Nickname: My Boyfriend Rigged The Lottery
Word Count: 83,000
Genre: YA Contemporary Suspense
In Marina’s culture, dumplings are thought to bring wealth and good fortune to anyone who eats them. But she’s been eating dumplings her whole life and good fortune remains as elusive as a good boyfriend. She’s a Chinese-American piano prodigy with no say in her future, and the pressure to be perfect is crushing her.
When Marina wins the lottery on her eighteenth birthday and her dad inexplicably forbids her from claiming the prize, she feels newly entitled to defy her parents and reject their plans for her life. She turns her back on customs, and everything else she knows, and accepts the money against their wishes.
But Marina’s lottery win comes with strings attached—a role she’s expected to play that was hand-picked just for her, the same way she was hand-picked to win the lottery. If she fails to do her part and the scandal is exposed, those on top will make sure she’s the first casualty. When Marina finds evidence linking her dad to the intrigue, she has no one to turn to but Sean, an edgy guitar player who gets her in a way no one else does. But Sean’s new in town, and his arrival was suspiciously close to the announcement of her lottery win. Now Marina must figure out who to trust and who’s pulling the lottery strings, before her prize turns into a noose.
My best friend’s raspberry spritzer sat dangerously close to the edge of the table, a twitch of the elbow away from tumbling to the floor. It was non-alcoholic, of course. The staff at Valer Prep made sure that alcohol was only consumed by parents (preferably ones with fat checkbooks) at the annual fundraising events. The students’ drinks were just fruit juice and club soda.
The parents in the decked-out ballroom were dressed like they’d gotten lost on their way to the Oscars and ended up at our school’s silent auction by mistake. They mingled about, bidding on rounds of golf at exclusive country clubs and dinner cruises around the San Francisco Bay. What they really should have been bidding on were self-help courses like: Connecting with Teens For Dummies, or How to Break Your Workout Addiction in Ten Easy Steps.
I reached over Darya and slid her drink to a less precarious spot in the center of the table. She didn’t even notice—she just kept staring at the phone in her hands.
Okay, I was staring at it too.
“The draw was at six. Why haven’t they posted the numbers yet?” Darya’s eyes were wide, and her dark hair hung in thick waves down her back. She had the tiniest hint of a Spanish accent, but it only came out when she was stressed or upset. Like now.
“Relax, it’s only been five minutes.” Despite my words, I felt anything but relaxed.
~ VERSUS ~
Title: The Gray Hole
Entry Nickname: Hot Sauce is Bad for Wound Care
Word count: 62K
Genre: Magic Realism/Suspense
Six students at Mayville High will be dead by Saturday night. Again. And again, they will begin the week over just before Tuesday's first period class. Doomed to repeat the same week until seventeen-year-old Grayson Dell decides to stop killing them, the group must work through two problems: First, Grayson has no idea the groundhog week from hell is happening; Second, the victims are all jerks.
As Grayson debates whether or not to follow through with his deadly plans, his victims, seeing nothing left to lose, only increase their cruelty to outrageous levels, making the decision to kill easier and easier. It isn’t until Grayson’s once-most-brutal tormentor treats him as a fellow human that the magical force creating the temporal loop provides signs of a possible end to the cycle. Now with the help of his old adversary, Grayson must steer clear of his victims and all their evil plans in order to find the therapy, medication, and friendship he needs. Otherwise, he and the others will be forced to endure the week before prom forever, corsages, limos, improvised-explosives, and all.
TUESDAY 7:59 A.M.
You tell yourself today will be different. Maybe it will. The lockers are the same sick, pale blue as yesterday, the linoleum floors still shine with same pungent cleaners that have been disintegrating nose hairs and SEAL-Team-Sixing brain cells for all four years you’ve spent in this school. And your classmates – if they’ve changed anything other than the color of their hair, it’d be tantamount to Chris Hemsworth intentionally eating a carb.
That pale blue used to be your favorite color before your wardrobe and your attitude took an about-face to the dark side. The chemical glint and nauseating smell from the floor is fading with each sneaker’s squeaking step. And those people – the juniors, sophomores, freshman, even your classmates – they all could –
Your head snaps against a locker so hard it’s unclear whether the high pitched hum ringing in your ears is just a sudden bout of tinnitus or if the blue painted metal is actually screaming back at you. You try to pull away and see if the locker’s door was repainted red, but the hand that put you there doubles the pressure from its sweaty palms, digging the blunted and jagged ends of chewed away nails into the back of your head and your left cheek.
You stop struggling before you start. Today will be no different. Why would it be? Embarrassment is the baseline of high school, and pain is just a reminder you haven’t left yet.