Teens Can Write, Too!

Changing the world's opinion… as soon as we finish this math homework

Critique Contest With Entangled Publishing Editor, Heather Howland

***This contest has ended. Thank you to all who entered!***

Today we’re lucky enough to present you with a seriously awesome contest. If any of you follow the publishing world, you’ve probably heard of Entangled Publishing, a new publisher that has taken the small press world by storm. They produce some excellent titles, many of which can be found at your local bookstore. In less than a year in running they already have books on the USA Today, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and most other major bestseller lists. So yes, they are beyond awesome. Here a few of their YA titles:

Pretty Amy  Chosen Ones (The Lost Souls, #1) Gravity (The Taking, #1) Obsidian (Lux, #1)

Today, the managing editor at Entangled Publishing, Heather Howland, was kind enough to join us for this contest. She’s offering to critique the first page of 3 different manuscripts. Whether it’s the first page of a short story or a novel, it doesn’t matter. I’m really excited about this, as you can see, because Heather really knows what she’s doing.

The Rules:

You MUST be a teenager. That means you must somewhere either be or be between the ages thirteen and twenty.

You must have thick skin. I doubt Heather will bash your first page if you’re one of the winners, but she’s going to be honest with her critique. Please enter only if you’re genuinely looking for a critique and not a cheerleader, and please don’t get upset over any comments she makes. They’re intended to help.

How To Enter:

Please comment on this post with the following:

– Your first name or pen name

– The title of your manuscript

– A three sentence pitch

– The first 100-ish words of your manuscript

Make sense? This contest will run from July 22nd through July 29th. After the contest ends, Heather will read through the entries and choose her top three. Winners (with their entries) will be announced on this blog a few days after the 29th, and if you win, we’ll get your first page to Heather for critique from there.

Questions? Concerns? As not to get them confused with the entries, it’s best not to comment with your questions. Please either email us (TeenRiter[at]gmail[dot]com), or ask us on Twitter or Facebook instead.

Thank you! Excited to see your entries!



About Michael Waters

I'm Michael, I'm eighteen, and I blog about YA books for Barnes & Noble.

25 comments on “Critique Contest With Entangled Publishing Editor, Heather Howland

  1. Dmitri Norenberg
    July 22, 2012

    Name: Dmitri

    Title: Otium

    Pitch: Lillianne Aegis never knew an easy life in the gritty kingdom of Recuboria. But then she finds herself separated from her caravan and appointed as a reluctant assassin. Her life is never going to be labelled as simple anymore.

    First one hundred words:
    The landscape was a barren darkness. Air shimmered with an inky quality as a young man trudged along a lone path of flickering light. Suddenly, three rectangular cloths appeared in front of him, creating the vertices of a makeshift triangle as they landed on the black ground. Gentle threads of silver light made their way from the three banners, connecting them together. A gray coyote surrounded by a royal blue sea, a black battleaxe amongst the greenness of grass and a dark ant on top of a sandy yellow.
    Quiet hissing reached the man’s ears as a snake slithered towards the joined triangle, its eyes shone in a forbidding green glow.

  2. gabriellan
    July 22, 2012

    Name: Gabrielle

    Title: SUMMER RUSH

    Pitch: Lexi Breckerson has to “behave herself” this summer if she wants to stay out of boarding school, but Rush Santorini, her archrival since birth, isn’t going to make it easy. The moment he starts flirting with her best friend, all plans for a truce go out the window. There will be retaliation, consequences be darned.

    First 100 hundred words: “I’ve been considering different ways to kill people without leaving any evidence,” I told my best friend, Tasha Montoya. “It can’t be that hard, right? As long as you plan carefully?”

    Tasha blinked at me. “You’re kidding, right?”

    I laughed. There was nothing like the last day of school to lift a girl’s spirits. Laughing and talking, the entire Lincoln High School population surged towards the big metal doors that led to summer and freedom.

    “You are kidding.” She let out a sigh of relief, flipping her chocolate colored ponytail over her shoulder. “You nearly gave me a heart attack.”

