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(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

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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!

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(2015) #pg70pit MG Winners

Thanks for visiting our Middle Grade winners! These are seven picks of the top-rated entries judged by voice. We looked for thoughtful word choice, appropriate rhythm, and evocative imagery. Don’t forget cohost Carissa’s top 7 entries, on her blog!

Code Name: I See Your True Colors Shining Through

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words): I turned my arms into chainsaws and sliced through the water, only taking one breath. As soon as my fingers hit the wall, I somersaulted and made for the other end of the lane like crazy. When I reached it, I leaned against the edge, sucking air.

“Rena?” She’d disappeared.

Suddenly she popped up right in front of me. I yelped and may have even peed a little. Did she feel that?

Taking my face in her hands à la Spinlow, she leaned over, kissing me right on the nose. Enough lighting surged through me to electrocute us both.

“What was that for?” I asked, voice cracking.

Rena squeezed my facial chub. “Jordan Ray Murphy,” she whispered with an insane, Zane-like gleam in her eyes, “that was the freakiest – and fastest – I’ve ever seen anybody your age swim. And you weren’t even kicking.”

“I was.”

“Well, not properly.” After that, Rena made me swim a billion more laps, then finally pulled herself out of the pool and motioned for me to follow. I did, crossing my arms over my moobs.

“That’s enough for tonight. Let’s get you home so you can go to bed.”

Thank God.

“I’ll pick you up tomorrow as soon as you’re done milking. Then we’ll start your training regime. And don’t eat breakfast.” She tossed me a towel. “I’ll have something ready for you that’s allowed on your diet.”
I stopped drying my hair. “Diet?”

Word Count: 35,000

Genre: Contemporary Humorous

7 words for your MC: Overweight eighth-grader swims toward his operatic aspirations

Code Name: It’s Close to Midnight

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words): “It’s time, Justin. Your doctor even believes if you accept she’s not coming back, your panic attacks might stop and—”

“First, I thought my conversations with my Doc were private. Second, I’m much better.” Sweat trickles down my cold back. She set me up with this dinner. Orange chicken and rice churn in my stomach.

“I’m trying to do what’s best for us.”

Guilt punches at me but I block the blow. How could she want to get rid of mom’s stuff, forget about her?

“Okay, just calm down. Justin, breathe.”

Didn’t realize I wasn’t. She’s a little fuzzy so I blink hard. Inhale, Exhale… “I vote no on the roommate. I’ll get a job. I can cut grass, pick up trash. I’ll find something. We don’t need to gut Mom’s room.”

“We’re not—It’s been over a year. She’s not coming back,” she says softly.

Don’t know how to respond to that. I grit my teeth so hard my jaw snaps.

“Think about it. We can talk later, okay?”

All kinds of thoughts and feelings bubble up inside of me, but I swallow them down. This isn’t how I wanted to spend my last moments with her.

“What? So, you hate me now? I suck at being a big sister, huh?”

My gaze drops to the table. The fire in my throat is only a little less intense than the blaze behind my eyes.

“Hey, you’re supposed to disagree.”

I shrug. “You do suck at it sometimes.”

Word Count: 34,000

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

7-word description for your MC: Sad, broken boy challenges monster, reclaims life.

Code Name: Father of mine… where have you been?

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

“The cure’s here?” Dad says. “Where? Which plant is it?”

My voice catches. The cure isn’t in the grove, but I know Dad won’t believe me if I say that. I point to a plant behind him. If Dad wants a closer look, he’ll have to move away from me.

Not that distance will save me from his arrows.

“This?” Dad says. “Are you sure?”

I can’t answer. I can’t even move my head.

“This is hellebore, Asclepius. It’s toxic.”

Dad pulls an arrow from his quiver.  He nocks it and aims at me.

I flatten myself behind the huge oak tree, but with Dad on the other side it might as well be a sapling.

“The offer stands, but this is your last opportunity to take it,” Dad says. “What did you use?”

I opt for the truth. The way Chiron talked, it’s doubtful the Pantheon can use the plant anyway.

“Vlita,” I say. “I used vlita.”

The grove is too quiet. I peek out from behind the tree. I can’t tell if Dad’s furrowed brow means he’s angry or confused, but I fear he’ll soon call me a liar and let loose the arrow.

