Sunday, September 7, 2014


71,000 words
YA Contemporary


Sarah’s a schizophrenic. It drove her stepmom halfway across the country and her father to a bottle of Jack. It ruined her life.

But it also brought Sarah’s siblings back from a fatal car accident. She’s not alone anymore. Kylie walks her home from school. Will gives her the answers to her English homework. She can have a whole life with them.

Schizophrenia may be hell, but Sarah wants to stay.

Then a girl from school is kidnapped right in front of her, but all Sarah remembers is a demon driving a Jeep that carries a girl away. If she were sane, maybe she could remember more. If she were stable, maybe she could help.

Sarah could save a life.

All she has to do is give up Will and Kylie.


I woke up knowing that my life was inside out. There was a warning on the back of my eyelids, a trigger to remind me that nothing was as it should have been. I woke up with a color on my mind. Yellow. And then, just as abruptly, I forgot.

My step sister, Kylie, sat at the foot of my bed. She made a face at me when she saw that I was awake. “You’d better get up. You’re going to be late.”

I squinted at her. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m being a good sister,” she said. As if that was very likely at all. “Like I said, you’re going to be so late.”

That was when it happened.

Her face flickered. One second, she was Kylie. The next, she was not. In the shadow of her cheekbones, something with empty eyes and a violent heart lingered.

I scrambled up.

Kylie blinked and it was gone.

“Oh, she’s up,” she giggled, retreating to the closet.

Kylie was almost eighteen, pretty despite the fact that she was one of the girls with a permanent scowl on her face. She had bad taste in boys and hobbies, but she took good care of me. I wasn’t an easy one to take care of. I loved her.

My eyes itched. I rubbed them. “Where’s Dad?”

“Passed out on the couch,” Kylie replied without turning around. Her voice changed though, the way it always did when I brought up my dad.

“Since when?”

“Since he got home last night. After Will, if you can believe it.”

I hadn’t known Will was gone last night. “Are you going to pick something out or what?”

Kylie paused.

Abruptly, and for no reason at all, I thought yellow.

There it was on the walls, creeping up the front of the bedroom door, casting its sticky hue into the air all around me. It made me feel sick. I flinched away from Kylie, whose face had suddenly emptied like a doll’s, and hit my shin on the bed. I gagged.

Kylie, or the emotionless doll version of her, turned and stepped towards me.

There was a rapping on the bedroom door. The world righted again.

Will--my big brother, my rock, the solid thing when my life was always a storm--peeked his head in, stretching his shoulders back. "You girls ready or what?"

"Nice of you to swoop in at the last minute and act like you're saving the day,” Kylie quipped, holding out my coat to me. “I was the one who got her out of bed."

Will stuffed his hands into his pockets, shrugging again. Will shrugged a lot. "It's my car," he said.
I followed them out of the room, hoping I would remember what day of the week it was once I got to the car. For some reason, I'd thought that I had turned off my alarm, but that couldn't be right. Why wouldn't I set an alarm for a school day? I-

Will tossed the keys to me. "Your turn to drive, little Piper,” he said, too loudly.

My father shifted on the family room couch. He looked worse than usual. He'd sweated through his shirt and the sheet he'd draped over himself. The bottle was toppled over on the floor by the armrest, but his arm was still reaching out to it.

Apparently, he was planning on drinking and sleeping at the same time.

Will, who’d somehow passed me, whispered from the hall, "Sarah, seriously, that school is going to kick you out.”

I turned my back on my father and the whiskey fumed room. I chased my step-siblings into the garage and slid into the driver's side door, waiting for the others to pile in. The driver’s side window was open. I couldn’t remember when that would have happened.

I pressed the button to make it roll back up. It didn't move. It was probably stuck. "Was this window down when we got in?" I asked Kylie, glancing in the rearview mirror.

She gave me a weird look.

We turned out onto the main street.

Will had his arms up, resting on the headrest behind him, and his chocolate eyes lidded. "It's always down, Piper," he said, clearly disinterested, "You know that."

I did know that. It hadn't worked since-

Then several things happened at once.

A truck cut in front of us, out of nowhere. It slammed on its brakes and I didn’t have time to react. We hit it head on. The hood of Will’s car crumbled and the truck in front of us went spinning. There was a horrible, loud screeching sound as I turned the wheel hard in the opposite direction, but it was too late.

The truck had spun all the way around. It hit us again.


Kylie came through the space between the front seats. Her forehead slammed into dashboard, so hard that I thought I heard it crack. Red smeared across the car interior. Will screamed, just once, before his whole left side went through the shattered glass, mangled. I saw him at once as one and two pieces. His back was to me and his spine seemed to be two separate parts--one red and hurting, the other yellow and melting. I screamed.

The car stopped.

I could hear myself sobbing, but I couldn’t feel it. I fumbled for the latch and fell out of the car. The side that I had thought would be up was actually down, and down was way over my head, so I hit the pavement heavy. I was in a parking lot. The car was smoking behind me.

“Will?” I screamed. He didn’t answer me.


Everything shifted again. Will’s burning car vanished, my siblings with it. The parking lot abruptly repopulated. There were two cars now: a Jeep and a grey two-door. There were two people now: a girl that worked there and a man that did not.

The girl was crying.

The man recognized me.

He was a demon. His eyes were black and his face was too long for a soul. The girl shook her pretty head, mascara running down her face, and ducked to keep from hitting the Jeep's roof. The door slammed.

The demon and the girl went away.

I did not. I couldn’t move. My whole world had gone yellow and I had lost something. Something important.

But I couldn’t remember what it was.

It was still lost, and so was I, when Dr. Flanders pulled up and rolled down his window. "You in there, Sarah Lee Piper?"

I wet my lips, wondering what he meant. I looked around. It was day time. The snow had melted away into a puddle around where I stood, one foot over the other. I wasn't wearing any clothes at all except for my coat. My fingers were cramped in my coat pockets.

There was no car. There had never been a car. I must have walked here. In the middle of the night, half naked, I must have walked to this parking lot and stood here talking to myself for an hour. At least.



  1. Wow! I love the first paragraph.
    Very interesting pitch and story. I knew it was something I had to read.
    You do a great job with descriptions and I was clearly in the main character's head. Even without reading the pitch I knew something was different with the main character. Great job! I'm hooked!

  2. Really liked the first sentence. Also, enjoyed the quick, snappy sentences/paragraphs in your first five pages. It sets a really cool rhythm for your book. Great:)

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  4. I think your pitch does a good job of setting up the stakes: giving up her hallucinations to save a girl in trouble. I'm a little confused how she can "be stable," though. That missing info--how she can overcome the hallucinations--is probably something you'll want to include in the pitch, since schizophrenia is a pretty serious condition.

    I feel like your pages are clearer now after reading the pitch (I'd guessed schizophrenia before but wasn't certain), but I tripped at the part with the girl being kidnapped. Could you make that a little clearer?

    Good luck!


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