Entry Nickname: Be Grateful For Cookies
Word Count: 40,000
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Thirteen-year-old Lizzie will do almost anything for a cookie. Sadly, her mother banned them from her life months ago, replacing sweets with tasteless foods and a gym membership. Her mom claims it’s for her own good, even though her skinny sister can still eat whatever she wants.
Doomed to a life of flaxseed and broccoli, Lizzie joins what she believes is an after school cooking club, hoping to make chocolate-anything on the sly. When the teacher announces they’ll also be sewing, Lizzie discovers a knack for designing stylish plus-size clothes, something she desperately needs. After the owner of a local boutique sees one of Lizzie’s shirts with the message BE STRONG sewn across the back, she convinces Lizzie to reveal her inspirational clothing to the public with a fashion show. Lizzie hesitantly agrees—it’s a lot of work, and she’s never been comfortable being the center of attention.
Faced with an overpowering mom, a group of relentless school bullies, and some embarrassing mishaps at the gym, Lizzie realizes how important it is to BE YOU — a phrase on one of her shirts. Armed with her collection and a chance to show her mother that success comes in all sizes, Lizzie sets out to prove there’s more to a person than the size of their waist.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration. My 250 word opening is below.
From the moment I stepped out onto Aunt Teri and Uncle Joe’s patio, they taunted me. My eyes darted away, trying my best to ignore them, but I knew they were there. Every summer my aunt and uncle hosted a huge neighborhood cookout. Mom had warned me on the car ride over to be good. “A little self-control goes a long way.” The words still echoed in my head.
Hearing Aunt Teri behind me, my heart began to race. No doubt she had them with her.
You can do this, I reminded myself. You’re better than they are.
“Lizzie,” Aunt Teri called.
I felt her hand on my shoulder. She twirled me around.
“It’s so lovely to see you. And my, look how big you’ve gotten. Chip?”
She thrust the dreaded bowl in my face. They were the kind with ridges. The kind covered with that powdered sour cream and onion stuff I loved. I forced a smile.
“No thanks. I’m good.”
She shrugged and began to walk away.
“Wait!” I yelled. “I mean …” Rushing over to her, I dug my chubby fingers into the bowl, emerging with a fistful of my forbidden fare. “Maybe just a couple. Thanks.”
Looking up, I saw my mother glaring down at me through Aunt Teri’s kitchen window. I threw the chips in the trash and grabbed a piece of celery off of the veggie tray instead. I was in for a long afternoon.
~ VERSUS ~
Title: Flecka Wivern and Her Two Pet Dragons
Entry Nickname: Dogs and Chickens and Dragons, Oh My!
Word Count: 43,000
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy
Twelve-year-old Flecka Wivern is happy living a secret life as a Magical in rural Pennsylvania, even though her closest friends (besides her non-magical classmate Darrell, of course) are her five chickens, one dog, and two pet dragons. Everything changes, however, when wicked little creatures from Vitterdam–the realm where her family’s Magical ancestors once lived–open a portal to Earth and kidnap her five-year-old brother Felix.
Flecka doesn’t know why anyone would want her smelly and loud little brother, but she doesn’t care–he’s her smelly and loud little brother. Now Flecka, with the help of Darrell and her dragons, must face magicked monsters and school bullies to reopen the portal and save Felix.
But once they open the portal, their true adventure begins: the wicked little creatures who kidnapped Felix work for an evil sorcerer who wants to take over Vitterdam, and who mysteriously believes Felix will help him do so. Flecka, Darrell, and her two dragons must use all the magical and non-magical tricks they have to not only save Felix, but also to save Vitterdam from the evil sorcerer’s clutches.
First 250 words:
Flecka didn’t want to do her morning chores. But she had begged her mom for the chickens, and her mom had agreed provided Flecka take care of them.
“Your chickens, your responsibility,” her mom had said, talking over the din of Felix crashing his toy trucks into the coffee table. “And if you get them to the point where their eggs hatch, then those are your responsibility too.”
Flecka had agreed at the time; she had been eleven years old, and she loved chickens almost as much as she loved dragons.
But now she was twelve, and her love for both was flagging this muddy morning, which also happened to be the first day of fall. Which also happened to be Vitterdam Day.
Her sneakers slurped through the mucky ground as she tromped to the chicken coop to let her flock out on the wet grass. She was glad it was so damp; wet grass meant she would have to put out fewer fires. Wet grass meant she would have fewer chores to do.
The smell of straw and droppings welcomed her as she opened the squeaky wooden door to the coop. She wrinkled her nose while she did a headcount of her flock: five purple and pink-feathered hens and two rainbow-scaled and red-horned dragons.
“Come on,” she coaxed as she held the coop door open. “I’m not going to wait forever. Now shoo!”
Her chickens clucked and trotted out, startled by Flecka’s cry. Her dragons, however, did little more than give Flecka bored serpentine stares.