“Vlita?” he says, “You mean the weed?”

My head bobbles a yes.

“And where do I find the kid?”

“I don’t know.”


The oak I’m hugging blasts in two, piercing my hands with splinters.  The thunder of cracking tree limbs echoes around me, and the earth rumbles. I keel over, hands on knees, trying to keep my balance.

Dad nocks another arrow.

Word Count: 89K

Genre: Mythic Fantasy

7 words for your MC: Curing patient reveals estranged father’s murderous plan

 Code Name: More Than Just a Dream

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

Connor tilted his head to one side. “Phillip, how’re you going to make all that money?”

“Real estate, like my dad.” Phillip tossed Antonio a chocolate bar. “Mia, how’s that Ouija board working out?”

“What?” Mia stiffened, the heat from the bonfire nothing compared to the heat now rushing into her face. She couldn’t relax for one second around this kid. “Well…I—”

“You know, dude,” Connor cut in. “It’s just for fun.”

“Is it?” Out of nowhere, Phillip whipped the box of graham crackers sideways at Connor, but Connor, all quick reflexes, caught it easily with his free hand.

“Nice catch,” Mia didn’t bother hiding her smile.

Phillip smirked. “Antonio says you think you talked to a ghost.” He lowered his skewer into the flames, lighting all four of his marshmallows on fire.

Mia’s smile faded. Seriously? Her own brother, spilling her secrets. She shot Antonio a furious glance, but he kept his head down, concentrating on breaking the chocolate into pieces.

“Really?” she asked Phillip, leaning back in her chair, all casual. “What else did he say?”

“Not much.” He pulled his skewer out of the flames and blew out the now blackened, shriveled marshmallows. “That’s why I’m asking you.”

Connor laughed. “None of it made sense. It just pointed out random letters.”

Mia wanted to hug him. Maybe she couldn’t count on her brother to be loyal, but she could count on her best friend. Even if her best friend wasn’t totally on board with her plan to search cabin three. Yet.

Word Count: 40,000

Genre: Mystery

7-words for your MC: Desperate to save grandparents’ failing lake resort

Code Name: Dream Weaver I Believe

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

My face presses against something scratchy, cold and hard. Every bone in my body feels bruised. Putting my hands under me, I push up, but the ground doesn’t look like the wooden planks of the ship. It’s more like cement.

I roll over and stare at a starry sky. It was daylight a second ago, and the temperature must have dropped below freezing. I rub my arms as I sit up, staring at a city skyline stretching across the water. The cement is part of a wharf lined with warehouses. So the ship didn’t catch me. Am I somehow back in New York? Did Jake wake up? He must have.

I scramble to my feet and jog down the pier, searching for any signs of life. Every few yards a lamppost emits a halo of light along the wharf, but the buildings remain in shadows. I run faster, trying to keep myself warm and wishing I could’ve got my coat and backpack from the ship. I’d at least be able to use my cellphone on this side of the Mirage.

After passing a few ocean liners, I finally find a work crew piling containers onto a conveyor belt and transferring them to a ship.

“Hello!” I shout, waving to them.

They stop working, and one of them walks over.

“This is a secure loading zone,” he says, his hot breath fogging in the cold air. “What are you doing out here?”

Word Count: 56K

Genre: Urban Fantasy

7 words for your MC: Human lie detector; seer of dream dimensions.

Code Name: The Dream that You Dare

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

Everyone was gawking. Unless I wanted my reputation here to be the same as it was in Cleveland, squared, this was my last chance.

I pulled off my hood and turned to Woody. “I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”

I fielded questions until the bell rang. It was easier than I thought it would be. Everyone was shouting at once, so I got to pick and choose.

“What was the audition like?” asked Ernesto.

“Well, when I got there, they handed me these SIDES. Sides are scenes with dialogue. I had a few minutes to look them over, then I read for the director.”

Not that I’d ever actually seen a side. At my audition, they were only looking for non-union extras. I’d stood in line for four hours in the hot sun before I was allowed inside the building for my thirty seconds with the casting people. They told me to say my name and age. Then they sent me to another line to have my measurements taken. I was the right size to fit one of the costumes, a parochial school uniform that was the sweatiest, itchiest thing on the planet, so I was in.

