I really don’t know how else to start off this announcement, other than to say that you guys are awesome. I’ve judged a few of these contests before, and generally I go through and read each entry, making note of the ones that grab my attention. By the time I got halfway through this batch, I realized I had written down the names of virtually every single entrant. Take some time to read through these first pages. They’re amazing! I loved pretty much all of them, which makes picking a winner nearly impossible.
With this in mind, it’s important to remember how subjective these contests are. I judged based on my own personal preferences and my current mood (sometimes I’m in the mood for sci-fi, sometimes fantasy, sometimes contemporary...changes from day to day). There are so many different factors in this process that have nothing to do with how good your book is.
For instance, if I’ve been reading a lot of sci-fi manuscripts lately in my freelance work, I find myself subconsciously gravitating towards other genres. If a pitch sounds similar to something I read last week, I might skip over it simply because I’m ready for a completely different manuscript. I really did enjoy 99% of these entries, so my selections mainly reflect the stories I’m most interested in reading at the present moment.
I’ve included here a short list of submissions that caught my attention. Also, due to the sheer volume of good entries, I have decided to award two second place prizes, with each person receiving a submission package from Teen Eyes (critique of the first ten pages, query, and synopsis). Thanks so much for entering, and for letting me read your astounding work!
(Also, I have decided that Moira is the new hot YA name. It’s not particularly common in real life (my sister’s name is Maura, and she gets called Moira all the time), but it cropped up in three different entries.)
Entries I love-love-loved:
Christina (THROUGH THE
Second place winners:
Ki-Wing Merlin--I love MG, and especially magical realism. My favorite MG stories tend to be sweet, heartfelt books (think MOORCHILD by Eloise McGraw), and I just loved the idea of a little girl who responds to grief by (quite literally) flying. I have no idea how this story will progress from its initial premise, but I’m eager to find out.
Sarah Nelson--MORALLY AMBIGUOUS PROTAGONISTS FTW!!! Okay, I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for morally ambiguous protagonists. Some of the most interesting characters are dark, perhaps even sinister, and Sarah has both the technical writing chops and the voice to back up an interesting premise. (“I’m Claire Alexander. Your friendly neighborhood murderer.” How can you not love it?)
First place winner:
Sarah Turnbull--I am just totally in the mood for Victorian era fiction, along with unique, descriptive prose. It’s what I’ve been craving this week, and Sarah hit the nail on the head. I like secluded islands. I like plagues. I like dark fantasy. I like pocket watches. I like that the Governor said “Bless you, doll,” to the little peasant girl, rather than being the stereotypical nobleman who avoids the disgusting low-class children. With those three words of dialogue, Sarah has already helped establish a character’s voice. He does not say “thank you,” which would be the generic response. Her word choice here really helps bring the scene to life. I pretty much just like it, so we have a winner!!!
Again, thank you so much for letting me judge this contest! I truly have never seen a more talented pool of entrants. For those of you who read through the submissions, I’m sure we all have our favorites, which just goes to show how great these first pages are! Winners, please e-mail me at katay444(at)gmail(dot)com or teen-eyes-editorial(at)hotmail(dot)com. Can’t wait to read more!
And there you have it! Thanks again, Kate, for taking the time to read all these entries, and thanks to all of you for entering and reading along. Your response was overwhelming, and we truly appreciate it.
P.S. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for more details on next week’s round of “An Agent’s Inbox.” It’s going to be great!