#QueryKombat Hunted Souls

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Title: Hunted Souls

Genre: YA high fantasy with sci-fi elements

Word count: 64,000 words

Query:

Cancer patient Bixby awakens in Centerra, where giants hunt children for magic. Giants harvest it from children’s blood, selling it for a profit. If anyone gets rescued, giants retaliate by killing a piece of magical livestock in return. They call it “insurance.”

Dionté adopts Bixby into his band, provided Bixby follows his rules. Despite butting heads with the temperamental leader, Bixby obeys. Yet he struggles to wrap his head around rule number 1: don’t rescue your friends. As he watches the giants pick them off, Bixby fights back to save his friends, only to get banished from the protection of underground forts.

Bixby’s two friends, Otsu and Asra, share a common bond with him, as they have yet to discover their powers.  The girls follow him into the unknown, unable to stick to the sidelines while their friends get taken away. With no magic and no home, they sneak into the giants’ castle in search of a way to rescue all the prisoners from the dungeons. However, giants seek not only magic, but four kids destined to destroy their race. By entering their territory, Bixby risks giving the giants the key to their survival.

250:

Bixby stares at the world through a fish tank. His body clenches in pain while delirium hazes his senses. The bed shakes passing over an elevator crack, flooding his throat with nausea. Doctors press his abdomen.

“What’s your pain score?”

What do you think?! I’m gravy. He groans. At eighteen, he refuses to forfeit his battle against cancer.

A chill runs through his right forearm, and he watches white bubbles form beneath the skin. Perfect timing for you to blow, IV. I don’t need drugs. A nurse digs a needle in his left wrist, seeking, but not finding, a good vein. Please, take your time, lady. He mentally tells her off with a slew of words that would send his mother running for soap. He sinks deeper into the aquarium, pain clogging his ears and eyes. His mother kisses his cheek, rubbing her hand on his bare head, tears spilling over his face. Don’t leave her. Damn it, fight! The deep sucks him under, evaporating Bixby’s will. He allows the darkness to escort him to freedom.

*

Bixby’s eyes fluttered open, his brain struggling through the fog of deep sea dreaming. A forest of maroon oaks swathed in purple mist blurred into view. The scent of fresh soil filled his nose. Something tapped his forehead. His clearing vision revealed a small creature with spiky, black hair and velvet moth wings hovering before his nose. Her fingers poked at his skull.

“Wake up! Giants aren’t far!”

Alarmed, he sat up.

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Ellie and the Arborites #QueryKombat

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Name: Kim
Title: ELLIE AND THE ARBORITES
Word count: 40K
Genre: MG Fantasy

Query:
All twelve-year-old Ellie Emerson wants to do is make some friends. Problem is, that’s kinda hard when the kids at school don’t seem to want a science-geek around, and she’s too shy to come up with a way to change that.

But when Ellie discovers Arborites, elf-like beings born from the seed of a tree, living in the woods behind her house, they actually want her geek-flag to fly. Trees and Arborites all over the forest are mysteriously becoming sick, and they think Quercus Supreme, leader of the Oak Arborites, is to blame. Rumor has it that he’s conducting evil experiments in a secret laboratory to get rid of anyone who’s different. The Arborites need to find out what’s going on and come up with a way to stop it, but they can’t do it on their own. If Ellie can find the guts to help them, she might not only save lives, but also learn how to make friends.

First 250 words:
Ellie’s favorite tree was lying on the forest floor in a tangled heap. The only branch still covered with the yellow leaves of autumn waved in the breeze like it was signaling for help.

Everything’s fine, Ellie thought. Just don’t look.

“Hey Cassie, wanna read some more Gulliver’s Travels?” she asked, patting the old chestnut.

“Or I’ve got a new book, Remarkable Trees of the World. There’s like a whole section on ‘Trees in Peril.’ Now they’ve got some major problems.”

