Word Count: 88k
Genre: Contemporary YA
Seventeen-year-old Cadence Flemming fantasizes about a different life, one where her best friend Declan’s in love with her, her stepmonster hasn’t drained their bank account, her little sister Peyton stays cancer free, and her dreams of being a Broadway star are possible. Unfortunately, her real life has more drama than Les Misérables.
When Cadence and Declan land a spot on the new Broadway television competition, SHOWSTOPPER, which offers a $100,000 prize and a chance to be a Broadway star - her dreams suddenly seem within reach. But competition is fierce and her cutthroat cast mates make avoiding the elimination rounds harder than hitting a perfect high F. Even worse, halfway into production, Cadence’s nightmare comes true – Peyton’s cancer returns.
With things on set spiraling out of control and her home life becoming more complicated by the second, Cadence finds solace in Declan. He even appears to be falling in love with her, until he kisses their co-star Lyle on live television. Refusing to let go of her dreams, Cadence will have to claw her way to the top if she wants a shot at the spotlight and at granting her dying sister’s last wish of seeing her on Broadway. But one of the contestants is sabotaging the show and trying to get Cadence kicked off – and they’ll do anything to win. Cadence must expose them before they destroy Cadence’s chances and career, for good.
First 250 words:
There’s a moment when you’re watching a Broadway show and the theater goes dark, the music swells, and there’s this pause right before the curtain rises – a moment when anything could happen. If my life were a musical, this would be that moment.
A rainbow of people holding resumes and headshots snakes its way from the fabulous Fox Theatre, around the corner, and past Eighteenth Street into downtown Atlanta. Camera crews litter the streets, cars honk as they try to maneuver through the madness and a half-dozen police officers stand by, watching with interest. Everywhere you look, someone’s singing. I scan the area, my eyes landing on the clusters of people huddled together. Some of them are practicing their moves, some are screaming in excitement and a few are even crying.
But me . . . yeah, I feel like I’ve just done thirty pirouettes without spotting and I’m gonna puke.
My little sister, Peyton, tugs on my sleeve. “Come on, Cady!” she yells, darting around one of the cameramen, accidentally clipping his elbow.
“Hey watch it,” the guy barks.
“Sorry!” I yell over my shoulder. My dance bag bounces against my hip and I try to keep the box of cupcakes steady in my left hand as I chase after Peyton who weaves through another group of television crews with SHOWSTOPPER t-shirts. Even though she’s my half-sister, I’m glad Peyton inherited my family’s musicality and latched on to my Broadway obsession, or I might’ve missed out on today.
Entry Nickname: Life Sucks—I’m Stuck in Podunk
Title: Middle of Knowhere
Word count: 70K
Genre: YA Contemporary
When Hailey Nelson’s father decides to up and relocate their family from vibrant Chicago city life to the middle of God only knows where, seventeen-year-old Hailey thinks her life is over. She plans to hate this small, rural three-stoplight town. After all, what could she possibly have in common with truck-driving, tobacco-chewing rednecks? But what she doesn’t anticipate is falling in love with a Pepto-Bismol colored antiques store and the quirky woman who runs it. A woman who shows her more love and affection than Hailey's always absent, TV journalist mother.
Misery does love company, and when Hailey finds out her parents are getting divorced, anti-social Ryker Evans—a local teen outcast and bearer of hideous posture—is surprisingly supportive and understanding. Probably because his family is even more messed up than hers. When Hailey gets a glimpse of what Ryker could look like with a little TLC, Project Ryker is on. Only she doesn’t expect Ryker to be hot with a capital “H.” Or sweet and fun, writing her songs and taking her dumpster diving for donuts. Now she has more to worry about than her parents’ divorce and her mother’s abandonment. She has her own stupid feelings for Ryker to work through too.
Falling for Ryker could present a whole new set of problems. Because Ryker has scars that run too deep, scars that not even Hailey can heal. And if she tries to save him from his past, she could lose him forever.
This is what hell looks like.
I stare out the window of Dad’s Ford Explorer. Along the curvy road, dilapidated double-wide trailers that look like they belong in some independent film version of a horror flick, litter the sparse lawns. An old couch, unused tires, and even a rust-stained toilet lay strewn next to one particularly neglected trailer.
“Please tell me no one lives there,” I mutter.
Dad glances in my direction, his mouth set in a firm, disapproving line. “Now, Hailey, try to remember that these people aren’t as fortunate as you and I have been.” His eyes grind into me, like a pestle trying to turn me into bits of shame. “They do the best they can.”
I sigh and turn back to the window as another trailer comes into view, this one even more unkempt. Amazingly enough, one of the occupants is sitting on the sagging porch steps blowing a cloud of smoke into the humid summer air. The man is grease personified. Like if someone wrung him out, they’d have an entire vat of frying oil. I wrinkle my nose and look down when I make eye contact with him. Suddenly, my nails are desperate for attention.
“How long until Mom joins us?” I ask, digging at one particularly bothersome cuticle.
Mom’s been gone for weeks now. As a broadcast journalist, she jet sets around the world while Dad acts as homemaker extraordinaire. Not that I’m knocking my dad’s skills. He can make a mean BLT sandwich.