Title: The Tsar’s Heir
Word count: 110, 000K
Gendre: YA fantasy
Sixteen-year-old Olesya, the tsar’s strong-Willed only child, has spent her life trying to get her father to acknowledge her existence. When the tsar hosts a tournament to determine his successor, Olesya dares to hope he will revoke the ridiculous law that forbids women from ruling and choose her as his competitor. Instead he picks Russ, a talented beggar, as his champion.
Russ walks into the court with nothing but the clothes on his back . . . and a secret; he’s not the beggar he pretends. He has been trained since birth by an underground organisation to win the tournament, assassinate the tsar, and abolish the laws of Kaza, that have enslaved Unwilled people for centuries. To survive among the scheming nobles, Russ clings to one rule: Don’t form any attachments. Everything goes according to plan as Russ wins one match after another, until he breaks his own rule and falls in love with the tsar’s defiant daughter.
Olesya has plans of her own. Blind with jealousy at Russ, she does what no woman has ever dared: challenge the tsar’s champion to a battle of Wills. But Russ may be more than a match for her, and no matter how hard she tries, she can’t deny the growing attraction between them.
When the tsar is murdered before the tournament ends, he leaves behind an empty throne and an empire on the brink of civil war. Caught at the heart of the conflict, Russ and Olesya are forced to pick sides and ultimately choose between love, loyalty, and ambition.
First 250 words:
The sunset reflected off the snow and white limestone, making the open-pit mine look like a great basin of blood.
An apt resemblance, I thought as the gong echoed through the quarry, signalling the end of the working day.
I let the brick slip from my frostbitten hands and crouched for a moment, savouring the strain leaving my arms. The ache in my back dulled as I took slow, deep breaths, a cloud of vapour forming before my face. The snow blanketing the stone beckoned me to lie down, close my eyes . . .
“Snow is a grave, not a bed,” A voice whispered in the back of my mind. The memory of a frozen corpse made me surge to my feet and I bit my tongue not to scream as movement brought life back to my limbs.
I lurched down the staired walls and found Alexei on a ledge near the centre of the pit, curled up beside a rusted shovel.
“Wake up,” I whispered, turning him over and disentangling the scrawny ball of knees and elbows.
His mismatched eyes fluttered open, never failing to startle me. There was something unnatural about the proportions of his face. His eyes were too large, slanted at the corners, and the contrast between the ice-blue and black-brown of his irises made even the Kazich look twice. His mouth and nose were thin and small, as if he wasn’t meant to speak or smell, only to see.
“Is it morning?” he murmured.
~ VERSUS ~
Title: LETH5L: DEEP CUTS
Entry Nickname: Boy Band Ninja Assassins
Word Count: 80K
Genre: YA Adventure Comedy
When Derrick Dominick and the other members of the world’s biggest boy band, Leth5l (with a silent five), stumble into a coffee shop robbery in progress, they easily thwart the crooks with sick choreography. Just another Tuesday for a group of trained undercover agents working for the Special Intelligence Network for Global Espionage, Recon and Security.
Due to a misunderstanding with the barista—and certainly no fault of his own— Derrick ends up in the back of a cop car. Roughly six seconds after he exits the station, photos, videos, and internet rumors have spread like peanut butter. Consequently, Leth5l’s Manager/Handler sends two bloggers along on their next tour/mission to prove they’re just another boy band and Derrick’s not a criminal with a dimple.
The mission: assassinate the three leaders of drug ring who’ve developed a drug that allows users to experience moments from their past, complete with all the feelings and emotions of the first time. To protect his cover, Derrick is forced to take the drug. He relives a moment from his early childhood, this time as a guy with seventeen years of foster home experiences under his belt. Turns out being abandoned by your biological mother stings just as much the second time around. Now he’s got three bad guys to take out, two nosy (and hot!) bloggers up in his business, and one mother of a mother issue to deal with before he makes an uncharacteristic mistake that might be lethal (minus the five).
At least his hair’s still on point.
Five-part harmony is ridiculously hard in the morning. Especially before coffee. Yet, here we are W-IDK television station singing our asses off at six-freaking-thirty A.M. on “Wake Up, Whichever-City-We’re-In!”
They don’t pay me enough for this.
Actually, that’s not true. Two jobs, two salaries. I get paid loads. And what I don’t make in terms of cash, I make in fringe benefits, so I suppose I should turn off my brain and turn on my dimple—give the people what they want. Because giving the people what they want is always the best part of my day, even if it’s at an unholy hour.
Four paces outside the studio, Jay starts in on me, as usual. “Do you think that you could, for once, turn your thousand-watt smile down a bit? How are the rest of us supposed to compete? That make-up chick was under my spell until you Derricked her to death.”
I dive into the backseat of the SUV with Leth5l-standard blacked out windows. Can’t let fangirls or bad guys know our location. Though, I’d totally be down if some of the fangirls knew. “I wasn’t aware that my name is a verb now. Good to know. How, exactly, does one Derrick somebody?”
Dash slides in next to me, his untied tie flapping around his neck. “Don’t act like you don’t know.”
“I have no clue what you’re talking about.”
Maybe that’s a bit of a lie. Lying is one of the things I do best. Lying, and carrying lead vocals.