Adult Entry #1
Mentor Name: Mina Vaughn
Alternate Name: Celia Breslin
Title: Swim For Shore
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 69,000
Brooding, pierced/tattoed, human-merman IT geek/surfer meets gentle Lit geek and spills his secret identity. Jenna reluctantly falls for him but not his deadly family drama. Problems can kiss Ravi’s…but can he keep his sexy bookworm safe?
Jenna raced across the wet, packed sand, following the trajectory of her baseball cap flying in the winds whipping over Ocean Beach. Her dad had plunked that black SF Giants cap on her head the day before he died a year ago. She lost him to cancer but she wouldn’t lose this piece of him.
The cap jerked right and flung itself upward, ever closer to the crashing surf. Focused on the projectile, she almost ran over the only other person crazy enough to frequent the beach when grey and black storm clouds roiled the early evening sky and winds stirred the already dangerous waters.
A lone, wet-suit clad surfer sprawled on his surfboard just out of the water’s reach, legs crossed at the ankles, his bare feet white as fog. Arms resting under his head, he watched the tormented sky through black swim goggles.
“Sorry.” At the last minute, she leaped over the lanky surfer only to stumble and fall…
Adult Entry #2
Mentor Name: Jami Nord
Alternate Name: Rissa Watkins
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 87,000
Sara's suburban ennui is shattered when her husband becomes a vampire and the 4th Horseman of the Apocalypse stalks her.
Some people think the world will end in a zombie apocalypse. They’ll swear their friend’s sister’s boyfriend was eaten by a zombie. Suckers. While we’re at it, don’t tell me the world’s going to end because of vampires or werewolves either. Yes, I know what Fox News says, but come on; when have they ever been considered a legitimate news source?
The answer is spelled out clearly in the world’s most popular book, the one my hateful bitch of an aunt loved to browbeat me with: The Bible. What? Did you think I was talking about the one with sparkly vampires? Please.
Just because it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck doesn’t mean you should call it Daffy. Take for example the vampire who sat outside my door and begged me to invite him inside. I could look at him and think, Huh, my cheating husband was turned into a vampire tonight. Vampires have taken over the world. It’s the End of Days.
Except he looked like a man playing a vampire.
David’s razor-sharp teeth and the blood on his face looked real enough, but he was the embodiment of a bad actor with poor timing. Plus, I could see his director- the dude in the yard wearing what looked like a black dress and a smirk on his face- astride a pale horse.
At first glance you’d think he was cosplaying Death, but something told me he was the real deal. The monsters on the news were merely the opening act for that guy.
“Please, baby, I need you to let me in.”
Adult Entry #3
Mentor Name: Sarah Henning
Mentee Name: Vanessa Lillie
Title: The Lineage
Word Count: 115,000
Dr. Ben Spencer has spent the bulk of his professional life linking psychopathy and genetics, searching to cure so-called “Killer DNA.” It’s laughable to most, but not to a dangerous family who hires him in hopes that it’s not too late to short-circuit its own murderous heritage.
Dr. Ben Spencer tested his most important theory once a year, by himself, and whenever possible, with whiskey. To survive the present, resurrect the past.
Ben was alone in his office, and the halls of Stony Brook University’s Life Sciences building were free of undergrads panicked about spring finals. His annual ritual could begin.
Opening the only drawer that locked in his shoddy wooden desk, he reached for the first of three objects.
It began as it must, with Glenlivet 18.
Gripping the cool glass with one hand, he swirled around what was left. The next item needed no ceremony. He sat the chipped tumbler beside the whiskey.
Returning to the drawer, his fingers trembled against a picture frame’s metal edge. Regret woke then, stretched its talons to scrape his stomach lining. It was a warning: remember who you were and never be him again.
Ben placed the photo at the center of the desk and forced his gaze to his twenty-two-year-old self. He had one arm slung over the shoulders of his then-best friend and research partner. The Genome Project director had approved their first genetic identification.
