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#KT250 is a 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 We’re proud to announce this quarter’s winners and share the first 250 words of their unpublished manuscripts.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 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!



MELANIE DEARMAN for Lex and Emmylou, Young Adult, Literary Fiction

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

Author Bio: Melanie Dearman is a Canadian-Californian who divides her time between writing YA, having existential crises, and baking cookies. She was the runner-up for the 2018 SCBWI Sue Alexander Award following the summer conference and won the 2016 SCBWI LA Mentorship Contest. She lives near Los Angeles with her fiancé and their imaginary dog.

First 250 Words: 

Lex was my first memory.

We were in ballet together when we were five. We wore pink leotards and tutus that fanned out like peacock feathers and learned to twirl in front of a wall of mirrors. That’s what I remember from class: twirling, twirling.

I saw Lex in the mirror and stared: her eyes, steely gray, her hair in a bun too severe, it seemed, for a five-year-old. And then falling, falling, hard onto the wood-paneled floor. Falling took forever.

The other girls laughed, a high-pitched chorus that reverberated off the walls and mirrors, but Lex was there and she picked me up.

Lex has always been the one to pick me up.


Anthropology was my last final of my first semester of college, and when I opened the door the winter air blew in and I was free, really free for the first time since starting school, with nowhere to be and nothing to study for. I was hollower than ever.

My mom was expecting me home by noon tomorrow, which left me sixteen hours. I could amble around bookstores or waste the day under a tree. If Lex were around, she’d insist that we take the train to San Francisco, try and get into a club, make friends with people I would never talk to myself.

But she wasn’t. Lex was in Texas, the middle of nowhere, and she wasn’t my friend anymore. I was free to explore San Francisco without talking to a single person.

Learn more about Melanie or contact her to request her manuscript via: Website: melaniedearman.com; Twitter: @melaniethegreat; Instagram: @dearmedearman; or email.



GWEN DANDRIDGE for Dark, Young Adult, Fantasy

Prize: Honorable Mention

Author Bio: Gwen Dandridge is a writer of young adult and middle grade novels. She is also a lover of golden retrievers, maker of excellent pastries, breads, and funky art.

First 250 Words:

The warmth on my face told me it was mid-day, the sun shining brightly, but for me there was no flicker of a shadow, no color, not even the outline of shape. Nothing. Only dark. As a child, back when I could see in the sun’s red glare, people noted my eyes, which were large and almond shaped, set wide with long black lashes that hid the changes happening beneath. Perhaps people first commented to glean favor from my foster father, Jessup, the warden of this small outland Duchy. Or perhaps they noticed because I stared too long, trying to see my way through the sharp light of day.

I would hear the intake of breath as they looked into my eyes. Their color, like bruised plums, was nothing like the serene gray of my townsmen. If they lingered overmuch, even the most daring would soon back away, confused and uneasy. Some, when they thought I couldn’t see, made a cantrap, that flurry of fingers to push a feared thing away.  What caused them to fear a powerless maiden, I couldn’t say, but fear they did.

In a world where the women were favored by hair that matched the fall’s harvested grains and the men sported sand or ginger-colored beards, I stood out, a dark thistle among wheat.

There were few who would let their children play with me.

Learn more about Gwen or contact her to request her manuscript via: Website: gwendandridge.com; Twitter: @Gwen_fntsy_writ; FaceBook: @gwen.dandridge; Instagram: GwenDandridge; or email.


LAURIE YOUNG for Grounded, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Prize: Honorable Mention

Author Bio: Laurie L. Young has written six books for the preschool novelty market, including I See a Monster. She has been a member of SCBWI for seventeen years, a co-coordinator of the Westside Writers Mingle for four years, and writes picture books and middle grade. She also works as an art director and graphic designer, part-time karaoke warbler, and book hoarder.

First 250 Words:

Kara, my best friend in the whole world, likes to call me Zero-Gravity Girl—Ziggy, for short. Not my favorite nickname. Not exactly accurate, either. I mean, it’s not like I fall up or anything. I . . . float—kind of like an astronaut in space.

But not today. Today, I’m a pinball.

Kara waits for a second, watching my head bop against the padded ceiling. “Hiccups again?”

I nod. She squeezes her lips together to keep from laughing.

The absolute worst thing about being immune to gravity is the hiccups. For most people, hiccups are an uncomfortable inconvenience. For me, they’re a painful exercise in Newtonian Physics. And a serious hindrance to getting dressed in the morning.

“Sure, it’s funny to you,” I say, “but I’m literally bouncing off the walls, here.”

Kara picks up my phone. “This would make such a cool Insta story.”


“I would never,” she laughs, then drops the phone into my backpack. “No one would believe it anyway.” She reaches up to pull my leg down to the bed with one hand while picking up my 10-pound boot off the floor with the other. We’ve done this so many times before it’s practically a choreographed routine.

The real drag is that every single piece of clothing I own has little weights sewn into the hems and seams. Even my underwear! My mom overdid it on that one, but she’s worried I might float away forever.

I worry too, sometimes.

Learn more about Laurie or contact her to request her manuscript via: Twitter: @laurielyoung 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. Gwen Dandridge photo by Calla Gold. Laurie Young photo by Skyrider Photography.