Ellie pulled away from the tree and felt around for her backpack, opening one eye just enough to find the zipper. As she reached inside for the books, she noticed dozens of ants crawling up her sleeve.

“Eww,” she yelled, her eyes popping wide. She flicked the ants off and ran her hands up and down her body, straining to look at her backside, just to make sure there weren’t any more. And that’s when she saw the massive army of black ants marching along the fallen trunk. Ellie looked like she had inhaled a wasp. No, no, no, no, no.

“Shoo, get off,” she shouted. “Leave her alone!”

Ellie pulled off her sneaker and beat them like she was trying to put out a brush-fire. Squished segmented bodies with wiry legs were scattered everywhere, but it did nothing to scare off the new arrivals. Ellie could almost hear them laughing. I can’t let them do this. They’ll destroy her. Ellie hurled the shoe and snapped a branch off a straggly pine.

#QueryKombat critique party

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Bonjour! Thanks to everyone for joining and taking the time to critique my work as well. Feel free to retweet, reblog, post on Facebook, whatever because anyone and everyone is welcome to help polish our work! Just click on the links below and leave advice in the comments. Merci!

1. Death Callers by Raven Hudgins YA Paranormal Romance: http://cielorayn.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/query-death-ca

2. Mark of the Sifter by Laura Reuckert: http://www.laurarueckert.com/2014/05/querykombat-pre-contest-query-party.html

3. XO by M.A. Nicholson Woman’s Fiction: http://manicholsonwrites.blogspot.com/2014/05/query-xo.html

4. The Seer and Shaman by Debbie Dorris Adult Horror: http://debradorris.wordpress.com The

5. Game by Judy Clemens: https://katzahm.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/the-game-querykombat-critique-party

6. Dark Core by L.A.:https://katzahm.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/dark-core-querykombat-critique-party/

7. Snow Globe by Mel Stephenson: https://katzahm.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/snow-globe-querykombat-critique-party/

8. Evolution: Dauntless Hope by Monica Hoffman: http://www.monicamhoffman.com/querykombat-pre-contest-queryparty/

9. Ellie and the Arborites by Kimberly Hill: https://katzahm.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/ellie-and-the-arborites-querykombat/

10. Kiwaku by Raven Hudgins YA Paranormal Romance:

https://twitter.com/cielorayn/status/469088291359580160

11. Hunted Souls by Kathrine Zahm YA high fantasy: https://katzahm.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/querykombat-hunted-souls/

 

Snow Globe #QueryKombat critique party

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Title: Snow Globe
Word Count: 38,000
Genre: MG Fantasy Horror

Milo is not just any dog; he is twelve-year-old Lily’s best friend, hero and confidante. Especially since her parents seem to have forgotten she even exists. So the ‘No Dog’ policy at their soon-to-be new house is not an option. Yet this fact has passed by her parents with only a brief blip, who are failing to take action to stop the move. It leaves Lily with no choice but to run away with Milo.

Getting sucked into her Grandpa’s magic snow globe was not part of her plan, but hey, the magical world of Silver Moon is perfect. Coincidence? The Queen of the land treats them as family. They live in a castle. Milo has a velvet bed. At last Lily feels like she belongs somewhere. So what’s with Milo’s bad attitude? He warns her something’s not right, that the people smell rotten. They fight. Lily leaves to lunch with the Queen and returns to find him gone.

Tick tock. The game is on. Can she find Milo before it is too late, and she is lost forever?

