Title: Tag, You’re Dead (originally The Game)
Word Count: 80K
Genre: YA Thriller
When six teenagers play Tag in present-day Chicago, there’s a twist from the childhood version…if you get Tagged, you get Dead.
The three "Its" have their reasons for buying a place in the Game: surgically-enhanced Brandy is dying to destroy a naturally beautiful girl; untalented Robin desires his target's position on the school basketball team; and brainiac Charles craves a battle against an intellectual equal.
Three hand-picked innocents play as “Runners,” under threat to their loved ones should they refuse to participate: lovely, small-town Laura; superstar athlete William; and Amanda, gamer extraordinaire. These three want only one thing…to survive.
As soon as the Runners receive the “Go” on smart watches locked onto their wrists, the Game rockets them through the city, from the El to Michigan Avenue to the Lincoln Park Zoo. There is no time to rest; every thirty minutes the Runners’ coordinates are transmitted to the Its, which diminishes the Runners’ chances of ever reaching Home Base alive.
The Game will not end until someone is Tagged, so the Runners must choose how to play: will they accept death, murder their Its, or find a way to use their individual strengths to stop the Game before anyone dies?
TAG, YOU’RE DEAD alternates among the POVs of all six players in the Game – who will live to see it end?
Friday, 8:00 PM
“I can’t choose,” Brandy Inkrott said. “I want to kill them all.
“Tag,” her mother said from her brocaded antique chair. “You want to Tag them all.”
“No. I don’t.”
“Either way,” her father said, “I’m afraid you have to pick one.”
Brandy studied the images of the teenage girls on the screen. Brunettes. Blondes. Asians. Hispanics. Light-skinned. Dark-skinned. Every one of them gorgeous. Every one of them middle-class. No-names. None of them like her. “They’re all so perfect. Can I pick more than one?"
A woman’s voice pierced the air, emanating from Surround Sound speakers. “The price for two would be extravagant, Ms. Inkrott. Plus, Tagging more than one Runner would be difficult. Almost impossible.”
“I don’t care. I can do it.”
Her father shrugged. “If that’s what you want.”
“I suggest this,” the woman said. “Play this time with one. If you are successful you may play again, and then you can go after two. I know it’s tempting when you see all those beautiful faces, but you’d be setting yourself up for disappointment.”
“What do you know?” Brandy said. “You’re probably some fat old lady in a trailer park somewhere. I could Tag you.”
Silence sizzled over the speaker.
“I’m sorry, Madame Referee,” Brandy’s father said. “She didn’t mean it.”
“Did so,” Brandy said.
“Bran, honey, please.
The girls’ faces on the television disappeared, replaced by only one, which took up the entire surface of the eighty-inch screen. The woman shown there was incredible.
Entry Nickname: BingBamBoomBFF
Title: Sucker Punching Magic
Word count: 75,000
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Fourteen years ago, during the Y2K Scare, magic bubbled out of Milwaukee’s sewers. A third of the population changed into creatures commonly found in Fairy Tales. Seventeen-year-old Jude Kozlowski is one of the victims. Though his allergy to light causes him to shift into a troll, he wants the world to accept him as a decent guy, not the “who’s that tramping over my bridge” stereotype. But his huge frame and pistachio skin scare normal humans and his shyness keeps him from meeting anyone else. Even his part-time paper-pushing job has him working alone. Fitting in seems hopeless.
That is, until Luz Bangor crashes into his cubicle at First Metro Finance, thugs on her heels. When the Fairy Mob kidnapped her brainiac brother, Eric, she and her unpredictable magic became his only hope for rescue. Convinced a ginormous Loser-L clings to her forehead, she begs Jude for help.
Smitten and glowing over the unexpected chance to be a hero, he agrees. Then the villains snatch Luz. Like a knight sans the shiny armor, Jude pursues. He braves neighborhood vigilantes, a spoiled poodle and a troll biker gang to track Luz to Underhill, the fairy fortress. There, the unlikely pair must square off with the Fairy Godmother or lose Eric—and each other—forever.
SUCKER PUNCHING MAGIC is a YA urban fantasy of 75,000 words, which might also appeal to Middle Grade readers. It’s told alternately in Jude’s and Luz’s point of view.
First 250 Words:
The Number Ten shot by, ruffling Jude Kozlowski’s hair. He jerked his head up out of his calculus homework. Dang. He could blame a lot of things on The Fairy Tale Effect, the mutations that magic’s resurgence had caused, but missing the bus wasn't one of them.
On a clear afternoon in downtown Milwaukee, 6’2” Jude made a big target. Hard to believe the bus driver hadn't spotted him. Yet the guy hadn't even slowed.
Jude leaped to his feet. Book, paper and pencil in hand, he barreled down the sidewalk in pursuit.
He needed his job. The order and routine. The chance to be normal. If he waited for the next bus, he’d be late.
Heart racing, he dodged the parking meters and the guys who cradled cheap wine in paper bags outside the military surplus store.
Down the block, the bus’s brakes shrieked. Its axles groaned. The side doors disgorged a bearded dwarf in a trench coat. Jude bounded over the dwarf and reached the curb as a woman wearing a Hamburger Heaven uniform hurried through the bus’s front doors.
Jude followed, but before his foot touched the step, the gnome at the wheel flinched. Eyes wide, he hastily cranked the Plexiglas doors closed. The reflection of Jude’s lumpy, pistachio green skin played over the window.
“I need a ride.” Going for friendly, Jude grinned. Wrong move. In the glass, his smile appeared strained—too full, a baring of teeth.