The camera snapped as they raised full glasses. Ben realized he was smiling back.
He filled the tumbler and began the toast he’d repeated every year since. Today marked the thirteenth time.
“To Prometheus,” Ben said without any enthusiasm. “May we defy the gods and open the eyes of mankind.”
They’d certainly gotten the first part right.
A loud knock reverberated on his office door.
Adult Entry #4
Mentor Name: Karma Brown
Alternate Name: Erin Foster Hartley
Title: HOT TAMALE: THE LOST MEMOIRS OF HESTER CARMELLA
Genre: Historical Fiction
Word Count: 98,000
In 1920s Hollywood, a scandal—rather than her talent—transforms naïve actress Gladys Dunkel into silent film star Hester Carmella. But stardom comes with a price, and Hester must overcome her not-so-silent demons before they destroy her career, her life, and the lives of those she loves.
To the fans who remember me, I’m Hester Carmella. Some may know me simply as the Hot Tamale, spicy siren of the silent screen. I was born Gladys Eloise Dunkel on May 15, 1902, somewhere between Hannibal and Minneapolis during the tail-end of the Park-Agnew Vaudeville Circuit. My mother was a singer. Amazing Aggie, they called her. Daddy was the troupe’s moving picture man.
For me, fame came not by some serendipitous visit to a soda fountain, nor through a fan magazine sweepstakes like some actresses you might have read about. My success, as fleeting as it was, required nothing less than a blood sacrifice. That’s not the story you’ll see in Photoplay, but it’s the one I must tell now before it’s too late.
The porter loaded our steamer trunks onto his pushcart with all the effort of a geriatric turtle. By the time his trembling fingers started to do up the leather straps, I’d nearly come out of my skin.
“Can’t you help him?” I whispered to my half-brother, Charley. “It leaves in ten minutes.”
“Relax, Gladys. We’ll make it.”
As our pokey attendant navigated our way through the swarms of fellow travelers, I suppressed the urge to run ahead. I wasn’t about to miss the train I’d been waiting for since I was nine years old—the train that would take me to Hollywood, the land where everyone’s dreams come true. At least, that’s what every movie I’d ever seen had promised.
Adult Entry #5
Mentor Name: Dan Koboldt
Alternate Name: Amy Cavenaugh
Title: A Scarred Mind
Word Count: 78,300
Reluctant psychic Jake never wanted attention brought to his real identity. But visions of a new client’s brutal murder force him to divulge his secret to the police. When his plan backfires, not only does he become the prime suspect, everything he holds dear becomes the target of a sadistic killer.
He’s thinking about killing someone when our shoulders bump. The man is cold and dark inside, filled with nothing but menace and violence. This won’t be a crime of passion or spur of the moment. He’s been planning what he’ll do to her. I don’t get the woman’s name or what she looks like.
He doesn’t have blood on his hands now, but he will.
We collide on the corner of Front and Market in downtown Wilmington. Suddenly, the day is no longer as sunny or cheerful. No clouds block the sun. Only in my mind.
“Whoa,” he says with a chuckle. “You okay, fella?”
“I’m sorry.” I lock eyes with him.
His eyes are brown and flat, bringing to mind a frozen mud puddle. Beneath the right eye is an inch-long scar.
My ears start to ring. Oh, shit. It’s coming.
The sidewalk drops out from under me. The traffic noise swirls around me, like I’m sliding down a drain. I fall into a wood-paneled room. Somewhere to my right, a woman sobs. “Please don’t,” she whimpers.
I try to turn and see her, to help, but can’t move. I’m a ghost here, invisible and powerless. It’s like I watch through a camera mounted on the wall, only a section of the room in sight. The scarred man steps into frame, holding a blood-stained knife. His breathing is haggard and his face twists in a snarl.
The woman screams. I snap back to Front Street with a gasp.