  3. Wynter Early
    July 23, 2012

    Name: Wynter

    Title: Krenost

    Pitch: During the night after her eighteenth birthday, Aura and her father recieve a strange visit from an equally strange man. From that moment on, their lives are thrown into chaos. Something is calling for retribution and only death will satisfy its wishes.

    First one hundred words: It’s was loud here. Always so loud here. Cars honking. People talking, shouting even. Aiming for a chance to be heard. Constant motion all day long in such a small area. All this activity was taxing. So very taxing. How he missed the sounds of nature. That feeling of empty space all around him. Had it already been a year since his excommunication? This was his punishment, he knew. It was this or death. Sometimes he wished for the sweet release of death. Blue eyes flashed in his mind accompanied by a joyful laugh. The thought of her always stopped him.

  4. Mirriam
    July 23, 2012

    Name: Mirriam
    Title: Monster
    Pitch: The year is 2053, and Eva Stewart is a promising young scientist assigned to a remote Alaskan facility to work for WorldCure, a global organization dedicated to finding the cure for fatal diseases. Soon she is made a Handler and designated her own Subject for research and experimentation – but Thirteen is not what she expected, and Eva is soon drawn into a horrific plot kept quiet by WorldCure. As everything she thought she knew begins to collapse around her, Eva must discover the truth
    behind her damaged, traumatized and tragic Thirteen – and risk her life and her heart in the process.

    First 100 Words: “I have never left this place. I have always been kept here by the doctors. They’re looking for a cure, trying to make sure it never happens again. Billions of people died, places were left desolate and quarantined. The world is back to normal, they say, but for how long? They want to save lives. Save them by destroying mine. I died here. I always die here.”

    Somewhere in a remote part of North Alaska, in a WorldCure Medical Research Facility.

    “Doctor Stewart, would you step into my office for a moment, please?”
    Eva Stewart looked up from the microscope as the voice came through the speaker on her desk.

  5. Isabel Vazquez
    July 24, 2012

    Name: Isabel

    Title: Lost Ones

    Pitch: When Lia was a young girl, she witnessed a strange, paranormal event that left her forever changed. Seven years later, it seems she may find the answers to the questions she has had about that event and what happened to her. But, is she ready to know the truth about her past?

    First one hundred words: It was a summer day. The forest trees were laden with bright, verdant leaves that swayed in the breeze. A brilliant sun had shown overhead, shining down on the forest canopy which cast the forest floor in shade. I remember what
    happened. Despite how terrifying the memory was, I can still fondly remember the peaceful beauty of that day. Of the wind softly playing through the branches and the cool feeling of the river as I had played. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that no matter how perfect a day is, it can always end terribly no matter what.

  6. Kirsten
    July 24, 2012

    Name: Kirsten

    Title: Zenetari

    Pitch: The girl has never known a name. Stuck working as a glorified slave for a cruel master, her world is changed when she runs away with a mysterious circus. As she travels the land, she begins to wonder if her decision was mere happenstance, or if the circus’ tumultuous journey has something to do with the endless storm gathering around them.

    Excerpt: Dismal gray smog surrounded a sprawling city of the same color, partially obscuring the clustered mess of buildings that looked like trees never allowed to grow. People bustled about their business, not listening or looking at each other; eye contact was considered rude. Each individual walked at a rushed pace in what looked like a race to get to each destination without looking at anything but the grimy gray cobblestones beneath their feet. Not a single one looked out onto the edges of the city, where narrow stone streets became grungy back alleys strewn with wood and fortress-like buildings edged the sea.

  7. Jasmine Brown
    July 24, 2012

    NAME: Jasmine

    TITLE: Death and Other Things I Fail At

    PITCH: Sophia’s boredom lands her in hot water when, after accidentally separating her soul from her body, she wakes up fifty years in the future as a ghost. As if that wasn’t bad enough, humanity has discovered that ghosts are real and ‘hunt’ them for sport. With her wits (and the hot-tempered teenage son of the world’s greatest ghost hunter) to guide her, Sophia’s set to reach her body and prove she’s actually alive–if she can dodge ghost hunters and vengeful spirits along the way.

