Saturday, January 25, 2020

Free #1st5pages Writing Workshop Opens Saturday, February 1st w/ Lit Agent Andrea Somberg and Author Cheyanne Young!

Our February workshop will open for submissions on Saturday, February 1 at noon, EST. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger as our guest agent mentor and Cheyanne Young as our guest author mentor!

The workshop is designed to help writers struggling to find the right opening for their novel or for those looking to perfect the all-important first five pages before submitting for publication. Why the first five pages? Because if these aren't perfect, no agent, editor, or reader will continue reading to find out how great the rest of your story really is!

So get those pages ready because we fill up quickly!

Why is the First Five Pages Workshop a GREAT Opportunity?

  • You are mentored by the guest author as well as least one and usually two traditionally-published published or agented authors from among our permanent mentors for the duration of the workshop. These authors have been through the trenches and know what it takes to get a book deal, solid reviews, and sales.
  • In addition, you receive feedback from the four other workshop participants.
  • Feedback is given not just on your initial submission, but on two subsequent opportunities to revise your manuscript based on the previous feedback so that you know you've got it right!
  • The final revision is reviewed by our mentoring literary agent, who will also give you feedback on the pitch for your story--the pitch that may eventually become your query letter or cover copy.
  • The best entry from among the workshop participants will receive a critique of the full first chapter or first ten pages from the mentoring agent, which may, in some cases, lead to requests for additional material. 

How It Works:

Please see the complete rules before entering the workshop, but in a nutshell, we'll take the first five Middle Grade or Young Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. (Double-check the formatting - each month we have to disqualify entries because of formatting.) Click here to get the rules. We will post when the workshop opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@eliza_daws@etcashman) with the hashtag #1st5page permanent author mentors, the final entry for each workshop participant will be critiqued by our agent mentor.
s. In addition to the rotating team of our wonderful

February Guest Literary Agent Mentor: Andrea Somberg

A literary agent for over fifteen years, Andrea represents a wide range of fiction and nonfiction, including projects for adult, young adult, and middle-grade audiences.  Previously an agent at the Donald Maass Agency and Vigliano Associates, she joined Harvey Klinger Literary Agency in 2005. Her clients’ books have been NYTimes and USABestsellers and winners of numerous awards. She also teaches courses for MediaBistro and Writers Digest on a variety of writing topics. Andrea is always actively looking to take on new authors who write in the non-fiction and following categories of fiction: literary, book club fiction, upmarket women’s fiction, romance, thrillers, mystery, fantasy, science fiction young adult, and middle grade.  

To learn more about her agency, Harvey Klinger Inc., visit www.harveyklinger.com You can also find her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, and learn more about her and her list at Manuscripts Wish List and Publisher’s Marketplace.

February Guest Literary Author Mentor: Cheyanne Young

Cheyanne Young is a native Texan with a fear of cold weather and a coffee addiction that probably needs an intervention. She loves books, sarcasm, and collecting nail polish. After nearly a decade of working in engineering, Cheyanne now writes books for young adults.
Cheyanne lives near the beach with her family, one spoiled rotten puppy, and a cat that is most likely plotting to take over the world. Her newest book, The Last Wish of Sasha Cade, is available now.
Cheyanne is represented by Kim Lionetti of BookEnds Literary.
Connect with on Twitter or Instagram or her at her author sitehttps://cheyanneyoung.com/


THE LAST WISH OF SASHA CADE




About THE LAST WISH OF SASHA CADE: 

How far would you go for your best friend?
The day Raquel has been dreading for months has finally arrived. Sasha, her best friend in the whole world, has died of cancer. Overwhelmed and brokenhearted, Raquel can’t even imagine life without her.
And then a letter from Sasha arrives. Has she somehow found a way to communicate from beyond the grave?
In fact, Sasha spent her final weeks planning an elaborate scavenger hunt for the friend she would have to leave behind. When Raquel follows the instructions to return to Sasha’s grave, a mysterious stranger with striking eyes is waiting for her. There’s a secret attached to this boy that only Sasha – and now Raquel – knows.
This boy, Elijah, might be just who Raquel needs to help her move on from her terrible loss. But can Raquel remain true to herself while also honoring her friend’s final wish?
Cheyanne Young’s compulsively readable breakout novel offers abiding friendship and forbidden romance, along with an incisive look at how class differences shape who we are and who we grow to be.
Where to Buy: 
Add it on GOODREADS!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

