Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

2015 Sun vs. Snow – FREE PASS Details! January 14, 2015

Filed under: contest,Literary Agent,Publishing,Query — chasingthecrazies @ 8:44 am
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As Team Sun gears up for another epic battle with Team Snow I thought I’d throw a little fun into the mix!


From today through Friday, January 16, I’m going to offer the opportunity for one lucky person to win a free pass to be on Team Sun! What this means is that the winner will NOT have to go through the submission process. Once selected, the winner’s materials (remember: query + first 250 words) will be sent to a Team Sun mentor and then go on to the agent round!


To enter all you need to do is send me an answer, via the comments, to this question:


“If your main character was dropped into the desert with the sun beating down on them and the closest town miles away, how far would they go to survive?”


As always I’m looking for the most intriguing and creative response. Hit me with strong voice, heart, and perhaps a little humor thrown in for good measure! After leaving your answer, please be sure to include your contact info: email or Twitter handle.


The comment window is open now and will remain open until 10 pm EST on Friday, January 16. Winner will be announced via Twitter and here on my blog on Sunday, January 18!


Thank you and I look forward to reading some fun answers!


Good luck!




62 Responses to “2015 Sun vs. Snow – FREE PASS Details!”

  1. jamieadams22 Says:

    On one hand, Alistair’s pride and strength is his ability to create something from nothing. He prefers his workshop and his tidy line of bolts and 2x4s, but he’s used to making do in a pinch. However, if there’s one thing Alistair abhors, it’s the sun- so it’s 50-50 odds whether he’ll be able to whip up a survival kit or whether he’ll be so overwhelmed by the sun touching him everywhere that he’ll just sit down and let it take him. On Twitter at @jamie_adams22 🙂

  2. Great, sand. Laura kicked at it.

    She did not do heat. She spent all her time at an aquarium. Water. She liked water. There was no goddamn ocean in sight.

    This had to be punishment—she knew her grandparents had it out for her. Well, she would show them. Long days at the aquarium had given her an already perfect farmer’s tan. The sun did not daunt her. She didn’t like it, but she could deal. She hummed a Stones song, ready to walk to the edge of this fucking dessert and hitch a ride on some sea lions.

    That was possible, right?

    Whatever. She’d make it possible.


    Thanks so much for the opportunity! 🙂

  3. In the sunlight, I am perfect. I soak the warmth in: at first, just a tickle on my nose, a flush under my cheeks. With each step, the heat slips beneath my skin, pounds through my veins, fills me with life.

    And death.

    For miles around, there is nothing but me, the desert, and the heat.

    I walk, but it’s in circles. The golden fire of the air I love so much, the light I crave, slowly destroys me. It renders my limbs flaccid, my tongue dry. It boils the memory of home from my mind.

    But it doesn’t matter. There is no home without you there.

    Out here, here in the sun-drenched land, I feel you. With each particle of light that melts my skin, the memory of your touch welcomes me.

    “I’m here, Momma.”

    I walk into endless circles of light to find the warmth of your arms.

  4. Desert sand isn’t too good for ballerinas to dance on; Tabitha’s feet just sink right through. So quick as she could, Tabitha would find the nearest road and hitch a ride with a motorcyclist because she knows real well that there isn’t any better way to travel than by motorcycle. And if she couldn’t find a motorcycle, she would pirouette her way across that concrete until her feet blistered and her knees when numb.

  5. Mari Says:

    “All right… So how far to home again?” I mutter to myself. I squint, looking off in the distance. I can barely see the Primm Valley Resorts before the heat waves make my eyes water and I have to squeeze them shut.

    My hand-me-down Honda has finally decided to die. It makes me sad, but I don’t want to dwell on it for too long. I need to find a way to get home. My cell is dead, or I’d call AAA, and Primm is still a handful of miles away…

    I realize I should have just waited for my roommate Thelma to come home with me. She’s only going to be another two days with her family. How hard could that have been? And SHE never lets her phone die. But I don’t like the way her family talks to her…

    Maybe I just shouldn’t have gone with her for her visit back home. Or maybe I should have flown instead of driving my trusty steed to California and back…

    “Ugh!” I groan, kicking at a rock. Finally, I hop back in my car, the shade a minor reprieve from the heat, and look through my tote bag. Aha! I pull out a marker, a notebook, and some tape.

    “Gone to Primm. Car died. Be back soon,” I mutter as I write each word, hoping it’s still here when I get back. I don’t want to deal with a ticket on top of tow fees.

    I leave the note taped to the steering wheel, then grab my bag and a bottle of water, and exit the car. I know Primm isn’t too much farther down the way, but suddenly I’m glad I go to the gym regularly—my stamina is much better than it used to be. I’m confident I can make it before it gets too dark. It also helps that I was born and raised in Las Vegas, so I’m used to this kind of heat.

    Still. This is inconvenient. I was hoping to be home sooner than this… Leaving the house unguarded for more than a couple of days isn’t an option anymore. Not with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse constantly trying to get in and raise Hell in my basement.


    “I guess I’d better get a move on,” I say to myself, locking my car and taking off at a steady pace. I’ll do anything to get out of this desert and get home, especially now that the fate of the world is at stake.


