PW #371: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy (ownvoices): THE BLACK VEINS

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Katherine Webber Mentee Name: Ashia Monet Title: THE BLACK VEINS Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy (ownvoices) Word Count: 97,000 Pitch: When a criminal sorcerer kidnaps her family, Blythe Fulton embarks on a supernatural road-trip across the US to gather the Guardians, a temperamental group of magic-wielding teens just like her. Blythe needs the Guardians’ cooperation to save her family, but every step towards her family’s rescue brings the Guardians closer to their own demise. THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS meets The Amazing Race with a diverse ensemble cast. Excerpt: The melody started at midnight. A hint of a piano mixed with a violin’s slow drones. Harp strings plucked a lazy tempo, drawling like the end of a hot summer day. The melody swept across the world. It wound through forests, tumbled over deserts, plunged to the depths of the sea. Most people who heard the music barely realized they’d heard anything at all. They caught a snippet or two, enough for them to ask someone else if they’d heard something. Others knew they heard a melody. They were the ones who harbored secrets in their lives and in their veins. They searched for the source, but they never found it. Nobody did. And then there were a few people who had an entirely different reaction. Blythe Fulton was asleep when the song entered her dreams, dancing through one ear and threading out the other. It was a lovely tune, but something about it made her stomach clench with dread. Consciousness returned to her mind but the darkness in front of her eyes remained. So did the music. Blythe tried to open her eyes, tried to move. But her body stayed still. Then came a voice. Blythe didn’t hear it, she felt it. The words hummed inside her soul and spread through her veins, melting in time with her heartbeat. Get up, the voice said. And go to the roof....

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PW #372: Young Adult Taiwanese Horror (Own Voices): HUNGRY GHOSTS

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentors: Janella Angeles and Axie Oh Mentee: Judy Lin Title: HUNGRY GHOSTS Category: Young Adult Genre: Taiwanese Horror (Own Voices) Word Count: 85,000 Pitch: Food blogger Lydia thinks she’s starring in her own Taiwanese drama when she devours photo-worthy meals and encounters mean girls and cute boys at her overseas camp. But when life drastically shifts into an Asian horror movie after a vengeful spirit is unleashed upon campus, Lydia must defeat the ghost before it all goes to hell…literally. Excerpt: What Air Canada serves us for breakfast on the flight to Taiwan looks like yellow vomit. I poke it with a fork and watch it jiggle in its little plastic compartment. Jurassic Park-style. “Does this look like it’s spelling out a message?” I ask my seatmate, pointing out the red and green flecks that dot the surface. Help me. I’m trapped as an amorphous blob. My cousin Maggie leans over the armrest and peers at my tray. “Or it could be peppers. It doesn’t look that bad.” “I’d offer to trade but I don’t think yours is any better.” Her Chinese breakfast option is congee, the rice porridge we grew up eating. Except the dish I’m used to contains tasty pieces of meat, spicy bamboo shoots and crunchy peanuts, while hers is more soup than porridge. Squinting at her tray, I can make out a few slivers of shredded pork. “Just because you have a blog doesn’t mean you’re a food critic now.” She sniffs and dips her spoon into her bowl. “You don’t have my discerning palate.” Maggie rolls her eyes and blows daintily on her spoonful of congee. I pull out my cell and take a picture of the omelet, along with its companions: a lump of noodles sitting in a thin brown sauce, and a tired-looking fruit salad. I’m going to put together a post for the blog. People shouldn’t suffer through this travesty while stuck on a twelve-hour flight....

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PW #373: Young Adult Contemporary (Own Voices): THE BRAVERY OF ZOE AL-MANSUR

