Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Fricasee

Wow -- what a great turnout for our first NAME THAT GENRE!

Guessing/comments are now closed.  (In other words, if you post a guess at this point, it will not be included in the tally.)

ENTRANTS:  Please post your genres ASAP!  To do so, leave a comment beneath your entry.  (Note: if you are reading this in your email box, you will have to go to the actual blog site to leave your comment.  Please do not hit "reply" to the email.)

Thank you, everyone.  Some of you did A WHOLE LOT OF GUESSING AND FEEDBACK-LEAVING.  I want to personally acknowledge the following, each of whom took the time to respond to 25 or more entries:

Abbe Hoggen
Adam Heine
Amy
Barbara
Beth
Chris Bailey
Emily Moore
HL Brixey
IcySapphire
Jennifer Kay
Krystal Jane
MargotG
Peggy Rothschild
Rachel Tell
Sarah Mawry Swan
Timothy Gwyn

The gift of your time for your fellow writers is noted and appreciated!

The top 10 entries will post this coming Wednesday, and you'll have the opportunity to leave critique.

Up next?  Our September Secret Agent Contest (last one of 2014!).  Details will post on Monday.  After that, it's all about the Baker's Dozen Agent Auction!

I've enjoyed the energy seeping through my screen from your involvement in this week's contest.  My father-in-law passed away on Tuesday morning, so things have felt pretty off.  (He was ill for a long time, so this was not a shock.)  Mr. A is navigating the emotional waters of having lost a parent, and I am trying to support him without really knowing how (this is our first parent loss).  Your ever-present enthusiasm and support for each other is a reminder of the vibrancy of life as it continues around us.

Thanks for that.  And have a wonderful (long!) weekend!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

NAME THAT GENRE!

UPDATE:  GUESSING IS NOW CLOSED.  ENTRANTS, PLEASE POST YOUR GENRES!

Welcome to our first-ever NAME THAT GENRE round!

Here are the guidelines:

FOR THE CRITTERS

1.  First, GUESS THE GENRE.  Please be sure to write this FIRST in the comment box.
2.  Then, briefly mention why you feel the excerpt is this particular genre.
3.  There is no need to do a full critique on the entries!

EXAMPLE:

SCIENCE FICTION

It's obvious in the 2nd sentence that her husband is a cyborg, since she's reattaching his left leg.  Also she mentions she'll miss the transplanetary shuttle if she doesn't hurry.

Note:  If you can't guess, say so!

I CAN'T TELL

There is nothing in your opening paragraphs that gives me a sense of genre.  At first I thought it was historical, but then you mentioned a skateboard and something about a dragon, so...

FOR THE ENTRANTS

1.  Yes, you may post guesses, too!
2.  IMPORTANT:  You must leave a comment ON YOUR OWN POST telling us what the genre is.  DO NOT DO THIS UNTIL THE GUESSING PERIOD HAS ENDED.  You will then have 24 hours to return to the blog and give us your answer.

IF YOU DON'T LET US KNOW WHAT THE GENRE IS, YOUR ENTRY WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.  I can't count winning guesses if I don't know what you've written!

FOR EVERYONE

The guessing window will close at NOON EDT ON FRIDAY.  Any guesses received after that time will not be counted toward the total.

Entrants, you will have until NOON EDT ON SATURDAY to let us know what your genre is.  I will post the 10 winners next Tuesday.

Have fun!

Name That Genre! #40

TITLE: YA
GENRE: Secret

I remember the end of the world very vividly. Not like, “Oh my God, Harper, Vivian Hall just told the entire class that you started your period in gym class,” teenager end of the world. I mean, the literal end of the world.

In old movies, this literal end of the world typically revolves around one of three specific scenarios.

One: Aliens invade our planet to take over our resources and show the galaxy that they’re the big kids on the playground.

Two: There is some crazy zombie epidemic that turns us all into flesh eaters who stumble around looking like lost tourists down in Times Square.

Three: An asteroid plummets towards the earth and, much to our dismay, Bruce Willis is unavailable to pull off his last minute save the world routine.

Instead, my literal end of the world starts with silence.

Name That Genre! #39

TITLE: Young Adult
GENRE: Secret

If I hadn’t felt with each prickling of my skin that the day was going to bring horrific things, I might have been fooled by how brightly the sun shined and the birds chirped. The cloudless sky and warm air with just a hint of coolness would’ve been ideal for a picnic with my family and Terrace.
I waved goodbye once I got back to the porch, watching dust kick up from the gravel road, as my family disappeared into the distance.