1st 5 Pages January Workshop - Hansen Rev 2

Name: Star Lane writing as RS Hansen
Genre: Middle Grade Science-Fiction
Title: A Nerf Herder’s Guide to Physics

Pitch
Thirteen-year-old Star Wars super-fan, Michael has just moved to the only place more desolate than Tatooine during a sandstorm—Tucson, AZ. But even that isn’t the worst thing in his life right now.
His late father’s scientific rival is planning to publish an article completely trashing his dad’s unfinished physics theory. Michael can’t let his dad’s legacy be destroyed by some scientist from the dark side. He only has a few weeks to finish what his father started and write an epic statement to publish alongside the article.
But before he can tackle that he has a few things he needs to take care of, including:
·         Figuring out why he keeps dreaming about a door. 
·         Getting that annoying kid from his new school to stop bugging him about joining the astronomy club.
·         Oh, and rescue his BFF from a parallel universe that looks like planet Dagobah. If he fails, they’ll both be trapped forever, and his dad’s legacy will be nothing more than a speck of dust in the asteroid belt formerly known as Alderaan. 
A NERF HERDER’S GUIDE TO PHYSICS is an upper middle-grade sci-fi novel complete at 51,000 words.

Revision
The best dream I ever had was when I was nine years old. I remember being at the beach, but that’s not what made the dream so cool. What made it cool was that I was lifting the one and only Millennium Falcon out of the ocean. It was like that scene in Empire Strikes Back where Luke was trying to lift the x-wing out of the swamp. Only, I actually did it.
I don’t remember much more than that, because who the heck really remembers much about their dreams? The Millennium Falcon was enough.
The worst dream I ever had was last night. And the night before that, and the night before that, and the night before that… Oh, and in biology class yesterday and during seventh-grade lunch period the day before. I’m not even sure I can call it a dream anymore because sometimes I’m not even asleep.
It’s not a nightmare or anything. That isn’t what makes this dream bad. What makes it the absolute worst dream in the history of dreams is nothing.
The dream is a big pile of nothing. Me standing in nothing until a stupid door to nothing appears and does nothing!
And I keep. Having. The dream.
I can’t get rid of the dang thing. Now it’s started to follow me around during the day, jabbing me like an annoying Ewok with a spear. An Ewok that threatens to blow the roof off my rebel mission to save dad’s work. That can’t happen. I need to get this under control or I’ll never make the deadline.
My hand runs along painted brick as I creep out of my bedroom and inch down the hallway into our living-slash-dining-slash-kitchen room. I’m pretty sure Mom hasn’t left for work yet. Which isn’t a good sign because she wouldn’t skip a shift at the hospital unless something was up. And something being up has never been a good thing.
 Mom is standing in front of the toaster. Thankfully, she has her work scrubs on. So, whatever it is, couldn’t be that bad. Not like roof blowing bad. There could be a million and one reasons why Mom is still home.
Unless. Ugh, Mr. Anderson, my biology teacher, probably called to complain about my space-out episode yesterday. I need to think of something and fast. If she finds out about my dream, it’s only a matter of time before my mission is blown too.
“Hey, do you have a late shift today?”
She turns around. Her scrubs are worn at the seams from constant washing and wearing, they make her look exhausted. That, and those dark circles under her eyes. “Good morning to you too, Michael. They didn’t need me yet. I thought maybe we could talk a little before you leave for school.”
“Um, Okay.” Talk? Great. That’s basically mom-speak for something’s wrong. Yes, the worry is strong with this Mom.
The toast pops-up and she circles back to pull out the slices.
I plop down at the kitchen table. Oh no! My laptop is still sitting out from last night. I quickly swipe it into my backpack before she turns around with two plates of toast. One buttered and the other with that prickly pear jelly she’s been obsessed with since we moved. 