“How much money did you make?” This was from Woody, of course.

“I don’t know. I never saw my check.” The girl who sat next to me in the bleachers said they were paying us $27. Plus lunch. “My mom gave me $10 and put the rest in the bank for college.” Or maybe it went towards the electric bill.

Word Count: 51K

Genre: Realistic, historical

7-word description for your MC: Earned her artistic license at age six

Code Name: I Was Not Magnificent.

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

“Of course he’s not mine,” Rapscallion answered. “One look at him should tell you that. Where’s his dazzling good looks? His impeccable fashion sense? His luxurious hair?” He laughed, as though at the ridiculousness of the idea. “He’s just travelling with me for a while.”

“Ah, well, it’s a pleasure all the same,” said Ernest, shaking Zack’s hand. “Where are you from then, my boy?”

“London,” Zack answered.

Ernest frowned.

“You’ve gotta be a little more specific when you’re travellin’, mate,” Rapscallion explained. “What planet, what time, what galaxy?”

“Oh, right.” Zack scratched his head.  “Planet Earth then, I guess. From … 2014.”

“And what galaxy is that?”

“Erm … the big one?”

Ernest chuckled.

“He’s from the Milky Way,” said Rapscallion.

“Oh, how marvellous!” said Ernest, clapping his hands together. “Such an exciting place. What is it you’re doing travelling with Rapscallion exactly?”

“He’s taking me to an auction. Part of his charity work.”

Ernest looked at Rapscallion suspiciously. “Charity work?”

“Yeah, you know, helpin’ unhappy kids and all that.”

“I see.” Ernest paused. “I don’t mean to offend you, Rapscallion, but you’ve never struck me as the charity work kind of man before.”

“Just turnin’ over a new leaf, aren’t I? Trying to do something for the kids and all that.”

“I see.” Ernest nodded, though he didn’t seem entirely convinced. Then his face darkened suddenly, as if a thought had just occurred to him. “This auction, however … it wouldn’t be Wilhelmina’s auction, would it?”

Word Count: 65,000.

Genre: Science Fiction.

7 words for your MC: Troubled boy gets chance to time travel.

Click here to see more MG entries

Click here to see YA 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!

pg70pit writing contest logo

(2015) #pg70pit Adult Winners

Thanks for visiting our 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 Elizabeth’s blog!

Code Name: I’m the Best Mistake You’ll Ever Make

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words): The woman was waiting for him outside his tenement, hands folded primly over the handle of a lace parasol.

Anton stopped, shuffling his feet and glancing up beneath his eyelashes. “Sweet of you to check up on me.”

An indulgent smile tugged at her wine red lips. “You know you really oughtn’t walk around so late alone. Someone might get the wrong idea.”

Anton swallowed. He didn’t much mind other people’s ideas. It was his own that concerned him. “You said you had names. I want one.”

“I thought you might.” From the breast pocket of her greatcoat, she withdrew an envelope. “I’ll give you two, free of charge. They’re quite good at what they do.”

“I don’t want a sell-sword.”

“Smart boy. A poisoner would be more prudent.”

“No,” Anton said. “I want you to give me the name of the Phantom.”

“The Phantom,” she repeated, her face carefully blank.

“I know you know what I’m talking about.” The woman had eyes in every back alley from Copenhagen to Casablanca. Of course she knew of the Phantom.

“Perhaps I’ve heard the tales,” she said, twirling the parasol idly. “But what makes you think I have his name?”

“Her name,” Anton corrected. The deliberate error didn’t fool him. “You know it’s a she. And you know how to find her.”

The woman hesitated. “I can’t help you with this.”

“Can’t? Or won’t?”

Her dark-rimmed eyes narrowed. “Even if you do manage to track her down, what do you think you can offer her? She’s not for hire.”

Word Count: 135K

Genre: Fantasy

7-word description for your MC: Clever, secretive. Hiding unwanted magic, scrupulous streak.

Code Name: But Darling, Stay with Me

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

“You don’t look okay,” Rich said as he untied my wrists and ankles and pressed his dry hands against the friction burns. Thanks, Pastor Obvious. “What happened?”