“Okay, there’s no time to waste.” Mysin said as he turned me around and nudged me back into the house. Taking my hand, he led me towards the kitchen.

Abbey hovered over the table, unfolding a large sheet of paper, hair cascading over her shoulder in a copper waterfall.

“Yasmine, draw the house with the forest around it.”

Name That Genre! #38

TITLE: MG
GENRE: Secret

Raisa was in her cherry tree. She stood on her favorite branch, which her mother could not see from the house. She wasn’t hiding, she was playing; she had her old doll to prove it. Jill was mountaineering today, the rough bark of the tree a rock face as she searched for valuable cargo lost on the remotest parts of the volcano. She was dressed in a set of coveralls Raisa had sewn for her two years ago. They were much more practical for adventuring than the absurd wedding dress that had been her original costume.

Raisa would come down when it was time for her midmorning lessons. Leaves hid the sky, so she could not tell if the sun had climbed halfway up the rings yet, but she could judge the time by the shadow of the tree on the courtyard. With any luck, mother would not give her a big lecture

Name That Genre! #37

TITLE: MG
GENRE: SECRET

You cannot kill magic, but if you capture it, you can use it as you please

— Old proverb


The dumpling-shaped man gripped the pages lightly in one fat, bejeweled hand and frowned. Despite its foxed edges, the paper’s thickness signaled its age, promising a good profit. Yet he wavered.

Across from him, perched on a high and narrow fencepost, the tall girl blinked, pretending that she hadn’t caught a whiff of his misgiving. “Take a good, long look. I brought them to you as I know you love a first-rate history,” she said.

As she spoke, the hot scent of frying lamb rinds cut through the chill in the air, and for a moment they both paused. “Snap ’em up! Frrreeesssh rinds!” hollered the high voice of a young boy from the marketplace below.

The man moved a hand involuntarily toward his belly, while the girl puckered her nose and drew in a hungry breath.

Name That Genre! #36

TITLE: MG
GENRE: SECRET

Simon didn’t like breaking the law, but exploring an abandoned theme park was just too exciting turn down.

To be fair, Simon hadn’t set out with the intentions of trespassing. He’d been at Mrs. Drew’s finishing his homework, when he’d run out of pages to read. Bored and with his elderly babysitter snoring in front of her TV, Simon went to leave a note saying he was going for a walk, as any good twelve-year-old should.

Something giggled from the kitchen shelf.

Simon jumped. Perched next to her black, plastic shoes, an ancient doll bobbled with laughter, her eyes faded and wide. Simon bolted halfway down the street before the screen door had a chance to creek shut.

Whack!

“Owww.” Simon rubbed his forehead. He took a few steps back to get a better view of the paint-chipped “Welcome” sign. The bottom half, which faintly read “to Midway”, was covered with wild vines.

Name That Genre! #35

TITLE: YA
GENRE: SECRET

The tall blonde TV reporter drove down from Atlanta to stand in front of a glop of tar on the beach and tell the world that the Gulf of Mexico was closed.

Like official word made any difference. Fishing had already petered out. Folks were scared of catching a mackerel full of oil. I’d stashed away eight hundred and seventy-eight dollars from my fish-cleaning business, but that wasn’t near enough to buy the boat I had my eye on.

No job, and six weeks of summer left. Some of the charter boat captains got contracts laying oil boom to keep the floating crude off shore, but they weren’t hiring fifteen-year-olds.

When Captain Butler limped into the harbor on that old wood yacht and offered to pay me to help clean her up, I though my luck had changed. I didn’t suspect I could be aiding and abetting.

Name That Genre! #34

TITLE: YA
GENRE: Secret

Hushna had called her a bastard.

Anala's gouge bit into the spinning wood, throwing off a satisfying spray of dust. She reveled in the spicy aroma, ignoring the faint twinge of guilt she felt at being reckless enough to breathe it in. The low chatter of metal against wood soothed her heart in a way nothing else could and she needed that. Besides, nobody would care if she got sihr sick, and anyway it took years to accumulate that much sihr in the blood. She took another careful pass at the wand on the lathe, thinning the shaft to the long, convex shape that best suited casting. It was a shape her mother had shown her years ago, and Anala took pride in finding that shape in every wand she turned. The act of creating that simple beauty was like enfolding herself in her mother's arms.

She missed hugging her mother.

