Friday, November 20, 2015

1st 5 Pages Workshop Opens January 2nd!

I am sad to say that our 1st 5 Pages November Workshop has come to an end. We had such a great group of talented and enthusiastic writers! And wow – did they revise! A big thanks to our wonderful guest mentors, author Jenn Thorne and agent Kirsten Carleton! They both provided terrific comments and suggestions. And as always, thank you to all of our fabulous permanent mentors! Martina Boone, the workshop founder and a permanent mentor, had her second book in the HEIRS OF WATSON ISLAND trilogy released. As her critique partner, I can tell you that PERSUASION is fabulous!

Since December is a busy month and our mentors are struggling with deadlines, we have decided to take a hiatus for this month. We will re-open the workshop in January, on Saturday January 2nd. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages.

We usually fill up in under a minute, so get those pages!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

1st 5 Pages November Workshop - Makin Rev 2

Name: Devyn B. Makin
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Title: LOAD 9


All seventeen-year-old Jake wanted was to get away from his over bearing dad. And his wish was answered with an invitation to spend the summer in Ireland, with his estranged grandfather—which Jake accepted without his dad’s approval.

At the emerald isle Jake discovers the truth about his Dorian family past—they are the original founders of the 13th century Templar Guards, but that is not the dangerous part. Templar Guards are born with a power to wield light called the Gift to fight Vapors—light devouring abominations.

But before Jake can see his dad again to ask questions, he’s attacked by Vapors and triggers his Gift. After barely surviving the attack, Jake's dad goes missing. And the Paladin Council, who controls the Templars, may have something to do with it.

Desperate, Jake enrolls into the Paladin Academy in New York. Where he masters his Gift and uncovers that his dad may not be an innocent victim.

And there is an army of Vapors rising and a underground movement within the Paladin council to over throw the present Elders. And Jake must choose a side; protect his dad and family name, join the underground movement, or side with the Paladin Council.

All choices will lead Jake to losing something he loves, but a choice must be made.

1st Five Pages

Routine is what predators look for in their prey. Jake could already hear his dad lecturing him for choosing to run the same route two days in a row—taking him outside of their gated neighborhood. His dad’s lectures were constant, looping in his mind, but now they were just a nagging reminders, of every moment of every day of everything Jake was doing wrong.

He was exhausted of drowning in his dad’s fears. His paranoid absorption of prepping each minute detail—from combing his hair from left to right, never walking the same route to school more than one day, and planning his life in decades—because only bad things linger around every corner of the big, bad, monster called life.

He stopped running to catch his breath. His broad chest heaving as he leaned against a street lamp flickering on. The small orb of light casted down an unnatural, orange glow, highlighting Jake’s sharp features.

He took out the half crumbled envelope from his sweatshirt pocket, picturing the bicycle messenger that delivered the letter.
Jake had noticed her even before she was on the same side of the street of his high school. She was riding fast, blowing past teens yelling at her to slow down. She didn't even flinch to apologize. Her delicate chin tucked in her chest, eyes narrowed, darting straight towards him.

Jake froze, taking in her bright blue outfit that looked like a speed skaters racing suit. Strands of blonde trestles, snuck out from both sides of her hoodie. In seconds, she skidded to a stop, her nose inches from Jake’s chest. She glanced up, locking her gaze into his. Her wide blue eyes were like witnessing the vastness of clear, blue, skies after a storm. She smirked, making Jake suck in a startled breath.

“Dorian?” She had asked. He remembered nodding. His voice lost in the sudden shock of the very closeup view of her skin tight leotard. It hugged curves that seemed too curvy for her age. Her bright smile and face couldn’t be older than sixteen. Even in memory Jake felt his cheeks burn red.
He had cleared his throat to speak, when the girl shoved an envelope in his hands and sped off—disappearing even faster than she had appeared.

The lamppost gave out a sudden electric pop, bringing Jake’s attention back to the crumpled letter in his hands. He snapped it open with a single flick of his wrist. He read the note for the hundredth time.

Hey Kid,
It’s time for us to meet and for you to learn what it means to be a Dorian. Don't show this letter to your dad. I would hate for the trouble to start without me.

It took only a second for Jake to decide to do exactly what the letter said, but having no routine, meant no routine even for his dad. When he had looked up from the shock of the letter and messenger, his dad’s car was sitting right where the girl had just left. No routines. Jake gave out a sigh. He was used to his dad just popping up during the day—but he just had wished it wasn't that day.

As soon as he had gotten into the car, his dad asked, “Who was that?”

“I don’t know.” Jake said, reminding himself it wasn’t a lie. He really didn’t know. Though he did wonder the same thing. No girls at his school looked like that.