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor: Dannie Morin Mentee: Sara C. Metz Title: THE BRAVERY OF ZOE AL-MANSUR Category/Genre: YA Contemporary (Own Voices) Word Count: 58,300 Pitch: Fifteen-year-old Zuhayra “Zoe” al-Mansur, a Muslim refugee who escaped ISIS in Syria, must relive memories of her father’s murder during a school shooting to save her classmates and herself. Excerpt: MARCH 2016 In the fifteen months since Zuhayra arrived at the Turkish refugee camp, it snowed more days than she cared to count. But she did count. Every flurry, every white dusting that mixed with dark sand like salt and pepper on a lamb roast. She first saw snow in Damascus while visiting her brother. Nine-year-old Zuhayra built snowmen on parked taxis and went sledding through alleys on tea trays. That evening, soaked and exhausted, she hung her wet clothes over a radiator in the family’s hotel room and changed for dinner. Now she paced outside the camp office, arms folded across her chest to stay warm. Snowflakes drifted in the air, and she batted them away. Winter wasn’t fun here. It crept into people’s lives and disappeared without remorse, and no one woke to a warm, crisp sweater, eager to start the day. Sunrise was when mourning started. A wail rose in the distance, and Zuhayra’s face snapped toward it. Another mother, brother, daughter, or grandson must have given in to the cold. She searched for a distraction. Her mother sat on a crate by the office door, still catching her breath from their walk. Nearby, children and old women slipped between beige tents, water buckets in hand. The chain-link perimeter caught her eye, and she hesitated. When her family arrived fifteen months ago, they slept on the other side, clutching tattered belongings they carried through the desert. They waited three days to be admitted. Zuhayra couldn’t even wash her clothes in the meantime, though they were stained with her father’s blood. That was the first time it snowed....

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PW #374: Young Adult Science Fiction: ROGUE

Manuscript Status: 1 month Mentor Names: Kate Karyus Quinn and Demitria Lunetta Mentee Name: Allison Castle Title: ROGUE Category: Young Adult Genre: Science Fiction Word Count: 85,000 Pitch: Unaware her world is virtual, seventeen-year-old Mei is programmed to help human players win. But when three players plan to obliterate the game server that keeps Mei and everyone she loves alive, she must become the hero herself… even if it means bringing her fight to this so-called “real world.” WESTWORLD meets SWORD ART ONLINE. Excerpt: They say only Heroes can leave the monastery. If that’s the case, they should have made the walls higher. I run up the stone, the soles of my boots making dust fly, and grab the ledge to peer overtop. In this broad daylight, too many of my fellow students could spot my return. The coast clear, I vault overtop and drop back inside. Hiding behind a weapons rack, I use the leather of my leggings to rub leftover wolves’ blood off my daggers. I wish I could have stayed out in the wilderness longer and leveled even higher, but the Hero will be returning from her quest soon. Experience points won’t mean much if I’m not present for the guardian selection. I remove my stats scroll from my belt and unroll the parchment. MEI SUN *** Level: 5 Profession: Assassin HP: 500/500 Mana: 200/200 Weapon: Novice Daggers (Damage: 1-3) Attire: Novice Armor (Armor: 1) Level five. My chest swells with pride. This morning, before the Hero arrived, I was like all the other students: a measly level one. By now, I’ve ridden around most of Newburos Island and discovered all manner of beasts, but I didn’t pick fights with anything more than one level above me. Even experience points aren’t worth my life. “Mei.” I gasp and clutch my scroll to my chest. Instructor Stefan steps toward me, his robes casting a long shadow onto the stone floor. “What were you doing outside the gates?”...

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PW #375: Young Adult Thriller: A SILENT GOODBYE

Manuscript Status: FINISHED Mentor: Trisha Leaver & Kelly Calabrese Mentee: Angela Cappillo Title: A SILENT GOODBYE Category: Young Adult Genre: Thriller Word Count: 70,000 Pitch: Chloe has spent every second of the last three years searching for her mom, but everything she tries leads her nowhere. That is until she receives a mysterious text from someone claiming to know the truth. Now she must decide if she’s willing to risk her life for the answers she so desperately needs. Excerpt: Mom deserted us three years ago. At least, that’s what everyone claims. There were search parties, fliers and local news stories. All leading nowhere. The detective’s conclusion: she abandoned us. They’re wrong. I know they are. I stand and stare at the dozens of news articles scattered across my bed, my own research-filled journals stacked beside them. All useless. All giving me more questions than answers. I was beginning to think I’d never see my mom again. Until ten minutes ago when I received an anonymous message. One that has me believing in impossibilities. A shudder cascades across my chest as I read the text again. I have answers about your mother.  I pull up the browser on my phone and do a reverse number search. Nothing! No name or address of the person who sent it, not even the city where the message originated from. Over the last couple of months, since Dad decided to leave Mom behind forever and propose to another woman, I’ve exhausted every avenue I could think of. This text, though…this text is a game changer. I force my hand, nails bitten to nubs, away from my mouth. I’ve pictured her in my mind a thousand times, lying face down in a ditch. Buried six feet under. Or worse…lying on a beach somewhere with a smile on her face. I need to know what happened to my mom. Even if she’s dead. Prove it! I finally type back....