  6. I rub my eyes and squint several times, hardly believing my luck. I’m. In. A. DESERT! *Happy dance* Did I die and go to heaven? Forget the nearest town; I could plop myself down on the sand and stay here forever. Maybe work on a tan, sip on a cool drink, and crack open a fantasy novel. I live in North Pole, Alaska, where we’re all Vitamin C deficient and haunt the town like albino ice-ghosts in long johns, ski masks, and mukluks. But not here; here I can wear a bikini and feel the sun’s rays beat down on my skin. On my very fair, very sensitive skin… Now that I think of it, how did I forget a hat? And sunscreen? And where’s that cool drink I was going to sip? It’s like crazy-hot out here… how far did you say is the closest town?

    Thanks! @kirschap

  7. If Zoe was stranded in the desert, she’d do what she had to. She wouldn’t care about any survival skills she may or may not have—though her girlfriend did teach her how to set a trap to catch a small animal. She’d forever thank her best friend for talking her into becoming a cheerleader, since, you know, she’s got some endurance from that. A few miles? She could do that. The problem would be where to go. Her solution? Pick a direction, and hope for the best. Anything less would lead to death.


  8. Celosia had grown up on the outskirts of the Tyrr desert. This was nothing she couldn’t handle. It also helped that as an Elementalist, she was used to extreme temperatures. She could conjure fire from the time she could talk.

    Staying away from breeds of cactus that were too round was the first trick to surviving dehydration. Don’t drink water from any cactus that isn’t long and skinny, at least in Ardonia. Psychotropics were a real threat in any desert, and she didn’t want to be the one that was found wandering around in nothing but her skivvies ranting about ponies and cupcakes coming to kill everyone in place of the Council. As a trained Regime member, Celosia had a number of skills in her arsenal to ensure she’d make it out of the desert. The first of those, of course–was her ability to run. There was no use in running during the day, however. She hunkered down until night, and would follow the stars as a guide toward the nearest sign of civilization.

  9. Stay at home mom, Alice wouldn’t fare well in the desert. Yes, the heat would give her a great opportunity to lose those lingering pregnancy pounds and force her to exercise. However without the creature comforts of her everyday life, she would only last a few miles.

    But she still would do everything in her power to get home alive. First, she’d searching through her diaper bag for a water bottle (it’s amazing what ends up in there). Then she’d trudge off in the direction of the nearest town. All the while, she’d picture her infant son’s smile to spur her onward. There is no way she’d let her son grow up without her.

    Thanks for the opportunity and this challenge.

  10. noranne Says:

    Desert? Big deal. Being a god has to be good for something, after all. Vassyr is just as comfortable in the sun as in his own bed–and it’s just as pointless. He would barely have to lift a finger to save himself from the hot sun, but he’d do anything to save himself from the crushing ennui. Abandon his world? Break ties with his family? Sure, if that’s the cost of adventure.

  11. “Not this again,” Viking Lord Skrizgaard rumbled. At least he had the good sense to tuck and roll when he hit the ground after his giant moth, EnnBerry, pitched him off. And at least this time he wasn’t in the Waleyn Desert, with its glistening red sand littered with the sun bleached skeletons of whales. And all those awful sand shrimp. Skrizgaard -hated- sand shrimp. A normal desert he could handle. A little sun, a little sand. A normal desert was a normal inconvenience. So Skrizgaard picked a direction and started running, his pace talisman giving him a plus seven in speed.
    “Hmm,” he hummed, puzzled, after a good many miles. He should’ve reached the edge of the desert by then, or at least come across one of its nomadic towns. He raced up the side of a dune and perched on top to survey.
    There was nothing but sand all around. And that’s when it hit him: he was in the Frozen Desert, a horrible place where no matter how far you ran you would always go in circles. -Always-.
    “There’s gotta be a way outta this,” Skrizgaard mumbled as he consulted his Extend-o-Matic™ adventurer’s pouch. -Invisibility potion? No. Fairy in a jar? No. Speed potion… Hmmm-. If he could just run fast enough, maybe he could break out of the Frozen Desert’s magical clutches and be free.
    Skrizgaard yanked out the cork and dumped the Speed potion on his head. Then he ran, so super-dooper fast his cheeks were pulled back somewhere around his ears. He could feel the Desert’s magical pull ebbing from his body and he was -almost- free. But then the potion wore off. And he was still stuck in the desert. With no more speed potions.
    Skrizgaard skidded to a stop, kicking up sand everywhere. There was nothing he could do. He was gonna be stuck in the Frozen Desert forever. A manly warrior’s tear came to his eye. There’d be no more adventuring for him! No more hunting legendary treasure! No more battling big bad boss baddies!
    He reached into his Extend-o-Matic™ for his massive, frilly handkerchief. But he couldn’t find the blasted thing and his nose was staring to run. Instead he found some dusty old Nematoad-stool, Blue grass strings, and rarest of all a lime. Ingredients to make a Speed potion. Skrizgaard was never any good at making potions, they always had some terrible side-effect like growing an extra nose or losing all his toes. But he could face a world where he grew a second face much better than one where he couldn’t adventure anymore. So he made the potion and held his nose when he dumped the smelly, sickly green stuff on his head. And he ran, super-dooper fast again. And then faster still! He sprinted so fast he broke out of the Frozen Desert’s magic pull. He was going so fast he shot right past the edge of the desert, -through- the mountains at its edge, and into a valley where he finally skidded to a stop.
    “That was amazing!” he shouted gleefully.
    “It certainly was!” agreed his second head, and they danced on all four of their legs.