    FIRST 100 WORDS:

    Okay, I’ll admit, it was really stupid thinking the book was fake. What did I expect? That the lady selling the dusty tome was so desperate because it was old and ratty, and not because it was somehow magically cursed? Granted—magic’s kind of a lame excuse not to buy the thing, but it was summer. I was bored. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    When I woke, the first thing I noticed were the buildings. They were all round, for one thing. And tall. Really tall. They were nothing like the buildings in Seattle.

  8. Kuna Zero
    July 24, 2012

    Name: Kuna Zero

    Title: The Beginning of The End

    Pitch: Darkness has fallen. Heroes stood against it and were defeated. Now, in a world ruled by evil, Kuna Zero tries to correct the mistakes of years past, before it’s too late.

    First 100 hundred words: To every story, there is a beginning. This is just the beginning of the end. I don’t remember how I got here or why I’m here. I wander the earth without purpose now, unlike before. When I find a new place, I don’t know why I came. All I do know is that there’s something that I am looking for. The only question is what, and to be honest, I hardly ever find out. Who’s going to tell me? A lost god? The Nightmares that stalk the streets? I doubt it, considering most of them would be trying to kill me.

  9. Laura
    July 24, 2012

    Title: 10 Miles Away

    Pitch: Michelle Anderson used to have a good relationship with her dad but that changed when her parents announced they were splitting up. Five years later and they are always mad at each other, which sucks seeing as she has to spend every other week with him, his younger girlfriend and her two daughters who are a part of a crowd Michelle has spent her whole life trying to avoid. As she begins her final year of high school she realizes big chances are in store for her and her family and just when she needs her dad the most, he seems to be 10 miles away.

    First hundred words: Of the millions of songs that exist today, the morning song’s my favourite. It isn’t anything sung by someone represented by a record label that uses auto-tune like no tomorrow, but sung by the birds inhabiting my neighbourhood. Since there was hardly anyone outside this early, it feels like a special gift only for me.
    Running early in the morning is always peaceful. There’s no traffic, and with the sun peeking out over the tree line, it’s pure bliss.
    Because today’s a weekday in the summer and because I was at my dad’s, it meant that I’d be babysitting. Again.

  10. Amanda
    July 25, 2012

    Name: Amanda

    Title: THE NIGHT

    Pitch: Fifteen-year-old Aerael finds the fate of the world in her hands when an arcane power awakens in her, one that can overthrow the self-named gods or cement their rule forever. A voice in her mind tells her that the gods are right and good, that they freed humanity from an earlier oppressor, but a being named Siri claims the exact opposite. Aerael must decide who tells the truth, before people on both sides decide her choice would be easier if she were dead.

    First 100 hundred words: Aerael. It began indiscernibly and grew to a whisper, calling her name. Aerael.

    She wasn’t imagining it. The voice was too heavy, too cold, like someone exhaled on her neck with a breath of ice. Too real.

    Aerael, it called, louder.

    She shuddered, and the bowl slipped from her fingers, falling into the washbasin with a dull crack against the bottom. A taste like metal filled her mouth, and she gritted her teeth.

    She had to answer. It knew she was ignoring it now, it might become angry.


    A charged embrace enveloped her, swallowing her in cold.

  11. Aleasa Hardinge
    July 25, 2012

    Name: Aleasa

    Title: Leaving Eden

    Pitch: 17 year old Ariadne has been told all her life that there is no life above Eden, the underground utopia that her and many other people call home. The bombings that happened over 100 years ago supposedly wiped everything out, and the only survivors were the ones who got underground in time. The above world has never been touched since, described as a desolate place, and the government wouldn’t lie about that, would they?