Adult Entry #6
Mentor Name: Natasha Neagle
Alternate Name: Charlotte Gruber
Title: CODE OF SILENCE
Genre: Contemporary with Suspense Elements
Word Count: 81,000
Dr. Andrea Flores receives a cryptic email from her nephew minutes before his murder, implicating her son and drawing her into Jay’s silent world of surveillance. Now, Andrea and her son are the killer’s next targets
I pulled the phone from my lab coat and checked again. No response. Three weeks without a word—and then a text message last night that made no sense. Shit. Should I… No. He’s gonna kill me, but I don’t care. I tapped my sister’s name.
“Hey, Nina. How’s it going?”
“Andrea? What’s up?”
“Can’t I just call to say hello?” I tried to force a smile but failed.
“You could. But you never do. Not in the middle of the day when you’re seeing patients. So, again, what’s up?”
“I can’t get a hold of Jay.” A childish whine snuck into my voice. I cleared my throat to cover it. Why did I always regress when I spoke to my big sister?
“Welcome to my world.” Nina scoffed. “He never returns my calls.”
Well, that's a big surprise. Maybe because you’re such a bitch? “He’s not even returning my text messages.”
“Other than a strange text last night—”
The speaker magnified the cacophony of random typing. Nina never stopped. “Last night?”
“But I know something’s wrong. It wasn’t—”
“Shit. He’s twenty-eight. I’m sure he’s fine. He’s probably just busy. Look, you can’t expect us to go and check this out because you have a feeling.”
“Please? Will you just ask Carlos? The text was….odd.” Nina’s husband, Carlos was a detective with the Dallas Police Department.
Nina sighed. “What did it say?”
I put Nina on speaker and opened the message. “It says, ‘I didn’t hear anything. Can’t talk now.’”
Nina stopped typing. “But he’s deaf.”
Adult Entry #7
Mentor Name: Julie Sondra Decker
Alternate Name: Natalka Burian
Title: EVERYTHING IS FLOWING
Genre: Literary Speculative Fiction
Word Count: 85,000
The Rosenblum machine gives its users a brief, visceral experience inside a blood relative’s previous life. Young Anna, compelled by a mysterious list of four names, enters the machine. But what awaits her is much larger than the connection she craves: she experiences the birth of a star in space.
Somehow, I knew all of them. Their names were in my mind like an ancient song. I named my fish their names: Danilo, Maria, Susan, Guinevere. They lived in an aquarium in my bedroom, the room across the hall from my sister’s. I watched the four of them swim around the plastic hunks of bright pink coral at the bottom of the tank. Two, Maria and Susan, were identical, tiny and translucent with a neon strip across their backs. Danilo was slightly larger, silvery purple with delicate, lacy fins. Guinevere, the largest, was a classic, perfect goldfish. She was the kind of fish you pictured in your mind when you thought the word fish. I can’t explain exactly how, but I got to know them, began to really understand those names by staring into the water, by following each fish, like words in a constantly changing sentence.
My sister hated this. “Why do you have to be such a freak? You can’t dwell like that,” she said. I couldn’t decide, when she said it, what, exactly, she meant. You can’t dwell like that. Like what? A fish in the tank? Like a person staring at fish in a tank? I thought about the word, dwell, the way the letters looked next to each other, and then realized that I didn’t know exactly what it meant at all.
Adult Entry #8
Mentor Name: Jaime Loren
Alternate Name: Kelli Newby
Word Count: 86,000
When Helen founded a LARP business with her brother, Louis, she knew he’d make her famous. She didn’t realize she’d lose her freedom. Nine years later, her son’s the only thing Louis hasn’t taken from her. Before he can, Helen sets off on a real-life quest to rescue them both.
As I lean against the guildhouse, I hold my hand out at arm’s length to judge the quality of the darkness. Relying on a clock to call an ambush ruins drama for the sake of precision, and people don’t get into live action roleplaying because they want more precision in their lives. Besides, I’m God tonight, and I’m choosing drama, like I always do.
