Entry Nickname: Licks the Dandruff
Title: Sara and the Stepps
Word count: 40,000
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Query:When a wise, talking lizard invites ten-year-old Sara into the haunted BookHouse on Sour Grapes Lane, she doesn’t hesitate to go in. Spending time in spooky houses with chatty reptiles is way better than spending time at home with her awful new step-brothers. Seven of them. Se-ven. Not to mention that Dad and step-monster, Lottie, have just left her alone with the brothers while they honeymoon.
So, when Randalf the Lizard shows her a magical library with books that hold the key to helping anyone with any problem they have, she wonders if diving into a good story could be the escape she’s been looking for. Of course, she’d miss her dad, even if he did remarry an awful woman without her permission. She hesitates to accept Randalf’s offer until her stinky brothers play one too many pranks and break her favorite street-hockey stick.
Sara runs away to the BookHouse, in tears, and accidentally falls into the twisted, “Alex in Danderland” book. Now she must navigate the wrong story for the help she needs and deal with the crazy Queen of Parts if she wants to get home. Rumors say the Queen might have just the right part for getting rid of pesky step-families, but the price for it might be more than Sara’s willing to pay. Of course, all the right parts in the world won’t matter if Sara can’t find her way out of one particular storybook.
First 250 words:
Sara pressed her fingers gingerly against the back screen door and tried to open it as quietly as possible. As she slunk through the smallest opening she could fit through, she raised her eyes to the sky. The sun hovered just above the fields to the east of her house. It was still early and, as far as she could tell, she was the only one awake. Gripping her roller blades in her left hand, it was the last part of her body outside before she turned and closed the screen door behind her with a soft ‘clink’.
She sat down on the porch to put her blades on. As she started lacing them up, she glared up at the sun and the blue, blue sky. She stuck her tongue out at the fat robins tweeting away in their trees. A tawny cat strolled by, minding its own business, and Sara hissed at it. The poor thing jumped about a mile high and scurried away once it landed on solid ground again.
“Ah, Kit-Kit! I’m sorry. I didn’t really mean it.” Sara called after him, but the cat had disappeared beneath the raspberry bushes next door.
She blew out a big, long puff of air and shook her head. It was her Dad’s wedding day today. And Sara had wished for thunder and bucket-loads of rain.
She wobbled up onto her feet and glided over to the garage to fetch her purple street-hockey stick, helmet and safety pads.
Entry Nickname: RV Arya
Title: The Raven Queen’s Revenge
Word count: 40K
Genre: MG Fantasy
Forced to move into a stinky RV with her pesky sister and her Louisiana campground supervisor mom, eleven-year-old Sylvie wants to be back home with her own bed, her own stuff, and her dad. Ticked off and lonely, one day Sylvie and her sister follow a fox into the woods, only to meet Lowell, a local kid whose dad is a park ranger. He insists he can help Sylvie and her sister find the fox he scared off, but instead he loses the trail and inadvertently leads them into an alternate world—Nyrandia. Frustrated with herself for following an annoying boy she hardly knows, Sylvie smashes an old, blue bottle against a tree, freeing hundreds of ravens . . . and their queen.
Having spent the last seventeen years planning her revenge on those who imprisoned her, Raven Queen Keres seals all the exits from Nyrandia, confining her enemies and trapping Sylvie, her sister, and Lowell in the crossfire of a battle for power. With the help of a talking fox, a pair of cheery goblins, and a childlike druid, Sylvie and her companions struggle to return to the one place Sylvie wanted more than anything to escape: her home.
First 250 words:
Sylvie patted more dirt, wet her fingers in the plastic bowl, and sculpted the muddy mound in front of her. She looked back and forth between her creation and the laminated pamphlet.
She squished and smoothed, then reexamined.
Ha! Nailed it! Best fox scat replica yet.
Sylvie snapped a closeup with her iPod, and stepped back for a group shot. Louisiana black bear, nutria, eastern cottontail, Virginia opossum, white-tailed deer, Northern raccoon, and now red fox. This had to make her some sort of campground expert on the subject.
She packed the replicas in their box, except the fox one. It had to bake in the sun a few hours before she could move it. She’d been considering some sort of museum setup and charging admission. She was sure a few weekenders would swing by, if only to check out the weird girl and her sun-baked mud poop museum. She didn’t care. Not if she could get a dollar out of each of them.
As Sylvie carried her box up the wobbly RV steps and through the flimsy door, she held her breath to avoid the stinky, moldy nastiness of their home sweet home. She tucked the box into the cabinet with her name taped on the door and grabbed her spelling workbook, a pencil, and her green messenger bag. The only remaining items were a math workbook and her homemade field guide, the one she’d started with her dad a couple of years ago.