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Super Intern Contest – BETTER LIVES

Wednesday, 13 June 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Genre:YA Sci fi 
Word count: 90,000 


A popular junior at an elite New England prep school, Marc is on his way to becoming his charming, power-hungry U.S. Senator father. Marc’s friendships and short-lived hook-ups are as selfish and self-serving as everything else he does.

After stealing a test and blackmailing his teacher into silence, Marc’s life goes to hell.  He thinks he’s going crazy, only continuous drinking, quieting the thousands of other people’s thoughts in his head.  Going on a date with Bethany, a girl who might actually matter to him, he wakes up the next morning, committed to the loony bin, after killing her in a drunk-driving accident.  During a power-outage, he escapes the asylum and discovers that it is a fake, located in a converted strip mall storefront.   Recaptured and taken to their base on the moon, Marc learns that his kidnappers are aliens called the Sipala.

The Sipala, desperate to find a place to hide after being conquered by a more aggressive and populous alien race, decide Earth would be a good new home.  It isn’t hard to disguise themselves as humans and slowly take over.  And the Sipala are doing humans a favor,preventing them from destroying their planet.  They replace Marc with an alien doppelganger to save the Earth from a future where he’s President.

Forced to experience, first-hand, the suffering of the victims of the nuclear holocaust he causes, Marc is resigned to his fate,grateful for not becoming a monster.  But when Marc learns that a not-so-benevolent faction of Sipala, including his double, want an unpopulated planet for themselves and are conspiring to usher in Armageddon as scheduled,it’s up to him – with help from unexpected allies – to escape, save the Earth and take back his life.  If only he wasn’t afraid that he still can’t be trusted with kind of power he’ll have as president.

250-word excerpt:

When Gil and Lew came to my dorm room with the idea of stealing the physics final, I normally wouldn’t have considered such a dumbass move. Not that I had any moral objections to cheating or stealing.   But normally, the potential for a high grade on a single test weighed against getting kicked out of prep school wasn’t worth the risk.


But these were special circumstances.  I had opportunity thanks to Gil and Lew, motive, thank you very much Mr. Taylor.  And I had an ace-in-the-hole, courtesy of hooking up with a pretty, but already-getting-on-my-nerves fifteen year-old freshman, two weeks earlier.

I slipped around to the back of our teacher’s house and found Gil waiting for me.

“Door’s locked.”  His breath was visible in the cold.

“I’ll open it,” I said.

Gil gave me a classic Gilbert and Lewis dull look. The two of them might as well have been brothers, both with Nordic good looks, several inches over six feet…and not too bright.

“I’m going to open it,” I repeated, taking out my tension wrench and wide-tipped pick.

Gil’s jaw went slack, mouth hanging open slightly before he closed it.  “I’ve seen this shit on TV.  You’re going to pick it?”

“Yeah, if you shut up and let me concentrate.”

The doorknob turned loosely in my hand. Broken.  So, only the deadbolt to deal with.  Slipping the tension wrench into the lock, I pushed my rake all the way to the back of plug.  The lock turned and the bolt slid back.

Filed: Contests, Misc


    Whoa! There’s a ton going on in this query. It’s a lot of amazing stuff. But it’s still a lot to take in. I had to read it a few times to get all the details. So I would shorten it a bit and concentrate on what really matters. I was a bit thrown when you start out the query with something like he is like his dad and then you throw in the moon and aliens. Honestly, you can probably skip all the stuff before the moon and go straight to that. The girl and stealing a test seem insignificant to getting kidnapped by aliens. I see a good query in here, but it’s not quite there.


    I like the writing in this. I think the voice comes through. I do think you are starting in the wrong place. UNLESS this stealing of the test is integral to the story. If it is, then by all means, start here, but if the story is really about the alien abduction and the switcheroo of Marc and his doppelgänger (thank you, spell check) then I think you can start later in the story.

    I’m intrigued by the premise. I’m not sure where I would stop. It flowed pretty nicely. I would probably be stuck on the starting point being wrong for me though.

    Thanks for sharing your work ;o)

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Thank you for reading my work! And for the very helpful feedback. The test-stealing is the inciting incident in the story and it does come back many times throughout the manuscript.

    Workshop-ing it at the conference a week or so ago, I got varying opinions as to how well the beginning worked. The story starts off feeling like a contemporary school story and then morphs, almost Tarantino-like, into sci fi. I know this is not the convention. I’m trying to figure out whether to change it, or risk leaving it and seeing what reception it gets.

    The feedback on the query was also immensely useful. Whatever I decide with the manuscript, I have to simplify the query. Thanks again for giving generously of your time.

  • You’re very welcome ;o)

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