Genre: YA LGBT Contemporary
Word count: 73,000
My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:
Someone's going to find out. They’re going to smell my clothes, see my bruises—the evidence of what my father thinks is my ‘disobedience’—and then they’re going to say something. Then DCF will show up, and we’ll lose the farm. But that’s not even the worst of it. They’ll take Gracie, and she’s too little, too sick, for a foster home. This is why…Please. I didn’t do it. I swear I didn’t do it. Please, no. Please.
Unlike the other teens on Brimstone Hill, Sarah Koziol doesn’t have a Macbook Air or a silver baritone horn. Or heat and hot water. But she does have her family and the farm, and she’ll do anything to protect them—especially if being invisible to her peers means remaining invisible to the Department of Children and Families.
Then Sarah meets Bonnie, a belligerent foster girl with a past as bad as Sarah’s present. Bonnie’s the first person to look through Sarah’s third-hand clothes and see her bruised body. She urges Sarah to stand up for herself, do as she did, call DCF. But Bonnie can’t begin to understand the repercussions such an action would have on Sarah’s family or the farm. Still, if it worked for Bonnie, maybe it’d work for Sarah.
As the farm falls prey to coyotes and power-outages, and as her sister grows sicker and her parents more desperate, Sarah clings to her relationship with Bonnie. But balancing family and friendship proves harder than winter without heat. When Sarah learns that Bonnie lied about her abuse, she must reevaluate what’s important—her growing sense of self and love, or her obligations to family and farm.
First 250 Words:
I roll over to check if the milk is frozen. Neatly stacked in three crates of glass bottles, it’s solid. That probably means the apples and potatoes are frozen, too.
The omen of a bad day.
I could pray that the bottles won’t break as my bedroom warms with daylight. I could pray, but I won’t. If it’s going to get cold, it’s going to get cold, and all things—milk among them—freeze. There’s a life lesson for you.
My folded clothes lay on my nightstand, and I pull them into the warmth of the sleeping bag.
I am the salamander that once lived in the cellar. Joseph and I used to amuse ourselves by enticing it with earth- or mealworms. It would shoot from under the stone long enough to bite down before retreating. The salamander couldn’t guess we weren’t going to hurt it. It didn’t need to move fast, but I do. Otherwise, my body heat will escape. The chill will never leave me then.
In middle school, I slept in my clothes, the extra layer providing what the wood stove in the dining room couldn’t. It took only one overheard conversation during that petrifying first week of high school before I stopped.
“Did you see Sarah’s shirt? It’s so wrinkly it looks like she slept in it.”
That was the last time I did.
By that point, most of my peers started to notice I was different. If I’m being honest here, it was the first time I noticed.