Jun 30, 2017

QK Championship Round: Book Boys Gone Wild vs Delicious Vicious Cycles

Title: Paper Seeds
Entry Nickname: Book Boys Gone Wild!
Word count: 109k
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy


When seventeen-year-old Harlow Jackson gets dumped at her grandma Minny's wake, she's devastated, pissed as hell, and without an escort for the debutante season starting the very next day. But then Harlow finds something Minny left her: paper seeds. Minny always told her that if you place a magical paper seed in a book, and plant it in the ground, you can grow anything you desire from its pages.

In a fit of desperation, revenge, and, okay fine, a little too much funeral punch, Harlow grows teenage versions of Mr. Knightley, Sherlock Holmes, Dorian Gray, and Dracula to be her and her friends' debutante escorts. Because everyone knows there's only one thing better than a handsome, well-groomed, drawling Southern beau... an English gentleman. Harlow is tired of feeling second rate in her small Southern town, and vows to use the boys to beat her ex, and the mean-girl debutantes, at their own game. Frankly, she'd love to burn their perfect curls off their pretty little heads, but that would just be gravy. Instead, she'll settle for winning the debutante crown and the accompanying cash scholarship prize, which she badly needs.

Harlow passes the boys off as four rather eccentric foreign exchange students, and everything goes according to plan until the book-boys discover their own origins and run amok. At the same time, the town witch, Madame LeRoux, comes after Harlow for the paper seeds, claiming that planting them will have dark consequences for Harlow and the people she loves. Harlow must uncover the origin and twisted history of the paper seeds to discover a way to undo what she's grown. But as generations of town secrets and lies begin to unravel, Harlow discovers it was her beloved grandmother Minny who may have been hiding the biggest, ugliest secret of them all.

First 250

If I hadn’t been standing in the middle of my grandmother Minny's wake, I would have whacked that boy in the man parts so hard, people would be looking at pictures of his children in years to come and say—see the funny ear that kid has? Harlow Jackson did that.

But Jonathan took my hand and squeezed it, like he was bestowing some sort of warm comfort on me. He wore the gray shirt I'd saved up a week's wages for, the one that was the exact color of his eyes.

Now, I wanted to rip it off him.

And not in a good way.

I took a deep breath and tried to be civil. “Your parents will get used to the idea of us. I have a way of winning people over, you know.” I smiled my most becoming smile and flashed my dimple. Jonathan loved my dimple. Everyone loved my dimple.

He closed his eyes. “It’s not that, Harlow.”

“Then what is it?” I said, too loud.

Madison Pace cocked her ear in our direction as she scooped bean dip onto her plate at the food table. Nosey was not an adjective in this town, it was a given.

I tugged Jonathan’s hand, and he followed me out onto the front porch. The sky was gray, just waiting to burst open, the air heavy and thick. October in Georgia was not a cool, crisp autumn. It’s more like standing over a pot of boiling pasta. Or maybe more like being the pasta.


Entry NicknameDelicious Vicious Cycles
Word count: 74K
Genre: YA Contemporary, Own Voices (Jewish and sexual assault survivor)


Seventeen-year-old entrepreneur Vera Davis starts a business to sell revenge in VERA WITH A VENGEANCE, a 74,000-word young adult contemporary novel.

When a car accident paralyzes Vera’s older brother and kills her parents, she's suddenly in charge of the medical bills, the mortgage, and her own anger and helplessness. Vera's always been good at getting back at people who hurt her, but she can’t exactly get revenge on the curve in the road where her father lost control of the car. 

Meager insurance payouts leave Vera desperate for money, so she starts a business: when the traditional justice system fails her clients, Vera wrecks wrongdoers’ careers and cars, relationships and reputations. She revels in taking down racists and sexual assaulters, but her crush--her brother’s best friend--thinks her style of vengeance is morally wrong. 

Then, while helping a client get payback for a leaked nude picture, Vera finds new evidence about her family’s “accident.” Turns out there is someone for Vera to blame, but the perpetrator had her own very good reason to seek vengeance. 

Now Vera must decide whether getting even is worth getting blood on her hands. 

First 250:

This creeper keeps staring at me with this little half smile, like he thinks I want his eyes undressing me. His face, all chin and cheekbones, reeks of always getting what he wants—women, money, free drinks in first class en route to Ibiza. I want to walk away, but his wife is shopping for an evening gown, and I need the commission to pay the energy bill.

I focus on her, and hold up a green dress to hide my body. “This would look great with your eyes.”

Her eyes are blue, but the green dress sells well, and if she buys it, I’ll hit the monthly quota for a higher commission percentage. I can only work so much after school, and I have to make the hours count.

She turns to Creeper. “What do you think?”

“I’d like to see more.” His eyes flicker down to my calves and back up to my chest. For all his wife can tell, he’s checking out the dress, but his gaze burns my skin.

I hold the dress higher to cover my chest and look at my boss for rescue. He mouths work it. If I didn’t need this job so badly…I force myself to smile.

Creeper’s gold smartwatch buzzes, and he glances away from me. Those watches cost three grand. Three grand would keep the lights on and pay for a month of the mortgage. Three grand could keep Levi and me from losing the house our parents raised us in.


  1. Judges respond here with your votes! Good luck!

    1. Well done to both of you! This is an excruciating vote but I'm going for the one that is IMO ready to be on a shelf right now, which also happens to be the one I'd grab first. Victory to DELICIOUS!

    2. This. Is. Not. Fair. At. All.

      These are both AMAZING entries.

      I want copies when they both come out. Seriously.



      I'm procrastinating.

      I almost want to catch a tiger by the toe to decide.


      Okay, seriously.

      Victory to: BOOK BOYS GONE WILD!

