Sunday, September 7, 2014


Freshmen Blues
83000 words
NA LGBT Romance with Fantasy elements


19-year-old Chris is confused when he gets invited to Creekville University. A C student like him should never have been accepted into college, where mastery of your chosen major results in special abilities. Only the smartest students pull that off.

He finds out his selection was part of an experiment to see if average students can earn abilities, and he’s not alone. Frederick, a gorgeous senior student who catches Chris’ eye immediately, has been a guinea pig like Chris for years. But Frederick isn’t focused on romance, too terrified of the upcoming pressures of life after graduation. Chris fears Frederick might be depressed, and works toward getting a special ability in psychology, like empathy or neurotransmitter manipulation, to help him.

Funding for the experiment is low, and if Chris doesn’t get results soon, he’ll lose his opportunity at Creekville. But if Chris can do it, he might win Frederick’s love, too.

First five pages:

Chris took a deep breath. Then another. The Isaac Newton dormitory loomed over his head.

The engine of his parent’s car gunned, and he gave a weak wave to his mother. The last thing he saw was her proud smile as the car pulled away with a familiar engine rattle, leaving him on the sidewalk with his two enormous suitcases by his feet. The car rushed past the faded sign proclaiming “Creekville University, 1891,” and then was gone.

Chris turned back to the double doors and took another deep breath, the butterflies in his stomach threatening to spill out of his mouth. He took a crumpled paper out of his pocket.

“Are you lost?” He jumped at the voice. A girl with long blond hair smiled at him, her teeth bright white. “Need help with your bags?”

“Uh…” he cleared his throat and started again. “I’m Chris Taklo. I’m, uh, a freshman.”

She smiled wider. “I figured as much. What floor are you on?”

 “4th floor. Reed hall.”

“Great!” she stuck out a hand, and he stared at it for a moment before shaking. “I’m Krystal. What luck! I’ll be your RA this year. Welcome to the Newton dorm!”

Some of the butterflies began to flutter more slowly. “Thanks.”

“Parents aren’t helping you move in?” When Chris shook his head, she nodded. “That’s fine. What room number are you? No, wait, let’s get your bags first. You’re sure its Reed hall, right?”

“Right. Room number…” he glanced at the paper in his hand. “409.”

“Okay. Here we go!”

She began to recite, and Chris’s butterflies swirled faster. He tried to pick out the words and numbers, and figured it out just as his bags began to levitate off the ground.

The physics equation leaped off her tongue so fast he could barely make out the pronunciation of big G and little G, mass and velocity. The bags soon floated over his head, and then up toward the open window of the fourth floor. The recitation changed, Krystal rattling off variables related to momentum, and the bags floated through the window.

“There!” she took a breath, then broke into another large smile. “That should lighten your load.”

Chris kept staring at the open window where his bags had disappeared. This was college, where smart people like Krystal got abilities and moved on to running companies or making millions. He hoped he could make it through even one semester. “Um, thanks.”

“Don’t look so down! You might be able to do that one day, if you decide to major in physics.” She patted him on the shoulder, then hopped up the cement stairs. “C’mon, let’s get you to your room. Do you know what you want to major in yet?”

Chris’s mouth twisted. “Not yet.”

“That’s okay.” The interior was plain, the walls a smoky yellow. Fire doors marked exits down what must be hallways, but Chris didn’t get the chance to explore before Krystal hit the elevator button with a well-manicured fingernail. “A lot of freshmen don’t come in knowing what they want to do. I’m sure some of the older students will give you suggestions, though.”

“Right.” The elevator dinged, the doors opening with a shaky rumble. A blue tarp stretched across the interior, and he peeked over when he stepped in. There was nothing on the other side.

“That’s for researchers transporting animals,” Krystal said. Chris blinked. “And here we are!”

The doors swung open to the Reed Hall of the Isaac Newton dormitory, 4th floor. Chris’s new college home.

Green carpeting led to two lounges on either side of the elevator lobby. His bags lay on the floor of the lounge to the left, and a guy with a buzzcut was currently using them as a footrest. A football game blared on the television.

“Derric!” Krystal shouted. The buzzcut guy raised an arm in a lazy wave. “Get off the new student’s bags!”

