YA Entry #21
Mentor Name: Elizabeth Briggs
Alternate Name: Natasha M. Heck
Title: Follow the Moon
Category: Young Adult
Word Count: 76,000
When Kin’s sister is summoned to return to the moon, Kin decides to climb the tallest mountain to change her sister’s fate. To do so, she must face a forest of monsters and reveal she can speak to them to protect those who will shun her— or she’ll lose her sister forever.
It was more than the usual prickle on the back of Kin’s neck, or a nudge in her mind. It hit her like a full force wind storm with battering rain.
A yokai was out there. It wound around each of her thoughts with swift precision. Her head pounded, her eyes watering. Then, all of sudden, the sensation was gone.
Her hands curled into fists while she eyed the trees surrounding her and her brother, Daitaro. She didn’t want to alarm him quite yet. He knew better than to bother her when she was quiet. Silence was savored when their two bickering siblings weren’t around.
They stepped out of the bamboo grove and headed into the outskirts of the village when someone shouted, “Daitaro!” A boy their age was kneeling in the tall grass in the ditch, a basket at his side. Kin didn’t recognize him while he waved. There was something about him she couldn’t quite place when he smiled. It was a nice smile. Maybe the nicest smile any boy had ever given her, and she liked it.
She hesitated following her brother. All the boys in the village had eyes for her sister Yugao, the girl from the moon, with her unusual blue eyes, long midnight hair, and moonlight skin. With Yugao around, Kin didn’t exist. It didn’t help that she had no idea how to be herself around other people since they weren't aware what she could do.
That she could speak to monsters.
YA Entry #22
Mentor Name: Lauren Spieller
Alternate Name: Lauren Mansy
Title: THE MEMORY THIEF
Word Count: 99,000
In the city of Craewick, where talents and memories are bought and sold, seventeen-year-old memory thief Etta Lark returns to the world of theft she left behind—the black market of memories—to complete the greatest heist of her life and save her comatose mother’s memories from the auction block.
When I see the letter nailed to my front door, I know something is terribly wrong. The envelope is covered in fancy handwriting and sealed with a wax stamp the color of dried blood. I don’t wonder who it’s from, because only the Blinders use gold ink—and they never send good news.
I shove the letter under my cloak, hoping no one on the crowded streets has seen what the Blinders, the city’s peacekeepers, sent me. My hands tremble so badly that it takes me a few tries to get my key into the lock. Once I’m inside, I twist the iron handle, which is cold as ice in my palm, and shut the door to my apartment. As a chill works its way to my bones, I pull my cloak closer around my body. My throat tightens at the warm scents of honey and lilac buried in the wool. The last time my mother wore this was the day before she entered the asylum, almost four years ago. Somehow, it still smells like her.
A knock on the door jolts me.
“Etta? It’s Klive.”
The door opens slightly, bumping into my back as he slips inside. Even in the dim light, the bruise blooming near his left eye is hard to miss. His lip is cracked and bloody, too. I’m not surprised he’s beaten up. He’s spent the last few hours hauling criminals from the Maze into the city with his regiment.
After all, it’s Auction Day.
YA Entry #23
Mentor Name: Lori Goldstein
Alternate Name: Lyra Selene
Category: Young Adult
Word Count: 85,000
In New Atlantis, dreams are forbidden. When a visit to an underground speakeasy tempts seventeen-year-old Vesper to dream her first dream, she uncovers a criminal plot to take over the city by unleashing nightmare monsters into the real world. Diving deeper into her illicit dreams might allow her to stop them—if she can retain her sanity.
They say that in the first week of Prohibition, all the birds in New Atlantis died. Great flocks of pigeons flung themselves against the Dome until shattered bodies littered the pavement and feathers snowed down in drifts of white and grey. Songbirds smashed against the bars of their gilded cages until their yellow throats no longer sang sweet songs. In menageries, colorful tropical birds wasted away, macaws and lorikeets and trezomars wilting like so many faded bouquets.
And finally, when the sunset skies seemed empty of any flying thing, the bats fluttered out from beneath eaves and rocks and caves, filling the air with the whisper of their leathery wings. They gathered in black clouds over the city, blotting out the stars and casting shadows on the moon. And in the morning, when frightened citizens ventured at last from their homes, nothing remained of that great black flock. Not a single pointed ear nor webbed wing was ever found. The bats were gone, and no one knew where they went.
I don’t know if what they say is true. The Triumvirate declared Prohibition the year I was born, so I don’t remember a time when the trees in Century Park rustled with a thousand wings and birdcalls echoed off the Dome. I don’t remember anything from before.
All I know is this: in my short seventeen years of life, I have never seen a bird and I have never dreamed a dream.
YA Entry #24
Mentor Name: Meredith McCardle
Alternate Name: Mara Fitzgerald
Word Count: 65,000
When her magic ocean liner is decimated by a plague, sixteen-year-old Zoe must protect the princess she’s falling in love with from the killers who released the disease.
For the first time in my life, I’m going to sneak out of work early.
We’re almost done cleaning the dishes from lunch, and soon, the dining saloon will be overflowing with first-class passengers back for tea. We’ve reached the halfway point of our journey, which, for the passengers, is an excuse to put on their nicest clothes and stuff their faces. For the tiniest sliver of time, the cooks will be too busy flinging biscuits and bonbons around to notice if one dishwasher girl is missing from the galley.
“Zoe, I’m gonna shove this towel down your throat if you don’t stop humming.” Alejandro leans around the tower of plates between us and narrows his eyes. “You’re happy. Happier than usual, even.”
There’s no rule I could break that would scandalize Alejandro. He’s walked off with the most expensive wine glasses and wandered into work barefoot after he threw his shoes overboard in a drunken fit. I polish off a fine china plate and lean closer.