Name That Genre! #33

TITLE: MG
GENRE: Secret

It started on a Thursday. I sat at my usual table—under the window on the left side—at Borderland Elementary School. There I was, minding my own business, doing my best to choke down the thing the cooks tried to pass off as a chicken patty on a bun. The bun was like Styrofoam, and the patty—well, I wasn't sure what it was made of. But it didn't taste anything like chicken.

Across from me, my best friend, Abigail "Big" Wolf, picked through the salad her mom sent for lunch. "My mom hates me. It's official."

"Why?" I asked.

"This, my dear, Red." She snatched a handful of wilting baby spinach leaves out of her clear plastic bowl and plopped them onto the table. "Can you believe it? Not even any dressing to make it go down better. Wait. What's that? Can it be? Ah-ha!"

Name That Genre! #32

TITLE: Young Adult
GENRE: Secret

Stupid morning bells. Stupid, stupid morning bells. Kaiya cast a baleful glance at the grand iron banes of her existence as she trudged towards Chapel. The bells ignored her and continued to ring with a clarity that was unnecessary in the otherwise silent dawn. Next to her, Mollie made an impatient sound and pulled at Kai’s elbow, increasing their pace.

“Come on, Kai. I’m not going to get stuck with dishes for the next two weeks because you think it’s too difficult to get up like any regular faoii for chapel.”

Kaiya wrinkled her nose and yanked her arm away, making a face at her redheaded shield mate. It wasn’t too difficult, just unnecessary. The Goddess didn’t ask for your worship through words or songs. She cared about your love of justice and strength. She cared about the strength that came from being you. You didn’t have to worry about pleasing Her.

Name That Genre! #31

TITLE: ADULT
GENRE: SECRET

Note to self, always have a backup getaway car. The Volkswagen’s engine clicked dejectedly as Sara turned the key. It wouldn't start. The car was ten years old, and it had carried Sara through college, but today, when she needed it the most, nothing.

Rain drummed on the windshield and raced down the cracked paint. Sara scratched the back of her head. Her feet were soaked, and water seeped out of her shoes, darkening the carpet of the front seat. Her duffel bag grew heavier with each passing second. She thought she heard the whine of a siren in the distance, but it must have been her imagination. No humane policeman would blare a siren at three in the morning. Would they?

Sara pounded her fist against the leather steering wheel. She had relied on the car for years, but this was the first time she had used it in a heist.

Name That Genre! #30

TITLE: YA
GENRE: Surprise

I unlock my bedroom door with a hairpin and sneak out as soon as the hallway empties. Harp notes and laughter drift in the air from the night festivities downstairs. But that’s not where I’m heading. Mingling with the drunken nobility without my grandmother’s protection will only get me married to my cousin by morning.

Candlelight frames the door of Aryeea’s chamber, and I squeeze through the narrow opening to avoid announcing my presence with creaking hinges. Eyes closed and ocher hands folded over her chest, my grandmother seems at peace. She is only half the Baroness I knew in my childhood. But her dark hair is still as black as mine. Tribal blood pumps strong in our veins, no matter what we do to hide our descent.

As she lies, resting on a bed brought by my grandfather from across the sea, I try to believe Aryeea is dead.

Name That Genre! #29

TITLE: Adult
GENRE: Secret

Ling had been hunting dragons her entire life. Each dragon unique. How many had she hunted? Dozens? Hundreds? Maybe a thousand. Yes, at one time there were thousands of dragons, now perhaps a handful were left. At one time she hid from the dragons. Now they hid from her.

It had been years since she encountered a dragon. Her quarry sat a few feet away in the Ex Libris Cafe, radiating magic. Inexperience or overconfidence, she wasn’t sure which. He sipped some frothy espresso drink, blending in with the other college students perfectly. They always blended in. It was one of their talents. Well, it was also something Ling had mastered. She approached, confident the backpack and University of Chicago t-shirt were appropriate for the location.

“Hi, you’re in my physics class aren’t you?” She dropped her backpack on the floor and sat in the chair next to him.

Name That Genre! #28

TITLE: Adult
GENRE: Secret

“I always knew it would come to this,” came the voice, gravely and over dramatic.

“God,” I muttered, not quite under my breath, rolling my eyes while I continued with the knife slices.

“No, no really. Listen. I got it,” Mac continued excitedly. “When I began this journey, I could foresee the outcome long ago.”

“Really?” Seltzer called out from across the room. “A bit much for a doctor, don't you think?”

“You don't think they struggle with depression at all?”

