13: SOCIOPOP

Title: SOCIOPOP Age Category: Young Adult Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 62,000 Pitch: ‘Heathers’ meets the Stanford Prison Experiment when a homeschooled gay teen returns to high school, befriends the cleverest of girls, and turns a dog shelter into a prison for creeps to ensure his shiny future. First 250 Word of Manuscript: Lurking in the precise spot where the hallway poured into a living room filled with rejected furniture and relics from the 80’s and 90’s, Gabe Gordon shifted. His arms cradled pieces of technology that were going to help ensnare his perfect future and one of those pieces was digging into his arm uncomfortably. He refused to wait another second. “Mom. Dad…” He shook his head. “I mean, Leah. Remy. I want to go to high school.” Gabe had been practicing that sentence, right down to the flub where he ‘accidentally’ referred to his parents by their socially accepted titles, for weeks. Leah looked up from her desk where she was trying to fix a frame from the latest issue of her graphic novel, *Geek Grrrl*. “What’s wrong with your current school?” She asked, just as Gabe anticipated she would. “You mean this old thing?” Gabe carefully put his laptop and a jumble of other Apple products onto the coffee table so his hands were free to wave around. “You don’t like your teachers?” She persisted. “You mean, you two?” Gabe pointed at the very two people he was talking to. “What, so you love fascism now?” Remy cut in, looking up from his new turntable. “Yes, Remy. The only thing we ‘mos love more than Beyoncé is fascism.” Shaking his head in disgust, Remy turned towards the receiver and adjusted the volume so that Joey Ramone could declare even louder that Sheena is, in fact, a punk...

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14: SUPER JAKE & THE KING OF CHAOS

Title: SUPER JAKE & THE KING OF CHAOS Age Category: Middle Grade Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 52,000 Pitch: Eleven-year-old Ethan loves his special needs brother, and he loves magic, too. When he wins the chance to perform with his favorite magician, he must choose between following his dream and following his heart. First 250 Word of Manuscript: Whether my audience is nine-year-old Superheroes with plastic hammers and shields, or ninety-year-old great-grandparents with white hair and walkers, everybody loves magic. Especially me. Today’s show is for a dozen three-year-old girls. Princess Leia pokes Pocahontas; Belle whacks a ballerina with a balloon; and Snow White screams for her mommy. Welcome to my world. I’ve been doing magic shows since the beginning of fifth grade, and loved every second of it. Then school ended, summer started, and my kid brother had nothing to do. “Ethan, why not put Freddy in your act?” Mom suggested. “He could be your assistant.” Sometimes I think her favorite thing to do is find new ways to ruin my life. Faster than you can say “Abracadabra,” I explained why her latest idea was even worse than usual. My favorite reason was, “What if I accidentally saw him in half?” No loving parent could possibly argue with that. Right? Next day, Freddy pranced into the living room in top hat, black shirt and pants, and red bowtie. The top hat practically covered his eyes. The bowtie was crooked. It was like staring at myself in one of those funhouse mirrors, where everything is exaggerated. And terrifying. “Doesn’t he look wonderful?” Mom gushed. “He certainly does.” Dad put his arm around her waist. I hate mushy stuff as much as anyone, but my parents used to be like that all the time… until Jake was born and Mom got...

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15: THE END AND EVERYTHING AFTER

Title: The End and Everything After Age Category: Young Adult Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Word Count: 66,000 Pitch: Being the lone survivor of a suicide pact is rough. Finding a cryptic letter from your dead boyfriend changes everything. What Aura Lea uncovers as she searches for answers will completely rewrite that night. First 250 Word of Manuscript: Time. It’s what I’d been told would make all of this bearable. But time had moved forward and left me behind. I removed my keys from my backpack and found the one I’d painted burnt orange to match the equipment room door. I took one last look to make sure no one was coming and then slipped in. The fluorescent lights flickered as the small ten-by-ten-foot room filled with light. The familiar smell of damp concrete and chalk made me uneasy. The room was different. The change was subtle, but for someone who spent as much time in here as I had, it was obvious. Baseball bats were hung along the wall in order of weight and length as opposed to their usual random arrangement. The bases were stacked and placed in the corner instead of piled on top of each other in the middle of the room. The cord for the pitching machine was wound properly around its base. Four buckets of balls were placed side by side along the wall. I set my backpack on the ground and sat on one of the buckets. Not the most comfortable way to spend the next six hours, but it was a hell of a lot better than having to face the wrath of a student body ready to tear me apart with their judgmental looks and not-so-covert whispers. I reached down to open my backpack and noticed the edge of something sticking out...

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16: A RITE OF PASSAGE

Title: A RITE OF PASSAGE Age Category: Young Adult Genre: contemporary mystery Word Count: 63,000 Pitch: Fifteen-year-old Aramay can’t remember what happened after she jumped from the bridge. Her cousin’s paralyzed and she’s viewed with suspicion. She’ll struggle against guilt, bitter memories, and a shocking betrayal in search of the truth. First 250 Word of Manuscript: I squeeze my toes back and forth feeling the wood creak beneath my feet. Inches from the edge of the bridge. I don’t look down at the water; I keep my focus on the line of trees in the distance. I reach to grab the railing, but Cassidy catches my fingers. “What are you doing, Aramay?” “Nothing,” I say. “You’ve been acting weird all day. This spot isn’t like you said. You can’t really see anything from here.” Her hand squeezes mine, insistent. The shadows from the bridge girders hide the sun here. The pass sparkles with shards of sunlight and beyond the lapping waves, the sandy shore melds into the thick green of trees. If I squint my eyes. I can just make out a trail. Cassidy leans close. “What’s this about? Impressing the swim team?” she whispers. I let go of her hand. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say. I don’t look down; that will only fill me with fear. Up above the crossover, the bridge road bristles with summer heat. I shiver; I’m not cold, but I will be soon. The water below is frigid. The shock of it will be the hardest part. Once I thrust up to the surface and turn to push my way to shore, I’ll only be a half a mile away from land. Easy. Nothing like the two miles a day I usually swim. “Aramay,” Cassidy says again. I touch her...

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17: SOMEONE ELSE’S SUMMER

Title: Someone Else’s Summer Age Category: Young Adult Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 74000 Pitch: Anna’s always idolized her older sister, Storm. So when Storm dies, Anna is completely lost. Until she finds Storm’s summer bucket list and decides to have the best summer ever — her sister’s dream summer. First 250 Word of Manuscript: I remember the rain most of all. The day had been beautiful, the sun just peeking through the clouds and falling across the grass where the graduates sat on metal folding chairs. A light breeze played with tassels hanging from mortarboards and fluttered cheap polyester robes around shins as the speakers passed token words of wisdom across the podium. Then, just as hundreds of maroon caps took to the sky, the clouds opened up above us and rain washed the earth. It was just a sprinkling at first, enough to scatter dark spots across shoulders and cool sunburned skin. As the day wore on, the skies darkened more, until it looked like dusk at mid-afternoon. By the time the party started, the gutters had filled with small rivers and our back yard was a swamp. Hours later, the rain still pattered a steady rhythm on the roof as a shrill ring pulled me out of sleep. Mom and Dad insisted on keeping a landline, with receivers throughout the house, even though we never used it. The ancient, corded phone blaring just outside my bedroom door should have been my first indication something was wrong; I should have known right away. That’s the way it always happens in movies—there’s intuition, a feeling deep in the gut. I had none of that, just a mild irritation at whomever was calling. And the constant, insistent rain. Then my world ended with Mom’s ear-breaking...

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