“The purser. He takes visits from crew during teatime.” I raise my voice over the clatter of pots and trays on steel countertops. “I’m gonna sneak up to his office today. And I’m gonna ask him to promote me to stewardess!”
I grin uncontrollably. Every night for months, I’ve stared at the dark ceiling of my cabin and rehearsed my promotion speech, arranging and rearranging the words to cover every reason why I’m perfect for the job—but humbly, because stewardesses are humble.
Alejandro bursts into laughter.
I shrink back. “What?”
“A stewardess? You?”
“Well—” I falter, squeezing my dishrag until water drips onto my shoe.**************************
YA Entry #25
Mentor Name: Sarah Nicolas
Alternate Name: Shannon Cooley
Title: A Frog, a Whistle, and a Vial of Sand
Word Count: 58,000
Princess Ellean likes waltzing and needlework, but princesses are expected to have grand adventures. When her parents kick her out, surviving the adventure she never wanted leads to her first friendships—and maybe even happily-ever-after with a not-frog prince.
By age seventeen, Ellean really ought to have known better than to dance in the armory. Lost in the freedom of movement, she leaped, spun, tripped, and fell into a rack of swords. She and the rack toppled to the ground, the weapons clanging on the stone floor.
Pulling herself upright, she paused, listening for signs of discovery before disentangling herself. Luckily, the rack she’d hit held only dull practice swords, and she didn’t appear to be bleeding. Her elbow and knee would be purple soon, though; she'd have to make sure she wore long sleeves this week, or her parents might think she was finally getting adventurous.
As long as the noise hadn’t alerted anyone, the armory was the last place they would look for her—that was why she was here. She’d come down the stone hall to the round, open space meant for soldiers to test the weights of swords, hoping there would be room to practice a dance figure she’d been working on. She was creating an entirely new series of court dances—a project the castle’s dancing master was enthusiastic about, even if her parents were not. They had forbidden her the ballroom except at designated hours, and insisted she focus on her adventure training. Hence why she was currently hiding from the swords master and dancing in a room full of breastplates, leather bracers, swords, and flails.
The weapons weren’t as bad as the smell, though.
She had just bent to pick up the heavy wooden rack when she heard voices outside the door.
************************** (entry #26 moved to Contemporary Fantasy)
YA Entry #27
Mentor Name: Evelyn Skye
Alternate Name: K. Kazul Wolf
Title: Summer Thunder
Word Count: 80,000
Dragons are immortal gods to Ava, keeping her safe in their city in the sky—until she murders one. It's hard to find sanctuary with blood on her hands and a soaring city hunting her.
How long is the fall down to earth?
I lean against the fence that marks the drop from the floating city to the desert below, digging my fingernails into the wet wood. The city rests drowsy behind me, golden spires and cobblestone roads cloaked in morning mist. My legs shake underneath me. I fidget with my fingerless, scaled gloves.
It’s morning already.
And the smell of blood is still so strong.
I should have left hours ago, but I couldn’t leave my room, couldn’t stop scrubbing. Hot iron blooms in my nostrils as if the sticky red liquid were still smeared across my face, my clothes, my palms.
But it isn’t on my skin. I’ve washed myself pink. It can’t be there.
Gravel scrapes behind me. I curl my wings snug against me, gripping the fence tighter and looking around.
Once someone finds the corpses, once they know I’m gone, I’m dead. And yet, here I am, not ready to leave the people that would kill me. My fingers itch for the sabre I left behind.
They’re coming this way. They’re going to spot and capture me if I don’t move. Sweat beads on my forehead.
I lean forward, stretching my wings slowly so the stained-glass feathers don’t make sound—
Something grabs the collar of my shirt. Hot, moist breath blows across the nape of my neck and through my shorn hair as I’m yanked backwards.
I scream and grab my dagger. But I know it’s useless. There’s only one thing this strong, this big.
YA Entry #28
Mentor Name: Virginia Boecker
Alternate Name: Sara Thompson
Title: Daughter of Light
Word Count: 73,000
The WWII looms large as the Uberreich mobilizes in Europe. Hitler and the mad scientist Dr. Bosende plan to enslave humanity with an apocalyptic mix of magic and technology. In New Britannia, far from the horror, Duna will learn to master her own magic to stop them.
Through the window, the moon was still a dirty pearl in the sky. A lone Royal Navy dirigible patrol glided high above the beach. In her bed, sheets gripped Duna like dry tree roots. She flailed against sleep, pushing herself awake. Prying her eyes open, she inhaled hard and stared at the ceiling of the cottage. On the whitewashed plaster, silvery light played.
A sliver of time passed before she remembered.
Today was Nan and Grandda’s funeral.
St. Patrick’s was decked out in flowers and ivy wreaths. Little shamrock plants dotted the ends of aisles. It seemed as though every fisherman and his wife from the entire Eastern New Britannian seaboard had come to pay their respects. They sat in their solemn blacks, dabbing their eyes with linen hankies. Duna sat in the first row, her own stiff black dress growing ever more constricting. Voices murmured and swished over her like dead leaves on a sidewalk. The priest’s bald head gleamed in the light.
“Stuff and nonsense,” Duna thought, in Nan’s voice. She knew Nan would have liked nothing more than to have been buried in the dooryard in a pine box, a bit of good Irish whiskey sloshed over the grave, and Grandda would have wanted to be tossed out to sea with a lobster pot round his neck. Duna stifled a laugh at the images. She hurriedly wiped her face with a handkerchief and sniffled loudly, pretending at tears. She knew her grandparents wouldn’t have minded her mirth in the least.
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