    First 100 Words:
    Sometimes I forget I’m human. It’s an odd thing to say, but it’s true.
    To feel like a human requires change, and change is something that is not welcomed with open arms where I’m from. As far back as I can remember, my life has stayed as closed to change as it is possibly could be, the only real change in my life being my physical appearance, because even though they’ve figured out how to control almost every aspect of our lives, aging is one of those things that continues to elude their controlling grasps.

  12. Miss Alexandrina
    July 25, 2012

    Name: Alexandrina


    Pitch: Breaking a mantelpiece clock shouldn’t be such a big deal; it’s just a device to count time, after all. However, that’s not the case for Aidelle, who finds herself trapped in her home, alone in a limbo of stopped time, when she throws a clock at her fiancé. Joining plans with a girl who has materialised in her bedroom, claiming to be her granddaughter from one possible future, Aidelle must set about reversing a rupture in time that was never meant to happen and that seeks to keep her from her soul-mate for a non-existent eternity.

    First 100 words: The union of a man and woman was always meant to signify a new spark of life, even if not every relationship succeeded. In one of two continents that lay warring across a band of ocean, which, known to both and considered property of both, had been given the name of ‘the Big Sea’, servants still worked in a hierarchy of ants for the upper-class, despite the turn of a new century, considered fairer by most. In that land, time was meant to run between two people in a just way, but for one couple, in particular, the eyes of time had split.

  13. Imran
    July 25, 2012

    Name: Imran

    Title: speak your peace

    London will never be as it has been before. The tides have turned and the State has taken control. Freedom, Sebastian is the last man in all the observable world to have that word in his vocabulary. A story about a man who thinks for himself in a world that thinks for the man.
    [four sentences, yeah I know; you did it too!]

    100 words:

    I’ve never noticed this side of Aidan, perhaps because I never wanted to admit that it existed. Aidan has never left me, in all the world, Aidan is the most reliable to me – the grey hairs that have invaded the space on his head which used to be filled with that blonde hair that was not dissimilar to the silk harvested in the deepest parts of the Indian sub-continent. In my time away, his hair has dulled and his eyes have lost their sharpness. The blue in his eyes no longer existed as the blue of the Spanish coast

  14. austinblan
    July 25, 2012

    Name: Austin
    Title: The Dragons Revenant (likely to change)
    Pitch: The Elves have become mortal, and their progeny is failing. The gods lie chained in secret vaults.There is hope yet, for the dragons are returning, and one boy is destined to marshal the forces of Creation.

    First one hundred words: The boy clung onto the rocks, his trusty lantern in one hand. Using the other, he steadied himself on the treacherous footholds. Far above was the cave he was trying to get to, but first he had to traverse the dangerous rock face which he was now scrambling upon.

    “I must do this” the boy whispered to himself’.

    Long he struggled on the cliffs trying to find the foothold in the sheer face of the gray and black rocks until finally – he made it. High above the sea legends told of a cave where an ancient being dwelt. A …

    Sorry about the cut-off at the end there, but one hundred words is one hundred words. Also, please remember that the beginning to the story is likely to be edited, to be more effective.

  15. emlex04
    July 26, 2012

    Name: Emma

    Title: The Things I Did Not Say

    Pitch: Amber is a girl who lives in a society where your future is planned out for you. She has never really conformed to this society and when she meets a boy named Char, she starts to learn about the corruption that takes place. And with that, she begins to rebel against the society more and more.

    100 words: I tug down the left sleeve of my shirt even though it’s a hot day; I don’t want to look at the words branded into my skin. I hate those words and I hate that it’s not easy to forget about them.
    My mother, sitting beside me, frowns after seeing me pulling on my shirt, but doesn’t say anything. She knows that it’s a rule to always have your stamp exposed, and she always follows it, unlike me. We stay like that for a while, her glassy brown eyes staring at my left arm as I stare back at her.

  16. Lauren
    July 26, 2012

    Name: Lauren

    Title: The Department

    Pitch: Everyone knows the branches of the US government, but not everyone knows the deaths and illegal deals that occur behind closed doors. When Jess Bradford accidentally discovers the existence of an illicit, corrupt government organization, she becomes its number one target. Her life becomes a race to expose The Department before they silence her for good.

