Congratulations to the 50 Round Two winners in our Line-by-line contest. Our judge, agent Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, had a hard time eliminating an additional 25 entries based on the combination of the first and second sentence in a YA or MG novel. In the end, the entries that intrigued her stayed, but if she wasn't enthusiastic or was able to predict the type of story it was going to be and felt there was already too much of that kind of material in the market, the entry didn't make the cut.
In accordance with our rules, the following contestants are invited to submit the first three sentences for the next round. Entries must be submitted via comments to this post by Tuesday 7/6/10. If desired, you may edit your first two sentences to correct grammar or punctuation, but please submit them together with the third sentence.
If you did not make the cut, we invite you to post your first five sentences to the Round 2 Critique Clinic, where our panel of nine authors will offer input to help you make your opening pop.
Congrats to everyone who entered! Remember, in addition to our ongoing critique clinic, each of the top 10 will receive some form of feedback from Natalie Fischer or one of our fabulous author volunteers. And everyone else is eligible for critiques of their first five lines by participating in the Critique Clinics. We owe a huge round of applause for all our volunteer authors, and to Natalie for judging!
#1 Kat Zhang
Adie and I were born into the same body, our souls’ ghostly fingers entwined before we gasped our very first breath. Our first few years were our happiest—then came the worries: the tightness around our parents’ mouths, the frowns lining our kindergarden teacher’s forehead, the question everyone whispered when they thought we couldn’t hear.
#2 Creepy Query Girl
‘How do you punish someone who’s already dead?’ Gretchen Grey tightened her grip around an umbrella handle while she waited for her parents to arrive.
#3 Pam Harris
It's not that I'm ugly or anything. There's just a lot of me to love.
The shriek of my cell phone in the quiet classroom meant only one thing: the killer had found us again.
My fingers fumbled, palms slick with dread, but I had to answer on the first ring—that was the rule.
#5 Natalie Aguirre
“You don’t know what it’s like not knowing if you’re like your real mom or dad,” Jasmine said. She knew she shouldn’t have called her birthparents that—her Mom and Dad—the moment it came out of her mouth.
#8 Stina Lindenblatt
It was like diving off a ten-meter platform when you’re terrified of heights. Easy, really.
#10 Robyn Campbell
Anna threw open the barn door and smiled at Fancy, who stamped her foot and stuck her head over the stall opening. Her mane trembled with excitement and Anna's hands began to tingle.
#11 L.J. Boldyrev
There’s a dead girl in the trunk and all I can think about is how white the trees are. There ain’t no street lamps on this stretch of road, but still the trees glow like they’re lit from the ground up.
#12 Marquita Hockaday
I'm in hell. Okay, so I’m really in school-again.
#13 M. Bites Editor: Sangay Glass
Yeah, it was gross, but with only seconds to spare Allix had no choice. She plunged her fist in the toilet bowl and waited.
My hope of living a normal life in Lindenville faded faster than my fifteen dollar jeans the moment I got to the school bus stop. How could anything be normal after you hear you’re living with a dead girl?
#15 Dunnes in UK
Ellen’s forehead cracked painfully against the window as her Aunt’s ancient pick-up hit a huge hole in the questionable country road, waking her from the most bizarre dream. A vague memory of writhing vines only amplified her desire to vomit.
Ann stood in the foyer, pulling off her gloves and then her coat, and considered how little the war had changed things at home. The aromas of roasting turkey and autumn spices seeped from the kitchen, and she could hear Cook's whisk scraping the gravy pan and the clink of china as Jamison laid out the dishes.
#18 Jenn Fitzgerald
Madame Bhut’s Finishing School in the town of Whut was known across Amalthea as a respectable place to send your daughter if you were hoping to marry her to a gentleman; not for producing evil queens with ideas of world domination. That is, until Priscilla Martin escaped.
Amidst the never-ending fires and screams of defiant terror, Abby collapsed to the ground – feet twisting inward, eyes unwilling to stay open, and desperately wishing to pass out. Exhausted from the chase, tired of the hiding.
#21 Buffy Andrews
I have a secret. I know things.
I always knew my name would get me into trouble one day. I just didn’t think it would take this long.
The challenge began like all the rest, although the dead corpse-look was different. Ana wished she could ignore it, pretend it didn’t exist, but that never worked.
#28 Cambria Dillon
Whoever said cell phones made life easier was full of BS. If it were true, then I wouldn’t have spent the past fourteen minutes sitting on my bed, half-naked, wondering why my thumb couldn’t do something as simple as press a button.
#29 Leah Odze Epstein
The day my parents tricked Rachel into signing herself into the "Program," they tricked me, too, bringing me with them as a decoy. I should have known something was off when my father called a family meeting the night before.
Ellyssa, a.k.a. Subject 62, sprinted through the dark alley after escaping from her long-term captors who she’d thought of as family for eighteen years. Not a family in the traditional sense, but family nevertheless.
