Title: Under the Surface
Entry nickname: Like Atlantis, Only Totally Creepy
Word count: 64K
Genre: YA Speculative Fiction
Seventeen-year-old Lauren is a professional mother-disappointer… but losing her sister in an eerie underwater town sets a whole new standard.
When Lauren hears the legend, she’s intrigued; exploring the lost town under Lake Modoc is the perfect adventure to take her mind off of her mounting stack of detention letters. Together with her two best friends, she hops on a boat (somewhat illegally) and sets out to discover the Atlantis of Owego County.
One problem: Lauren must bring her eight-year-old tattletale sister, Roxie, along for the ride. In the split second Lauren and her friends find the creepy, algae-covered church steeple under the lake, Roxie disappears from the boat. Silently, impossibly, Roxie is gone.
With her sister missing, Lauren is wracked with grief and uncertainty. She becomes obsessed with uncovering the secrets behind Roxie’s increasingly mysterious disappearance. But when the police can’t see the steeple Lauren leads them to—the place where Roxie vanished—she takes matters into her own hands, scuba diving into the deep.
Lauren finds out too late that the town under the lake was abandoned there for a reason. By opening its doors, she unleashes the its dark, magical ability to lure away children—and if she doesn’t find her sister soon, she might have more than one lost kid to answer for.
With Roxie’s life hanging in the balance, Lauren must piece together the secrets of the town under Lake Modoc—or live under the weight of Roxie’s death forever.
First 250 words:
Whenever I stand on the shores of Lake Modoc, I scour the horizon like I’ll find something out of the ordinary. Today I do the same, letting my eyes skip over the dark blanket of water as the wind plays with the ends of my hair. On the edge of my vision something bobs some twenty feet away, but the moment I squint harder to see its shape, it disappears.
“Ugh, damn it! These test tubes are impossible,” Carly shouts beside me, breaking my reverie.
“Jesus. You ruined my yoga vibe.”
“Yeah, ‘cause I can totally see you doing downward-facing whatever. Can you help for two seconds?” Carly pushes her red curls out of her face, bent over the water’s edge.
As I step toward her, movement flashes in the water again. My stomach drops out, leaving a vague sense of dread in its place. Whatever’s out there avoids my glance, so I force myself to take up my time-honored duty: talking Carly down from insanity.
“Hey,” I say. “It’s a simple assignment. We’d be fine using tap water.”
“Tap water is too easy. I want a challenge.” The glass tubes she’s struggling with tumble into the lake, causing her to swear under her breath.
“Well, consider yourself challenged.”
Carly has been my best friend since that time we had the misfortune of being dressed in the same hideous sweater on picture day in the second grade, but at times like these I reconsider our actual compatibility as human beings.
~ VERSUS ~
Title: The Siren Episode
Entry Nickname: Cement Gargling 101
Word Count: 82,000
Genre: YA Fantasy
Arlen’s parents kill monsters—sirens, gorgons, and even leprechauns—then broadcast the murders on their TV show, Myth Slayers. And killing is a family business.
Ever since mythological creatures destroyed San Francisco twelve years ago, Myth Slayers has been number one in the ratings. Now the show’s stars want to retire and force the reins upon their son. But at seventeen, Arlen doesn’t want to slaughter monsters on primetime TV—he just wants to survive high school, where a quirk in his Myth Slayer blood makes life unbearable.
Arlen’s blood gives him power, but repels members of the opposite sex. He can’t even approach girls without making them physically ill. So when he finds a girl who’s not getting sick, he finally sees a chance at a normal life. Problem is, Lenora’s a siren. Worse, she’s a murderer. And Lenora hides a secret: the location of a safe filled with evidence that Arlen’s parents destroyed San Francisco, not the monsters. If opened, the safe’s contents could ruin his family, leaving humans unprotected against nightmarish creatures. Arlen’s parents want the siren dead, and Arlen faces an impossible choice: kill Lenora to bury the secret, or trust the siren and expose the truth.
First 250 words:
Arlen Boggs hopped his neighbor’s fence and slipped past the protestors. They’d camped in front of his house again, picket signs raised. He tried to keep his footsteps light, but the rain puddles didn’t help his cause.
Two blocks, he thought. You can do two blocks without getting recognized.
The morning air chilled his neck, and he buttoned his father’s trench coat, too big for his lanky frame. Arlen wore the coat, baseball cap, and sunglasses to keep himself hidden. He hoped it would work this time.
Head down, he hurried along the narrow sidewalk. Trees rustled on either side of the street, and he glanced up at the sycamores. Nothing but windblown leaves.
A woman’s voice came from behind him: “There he is.”
Arlen turned to look at the protestors, five houses back. “Great,” he muttered.
Two of their poster boards read, “GO AWAY, MYTH SLAYERS!” and “MYTHS HAVE RIGHTS, TOO!” Despite the wet September morning, the crazy zealots surged onto the road and shouted at him.
A few months shy of his eighteenth birthday, Arlen still didn't have his driver's license. His parents never had time to teach him, always out filming their TV show. Otherwise, he would have driven himself to school and avoided the daily hate-fest.
Another tree rustled and a branch snapped.
Could be a monster.
The protestors sped up, chasing after him with their hand-painted signs.
Arlen broke into a jog. Monsters in the trees, protestors on his tail. Why were mornings so complicated?