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PW #201: Middle Grade Magical Realism: DOPPELGÄNGER

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor: Jessica Vitalis/Amanda Hill/Cindy Baldwin Mentee: Kit Rosewater Title: DOPPELGÄNGER Category: Middle Grade Genre: Magical Realism Word Count: 48,000 Pitch: The vitiligo on Tami’s skin has always made her lonely. When her new classmates mistake her for their missing friend Renee, Tami’s strange connection to her doppelgänger grants instant popularity—along with access to Renee’s dark secret. If Tami sets things straight, she’ll lose her newfound friends. If she doesn’t, she’ll lose herself. Excerpt: The blots on my skin are moving. They inch down my arm, shimmy around my elbow, and creep up my shoulder. Danger, they say. Hush, I say back. We step into the sizzling afternoon. Book in hand, I duck away from the sun, hiding underneath the canopy of our cottonwood tree. Its roots surge from the ground and ripple through the grass like ocean waves cresting on shore. I settle into the spot where the gnarled wood bends into a perfect reading chair. Today’s book is The Princess Bride. I first heard it when I was little, when Dad read me all the classics. Together we slipped through the closet to Narnia and opened the brick wall behind the Leaky Cauldron. The best books are places, Dad says. Since I’m eleven now, I get to explore my favorite “places” whenever I want. Too bad Mom and Dad won’t count that as Geography. My thumbs pin down the pages as the words pull me inside. I race along a ravine with the Man in Black, a disguised pirate who’s stolen Princess Buttercup. The high wind screams in my ears. The prince’s horsemen gallop behind us. I hold my breath and grin. Tonight, when the sun sinks into the horizon and the sidewalks fill with trick-or-treaters, I’ll hide my blots behind a mask and become the Man in Black. A ray of tangerine sunlight peeks through the branches and pinches my skin. The blots shrink behind my sleeves. Danger....

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PW #202: Middle Grade Contemporary: THE WINDUP

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Stefanie Wass Mentee Name: Steven Carman Title: THE WINDUP Category: Middle Grade Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 43,000 Pitch: After losing his twin brother and his right hand in a car crash, thirteen-year-old Kyle struggles to return to baseball and fulfill the dream he and his brother once shared—winning the Brookhaven Invitational Baseball Tournament. Excerpt: I stood atop the pitcher’s mound, baseball in hand. My only hand. Perched over the stub where my right hand used to be was my baseball glove, pocket-down. “Last one, Kyle. Fire it in here,” my friend Hailey said, punching her catcher’s mitt. The two of us had been practicing on the weed-choked Little League field for about two hours. Summer rays warmed the back of my neck. My worn-out pitching arm sagged at my side like a wet noodle. While balancing my glove on my right forearm, I wound up and slung a fastball. On the heels of my follow-through, I slipped my hand into my glove, fumbling a bit, and assumed a fielding position. Mastering the transfer of my glove was the hardest part. It was a sure bet teams would test me by hitting comebackers. “Nice pitch,” Hailey said, hopping up. She jogged out to the mound, her blond ponytail swishing in rhythm with her long legs. “You’re ready for this.” I shook off my glove and let it fall to the ground. “I hope so.” It was one thing to practice without a batter standing at home plate. It was another story to pitch in a tournament, which was what I planned to do in just a few days. The last time I laced up for a game was three years ago. Back when I was in fifth grade and my dad was the coach. Back when I had a right hand. Back when I had a twin on my team to double high-five. Three years. A lifetime ago....

