Thursday, July 8, 2010

34 Line-by-line Novel Opening Contest: Round Three Winners

The results are in! Literary Agent Natalie Fischer has picked the top 25 finalists in our Line-by-line novel opening contest.

If your entry is not listed below and you are one of the 25 that didn't make it through this round, we invite you to join our Round 3 Critique Clinic to find out why. The critique clinics are an amazing opportunity to get feedback from agented, published, and debut authors who are donating their time and expertise to help you. Please see the list of participating authors and post your entry number and first five sentences in the comments by clicking here.

If you your entry is listed below, please add a comment to this post including your entry number and the first four sentences from your YA or MG novel.

TOP 25 FINALISTS

#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.

Why aren’t they settling?

#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. Her haunted blue eyes examined the London townhouse where she had grown up.

#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.

“Not much farther,” Jack says.

#14 cchant

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?

“That’s Laura’s house. You don’t belong there.”

#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.

Even before she escaped, Priscilla was less than a model student.

#20 Heather

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. For fifteen years, she had never felt her stomach cave in from hunger like it did now; even the stench of death and decay rooted beneath her skin as if it were her own that was blackened with Consumption.

#27 salarsenッ

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. She could feel them.

#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.

Girls did this sort of thing every day.

#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. The last time we had a family meeting, my father told us our mom needed to go to the hospital for a little while so she could stop drinking.

#30 Ebyss

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.

The sirens piercing the night an hour earlier had finally faded, but she still didn’t stop.

#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. Cries for help echoed through her mind with panic so thick it was palpable.

#41 Valerie

I died before I was even born.

It was April 13th, not a Friday, but it might as well have been. My mom was in labor with me as my parents’ car raced down the two-lane wooded road that passes for a highway in our part of Michigan.

#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. The kids at my old school would say this is karma and I had it coming.

#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?

The plaza was full of people celebrating the equinox, but Mau couldn't hide in the crowd.

#54 shanini3

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. The tinkling of metal tubes continued to ring out in the air; they were what had woken her up.

#57 Sheila

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 focused on Will, leaning casually against the cottonwood tree, a smile twitching the edge of his mouth as he watched Jacob.

#58 Tracy

Dearest Mother;

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). Also, no matter what you’ve heard, I was not the one who gave him that atomic wedgie.

#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. "So did you at least use a condom?"

# 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. It was fairly difficult – the pretending – because of the human baby that was trying to wiggle her chubby hand into the black dragon’s mouth.

#72 PaigeC

We stood side by side in the dark, me holding a pack of matches, my best friend holding the gas can.

“Burn it.” Finn’s voice was soft in the eerie nighttime silence, but full of edgy anticipation.

#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.

Only four days after The Accident, I ended up crammed around a toilet with Mom, Dad and my little brother to attend Gingersnap’s funeral.

#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. Big footsteps lumber down the stairs and instinctively I cower as far back inside my cage as possible, lowering my body to the pee-stained blanket in an attempt to make my big frame small while keeping my eyes downcast.

#86 Alison Wells

First off, I just want to say that I did not invite the aliens to drop into my backyard. At least not on purpose. So it's not like Ty and I were prepared to deal with the situation.

#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. Me?

#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. I understood, almost instinctively, what we spent multiple class periods on; I knew that three points were stronger than two, that the third corner gave the shape an added strength it wouldn’t otherwise have.

34 comments:

  1. Yay! I'm loving reading all the entries for this contest. What a great idea. Here are my first 4 sentences:

    #29
    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. The last time we had a family meeting, my father told us our mom needed to go to the hospital for a little while so she could stop drinking. That was five years ago, when I was nine and Rachel was twelve, and I still thought a sister was someone you followed around.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congratulations to the finalists! These are so good. Best of luck to all of you as the contest narrows down!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Awww poo, I've been cut. *sigh* Super congrats to everyone still in! I can't wait to see everyones next line! And I'm SO glad I'm not the one judging this!

    ReplyDelete
  4. #31

    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. Cries for help echoed through her mind with panic so thick it was palpable. She squeezed her eyes shut to block the memory out; the cool kitchen counter beneath her arms anchored her to reality.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Congrats to the individuals who made it to the next round. I definitely wouldn't want to be judging this. It's getting tougher with each round.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Congratulations to all the winners and thanks for hosting this fun contest!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. #43 (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. The kids at my old school would say this is karma and I had it coming. And, if I’m honest about it, maybe they’re right.

    #73 (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.

    Only four days after The Accident, I ended up crammed around a toilet with Mom, Dad and my little brother to attend Gingersnap’s funeral. Mom had told me that Derek would understand if I wanted to skip his fish's send off, which was exactly why I'd insisted on a front row seat.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Congrats, everyone! Good luck!

    #11

    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.
    “Not much farther,” Jack says.
    I want to tell him he’s driving too fast, to slow down so I can get a better look at the trees, but I know we got to hurry.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Congrats to all the entrants! There's a lot of great stuff here!