She sets a plate in front of me and sits down on the other side of our tiny two-person table with hers. I take a huge bite, almost a quarter of the slice. If my mouth is full, there’s no way I’ll be able to answer any questions about anything.
But she doesn’t speak, just takes a bite of her toast, followed by a sip of her coffee.
“So,” she finally says.
Here it comes. I take another bite, pretty much finishing off the entire piece of toast.
“Have you heard from Ophelia yet?”
I chew slowly and shake my head. Is that all she’s worried about? It was stupid of me to tell Mom that I hadn’t received an email from my best friend in weeks.
Ophelia never responded to my last one, she just dropped off the face of the earth. I didn’t even get a “happy birthday” last Wednesday. Not that I care. Whatever, I get it. It’s not like I expected us to stay best friends when we live fifteen-hundred miles apart.
“I’m sure she’s just busy or something.” Maybe Mom will buy that, even if I don’t.
“Yes, probably.” Mom takes another sip of coffee, then bites her lip. “But I’m still concerned about you. You haven’t made any friends in Tucson. I’m barely home. I—” She sets her mug down and looks at me straight on. “I just don’t want you to start isolating yourself again.”
“I’m fine.” 
I get a sigh and the fine-is-not-an-acceptable-answer look.
“Really, it’s no big deal, Mom. School has been keeping me busy.” Well, maybe not school, but close enough. I stuff the final bit of toast into my mouth, pretending to savor this last salty bite. Then, I feel a familiar tingle on the back of my neck.
“Michael, you’re spe…” Mom’s voice fades out. Her lips are still moving but I can’t hear her words.
Crud.
No! Please. Not now. Not in front of Mom. I quickly swallow and cross my arms in front of me, digging my fingers into my ribs until it hurts. Maybe if I concentrate on the pain, it will go away. But the blackness starts to frame my vision. My pulse quickens, I take a shaky breath to slow it down.
That doesn’t work.
Pretty soon, the fake-wood table and sand-colored cabinets of our kitchen stretch out, then whirl around like water draining out of a tub until it completely empties and I'm in the black abyss of my dream. Then, as always, the door to nothing appears.
The door is white and smooth. It looks like the marble counters in our old house, but without the veins of gray running through it. I walk up to it and reach for the silver c-shaped handle, even though I know it will be locked.
From my experience during biology class I know that I'm not passed out. I'm probably just sitting at the table across from Mom, and as Mr. Anderson put it, “staring off into space.”
How did I come out of the dream yesterday? I do remember beating on the door. I try that. I pull at the handle. Thud—thud—thud. Pound some more.
Then a quiet voice calls out. I press my ear against the door’s cool surface.
“Michael?” It’s a yell, muffled by the thick stone. “Michael!” A little louder this time, and I recognize it.
My heart pounds harder, I almost choke on her name. “Ophelia?” I call back.
“Where are you?”
“Here, I’m here!” But then the door disappears.
None of this has ever happened before.
Where the door once stood, is a swirl of blue. Not just a single shade of blue, but a ton of hues, from the darkest ebony-like shade to one that almost glows. They spin together in a fusion of color that looks strange, but also familiar—like a van Gogh painting. Then eight pinpricks of light burst through. The lights are scattered randomly across the blue swirl. Four of them form a small curve, above that, another three are unevenly spaced in a diagonal line, with the last thrown to the side.

1st 5 Pages January Workshop - Kerr Rev 2

Name: Carryn W. Kerr
Genre: Young Adult romantic, light science-fiction, adventure.
Title: The Renascent World

Pitch:

Cassidy Jones was five years old when her parents escaped Earth with her and her brother. They lived with the fifty thousand chosen in the town of Petriville, encased in an indestructible sphere. They were safe in Earth’s orbit. Sheltered from the meteor when it impacted Earth. Safe for the next eleven years.

But Cassidy won’t conform to Gina’s expectations. She refuses to pair with Jonas. Especially when she secretly discovers and develops feelings for simulation Eric, a survivor in an Earth refuge. In doing so, she enters Gina’s world of deceit and malice and begins the ball rolling in a series of dangerous events.