“I’d like see the letter,” Jake’s dad said.
Jake slid in his seat as close to the car door, staring at his dad’s still expression. He could never read what the hell he was thinking. How long was he watching me?

“No.” Jake had answered. His heart began to pound in his chest like it did in the car. Jake just couldn't do it anymore—to be the good son. The son left to care for the father that lost his wife too soon. She died and he was tired of living like they were going to die too. He should of lied and said the girl was a friend. His dad didn’t even have to see the letter to know who it was from—just two simple answers and he had guessed who sent the letter.

Jake stayed silent for the past seven days. Until this morning when his dad reminded him, “Jiu Jitsu starts today at twelve, remember to mow the lawn, and let’s not waste this summer vacation just swimming and running.”

Jake had poured himself a glass of orange juice and finally broke his silence. “Fine,” he answered.

“Good.” Jake’s dad said, then added.

“And...Artemis won’t be coming. So stop carrying that letter around like a lost puppy.”
Jake snapped the letter closed, breaking out in a flying run, passing the endless web of identical black doors, white shutters, and perfectly manicured grass. His anger rising again in boiling waves. His dad’s voice grated at him, rubbing his nerves raw. “He’s not welcome in this house. Blood may be thicker than water, but you don’t have to let it stain your life.”

“So damn bullheaded. And why does he always have to talk in riddles!” Jake yelled. He picked up his speed. His exhausted muscles ached, burning down to his marrow—it felt good. He wished he could just run forever, but home was inevitable.

As Jake approached his house he saw the curtains drawn tight as usual. His house was like living in a cave with working toilets. Jake stepped up to his doorstep and pulled off his hoodie. His dark overgrown hair spilled over his eyes. A look his dad called unbecoming..
In that moment, he swore to himself that he was going to follow his dad like a damn shadow, until he tells him the truth—why he hated his grandfather so much?

Jake went to open the door, when he heard his dad yell. "Artemis, this isn't your choice!"
Jake’s dad’s words paralyzed every muscle in Jake’s body down to his breath. He said Artemis. Grandfather’s here? A burst of feverish chill swooped through Jake. His pounding heart lurched into his throat and he froze, listening.

"How dare you have the audacity to barge in here and expect me to roll over…and give you my son?” Jake’s dad said.

Bells went off in Jake’s head.

Take my son?

He pressed his ear harder on the door making the hinges creak.
A heavy, voice with an brogue accent spoke. "Look, it's just for a few months. Let’s just tell him the trip’s my birthday gift…Anyways, the kid's gotta’ know. And your acting like I'm a stranger."

"You are a stranger.” Jake’s dad raised his voice. “You haven’t seen him since he could barely walk. And that kid hasn't even gone out of town with his school because he doesn't like being away from home.”
Jake felt his eyes roll into the back of his head, hearing about school trips. He remembered every single one; science camp Nickawagra—sixth grade, Honors Washington D.C. trip—eighth grade, Varsity Future Olympian swimmers retreat—this year, little Billy’s sleepover—kindergarten. Jake remembered them all. He didn’t go to a single one because he felt guilty leaving his dad home alone. So, he had told his dad he was scared and to this day, his dad happily accepted it. No question.

1st 5 Pages November Workshop - Proctor Rev 2

Author:  KD Proctor (please call me Kelley)
Genre:  New Adult Contemporary Romance
Title:  Until the End


Elizabeth Channing has been the top seed in everything she does, including being first in her class in medical school.  Confident she'll land the internship of her dreams, she also agrees to be a mentor to incoming first year students.  Anything to pad the resume, right?  Wrong.  She never expected to be paired with the one person who publically humiliated her on the first day.  In front of everyone.

Brad Payne was on thin ice and it’s only the first day.  Not only did he call out his mentor—she totally deserved it—but he was on a mission to prove to everyone around him that he could finish med school, even if his failing health was making it damn near impossible.

With their rocky start, a friendship was something they never expected. Even more unexpected, the budding romance that somehow felt more right than any internship or risky surgery. But when Elizabeth doesn't get the internship she wants, she's assigned to a project that could possibly get Brad suspended, and possibly derail any future together.  Can Elizabeth still be the support Brad needs or will she do what she’s always done—sacrifice others needs for her own?

First Five Pages:

“Son of a bitch!” 

The coffee in my travel mug ten second ago is now everywhere after I slammed the brakes to avoid hitting the car in front of me.  And I’m not kidding.  That shit is everywhere.

The floor mats.

My Milton University School of Medicine tote bag.

The dashboard, the radio, even the passenger side door.