  12. JEN Garrett Says:

    No iPad, banana bread, or even a basketball court? Jay Adams would rather just die now.

  13. Waking up in the desert had not been on Sabin’s list of goals for his life. Especially this desert, the one in which a hidden kingdom of ifrit djinn lived. He recognized it as his childhood home the second he opened his eyes. Deep in his soul, he could feel the nearby presence of his people, which meant they could feel him. His only hope of remaining undetected by the people who cast him out and forced him to survive on his own for millenia was that, with the presence of so many nearby, no one would notice one more. Of course, that meant not using his magick. He was powerful enough that no one could mistake it for his.

    That just left one problem: getting out of here before someone did notice. Too bad the nearest human town was miles away, and he couldn’t use his magick or his ability as a djinni to get there quickly and safely. At least had the advantage of being very hard to kill: it would take more than dehydration, heat stroke, or the freezing temperatures of the desert at night to do him in. If he succumbed, though, that wouldn’t stop him from being stranded, unable to move, until someone did eventually discover him.

    If he’d had time to prepare, traveling in the desert would be easy. Natural, even. It was, after all, his natural habitat. He was more at home in harsh deserts than rainy cities, but he’d grown used to the latter in recent centuries, and his current home in Seattle did not help. Stripping off his T-shirt, Sabin wrapped it around his head to provide protection for the most sensitive part of his body from the sun, sand, and blistering winds before he set out in the direction of the town. His skin was dark enough naturally that the sun beating down on his bare torso would only be a mild annoyance, unless he was out here for too long.

    He wasn’t sure exactly how far away the town was, let alone how fast he could walk through the open desert. With no supplies and nothing warmer than his jeans and T-shirt, if he had to stay out here through the night, he could be in trouble. Glancing at the sky, he saw the sun was closer to setting than rising, which meant he might very well need to find a solution. It wouldn’t be too hard to dig a trench shelter into one of the dunes, but finding water was more of a challenge. Sabin didn’t remember any large sources of water nearby, but in a pinch, he could make do with the cacti fruit. It wasn’t ideal, but eating it could settle two cravings at once: water and food. The latter could also be supplemented with scorpions, he thought as he glanced around. They wouldn’t exactly be hard to find around here.

    With his plan in motion, Sabin set out. The was nothing for him to do but survive, and surviving is what he’s best at. Whatever it takes, he’ll always survive. And if any djinni found him and tried to apprehend him, well, they would soon learn just how it was he’d managed to remain as free as he was all these long, long years.

    Michelle Beahm

  14. Bryn’s faced her crippling fear of darkness, running for her life and a truth she’s dying to uncover; she was the first Briton to descend into the bones of the forgotten London Underground in almost 150 years (maybe); and she’s swallowed her rational thought, logical approach, and gotten off her researcher’s bum to ride horseback from North London to Edinburgh.

    Oh, and she’s gone through time.

    She’s pretty bloody sure you’re having her on by even asking how far she’d go, but she wouldn’t hold it against you. This past year has been her first time outside her hometown, after all. And after a winter in the Scottish Highlands—glorious as they may be—she’d jump at the chance to give Seasonal Affective Disorder a low and well-placed kick. Besides, there’s something to be said in defence of the English rose look: delicate appearances catch others off guard. Do they make SPF 200? As long as she’s dripping in it to avoid resembling a handbag on arrival, she won’t stop until she gets there.


  15. goldnox Says:

    All I can think is: where’s a beer when you need one, and why, why, did I bring my golf clubs with me? That’s right: because I’m the genius who decided to bail on a soul-draining Monday morning at the call center, then ran out of gas since I was too busy thinking about the face belonging to the pair of panties left in my cup holder after last night to bother to stop and fill up. Not exactly an excuse I’m desperate to share with my friends, who aren’t more than a few miles away in the town I’m walking towards, but they’re only going to screw with me about it until the end of time so that’s out of the running. I could call Drew, but that’s going to earn me a scoff before he hangs up because I didn’t invite him along in the first place, so no dice there.

    I kick at a rock that just smugly flipped me the middle finger, despite only being a rock, and I wipe my forearm across my brow to get rid of the sand-laden sweat stinging my eyes. I don’t even want to think about what the heat is doing to my shirt since I’m soaked through, and I grunt and reposition my golf bag a little more securely on my shoulder. Should’ve left them in the car, but no, I couldn’t do that. Because for some reason Noelle’s nagging voice was ringing in my ears about how someone could’ve stolen them and blah blah blah, and now I’m going to die, in the desert, with my Callaways pointing a neon arrow to my embarrassing lack of mental foresight.

    A cactus waves at me, offering to put me out of my misery, and my head drops forward; my body somehow sluggish under the lack of weight in my wallet. All I had to do was not go out to the bars last week, and then I could’ve paid my AAA bill and been rescued by a toothless tow truck driver who, in my dehydrated state, would probably resemble something closer to Victoria Beckham than Victor Crowley. I squint into the distance, the outline of the city blurred with heat, and I stand a little straighter and take another step forward. I’m not going to fall back into the failsafe rescue option. Nope, not gonna. I’m a grown man and I can walk a few miles without needing—

    Aaand the strap on my golf bag just broke. I stare at it, furious with betrayal, and that, ladies and gentlemen of the world’s dumbest desert, is it.