Although the dark is just right, I want another minute of peace after having spent a frantic afternoon in Louis’s War Room with all its monitors and video feeds and spyware. I prefer to run things by radio from my little cabin in the woods, my refuge. I prefer to let things play out in my imagination.
Right now, on the other side of the site, one hundred adults dressed in layered costumes, armor, and cloaks flee from raiding parties comprised of college students wearing rubber goblin masks and black t-shirts. Sometimes the adults turn to fight the students, hurling beanbags, yelling out patently ridiculous phrases—double-damage poison magic vine!—and wielding foam weapons that look more like baseball bats than swords. Mostly, however, they run and run through the woods until they reach the northeast corner of the property. Out of breath and momentarily un-harassed, the people pretending to be adventurers take a break in the evening coolness at the end of the first truly hot day of the summer.
Adult Entry #9
Mentor Name: JC Nelson
Alternate Name: Janet Walden-West
Title: Damned if She Do
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 109k
In Sloan Carr’s experience charmed silver, plenty of caffeine, and her monster-hunting siblings can get a girl through most situations. But nothing in her usual arsenal can help when she’s called in on a murder case implicating her oldest friend, who just happens to be one of the monsters.
I gave serious thought to my career path and its impact on my future dietary choices. Wiping the gangrenous bull-demon snot dripping down an eyebrow had that effect on a girl.
Scrubbing my face against a clean spot on my snot and sweat soaked shirt, I peered around the only patch of Brazilian pampas grass not flattened as I hauled ass to avoid worse than bull mucus.
The lobo-toro wavered, heavy front legs crossing, but stayed upright. Anything that mimicked the form of a freaking Angus bull was impressive. Once the toro dropped its camouflaging glamour though, it doubled in size and gave new meaning to the term “bull-dog.”
Steam and more foul green ectoplasm billowed from its wide, flattened nostrils. I’d stepped into a betraying cross-breeze the same time it lost interest in the heifer staked out to serve as its dinner date. The rushed shot prevented the slug from cracking dense skull bone. The silver-coated lead bolt protruded from between scarred, twisting horns instead of penetrating its brain.
“Come on. Go down, you overgrown Big Mac,” I muttered as its foreleg twitched. Demons were the supernatural version of rats; plentiful, surviving anywhere, and eating anything warm blooded. Or anyone. My hunt was rapidly going to hell in a two-thousand pound hand basket, but this monster wasn’t getting another chance to snack on eco-tourists.
The thing slung its massive head and dislodged the bolt like it was a pesky fly. Slitted eyes the color of old bruises fixed on me.
Adult Entry #10
Mentor Name: Jennifer Blackwood
Alternate Name: Lisa Houghton
Title: Searching For Mr. Wrong
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 90,000
When 27 year-old Lily's ponzi-schemer ex disappears, she high-tails it to Seattle for a fresh start. What she isn't expecting is for iron-willed CEO Jake to show up and convince her to team up with him to hunt down her former husband. As she finds the clues to her husband's whereabouts and falls harder for Jake, she is faced with two choices--lie to the man she now loves, or risk losing him as she’s dragged back into the spotlight with her ex-husband.
“Shit! Don’t look now, but that’s the man who’s been stalking me!” Lily hissed as she dragged the other waitress to the back of the diner. It was no mean feat - Amy had her by three inches and forty pounds of nosy woman.
A blast of cool fall air followed the man in. Without acknowledging either the waitresses or the diners, he chose a table next to the window and casually shrugged out of his cashmere overcoat.
“The hottie at the corner table? Da-yum.” Amy stared at him blatantly through her cat eye glasses.
“Stop looking.” Lily frantically pretended to busy herself behind the counter, keeping her gaze firmly on the napkins.
She’d noticed him a couple of days ago. At first she hadn’t paid him much attention, but he’d kept about a hundred yards behind her the entire time, too nonchalant and too well-tailored. The hair on her arms had gone up and she’d known he was watching her. After that, she’d spotted him outside of the yoga class she was teaching, and then later at the grocery store on her way home. This was the closest he had ever gotten to her, and the most obvious. She shuddered.