    First 100 words:

    The Director of the Department of Ethics was not having a good day.

    Kendra Washington sat ramrod straight at her desk, impatiently tapping a ballpoint pen against the polished mahogany wood. Not a strand of blond hair dared to fall out of place of her tight bun, and her hard green eyes were narrowed in thought. She still had not received the reports on the Saudi Arabian oil deal, and she needed them if she was to plant people in their proper places. It vexed her that lately the Secretaries hadn’t seemed to understand the importance of their jobs.

  17. ktlemonhead
    July 26, 2012

    Name: Katie

    Title: Modern

    Pitch: Prince Evan lives in a modern world of fantasy, and that makes things a lot harder for him. See, he doesn’t just have to “save” Princess Jessica (who lives alone in a tower) from a dragon, but he has to do it with the pressure of being a teen celebrity. And if that wasn’t enough, he has to marry her!

    First 100 words: “Once upon a time, in a place not far from where we sit, a girl was locked in a tower. That same girl, Princess Jessica, is joining us today for an exclusive look into her past.” The hostess turned to look at me, “How are you doing today, Princess Jennifer?”

    “Well, I’m a little nervous to tell everyone about my past, but overall I’m excited and honored to be here.” I felt a burst of pride when I told that lie. Excited? Hardly. Honored? Please. I was forced to be here, but Evan had told me to be nice.

  18. EbonyQuill
    July 27, 2012

    Name: Terra

    Title: The Shadow Thief

    Pitch: Arianna is a member of the Commoners’ Thieves, a group that steals from the wealthy and gives to the poor. But when the cruel and corrupt Lord Farlow destroys the Thieves and enlists Arianna as his personal spy and thief, she swears revenge. Caught in a web of lies and inadvertently involved in a covert resistance movement, will Arianna win the dangerous game of treachery or fail and face Farlow’s wrath?

    First 100 words:
    Arianna pulled the midnight black, weather-beaten cloak tighter around her neck and face as it billowed in the brisk, cool wind whistling through the night. With her free hand, she fingered the pouch that hung heavily on the belt at her waist. Her breath came out in short, sharp bursts. Her footsteps were light, rapid, and confident. Darkness enveloped her surroundings, save for the occasional candle lights that flickered in the small windows of the homes lining the narrow dirt street. There was not a soul in sight. For several minutes, Arianna wound her way through the maze of alleyways in the poorest, filthiest, and most neglected area of the city.

  19. Anant
    July 28, 2012

    Name: Anant

    Title: The Hoax

    Pitch: A night born out of a fog of uncertainty reveals a wizened, mute man sculpted from the darkest of stereotypes; a man who boasts the grim ability to tell anyone his fate. Two brothers, Kyle and Joel, meet the man and experience a terse exchange that haunts them for the rest of their lives and plants spores of conflicting emotions in their hearts. Left to choose between accepting the man’s divination and rejecting it, each brother is forced along vastly different paths that transcend anything they could have foreseen, warps the feelings the brothers harbor towards each other, and forces them to change the way they look at the future- forever.

    First 100 words:
    The night radiated the heady scent of wet grass, setting the viridescent moors aflame with an ardor that made decisions for everything within the cloak of mist around the area. The hills were empty, save for two figures who steadily walked against a path scorched with weeds.
    “So, J-joel?” The murky air was punctured with the characteristic rasp of a scarcely used voice.
    “Are we there yet?”
    By way of an answer, the other teenager rubbed his head unconcernedly and squinted into the fog.
    “Not long now, Kyle-”
    Then the purple tent burst into view, a great earthworm burrowing out of the moist Earth.

  20. Meg
    July 28, 2012

    Name: Meg

    Title: Hoops

    Pitch: Evelyn Murray is the outsider in a world of Asher Collins fangirls and worshippers. But when she meets the pop superstar on a basketball court, everything changes. She’s falling in love with Asher Collins, just like every other girl in the world, only she’s falling for the person behind the album cover.