The mysterious slave, Jaya, who lives in Petriville’s underground tunnels warns Cassidy her kind deeds won’t go unpunished, and she will bring death to herself and those she’s trying to help. Neither they nor those on Earth will be safe from Gina. Despite this, Cassidy won’t back down. Ultimately though, she discovers something, not even she had anticipated.

Pages:

Without hesitation, as though I’d change my mind if given the option, Liam pulled open the door to our Home Virtual Experience room. Laying one arm around my shoulder, my eighteen-year-old brother held his hand, palm up, towards the center of the room. The leather couches taking half the length of two walls invited me to flop into the L-shaped corner. But today, we wouldn’t use them. As the door sealed behind us, I sucked in a sharp breath, “I can’t do this, Li!”

Liam took in my terrified expression. His bright green eyes grew soft, his familiar rapid-fire speech soothing my racing heart, “Cassidy, it might make it easier if you remember we all did this on our sixteenth. It wouldn’t be fair of me to sugar-coat—”

He did not conclude his thoughts but gulped as the ceiling-mounted VE cube whirred, throwing a triangular light to the floor. The light expanded, sliding over our feet, up our legs, bodies, heads. A gravitational pull sucked us to the center of the room, into another time, just a short distance from where we now stood. We were in the park over the cobbled walkway curving past our home.

I drew in the fragrance of spring flowers and freshly cut lawn. The soft early evening breeze brushed my skin. Tiny recording drones floated around spectators like silent flies, recording moments to become Petriville’s history. Sunset’s orange glow deepened. My eyes landed on a three-dimensional version of Dad — looking all of the eleven years younger than he was now. The drones took in every facade of Dad’s tall, fair, sculpted physique. My eyes shifted to Mom as Dad took her hand. Her olive-toned face was drawn, her dark hair hanging limp. And, like now, her jeans never quite reached her ankles. My tall, beautiful, and elegant mother.

At seven and five-years-old, Liam and I buzzed around our parents. The breeze fluttered Liam’s soft blonde curls, as he clasped my tiny hand in his and pointed to the sky. I recalled none of it but noted how, even then, we were tall for our ages. My deep blue eyes contrasted my olive skin and straight, dark hair. The knobby knees, Liam had so often teased me about, protruded below the hem of a pale blue dress, I could almost remember.

The scene was so lifelike it drew me into the moment. Up and down our block, neighbors stood on the cobbled walkway, on their front lawns, or in the park. No eyes left the darkening sky as the myriad of tiny recording drones floated around families.

Petriville’s launch into space should have left me with a thousand vivid memories. But mine were like broken shards of glass — shimmering or shattered. To an onlooker, Petriville’s launch must have seemed unnatural. A town within an indestructible dome. A transparent kaleidoscope of rainbow colors. The dome had ballooned into a ball that grew and grew until thrusters propelled it into Earth’s exosphere. Complete with houses, gardens, trees, conveyor streets, schools, and shops, Petriville seemed to magically hover at the ball’s center. Pure science, of course.

My focus drifted back to the VE, my eyes drifting upwards. The most magnificent scene materialized, laced in tones of the softest blues to the deepest greens. Draped over it all, clouds floated in languid majesty — crisp white to deep, dark grey. It was as though we were Earth, and Earth our enormous moon.

Whimpers started breaking the silence, escaping both men and women. Dad pulled Mom back against him, as tears flooded her deep blue eyes and cascaded down her cheeks. My chest tightened. All around me, deathly silence fell.

The asteroid hurtled through space, and its trajectory placed Earth in its direct path! In no time at all, it drew nearer. So much nearer. As the asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere, flame enveloped the monstrous bulk, turning it to a fiery meteor. It seemed only seconds later when an ethereal brightening seared the dark sky. A shimmering mushroom of debris! Light and dust shot into the air then rained back to Earth.

Mom’s scream shattered the night. An echo in a chorus of onlookers’ grief. My young parents collapsed to the ground, comprehension slamming into them: They had just lost their parents, Aunt Susan, and Sarah! Searing pain tore into my gut. I barely noticed I was clinging to Liam; that he held me against him, his arms as tight as the vice gripping my heart; that I shook, sobbed; that tears slid down his cheeks too. My parents’ continued screams cut a burning, stabbing pain through my chest. But, I couldn’t drag my eyes from them nor escape the suffocating VE. My body numbed. A weighted, nauseated, distant dream took hold. I tried to lift my hand to wipe at the tears burning my cheeks, but my hand wouldn’t move.

