Monday, July 6, 2015

Trend Tuesday: Contest Winners!

These seven picks are just half of the top-rated entries judged by voice. We looked for thoughtful word choice, appropriate rhythm, and evocative imagery. Don't forget to see the other top 7 entries, featured on host Lara's blog! We had more than 7 perfect scores for YA, so you definitely don't want to miss the ones over there.

Code name: I'm Friends with the Monster

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):
My plans were shattered now. I hadn’t figured they would abandon the hunt to hunt me instead. If I returned to the village, I would pay for Okomi’s life with my own or with banishment from the tribe.

“Talla, what happened?”

“I . . .” I stammered, unsure how to explain it. To anyone, much less him.

I laughed. A full-belly, grabbing-my-stomach laugh. I was standing on a roof, watching my mother and sister leave to hunt me down like an animal, while I hid in a town that wasn’t mine, looking for the man who had carried me to the woods and abandoned me. And now I was talking to the boy who knocked me out and left me like garbage.

I laughed even harder.

“Talla.” His voice was deep and steady. He held my arm now, and his thumb rubbed against the claw marks on my forearm.

I stopped laughing and took a deep breath. “I can’t go back.”

The truth hit me with full force like a punch in the gut. I couldn’t go back. I couldn’t go home. Not in a few days. Not ever. I’d spent so much of my life questioning how I fit in there, but it was the only home I ever knew. And now returning meant exile. Death. Or worse.

“Why not? What happened?”

“I happened.” In my mind, I saw Okomi and the monster. I saw my mother and my sister and Heart Father. Then, I saw blood. “I’m a monster.”

Word Count: 79k
Genre: Fantasy
7-word description for your MC: curious, compassionate, cunning; deadly aim and magic

Code Name: Cool blue reason empties on the page

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

I’m trapped on the inside, with all the crazy people, where my parents signed that I belong.


When we all arrive home Mom shoos us inside and locks the doors. She also turns the deadlock, which she doesn’t even do at night.

I watch her force the stubborn switch into place with a rattle, twist, and final click. I can feel the walls closing in on me. 

Does everyone feel this way? Imprisoned and unwanted?

“No one. No. One. Goes outside without an adult,” Mom says again with warning in her voice. Something more hides in her words—fear. I rarely see Mom afraid. Tired, sure—all the time, but scared? It makes me nervous.

Celeste stomps to her room. I follow behind her because I don’t know what else to do. Slam. Her door almost crushes my face.

Jude walks past me to his room, which is on the main floor with Celeste’s room and my parents. He looks at me and shrugs before closing his door too. All that’s left to me is my own room—downstairs with the imposters.

“Your mom knows,” Gail says when I walk past the door to the room she shares with Lynn.

Do I have to pretend they matter by responding?

“Knows what?” I ask.

“She knows more than she’s telling, just like the note. She didn’t tell me about the note, but she knew.”

Word Count: 76K
Genre: psychological thriller
7-word description for your MC: Vengeance is best served crazy and doped

Code Name: Love is a Battlefield

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

“And these?" Zinnia’s thumb brushed one of the wooden beads swinging in his dreadlocked hair.

"Not everyone wears them," Leo said.

A tingle of warning crept up her neck. Zinnia brushed it away like a worrisome fly.

“Why do you?”

He arched one eyebrow.

"I…shouldn’t answer that." He stood, moving away.

The dark forest was quiet. The monsters were either asleep or silently stalking their prey. A branch cracked in the fire, startling Zinnia.

"What do they mean?" She insisted, knowing she provoked him.

Leo turned sharply, meeting her gaze.

"I wear one bead for every death I've caused. It’s a warrior’s duty to know his crimes."

Zinnia looked away, grateful for the distance between them. Grateful, as well, for the reassuring weight of the dagger at her side. Then it dawned on her. He had finally let slip a clue about himself. She fixated on that, pushing aside thoughts of the murders he’d just confessed to.

"Is that what you are? A warrior?"