I shrugged off his question and jerked away. I wasn’t in the mood to indulge him, and I really wasn’t in the mood to let him see me at my worst. I climbed off the bed and turned my back before pulling on my clothes.

“Where’s your mom?” he asked.

I whipped back ’round. I’d assumed she’d greeted Rich after he let himself in. It wasn’t like her to leave the house so early in the day, even if it was afternoon.

Somethin’ was off. I got this feeling, this deep ache in my gut that yelled worst-case scenarios at me. I zipped my pants and ran into the hall.

It didn’t take long to find her.

You can probably guess what we found. Mom was sprawled out on her bed with a kitchen knife near her right hand. The blood flowing out of her left arm had soaked into the sheets, creating a dark round stain underneath and around her. Her head was tilted to the side, her eyes closed. Strangely enough, she looked peaceful.

Rich didn’t seem all that surprised. I wasn’t, either.

I knew she wasn’t dead. I mean, I didn’t know for sure ’til I found her pulse. But I knew. If the pain had been rough enough to kill her, she would’ve looked angrier, more distraught.

Instead, her face proved she was pleased with herself.

Word Count: 58K

Genre: NA LGBT Contemporary

7-word description for your MC: Gay Appalachian undergrad escaping abuse, navigating love

Code Name: The Same Old Thing Since 1916

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words): Dana leaned out of the cockpit and shouted back, “Is that everyone?”

I should bloody well hope so. Aloud I said, “That’s it. Weigh anchor and get underway.”

She nodded and turned back to the helm.

“You can let go now,” I said to the diminutive woman clinging to my back.

Kaitlyn’s fingernails retracted from my neck as she lowered herself onto the slick metal deck. If the ringing in my ears were any indication, she had not enjoyed the ride. She slid past me and joined Matthew at the rear of the cockpit without another word.

“Another satisfied customer,” I muttered.

The boat juddered as the anchor finished retracting into the hull.

“How do you feel about a speedy exit?” Dana asked, already starting to accelerate. I could scarcely see the buildings on either side through the driving rain.

I glanced back toward the rear of the cockpit. Our Vietnamese passengers seemed fine; jovial, even. Matthew and Kaitlyn sat on the bunk behind them, eyes distant, towels draped around their shoulders. I should check in with them before we hit full throttle, make sure Kaitlyn was well enough for a bumpy ride.

Then I glanced down at the Doppler radar. Shite. That damned bridge had cost us too much time. Even at full power, we’d be lucky to escape before the full force of the typhoon returned. So much for trading speed for comfort.

“Patrick?” she asked again.

“Just get us back in one piece.”

Word Count: 85K

Genre: International Thriller

7-word description for your MC: Rescue specialist drawn into global antiquities trade

Code Name: And for one second, I understand

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

I know instantly something is wrong: my rooms are not empty.

“Show yourself!” I draw my sword.

A girl appears from the bedroom and curtsies timidly. There’s a blush on her dark cheeks.

I sheath my sword, not my expression. “Yes?”

“I…er…I…” She swallows, looking at the floor, hands tucked behind her back. “My name is Emily, my Lady. I am your maid.”

A maid? I have no need for one, especially a little mouse like her. I’m about to tell her so, but her expression stops me. It’s a perfect blend of hope and fear.

“Sorry, that wasn’t much of a welcome.” A job in the keep is probably something she can’t afford to lose. “It’s been a while since I had a maid.”

“I’ll be no trouble, my Lady.”

“Call me Lavie, or Miss Lavie if that’s too much,” I add, seeing the look her face. “You can start by making my bed; I shouldn’t sleep on the floor anymore.”

“Yes, my… I mean Miss.”

She disappears into the bedroom, then comes back. Her scuttling motions reinforce her mouse-like image.


“Yes, Squeak?”

The girl blinks, as if trying to determine if she is being addressed. “I heard men talking…They said you were a knight and that you’d chopped off a man’s…” She swallows again and the next word comes out a whisper. “…Unmentionables.”

My reputation precedes me. “Maybe I have. Will that be a problem?”

“No, Miss,” she says more firmly. “In my opinion, there are a few men who could do with losing their unmentionables.”