"I don't know. Drug use, maybe. I never really thought about it. I suppose-"

"Will you two knock it off!" I yelled in frustration, my voice a bit louder then it should have been given the circumstances. "I'm working over here," I said, turning back to the job at hand.

"Sorry," came the synchronized muttering.

"We certainly didn't want to disturb the artist," said Mac, somewhat playfully.

Name That Genre! #27

TITLE: Adult
GENRE: Secret

“Great. I needed this like I needed a hole in the head,” Jordan groaned. Although given her present situation, probably not the best choice of words.

“Hey Princess! Are you deaf?” the demanding voice growled. But she simple sat there unmoved and continued to drink her double caff venti macchiato – or whatever the mortal called it.

Her cell went off with an incoming text. It read: D kindly requests your presence back at home.

Of course she does. Jordan sighed and stood up to leave. Grabbing her coat, she began to walk towards the door.

“I’m sorry, but am I interrupting something?” the brute snapped again, impatiently.

The cell dinged again and Jordan groaned. She lifted the phone and read: Immediately if not sooner!
With a deafening bang and a loud scream from everyone else in the restaurant, Jordan saw her impatient cell shot to pieces out of her hand.

Name That Genre! #26

TITLE: YA
GENRE: Secret

Dear Stacey,

Dad said I have to apologize, so here goes: I’m sorry about your Louboutins.

That’s a lie and we both know it. If you ever made anything besides reservations, you’d have found your shoe behind all those fancy olive oils you bought last year. How many olive oils did you think we needed? YOU ONLY EAT FAT FREE DRESSING. Anyway, it’s not my fault they spilled. This is Los Angeles. We have earthquakes.

I’m sorry Fariba threw it away, but I thought you’d find it first. You’ve poked through everything else, including my room after I told you to stay out, but did you listen? NO. If you ever go through my stuff again, I will hide more than your Louboutins. Do we understand each other? I’ll be in my room if anyone wants to come yell at me or RIFLE THROUGH MY BELONGINGS LIKE A STILETTO-HEELED SPY.

Sincerely,

Westley Fagan, oppressed person.

Name That Genre! #25

TITLE: Middle Grade novel
GENRE: Secret

You can hear our voices

in the roars of beasts,

whispers of wings and wind

running through grass

and the leaves of trees.

From the mightiest to the least:

We are the voices of this island, speaking as one.



Listen close and listen well -

time has a way of unraveling stories, turning them to shreds.

Story land witches ride broomsticks to the moon.

Everyone has forgotten that real Witches have wills of steel

that can grind every soul to sand beneath their heels.



No one wanted the Witch to come.

Yet she did as she pleased

and here we sit,

turned us to stone,

unable to flee.



But the memory of what we were is alive,

humming and thrumming

where our hearts used to be.



Now we can only wait -



For someone who can see more than these hollowed out husks,

someone who can see life is still burning deep inside of us.

Name That Genre! #24

TITLE: ADULT
GENRE: SECRET

Damon looked down from the rooftop into the alley below. Shadows were spreading over the ground as the sun fell behind the tall buildings all around him. He listened intently; sure that he had heard something unusual. This close to the City, its sounds drifted into the Ruins in a never-ending hum, but he had trained his ears to ignore the incessant droning and focus on particular sounds. There – just around the corner. Something is going down, Damon thought as he tried to move quickly yet quietly.

He threaded his way over the rooftop between piles of garbage, broken down machines, discarded trash, and other detritus. Mindful of his training, he could hear his mentor’s voice in his head:

Keep focused on your target, but never forget that threats are everywhere, do NOT let someone get the drop on you because you were preoccupied.

Damon smiled as he thought of Andrea and her oft-repeated admonishments.

Name That Genre! #23

TITLE: Middle Grade
GENRE: Secret

Just as the excitement of riding a new horse bubbles up in my chest, Grandpa’s comment slaps the fun right out of me.

I shut the truck door and pat my sister’s arm when she slides over to take my spot by the window, “Good luck finding a dance studio, Jen.”

With a nod and a smile, I say, “Thanks for the ride, Grandpa. I’ll just walk back to the farm when I’m done.”

That’s when he zings me with his warning, “Have a good time, Emily, but don’t get attached to this horse. He’s got four white hooves.”

I want to ask him what he means, but he’s already put his truck in gear. Way to dash my hopes, Grandpa.

He smiles at the frown on my face. “Don’t fret, we’ll find you the right horse.”

Goodbye Clyde mean old lesson horse. I’ll learn on my own horse.



