Three standout first-time novels win YA! 2015 Contest

AUSTIN, TEXAS February  3, 2016 – AUTHORS, Inc., creator of, the premier online platform for queries, manuscript submissions and acquisitions discovery, announces Jessica Kelley of Virginia Beach, Virginia and her winning manuscript entitled The Mercy Killers as its winner for the YA! 2105 Young Adult Fiction Writing Competition.

A dystopian fantasy romance in a futuristic society, the winning novel follows a young gypsy girl on a quest to save her people from a terrible plagueand is filled with complex characters and high drama. Ms. Kelley enjoys bringing her stories to life. “The worlds inside my head are a mix of Victorian styles, Greek aristocracy, and Bohemian beauty,” Kelley said. She calls writing her “glorious addiction”. The judges were unanimous in their selection calling Mercy Killers “absolutely fantastic with a strong cast of characters and expert plotting.”

Second place finisher is Lara Dunning with her novel, Aleutian Pearl, a modern day tale of selkies, mythological, shape-shifting creatures. After watching her selkie father die of Land Sickness sixteen-year-old Lula is desperate to avoid the same fate. With her father’s ashes and a mysterious inherited pearl, she leaves the Pacific Northwest and heads to Alaska’s Aleutian Chain determined to find her clan and get the selkie skin she should have been born with. One judge commented, “This is a wonderfully nuanced, original fantasy that boasts suspense, romance, and numerous complex and memorable characters.”

Third place has been awarded to Catherine Hogarth for her novel, Dora Finching, a captivating story of courage set in Dickensian London of the 1860’s. Left disabled by the same train crash that killed her parents, 13-year old protagonist Dora takes charge of two bull terriers bred for dog-fighting while convalescing. Together the orphaned girl fights for their survival and hers.An engaging and skillfully told story with a wonderful cast of characters good and bad amidst an authentic setting.”

Ms. Kelley has been awarded first prize of $750 along with line editing of her full manuscript provided by co-sponsor BookLogix of Alpheretta, GA. In addition, the top three winners receive a one-year subscription to AUTHORS Discovery. The two runners up also receive cash awards and prizes, one of which includes a session with published author and book coach Carolyn Cohagan.

Asked what Ms. Kelley has in store for her follow up novel she said, “My next project focuses on a young lady in 1800’s steampunk France and India, and the world involves perfumes with magical effects that only the rich can afford.”

The panel of four judges included John B. Bryans, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Plexus Publishing, Inc., who said, “The overall quality of the entries was impressive and the winners are exceptional—I expect to see all three successfully published in the near future.” Bryans added, “The contest was my introduction to an innovative system for managing the editorial acquisitions process, and I’m hooked. Kudos to for encouraging new writers and helping agents and publishers discover their work.”

The other YA contest judges included Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow Literary, Jackie Lindert of New Leaf Literary, and Christen Thompson, Acquisitions Editor and Bookseller.

“All the judges reviewed at different times, but thanks to AUTHORS, it was easy to collaborate and enjoy a few healthy debates,” said Thompson. will continue to offer opportunities for writers to test their skills in other writing competitions, including a thriller contest running now through March in partnership with



AUTHORS, Inc. is an Austin technology company dedicated to making the process of discovering new manuscripts better for the writers who write them and for the agents and publishers who publish them. AUTHORS has created a breakthrough service that puts everyone on the same platform for better communication, discovery and submissions management.