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#KT250 is our first Kite Tales quarterly community contest! We’re proud to announce this quarter’s winners and share the first 250 words of their unpublished manuscripts. We encourage agents, publishers, and mentors to reach out to any winners whom they find intriguing!

To find out how YOU can enter for next quarter, check out contest info here. Entries are now being accepted for next quarter!


Nikki Barthelmess for The Stories We Tell Ourselves, Young Adult, Literary Fiction

Prize: Gift certificate to Los Angeles’s The Last Bookstore

Author Bio: During the six years Nikki Barthelmess spent in foster care, she found solace in books, writing in her journal, as well as through teachers who encouraged her. She writes YA contemporary and picture books. Nikki hopes to use words to connect with kids who are looking for their voices, including those who are or were in foster care.

First 250 Words: 

Mrs. Viola peers down at my transfer application form. The scribbled forging of Grandma’s signature catches my eye. I force myself to look at my school guidance counselor, rather than at the yellow slip of paper.

“Are you having problems in French?” Viola’s glasses slip to the bottom of her nose, her long fingers intertwined on her desk where she sits in front of me. “It’s only a few weeks into the semester. I’m sure you can make it work if you stick with it.”

I shake my head as I tap my fingers on the wood in between us. “I’m not having a hard time in French.” Viola’s eyes crinkle at the edges, like she’s trying to be sympathetic. Or look like she is. I stand up straighter, still unable to meet Viola’s eye. Instead I stare at the wall behind her, decorated with posters sporting the usual guidance counselor clichés like “The future starts with you.”

“French is great.” I clear my throat, glancing at the open door behind me. The hallway’s empty because class is still in session. “There’s this summer program in Mexico, through my church, that I’m hoping to do.” The lie slips off my lips easily, almost too easily. “I figured now would be a good time to brush up on my Spanish.”

Viola pushes her glasses back in place with her index finger. “If you ask me, you’d be better off staying in French. You could practice Spanish at home, with your familia.”

Learn more about Nikki or contact her to request her manuscript via: Her website: http://nikkibarthelmess.com/; Twitter: @nikkigrey_; Instagram: @n1kk1grey; or email.



Laurie L Young for Winter’s Pale, Middle Grade, Fantasy

Prize: Honorable Mention

Author Bio: Laurie L Young has an MFA in Fine Arts from UCI and works in publishing as an art director. Laurie has written six books for the novelty market, including I See a Monster. She has been a member of SCBWI for fifteen years, a co-coordinator of the Westside Writers Mingle for three years, and writes picture books and middle grade.

First 250 Words:

Winter scrunched down as far as she could fit under her thin blanket, in the hopes of not disturbing the other girls. She hid the tiny flashlight she was fortunate to have, as it was an unapproved novelty. Lights-out came strictly at 8:00 PM each night at the Tanglethorne Academy for Girls, but Winter slept rarely, and fitfully at that. She dreamt of the fire and the devastation she could not remember, calling out at times for her mother and each sister in random spurts. Her pain was palpable and though she kept a tight lid on her emotions, in her dreams, they could not be tethered.

As a result, she sought to put off sleep for as long as possible. The school had a sufficient library, filled with instructional works as well as current and past fiction, suitable for young ladies. But Winter found solace in rereading only this book: Anne of Green Gables. Winter was told she was found standing on the side of the road, wrapped in a blanket, clutching the flashlight, a doll, and this book. Now, she was the orphan.

The room was dark, except for the glow coming from beneath her blanket—and one other from the blanket on the bed at the end of the left row. There, Lydia Leeson was also reading a favorite book, also by flashlight. Winter did not see this from her current position, but it would not be the last thing she and Lydia Leeson had in common.

Learn more about Laurie or contact her to request her manuscript via: Twitter: @laurielyoung; Instagram: @lolielynn; FaceBook: @laurielyoung; or email.

Photo by Skyrider Photography.

Carol Tanzman for The Highly Inappropriate Adventures of Harm Cassidy, Middle Grade, Mystery

Prize: Honorable Mention

Author Bio: The Highly Inappropriate Adventures of Harm Cassidy is Carol Tanzman’s first foray into middle grade. She’s had three YA novels published: Shadow Place (an ALA Quick Pick), Circle of Silence, and dancergirl, recently optioned by a Bollywood producer. A contributor to the Dare to Dream poetry anthology, Carol has also been recognized by the Bravo awards for her theatre work.

First 250 Words:

Chapter 1: Slamming is Never Appropriate!

Silently, I checked out the large house with the cold-eyed skill of someone who’s lived in twenty-nine different places during her eleven years of life. Well, twenty-nine-and-a-half if you include the time Mavis and I tried camping. But there was no kitchen and no indoor bathroom, so that shouldn’t count as a whole number.

The clapboard walls stuck out at odd angles. They were the same color that witches in picture books always choose: Scary Gray. Kind of makes you wonder if there’s a permanent sale in the paint aisle that saves all Evil Beings in Fairytale Land a ton of money.

I bet the floors creak. And the pipes clang. The wind probably whips through the cracks at the first sign of a storm.

At the very top, a sloped room had an arched window shaped like the one in Rapunzel’s tower. It glared at me as if it could see right into my brain—and did not like what it found.

The house was located a block away from the Historic Race Course in Saratoga, New York. That’s what the sign said. Historic Saratoga. Like the town wanted to make sure you were prepared for all that…history.

Mavis set her suitcases down on the sidewalk. She glanced at the name on the mailbox and compared it to the letter in her hand. “Mrs. Sandra Gathers. Check!” Then my mom gave me the critical once-over. “Fix your hair, Harm. And straighten up!”


Learn more about Carol or contact her to request her manuscript via: her website: www.caroltanzman.com; Twitter: @CarolTanzman; FaceBook: @caroltanzmanauthor; or email.


To find out how YOU can enter for next quarter, check out contest info here. Entries are now being accepted for next quarter!

For more fantastic content, community, events, and other professional development opportunities, become an SCBWI member today! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area? Check here.


#KT250 original photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash. Author photos provided by their corresponding authors.