Name That Genre! #22

TITLE: Adult
GENRE: Secret

The revolving doors kept spinning, taking people into the terminal or spitting them out into harsh sunlight. Brad straddled his bags and watched people hurry past while, thirty feet away, Dean paced back and forth on a broad slab of cement. Dean’s voice cut through the distant jet engines and passing cabs as he talked on his cellular phone. With his eyes, Dean directed Brad toward the ramp leading to SFO arrivals. A black Range Rover with tinted windows and glistening rims rounded the corner.

Dean nodded, seemingly seeking rare approval.

Apparently this is what we’ve been waiting for, Brad thought as he eyed the approaching SUV—the low profile tires all wrong for jeep trails with deep ruts and jagged rocks. They hadn’t even pulled into the campground yet. Everyone will think we’re total a*******. Brad crossed his arms over his chest.

Dean covered the receiver and shouted, “First class all the way.”

Name That Genre! #21

TITLE: ADULT
GENRE: SECRET

Dammit! Mabel swore silently as she stepped off the plane and realized that she was sharing her skull again. I thought maybe I’d lost it somewhere over the Pacific.

She spent a moment working through a sense of panic that wasn’t entirely hers. She’d hoped that once she got this far, it would stop pestering her and just let her make a vacation out of this forced march instead.

She looked around for a shuttle to take her to a local hotel, and started toward the advertised “Airporter,” but an involuntary locking of limbs brought her up short. Another of those mental nudges she’d tried so valiantly to ignore over the past couple of weeks finally pushed her out of the terminal toward the rental car counters, and she heaved a sigh. Apparently it wouldn’t allow her to stay here in Hobart, either. Insistent little miscreant, aren’t you?


Name That Genre! #20

TITLE: ADULT
GENRE: SECRET

Grace stubbed out her cigarette in the sink, and ran water over the crushed Newport before grinding the butt in the garbage disposal. She shined a Maglite into the disposal to make sure the damn thing was gone, then lit a fresh Newport and retreated to her computer.

A few mouse clicks later and Grace was studying the take-out menus from eateries near her office. Three Rivers Deli was the closest—but their corned beef was lousy, and the company had excellent encryption on their host server. Gyro Circus was an easy target, but not many people from her office ate there. Her plan required a large audience.

Grace took a long drag from the Newport, and scanned the system programming code for the Daniel Island CafĂ©. “Gotcha,” she said. “You guys should put as much time into your firewalls as you do your crepe-of-the-day.”

Name That Genre! #19

TITLE: YA
GENRE: SECRET

I first spotted him as I stood at the top of the ballroom’s sweeping stairs; his luminosity, perfectly tousled brown hair, and chiseled features drew the light from everyone around him. The breath left my lungs like I had been punched in the gut, and I tried to steady myself from this emotional tsunami.

It seemed impossible to tear my eyes away, but my dad’s aide interrupted my reverie by speaking.

“Ready, Mr. Secretary?”

My father nodded and gave a thumbs-up. “Born ready, Sam.” Dad let out his trademark guffaw, beaming as he began his descent down the marble stairs to the ballroom below, strutting in his custom-made designer tuxedo and Italian shoes. Music boomed from the speakers hidden around the room while lights glistened off the women’s fancy dress gowns.

Carefully, I straightened my tie and trained my eyes away from that spot below where I knew he had last been standing.

Name That Genre! #18

TITLE: Adult
GENRE: Secret

It was a perfect night to bury a body.

The man in the slicker walked stooped over, his breathing labored and his body was soaked in sweat. The weight he carried, though not substantial, was awkwardly draped over one mammoth shoulder. The rain had shriveled to a heavy mist and the sky was beginning to lighten. It had rained all afternoon. At times soft, then drizzly—and at one time it was vicious, as it bombarded the trees and leaf-covered ground.

It was never easy carrying a lifeless body through the woods in the middle of the night, especially when the terrain was so uneven, but Bart was in superb shape at six-foot four and weighing a hefty two hundred and fifty pounds. A cocky confidence guided each of his steps and the Austrian nine-millimeter Glock he carried was certain security.

Twisting his ankle en-route was unexpected of course, but . . . . . . . . .

Name That Genre! #17

TITLE: MG
GENRE: Secret

Lily Evans never really believed in wishes.

But that didn’t mean that she and Luke, her twin brother who was older by 20 minutes, wouldn’t attend a friend’s birthday party—where wishes of the highest hopes were made when the lucky girl or boy blew out the candles on the cake.