I scramble to open the glove box, digging inside for napkins to mop up some of the mess.  But all I could come up with is a travel pack of tissues.  Or make that tissue. 

One. Tiny. Tissue.

Can I get a do over?  Seriously.  It’s not even seven-o’clock in the morning and this day already sucks.

This is my punishment for oversleeping on the one morning I need to be on campus at the butt crack of dawn.  My med school mentor Dr. Phillips—for the record, I was assigned to him, I didn’t pick him—has a motto:  If you’re on time, you’re late.  As his mentee, he holds me to a higher standard than everyone else.  

And I hate it.

Red lights flash around me like bulbs on a Christmas tree as morning rush-hour traffic has now come to a complete stop on the interstate.  My head falls back against the headrest and I groan in frustration.

Really universe?  Today?  Of all days?

“Stop gawking, let’s go!”

Good one, Elizabeth.  Yelling always gets traffic to move.

I bite my thumbnail.  The list I need accomplish this morning is already a mile long. Unless this traffic jam clears, I’m screwed.  Feeling around in my now completely soaked bag, I search for my phone.  Coming up empty handed, I dump the contents on the front seat.  I find it wedged in a notebook full of my internship interview notes. 

Thankfully my notes and my phone survived the tsunami unscathed.

“Happy first day of the semester!  You’re calling to see if I want coffee from the Beanery aren’t you?”  Cody Jefferson asks in his usual cheery tone. 

“I wish.  Are you on campus?”

“Of course I am.  I’m at the receptionist’s desk spying on the newbies.  Half of them look like they’re about to puke.”

“I seem to remember you actually did puke last year,” I tease.

“Bite me.  Seriously, hurry up and get over here so we can spy on them together before you have to be all official and shit with your mentor coordinator duties.”

“Can’t.  I’m stuck on the expressway.”  Traffic starts to move, but not fast enough. 

He lets out a heavy sigh.  “You’re juggling with fire, girl.”

“Isn’t it playing with fire?” 

“Tomato, to-mah-toe. You keep this up and that fire’s gonna scorch your behind.  You’re making the rest of us look bad, Miss Future Neurologist.  What time did you finally leave the lab last night? Eleven?” 

“Three?  Three-thirty?”  All second year med students are assigned to a department for a year-long internship and we learn of our placements this week.  I hope to be placed with Neurology and I want to be ready for anything they throw my way.  The late nights are worth it, even if I overslept a few times during summer classes and Dr. Phillips threatened to take away my late night lab access. 

“If you’re going to be up until three, at least be up doing something fun.”

“That is fun. To me anyway,” I say with a giggle.  My stomach rumbles and I tear off a bite from the bagel I toasted this morning.  A blob of melted strawberry cream cheese drips on my white lab coat. 

“Damn it,” I mumble with my mouth full.  I hold the bagel in my teeth as I wipe the bright pink blob away.  Fran-freakin’-tastic.  I am a walking, talking hot mess this morning.  Let’s hope that when I give the welcome speech to the first year students, they’re focused on my face, not on the stain.

“Is he there?” I ask, licking my finger clean. 

“I haven’t seen him yet, but you know he’s always here early.”

Of course he is.  I swear Dr. Phillips sleeps in his office. 

“I need you to cover for me.”

“Elizabeth…” he warns.

“I just need you to make copies for the mentors so they know who they’re mentoring.  It’s in my network file drive all ready to go.  Please?” Desperation makes me beg.  Pathetic, I know. 

His silence twists my stomach into giant knots. 

“Fine, but if I’m stuck testing fecal samples because of this…”

“Thanks, Cody!” I say before I toss my phone on the passenger seat.  Stretching my neck I can see an exit up ahead.  It isn’t the one I need, but having grown up in Camden, I know all the short cuts. Taking matters into my own hands, I illegally drive on the shoulder.  My eyes dart to the rearview mirror, praying a cop doesn’t pull me over. 

I check the clock again.  Damn it.  I’ll never make it if I park in the student lot.  I turn the corner and my shoulders relax a little.  There’s an empty meter right outside the doors of the medical school building.  Finally, my day is starting to turn around. 

The light turns red, forcing me to wait.   My eyes burn into that parking space.

“You are mine…” I whisper. 

If my calculations are correct, I can get from the meter into lecture hall with a few minutes to spare. A few minutes is good.  And technically on-time.

I crack my neck from side to side and when the light turns green I punch the gas pedal.  Blinker on, I turn to check my blind spot when a silver, all-sport SUV slides into the space, nearly taking out my passenger side headlight. 

“Oh fuck no.  No.  No.  NO!!”  I growl, punching the horn.

All I catch a flash of a purple polo shirt as I lower the passenger window.