    I take out my phone, blow out a breath, then dial her number.

    “Hey, baby,” she answers cheerfully, and I try to memorize the sound because the screaming lecture is never going to end once she gets here, probably in three hours just to teach me a lesson. I’m already getting a migraine when she rattles off, “So, guess what? I went to the store this morning and got five pairs of pantyhose, all on sale, and since I was in such a good mood I also picked up some more socks for you. You still like the ones with the gray padding and green stripe, right? I guess it doesn’t really matter because socks are socks despite you being such a diva about your clothes, which I will never understand since nobody sees your socks anyway. Oh, and don’t worry about finding an excuse to miss having dinner with me tonight because I’m in the middle of baking a blueberry pie that will be the key to your existence from now until the cows come home and hey-why aren’t you at work? Dante, are you there? Dante!”

    “Hey, Mom,” I say, then clear my throat. “Guess where I am?”

    Katie Golding / / @goldnox

  16. heatherm66 Says:

    Ivy Jane is from snow country, so being lost in the desert would be terribly frightening for her. I mean, what’s up with the scorpions and cacti? Talk about freaky. Subzero, she can do. Heat and spiky plant life, no.
    But Ivy is a survivor — and no stranger to fear and insecurity. Moreover, she is certain of two things: 1) Her family is more important to her than anything else in the world; 2) If she is ever in mortal danger, she is allowed to break the rules.
    She’d consider being lost in the desert mortal danger — so she’d use the family gift to bring forth life and water to the dried up, lifeless sand — even though it would mean upsetting the balance of nature. Her call would carry on the wind and bring her family to her rescue. She knows it’s an extreme measure, and one she’s already had to call one once before, to get rid of the malicious ghosts that nearly killed her.
    But if you’re going to be part of a family, you’ve got to be alive, right? She hasn’t come this far only to perish by thirst and aggressive cacti.

  17. goldnox Says:

    Reblogged this on Katie Golding and commented:
    Check this out, and don’t forget to look into the contest itself. No reason not to, sounds like a blast and all feedback is great feedback!

  18. Most of my characters are of the tooth-and-bloody-claw variety. They’d rig a lens to melt the sand into a glass sword and stab someone to steal their desert-traversing vehicle. But Jera? Not so much.

    She’d wander for a moment or two, remember that she was about as fond of exercise as she was of a sandpaper Pap smear, then sit down and begin to hum a new song. Within a moment, the bass line would kick in and she’d be scrambling for sticks and rocks to form into letters so she could remember the chords for later. When she ran out of rocks she’d draw in the sand and soon she’d be completely surrounded by lyrics and guitar chords, a note or two in her personal shorthand to remember the drum piece. Then she’d panic, realizing she couldn’t escape to fresh sand without ruining her composition because her legs are too short to make a decent leap over the writing.

    Instead she’d lie down and take off her clothes, ripping up the fabric to lay it in specific patterns on her body so the rest of the chords for the song would sunburn themselves into her Portland-pasty skin.

    She’d probably be found in a day or two, dead and creatively sunburned amidst the notes for a brilliant song that no one else could decode.

    Michelle Hazen

  19. Chelle Pike Says:

    A redhead in the desert. Ouch. Not the best situation, but she’s psychic, so it’s a good bet that she saw this coming and planned ahead. Worst case scenario, there’s a city full of monsters gunning for her. Grace would start walking east and wait for one of them to find her, because, seriously, redhead in the desert. She’s got better odds fighting monsters.

  20. Emily Paxman Says:

    Already I could feel the heat, plastering my windbreaker to my arms. There were no hints of roads in front of me. Just miles and miles of golden sand. I felt my mouth pop open in shock. I’d never seen anything like this. The only times I’d seen a horizon uninterrupted by trees or mountains was out on the water, with a million miles of ocean between me and civilization. My stomach churned with the thought that this wasteland could be like that. No food. No water. Nothing but sand and plants that looked like bottle scrubbers.

    I fumbled through my pack, digging for the crummy little GPS Taro had lent me. I shook it out of its nylon case and found a piece of paper wrapped around it. Taro’s jagged handwriting explained things like how to press the “power” button and get a reading on where I was. He’d even drawn pictures of a happy stick figure girl, pointing at the selection screen. Hilarious.

    Maybe not quite so hilarious once I needed the freaking instructions in order to get the thing working. But after a few missteps, I had a reading. I was somewhere in the middle of Arizona. I zoomed out until I found what looked like the closest town. About seven miles away how the crow flies. There might be a source of water in tact there.

    Well, that was one thing I was good at. I could hike over in a few hours, no problem. At least I had that over Taro. He could draw as many snarky pictures as he liked, but throw him here in my place and he’d be shriveled over his backpack by noon. Stick figure with Xs on its eyes.


  21. Who resides in the town? Are their eyes blue or brown? The blue-eyed will whip Meliana for escaping, then put her back in her barely-standing, manure-encrusted hut. The brown-eyed – her own people – will turn her in on a clay platter. Either way, Meliana knows better than to head there. She refuses to spend the rest of her short life farming wheat and sewing sneakers.

    Meliana’s brown eyes are supposed to mean she’s unintelligent, but her survival skills prove otherwise. She can handle the sun and thirst. She knows to hunker down, stay hungry, and keep her mouth shut. She’s had seventeen years of experience (although she could use more work on the last one). Her challenge is to find a new life. But for freedom, she’ll do whatever it takes. She has nothing to lose.

