him, holding the pink padded toilet seat up with my elbow. “No, we don’t need it, Stew. I just thought, ‘Oh look, water from a toilet. That sounds refreshing, let’s drink it.’”

His sullen, dark eyes narrow at me, and I thrust the canteen into his unwilling hands. He kneels down to help me, but adds in a mumble, “We have two canteens of water already.”

And that’s a perfect example of how my brother thinks. Two canteens of water, and we have a 90 mile walk down a desolate stretch of desert highway before we reach Brighton Ranch, our last chance for help.


    Please feel free to send the full manuscript as a word document to If you could put NoQS in the subject line that would be great. Thanks!

  2. Shriek! Please send query and pages to with #NoQS and my name in the subject line. Thank you!

  3. SCREAM! Cool concept, great opening. Please send me the ms in Word doc format, as well as the pitch and your bio, to my email address at #NoQs in the subject line will help me recognize it.

  4. Scream! Please send query + word doc to!

  5. SCREAM! I love survival stories. Query with #NoQs in subject heading, the full manuscript as a Word doc attached to I'm really looking forward to this one.