Besides, this gave them the chance to scope out ideas for their own birthday party, due to happen in a month on the third weekend in June.

Even as Lily watched the old magician pull a second fluffy white rabbit out of his top hat, she knew Mai Tanaka’s 13th birthday party would be the same as all the other ones.

Pink and purple balloons and streamers prettied up the drab concrete basement, and nearly 30 kids sat on all kinds of chairs—plastic ones, wooden ones and a few piles of cushions.

Name That Genre! #16

TITLE: Adult
GENRE: Secret

I couldn't take another night of this. Stuck in this cheap-a** hotel room, listening in on the galaxy's latest in WMD technology.

The stench of ozone thickened in the hallway outside my room, burning my nostrils. Followed by the smell of deep-fried tofu and the light footsteps of someone trained to move silently. They weren't succeeding. But then, I had excellent hearing.

Had I f***** up that bad already? Of course if they were here to terminate me, they hadn't gotten the memo. I was immune to poison.

I placed a mini holo projector on the desk to hide the scattering of equipment that connected me to Buki Technologies' and Bogu Enterprises' communications networks and the minivid player that stored all the data I had collected on the development of House Aquarius' newest weapon of mass destruction.

Name That Genre! #15

TITLE: Adult
GENRE: Secret

I hate boys’ games.

“Run!” I yell to Pam. “They’re right behind you.”

She dodges the boys, races past Mommy’s vegetable garden, and heads toward the maple tree in her backyard. If she touches the trunk, we win, and the boys will finally have to keep their promise to play house with us.

I kneel behind the shrub. My side aches with each deep breath. Using the hem of my shirt, I wipe sweat off my forehead.

Steve sneaks behind Pam and drops the hula-hoop lasso over her head. She kicks and screams as her brother drags her to the cave, the cinderblock barbeque pit in my backyard, and rolls a pretend stone in front of the cave door.

Pam beats on the rock. “I can’t escape. They’re going to eat me.”

Hula-hoop in hand, Steve turns toward my hiding place. “I’m coming to get you.”

“No!” I race toward the tree.

Name That Genre! #14

TITLE: YA
GENRE: SECRET

This wasn’t Brae’s first time stealing. Quite the opposite. Her mother called her a born thief.

Born into a rogue clan of thieves, she had learned from the time she was very young. Her father had encouraged this talent with praise and training. Her mother encouraged it with cold critiques and high expectations.

She’d stolen all sorts of things. Weapons, clothes, supplies, coins, food. She could steal in the dark of night and in the light of day. Missions had been carried out in the calmest of weather and during thunderstorms where she could barely see in front of her. Brae was able to get out of any tough situation, and never got caught.

She enjoyed stealing. She enjoyed the planning, the perfect execution, and the adrenaline rush. She liked to feel competent and strong. What she hated, though, was stealing with a partner. She preferred to work alone.



Name That Genre! #13

TITLE: YA
GENRE: Secret

Dev Nair didn’t trust the talking chair. Not just because it was located in what had to be the grimiest toilet in Keshablanca, though that fact did not help its cause. It wasn’t the way the thing spoke, in the softly deranged tones of a children’s show host. It wasn’t even the way it waved around one of the many arms attached to its plastic frame, waggling a complement of syringes like jazz fingers.

On second thought, it was probably all of those things.

“Gangrene selected,” the chair cooed. “Please insert limb into the MediChair patented Safe Hands cuff for evaluation!”

Dev took a step back. This med unit hadn’t been right since Nacio “No Mas” Machado had punched it right in the central processor. Normally, he’d have steered clear of it. But his last opponent, a man who clearly hadn't seen the inside of a sanitation stall in months, had bled all over him.

Name That Genre! #12

TITLE: MG
GENRE: "SECRET"

Thirteen-year-old Kurtis heard his heartbeat for the first time. Not the sound of his withered lungs choking on his breathes. Not the sound of death. Life, that’s what he heard pounding from his flesh, and it was a nice change. Nice enough for him to smile for a second. He stood on the rooftop, under an ocean of red stars as his heartbeats tapped against his chest like somebody knocking on a door. Like somebody wanted to get in. Or get out. And that’s when Kurtis remembered something. An important thought dropped into his head.

Happy endings were gone.

All of them.

Everyone’s.

Kurtis remembered they were extinct in his world, a planet called Serius. His dad had warned him about it right before he dumped the boy off at the HOME.

A nuthouse for kids.

