Title: Middle of Knowhere
Word count: 70K
Genre: YA Contemporary
What could a seventeen-year-old girl from Chicago possibly have in common with truck-driving, tobacco-chewing rednecks?
When Hailey Nelson’s father decides to up and relocate their family from vibrant city life to the middle of God only knows where, it’s the final straw for Hailey. She plans to hate this small, rural three-stoplight town. But what she doesn’t anticipate is falling in love with a pepto-bismol colored vintage antiques store and the quirky woman who runs it. A woman who shows her more love and affection than Hailey's always absent, news-reporter mother.
But misery loves company, and when Hailey finds out her parents are getting divorced, anti-social Ryker Evans—the local 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. But 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.
But what she doesn’t know about Ryker’s past and the secrets he’s been keeping could tear them apart. For good.
This is what hell looks like, I think as 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 under my breath.
Dad casts a quick glance in my direction, his mouth set in a firm, disapproving line. “Now, Hailey, try to remember that these people work hard. They 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.
Entry Nickname: Learning to Love Tofu.
Title: Perfectly Imperfect
Word Count: 67K
Genre: YA contemporary
Seventeen-year-old Brody Jacobs is a freak show. At least that’s what he’s been called for the past two years since an accident left burns over sixty percent of his body. When Brody moves next door to Maris McKormick, he’s convinced his new neighbor is just like every person who ridicules him on a daily basis. He’ll soon discover that Maris may be the one who can break down the bitterness he’s locked inside -- but only if he’ll let her. Doing so may mean getting hurt all over again.
Maris McKormick is at the top of the pyramid when it comes to the social hierarchy of high school. She has the perfect family, perfect friends, and the perfect boyfriend. But perfect girls don’t get pregnant at seventeen. Now Maris must make an impossible decision that will shatter her perfect image and destroy her reputation. Feeling isolated, she seeks comfort from the only person who could possibly understand what that’s like.
Each of them carries scars, but together they discover they just might have the power to heal each other.
Perfectly Imperfect is written in alternating POV.
Most people would be pissed if their parents moved to another state during high school. I don’t really give a shit. A new school doesn’t mean I have to make new friends and start over. I’ve already started over, and I lost most of my friends two years ago. Was I particularly thrilled about moving from California to Georgia? No. I’ve lived the past almost eighteen years in Southern California and the thought of living in the South amidst Dixie-loving, sweet tea-drinking, grit-eating, “the South will rise again” slogan-sputtering rednecks was not ideal. I know this isn’t the most flattering description, but like I said, I’ve never been to the South so what do I know? The heat sucks and the ocean is too far away, but there are more trees and less smog, so at least I feel like I can breathe. I’m not angry we came here. I know it was necessary for my dad’s job and everything he’s ever done has been to benefit me and my brothers, so I’ll give him this.
Our new house is ten times bigger than our old one. The neighborhood even has a gate at the entrance with a grumpy-looking guy standing guard. I’m not sure why a nice neighborhood like this needs a gate surrounding it. If you want to keep questionable people out, these gates might be better suited in L.A., not Stepford row.