“Hey!”  I shout through the open window.  Who in the hell steals a parking spot when a car has its blinker on?  The guy doesn’t look, instead fumbling with something in the back seat. When he slings his messenger bag over his shoulders, his shirt tugs in all the right places temporarily turning my anger into intrigue with those sculpted back muscles.

Holy Beautiful Deltoids, Batman.

Cars pass by me, honking as I’m still blocking traffic.  I snap back from my Human Anatomy refresher to the asshole who stole my spot.  My eyes narrow at the Greek letter sticker in his back window. 

Frat boy.  Figures.

I bark out the window again, “Hey!  Frat Boy! Did you not see my blinker?  You damn near hit me.”

He turns around and the sunlight bounces off the frames of his trendy, dark rimmed glasses.  A smart-ass smirk creeps across his face as he approaches my car.  His glasses, the right amount of jaw stubble, and a little bit of smugness oozing from his pores?  Oh Jesus H. Christ.  He is trouble. 

With a capital T.

He rests his hands on the passenger side door, not seeming to care that it’s still wet from my coffee.  His left wrist is turned just so, giving me a glimpse of a small tattoo but I’m not able to make out what it is. 

“Hey…are you okay?  I honestly didn’t see you.”

Okay?  How about ‘I’m sorry’?”  I look at the clock.  I no longer have minutes to spare, but seconds.  “Now I’m officially late. Thanks a lot.”  My tires screech on the pavement as I barrel towards the ramp that charges by the half hour.  Still miffed that he stole my spot, I roll down my window and flip him the bird.  And it feels good to get the last word.  Really good.

1st 5 Pages November Workshop - Roberts Rev 2

Name: Jessica Roberts
Genre: New Adult Romance

Twenty years ago American scientists stumbled upon a chromosome exclusive to people with abnormally high intelligence levels. Smarts, they were dubbed, the Einsteins and Mozarts of the world. And with the title, organized groups of Smarts called Bands, dotted the countryside.
Avery Richardson has been living as Jennifer since age eight, when her Smart abilities kicked in and her high-status Smart parents put her in hiding. She’s perfected invisibility at Princeton University with dyed black hair and dark clothing. But someone knows who—and what—she is.
Luke Strong has been watching and waiting for years for just the right moment to overthrow his powerful father, one of the most sinister and highly intelligent Smarts alive. And Luke needs Jennifer, the only other Smart as genetically gifted as he, to do it. 
The motorcycle riding bad-boy kidnaps her and takes her to his home of Wonder, a remote village of rebel Smarts. 
Unsure who to trust, Jennifer maintains her “Commoner” disguise. She learns frightening secrets about her own father and his role in Father Strong’s scheme to overtake the government.
But she has secrets of her own: an intense attachment to her kidnapper. Will they both see past their lies and learn to trust each other?

First Five Pages:

The word circles through my head while I sit in the corner of the stuffy, stadium-styled classroom in Smarts 101 class. I messily doodle a picture of a birthday cake on the paper I’m taking notes on. When I’m done with my sorry scribble I use the eraser to blow out the nineteen lit candles on top of the crookedly drawn cake. It’s the closest I’ll get to a birthday wish today, as I haven’t celebrated my birthday since I was eight.
“Par-a-noid.” silently mouth, tasting the word on my tongue as I erase my drawing. I’ve never liked the word. But what girl wouldn’t grow up paranoid if her parents changed her name on her eighth birthday and told her to watch her back for the rest of her life? I mean, seriously…
It still bothers me, though. Like how in most of my classes here at Princeton I make it a point to never sit next to the same person more than twice. Except for Smarts 101 class. The guy I sit next to—whom I’ve so originally nicknamed Beach Bum—likes to copy my notes, and I like that he’s not very social. So the arrangement works.
“Let’s have a bit of fun before class ends,” Professor Bell says excitedly from the front of the class. He rubs a chubby hand over his slightly graying beard, grinning in that eye-twinkling way he always does at some point during the hour. I want to smile with him. Obviously, teaching Smarts 101 is the highlight of his life.
“We have fifteen minutes,” Professor Bell continues. “Perfect!” He shuffles through his notes until he finds what he’s looking for.
Fifteen minutes… I look down at my desk and let my bangs fall over my face, using my dyed black hair as it was intended, to mask myself…for another fifteen minutes. It’s not the first or twenty-first time I’ve wished I wasn’t in this class of a hundred students. But two decades ago scientists found the chromosome that identifies a Smart, or people with abnormally high intelligence levels. And six years ago Smarts 101 became a required course for all freshmen. Well, all freshmen who are non-Smarts, which is most of the world. So I had no choice in the matter. Spring semester ends in a couple weeks, I remind myself. And even though everyone knows who my parents are, I can remain mostly invisible in this class for two more weeks.
“Okay,” Professor Bell says with a grin. “You all know how I love brain teasers. I have two quick ones for you. Teaser number one: How many students do we have in this class? Don’t answer out loud, just glance around the room quickly and make an educated guess.”
Professor Bell paces impatiently as students survey the room. A few lift off their seats to get a better view. Not me. I stay sitting, quiet and unnoticed on the last row, doing what I can to not draw attention to myself, which usually means doing nothing.
“Okay, teaser number two,” Bell continues. “Which of these two sentences is most correct: Seven and five is thirteen or seven and five are thirteen? Now write down an answer to only one of the two brainteasers given.”
If only I could put my hair behind my ears; smile, laugh, and answer questions every time I wanted in class. But as the daughter of two of the most prestigious Smarts in the world, I can’t. It’s too dangerous. I’m too dangerous. 
“Yo, Jennifer,” Beach Bum says from my left. I turn toward him with a pen outstretched. “Ha, thanks.” He takes the pen from me.
For a moment I am calmed by the quiet commotion of rustling papers and scribbling pens. But the reprieve doesn’t last and the noise quickly dies. Taking a deep breath, I silently reach in my bag and tear off a corner of loose paper to write down my answer.
“Okay,” Bell says. “Raise your hand if you wrote the word ‘neither’ or something to that effect.”
It looks as if every student in the class raises their hand.
“Yes.” Bell chuckles in satisfaction. “As suspected. And your answer is obviously correct. The sum of seven and five is twelve, not thirteen, so the question as it refers to grammar is irrelevant.
“Now, if you had a brain like theirs, you would have written something very different. Anyone have a guess as to what theywould have written?” The class quiets as Bell hastily looks around to see if he has any takers. “They, class, would have written the number ninety-five. Anyone want to take a stab at why?”
A girl seven rows down from me raises her hand. Her name is Ashley Watkins. I don’t know her, but I’ve noticed she’s always happy. I like that about her. Under different circumstances we might have been good friends. But there’s no sense wishing for things I’ll never have, as much as I waste time doing so.
“Yes, Miss Watkins?” Bell acknowledges.
“Ninety-five is the number of students in this class. They would have written down the answer to your first question about how many students are in this class.”
“Yes,” Bell eagerly responds. “When it was time to write down an answer, the majority of you, if not all of you, chose to answer the second question; the one you knew the answer to. By raise of hands, did any of you choose to answer the first one instead, the one on the number of students in this class?”
No hands rise and Bell chuckles again. “Now, as some of you may vaguely remember, the first day of class I mentioned that we had ninety-five students in this class. It would have taken seconds for them to call up that information from that first day, milliseconds, in fact. Essentially, to them both questions would have been easy. Where all of you wrote off the more difficult brainteaser, because of their nearly perfect memories, Smarts would have had no reason to.
“However, it actually boils down to something much more basic. Simply put, first questions are the logical ones to answer first. And Smarts are logical to the core. Now, let’s review a few last details about them to prepare you for your spring term exam.” Bell continues pacing the room as he begins counting off a list on his fingers. “One, all Smarts have the abnormality on chromosome six in their DNA, which is how we now know that Einstein, Hitler, and Mozart were Smarts.”
“So basically, what we need to remember is that all of them are products of a genetic defect?” Mara Jones pipes in, as she so often does, with one of her off-color comments.
A few students laugh, the same few who laugh every time a bit of bashing goes on in class. It can’t be helped, I remind myself as I hamper the idea of yelling out, “Don’t talk about my parents like that!” After all, I understand that people can be uncomfortable with differences.
“Well, it’s a genetic defect I wouldn’t mind having,” Bell cuts off my thoughts with a snort.
“So, our teacher wants to be part of a group who favors world domination?” Mara Jones whispers loudly to a neighbor and then chuckles once.
Bell walks toward the middle of the room and stops front and center by the microphone podium. He lifts his hands and clasps them together, resting his elbows on the stand. “Valid question, Mara. I suppose it would be appropriate to address the current rumors about them that are circulating around campus here at Princeton.” Since he rarely uses the microphone, his magnified voice seems to carry more weight as it booms through the air and echoes off the walls. “I am here to assure you that Smarts are not out to get us.” 

1st 5 Pages November Workshop - Christy Rev 2

Name: Christy C. 
Genre: YA science fiction

200 word pitch

The space Colonies were constructed to save an overpopulated Earth, but Dahlia Yang-Lee thinks growing up in an orbiting ship is as restrictive as living under an asteroid. As an engineering student, Lia appreciates 90th century wonders. But, unlike her ancestors who dreamed of colonizing space, Lia dreams of exploring Earth.