    #41

    I died before I was even born.

    It was April 13th, not a Friday, but it might as well have been. My mom was in labor with me as my parents’ car raced down the two-lane wooded road that passes for a highway in our part of Michigan. A thunderstorm raged, blotting out the last of the sunset.

    ReplyDelete
  11. #61

    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. "So did you at least use a condom?"

    I shrugged.

    ReplyDelete
  12. #72

    We stood side by side in the dark, me holding a pack of matches, my best friend holding the gas can.
    “Burn it.” Finn’s voice was soft in the eerie nighttime silence, but full of edgy anticipation. With his face hidden in shadow under the hood of his team sweatshirt, he stared straight ahead at the school van spotlighted under the tall parking lot light.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yay! This is so tough -- so many awesome openings here. Congrats to everyone!

    #28:
    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.

    Girls did this sort of thing every day. Probably every minute at Pembroke, which meant I had just wasted fourteen—no wait, fifteen—opportunities to prove to Tommy that—damn it Kendall, just do it already.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks so much for hosting this event.

    Grats to all the finalists.

    YAY!!! #30

    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.

    The sirens piercing the night an hour earlier had finally faded, but she still didn’t stop. Pumping her legs harder, she carried onward with the messenger bag thumping against her right thigh.

    ReplyDelete
  15. #14 -

    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?

    “That’s Laura’s house--you don’t belong there.”

    I stared at the tall blonde who’d launched herself at me.

    ReplyDelete
  16. 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.

    Why aren’t they settling?

    We tried to form the word in our five-year-old mouth, tasting it on our tongue: Set—Tull—Ling.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Congratulations to everyone who passed :D I'm honored to be included here.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Wow, I didn't expect to get this far. Congrats to all the finalists!

    #54

    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. The tinkling of metal tubes continued to ring out in the air; they were what had woken her up.
    Her mother, standing by her side, bore a terrified expression.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Congrats everyone!!!

    #97

    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. Me? I know different.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  21. #18
    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.

    Even before she escaped, Priscilla was less than a model student. Miss Birch, the embroidery teacher, had been horrified to find that during her second week at the school Priscilla had started embroidering skulls and crossbones instead of flowers on all her projects.

    ReplyDelete
  22. #57

    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 focused on Will, leaning casually against the cottonwood tree, a smile twitching the edge of his mouth as he watched Jacob. I wanted to feel as relaxed and confident as he looked.

    ReplyDelete
  23. #66

    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. It was fairly difficult – the pretending – because of the human baby that was trying to wiggle her chubby hand into the black dragon’s mouth. Concerned about the burning acid that seeped from his tongue, he tightened his lips and gently nudged the toddler toward the blue dragon by his side, the one whose saliva was just cold and wet.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Margaret NicholsJuly 10, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    #47

    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?

    The plaza was full of people celebrating the equinox, but Mau couldn't hide in the crowd. Although he had the chocolate skin and thick black hair of his people, his forearms and the back of his hands were covered with tattoos.

    ReplyDelete
  25. #2
    ‘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. Her haunted blue eyes examined the London townhouse where she had grown up. Thick green ivy cast shadow around the entrance and spread towards the outer corners, almost reaching the top floor panes.

    ReplyDelete
  26. #79
    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. Big footsteps lumber down the stairs and instinctively I cower as far back inside my cage as possible, lowering my body to the pee-stained blanket in an attempt to make my big frame small while keeping my eyes downcast. A whine slips from me when he kneels in front of the cage, as I fear he is going to haul me out and give me a good beating.

    ReplyDelete
  27. #100

    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. I understood, almost instinctively, what we spent multiple class periods on; I knew that three points were stronger than two, that the third corner gave the shape an added strength it wouldn’t otherwise have. That third corner, I knew, was needed.

    ReplyDelete
  28. First off, I just want to say that I did not invite the aliens to drop into my backyard. At least not on purpose. So it's not like Ty and I were prepared to deal with the situation. Under the circumstances, I think we handled the whole thing pretty well.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Dearest Mother;

    I know you’ve been wanting to hear the latest gossip from this end of the underworld, but the truth is, that 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). Also, no matter what you’ve heard, I was not the one who gave him that atomic wedgie.

    As for the new guy - it’s not right to speak ill of the heir to the Evil Lordship, but the kid is hopeless.

    ReplyDelete
  30. #27

    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. She could feel them.

    The patter of loafers rounded the corner of the math wing.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Umm, I just realized that I forgot to put that mine was #58. Sorry about that! :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. #20
    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. For fifteen years, she had never felt her stomach cave in from hunger like it did now; even the stench of death and decay rooted beneath her skin as if it were her own that was blackened with Consumption. Everything had changed so quickly, yet this life of fear and confusion was all she could remember now.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I also forgot to say which number I am. I'm number 86!

    Alison Wells

    ReplyDelete

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