Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Writer's Voice Entry – BENEATH OUR SKIN – YA Science Fiction

I'm participating in a contest called The Writer's Voice. I post my query and the first 250 words of my manuscript, and if one of the coaches likes it, I advance to the agent round. Click here for details on the contest.

Thanks so much to Brenda, Monica, Elizabeth and Krista for organizing The Writer's Voice!


Dear Amazing Agents,

I hope you'll be interested in my YA science fiction novel, in which a girl cannot let go of her friend's hand or she'll die.

The walls surrounding the town of Jenn's Ferry keep out the genetically engineered, flesh-eating monsters known as Fecs. Those same walls lock in seventeen-year-old Echo, so she's thrilled to go on a rare field trip outside the town. But when Echo's old crush Gavin scratches himself on the splintered rib of a Fec corpse, a virus within the Fec blood sparks a mutation in his body. According to the old stories, constant skin contact slows the transformation from human to Fec. Before Gavin can turn completely and sink his teeth into her, she grabs hold of his wrist. Echo's plan: bring him to town and the sheriff will send them by coach to the last doctor with a cure.

Only it turns out the townspeople don't believe the old stories anymore. Assuming Gavin is a threat, they refuse to transport him to the physician and won't allow him within the protection of the city walls. The sheriff figures Echo's skin contact with Gavin must mean she's infected, so the town gate remains closed to her, too. In a last ditch effort to save them both, Echo leads Gavin on a two-week trek to Raven Rock, the one town that has the medicine he needs.

Every day is filled with one-handed scrounging for food and evading traps set by the Fecs. Echo hopes if she doesn't let go, Gavin will make it. Except it only takes a few days before scales start growing up his arm, and his hunger for fresh prey mounts. Then he tells Echo she's beginning to smell good.

BENEATH OUR SKIN is a YA science fiction novel in which the journey through the wilderness of Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky meets the medical research of Dan Wells' Partials, but with monsters instead of modern technology. It's the story of a girl's struggle between ridding her 1850s-like world of dangerous creatures and accepting them as a thinking, feeling species. BENEATH OUR SKIN has a diverse cast, stands alone and is complete at 79K words.

I grew up in Michigan and now live with my husband and children in Germany. By day, I work as a project manager, and I'm an active member of SCBWI.

Thank you for your consideration.

First 250 words

My rope arced through the moonlit night and slid down the wooden fence to land at my feet. Again. Damn.

Panting echoed from the empty yard beyond the eight-foot fence—the blacksmith's dog must've heard me. I coiled the rope and tossed it a third time. It caught the top of the post. Yes! I yanked it, testing the strength, then braced my feet against the slats and scrambled up.

At the top, the points of the boards dug into my torso as I twisted the rope around so it would fall into the yard and provide an escape route. The big black mutt gazed up at me, sniffing for the treat I'd brought him. Or smelling me. By now, we were old friends. He hadn't barked at me in weeks.

When I dropped down, he whined softly, and I pulled my ration of meat for this week out of my pocket. My mouth watered, but I tossed it to the dog. A small price for a glimpse of freedom. The two chicken pieces disappeared in seconds.

Despite the fence, the shop was always locked at night, but there was a workstation set up outside. Sometimes, nails fell down, and the blacksmith was too lazy to go after them right away. I fell to my knees, inching past the sawhorses toward the lean-to, sifting through the sand with my fingers as I crawled. Under the water-filled trough, I grasped cool metal and snatched it up.

One. Only five more nails to go.