Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 80,000
Special Question: Darth Vader. Austen is bossy, always in control, and will stop at nothing to win. But there’s also a soft side in there somewhere, miles beneath that hard shell. And she’s hiding some significant family secrets (maybe nothing as shocking as hidden Jedi twins, but secrets nonetheless).
35 Word Pitch:
When seventeen-year-old mock trial champion Austen is arrested for murdering her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother, who begged for assisted suicide, Austen must convince a jury her actions were warranted, or she’ll go to prison instead of college.
First 250 Words:
“Objection,” I shouted. A low wave of groans rippled through the courtroom in response. It was the last round of the California High School Mock Trial Regional Competition, and it had been a long day, especially after the courthouse’s air conditioner switched off an hour too early. Attorney objections stopped the clock, and I’d made a ton of them this round already. Not on purpose, not to show off, but because opposing counsel, a junior from Contra Costa Catholic with one too many shirt buttons unbuttoned, was just so… objectionable. She wasn’t prepared, barely seemed to understand the case problem, and kept saying things that would have gotten her disbarred if she was a real lawyer. And she wouldn’t stop twirling her hair. If she’d tried out for my team, I would have cut her during our first practice.
The local lawyer acting as the presiding judge closed his eyes. He looked exhausted, probably from the increasing temperature in the courtroom and also having to sit through four rounds of competition. He sighed. “State your objection, Ms. McGregor.”
“Hearsay, your honor,” I said. “This witness can’t testify to what the victim’s sister said. It’s an out-of-court statement being offered–”
“Response?” the judge interrupted. I glared at him.
Opposing counsel looked at her five-inch heels. “I don’t know. Whatever. Withdrawn.”
“Fine.” The judge sighed again. “Sustained. Counsel, please continue.”
But she asked the same question a few minutes later and I objected again. The judge’s face reddened. “Girls…er…counsel, can you both approach the bar, please?”