pg70pit writing contest logo

(2015) #pg70pit YA Winners

Thanks for visiting our Young Adult winners! These seven picks are just half of the top-rated entries judged by voice. We looked for thoughtful word choice, appropriate rhythm, and evocative imagery. Don’t forget to see the next top 7 entries, featured on cohost Ethan’s blog! We had more than 7 perfect scores for YA, so you definitely don’t want to miss the ones over there!

Code Name: ‘Cause I Think that I’m Dead

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

My head pulses with thoughts, whispers, fears, making me feel as though I am being followed or watched or hunted. The feeling is so real that I break into a sprint towards the cabin.

I pull away the canvas flap and search the room briefly and thoroughly, just to confirm that I really am alone. I crawl onto my bunk and crouch with my spine against the bedpost, pulling my knees to my chest and burying my head in them. My forehead is damp with sweat and I try to calm myself down. There is nothing hunting me. I am a fifteen-year-old girl at a summer camp.

There is nothing that would make me worthy of being the object of a hunt.

But that’s not true. I am a witness. I saw Felix’s dead body. I almost told Rachel.

I need to forget. I need to forget or I will be in constant danger.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath, trying to convince myself that nothing happened without acknowledging what it was that didn’t happen. The body—Felix’s body–was just one of those hallucinations that I have sometimes. Like when I used to see my father standing on the sidewalk drinking coffee, or when my eyes start to glow in the mirror when the numbers get too loud. Things like this are normal for teenagers. It’s just hormones; just like Mom said. I’ll grow out of it.

It’ll be over soon. It was just my imagination.

Word Count (e.g. 75K): 99,000

Genre: Sci-fi

7-word description for your MC: Five-foot-two and could probably kill you.

Code Name: Wrong Way on a One-Way Track

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

I work a few bites of this beef stuff into my mouth. I have yet to see an adult onboard, so that part about only teens riding these rails seems accurate. Weird. A kid wipes his eyes on his way past. Man, are these guys always this down?

That’s when I remember the funeral, and with nothing to do until the sun sets and I can get off this damn train, I ask a girl with unnaturally red hair what happened to the kid who died. She’s been staring at me since I sat down, anyway. She can’t stop smiling.

Even when I mention the kid, the smile only bobbles when she says, “Yeah, that was Andrew…so sad, what those Shaders did to him.”

“What did they do?”

She lifts her hand to her face and makes a claw with her fingers, running them down her nose and cheeks and lips. The smile’s gone now. It leaves a haunted look that makes me wonder how many others have died the same way.

I have got to get off this train.

The redhead moves like she’s going to touch my arm, then stops. “You didn’t know him, right? You’re new here.”

She just keeps looking at me like I’m the most interesting thing she’s ever seen. It’s almost funny, considering we’re stuck on a train that doesn’t stop.

“Did you meet Toby yet?” the girl asks.

“You mean the dick with the ego problem? Yeah, we’ve met.”

Word Count (e.g. 75K): 88K

Genre: Thriller, Magical Realism

7-word description for your MC: Battles creatures on train that never stops

Code Name: You’re the Lace in my Shoe

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

“Hey, look at this,” Frank said from behind me, and I jumped.

“What’d you find?” I stuffed down tears and dropped the photo on the vanity top, then joined Frank beside Marion’s bed. The tan suitcase was spread open on the bed. It was empty.

“See this here?” Frank ran his fingertips over the grooves of a monogram on the lock plate.

“R.F.?” I said. “Not M. L.”

“He ever tell you his real name?”

“Nope.” I figured Marion Leslie wasn’t his bonafide original name, but he never offered to explain it, so I never asked. It was one of our speakeasy commandments — a fellow’s secrets were his own.

“Me either,” Frank said, tracing the leather trim, the shiny brass buckles. “This is a ritzy suitcase. New-looking, too. Bet it set him back fifty clams.”

I whistled. “Too rich for my blood.”

“Mine, too. But not Marion’s, I guess?”

“Maybe he bought it secondhand.”

“Or stole it.”

But neither of us really believed Marion was a thief. I waved a hand back toward the vanity. “There’s photos, too. Looks like Marion used to be a well-to-do.”

“Yeah,” Frank said, like he’d already noticed. “Just been slumming with us, you think? Maybe went back to the stiff-collars?”