But that wasn’t as bad for Kurtis as having a girl inside his head.

Name That Genre! #11

TITLE: YA
GENRE: SECRET

“Target sighted. White male, late thirties, armed. Knack unknown. Three hostages, one female, two male. Female hostage currently at gunpoint.”

That's what I should have said. I should have been speaking calmly and clearly into the wireless transmitter embedded in my ballistic helmet, to relay those facts to command once I had some kind of visual confirmation. Instead, I felt damn near helpless. Shaky breath rattling my chest, while I tried to to steady the pistol in my right hand. I kept the gun pointed toward the sky, just in case, with the safety still on. It's not like I could bungle these situations so badly that I'd accidentally trip and shoot myself in the foot. I hoped.

Still, this was the last place I wanted to be, especially alone. My hair was already a sweaty tangle under the helmet, and the short ponytail that stuck out from beneath it…

Name That Genre! #10

TITLE: MG
GENRE: Secret

I bounced down the stairs to my thirteenth birthday dinner with optimisim radiating from the depths of my soul. Or at least what I thought was my soul. It was going to be a good year, I was certain of it. This was the year I would be a brace-face no more, and I was sure it would be the year my unruly hair would decide to cooperate. (I was praying the flat-iron I requested for my birthday would be sitting on the dining room table.)

"Happy Birthday!" Mom said.

"Thanks," I smiled.

Lingering at the dining room table, I studied my presents, looking for a long rectangular box that would be sure to hold my greatest desire. Winter crashed into the chair on the other side of the table rolling her eyes at me. I looked my younger sister over and decided I would be nice to her tonight.



Name That Genre! #9

TITLE: Adult
GENRE: Secret

Karen wondered if she was starting to slip. That's the thing about being crazy. You don't know if you're sliding into the hell of another episode, or if you're just having a bad day. Which this was shaping up to be. She knew the meeting was important to her husband, Tom. She'd tried to put on a positive attitude.

They walked past the final two shops, the dry cleaner and the pet store. Karen checked her reflection in their windows. At least the makeup looks good, she thought.

Tom glanced over. "Honey, Pastor Jason will get us over this rough patch. He helps lots of people; the Henrys are happy, just like the Lindners."

The Henrys were so happy they scared Karen. Marge Lindner was fooling around with some teacher at the junior college; everyone in town knew except Pastor, Tom, and Mr. Lindner.

They arrived at their destination, and Karen rang the doorbell.

Name That Genre! #8

TITLE: YA
GENRE: SECRET

Bryssa gripped the rope, heavy and slippery from rain, as the bucket caught against the mossy stones ringing the well. Lightning pierced the heart of the night sky with a ragged bolt, and the girl winced and drew the fingers of her left hand in a circle over her heart before tugging again with all her strength. Her arms ached.

From the stables, Mistress Elwynn called. “Child! Hurry!”

“I'm....trying,” came the muttered response, teeth clenched. “And I'm not a child. Almost sixteen,” Bryssa added for good measure when the bucket, brim with shimmering water, came into view. She heaved once more, steadied the wooden vessel upon the well's stone wall, and poured the sacred water into the pewter pitcher.

Dashing toward the yard--the grass sodden and slick beneath her bare feet--Bryssa took care not to falter upon the muddy entryway to the stable, the pitcher in careful balance.

Name That Genre! #7

TITLE: YA
GENRE: Secret

ERIN - CARD 48

MADRID, SPAIN

The orphan flicked a lit match into the fireplace, setting ablaze her 49th tarot card and all remnants of her old alias. The clock struck midnight and her Erin identity ceased to exist. January first, her birthday. Once again she turned eighteen, but today she became Kaity.

There’s an infinite number of experiences on this crowded planet while tarot trading, and no better way to set up the perfect con or the perfect revenge. This year she’d do both.

KAITY - CARD 49

SEVILLA, SPAIN

The wind blew a napkin off the table, but the blond in the pink angora sweater didn’t notice. Designer sunglasses buffered her from the masses. Her glamour captivated the crowded sidewalk cafe as she ate breakfast alone. Regular patrons had attempted to strike up conversations, but none ever learned more than her first name: Kaity.





Name That Genre! #6

TITLE: ADULT
GENRE: SECRET

A clamor of rooks exploded through the trees, nearly drowning out the woman’s scream.