The VE faded, and we were back in the room with the familiar leather couches. After the longest time, Liam loosened his grip, and I stepped away, wiping my cheeks. Liam kept his eyes on me, “Are you alright, Cass?”

A choked, “Why would they make us—?” was all I managed as my tears gushed, my eyes moving to my wrist. To Grandma’s antique, white-gold wrap-around bracelet pen and the sixteen silver sparkle bangles Mom and Dad had given me this morning. My ‘Age of Understanding’ gift. Sixteen. The old maxim really applied to me. But it felt back-to-front. Like the soft sensation of a boy’s lips on mine should have preceded what I just witnessed. “Why?” I repeated softly.

He absorbed my gaze, “Not witnessing it doesn’t erase nor diminish what happened. Don’t you think this a fair way to honor the people who lost their lives?”

My voice emerged in tight gasps, “I thought that was what our annual ‘Extinction Day’ commemoration is for.” I hated the crass term. It didn’t sound at all like an honor.

A sharp rap on the front door interrupted us.

Liam opened the door to Gina Petri, Petriville’s founder. Horn-rimmed spectacles magnified her watery blue eyes, and a toothy smile grew beneath her parrot nose.

My lips pressed into a sneer. “Ms. Petri! What brings you here?”

Gina’s oh-too-sweet melody reminded me of a snake. “Is that any way to greet the woman who saved your family?”

The words burst through my lips. “Really? You let my grandparents, aunt, and cousin die!”

Liam closed his hand around mine as though to calm or comfort me.

Gina ignored my outburst, not changing her smarmy tone or slow pace. But an airy chuckle slithered, seemingly unbidden, into her voice. “Your mother’s sister and your cousin were scarcely the caliber I desired. And naturally, I couldn’t save everyone.”

I glared at her, “Well, are you going to tell us why you’re here?”

Before she could answer, I began closing the door, but her tiny foot blocked it. “As a matter of fact, I hope you do not take too much stock in what you observed today. But you must understand why I had to wipe all your memories back then. It was done to protect you.”

So that was what this was about! Gina just wanted her subjects as happy and amenable as her robots! I pushed the door closed, shoving her foot out the way with it.

Liam took my hand. “Don’t worry about her. She’s just a crazy old bat.

Although it wasn’t his fault, I glared up at him. “Are you sure that’s all she is? Because I’m not!”

1st 5 Pages January Workshop - Devine Rev 2

Name: Michael Devine
Genre: YA Fantasy
Title: The Last of the Magi


Pitch:
Ever since his older brother disappeared four years ago under mysterious circumstances, Jalen Talos has been kept under the watchful eye of a secret society known as the Magi. Like his older brother before him, Jalen is a mystic, someone who can tap into the spirit world to access otherworldly powers. In the totalitarian city-state he lives in, being a mystic is illegal, a crime punishable by death.

Jalen’s world begins to unravel when a stolen necromantic grimoire ends up in his hands. He doesn’t have much time to delve deep into the book’s secrets: the Shadow Coven hunt for him and their grimoire. The nefarious Coven, once the scourge of gods and mortals alike, seek their former glory, hellbent on reclaiming the dark power they once wielded so devastatingly.  

And helping them in their efforts is Jalen’s long-lost older brother.

Jalen escapes a brutal Coven attack on the Magi and flees for his life. But before long, the hunted becomes the hunter and he embarks on a race to find the ancient sanctuary of a long-lost god. If Jalen can find the stronghold before the Shadow Coven, he can prevent an ancient horror from being unleashed on the world.

Chapter 1
The storm ravaged the island city-state of Santivar. Alone in his room, Jalen Talos felt the whole dormitory shake with the buffet of each gust. He sat hunched over his desk, trying to concentrate on the piles of parchments and manuscripts scattered before him, doing his best to ignore the wind and rain pummeling the windowpanes. A single candle on his desktop burned low, casting flickering shadows on the rows of bookshelves that lined the walls. 