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PW #203: Middle Grade Contemporary Adventure/Humor: FRANKENUT

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Rebecca Petruck Mentee Name: Jennifer Bryson Title: FRANKENUT Category: Middle Grade Genre: Contemporary Adventure/Humor Word Count: 40,000 Pitch: When a downtrodden squirrel meets a talking GMO peanut, rumors of a bagel monster no longer seem far-fetched. Armed with a dollhouse fork and a lot of heart, the unlikely duo must work together to uncover the secrets of a biohacker’s lab before a friend-turned-foe destroys their only chance at solving the peanut’s mysterious origins. Excerpt: The squirrel two trees over claimed a talking bagel chased her out of the yard at the old Admiral Inn, but Jeremy didn’t believe it. Food couldn’t talk, much less run. The idea was ridiculous. If food was alive, what would it even eat? His oldest brother, Thump, suggested it ate squirrels. Jeremy squinted at the inn and wrinkled his nose. He smelled nuts, sweet fall leaves, and a hint of bacon. It did not smell like danger—or bagels. He grabbed several acorns near the iron fence, then spied a perfect pecan in the frost-kissed weeds on the other side. Sticking a foot between the bars, he tried to scrape the nut closer. A shadow fell across his leg, and he froze. A claw slid onto his shoulder. Jeremy yelped and bonked his head on the post. He whirled, clutching his pile of nuts. They wobbled but did not fall. “Got you,” Thump said, snickering. He twisted a nut from Jeremy’s stack and tossed it to the scruffy squirrel beside him. Digger popped it in his cheek and grinned. “Go ahead and eat them,” Jeremy said, holding out his breakfast. “What are you up to?” Thump backed away, checking over his shoulder. “Is Momma watching?’ “I’m not up to anything,” Jeremy said. “I just licked them first, that’s all.” Digger gagged and spit out the nut. Jeremy shoved the rest into his mouth and scampered off before his brothers could grab him....

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PW #204: Middle Grade Historical Fantasy: AN IMPOSSIBLE MAGIC

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Juliana Brandt Mentee Name: Lacee Little Title: AN IMPOSSIBLE MAGIC Category/Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fantasy Word Count: 62,000 Pitch: Already an expert at manipulating illusions, 13-year-old Verity Ravenwood helps her father’s blackmarket business by stealing a book of impossible spells for a notorious outlaw. But when the book gets stolen from her, she must track it down before the outlaw makes her entire family pay. Excerpt: When Verity Ravenwood pressed her palm against the oak door, it rippled like an aspen leaf in the wind. A harder push and the door disappeared completely, turning back into the white plaster of a wall. She smiled faintly. No one went to the trouble of creating an illusion unless it was a distraction. Verity leaned closer to the wall, but no magic remained on its surface. She crouched, nudging the woven rug out of the way, and ran her hand along the floorboards. At first all her fingers disturbed was dust, a constant companion thanks to the refining smelters dotting Denver’s skyline. However, when she pushed against the closest floorboard, it shimmered and turned into a five-foot square of metal with a brass ring in the middle. A trap door. “Good job, Ver,” a voice whispered behind her. She almost jumped, but caught herself before her feet left the ground. Her older brother, Garrett, stood a hairbreadth away. “Did you have to sneak up on me?” Verity demanded. He shrugged. Their father might joke Verity was the cat burglar of the family, but Garrett was the most cat-like. Although they shared the same green eyes, his were brighter, as if he could see in the dark. His black hair even lay against his head like a cat’s well-groomed fur, while Verity’s never lay anywhere. “You should go first.” Garrett leaned over the door, but didn’t touch it. “There might be traps.”...

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PW #205: Middle Grade Mystery: THE ORDER OF BLACK HOLLOW LANE

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Julie C. Dao Mentee Name: Julia Nobel Title: THE ORDER OF BLACK HOLLOW LANE Category/Genre: Middle Grade Mystery Word Count: 56,000 words Pitch: When her mom dumps her at boarding school, Ginny figures things can’t get much worse. Then a secret society tries to steal her only link to her missing father: a box of strange medallions. Finding out why might unveil painful secrets…and make her their next target. Excerpt: There were certain things Ginny’s mother didn’t need to know—like whether she’d clipped her toenails—but the box in Ginny’s nightstand was not one of them. That was why her fingers twitched when her mother came into her room. “Are you ready, dear? The press will be here in a few—” Her mother gasped. Ginny held her breath. She had put the box away, right? If her mom saw it, if she found out…. Suddenly her mother’s eyes filled with tears. “Oh, Ginny, that dress looks beautiful.” Ginny breathed out and picked at the crunchy taffeta. She had to put the box out of her mind. She needed to focus today. “It really seems to fit you like a glove. Don’t you just love these polka dots?” It looked like the dress had come down with the measles. The sleeves puffed out like pink toadstools, and apparently ‘like a glove’ meant barely being able to walk. “You’re the perfect image of my daughter. Well, almost.” Her eyes lingered on Ginny’s forehead. She picked up a monstrously large hat and wrenched it over the bandage covering Ginny’s three fresh stitches. “Good thing I bought this sweet chapeau. Why you insisted on playing that soccer game is beyond me. You knew we had a major event today.” “I can’t just skip a match, Mom.” Ginny looked down. What was she supposed to say? Sorry I’m a good soccer player, Mom. I’ll try to suck more, that way I won’t get onto the good...