  22. This wouldn’t be the first time Force has had to hump it out of the desert, and it won’t likely be her last. This one is nothing compared to the Sahara where she waited for three sweat-soaked days for the diplomatic envoy to pass by. One shot, one kill, that’s the way her creator liked it. That’s the way Force had been trained. As soon as the shot landed, she heard her creator’s voice in her head, “F4C, initiate recall 0.” Next thing she knew, she was back at the lab. She’d take the hot, miserable desert over the sterile white of that place any day. But if she stayed in the desert, she’d never get the chance to kill her creator, and then what would be the point?
    Twitter: @heidischlottman

  23. Jason would freak out for a while. He’s not an outdoorsman and his survival skills could use a lot of work, so without some help he’s likely to become buzzard chow. Eventually, he would remember the container of radioactive isotope that his government bosses bonded to one of the bones in his forearm. In addition to several other functions, the isotope allows his handlers to track him down wherever he goes. To pass the time while waiting for an unmarked black helicopter to come get him, Jason would set out in search of a nomadic caravan or a roving pack of desert bandits. Knowing Jason’s luck with women, he would probably fall head over heels for the leader’s mistress, get discovered in her tent and be sent blindfolded back out into the desert to die. He’d survive, but his heart would be broken – again.

  24. leehotline Says:

    Kayla has not had the perfect life; taught by her abusive and alcoholic mother that she is worthless, she searches for validation by enticing men to her bed, despite their inability to fill her emotional void. Psychologically scarred, Kayla blames herself when her parents are killed in an accident, and, building a career as a teacher, flees to a remote community, trying to avoid the retribution she believes she deserves.

    Crossing the barren Australian desert on an excursion, Kayla and six young students are abducted and held for ransom. Kayla knows it is the children’s survival that is of paramount importance, not her own. Bartering her body for their safety, tortured by the depraved kidnappers, Kayla wishes for death, even as she reflexively fights for life. But she has a duty of care to her students; she will live to see them rescued, even if the battle consumes the last vestige of her sanity.

    And always, beating a thick tattoo through the pain and confusion in her fractured mind, is the thought that perhaps this is punishment for the sins of her past. Is it possible that she does not deserve to survive?

  25. In the miles of solid sunshine and leering sand there stands Fyr, wrathful.
    The world must hate her. In fact, she knows it does. Here is where her twelve-year-old brother would remark that “Well, at least we know magic is real. Or it has to be, if we just got magically teleported into the middle of this place. At least it isn’t cold.” But he isn’t there. Of course. Which means he is probably screaming out for her in the grassy oblivion she was plucked from, just as clueless as she is now.
    She crosses her sticky arms and mutters to her feet, as they slosh through the powdery drifts of grit, and answers him anyway. “Oh, shut up.”
    Despite the temptation to pull off her embroidered, ethnic fur coat, she pulls the hood over her hanging head, aware the sun is more dangerous than the baking heat. She’s never even seen a picture of a desert before, and the vastness of the drowning, swaying dunes framing her path, shivering in the simmered air, suddenly seems very small, close, choking. She could cut the thick wind with one of her knives.
    Determined not to go in circles, she lets her woman’s sword drag a reminding dent in the drifts behind her. Squinting under her hand, she can see a bump on the horizon. One that is clearly not another bloody sand dune. Mirage or not, she will walk towards it. The only time anyone would catch Fyr without purpose is when she is dead. Which, that possibility is realistic now, but she’s good at making realistic possibilities nonexistent.


  26. Molly survived being the daughter of a serial killer, WITSEC, and the South Florida humidity. She could survive the desert. At least that’s what she told herself, walking through the scorching wasteland. Blisters bubbled on her nose. Without sunblock she sizzled worse than a lobster slathered in butter and deep fried. The sun sure as hell had a lot more power than her twisted father, but as always, her feet carried her forward. Ripping the hem of her shirt and wrapping it around her head like Rambo, Molly squared her shoulders. “If I can take down a serial killer at six, I can handle a heat wave at twenty six.” Balling her fists in defiance, she carried on, knowing her own inner strength would get her there.

  27. Tom Navratil Says:

    Survival is irrelevant. The only objective for veteran diplomat Andy Pulano is career advancement. Long before his wingtips hit the hot sand he calculated how best to use this experience to increase his chances for a promotion. As second-in-command at the U.S. embassy in a remote and dusty land, the next rung up is ambassador. The challenge the empty desert presented was how to act ambassadorial with no one around to influence or negotiate with. Pulano stood where he landed and hunched his shoulders to shield his government-issued blackberry from the sun’s glare. Across the vast arid wasteland, the only movement was Pulano’s thumbs, tapping out one email after another. He flattered his network of mentors and others above himself in the State Department hierarchy with cryptic, jaunty notes about his present activities. He spiced up the messages with terms such as special mission, secret location, high-level special envoy. He promised details upon completion, “beyond what you’ll read in the cable traffic and in the media.” His shadow tilted eastward and lengthened. The battery had enough power for perhaps two or three more messages. His thumbs tapped.