First 250 words:

Lily Ellis wished her parents had waited until after breakfast for their latest fight. Or chosen to have it anywhere other than the kitchen. She was hungry. But knowing better than to walk in on them mid row, she waited at the top of the stairs and stared at the wonky family photo slipped off its nail. Not surprising after all the recent door slamming. Hanging lopsided, their smiling faces looked ready to fall out of the frame and on to the floor. She straightened it up; saving them all and wishing it were as simple as that in real life.
Milo nudged her hand with his nose. Thank God she had him. Her hero dog, her best friend, rescued four years ago when she was eight, from a shelter when no one else wanted him. Funny, it felt like he’d been rescuing her ever since.
His ears pricked up at the sound of his name.
‘I heard that too.’ What did Milo have to do with anything? ‘Come on.’ They crept down the stairs and waited at the bottom, listening.
‘Well at least we’ll save some money,’ she heard her mum shout.
‘I can’t believe you just said that,’ her dad shouted back.
‘Look, I’m just trying to find the good in all this.’
‘There is nothing good about this. Nothing good at all. Milo has to go. Tell me how that’s good?’
No, no, no. Lily must’ve heard that wrong.
‘Fine. I know, okay?’ her mum said. ‘It’s not good. But there’s nothing we can do. We have to find him a new home.’

Dark Core #QueryKombat critique party

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L.A.

Title: Dark Core
Genre: YA Fantasy

Query:

Reincarnation can be a bitch, especially when a mad goddess keeps killing you.

Seventeen year-old Saekina hides in the massive city of Dennin, alone against demonic assassins and their mysterious master. Not even her patron goddess has bothered to help her. She relies on her daggers, and strange, uncontrollable power that sends the demons fleeing.

Her solitude is broken when she meets three others also hunted by the assassins—and wielding the same power. For the first time in years she has friends, and she isn’t about to let anyone hurt them. They set out to discover the reason they are hunted, scouring the city for answers.

Their search drags them into the middle of a secret battle between the gods. Even worse, her patron goddess—someone who should be protecting her—is the one sending the demons after them, afraid they’ll access the memories from their past lives and with it, the knowledge to defeat her.
Saekina’s blades and power are ready, but they can’t kill a god. To defeat her, Saekina must delve into her past life and uncover the secret the goddess is so desperate to protect. If she fails, she and her friends will be hunted throughout endless lives and forced into the same battle. If she succeeds, it might kill her for good.

First 250:

Light orbs lined the streets; their weak glow cast long, crawling shadows out from barren buildings. Saekina took the next corner fast, and tucked against the building, waiting. No one coming. Good.

She ducked into the alley toward the hotel’s rusted door, and passed dumpsters overflowing with rotted food and half-used magical charms. She ignored the rotting scent—she’d smelled worse.

She brushed a strand of dark hair behind her ear. Even at this time of night the heat clung to her skin, creating a layer of sweat. Then again, the hot seasons in Dennin were never anything less than sweltering. She’d have to pay someone, and no way would she waste her money on that.

Her stomach grumbled. After tonight, she’d be able to eat for days. Information on slavers never fails to earn at least a gold coin. The bounty hunters are gonna rip each other apart for this info.

She cast a few furtive glances towards the end of the alley before pulling the door open. She shuffled past the hotel’s owner. He looked up from his coin purse with a bored expression. “Ah, it’s you again.”

Saekina slipped him the usual payment for not ratting her out. He’d invested a lot in making his hotel safe for less-than-legal operations. Plenty of back entrances and large vents hidden by glamours. I’ll have to drop this place before he gets figured out. Don’t want to be there when people realize he’s playing both sides. “We good?”

The Game #QueryKombat critique party

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Judy Clemens *please respond to Judy in the comments of this post.

Title: The Game

Genre: YA Thriller

Query:

When six teenagers play Tag in present day Chicago, there’s a twist from the childhood version…if you get Tagged, you get Dead.

The three “Its” have their reasons for participating: the surgically-enhanced debutante is dying to destroy a naturally beautiful girl; the less-skilled basketball player desires his target’s place on their school’s team; and the brainiac craves a battle against an intellectual equal.

The “Runners,” three unrelated innocents kidnaped and forced to play, want only one thing…to survive.

Once the Runners receive the “Go” on the smart watches locked onto their wrists, they race to Chicago, where their Home Bases lie. The Game rockets them through the city, from the El to Michigan Avenue to Wrigley Field. There is no time to rest; every thirty minutes the Runners’ locations are transmitted to the Its, and their original half-hour head start diminishes. The Runners know there are only so many places to hide, even in one of the nation’s largest cities, so they must each use their unique skills to outsmart their It, whether that talent is computer hacking, brute strength, or a charismatic personality.