      *crawls in a corner to cry now*

    3. Huge congrats to these entries. The writing is clean and your premises are both very compelling. You've made this a very difficult decision.

      In the end as I vote, I have to think about a couple of things: where I see your books on shelves, how different it is than other premises in YA, and how the opening will draw in a reader. Based on these three elements, one entry rises just a little above the other.

      Victory to...


    4. Both of these entries are amazing, and both deserve the win. But I can pick only one, and because the concept of Book Boys is a bit more unique, VICTORY TO BOOK BOYS GONE WILD

    5. Wow, both of these entries are incredible. This is a very hard choice as I love them both... but in the end one grabs me a tiny bit more.
      Victory to BOOK BOYS GONE WILD!

    6. *sigh* Personally I think forcing us to choose at this stage is cruel :) Both entries have a firm, confident narrative voice, and both queries promise engaging reads. But since I have to choose, for me it's going to be...

      Victory to BOOK BOYS GONE WILD!

    7. Vanellope von SchweetzJune 30, 2017 at 11:49 AM

      Congratulations to you both! I'm pretty certain your books will go far.

      But UGHHHHH why, oh why, do I have to pick between the two of you?! :( Sighhhhhh.... Fine, since I have to choose (which really, really sucks, just so you know):


    8. First, huge congratulations to you both! To go from hundreds of entries to the final two is a enormous accomplishment, this is just the icing on the cake.

      That said, cake is way too yummy to put off any longer.

      While I love both entries and have voted for them both along the way, I have a special place in my heart for fictional boyfriends from British literature.


    9. This is soooo hard! But as much as I love the premise for BOOK BOYS GONE WILD, I can't help but feel that DELICIOUS VICIOUS CYCLES is more polished and the voice is so strong in the first 250 that I am left needing to know what happens next.

      My vote goes to the one I feel like agents will fight over!


    10. From CatAttack:

      Congratulations to you both on making it to the final round. Both queries and opening 250 are tight and full of voice. But since I must choose one...


    11. Outer Space Potato ManJune 30, 2017 at 5:06 PM

      Congrats to both of you on your wonderful queries, and I wish you two the best of luck on this and your future projects.


    12. Fantastic work, you two! These are both incredible entries, and it pains me that I can't vote for both of them. Since I can only choose one, I'm going to go with the one that resonates with me a little more:


    13. No One Of ConsequenceJune 30, 2017 at 7:20 PM

      VICTORY TO DELICIOUS CYCLES, for a better written first 250.

    14. Big BRAVO and Hip Hip HOORAY to both entries! Congrats on making it to the final round! I I would read both of these in a heartbeat, but Query Kombat is brutal and I can choose only one right now. So, in honor of my own magical Southern grandma...


    15. (Apologies if this gets posted twice--I tried from my phone, but it didn't appear to have posted so I pulled out my laptop and am now trying again).

      I have been avoiding voting all day because I didn't want to have to pick one. I could say DITTO to several of the angsty comments already posted. Both of these entries have great concepts and killer voice, and I'd read both of these right now.

      Congratulations to each of you for some stellar work!

      But since I must choose one ...

      Victory to Book Boys Gone Wild!

    16. Congratulations to both of you!!

      Victory: BOOK BOYS GONE WILD

    17. Wow, you both did SUCH a great job! Congrats! I love both of these entries, and my choice is purely subjective at this point.

      Victory to Delicious Vicious Cycles!

    18. LumpySpaceAuthorJuly 1, 2017 at 1:27 PM

      Super big congrats to both of these amazing entries. You both can expect great things!

      I would (and will) read both of these. I have to vote for one. Both concepts are spectacular...the vibes are really different, and I'm trying to not just vote on the one I'd be more willing to read right this minute, because of the mood I'm in. In the end, one's voice is just more vibrant to me.


      Thank you all for sharing your amazing stories with us.

    19. Sorry...I accidentally posted this first as a general reply.

      Let me start off by saying CONGRATS to both of you, and pointing out that I would definitely pick up both of these in a second. Pat yourselves on the back, buy yourselves a drink, and know that you have far more polished queries than most people on the planet! :)

      It was a very hard choice because each of them has a unique premise, high stakes for the narrator, and immediate plot thickening. I just felt that one had a slightly stronger voice and a hook that I don't think I've ever seen before...

      Victory to BOOK BOYS GONE WILD!

    20. Professor McGonagall

      Congrats to bothave and may you both find agents! Victory to Delicious Vicious Cycles!

  2. At this point, both of the entries are obviously amazing and I think and hope both will find agents! I hope to see you both published and on my Kindle soon, but if I had to pick ONE entry that I'm slightly more excited about than the others...

    Victory to BOOK BOYS GONE WILD!

  3. These are both fabulous entries and I would happily read either. I wish you both the best of luck and hope to see these books on my shelves soon! That being said, one of these entries I'm just dying to read.


  4. Two wonderful entries! I had a feeling I'd see you both in the final round. I can't wait to see these MSs published!

    But we're in the final matchup of QueryKombat, and it's time to decide which of these two should be the winner. Grr. This is a TOUGH decision because I love them both! How about a tie?

    Michelle, Mike & Laura say I have to decide, so . . .


  5. Both are wonderful, but I have to go with the one that made me swoon the first time we met...


  6. Congrats to you both for making it to the championship round. You should both be very proud of this accomplishment! Choosing the champion is probably as hard as a parent being asked to choose their favorite child. AHHH!!


  7. Two great stories here...I've voted for both in previous rounds but I literally can't stop thinking about the premise of one, which means you nailed the hook in the query.


  8. Congratulations to you both. While I'm not a judge, I did have the privilege of reading both queries early on and was impressed with how original and polished both were. I look forward to reading.

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