    @TomNavratilism or

  28. tpolen Says:

    Let’s look at my options here: Waiting at home, I have Sarah, a vengeful, psychotic spirit with breath-taking anger management issues living in my bedroom. She’s seeking retribution against her ex-boyfriend, framing me for murder, and has threatened to kill me. On the other hand, I also have a potential girlfriend, Lindsey, who is I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up gorgeous and isn’t embarrassed to be seen with me. I’m a 17-year-old male teenager, so clearly the possibility of a girlfriend outweighs the threat of being killed by a ghost, right? You think a desert scares me? Think again. You haven’t met Sarah.

  29. As the heiress of a pirate lord, Uriel has survival down to a tee. After a life of looking over her shoulder in case one of her father’s sailors corners her and practicing fighting techniques from dusk to dawn, being alone in an unfamiliar place is a piece of cake. In fact, she survived six months on the lam in a country where she would be killed on sight. The desert is nothing, especially when you’ve lived your life being guided by the wind and stars. Uriel would find the north star (or the big dipper) and use it to determine which direction she needs to go in by analyzing which way is more likely the way to the town. On her journey, if the weather is too hot, she knows to undress everything but her boots and with the dagger that never leaves her side she’ll be able to kill lizards and other reptiles/amphibians as they are a source of water. In two days time, she’ll have arrived in the town practically unharmed. But possibly sunburned.


  30. “What would Taylor say?” I ask myself, sweat falling into my eyes. She’d say this was a total waste of makeup and then she’d complain about walking in the sand with heels. What a bitch. But she’d make it out of this desert alive. Bad weeds never die.

    The sun burns bright overhead, the rays like pinpricks across my golden skin. I keep walking, my pink Converse sink deeper with each step, but all I can think is what hella-raucous tan lines I’ll have for Prom…if I ever make it out of here. And then Taylor’s voice yaps at me in my head again. ‘Whatever look you were going for, you missed it.’ I will not let this bitch win. I trudge on.


  31. mvwrite Says:

    Margot kills for love. Literally. Killing to survive? Wouldn’t be a problem. Bloods blood when it comes down to it. And a cactus’s blood is water. Sure, it’s poisoned—it causes fluids to run out a body quicker than a slit throat— but it’s also worth one desperate shot at life. As far as she’s concerned: no fruit, no dew, no rain + knife=dead cactus.

    Fact is, it’ll be “dead everything” until she gets to safety. Dead critters. Dead plants. Dead hikers. Anything to keep her from becoming a dead Margot.


    And when she gets out, the person who put her here is gonna discover one sure truth: never mess with a teenaged serial killer.

    Twitter handle: @mvwrite

  32. Only “miles” to the nearest town? No problem. Echo’s next journey is a 285-mile one. On foot. Through monster-infested wildlands. She has good feet. She has a rock and a dagger in case a monster shows up. She eats and drinks what she finds, when she finds it. Actually, this desert-walk might be the ideal thing…a little practice. @LauraRueckert

  33. Crysta stomped through the rolling sand and wondered for the hundredth time how she’d let that deranged Hunter spell chase her into this desert.
    ‘Sure, protect the bystanders and keep your secrets. Don’t let anyone know you’re saving the world.’
    Now, her car sat three dunes back, out of gas beside a smoking crater that had once been a Hunter. But those people in the village were safe and still believed magick didn’t exist in their scorpion-infested, surface-of-the-sun hot, freckle-producing sandbox.
    She waved her hand toward the horizon, and another row of cacti boiled up from the dunes. Her knife cut big chunks from the side where moisture lay protected from the fireball hanging over her head. Not for the first time, she grumbled about her affinity to plant and not water magick.
    ‘A little water spell and I could swim back to the village.’ She just hoped Darian never heard about this. Big brother didn’t like when she started growing plants that weren’t indigenous to the continent.
    ‘A couple more miles of this and I’ll grow myself an oasis.’

    @Cpoe2Books or

  34. Zhao blinked twice. The one place your average criminal defense attorney did not expect to be was the desert. Two hours later he was convinced he should not be in the desert. “Bad desert,” he mumbled as he trudged up another dune. Seeing a cactus in the distance he approached his thorny salvation. Unfortunately despite his best lawyering skills the cactus refused to divulge it’s deliciously moist contents. Grabbing a smaller branch he tore it off, and watched as the life saving moisture spilled onto the sand. “Bad cactus,” he yelled at the plant. The cactus seemed unrepentant. Nearby a small bird chirped at him. He decided to call the bird a brown chirper, a name he was quite proud of. Zhao decided that he would raise a flock of chirpers to do his bidding. Other lost souls in the desert would henceforth dub him “The Bird King.”

  35. Lacey: Why couldn’t this have been a frozen tundra instead? I’d definitely be able to survive for weeks if it were a frozen landscape, seeing as the cold doesn’t affect anyone with my ability (aka, my family members and I). But hey, I’m always up for a challenge. The first thing I’d do is make a plan. I love plans. Step 1: Attempt to not roast to a crisp in my all-black clothing. I mean, I love it, but my favorite color isn’t really doing me any favors now by attracting the heat. Step 2: Locate any and all cacti, and pry them open somehow to see if there’s any water inside. There will be water somewhere. There has to be. Step 3: Freeze said water into one ice dagger for safekeeping, and sprinkle the rest on my skin in ice chips to keep myself from overheating. Step 4: Keep walking. I won’t give up ’til I hit the nearest town, even if I have to drag myself there with my fingernails. I’ll make alliances with other wayward people if I have to (preferably not with my fiery rivals, but I guess I can’t be picky). Step 5: Once civilization is found, send word to my brother that I’m okay, and daydream about eating a blueberry scone after this entire ordeal is over.