Adult Entry #11
Mentor Name: Whitney Fletcher
Alternate Name: Stephanie Herman
Title: Cliff with No Edge
Word Count: 81,000
When the law catches up to her, inventor and reluctant criminal Niabi must employ all her determination and cunning to discover the mastermind behind her terrorist boyfriend’s operation or face exile among the carnivorous plants besieging the city.
I can’t ignore the sounds. A rope straining against the weight of a body, the arrhythmic patter of dripping blood. The man’s inverted silhouette sways across the stone floor, edges of the shadow distinct beneath the steady glare of the electrics. Flame could never achieve such definition.
“Niabi?” Gio asks, and I look up to find his eyes boring into mine, narrow and suspicious.
I scowl to cover my distress. “What?”
“I said, if we don’t delay, then we go now. Tonight. Or tomorrow.” Gio clips the words short. “Can you handle the change?”
I touch the bag at my side, hefting its weight as if cataloging the contents. It is only a gesture of habit, a gesture Gio expects. I know exactly what is prepared, in the bag and back at my workshop. I can do the job – now, tomorrow, next week. Yesterday. I could do it with less than an hour’s warning. The explosives are finicky to use, but easy to make.
Still, I act like I’m considering, because if I have to answer right now, I can’t be sure what will come out of my mouth. Until a few moments ago, I could see the glimmer of dawn approaching. I thought, only until Ris is apprenticed, only a little while longer. Then I can be done with this life, be done with Tomas. Live as an alchemist like my father and stop fearing the Empress.
The things Tomas is doing with his knife make me reconsider the wisdom of that plan.
Adult Entry #12
Mentor Name: Shana Silver
Alternate Name: Mitali Mahajani
Title: THE FLAWED COPY
Genre: Science Fiction
Word Count: 92,000
Mia is a defective clone. Without memories, training to replace her dead original drives her to seek the forbidden—her own identity. When her original’s devoted husband becomes the only silver lining in the growing darkness, Mia is torn between her love for him and her desire for freedom.
This room has no windows. Neither does my mind. Its bare walls reflect the blankness inside me.
Silence lulls my body, but questions roar through my brain—who am I—where am I—why am I. The answers lie behind the massive metal door—I wish the monster would open and unleash them.
I take a deep breath, the eternity of limbo is excruciating, mere minutes crawl like centuries. Then, a heaving screech. Without warning, the door slides open, and I shiver in my steel chair.
A lone figure in a white lab coat marches in, her heels clacking on the charcoal linoleum. The middle-aged woman with dark hair hovers above me, facing the wall. “Subject-F2MS is stable, sensors implanted,” she declares to the room.
“Who… are… you?” I ask in a soft, raspy voice.
She ignores me, continuing in her high-pitched one. “Too much brain damage in the original. Synapse replication failed.”
“What does that mean?” I ask.
After reciting endless notes, the emerald-eyed waif says, “Hello,” as if noticing me for the first time.
My face burns from her slight, my hands ball into fists.
“You have nothing to be afraid of,” she says.
But my hands don’t unclench. It isn’t the creepy doctor, or the nondescript enclosure—it’s a growing sense of impotence. I lean forward, seeking answers. “What… is wrong… with me?”
Her scarlet lips spread into a deliberate smile, one that doesn’t reach her eyes. “The correct question is—what is the point of me?”
Adult Entry #13
Mentor Name: L.S. Murphy
Alternate Name: Larissa Weatherall
Title: You Were Mine
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pitch: For nine long years, Drew has regretted letting Anna go. When Anna arrives at the chapel, he walks away from his wedding for a second chance at love. But sometimes fantasy doesn't match reality.
I wish I’d been more adamant about not coming today. Why would my mother ask me to do this?
Why, when she knows what this place means to me, would she ask me to spend even one second here?
Is she trying to hurt me, bringing me to the place where just four years ago, I exchanged my own vows on a rainy September day?
