Entry Nickname: Jello Poems
Word Count: 37K
Genre: MG Humor
Nobody would dare call Gordo Vanderhough a baboon-faced dorkisaur.
Towering over even the adults at Taft Elementary and the only 6th grader with a 5 o’clock shadow, Gordo is known for toppling kids in the lunch line like dominoes (Ga-pow!) and stealing entire trays of Jello (because he only loves two things in life: Jello and poetry). But nobody ever calls him a dorkisaur because nobody really talks to him at all.
One day a man not only talks to Gordo, but actually compliments him and invites him to join the Henchman Company. Gordo, though the youngest henchman, is a natural at all of it: giving evil glares, maniacal laughter, trash talking, throwing large kitchen appliances, and not thinking too much. He’s thrilled about his first job until he figures out that his boss is an evil mastermind trying to hook the internet up to his own brain. If successful he will be able to control a secret government robot army and a flying spaceship the size of a city. This creepoid is going to bully his way to world domination. Suddenly, Gordo questions his career path.
When the other henchmen get wind of his change of heart, Gordo finds out what it feels like to be the one being bullied. With total human annihilation on the line (and the fate of all gelatin desserts), Gordo decides to use his size and skills for good. This villain is about to get Gordoed.
Gordo Vanderhough lumbered into the cafeteria past dozens of other hungry kids. He headed straight for the front of the line but no one called out, “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” No one chided, “You can’t do that.” And nobody even thought of saying, “Get to the back of line, you baboon-faced dorkisaur or I’ll kick you in the teeth.”
They didn’t say the last line for several reasons. One reason was that no one at Taft Elementary could kick high enough to reach Gordo’s teeth. It would require an amazing jump, a ladder, or a trampoline. Maybe even all three. But the most important reason was that no one dared say anything remotely threatening to Gordo Vanderhough.
Gordo was officially the hugest kid at Taft Elementary. In fact, he was the largest person—period. Though he was a sixth grader, he towered over the teachers. He was also as wide as a buffalo—the big kind with burly shoulders and a mop of dirty fur on its head. Plus, if you looked really close, Gordo’s chin had the stubbly beginnings of a beard. His nanny told him to shave every other day, but she only spoke Polish so he couldn’t understand a word she said. To him, it sounded like she was telling him to sing songs about shampooing zebras. And that didn’t make any sense. Needless to say, Gordo didn’t shave, or sing songs, or shampoo zebras.
Entry Nickname: Partners-in-Magic
Word Count: 74K
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
When twelve-year-old Sam heals a dying cat with her bare hands, her world gets turned on its head. Magic exists in boring upstate New York. Sam has magical powers. Strangest of all, she used to know all of this, before a magical accident destroyed her memory.
Unfortunately for Sam, her magical past comes complete with a snarky elf named Gabe, who reappears in Sam’s life as her powers emerge and now he won’t go away. Ever. Sam and Gabe are a pair of Spellbinders, bonded for life. She can't perform a single spell without him.
Sam is still reeling from her magical awakening when Spellbinders start disappearing. All over New York, humans and elves with magical powers are being abducted. When Sam’s guardian, Aunt Jo, goes missing too, Sam and Gabe set out to rescue her. But the path to Aunt Jo is dangerous. They don’t know whom to trust, they can’t quite control their own powers yet, and they have a pair of would-be kidnappers on their trail. And rescuing Aunt Jo becomes more important than ever when they learn who is targeting Spellbinders…and why.
Unlike most twelve-year-olds, Samantha Jacobson had a stalker. He was small, grey and white, and quite possibly the most irritating stray in cat history. He watched Sam every morning as she tried to tame her straggly hair into a ponytail. He watched her every evening as she kissed a photograph of her mother goodnight. No matter where she was, the stalker cat would find his way to her side and stare. She called the cat Creep.
It was week four of Creep-gate, and Sam felt like a prisoner in her own house, complete with her own furry guard. It was also the last day of 6th grade, which meant her problem was about to get a lot worse. She would soon have to endure eight more hours of disapproving cat-stares each day.
But Sam refused to give into cat terror. While her teachers talked about summer assignments, she huddled over her notebook writing a plea to Aunt Jo for help with her “Creep problem.” She planned deliver it that evening at dinner. This was a desperate move and Sam knew it. Aunt Jo loved cats and had a particular soft spot for mangy strays like Creep. All the strays in upstate New York had free rein on their property. At least six of them had colonized the sprawling vegetable gardens outside Sam’s window.
Sam fiddled with her glasses and bit her lip. Hopefully, Aunt Jo wasn’t kidding when she said she appreciated a well-reasoned argument.