Free writing workshop for aspiring authors of young adult and middle grade fiction. The first five pages may be all that agents, editors, and readers read, so get them right with the help of three authors over the course of three weeks. During the third week, an agent will also critique your pages and your pitch and pick a workshop winner - the prize is a partial request!
Name: Arran McDermott Genre: Young Adult paranormal Title: Supra/normal
Sixteen-year-old Julie Jackson can punch through brick walls and shrug off knives and bullets. The only problem is using these powers is a crime that could land her in prison for the rest of her life, or worse.
A generation after the Supranormal War shook the world, Julie lives in hiding with a group of other gifted teenagers, called Supras. They try to stay one step ahead of the Normalizers—a ruthless police force immune to their powers.
Julie decides to break their cover by rescuing a frightened young Supra called Steve. His rare powers, which can counteract the Normalizers' immunity, could be the secret weapon they need. But first Julie must face her greatest fear and discover the truth of their origins. If they succeed in their desperate mission, they may finally become the heroes the world told them they could never be.
SUPRA/NORMAL, complete at 78,000 words, is a YA paranormal novel with diverse characters and series potential. It will appeal to fans of the X-Men or Supergirl.
I walked up to my class that morning and saw the mandatory blood test list posted by the door. They only ever tested people to decide if you were normal, or a supra. If your blood came back positive, you were pretty much screwed.
I scanned the list quickly. Two of the names on it were students I barely knew, both in lower grades than me. The last name was mine. I was scheduled to report to the nurse’s office at ten-thirty the next morning. They normally tested us at birth, and again when we reached puberty. Somehow I had slipped through the cracks. Until now.
I stood in the school hallway as the others kids passed back and forth, wishing I could reach through the glass and tear up the sheet. If this was a story, I’d be one of those teenagers desperately hoping to get chosen for something special. But having powers the average person could only dream of was no gift. If you had the cursed gene, your options were to run and hide or turn yourself in to the authorities.I already knew what the result would be. What really scared me was everyone else finding out.
I am a supra. I had kept that secret since I was twelve years old.
I sat with my friend Journey at lunch shorty after seeing the list, my mind still reeling from the news. We were both sophomores at Kurtzberg High, and she was the only person I was close to. It was a perfect relationship. She didn’t seem to notice how little I talked about myself as long as she had someone to discuss her weirdly erotic anime dreams with.
For once I wanted to talk about myself, to tell her about the test the next day and get some reassurance that it was nothing to worry about. But I was afraid to even bring it up.
I looked around the lunchroom as I ate and noticed Steve Peterson heading our way. He was a star athlete in the same year as me, and my latest and most intense crush. He had shaggy hair that looked perfect for running fingers through, dreamy hazel eyes, chiseled cheekbones, and a nice smile. I spared him an appreciative look, even though dating fantasies were the furthest thing from my mind.
“Hi,” he said cheerfully as he passed our table. I gave a half-smile, but said nothing. He sat down at a table with his loud buddies. Normally my gaze would have stayed with him for a while, but not that day. Journey did look over, though.
“Girl, he is cute,” she said, in between chugging milk. “I can see why you like him. But he’s kinda weird.”
“What do you mean?” I didn’t really care why she thought he was weird, but any conversation was a welcome distraction from my impending doom.
“He never hangs out with anyone outside of school or games. I’ve known a whole bunch of girls that have asked him out, but he always turns them down. He’s quieter than you, even.”
“Maybe he’s just shy.”
She pulled her glasses away from her dark brown eyes, giving me a dubious look. “For real? Dude’s a basketball star, and he ran for class president once. Shy ain’t part of the package. I think he thinks he’s better than us. He’s a snob, you know?” She shrugged. “But if you wanna try asking him out, you go right ahead.”
Yeah, right. A girl like me dating the most popular guy in school. A girl who’s probably going to be in jail by this time tomorrow.
I fell silent. Journey gave me a serious look, finally catching on to my mood.
“Why you so down, girl? Normally dream boy puts a smile on your face for hours.”
I checked no one close by was listening and told Journey my fears about the test. She laughed at me.
“A supra test? That’s what you’re worried about? I took mine a couple of years ago. It wasn’t no big thing. You’re the most norm person I know. If your life was any more boring, you’d be dead.”
“Thanks, I guess.”
“So why you freaking out over this? Everyone has to do it.”
“Well, I hate needles. And what if they find something else in my blood? Not supra powers but something else . . . bad?”
She wrapped a braid around one of her fingers and grinned. “You been doing drugs or screwing some guys I don’t know about?”
“No. Maybe I’m being paranoid.”
“Look, if it’s that big a deal, there’s ways to get out of it, at least for a while. Just pretend to faint or throw up or something. Hell, tell them it’s that time of the month. Almost anything will work.”
“Just try it.”
I spent the rest of the day thinking about which of Journey’s suggestions I would attempt to get out of the test. None of them sounded very hopeful, and I was drawing a blank on any better ideas.
When school got out, I walked home as slowly as possible, giving myself time to think. The dirty, crumbling buildings around me looked like they hadn’t been repaired since the Supranormal War. But we just accepted that living in the projects.
I passed a piece of graffiti that I had seen many times before. Someone had stenciled a flying superhero on a brick wall and spray-painted a red ‘no’ sign over it. No supras had been seen in public for years, but the hatred was still strong. Why had I never thought about that until now? It was amazing what having your own head on the chopping block did for your outlook.
My mood didn’t improve when I got back to our tiny, rundown apartment. My
brothers were eating junk food while my loser stepdad snored on the couch. He drifted in and out of our lives like an alcoholic wisp, usually only showing up to make trouble. My mom had probably asked him to watch the boys until I got home, not that he had any parenting skills.
Right on cue, as soon as I had finished eating, he stumbled out of the apartment, mumbling, “Say hi to your mom for me.” He would go bar crawling or whatever he did while she worked her night shift. It might be days before he returned, which was fine with me.
I tossed and turned for hours that night while my two brothers snored loudly in the bedroom we all had to share. Privacy was not part of my life. But I would gladly spend the rest of my life stuck in a room with them if it meant getting out of the test. I needed them, but more importantly they needed me. There was no one else to look after them.
I thought about how all my good grades and efforts to stay out of trouble at school would soon count for nothing. Once the authorities found out my true nature, they would send me off to a special prison or God knows where. I had read stories of it happening to others before.
In the morning I barely ate while my brothers shoveled marshmallow cereal into their mouths. The kitchen was really more of an alcove next to the living room, and an iron girder running overhead made it seem even more cramped. I looked over at the sink piled up with dishes and realized that wouldn’t get cleaned until I came home from school. If I came home.