Leo stopped pacing and studied the girl across from him. If he wasn’t mistaken—and Leo rarely made mistakes when it came to the true nature of a person—Zinnia Delacroix was not only astute, but defiant. He had seen it even at their first encounter. With the Ambassador’s blade pressed to the soft skin of her neck, she had been ruled not by fear, but calculation. She was looking for a way out.

The Council was expecting someone malleable. Someone they could bend to their will.

The Council was going to be disappointed.

Word Count: 108K
Genre: Dark Fantasy / Romantic Fantasy
7-word description for your MC: Neither pawn nor player. She's queen bee.

Code Name: Like Real People Do

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

*This excerpt is in the POV of my Main Character's friend and guardian, Ari.*

It was devastatingly quiet the way the monster in my yard slowly killed itself. Someone should mourn it, but the Singers were too busy securing the compound and saving what lives they could.

I was the only one who could stand vigil, but I shouldn’t care about that monster plant enough to give it another second of my attention. I shouldn’t grieve the thing I had feared, but I couldn’t lose the sound of the song I had heard, and the gentle way it had bowed to me.

The whole yard was still. Only the stars moved above me, a shimmering twist that I didn’t realize meant tears were in my eyes until they fell down my cheek.

Far to the distance, inside one of the wind-tossed trees, I saw a glint of light. I narrowed my eyes and after a moment the light flashed again, in the distinct shape of two round circles. Binoculars. Binoculars trained right on my window.

We were being watched.

I slammed the curtains shut.

The Waxling perched on the foot of my bed, her face frozen in a friendly smile directed toward my mirror. She sat so still, she seemed like the waxworks she should have been.

And then she moved her head.

Henry ripped a bandage with his teeth as he sat on the ground next to the door. I crossed to him, my eyes on the Waxling as I helped him cover his wound with another bandage.

Word Count: 74K
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
7-word description for your MC: Fragile, fierce, and funny. Confused. Statuesque. Biodegradable.

Code Name: I know a cat named Easter

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

Jack lights a paraffin lamp before he leaves, and the yellow light illuminates the bloodstains on my uniform. I try not to look at them as I undress.

The water is still steaming when I climb into the tin bath, but it cools quickly, and I don’t want to sit soaking in someone else’s blood. I look around for a towel.


I wrap myself up and climb onto his cot, trying to stop my shivering. He won’t mind having me naked in his bed, a thought that makes me smile deliriously.

All I can see is headless bodies, so I think about Jack instead. His face before my closed eyes, as clear as day. The way he looks at me.

Jack is good, for certain. Too good, too wholesome for me. But—

If he wants me…

Why shouldn’t I have him?

Jack deserves someone better. But he wants me.

The door cracks open. “Rebecca?” A whisper. “Are you… Can I—?”

“I’m decent.” It’s a lie. I tuck the scratchy wool blanket underneath my arms and stretch the muscles around my face into a smile.

Jack comes in, stops when he sees me, and then he slowly closes the door.

He’s holding a stack of clean clothes. My spare uniform. “Tilly gave me these. I’ll take your uniform to the laundry.”

Everything comes rushing back. The explosion. The blood. I claw at the blanket, which falls an inch. Jack looks away, blushing.

I need something else. I need—

“Jack. I don’t want to think about this anymore.”

Word Count: 67k
Genre:Historical Romance
7-word description for your MC: Sisters separated by war, reunited by love

Code Name: A Cavalcade of Anger and Fear

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

Vulnerable and sprawled out on the bathroom floor with blood still trickling from my temple, there was no way I’d launch into my crazy bird market story. Not then.

Maybe not ever.

“Don’t worry, I’ll leave my hair down. No one will even notice the cut,” I said.

A faint look spread across Nick’s face as he rounded the corner to the toilet, which sat in its own tiny enclosure next to the linen closet. Loud retching and a subsequent splash of vomit echoed through the bathroom. Those unsavory sounds, coupled with the even more disgusting sight of towels soaked in my own blood, made my stomach churn. Woozy and barely finding the strength to move, I rose up on all fours and crawled next to my brother, nudging him to scoot over before making a matching deposit into the toilet bowl. The stench from our puke, mingled with bleach fumes from Nick’s constant scrubbing, coaxed every last bit of dinner from my stomach.