Somewhere outside in the night, above the roar of the storm, he heard the city bells toll. Three in the morning.

He leaned back and stretched. He should just go to sleep. It was so late, and he was spending more time dozing off than anything else.  

As he cleared off his desk, his gaze drifted to the empty bed across the room. Malachi’s old bed. It had been four years since he had last seen his older brother. Jalen had been twelve at the time, old enough to know that Malachi’s days were numbered, that it was only a matter of time before he left for good.

Still, that knowledge didn’t prepare Jalen for when the time came. And it didn’t prepare him for what came next.

With a deep sigh, Jalen leaned over to blow out the candle. Only, before he did, the candle extinguished itself.

Jalen blinked as he sat in the sudden darkness. Did I just imagine that?

But there was no imagining the sudden heaviness that descended around him, like a blanket drifting down over him. His room grew deathly quiet, the air stilling, muffling even the commotion of the storm outside.

Cold terror gripped his soul. Jalen clenched and unclenched his fists as his heart raced. What was happening around him was not natural. He knew because it was something he had experienced before.

The night Malachi left. The night the Sentinels came for him. 

He breathed deeply, willing himself to be calm. How did they discover me? And how do I get out of here? The window? No, his room was on the fifth floor; it was a straight drop down hundreds of feet to the street below. He would have to go out the door. But if they were watching him…

There was a knock at the door.

He almost screamed. He felt paralyzed. He couldn’t even think.

The next knock was firmer, more insistent. A frantic whisper followed the knock. “Jalen! Let me in! 

They’re coming for you!”

Jalen felt a sliver of hope. The voice belonged to Kishari Ashcroft and she was a member of the Magi. If anyone could help him now, it was the Magi. He jumped up and ran to the door, opening it as quietly as he could. 

Kishari stood before him, wrapped snuggly in her drenched cloak, a hood pulled over her head. Even in the darkness, he could see her eyes wide with terror.

“The Sentinels?” he asked softly.

She nodded and pushed him into his room. “We keep an eye on their headquarters. As soon as a raid departs, we’re notified. Especially if they’re coming in this direction.” Her breathing was labored but she looked at him intensely. “You are the only mystic in this dorm that the Magi are aware of.”

He gasped. If the Sentinels had discovered that he was a mystic, if they were coming for him, then he was as good as dead. And Kishari, too, for taking the risk in helping him.

For there was one thing that all mystics in Santivar had in common: being one was illegal.

Unless you were a Sentinel.

Before Jalen could respond, he heard a noise, outside and further down the hallway.

Kishari froze; she had heard it, too.

“What do we do?” Jalen whispered, recovering but barely able to speak.

Kishari hesitated, biting her lip. But her indecision lasted only a moment. Softly closing the door, she dragged Jalen across the room and sat him down on his bed.

“Do you still have the amulet that your uncle gave you?” she asked.

Jalen nodded and withdrew a figurine – a miniature replica of an ebony hawk, about to take flight – from within the folds of his tunic. It was made from everwood, and it generated its own mystic source. By simultaneously tapping their own source and that of a figurine like this, a mystic would be able to augment and amplify their abilities and talents.

“Will it protect us from the Sentinels?” Jalen asked.

“Hopefully,” Kishari whispered. “It should be able to shield us from their mind probes.”  

Hopefully? Should? That didn’t sound too reassuring. He stared at her intensely. “I don’t know how to use it like that.”

“I will show you.” She folded Jalen’s hands around the amulet. “Close your eyes,” she said softly. “Hold the image of the hawk in your mind’s eye. Reach out to it, touch the hawk’s spiritual essence with your spirit.” 

Jalen breathed in deeply. Like most mystics, Jalen’s ability to tap into the power of his soul began with the onset of puberty. But the Magi had placed barriers within his mind, to both regulate and hide his ability. As a result, he could only tap a small portion of his mystic source, and even then not for long. It was a struggle but he pushed against those barriers, pushed past them just enough so that the warmth flowed through him, first as a trickle, then gaining volume, flooding his entire being.

