Entry Nickname: Can’t Keep a Bad Girl Down
Word count: 82K
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Niobe is guilty of many things: bar brawls, affairs with married mayors, eyebrow-raising morals, and of swaggering through life like a drunk cavalier. She is also the best biohunter east of the Rockies, a fact that has helped her avoid more serious censure from the Guild of Biohunters.
Orphaned at a young age, Niobe joined the Guild to help other victims of the constant biological warfare over what few resources remain in a North America devastated by climate change.
Biohunters are neutral agents - part paramedic, part microbiologist part CSI - but when Niobe is framed as the source of deadly new weapons wreaking havoc across the north-east, she faces execution or worse: exile from the Guild and from the closest thing to a home and family she has ever known.
As a rising and ruthless new power shows its hand and proves it will commit unthinkable crimes to achieve its goals of controlling what’s left of civilization, Niobe must prove her innocence, finger the baddies and save her friend. If only she wasn’t handcuffed, but you can’t keep a bad girl down … at least not for long.
The ambush came as Niobe hauled her dusty turbocycle saddle bags along the dimly-lit motel walkway. It had been a long day on the road, and she really didn’t have the patience for it.
She had to credit their stealth - she didn’t hear a thing until the snub nose of an ultrasound injector pressed into the exposed flesh at the back of her neck, snuck in above the worn leather of her jacket. Her neck hairs rose in ineffectual defense, and she suppressed a shudder at the contrast of cold metal on warm sweaty skin.
Niobe mouthed a silent curse. “For Gaia’s sake, can’t we do this after I’ve had a shower?”
She eased her head to one side, hoping for a glimpse of her attackers. One stood just beyond the downward cone of light that lit the door to her room, too far to be holding the weapon to her neck. Two of them, then. There was a whiff of salty, smoky body odor that suggested a long time between washes. She heaved a sigh. “Fine. What do you want?”
Niobe could have answered the question for them. Most likely gold, or her comms unit - something they could sell to buy a meal or some water. Resources were scarce and a biohunter was an obvious target for someone looking for gold, or high-tech comms gear. There was precious little technology around these days, and what did exist was priced sky-high. People would kill for it if enough was at stake, and she had enough.
Entry Nickname: SunnysideUp
Title: If I Promise You the Sun
Word count: 89,000
Genre: YA SciFi
Sixteen-year-old Eve Thomas doesn’t mind that she can’t leave Nova Vita, an Amish-like religious community that rejects most technology and has perfected solar power. Except for the compulsions and tics linked to her photographic memory, life in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains is nothing short of paradise.
But when her little brother shows signs of a genetic disorder the cult won’t treat, Eve questions her religion’s reliance on God and its refusal of the modern world. As she searches frantically for a cure, Eve has no idea that someone is watching her, an eighteen-year-old boy named Mana Aquino. A migrant worker from the garbage slums of Manila, Mana is determined to kill the cult’s leader—the bishop who used his sister as a human sacrifice and treats all laborers like slaves. He just can’t seem to get anywhere near his prey.
After Mana learns about Eve’s unusual memory, he offers to sneak medicine to her brother, if she’ll serve as his human camera, gathering information that could ruin the bishop. If Eve can bring herself to trust Mana and accept his offer, she’ll commit a crime that will destroy the only home she’s ever known. If she says no, her beloved brother’s as good as dead.
Told in alternating points of view, If I Promise You the Sun, is a light science fiction thriller with forbidden romance at its heart.
Mama and I pin my six-year-old sister to the kitchen chair so the medics can find a vein and fill a vial with her blood.
“Let me go!” Theresa shouts, twisting crazily under our hands.
I gasp for breath as her bare foot wallops my gut.
All children in Nova Vita are being tested for an illness so rare it has no name, and each one who tests positive will die. Bishop Conner agreed to let researchers study us, as long as they don’t interfere with our beliefs. This year, we’ll know ahead of time who we’re going to lose.
Once the needle’s in, Theresa’s limbs relax and her hazel eyes widen. We’re all mesmerized by the thin red stream shooting up into the glass—it’s too beautiful for anyone to take away.
When you turn thirteen, your parents finally explain that there’s no cure, maybe not even outside of Nova Vita. The cause may be genetic, which means it’s in God’s hands. The Book of Healing reminds us that illness is part of Nature and Nature doesn’t make mistakes. Every year, three or four kids from our settlement start showing the signs. It can take months for them to die, as muscle control, then eyesight, then breathing fail.
After we release Theresa, I avoid Mama’s eyes while mouthing a prayer, then tap the back of the chair four times. Not because I want to, but because I can’t stop myself. That way it won’t be my fault if the unthinkable happens.