When a time travel accident sends Lia aboard Callum Davis’ legendary pirate shuttle, she is unsure if meeting the subject of childhood nightmares is a blessing or curse. Considering Cal died 5,000 years ago, Lia’s inclined to pick the latter. More surprising than her time jump is the discovery Cal isn’t the villain textbooks claim he is, but a heroic outlaw. Fighting unfair policies that prevent the underprivileged from moving to elite space communities isn’t Cal’s only skill. His ability to charm the spacesuit off anyone leaves Lia wondering if his loot may soon include her heart.

The bounty on Cal’s head is a warning his story doesn’t end happily, unless Lia defies history to save the man she’s falling for. Breaking away from the future and leaving her rigid Colony life is Lia’s shot at freedom, but remaining with Cal on a failing planet could kill them both. 

1st 5 pages:

The gun clicks and I smile.

So much for acting like a professional.

“It’s oddly exhilarating, isn’t it,” my mentor Chloe notes.

The charcoal black pistol fits perfectly in my palm. Sleek, classy, dangerous. If it weren’t for the museum inventory number attached to the trigger, I would have thought Chloe swiped the gun off the set of a period drama.

“I’m losing a battle with goosebumps.” My body has forgotten it’s always 23.5 degrees Celsius in lab. I suppose it’s still a comfortable step up from the -270 degree environment outside our space station windows. 

“All finished Lia?” Following museum protocol, Chloe takes the gun with gloved fingers. The lid to its velvet-lined casing closes with a quiet hiss, locking automatically. A barcode directs Male_A077’s possessions to the correct shelving unit. “That’s the last container belonging to our pirating friend.” 

“I’ll bet he never imagined the contents of his pockets would be so thoroughly analyzed,” I say, disposing used gloves in the neon orange burn box by my feet. I’m sure I’d leave a great impression on a future scientist studying the 90th century if they found the half eaten granola bar stashed in my purse.

“Everything that belonged to someone has potential significance. Even the castoffs.”

The lighting dims as our lab kicks into power saving mode. Is the workday already over? Chloe jogs up floating stairs to trick the motion detectors into believing our current team is larger than two. 

“Hey, is castoff the polite term you archaeologists have for trash?” I call. The acoustics in here are better than a symphony hall.  

Chloe waves for me to join her in the lofted office. “Well, his trash is my treasure trove!”

“Not to mention source of income.”  

From her desk, Chloe punches in the security code that provides access to the workspace downstairs. A row of sealed cases descends under lab floor tiles for storage. I lean against a metal railing, watching as the large panels below glide smoothly back into place.

“Don’t tell me you’ve got the entire pirate ship hidden under there too Chloe.” The lab’s endless annexes could house a substantial meteoroid collection without my knowledge.

“The archaeology team is still preparing shipments from the ongoing excavation, but I believe your fabled shuttle will be here next week.”

I laugh a bit at this. “My shuttle? I think Callum Davis would be turning in his grave if he heard me renaming his pride and joy the Dahlia.”

“The Dahlia? I like it, don’t you?”

“You don’t think it sounds too cute for a ship full of outlaws?” Naming a famous pirate shuttle after myself might be the most narcissistic thing I’ve done all year.

“Tell you what, if a mob of angry space pirates comes barging into lab, you can blame the rechristening on me.”

Although children in the Colonies grow up hearing tales of the dastardly Callum Davis and his wicked band of pirates, I was positive Captain Davis was about as real as the alien under my bed. That is, until news of his shuttle’s discovery began trending in museum newsfeeds. The first uncensored photos we received from the pirate’s forgotten world sent a solar storm of shivers down my fingertips, and a flood of tea across my desk.

If an award existed for youngest intern to suffer a heart attack, I would have won when Chloe revealed our lab would be overseeing restorations on the Callum Davis shuttle. Every museum department has been scrambling around for weeks, trying to get involved on this high profile project. I suppose piecing together the tale of an enigmatic space pirate sounds much more exciting than examining the stomach contents of a person who’s been dead for 10,000 years.

Chloe glances up from her glass tablet. “Have you heard back about your training grant application?”

I manage to smile despite the fluttering in my chest that appears whenever I picture the two possible outcomes. “Not yet. The museum directors met this morning to decide who they’ll be interviewing, but no announcements have been sent.”

“Why do you sound so nervous? I think you have an excellent shot! The spot is basically yours if you nail this upcoming restoration project. I already have a bottle of champagne with your name on it.” She raises her stylus in a toast. “To a future museum employee! Ms. Dahlia Yang-Lee!”

