Monday, September 8, 2014


106,000 word
YA Thriller


When 18 year-old Hailey walks in on her dad screwing his 19 year-old intern, she pulls the trigger on his dirty politics with a .22 caliber handgun.

She shoots and flees leaving little more than a flesh wound on her father’s ass. But her plans to outrun his rage stop short when she crashes into Caleb Evans, a boy hired by her father to make her disappear.

Caleb sweet talks Hailey into missing her train and hides her from the cops in exchange for a kiss. But their lip lock results in him kidnapping Hailey out of Washington.

When begging for freedom fails, Hailey seduces Caleb to survive, betting everything on her father coming to her rescue.

But Daddy’s banking his re-election on her demise, and he's dead set on getting what he paid for.

First Five Pages:

My dad has a gun he thinks I don’t know about. I found it yesterday in his bedroom. Technically, the place was supposed to be off limits, but I’m not too good with imaginary lines.

Dad stepped out around noon—dragged his ten irons out the front door while I tiptoed down the hallway towards his room. He would’ve heard me if he’d been paying attention, but he never does.

Instead, he drowns his heart in his work, his golf, or his bourbon bottles most days. Golf days were the best days to take advantage of his distance. Golf days were the easiest days to get caught. So I gave him a chance to catch me, to punish me, to notice me just once out of the many times I’d broken his rules, and creaked across his wooden floors before he was even out the door.


His voice boomed up the stairs and rattled my heart against my ribcage. I plastered myself against the wall and held my breath ‘til my lungs demanded me to breathe. I sucked in a mouthful of dead air and waited for the sound of dad’s footsteps to come clamoring towards me.

Nothing moved. Nothing changed. So, I answered.

            “Yeah, Dad?”

I did it—gave away my position on purpose. All it took was two words.  He should’ve heard me. Questioned me. Caught me. I sounded too close to be in my bed, too close to not be standing right next to his ugly little room full of ugly little secrets. But he didn’t notice. He didn’t care to.

            “Remind the new cleaning woman that my room is off limits. I don’t want to have to fire anyone else for breaking my rules.”
He’d fired three maids in the last week because of me. Three maids who’d argued for their innocence, when their boss should’ve questioned his not-so-good little girl. Three new tamper-proof locks he should’ve replaced. But he didn’t. He’d gotten sloppy lately—pre-election stress makes desperate senators fall apart at the seams. Dad was in shambles.

For five nights straight, I’d watch him bring home the kind of whispers that kept him up late on hushed phone calls, the kind that meant trouble. Everyday, I’d ask him about work and everyday he’d say things were fine, just fine, but his lies always ended in long benders and lots of booze. Booze meant the worst kind of secrets, the dangerous kind, the only kind worth snooping for.

            “Sure. See you later,” I said.

He answered with the click, click, clacking of the front door locking shut, so I went back to prying his bedroom door open. I pulled three bobby pins out from the long, auburn tangles of my hair and slipped the first one into his lock. He had it manufactured special—senators-with-expensive-secrets—special, but, I popped it open two bobby pins in. Persistence makes perfect, and like a cat burglar Alice in a Washington Wonderland, I snuck through the looking glass.

As expected, his bedroom was compulsively pristine, not a book out of place, not a drawer left unlocked, everything perfect— but only almost. A small stack of signed and stapled papers had spilled down onto his impeccably clean wooden floors.

Passable? Not even close. Spills meant his world was off center.

So I dug around for a real-life rabbit hole on the off chance that I’d find one. And I did.

Not an actual rabbit hole, but a place in the floor vent behind his desk where he took off the grating one too many times. I jiggled the top, popped off the smooth metal covering, and there it was—a shiny new vault big enough to keep the vent grate from fitting into the ground.

I ran my fingers over the sliders, sweat glazing the metal as I worked, and clicked through every possible combination he’d could’ve set.

Click, click, click.

Click, click, click.

Click, clickclack—the downstairs door popped open before the lock on his safe did. Bad news. Dad’s footsteps echoed through the house while he mumbled angrily into his phone.

“Do you really need me to bring the contract or can we do this the way it’s supposed to be done?” He asked.

I had thirty seconds left to find a hiding place, to put his secret back exactly where I’d found it, to disappear. But my body froze and my muscles tightened harder than the pressure building in my chest. I waited for the door to open, for him to hear me, to catch me, to notice me, but nothing changed.

            “Good. That’ll be better for both of us. I’ll be there in a minute,” he said.

His footsteps slowed to a stop just outside the door, but his phone call didn’t. The stranger on the other line dragged him downstairs and back to his business. So I went back to mine.

Click, click, click.

The lock to his safe popped open on my mom’s birthday. He’d deny that if you asked him, though. He’s been denying a lot of things lately.

I lifted the lid to find a gun—a silver secret with “Re-election Day etched into the steel. Dad’s secrets stopped being a game the second I realized they could kill. But who? Andersons' didn’t have enemies—that’s what he’d told me, that’s what he’d promised.

I shouldn’t have believed him—politicians never kept promises. I just wished he’d kept his. Maybe he’d always had it as a precaution. Precautions were just a way to stay safe. But this didn’t feel safe. Dad didn’t feel safe, not anymore.

Panic crawled into all the places I’d felt secure and buried itself deeper than my bones. My lungs couldn’t breathe in the air fast enough, my eyes couldn’t un-see what they’d seen, and my hands couldn’t un-touch what they’d touched. I shoved the gun back into the vault, fingers fumbling it into place, and slammed the lid shut like closing it would close the door on my reality. For a publicly anti-gun guy, a brand new pistol was anti-common sense.

But maybe this was normal. Eighteen-year-olds find crazy stuff in their parents’ rooms all the time. Maybe dad’s wasn’t out of the ordinary. Maybe it was a collector’s item, but he seldom brought home hobbies for pleasure, just solutions for pain. I staggered out of the room and tried to un-freaking myself out about the situation, but when weird things like guns pop up, you're supposed to pay attention. If you don't, you pay for it later. I’ve watched a lot of movies so I know these things.

I had a gun stuck in the back of my head for the rest of the day. Dad came home, dinner was awkward and silent, but it always is. He wasn’t paying attention—not to me, not to anything. The tension didn't even register.

After thirty minutes of dry steak and burnt potatoes, I skipped out on reruns of Gossip Girl, popped a couple Benadryl and knocked out early. The drugs didn’t make Dad’s secrets any easier to sleep on, just easy to forget for a little while. But bad things happen to forgetful people, and bad things happen when you don’t pay attention. But maybe that’s just a movie thing. Fingers crossed.


  1. "So I dug around for a real-life rabbit hole on the off chance that I’d find one. And I did." --Loved this line. I also really liked your mix of suspense and narrative, dialogue and descriptions. This girl is BA and I dig it:)

    Your pitch made my giggle. Honest. Edgy. Intriguing.
    Great job!!!

  2. Love your pitch and premise. All the best with it!

  3. I love the opening line to your pitch. So great! And the voice in the sample is really strong.

    I do have a question though. The opening scene makes it clear that her father is hiding some kind of dirty secret, and it's that, as much as his screwing the intern, that seems to draw his vengeance on her--so maybe suggest some of that in the pitch? Otherwise it sounds like he wants to kill her because she hurt him (and his pride).

  4. Your pitch is great, and the voice really stands out, which also fits the tone of the story. My only issue with it is that if Caleb is going to be the romantic interest, you might want to make him a little more likable in the pitch.

    Your pages are also good, but I did wonder why your MC is looking around in her father's room when the father is still at home. Wouldn't it make more sense to wait until he's out of the house? Might just be me. :)

    Good luck!


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