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PW #206: Middle Grade Contemporary: OLD-FASHIONED NEWFANGLED GIRLS

Manuscript status: Finished Mentor Name: Joy McCullough Mentee Name: Faith Hough Title: OLD-FASHIONED NEWFANGLED GIRLS Category: Middle Grade Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 55,000 Pitch: When their best friend Clara moves to Argentina, sisters Georgie and Penny hope working together to buy the horse the three amigas always wanted will salvage their own friendship—and maybe bring Clara back. Unfortunately, Georgie’s obsession with old-fashioned living clashes with Penny’s taste for technology, turning their mission into all-out war. Excerpt: The one advantage to having five little sisters, Georgie Coleman thought, was that you never ran out of funny stories to tell your best friend, even when you wrote her a letter every other day. If Connie and Cherry hadn’t accidentally dyed the cat’s hair magenta that morning, for example, her current epistle would be a meager seven pages. As it was, she had just hit lucky page thirteen. A tap, tap, tap against her bedroom window jolted Georgie from her work. Ink splattered from the nib of her quill pen and speckled her paper with cerulean blue. “Blast!” said Georgie, sopping up ink with an already stained handkerchief. This was the third bottle Mama had ordered for her in a month. If she didn’t stop spilling, she’d be forced to go back to ballpoints for her correspondence. Or worse: e-mail. Georgie threw open the diamond-paned window to find a chicken standing on the sloped roof beneath the gable. Its sleek, golden head tilted inquiringly to the side, wattle swaying. “Daffodil dearest, I’m rather busy,” Georgie said. “I’m trying to write a letter to Clara before the mailman comes.” Daffodil scratched at the roof tile. “You’d better be quiet,” Georgie warned. “If Mama finds out I’ve been going on the roof, she might forbid me. There’d be no more midday cereal snacks for you.” The chicken pecked at the windowsill insistently. “I suppose I can’t refuse the world’s only tree-climbing Buff Orpington,” Georgie...

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PW #207: Middle Grade Fantasy: THE MIDNIGHT FLIGHT OF THE SALEM MAGI

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor: G.K. Byrne Mentee: Elliot Smith Title: THE MIDNIGHT FLIGHT OF THE SALEM MAGI Category/Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Word Count: 57,000 Pitch: Twins, Ark and Swanette, are descendants of the Salem witches. While they admit to causing their share of magical calamities, being chased by the king’s witch hunters seems like an overreaction. When dragons join the hunt, the twins must ally with Abigail Adams, Boston’s Witch-In-Chief, to save the patriots, and themselves. MAGYK meets the American Revolution in this secret history of Paul Revere’s ride. Excerpt: At dusk I’ll burn at the stake. I don’t like to brag, but I’m a prodigy at it. This will be my third time. It’s made me something of a celebrity around New England. While burning witches and wizards has always attracted large crowds, I think I’ve taken the spectacle to a new level. Lured by my reputation, the villagers have packed the town square despite the short notice. Every person nearby must have come to find out if I can truly survive being burned alive. Thank goodness. If everyone is watching me, no one is searching for my family. My relief shrivels with the arrival of the Committee for Public Safety. The members call themselves deacons, but my family has another name for them: witch hunters. Their procession snakes through the crowd, torches lifted high in the looming darkness. As they approach, I rattle my chains. “Wait. Wait.” “Too late, guttersnipe,” says a torchbearer. “Third time’s the charm.” I shiver. There’s no way to know how many lives I have left, but even if I’ve run out, I have to distract them until my sister signals. “Please, I only seek a small mercy.” The torchbearer checks his pocket watch. “If it will shut you up.” Choosing my words with care, I look to the expectant crowd. “Excuse me. Did any of you bring marshmallows? I’m afraid I might starve to...

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