I shook my head. Neither of us believed that any more than the thief idea. Marion never mentioned home, never mentioned a life before this one. He didn’t act like a guy who was pining to go back. Especially not without saying goodbye.

Word Count (e.g. 75K): 78K

Genre: Upmarket Historical Mystery

7-word description for your MC: Jazz singer determined to find missing friend

Code Name: Baby’s Black Balloon

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

“Debate team? I mean, I like to argue as much as the next person, but seriously? I didn’t even know our school had a debate team.” Though even as I say it, I am struck with a memory of finding an empty debate team photo stuck in the package with my school pictures. Huh.

“They don’t. Not really,” said Peter, blandly. “You two are the only members. And neither of you are very good. Never won a single award—for obvious reasons—we couldn’t draw attention to the fact that no other schools have ever competed with you. Or even heard of you for that matter. It’s a good cover, since it’s so low on the extracurricular radar. You didn’t even qualify for a yearbook photo last year.”

I know it’s stupid, but I’m a little indignant at that. I mean, even super geeky clubs like the Online Gamers and LARPers get a picture in the yearbook. I’m not saying they don’t deserve a mention, just, let’s be fair, here.

“So, to be clear, over the past few years, we’ve gone to a bunch of tournaments for the debate team, left school—stayed away from home—come here to train or whatever it is with you guys, and then you wipe our memories, we go back to reality and no one has ever questioned anything?” Benton is skeptical. I am too. Maybe our parents have subconsciously looked the other way at our weak charade, but surely teachers and friends and Benton’s girlfriend (sigh) would have picked up on something.

Word Count: 95000

Genre: Science Fiction

7-word description for your MC: Snarky telepath with nineties pop culture obsession

Code Name: Make a Little Birdhouse in Your Soul

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

Think of that dark bit at the top of NASA’s map. The vast forests that cover Canada and Siberia, endless acres of pine trees dropping needles onto the frozen soil. There is your Undernet. Empty of cities and roads, ringing the top of the globe, quietly expiring a quarter of the oxygen needed by seven billion humans who, if they think about it at all, imagine it drifted up from the rainforests.

And so it is with the Undernet. Compilers for old programming languages no one needs anymore. CCTV images of empty sidewalks proving that no crime has been committed. Images of kittens doing things that only make you smile. And databases, databases, databases. Data, feeding the Internet frenzy—without being thought about at all.

You want to track evil in this forest? It takes a bit of effort. It’s not like you type “terrorist” in a search box and hit enter. No one lists explosives and chemical weaponry as skills on LinkedIn. No, it’s not easy. But I was getting good. Dad even said. And then, just when I’d discovered the biggest attack ever, I found myself unable to do anything about it.

I just had to hope the Chinese had a long lead time on the stuffed dolphins. As Carol Anne drove me from the hospital to the foster home, I knew I’d be too tired to make a break for it that night.

But then again, there was also Peter. Maybe I wouldn’t have to run from the foster home. Maybe he really could help me.

Word Count: 87,000

Genre: Thriller

7-word description for your MC: Not Daddy’s Good Little Hacker Girl anymore

Code Name: Living Life By The Drop

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

We sleep right through his alarm clock, God knows how many times, and it’s now almost nine a.m. according to the angry red numbers flashing a foot from my face. My eyes are dry, my mouth too, and my head pounds with a ferocity I didn’t know possible.

A crisp breeze blows fresh through the cracked window. I focus on the clock, then on Memphis’s face as he sleeps. I’d love to stay right here for awhile but I gotta get my butt to school. I’ve never been this late without a real excuse.

I nudge Memphis, my hands on his shoulders. He doesn’t stir. I touch my finger to his chin and start to drag it down his neck, towards his chest. His eyes snap open. His hand flies up and grabs my wrist, yanking me off of him.

I yelp from the strength of his grip. “What are you doing?” I finally manage to get out. My heart is racing.

“Oh, shit, Chloe,” he says, releasing me. “I-I…are you okay?”

I rub my wrist, eyeing him warily. “What was that all about?”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. Just please, don’t ever touch my neck, okay?”

“Seriously? Why?”

He hesitates, and I see something cloud in his eyes. “It’s sensitive, that’s all.”