    First 100 words: Thirty seven point five.
    It’s hard to believe that I’m capable of scoring a percent that low on a math test, especially the first one of the year. Yet there it is, in big, orange letters, right above the first problem. My first thought is: “oh shit.” My second thought is: “what’s Mom gonna think?” My third and final thought is: “I could really go for an ice cream sandwich.”
    I’m not really known for my insightful comments.

  21. Raven
    July 29, 2012

    Name: Raven

    Title: Things Left Unsaid

    Pitch: Seventeen year old Claire Reynolds doesn’t need help. She just wants to know why her ‘perfect older sister’ committed suicide. As she searches for answers, Claire unmasks secrets that she never knew existed and gets to know Denise in a way she couldn’t do when she was alive.

    First 105 words:

    “Don’t look now,” Danny said, holding the magazine she was reading in front of my face. Her favorite actor was staring back at me – all golden hair, an incredible body, and blue eyes that were certified to make any girl melt. No wonder she hasn’t turned the page in over ten minutes.

    “What’s going on?” I asked, looking up at her. It would’ve been easier for me to peer over the top of the magazine and find the answer to the question myself, but by the way she was acting, I could tell she didn’t want to attract the attention of whoever just walked in.

  22. Name: Morgan Hyde


    Pitch: Caught trying to steal her cousin back from the king’s priests, 17-year-old farmer’s daughter Renata is forced into gladiator training. Determined to get home again, she’ll have to fight, kill, and maybe even lead a mutiny – just to survive. Ren’s ready to quit until she discovers it’s not too late to save her cousin from being sacrificed – if she can summon the strength to fight for both their lives.

    First 100 words:

    When I arrived home from the market, Mother was waiting in for me the doorway, eyes wide.

    “What’s wrong?” I asked.

    “Rumour has it the High Priest is coming to town.”

    I swore. I knew what that meant. Still, I tried to reason with her. “If rumours are just starting, surely we have some time yet. Leta and I don’t need to -”

    “You’re going into the attic tonight.” Her tone brooked no dissent.

    “Yes Mother.” I dropped my market basket on the kitchen table with a sigh and joined my cousin Leta our room. I hated hiding.

  23. Baria
    July 30, 2012

    Name: Baria

    Title: Girl Who Played With Boys

    Pitch: Roxy hasn’t thought of her hometown since that fateful accident that brought her to New York. She’s been too busy being kicked out of every school in America. She’s moved from school to school, institution to institution like most people breathe air. But when she ‘accidentally’ sets the Chem lab on fire at one of the most well-known juvenile delinquent institutions in the world, her benefactors have had the last straw, deciding that professional help is beyond helping Roxy overcome her bad girl attitude. Roxy is unceremoniously shipped to her hometown to attend high school there and she’s been warned -no, threatened that this is her last chance. Bored out of her wits since she’s vowed off pranks, Roxy is desperate for something to do. But when her childhood best friend is looking like her worst enemy, her long-lost brother is finally contacting her, and her Ferrari is taken away, how long will Roxy last before she has to confront what happened in her hometown six years ago?

    1st Hundred Words:

    Her name was Roxanne Reynolds but everyone on the playground outside of John Adams Elementary School knew her as the girl who played with boys.
    Every day after Mrs. Jackson, the fourth grade teacher, dropped her class at the cafeteria, they would eat lunch and go outside to play. There was a fixed routine: the girls took claim of the swings and the slides while the boys dug something up in the dirt or ran around, chasing each other, playing different versions of tag: freeze tag, toilet tag, TV tag, and the like.
    But there was one girl who didn’t understand the rules of the fourth grade playground. Who, as a rule, broke the unspoken oath that all fourth grade girls take: never, ever play with a boy.

  24. Pingback: Critique Contest With Heather Howland–Winners! « Teens Can Write, Too!

  25. Pingback: Agent Pitch Contest Details! « Teens Can Write, Too!

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