THE GAME is an 82,000-word YA thriller combining the life-and-death aspect of dystopian fiction with today’s locations and technology, as if The Maze Runner has caught up with Michelle Gagnon’s Don’t Turn Around. Ultimately, the winners of the Game are those who discover and use their individual strengths to overcome fear and make it home alive without discarding their morality along the way.

#QueryKombat pre-contest query party

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Bonjour fellow contestants! #QueryKombat is two days away, and I’m sure we are all tearing our eyes out pouring over each and every syllable. But as we all know a fresh set of eyes can make a gargantuan difference in refining our elusive query letters/ first 250. So, fellow writers, let’s have a critique party!

Here’s how it works: create a blog post of your query and/or first 250 (depending on what you want help with) and email me the link. I will create a host blog hop page where we can check each other’s work out and critique in the comments. If you do not have a blog, fret not. Email me your query/250, copy and pasted into the body of the email, and be sure to include the title and genre. I’ll create a separate blog post and tweet out for others to critique. Either way, if you are interested, email me at cooperkpaul@gmail.com or just tweet me your link. My query is below and open to critiquing as well. Good luck everyone, and thanks for participating!

Query for Hunted Souls:

Cancer patient Bixby awakens in Centerra, where giants hunt children for magic, harvesting it from their blood and selling it for a profit. If anyone gets rescued, the giants retaliate by killing a child in return. They call it “insurance.”

Dionté adopts Bixby into his band, provided Bixby follows his rules. Despite butting heads with the temperamental leader, Bixby obeys. However, he struggles to wrap his head around rule number 1: don’t rescue your friends. As he watches the giants pick them off, Bixby fights back, and Dionté banishes him from the protection of underground forts.

Bixby’s two friends, Otsu and Asra, follow him into the unknown. They share a common bond, because none of them have discovered their powers. With no magic and no home, they sneak into the castle in search of a way to rescue all the prisoners. However, giants seek not only magic, but four kids destined to destroy their race. By entering their territory, Bixby risks giving the giants the key to their survival.

#GetYourBellyOut World IBD Day

Crohnically Ill, Uncategorized

The evil Crohn’s monster has enjoyed stomping on my life for the past 10 years. Sadly,  many people suffer from IBD at much younger ages, the most common age of diagnosis ranging from 12-15, yet this doesn’t exclude littler ones who deal with it from elementary school age or even birth.

I’ve spent my twenties learning to navigate this disease while becoming a teacher, wife, and stepmother. Many times I’ve broken down because I can’t be all that I want to be in every category BECAUSE of Crohn’s disease. “But it’s not your fault. Don’t beat yourself up.” So? I don’t get to live the fullest life because I’m sick. And oh yes, I’m sick. Pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, a decrease in a sense of well being, depression…it’s a rocky roller coaster. And again, I’ve only had it since 18.

This is not a bathroom disease alone. It’s not IBS. It’s incurable. And in some cases, it also causes death. Not all patients respond well to treatments and have severe cases of the disease. Post resection surgery, my bowel leaked and I nearly died from septic shock, and what followed was a long, harrowing recovery. Yet it feels like we suffer in silence. Do you have any idea how it feels to be an island?

Then I started hanging out on twitter, and decided to look up #crohns. I started connecting with people. Belly pictures with #GetYourBellyOut flooded my feed. Tons of photos of scars and bags and tattooed bellies and plain bellies were taking over, all in the name of awareness and fundraising for a cure!

The girls started a Facebook group, where all of us IBD sufferers can update, vent, have a laugh, WHATEVER WE WANT. We give each other advice, cheer each other on, and celebrate victories together. These 4 ladies and everyone else on the page have changed my life, and I don’t even think they realize it. Who cares if they are across an ocean in the UK? I finally feel UNDERSTOOD. And after 10 years of solitary confinement, that’s an incredible gift.