Even if she needed help with the baby, I just don't understand why she would even think about guilting me into being here with her “I don’t want to go alone” speech or the “Your sister needs me to watch the baby, and I can’t take her by myself” excuse. I make a mental note to not speak to her for the rest of the day.
We walk up the stone chapel steps stopping just outside the open wooden doors. I pull in a deep breath and close my eyes as the memories nearly drown me.
Everything about this wedding reminds me of my own. The flowers, the guests -- because in a small town guest lists don’t change much from wedding to wedding. I just want to make it through this day and be alone.
Carrying Abby through the chapel doors I realize I hadn’t even thought to ask my mother whose wedding was so important she couldn’t miss. I’d been so consumed with not being here, and my own self-pity, instead of whose happy occasion I would be forced to witness.
My eyes dart toward the pews near the front and I immediately recognize the groom’s family.
Adult Entry #14
Mentor Name: Charlie Holmberg
Alternate Name: Leanne Yong
Title: Shadow of the Throne
Word Count: 110,000
When a magic-based plague is unleashed on Capraeus, Vincere must decide what—and who—he will sacrifice to protect his kingdom, and the prince he loves as a brother.
My beginning has always been the source of wild rumour and speculation, so let me dispel all illusions. I was not summoned by arcane ritual from the depths of the Endless Chasm, where the Great Father banished the Dark Ones at the beginning of time. Neither was I sewn together from shadows cast by the full moon, and breathed into being by the ghastly Hag, foul shadow of the life-giving Mother. And I most certainly did not claw my way out of my mother’s womb in a bloodthirsty frenzy.
No, I was born in the usual way, to an ordinary woman—though I would say she was extraordinary, such is my undoubtedly overwrought nostalgia—in a small village on the mountainous border of Capraeus. My mother was the village’s herbalist, and not given to the magic arts in any way.
I wish I could say I remember more about my mother. There are fuzzy memories of my hands stained green from crushed herbs, and her low, warm laugh as she ground the more potent ones with her pestle. The scent of rosemary and basil, growing outside our kitchen window, would mingle with the sharper smells from the medicinal plants like silverleaf and Goddess-vine. It’s strange how I still remember everything she taught me about plants, but so very little about who she was and what she looked like. Such are a young boy’s memories, I suppose.
Adult Entry #15
Mentor: Eden Plantz
Alternate: Hayley Stone
Genre: Adult Science-Fiction
Word Count: 105,000
Inheriting the role of human resistance icon, a clone with only partial memory of her dead donor’s life must overcome self-doubt and suspicion over her identity while spearheading the fight against machines intent on wiping out humanity.
There never were any refugees.
No gutsy survivors who finally discovered the trick to broadcasting a distress signal. No last-minute stragglers who escaped extermination in Skagway or Whitehorse. Around us, there’s snow, ice, and the disemboweled city of Anchorage in the distance, its skyline mutilated and squashed, filled with the crushed leftovers of businesses and people’s homes. I know from a previous visit the sea is also slowly devouring the metropolitan area, making a Slurpee of downtown. But there were never any refugees.
This is a trap.
The reality drills through me seconds before the ground erupts and bullets slam into my chest, knocking me flat onto my back. For the first few seconds, I think, I’m okay. I’m okay. Because that’s the point of body armor, right?
I fight to make my legs work, make them obey my command to get up, get moving. But I can’t feel them. An unexplained warmth spreads up the back of my suit as my mouth fills with the taste of a dentist’s office. That last detail stands out in my mind, looming over everything else with terrible precision—reality fashioned into a bloody spear, the tip driven into me. This is what the inside of my lungs tastes like.
Nope. Not okay.
“Rhona!” Camus screams. He crunches toward me, but the sound is muffled by the snow piled up around my ears.
“Camus,” I gasp out, “Camus. Camus.” His name is my prayer. Like I’m calling on him to save me.
He drops to his knees beside me.
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