“Focus…” Kishari continued, almost in a trance. “Feel your soul and the hawk’s soul, becoming one…”

Gradually, Jalen felt his spirit melt with the ebony raptor’s, his soul infused with that latent power harbored within the hawk.

The amulet began to feel warm in Jalen’s hands. “Okay, I’m ready.”

“Will the hawk to expand, to extend outward, covering you and me.”

It was as if immaterial wings unfurled and spread out, enveloping them both.

Jalen stared at Kishari, eyes wide in amazement. “I got it! What now?”

“You’ve got to hold onto it, Jalen. Keep up the shield. Can you do it?”

How would he know? He was already feeling the headache coming on from tapping his source. But he nodded to her.

“Now, we wait.”

For a moment, the hallway outside the room was deathly quiet. But then Jalen heard the shuffle of feet as heavy footsteps, somewhat muted, trotted swiftly down the hall. He held his breath. Judging from the sounds on the other side of his door, there seemed to be an inordinate number of people in the hallway.

He thought that they might pass his door, that maybe they already had, for he no longer heard the footsteps. But no, they had stopped. The voices, faint and muffled, were right outside his room. The wait was interminable. His heart was pounding inside his chest and he was sweating with the strain of holding onto the power he was drawing from the hawk.

And then came the sound that kept mystics like Jalen awake at night: the violent explosion of a door being busted down and ripped from its hinges.


1st 5 Pages January Workshop - Gallant Rev 2

Name: Kristin Gallant
Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi
Title: Running Waters

Pitch:

The lake has a secret.

Sixteen-year-old Becca’s distant grandfather had one too. But after his death there is no one to protect her from discovering it.

With a deadly storm upon her, Becca finds her grandfather’s rowboat mysteriously on shore. With it, she races out to save her brother who’s struggling to get off the lake. But it’s too late.

Together they are dragged through a water passage, stranding them on the ocean, near a colony that is isolated from the world.

Now lost, with her brother critically injured, Becca has only one hope of obtaining a healing sap and repairing their boat. She needs to steal it.

An electrical barrier is the islands only protection from outsiders. Allowing ships to pass through but means instant death for its passengers. What Becca discovers is that her grandfather was their leader, until overthrown by a tyrant, imprisoning them on their own island. The madman preys on the island’s occupant’s worst fears, controlling the water and power. He also guards what Becca needs.

With the help from a family, on the island, Becca must make a long journey to the splinting tree that conceals the precious sap, or risk never getting home.


Chapter 1:

There weren’t many things I hated, but as I raced along, I started thinking running might be one. The dry air tasted like stale bread, scraping inside my throat. I didn’t think there was enough water in the nearby lake to sooth my thirst.

Maybe I should have filled my water bottle before I left the house, but if I had, I risked waking Mom. Then there would have been no chance of slipping away without a hundred questions. Though, as I continued jogging, I sounded more like a cat gagging up a hairball. Maybe I should have chanced it.

In the last mile I sped up, my hips jetting out side-to-side in a clumsy fast walk, then increased to a snail paced jog. A technique Coach Davis added to his torture list of skills to practice over the summer.

In front of me a group of holes stretched across the length of the road. Hopping over the small crater I grit my teeth as I landed. Suck it up Becca. I could do this, but if I didn't stop soon the metal holding my knee together would most likely start tearing through flesh, or wear down the bone I still had left.

Who would have thought me a runner? Not me, for one. Mom’s panicked calls to the surgeons clearing me, didn’t help my confidence either. But when Jacob, the school’s cutest and fastest runner, invited me to run on the team, I couldn’t say no to his smiling eyes. Me. Not any of the junior groupies that followed him around school. But me. My heart pumped a little harder at the memory.

My watch flashed three miles.

Up ahead, hanging from chains that had become rusted and decayed, swung the old wooden sign that Grandpa had made so many years ago. His last name carved into it; Saltz.

Jogging by, I tapped it. The chains creaked as it rubbed against its hooks. No surprise that the most recent storm didn't tear it down, it had hung there ever since I could remember.

Beyond that was his home. For a moment I expected to see him outside working in the yard or near his boat, ready to greet me.

