Entry Nickname: Mississippi Crazypants
Title: This Side of Crazy
Word Count: 86,000
Genre: Women's Fiction
Cissy Pickering swears that shooting her daddy in the back was the smartest thing she’s ever done. After surviving more than eight years of his abuse, she had to prevent him from having the same secret with her two baby sisters. What she didn’t count on was being sent to the Greater Mississippi State Hospital instead of prison.
When a caring, yet unorthodox, hospital psychiatrist tries to unlock the family secrets that led to Cissy’s crime, the 16-year-old retreats to a world of make-believe and compulsive counting. Meanwhile, three generations of women struggle to understand and forgive Cissy while coming to terms with the loss of their son, husband and father.
But when the psychiatrist digs too deep and Cissy retreats even further from reality, her maternal grandmother uses her wealth and connections to help Cissy escape the hospital. On the road, and with no plan, Grandmother doubts her ability to ensure Cissy’s emotional survival. Their tender relationship and an unearthed secret from Grandmother’s past force Cissy to decide what’s best for her own future — and whether she wants to keep running.
THIS SIDE OF CRAZY is told from two viewpoints: Cissy’s and Grandmother’s. This book will appeal to readers who enjoyed the strong female Southern voices in Secret Life of Bees.
First 250 words:
My sisters and I had already consumed an impressive stack of books since school let out, reading long into the sticky June nights, even under threat of punishment. We’d needled Mama until she finally agreed to take the three of us to the Biloxi library this morning. Her chief argument against getting more books — and a flimsy one at that — was that we read too fast and the books we had should have lasted all summer. I ignored her complaining. It's one of my special talents.
“Cissy! Get your butt down here right this minute! Your Corn Flakes are getting soggy!” Mama’s voice carried easily from the kitchen, down a long hallway and up a flight of stairs. That was her special talent. As was prematurely pouring milk into cereal to punish her daughters’ lollygagging.
I slipped into a plaid cotton sundress and my pink plastic sandals that squeaked when I walked and rubbed blisters on my little toes. The sound irritated Mama just enough to make those blisters worthwhile. Some might call this childish behavior for a 16-year-old but I took fun wherever I could find it.
Mama and our housekeeper, Bess, were locked in a battle of wills over one thing or another. I tuned them out, rushing out of my room and down the hall toward the bathroom to brush my teeth. What I saw stopped me short, the plastic of my shoes sticking fast to the wood floor.