  36. Hope wouldn’t try very hard to survive. Being a suicidal teen and all, she’s not really concerned with living. She doesn’t have much to return to anyway. With a vengeful ex-boyfriend and a catty ex-best friend, Hope wouldn’t mind staying in the desert. Or dying. She’d probably sit down, open her watercoloring kit, and paint until she passed out.

    Thank you for this opportunity. 🙂 @girl_writer

  37. Julie Ellis tripped for the fifth time in as many minutes. Finely ground stones pierced the palms of her hands, causing her cry out in pain. She only meant to take a short hike through the Superstition Mountains. But Julie had lost the trail an hour ago. She’d started to believe the legends…hikers who would go missing, never to be heard from again.
    Julie stood up and shook her head. She had to find her way back to her car. The bright sun burned her face mercilessly. Her mouth felt as dry as the dusty wash she stood in.
    Her son had already lost his father, there was no way she would let him loose his mother as well.
    What had John taught her about survival techniques? Her late husband had told her all about Robin Sage, the final test before earning his Green Beret. She remembered him saying that it was important not to panic. Panic led to fear…and fear often led to death.
    Take one step at at time. Julie took a deep breath and forced herself to relax…just a sunny day by the pool.
    Off in the distance, she saw a tall sagauro cactus with its five arms pointed up to the sky. Make it there, she decided, then choose another landmark…always heading east, toward her car. One step at a time.
    Twitter- @lhoffm01

  38. kathleea Says:

    Only if her three besties were with her and if they weren’t? Dani wouldn’t want to survive without them. So really it’s a moot point.

  39. I had to smirk at that question because my MC was born in the desert next to a cactus. Fortunately his mom’s cell phone brought help. He’s got bigger problems now and stays clear of the desert.

  40. Oops, I forgot my twitter handle, @dahlrachael. Thanks.

  41. Here’s the thing about being engaged to a guy, you end up watching the stupid crap he watches on television, like Sports Center and Bear Grylls. Here’s the second thing, that same crap just might save your life. Kesi sunk down into the gritty sand and looked up at the sky. The sun wasn’t straight up, it was starting its downward dip towards the west, although by its position, it was still hours away from sunset. She tucked her arms inside her tee shirt and wrapped them around her back, unclasping her bra with her hand. She pulled the pale pink, padded bra through the armholes and with her teeth gnawed on the fabric and the seam in the middle of the cups, until it separated into two pieces. She finagled one piece around the top of her black flip flop until it covered the black rubber and then repeated the process with the second flip flop. She tested it out, walking a few steps in the never ending mounds of sand. Once she was assured that it would hold and keep her feet from burning, she plopped back down. Sweat dripped from her forehead and onto her her denim skirt. She swiped it away with her forearm and then ran her arm down her leg, covering it with the moisture. When she had enough, she tossed handfuls of sand onto her leg, using the sand as an impromptu sunscreen. She did the same thing to all areas of exposed skin, including her face. By the time, she was ready to go, she figured she looked more like a sand monster than a college coed. Kesi slipped her feet into her altered flip flops, feeling the smoothness of the fabric against the arches of her feet, and walked towards the west. She knew if she had to, she’d do anything to survive, including drinking her own urine, which she’d seen Bear Gryll’s do on television.

  42. Jay’s used to the heat, being from Hell and all. The desert doesn’t seem so bad in comparison but he’d do what he had to do to survive. Crispy fried desert rat for dinner? Sure, why not? He wouldn’t be the happiest camper in the world though, so if anyone happens to run into him they’ll be getting an earful.

  43. “A few more miles and you totally deserve a dozen cannoli,” Eve said to herself, squinting towards the horizon.”And a pitcher of sangria.” Stripped down to her sports bra, her shirt was wrapped around her head like a trailer park Lawrence of Arabia. “Crap on toast, I’m melting!” Her voice cracked in the dry gritty air. One foot in front of the other, her feet sloshed in the sweat pooling in her sneakers. “Boob sweat. Cranny sweat. And shoe juice,” she muttered, slowing her pace to consider the Russian tradition of drinking out of a shoe.

  44. She had never felt such a heat before. She felt like she was cooked from inside and outside, making her blood boil and vessels pop. She had shed her leather armor hours ago, but now she missed its chafing, constricting, blissfully shadow-giving cover against the burning rays of the sun.
    Her mouth was dry and her stomach rumbled, protesting to be filled with food and water, but there was nothing but white sand and glaring sun. A human wouldn’t be able to survive more than two or three days out there. She didn’t know exactly how long she would survive, but she was sure that the thing inside her could live on forever. Once she lost consciousness, it would tear out of her.
    But she didn’t know if she would still be in there to stop it afterwards.

  45. Crossing the desert? I’ll draw a Ouija board on the searing sand with my dainty slippers. Maybe I’ll be able to open a portal and my changeling sister will pull me through. Maybe I’ll jinx myself to the Beyond, if I’m lucky. I’ll conjure one of my jinni even if I get a sassy trickster who randomly grants my silliest wishes. I’ve been there before. I’m not fluffing myself up, but I have faced the dunes of Cape Cod alone, with no human believing in my words. Miles away from any sanity. I can endure a sweat! I’m up to anything… I will conjure spirits and drink from the stars, rewrite my destiny and gallop on a mirage’s back, but I will cross this desert, dead or alive.