“Thanks, but let’s not start celebrations too early Chloe. Wouldn’t want to jinx anything. Besides, there are at least ninety other interns who are just as qualified.”

I’m beyond thrilled to be nominated for the career development training grant, but I’m also terrified I’ll be horribly disappointed when the results are revealed if I don’t see my name on the list. Unlike the other ninety-nine applicants, I’m not an archaeologist by training. I know how to debug lines of computer code, not how to analyze the bugs in human remains.

“I wouldn’t have nominated you if I didn’t think you would be a competitive candidate,” Chloe reminds me. Her tablet trills as it updates our inventory logs from this afternoon’s work. “I’ve mentored many interns in the past and you are at the top of my list.”

“Then I’m glad you made a wrong turn into that auditorium.”

“You should thank the architect who designed your private high school. They made it impossible to navigate from point A to B without ending up at point E first.”

Chloe’s unplanned appearance at my engineering seminar’s final presentation ended with an offer for a summer internship I hadn’t applied for, let alone knew existed. The museum was so far off my radar, even working as a professional asteroid wrangler came in higher on my list of career goals.

“I’ve already spent the entire afternoon refreshing my computer but I’ll let you know if I hear from the Board this weekend,” I say. The systems in lab are touchscreen to prevent dust accumulation, but there are plenty of buttons waiting at home for me to wear down. 

“Did you check your unsorted files?” Chloe suggests. “The security system has mislabeled my documents before, making them nearly impossible to find.”

“Yes, but the only unsorted recording was from a lonely Martian prince looking for companionship.”

“You are excited though, right?”

“About a rendezvous with a prince?” My armchair hovers towards me and I settle into the comfortable cushions. Better keep your researchers happy if you want them to spend hours holed up in the same room, right? 

“No, not that. I’m still talking about the grant,” Chloe clarifies. She steps over a humming bot as it completes its daily polish of the office’s mirror like floors. “Earth, remember? You’re only one yes away. Shall I put a lab camera on hold for you?”

The fluttering returns, accompanied by an uncontrollable shiver. But it’s not the prospect of a permanent museum job museum that disrupts my motor functions at the mere mention of the grant.  

“I don’t know if cameras are allowed at the Callum Davis excavation site,” I reply. It’s monitored more strictly than a museum lab, considering its location.

“I’ll write you a note and insist it’s for research purposes. I hope you’ll remember to be careful down there Lia,” Chloe says, suddenly serious. “I want my favorite intern to return in one piece.”

“Who said anything about returning?” The marbled planet rotates innocently on my idle workstation. How can a planet so beautiful be so deadly?

1st 5 Pages November Workshop - Ureta Rev 2

Name: Hazel Ureta
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Title: What Happens Now


Megan Delaney is not a people person. Being stuck on a road trip with a stranger to attend her cousin Lily’s wedding is possibly her worst nightmare. Even if she can’t wait to blog about all the exciting places she’ll see. And surely, even when said stranger is terribly cute.

What she soon discovers is that Zac Mitchell isn’t some average guy. In fact, he couldn’t be more out of Megan’s league. Add in how they’re polar opposites, certainly the road is going to be long and winding. But as the two strangers get to know each other along the way, they start to open up about past wounds and break free of the things that hold them down.

One hot summer, a great escapade and a grand wedding bring them together- much closer than they could’ve ever imagined. When Megan finally can’t deny her connection with Zac, heading back home brings her to reality. Is being with Zac worth stepping out of her comfort zone?


Can a person be two different things at the same time? I’m not talking about having a split personality. Dissociative personality disorder, my psychologist Mom would correct me. Whatever. That’s not the point.

Sometimes, I feel like I have two personas: there's me, then my blogger self. As I type a post and write my thoughts without hesitance, I’m the latter. I talk on the page, to my readers, as if they were close friends. 

Truth be told, even though people say internet friends aren't real friends, I can’t help think otherwise. It may be because I have so few in actual existence that I fool myself into believing that. I just prefer to avoid people. A recluse, my English major roommate would call me. 

But when I blog, I feel less like one.


Ready To Leave, Ready To Live

A wide open road sounds both exciting and terrifying. I’m braving it today and heading back to my home state, Tennessee, for my cousin’s wedding. Lily, who I love like a sister, and her fiancĂ©, Dave, are getting married this week and I wouldn’t miss it for the world! 

It’s a long way from California but at least I’m not alone. I’m driving with Dave’s brother, a boy I’ve never met. It’s far from an ideal setup and yet I still can’t help feel pumped to go on this excursion. Driving through several states and seeing America is bound to make for an epic road trip.