But I didn’t just find friendship. Oh no. It doesn’t stop there. They gave me the push to become involved with donating for a cure. In the past month, I’ve done 3 things I should’ve gotten off my butt to do a long time ago:

1. Joined ccfa.org to be a part of their widespread research on IBD. All it took was a short survey, and they check in with me every 6 months. Seriously no skin off my nose.

2. Joined the take steps walk for a cure and created Team Zahmbies, as well as making my donation.

3. I’ve been POSTING on Facebook and twitter facts about what life is like with IBD to spread awareness, as well as links to current ccfa research, and asking people to join Team Zahmbies and/or donate for a cure.

That last one is huge. I abhor asking people for money. But this isn’t for me personally. It’s for a cause, to learn more about this debilitating illness and find a cure once and for all. World IBD day is May 19, and YOU can help by donating at:

Canadians (or anyone): http://m-crohnsandcolitiscanada.akaraisin.com/8016/participant/1719474?lang=en-CA (This supports my Candian buddy Justin’s Gusty Walk for a cure who’s had Crohn’s Disease since age 12.

UK (or anyone): http://www.justgiving.com/teams/IBDAwareness/eurl.axd/80c36e35de4c4d4a92037ff638b55479

Last but not least, you can support or join me for my Take Steps Walk for a cure happening in Columbia, SC September 28 at Saluda Shoals!

US (or anyone):http://online.ccfa.org/site/TR/2012TakeStepsWalk/Chapter-Carolinas/1063772085?pg=team&fr_id=4309&team_id=156941

Hunted Souls #TheWVoice

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Query:

Cancer patient Bixby awakens in Centerra, where giants hunt children for their magic. Their blood provides temporary powers to giants, so they imprison kids as commodities. If anyone gets rescued, giants retaliate by killing a child in return. Call it “insurance.”

Dionté adopts Bixby into his band, provided Bixby follows his rules. Despite butting heads with the temperamental leader, Bixby obeys. But he can’t wrap his head around rule number 1: don’t rescue your friends. As he watches the giants pick them off, Bixby fights back, and Dionté banishes him from the protection of underground forts.

Bixby leaves in search of a way to save all the prisoners, only to learn giants seek more than magic, but four kids prophesied to destroy their race. And his name is on the list.

Hunted Souls is a YA fantasy with sci-fy elements running at 64,000 words, and is envisioned as the first in a series.

250:

Bixby stares at the world through a fish tank. His body clenches in pain while delirium hazes his senses. The bed shakes passing over an elevator crack, flooding his throat with nausea. Doctors press his abdomen.

“What’s your pain score?”

Bixby manages a responsive groan. At eighteen, he refuses to forfeit his battle against cancer.

A chill runs through his right forearm. He blinks, watching white bubbles form beneath the skin. Why did the IV blow again?! A nurse digs a needle in his left wrist, seeking, but not finding, a good vein. Bixby sinks deeper into the aquarium, pain clogging his ears and eyes. His mother kisses his cheek, rubbing her hand on his bare head, tears spilling over his face. The deep sucks him under, evaporating Bixby’s will. He allows the darkness to escort him to freedom.

*

Bixby’s eyes fluttered open, his brain struggling through the fog of deep sea dreaming. A forest of maroon oaks swathed in purple mist blurred into view. The scent of fresh soil filled his nose. Something tapped his forehead. His clearing vision revealed a small creature with spiky, black hair and velvet moth wings hovering before his nose. Her fingers poked at his skull.

“Wake up! Giants aren’t far!”

Alarmed, he sat up. A girl with milky skin, slanted eyes, and pink lips lay sleeping a few feet from him. A jolt rocketed his body. Holy crap, she’s naked!

The fairy disrupted his gawking.

“I’ll make you clothes for some pixie dust.”