In that instant my stomach turned from butterflies to bricks. Without slowing I came to a stop, but my sneaker slid on the loose gravel beneath it, causing my knee to buckle while my foot continued to move. My arms flailed until I grabbed hold of a pine tree's low hanging, sap dripping branch. Pulling in close I leaned against the tree, squeezed my eyes shut as a tear threatened to push through.

Taking a deep breath I looked over at the house. It appeared quiet, with no evidence that Mom or my younger brother Cooper were awake. I decided to make my way down to the lake.

The view of the lake was one the ugliest I had ever seen. We wouldn’t be seeing bright colored photos of the view in any visit New Hampshire advertisements.

Through the tree stumped yard, a set of steep, splintered stairs lead down to the water. It overlooked the inlet and a large, tall, rock formation we called the “Beast”. Soupy green algae hung off the large, jagged rocks. My skin crawled at the thought of my bare feet touching the lake’s deep bottom and its slime slipping between my toes. It was a good enough reason not to swim out too far.

On top, a few dead trees loomed over a corroded electrical transformer. Enclosing it, a wire fence hung, drooping into the water.

Sticking out of the lake, a second metal fence wrapped around the entire rock island, except for the opening that faced the house. The mouth of the Beast. That was where the metal fence rusted, bent, and broke apart. Under my grandfather’s watch, he put a rope across it. Anyone who dared to venture close enough couldn't ignore the red electric voltage signs warning to keep back.

At the stairs, I stroked a notch in the railing, my name, then Cooper’s, a dedication of sorts that Grandpa made. I had forgotten about it. That was one of the last times we saw him.

The railing vibrated under my hand as I made my way down. Still hot from my run, I kicked off my sneakers. Stepping in, I clenched , waiting for the shock of cold water to run through me.

My shoulders dropped as my foot sunk. It was warmer than I thought it would be. I decided to go in a little deeper, running shorts and all.

Only after a few steps, I floated waist deep on my back. The water cooling the pulsating blood running through my knee. I closed my eyes listening to the hooting of a nearby loon and the slurring of the water as it pushed up against the shore. Hypnotic. Mom knew I wasn't excited that we'd be spending the summer here, but maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Spending my waking moments running the trails might make it bearable.

A patch of icy water shocked my back. More cool down than I wanted.

Still on my back, I gently swung my arms toward the shore, until the sound of low electric hum grabbed my attention. I twisted off my back, treading the depths, noticing I drifted too close to the Beast.

Water agitated up against its fence and rocks.

I had no intention of drifting out that far. Spotting the shore over my shoulder, I began kicking in its direction. But instead of moving forward a swirl of water pulled at my legs. The funnel dragging me closer to the outer fence.

Water rose around me . Or was I sinking?

Whirling my head about, I searched for anyone to help. But only the loon fluttered nearby, watching me.

Unable to kick my legs more than inches apart I swung my arms out in front. Water splashed up, and I couldn’t see. With nothing to grab onto I was pulled in deeper.

I wanted to yell, but my mouth skimmed along the surface. Water seeped in and the tin taste filled my mouth, clogging it. I began coughing.

Something brushed along my back, and I flexed. I shot my hand in its direction. If it was something that wanted to attack me, I would put up a fight.

Smacking the water, my hand hit a stringy object. I gasped, realizing it was the rope, bobbing up and down along the opening.

Clawing through the water, my fingers fumbled at the rope, finally grabbing it. My hands slipped along its algae slime surface. Frayed bristles ripped away, while I continued to be dragged.  

The burning in my biceps became unbearable. I felt my arms being ripped from my shoulders, and wasn’t sure how long I could hold on.

“Help,” came out as muted gargle. I tried again, just before the funnel jerked and pulled me under.

The swirl of water twisted my legs and climbed to my waist. With the strength I had left, I yanked at the rope. It gave me buoyancy, and I briefly resurfaced spitting up water before being dragged under again.

The suction held tight, my legs unable to kick free. Tugging at the rope, I twisted so that it wrapped around my arm and hand. The rope tightened around my wrist, cutting off circulation. I used the leverage to reach the surface.

I sucked in air.