Word count: 115,700
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Professional demon-hunter Lazarus loves his job. He loves the adrenaline rush, the clarity of combat, and the chance to be more than a broken thug. Most of all, he loves his angelic handler, Rebecca, who scraped him out of the gutter and gave him a purpose. For her, Laz would punch out the Sun.
Which is fortunate, because his current target is almost as formidable: a nigh-invulnerable necromancer who's easily dispatched every other demon-hunter who dared face him. A more rational man would be worried, but Laz sees this mission as an opportunity. Killing this guy is sure to impress Rebecca. Maybe she'll even reconsider her "no fraternization with humans" policy.
But the shameful truth is that Laz's battle prowess isn't entirely his own. Five years ago, Laz made a bargain with a charismatic demon that granted him immunity to demonic magic—and promptly skipped town without paying. Now, while Laz is hip-deep in the toughest mission of his life, his demon finally tracks him down... and it won't let him escape again.
CHAINBREAKER is a NA urban fantasy novel of 115,700 words. It is the first part of an apocalyptic trilogy that will appeal to fans of Jim Butcher's DEATH MASKS and Chuck Wendig's THE BLUE BLAZES.
Wide awake at 3 AM, Laz decided that the worst thing about prison was the other prisoners. He couldn't sleep near so many potential threats. Not after the past five years of increasingly close pursuit by Hell's demons and America's cops.
The enforced idleness of imprisonment didn't help. Laz's internal engine ran hot at the best of times; with no work on which to vent his energy, he felt close to boiling over.
His eyes refused to shut. He covered his face with his hands, calloused palms pressed against battle scars and broken nose, and tried to force himself to relax. No good. He bit back a frustrated oath and rolled over onto his side, as if that would help.
Metal scraped against concrete as the computerized lock on his cell door slid open, instantly vindicating Laz's paranoia. He was on his feet and ready to fight before the sound died away.
The door swung outward in obedience to the ventilation system's constant draft. A stripe of washed-out light shone through the opening. There was no one on the other side.
Laz crept to the entrance and looked up and down the dim corridor. Everyone's door was open, not just his. Most inmates were asleep, but here and there one stood half-crouched in the entrance, suspicious but curious, like him.
Someone must have paid a lot of money to arrange this mass unlocking. Laz could only think of one reason to give all prisoners unsupervised access to each other, and it wasn't to swap recipes for pruno.
Entry Nickname: Making Boys Cry
Title: Virtual Rebel
Word count: 90,000
Genre: Science Fiction
The warrior. It's a title 18-year-old Kali Ling earned bringing men to their knees -- inside video games.
In 2054, fully-immersive virtual reality plugs a player directly inside a game, turning digital battle tournaments into a national sport. As an athletic avatar, Kali's living the high life: ultimate fame, zero consequences, and an endless supply of drugs, win or lose. Because really, nothing is worse than losing.
But when her teammate Nathan overdoses and Kali is named the new team captain, she's confronted with a concept called, ugh, being an adult. She finds guidance through her Chinese heritage, immersing herself in Asian philosophy and martial arts training with her team's latest recruit (whom she can't help picturing in nothing but a strategically placed controller). But just as she attains inner peace, the Virtual Gaming League erases Nathan from its database and whitewashes the truth behind his demise for the sake of ratings.
For ratings? Oh, it's on like Donkey Kong.
Furious, Kali swaps fame for fighting in his memory in the VGL's championship tournament. But the industry threatens to strip away everything she's become if she doesn't back down. As team captain, it's not just her future on the line. But if Kali can convince others to join her, together they could stand against an industry that cares more about its popularity than its athletes. This time it's game over. Permanently.
First 250 words:
This wouldn't be the first time I died. Sure as hell wouldn't be the last either. But while most watched this virtual world from the safe haven of reality, there was nowhere else I'd rather spend my Saturday night.
Crouched high on the tower's parapet, I overlooked a sea of wheat fields. The scent of lavender and the taste wheatgrass wove together in the air, drifting alongside the breeze that swept through my hair. I took a deep breath and smiled at the irony, as thick as the mountain air filling my lungs. Lavender. Wheat fields. Tranquility.
Peace, in a place anything but peaceful.
Movement in the fields caught my eye, down and right. A zigzag carved its way through the ten-foot tall stocks, heading straight for the tower. My smile widened. Maybe this sucker had the balls to take on Kali Ling.
I stilled inside. Even breaths. No fear. At the field's edge, the stocks trembled violently. The air filled with the rainstick rustling of brush and dry grass. Yes. Someone would emerge. I gripped the sword sheathed across my back and waited, muscles tight, mouth watering. Come on. Give me something. A brute. Six -- no -- seven feet tall, wielding a mace. Or an axe.
Give me anything.
A rabbit scurried out from the field. Nothing followed. The grass fluttered in the breeze. Birds chirped, nestled in the nearby sycamore trees. It was the rabbit, and only the rabbit.
I punched the parapet's brick wall, but instead of frustration, irony reverberated through me again.