Title: VERA WITH A VENGEANCE
Entry Nickname: Delicious Vicious Cycles
Word count: 74K
Genre: YA Contemporary, Own Voices (Jewish and sexual assault survivor)
Seventeen-year-old entrepreneur Vera Davis starts a business to sell revenge in VERA WITH A VENGEANCE, a 74,000-word young adult contemporary novel.
When a car accident paralyzes Vera’s older brother and kills her parents, she's suddenly in charge of the medical bills, the mortgage, and her own anger and helplessness. Vera's always been good at getting back at people who hurt her, but she can’t exactly get revenge on the curve in the road where her father lost control of the car.
Meager insurance payouts leave Vera desperate for money, so she starts a business: when the traditional justice system fails her clients, Vera wrecks wrongdoers’ careers and cars, relationships and reputations. She revels in taking down racists and sexual assaulters, but her crush--her brother’s best friend--thinks her style of vengeance is morally wrong.
Then, while helping a client get payback for a leaked nude picture, Vera finds new evidence about her family’s “accident.” Turns out there is someone for Vera to blame, but the perpetrator had her own very good reason to seek vengeance.
Now Vera must decide whether getting even is worth getting blood on her hands.
This creeper keeps staring at me with this little half smile, like he thinks I want his eyes undressing me. His face, all chin and cheekbones, reeks of always getting what he wants—women, money, free drinks in first class en route to Ibiza. I want to walk away, but his wife is shopping for an evening gown, and I need the commission to pay the energy bill.
I focus on her, and hold up a green dress to hide my body. “This would look great with your eyes.”
Her eyes are blue, but the green dress sells well, and if she buys it, I’ll hit the monthly quota for a higher commission percentage. I can only work so much after school, and I have to make the hours count.
She turns to Creeper. “What do you think?”
“I’d like to see more.” His eyes flicker down to my calves and back up to my chest. For all his wife can tell, he’s checking out the dress, but his gaze burns my skin.
I hold the dress higher to cover my chest and look at my boss for rescue. He mouths work it. If I didn’t need this job so badly…I force myself to smile.
Creeper’s gold smartwatch buzzes, and he glances away from me. Those watches cost three grand. Three grand would keep the lights on and pay for a month of the mortgage. Three grand could keep Levi and me from losing the house our parents raised us in.
~ VERSUS ~
Title: The Mortal Coil
Entry Nickname: Hero by Default
Word Count: 80K
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
When Covington Academy's basketball team is found comatose during practice, seventeen-year-old Aiden Milligan goes from top of the class to top of the suspect list. His extensive disciplinary record and recent altercation with the team's captain make Aiden the obvious culprit. Worse, his combination of brains, boredom, and bad attitude marks him as a possible member of The Orphion Circle, the rumored anarchist group being investigated by police. Guilty until proven innocent in the principal's eyes, Aiden knows he's one misstep from expulsion — or worse, a prison cell. Losing his academic future, the one thing that separates him from every other parentless screw-up, is not an option.
Teamwork is torture for Aiden, but classmate Jessie Rivas is his only help in clearing his name. A crackpot journalist determined to make her big break, Jessie drags Aiden into a mystifying investigation of the rising coma incidents around the city. When bloody symbols appear at the scene of one the attacks, Aiden begins to believe Jessie’s theories about the mysterious Orphion Circle are true. The Circle isn't an anarchist group. It's a coven of dangerous witches.
Stopping The Circle and clearing his name become one and the same for Aiden. A detective hounds his steps, though, hell-bent on locking him up. With every step of his investigation implicating him further, salvaging his reputation and his academic future may be impossible. But if he can't uncover the truth behind the mounting coma victims before The Circle silences him, he won't have a future at all.
Aiden Milligan sat in the principal's office. Again. And for once, he wasn't sure why.
Aiden reviewed the usual complaints. No skipping classes — this week, anyway. Not like he couldn't afford to when he was so far ahead of the rest of the class.
No disrespecting any teachers. Correcting Ms. Maynard's electron assignment during Chemistry didn't count. Eye-rolls were reflexive at this point.
No refusing to cooperate with others. ...Okay, guilty as charged. But was that such a crisis?
Aiden straightened up. Principal Hadley entered the office and sat behind his impenetrable oak desk.
"Sir," he muttered.
In the two years he’d attended the prestigious Covington Academy, Aiden and Principal Hadley had grown very familiar, in the way a lion gets familiar with a straggling wildebeest. Aiden was a problem that didn't want to be solved, and Hadley took that as a challenge.
Hadley ran a hand through thin, graying hair. “Thank you for coming, Aiden."
Aiden raised an eyebrow. Like he had a choice?
Here it comes. Slap on the wrist and hollow lecture. Then set me loose, 'cause you can't risk losing your highest GPA student. Rinse and repeat.
“To business.” Hadley folded his hands on his desk. "Last night, campus security found Coach Singer and the entire basketball team collapsed in the gym. The police were called in to investigate."
Police... Aiden's stomach twisted.
Hadley's eyes locked onto him. "They suspect foul play."
Foul play? Now his stomach plummeted somewhere around his feet. Damn, not good...