Title: Strung Along
Word Count: 51,000
Genre: YA Contemporary
Seventeen-year-old Sarah Avery has always been a violinist, ever since her mother took her to a symphony performance when she was seven. But now her mother is dead, and Sarah’s violin is her only salvation. Her violin means safety, it means Juilliard, it means an escape from her lecherous uncle and ignorant aunt. That is, if Sarah can get in.
But the audition itself isn’t the only thing standing in Sarah’s way. Not when the school guidance counselor forces her to tutor another student for credit hours: Sawyer Cavallo, a self-described fat queer punk with a blue violin and her own share of secrets. Who, to Sarah’s surprise, ends up becoming a friend—even if she is one Sarah can’t afford. Friends get too close. Friends notice things that are off, things that Sarah would rather keep hidden. Things that she has to keep hidden.
Because if her uncle finds out she plans to leave him, he very well may kill her.
My eyes are closed.
Violin music resonates around me, Bach’s Sonata in G minor filling the room, my body, notes wrapping me in a cocoon. My bow is merely an extension of my arm, my fingers press down on the strings at the exact moment they need to make something exquisite, something perfect. This, this is what I live for, this music that makes me feel like I’m in Carnegie Hall, I’m a soloist for a great symphony, I’m—
I start, open my eyes. Mrs. Canady, the music teacher turned guidance counselor, stands in front of me.
“Are you okay?” she asks, the bangles on her wrist clinking dissonantly as she waves her arm.
“You scared me,” I say.
She shrugs, a halfhearted almost-apology. “I didn’t mean to disrupt your practice, but I need a favor.”
I don’t do favors.
“What?” I ask as I stand up. I tower over Mrs. Canady, so much I can begin to see her scalp through her straw-thin hair.
But the way she’s looking at me makes me feel small.
“You’re very talented,” she says. “I was wondering what your plans were after here.”
“I… I haven’t really…”
“You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you weren’t at least considering music,” she continues. “You’re good enough for Juilliard.”
My face burns.
I don’t want anyone to know about Juilliard.
Entry Nickname: Shalom Sasquatch
Title: Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things
Word count: 77K
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Seventeen-year-old Samantha Berger is pretty sure most nice Jewish girls aren’t forced by their families to compete in Bigfoot hunts, especially on national T.V. Just when Sam thinks she couldn’t be more humiliated by her parents’ hobby, she meets the competition: a team of snobby anthropology students from Yale who are set on wiping the floor with her amateur “Squatch” hunting family.
The captain of the other team, Devan Mehta, is impossibly cute in a Bollywood Romeo-meets-Sherlock Holmes sort of way — until he opens his perfect British mouth and calls her family a bunch of low-class wankers. Sam’s no longer just embarrassed. She’s livid, and determined to beat the ascot off Devan and his crew. After all, the prize money will allow her to study pre-med at the college of her dreams, far from Yetis and Yaleies.
Thrown together by the producers, Sam and Devan bond over family pressures, geek out over fantasy fiction, and learn how to rely on each other. In a moment of honesty, Devan admits he may be kicked out of his anthropology program if his team fails and Sam worries about paying for college if she doesn’t win. Before they know it, understanding turns into attraction and a steamy snogging session. But if Sam doesn’t want Devan kicked out of Yale, she’ll have to help him win. Now, as the competition heats up, Sam must choose between her ridiculous family and Devan, who might be perfect for her. Suddenly, finding Bigfoot is just one of Sam’s hairy problems.
On a good day, my parents were just mildly embarrassing. The day the camera crew came to our house was not a good day.
I squinted at the bright lights illuminating our dingy living room, and turned to my older sister, Sophie. “Hunting Bigfoot in private isn’t bad enough?” I whispered. “Now Mom and Dad have to humiliate us on national television?”
Colin, the producer of a new TV show called “Myth Gnomers,” stood behind our scratched up coffee table shooting pre-interviews with my parents, me, and my two sisters. All five of us squished together on our stained, saggy brown couch, smiles frozen in place. At least our butts hid the holes in the upholstery.
The awful title of this lame reality show should’ve served as an obvious warning we were about to do something ridiculous, but nope, it sure didn’t.
“Checking. Checking one, two. Your mics should all be on now.” Colin peered over the camera at my parents’ matching neon green shirts that read, “Ohio is Bigfoot Country.”
My mom’s smile tightened. She glared and gestured at me until I put on a Northern Ohio Bigfoot Society hat like my sisters. Each Sasquatch club designed their own logo. My tacky trucker cap had a cartoon footprint and a motto on it in Latin— which probably translates to “We have nothing better to do.”
I pulled the brim down over my eyes, and sunk down, wishing I could join the pennies and crumbs hiding in the crevices of the sofa.