    My Twitter name is @bookriders1

  46. suecoletta Says:

    If her sheriff husband didn’t call in the Calvary first Sage would fight that dry desert by taking breaks along the way to drink from cactus plants. With her astronomy background, she could use the stars if her journey took longer than expected. Of course if she could bring her dog Colt than she’d find her way out in no time. Colt went through police training. Okay, so maybe he’s a police dog dropout. No matter. In Sage’s eyes he’s perfect, and with him by her side they’d become an unstoppable force.

  47. giffmacshane Says:

    It’s sweltering, my canteen is half empty, and I’m not sure which way to go. But the Navajo call my brother The Woodsman, so I know that the best thing to do is to sleep during the day in whatever shade I can find, and travel at night. I’ve got five bullets left in my Colt, four more in my gunbelt. If I can find a small animal, I’m a crack shot and not above eating raw meat if it’s necessary. If not, the saguaro will give me water, the prickly pear will give me fruit, and the north star will guide me home again.

  48. Blind and lost in a desert…not an easy place to be. But if there’s one thing Antoinetta does well, it’s persevere. Now, as she wouldn’t be able to see where she was going, she’d use the brightness of the sun as her guide. She’d focus on her family–especially her sister–as motivation to keep going.

  49. Katie Bailey Says:

    Tris would go as far as she needs to to survive, which, in her case, would be one foot in front of the other and hope for the best. Miles from town? She could handle miles, because when someone says, “can’t,” she says, “watch me. And when someone says, “It’s hot. Maybe you can turn your jeans into cutoff shorts to stay cool,” she says, “Hell no. I’d rather pass out from heatstroke and die halfway there. Thanks.”
    …Yeah, she probably wouldn’t make back to civilization, but gold star for effort.

  50. slide416 Says:

    Already primed with sunscreen and a lifeguard swimsuit, Kaylee is ready for the heat. Used to riding her bike to work and swim team practice, she’s got all the muscle needed to trek across the desert. And if a haboob blasts through, she’ll just swim it like the waves in the ocean.

  51. After everything Allie’s been through, the dry desert heat and baking sun would slow her down, but nothing would keep her from putting one foot in front of the other finding her way back to her life. Allie just wants to be normal again, and it that means hiking her way out of a desert, so be it.


  52. Wait, *just* a desert? No volcano? No terrorists? Awesome; scalding heat I can definitely do, especially if it means I can get to my dad. I’m already dressed in my camp-appropriate one piece bathing suit, and my body is fully basted in SPF 50, so we’re good there. What I need is some transportation. I could always hijack a rogue desert vehicle I suppose. Then again, if you believe Emerson Parker, the glint of my leg hair alone might attract a rescue squad. I think my best bet would be to find a camel, give him some of these Nutter Butters in my bag, and take him for a ride back to civilization. And I’m off!

  53. No doubt Sophie’s grandmother was the one with the brilliant idea to search for a Water Goddess in the desert. Sophie is used to the heat, but after living her whole life in a rainforest, the parched scenery will be quite the shock. If only Sophie can remember the appropriate song she learned as a child, she is sure to find her way out of this oven. In the meantime, her water-controlling powers will help her survive dehydration.

  54. demoness333 Says:

    My MC, Fiona, is getting used to being dropped in the middle of sticky situations, and has a knack for survival. As long as there are no army men with rifles, freaky cult members with knifes, or crazed scientists with tranq guns a few mile stroll through the desert is a day at the beach to her.

    Twitter: @demoness333

  55. Aiden is used to landing in random places throughout the world—he never knows where he’s going to be dropped after leaving someone’s dream. But in order to get back into his friend’s dream, he has to go through water. Landing in a desert would be Aiden’s worst nightmare since he doesn’t have much time left to save his friend. After an initial meltdown, Aiden would wipe away his sweat and head for town. And he’d jump into all the sandy mirages along the way, just in case they might be real.


  56. febe moss Says:

    The desert doesn’t stand a chance against Medusa. She’s may have been born on the gorgon Isle of Stone, but she went to a gorgon boarding school on the tough streets of Red Hook in Brooklyn during the 90’s. And the snakes on her head are right at home in the desert. They’d help her hunt for food and water. She’s got a mean right hook that would land a hard blow against enemies. She’d probably last for more than half the journey before her best friend Hermes wonders she was, find her, and then fly them both the rest of the way with his winged shoes. She’d grumble swearing she could’ve finished on her own, but secretly glad he came, because without her phone’s GPS, it was only a matter of time before she got lost.

  57. More likely than not, Chelsea would pick a direction and start walking, keeping an eye out for water or food. Then, after about the 20th sing-through/air guitar session of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers, she’d stop and curse, remembering she’d been able to teleport out at will the whole time.


  58. aightball Says:

    Jimmy: Geez…I don’t know. I mean, I’m a paramedic, I know the odds of my survival in that situation. I know how long I can reasonably go on without food and water…but how far would I go? Oh man…I imagine I’d do whatever it took to survive, you know? Eat whatever I could find and drink whatever I could find. I wouldn’t, you know, eat myself or anything, that’d be gross. But if something skuttled by and I was hungry, I wouldn’t rule out eating it. Let’s hope this never happens, because I don’t know that I’d last very long.

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