The Writer’s Voice 2015

And because I can’t resist a competition, especially when I have a manuscript and query just waiting to be entered, I put my name into The Writer’s Voice 2015 Rafflecopter annnnnd . . . I was selected!

Thank you to Krista Van Dolzer, Brenda Drake, Mónica Bustamante Wagner, Elizabeth Briggs, Kimberly Chase, and Nikki Roberti for putting it on!

So here, as per TWV2015 guidelines, is my query and first 250 words. Hope you enjoy!

My Query:

Dear Amazing Agent:

At sixteen, Nona’s best friends are a mannequin named Frank and a Ruger 9mm. That’s all she has left since a virus swept humanity from the earth. Frank’s the strong, silent type, but the Ruger keeps wild animals at bay. After two years alone in a remote Michigan town, survival is all that matters.

When a wandering band of survivors called the Community claims Nona’s deserted town, she and the Ruger tell the trespassers to get lost, but they don’t take the hint. Especially Joshua McKinnell, whose friendly banter isn’t silenced by the sight of her gun. Joshua’s grin and Nona’s need for human contact whittle her resistance, and before she knows it, Nona has a friend. The Ruger remains strapped to her leg—old habits die hard—but poor Frank’s abandoned to a run-down diner. He was never much of a conversationalist anyway.

Just as Nona accepts the Community, she’s captured by the American Brotherhood. They’re known for brainwashing child-soldiers and enslaving survivors, so Nona expects the worst until Will Kennedy, a friend from her past, claims her. Nona saved his life back when they first met. Of course he wouldn’t have needed saving if she hadn’t shot him first.

As Nona navigates the dangerous Brotherhood society, looking for a way to escape, she discovers Will has been finding good homes for survivors and requesting kids be assigned to his unit, all to protect the innocent. Friends don’t hold friends hostage, but Nona can’t help liking Will, though she’s terrified of the rush she feels whenever he’s near.

Before Nona can decipher her heart, Will and the Brotherhood are ordered to lay siege to the Community’s stronghold. This is one situation the Ruger can’t help. Nona must convince both sides to back down before full-scale fighting breaks out. If that fails, she’ll need all her survival skills to protect Joshua and Will, the friends she never meant to make.

I Have No Name (96,000 words) is a YA Post-Apocalyptic novel that fits between the stark, grittiness of Mindy McGinnis’s Not a Drop to Drink and the commercial appeal of Demitria Lunetta’s In the After. It follows a girl emotionally crippled by loss, as she slowly realizes there is more to life than just survival.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jennifer Austin

My First 250 Words:

I watch them stroll down Main Street through the scope of my Winchester. Maybe men, maybe boys. Too hard to tell from here. There are two of them, and they wade through weeds and saplings clawing through the crumbling pavement, their boots crunching on broken bits of glass and brick and asphalt. A brown bottle passes between them, and they take long sips, laughing and talking, though they’re too far away to make out words.

The sun burns my back as I hide behind the metal sign above the diner, barrel of my gun resting in the crook of the rusty “N.” I don’t think they’ll see me. Not unless they look hard, and they aren’t. Too interested in that bottle.

Sweat prickles my skin, and I wipe slick palms on my cargo pants. This stifling August heat doesn’t help, but that’s not why I’m flush and sweaty. Or why my heart beats like a trapped rabbit’s. Haven’t seen another living soul in two years, not since the Black Flu took the last ones. Part of me wants to run down the street screaming for joy, but mostly I want them to go away.

Aching muscles protest my vigil and I glance at my watch, inherited from Dad. Wide leather cuff and big silver face inset with moon and stars. Shifting my weight, broken glass from long-gone marquee lights grinds under me, so I stop. My heart stops too. I can’t be heard. Dad warned me about men, and what they’ll do to women.

And if you’d like to take a look at the other entries, you can find the full list (all 200!) and links here! Good luck to all my fellow entrants!