Before I take off, I want to share my must-haves:

Megan’s Road Trip Essentials

1. Good music - Fact: great tunes equals a great road trip. I’m not a windows down, blown away hair, loud music kind of girl but there’s something about driving down the freeway that begs for a soundtrack, preferably Springsteen.

2. Smartphone - To check in with my family and best friend, who are occasionally worried about me being kidnapped or being boring. Also, for taking photos, reading, note-taking and blogging on the go.

3. Sunglasses - It’s not summer until the sun is making you squint as if saying, “You can’t handle my shine.” Plus, my favorite vintage browline ones match the retro clothes I’d picked for the trip.

4. Snacks - Cookies, M&Ms and Nerds are necessary for survival. Must stop by a gas station later to refill stock.

5. Water bottle - For staying hydrated (Note to self: go easy on the water- gas stations may be few and far in between and I’d rather spare myself of ever having to relieve my bladder behind a bush or tree or god forbid, a bottle.)

6. Instant camera - A gift from Lily when I turned nineteen last month. I like technology fine but I find Polaroid prints cool, no matter how old school. I want to visit interesting places and take lots of photos. I want to capture precious memories of my last year as a teenager, like my cousin had told me when she gave me the camera.

Stay tuned on the blog for my road trip posts! Write soon!

Love, Megan

I quickly scan what I wrote and hit publish with some conviction.

Alas, the confidence I have when I write a blog post fades in an instant. I bite my nails as I review the final post to look for any blunders and find none.

I roll my neck and shoulders to try and relax. Unfortunately, I can’t do anything about the knots forming in my stomach.

“Are you all set?” I close my laptop and lean back in my desk chair to look at Brooke Hamilton. My college roomie and best friend.

With my status as someone who was anything but a people person, I’m surprised I managed to find someone in college who I easily clicked with. Then again, I’m surprised to find someone who loves cookies as much as I do. Brooke loves to bake them and I love to eat them.

“Yup.” My voice falters. Now that I’ve posted about the trip on my website, the fact that I’ll be leaving town and setting off with a mysterious stranger today is really sinking in. When was the last time I even spoke to someone I was unfamiliar with that wasn’t forced by group projects or Brooke trying to get me to meet new people?

Brooke sits on my bed, facing me. “You’re not having any second thoughts about this, are you?”

“It’s uncanny how you know exactly what’s on my mind.” I tell her with a bemused smile.

“Maybe I should tell Lily I’ll take a Greyhound bus instead.” Thinking aloud is something I only ever do around Brooke.

“Remember what I told you about that time I rode one?” She raises an eyebrow. I can’t help but shudder. Not only did she have to be terrorized by a large cockroach under her seat, she also had to witness an overeager couple going at it and moaning like there was no one else on the bus.

That was enough to make me accept Dave’s offer to ride with his brother. I’m an idiot to even reconsider riding a Greyhound but at least I could have solitude, provided I put on my earphones to drown out any unwanted noises. I wouldn’t be subjected to several days driving with some guy making awkward small talk.

“Look,” she says with a worried expression. “I was surprised when you agreed to the offer but I think a trip will be good for you. You need an adventure.” I understand what she means. Spring semester of my freshman year didn’t go like I thought it would. It sucks when you fail at the only thing you thought you were good at.

“If it makes you feel better, I made you cookies. They’re in your bag.”

“White chocolate macadamia?”

“And cashew caramel.”

It’s crazy how we’ve only known each other for months but I already adore Brooke as much as Lily, who I grew up with.

“You’re the best- you know that right?”

“I could hear it more often.” We grin at each other. Just like that my worries about being on the road fades away. Almost.

I check my phone. It’s past ten in the morning and I’ve got no messages. Zac, Dave’s brother, is late. I sigh, disappointed that my ride was neither prompt nor concerned enough to text me about his delay. I should’ve asked Lily for his number, instead of just telling her to give him mine.

That said, a part of me is glad I won’t have to deal with meeting him yet.

“Now, make sure to update me when you’ve left, okay?” Brooke picks up her bag, ready to head to work at the local cafe. I nod in response and follow behind then hug her before she sets off.

I clear my throat. “See you in a week.”

She squeezes my arm and gives me one last encouraging smile. “Have fun.”

My hands start to feel clammy as I close the door. I’m just about to sit down to keep my knees from shaking when I hear two knocks.

“Did you forget-” I start to ask as I throw the door open.

It’s not Brooke.

“Hi,” greets a boy with sky blue eyes. Given his striking resemblance to Dave, I have no doubt that this is Zac.

In a split second, I decide it will be a long excruciating drive to Tennessee.