Sensitive? He almost threw me across the room just now. I’d say sensitive is an understatement, but I don’t press it. I can tell it’s making him uncomfortable. “Yeah,” I say. “Don’t ever do that to me again. Okay?”

Word Count: 47,000

Genre: Contemporary

7-word description for your MC: Smart girl seeks love, finds a monster-boy.

Code Name: Puff the Magic Dragon

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

“How you doing?” I try to make the words sound breathless, since Sara’s already having trouble catching her breath. She’s in good shape—for someone who doesn’t do anything even remotely like working out. Nancy always said Sara had a metabolism Richard Simmons would kill for. After googling Richard Simmons, I figured the guy would kill for anything. Or just for fun.

“I — am — fine.”

“Try breathing through your nose,” I suggest.

“Leave — me — alone,” she huffs, “Or — you’ll — breathe — through — your — ass.”

I turn away to hide my grin.  Before long, twenty minutes have passed, and even I’m starting to feel the familiar ache in my side. My left foot is numb — these aren’t my running shoes — but I keep silent, not about to reveal yet another weakness to Dimitri. Besides, Sara can’t last much longer and will probably demand a break. I hate to use her like that, but oh well.

The light on the dark horizon has grown brighter. The light probably belongs to Texico, New Mexico, which means we’ve only run about three miles. Doing some quick calculating in my head, I realize it’ll take us almost two hours to get to Clovis.

I’m not going to make it.

Maybe Dimitri will steal a car. I’m not usually one for condoning criminal activities, but right about now I’d do a Richard Simmons to get a set of wheels. The killing thing, not dancing around in tights and headbands.

“Okay,” Sara says, stopping and bending over, hands on her knees and body heaving.

Thank god.

Word Count: 100k

Genre: Urban Fantasy

7-word description for your MC: Lost Memories, Monster Calling, Fighting within.

Click here to see more YA entries

Click here to see MG Entries

Click here to see Adult entries

Are you an agent who would like to request more from these writers? Comment below with the code names, how many pages you’d like to see, and your contact information. Alternatively, you may email veritylanelaraATgmailDOTcom with your requests.

Winning entrants, it’s your responsibility to vet agents and see if they would be a good fit for you.

Writers, go cheer each other on with the hashtag #pg70pit on Twitter!

11 thoughts on “(2015) #pg70pit YA Winners

  1. Kirsten Carleton says:

    Loved what I read of “Make a Little Birdhouse in Your Soul” and “Puff the Magic Dragon,” and want to see more! Please send the query with the first fifty pages and a detailed synopsis (as attachments) to kirsten[at]waxmanleavell[dot]com. Looking forward to reading!

  2. Elizabeth Copps says:

    Requesting: 1st 50 pages of “You’re the Lace in My Shoe.” Please send a formal query + the first 50 pages to Elizabeth Copps at Maria Carvainis Agency ( attached in a Word doc. Subject line should have “pg70pit” somewhere in the title. Thanks!

  3. Christa Heschke says:

    I’d like to see ‘Cause I Think that I’m Dead, You’re the Lace in my Shoe and Make a Little Birdhouse in Your Soul. Please send the first 25 pages, query and synopsis to chquery [at] mcintoshandotis [dot] com

  4. Lisa Jane Weller says:

    I love the sound of ‘Wrong Way On A One-Way Track’. If the author of this entry would be interested in querying me, I’d love to read more! Please feel free to send a query letter (including author bio) and the first 50 pages of your manuscript (attached as a Word/rtf file) to “submissions[at]broadlandliterary[dot]com”, with the subject line “Pg70pit Submission – Your Novel’s Title (Genre)”. Many thanks!

  5. Rachel Brooks says:

    I’d like to see the query and first 25 pages for Living Life By the Drop and Make a Little Birdhouse in Your Soul. Please send to rachel(at) with the “pg70pit request: Title” in the subject line if you’d like me to consider. Thanks!

  6. Bree Ogden says:

    I’d like to see the full manuscripts for “You’re the Lace in my Shoe” “Make a Little Birdhouse in Your Soul” and “Living Life By The Drop”. Please send word document to Bree@ with the hashtag in the subject line. Please cc xoxo-Bree

Leave a Reply to Elizabeth Copps Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s