Word Count: 103k

Genre: Fantasy (lgbt)

7-word description for your MC: War damaged hero struggles with peacetime identity

Code Name from Song Lyrics: There’ll Be Just One Survivor

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

Lacey was right. The gray line in his hair had grown to a quarter inch thickness overnight. It was a stunning streak, parting his red hair like a curtain.

Another dream, another stripe.

The terror of the night before came back to him with the force of an anvil. His hands shook, and he dropped to his knees as he smelled the stink of the creature and felt its bony lips on his. Three, he heard it whisper again in his mind.

Three years. If Alex was telling the truth, if the creature was real, he’d lost three years of his life already. A wave of nausea gripped him.

He stayed crouched, breathing deeply for several minutes, letting the fear work its way through. Finally, he pulled himself upright and took the phone out of his pocket. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he rested it on his leg, trying to steady his hands. Then he thumbed through until he found one of the emails Alex had sent him, one of the emails he’d ignored. He hit reply.

“Can we talk?” He typed. “About what you told me at the coffee shop?” Roth hesitated. Then he added, “I’ve been having nightmares. Call me.” He hit send.

Roth clenched the phone in one hand and gripped his leg with the other. It sounded crazy. It was crazy. But so was gaining streaks of gray overnight. He needed to talk to Alex. To learn the truth.

Word Count: 90K

Genre: Thriller

7-word description for your MC: Self-centered entrepreneur must grow heart or die

Code Name: Where is my mind?

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

I lifted the back of my shirt. “See? This is where I should have been stabbed. But…nothing. Not even a scratch.”

He dragged his fingertip across the line of my ribs, and it sparked against my skin like a striking match. My nervous thoughts vanished, kindling to his incendiary touch, and for an instant all I wanted was more of his skin on my own.

“Someone here wished you dead,” he said.

I fought off a shiver and turned to him. In the dream of this past life, Emily had always been a passive participant, but now the man who’d once been Emily had intent. He’d wanted to kill me. “Maybe he still does.”

“You needn’t be scared.” Roberts protected me since the second I’d arrived here, but this time his concern didn’t come from chivalry or duty. It was genuine and gentle, and sitting so close to him, breathing his comforting scent of the afternoon ocean and sharp tea leaves, I wanted to believe him.

“You try to hide behind all your bravado. But deep down you’re a big sweetie, aren’t you?”

He chuckled, and the tense lines of his face eased. “No wonder you continue to tell me to shut up, throw pillows at my face, and generally fail to defer to my imposing authority. Who would be afraid of a man such as you think of me?”

I jabbed him with my elbow. “So…five minutes is all you could muster, huh?”

“Six months at sea, Fox. Six months.”

Word Count: 103,000

Genre: Historical Fantasy

7-word description for your MC: accidental time traveler, searching for her sister

Code Name: Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

I wet my lips. “How long have I been asleep?”

“Two nights and a day,” Heera said. “Jigar Khan brought you here that afternoon from khalajan’s rooms. He hasn’t left your bedside except to snatch a few hours’ sleep each night.”

“Oh?” I had a hard time matching the kind actions that she described to the eunuch.

“He regularly applied the salve the hakim gave him on your wounds. Thank Allah, your back won’t scar.”

God forbid my skin get puckered and ugly. Wouldn’t that disgust the Emperor! I shook my head. It wasn’t my friend’s fault that she thought this way. This was the only life she knew. “The khanum didn’t punish Aslam, did she?”

“He’s well,” she whispered and turned away.

I laid a hand on her shoulder. “What is it?”

She swallowed and wound her veil tightly around her shoulders. “It’s Chaman. The night she gave you a beating, khalajan had my pet goat added to the stew pot.”

Cold fingers clutched at my heart and squeezed until I couldn’t breathe. It was my fault. Rua Khanum had warned me that Heera was responsible for me. Poor Chaman, I’m so sorry!

“She had the stew served to the entire zenana. Then … then …” She trembled, tears coursing down her cheeks. “Khalajan made me eat each morsel she served me.”

My stomach heaved. I doubled over and vomited, the acrid aftertaste scorching my throat. “Forgive me, Heera, forgive me.”

I threw my arms around her, and the two of us huddled together, weeping.

Word Count: 95K

Genre: Historical Epic

7-word description for your MC: Hindu girl surviving in Muslim Emperor’s harem

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