Morgan’ head jerked up, his mouth quirking into a grim smile. At last! Trouble. It had been a boring patrol thus far. He put his heels to Arnicus’ flanks and the big grey gelding quickened its pace along the narrow trail. The raucous calls of the birds faded as they flapped off. A watchful silence overtook the woods, broken only by the thud of Arnicus’ hooves on the summer-dry earth.

Morgan scanned the undergrowth for the source of that cry. There was no good reason why a lady, screaming or otherwise, should be in the middle of the King’s forest. But whatever the reason, he had to find her. Help her, if possible. Avenge her, if not. He’d never been one to shy away from trouble. No soldier was, or he didn’t remain a solider for long.

Name That Genre! #5

TITLE: Adult
GENRE: Secret

The only moment Harrison felt he didn’t know his grandfather was as the man lay dying, turned on one side to ease his last breaths. It was past midnight in the small farmhouse just outside Wilmington, Illinois, and Harrison had taken what everyone expected was the last shift of watching John Ulysses Miller as he died from old age and failing lungs.

“Harrison,” his grandfather told him, “I need you to hold onto this.” He pressed into his grandson’s palm the ring he’d worn for as long as anyone could remember: a broad silver ring with a bright blue stone. The stone’s facets shimmered in the light from the oil lamp that stood vigil at the bedside, burning now for six days straight.

“What’s so special about it?” Harrison asked, but his grandfather shook his head, as always.

“You don’t need to know. Just keep it safe. A young woman, Katie, will come for it."

Name That Genre! #4

TITLE: YA
GENRE: Secret

There’s no glamor in vomit. I should know. I spend half my days up to my elbows in it. Today is no different. Our patient is Tommy, a seven-year-old boy with a nasty case of stomach flu. I’m quite certain Mother Superior saves all of the messy ones for me. She’s probably sipping tea at the bedside of some duchess with the sniffles, while I’m in the middle of Thornham attempting to pick regurgitated corn out of my laces.

With a grumble, I turn on the kitchen tap. Sister Bernadette is supposed to be helping me. Actually, I am supposed to be helping her, but she’s busy “resting her eyes” which is Sister-Bernadette-speak for “snoring on the settee”. I don’t know why they call me a nurse’s aide when I do all the work she is meant to do.

Name That Genre! #3

TITLE: YA
GENRE: Secret

I was not about to step aside for Kaptan Berker.

His gaze on the front of the room, the middle-caste barge master smoothed his greasy hair and sniffed like I was a fool for not reacting to his general magnificence. The many bells on my headscarf jingled as I shook my head. Magnificent belly maybe. He didn’t run a full ship. Just a barge. My back to the man, I leaned against the floor-to-ceiling elephant tusk that marked the license line’s half-way point.

The light from the window’s pointed arches had gone from morning’s white to noon’s yellow as I’d waited behind middle-caste merchants and low-caste sailors like myself. Only now could I stretch my neck and glimpse the bearded men and steely-eyed women whose seal rings would allow me to continue shipping small loads of grain and poor passengers across the sharp waters of The Pass.

Name That Genre! #2

TITLE: Adult
GENRE: Secret

Five minutes had to be a record for the shortest date of all time.

Bzzp. Bzzp.

The kill order came through at the exact moment the sommelier poured the 2004 Dravern Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon into the glass in front of me. I hadn’t even tasted the award-winning vintage yet. Clearly my superiors delighted in choosing the most inopportune time to assign me a target.

Gazing across the candlelit table at my maybe-boyfriend, Christian, I offered an apologetic smile. The X Squad never sent an order unless it was urgent, and that meant I was about to ruin the second date with Christian this week alone.

Bzzzp.

Bzzzzp.

I glared at my clutch, the insistent buzz emanating from it making my fingers itch to chuck it across the restaurant. All I wanted was a goddamn steak. Apparently that was too much to ask.

Christian sighed. “Just answer it, love."

Name That Genre! #1

TITLE: YA
GENRE: SECRET

The boat approached from the west. Lelya watched as it drifted across the water in the dark of a new moon. Tonight was the eve of the first cycle; new students always arrived the day after the summer harvest. The Abled students aboard made up the Nu class. Tomorrow they would begin their thirteen-year training at the Academy on the island of Koliada.

Attending the Academy wasn’t so much a privilege as a sentence from society. Abled children were feared by society. During the familiar inquisition, the Sapient had decided that the Abled were a danger to the rest of Maran kind. There had always been precautions taken with those gifted with magic, but following the brutality of the inquisition it was not safe for caster students to be in the mainstream.

It was tradition for the boat to arrive at night; it was symbolic of the lunar source of their power.