“Why don’t you go to your own bathr-” Nick gagged again. “I don’t want to throw up on you.”

I pulled myself up and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. “I actually think I’m done. Thank God.”

“This has to be the worst sibling bonding experience ever.” My brother gave a weak smile. Then he heaved again.

“The worst,” I agreed.

Little did I know that puking in the toilet with Nick was far from the worst brother-sister bonding experience we’d ever have.

Not even close.

Word Count: 68K
Genre: Thriller
7-word description for your MC: Doubts her sanity, but never her loyalty

Code Name: Little supernovas in my head

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):
*The two MCs here alternate POV chapters*

“What part of ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ is confusing you?” His voice remained low, but it held an edge of “don’t push me further.”

When I spoke, my voice was barely above a whisper. “You should tell someone what he does.”

“My parents could help. It’s not right what he does to you.”

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I’ve got one more year. Then I’m out. Whether I go to college or not, I’m not staying in that house after graduation. Depending on everything, I might get out as soon as I turn eighteen, but I’ve gotta put up with it until then.”

“A year is a long time.” He knew that better than anyone.

“Most of the time he’s not even there. I come and go as I please. I can deal.”

“Where would you go if you moved out?”

He raked his hand through his hair. “Haven’t thought that far ahead.”

“You’ll finish school, won’t you?” Fear of him dropping out ran through me like ice.

“Yeah, especially if I’m playing football. I’m not going to screw that up. Like I said, I probably won’t go anywhere until after graduation. When Robert isn’t around, I’ve got it made.” He touched the bruise carefully and shook his head. “How’s your salad.”

I stared at my plate. “I’m sorry, Jacob. I’ll help any way I can.”

He reached across the table and took my hand. I squeezed his fingers. If he needed a place to go, we had a guest room.

Word Count: 89,000
Genre: YA contemporary
7-word description for your MC:
Searching for identity, stronger than she thinks

Are you an agent who would like to request more from these writers? Comment below with the code names, how many pages you'd like to see, and your contact information. Alternatively, you may email veritylanelaraATgmailDOTcom with your requests. Winning entrants, it's your responsibility to vet agents and see if they would be a good fit for you. Writers, go cheer each other on with the hashtag #pg70pit on Twitter!


  1. I'd love to see more of"I'm Friends With the Monster ", " Love Is a Battlefield ", and " I Know a Cat Named Easter ". Please send Ququery and first 50 pages ( pasted in the body of the email ) to

  2. I'd love to see more of"I'm Friends With the Monster ", " Love Is a Battlefield ", and " I Know a Cat Named Easter ". Please send Ququery and first 50 pages ( pasted in the body of the email ) to

  3. I'd like to see more of "Love is a Battlefield" and "I Know a Cat Named Easter." Please send a query and 50 pages attached as a Word document to I look forward to reading more!

  4. I'd like to see Love is a Battlefield, I Know a Cat Named Easter and A Cavalcade of Anger and Fear. Please send the first 25 pages, query and synopsis to chquery [at] mcintoshandotis [dot] com

  5. I’d like to see the query and first 25 pages for I Know a Cat Named Easter. Please send to rachel(at) with the “pg70pit request: Title” in the subject line if you'd like me to consider it. Thanks!

  6. This is Lara. Lisa Jane Weller emailed me with the following request:

    I love the sound of 'I Know A Cat Named Easter'. If the author of this entry would be interested in querying me, I'd love to read more! Please feel free to send a query letter (including author bio) and the first 50 pages of your manuscript (attached as a Word/rtf file) to "submissions[at]broadlandliterary[dot]com", with the subject line "Pg70pit Submission – Your Novel's Title (Genre)". Many thanks!

  7. I'd like to see the query and full manuscript for "Cool blue reason empties on the page" "A Cavalcade of Anger and Fear" and "Little supernovas in my head". Please send word document to Bree(at)RedSofaLiterary(dot)com with the hashtag in the subject line. Please cc Kim@(at)RedSofaLiterary(dot)com xoxo-Bree Ogden (Red Sofa Literary)