Derric lifted his legs, Chris’s suitcase falling on its side. “Sorry,” he said with a shrug.

Chris sighed, then walked over and pulled the bags away from the chair Derric sat in. “You a new freshman?” Derric asked, his gaze swiveling from the TV mounted on the wall. “That’s all you have?”

“Yep.” Chris grunted as he lifted the bags.

Derric shrugged again, then went back to watching the game. Well, fine then. He wasn’t someone Chris would bother with much.

Reed hall stretched down past the two lounges, a row of closed doors on either side. Colorful letters spelled “Krystal R.A” on the first one he passed.

“This is my room.” Krystal had followed him. “There are sixteen people in Reed hall, though I haven’t met all the new arrivals yet. Can you manage from here?”

Chris nodded. He certainly hoped so.

“Great! We have a hall meeting tonight at eight, where you’ll meet all your hallmates. Let me know if you need anything at all. The two guys in the room next to mine are also seniors, and I wouldn’t ask Frederick anything but you can ask Kiefer anything too if you can’t tell me.” She winked, and Chris’s face heated. “Also, your roommate is a sophomore, so you can ask him anything too. Welcome again!” she waved, and Chris waved back before heading on down the hall. He wondered who Frederick was, and why he shouldn’t speak to him.

Most of the doors he passed were closed, including the one next to Krystal’s where she had said the seniors lived. There were two bathrooms, one for males and one for females, and finally he passed another open door. 

Paintings covered the entire room. Some were modern, splotches of bright color on white canvas, and others depicted stick figures. A few were more detailed, showing women in brightly colored dresses dancing in a brightly lit ballroom. A girl with long dark hair sat behind a desk, sketching something. She lifted her hand from the pencil for a moment, the pencil staying aloft and continuing to sketch.

Chris kept moving, staying aware of the numbers on the doors. His room was last.

He passed another open door, this one with no occupant. A giant football jersey spread over the doorway. Must be Derric’s room.

Finally, he stopped outside room 409, another bright red exit door to his left. He set down his bags, fumbling for his keys for a moment, before swinging open the door.

“Don’t move!” someone shrieked. Chris froze.

Two enormous computer towers met his gaze, and parts littered the floor. A guy with slicked black hair and glasses stood, a pair of tweezers in his hand.

“You’re my roommate, right? he said. “Okay, give me a few seconds to get this stuff the floor.”

“Uh…what are you doing?” Chris asked. His new roommate turned one of the computer towers, the interior gutted.

“Making some adjustments.” He began picking up the electronic bits from the floor near the door, waving a hand. “Sorry. I wasn’t expecting you. My roommate last year never showed up, so I guess I kind of…forgot.” He grabbed wiring that lay near the empty bed on what Chris guessed would be his side of the room. “Come in, come in. I’m Gene. Short for Eugene, but…just call me Gene. You?”

“Chris.” He stepped carefully into the room, arms straining as he lifted his suitcases onto the bed. He wished he knew a few physics equations at the level Krystal did.

“Nice to meet you.” Gene shoved one of the computer towers back under his desk with a foot. “I guess, um, tell me about yourself. Where you’re from, all that stuff. We’re roommates now!”


  1. I love the premise for this one! Your pitch sets up the story nicely, although I think you could be clearer in the first paragraph about the "special abilities," maybe by giving a few examples: physics can do X abilities, music can do Y abilities (although I know we had a word limit).

    Your pages are good and the writing flows well, but I wonder if the pacing can be a little faster. A lot of school stories start out with meeting the roommates, which of course is necessary, but I always think those scenes should be shortened to get to the main story sooner. Might just be my opinion :)

    Good luck!

  2. Great premise for the book! I like the idea of using the fantasy elements to deal with real, everyday problems like depression, fitting in, etc.

    For the first pages, I think you can tighten things up a bit and be careful of typos and repetitive words. For example the paragraphs where she talks about the meeting. I stumbled over that one. Should be an easy fix though.

    I would also like to see more action, physical and/or emotion, and tension in these pages. Chris seems to react to other people's actions instead of his own. I guess I'd like to see more of his personality in these pages so I can cheer for him later on.
    Please disregard whatever suggestions don't work.


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