#31 Holly Dodson
Mandy Samkirk had no warning of the life-changing events about to unfold; only the lingering worry from a recurring dream that nagged at her thoughts. She could still feel the shadow of evil that hung like an impenetrable cloud in the sky, the smell of decay.
#33 Heather Trent Beers
The last day of fifth grade should mark the beginning of a fun-filled summer for a girl. Not the end of life as I know it.
Riding to school with Max Holden is only slightly less traumatizing than riding the big yellow bus. I remind myself of that fact every morning when I cross the lawn from my front yard into his, headed for his already-running F-150.
#36 A. Grey
Life is so much easier without underwear. That was something I had clung to, but Sal was right when he told me underwear was useless.
I died before I was even born.
It was April 13th, not a Friday, but it might as well have been.
#43 Angela Ackerman (YA)
When Mom and Dad started throwing around the D word, I never imagined an old folk’s home would become my Post Divorce Relocation. I mean as far as top choices go, it’s right up there with a land fill.
My name is Rufus William Gunther Chase, but people who know me call me Spoon. I was named for both my grandfathers and one grandmother.
What kind of animal sounds like a woman singing?
The beach was empty of people, but the air was filled with a haunting melody.
#47 Margaret Nichols
The bonfire in the middle of the grand plaza of New Tikal sent sparks up to greet the low-hanging stars; the stars Mau B'ah-Pakal hoped were still speaking to him, because no one else was. He had failed his friends, offended the Emperor, and worst of all - he could barely think it - had he really shoved his grandmother?
#50 Traci Van Wagoner
My hand hovered over the latch, my stomach churning. What I did today, I had never done before, and boy was I gonna get it!
There was no mistaking the darkness on the eastern horizon; they were coming.
Malaysa clutched the balcony railing as she stared out over the land in the predawn glow from the sky.
Jacob shook the bamboo bars of his cage again, but they held fast. I couldn’t look at him; not even when he whispered, “Blake, please.”
I know you’ve been wanting to hear the latest gossip from this end of the underworld, but the truth is, there hasn’t been much going on since his Evil Lordship succumbed to death by piano. Hopefully you’ll be pleased that I’ve been trying not to complain about the piano not landing on Grok instead (and that I’ve only been taunting him in the gruel line at breakfast).
#61 Ara Burklund
Homo sapiens sluttiwhen drunkus--the subspecies to which I apparently belong.
My best friend Ani handed me a tall, clear-glass cup of Armenian coffee, the kind her mom used for readings down at the Psychic Connection.
# 66 Christine
Dragons are actually more curious than cats. They proved it now, in the darkest corners of the Dreugan caves where the clan pretended to sleep.
We stood side by side in the dark, me holding a pack of matches, my best friend holding the gas can.
#73 Angela Ackerman (MG)
Not many people look down at a dead goldfish and wonder if that’s how they looked the day they died. Then again, I suppose not many people drown and then come back to life, either.
#78 Kelly Hashway
I’d heard of signs of the apocalypse, but I didn’t know that one of them was a crazy guy wandering out of a forest and into my favorite hangout. Okay, it wasn’t exactly the end of the world, but it was the end of the life I’d known for the past twelve years.
#79 Renee Pace
I am suffocating inside my plastic lined steel barred cage; dying with the thickening silence and quiet sobbing coming from the other room. Locked inside for more than half of the day, my body twitches for the feel of the brisk air that causes my drool to freeze to my face.
#85 Angela Townsend
Sassy Smit was seven years old the afternoon she found Leroy Jebber dead. His pudgy body floated belly up in the slough, like a white blob of fat in a can of beans.
#86 Alison Wells
First off, I just want to say I did not invite the aliens to drop into my backyard. At least not on purpose.
#87 Angela Townsend
Gloomy shadows crept across the tired oak floor, stealing what little light peered in through a set of stained glass windows. A dying fire crackled in the corner, its golden embers fading as quickly as the old man who lay near it.
#90 Emily Casey
Ghosts can be so rude sometimes. I walked with Lisa to a shaded picnic table, ready to take a break from schoolwork when I suddenly felt very strange--awkward yet familiar, like that dream where you find yourself on stage and can’t remember what you’re supposed to be doing.
"Shit, I may as well be dead," my mother cried the day I killed her. It happened in a Denny’s bathroom stall after she threw up her egg whites.
#94 Melissa Hed
Angela Fortunata woke up with a thump and a whack. What woke her, what had woken her every morning for the past two years, was pain.
The newspapers all said it was an accident. That there was no reason to suspect any foul play had been involved.
#97 Annie McElfresh
Life lines. Most people think of them as options game show contestants use to help themselves win a million dollars or something else just as equally lame.
Kate Raddish lived on an island and could not swim, which made her an anomaly from the start.
Of course, she had never told anyone about her fear of the ocean.
#100 girl jordyn
In seventh grade math they taught us that a triangle is the sturdiest shape, stronger than rectangles or pentagons or anything else. And that made sense to me.