Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bouncer Post #24

Genre: YA Suspense/Magical Realism
Word Count: 69,000


Seventeen year-old cello prodigy and consummate rule-follower Sally Hotchkiss arrives in St. Petersburg for the biggest competition of her life, only to start to seeing visions when playing music from Russia’s past. On top of that, her host father, the kind of man she’d always wanted for a dad, is kidnapped out from under her. When she realizes the visions offer clues to help rescue him, Sally  teams up with her host sister to decipher them. But when the clues lead to the upper echelons of the police department, it’s clear Sally will have to break some rules and blow off the competition if she wants to keep a member of her newfound family from ending up dead in a dumpster.

SWIMMING WITH TCHAIKOVSKY, complete at 69,000 words, is a young adult suspense with elements of historical fiction. The primary plot takes place in the present day, while the visions trace a story line about love and resilience that stretches from Tsarist Russia through the Soviet era, with each vision rooted in a piece of music from the time. I majored in Russian at [redacted] and lived with a host family in St. Petersburg. I’m also a member of SCBWI. 


Sally kept her eyes on her bowl, cringing every time her spoon scraped against the ceramic. One chair over, Irina sat facing the window with her legs tucked beneath her, and even though she’d stopped eating breakfast long ago, her mama still stood next to the steaming pot, armed with a ladle. The moment Sally got the last bite of kasha into her mouth, the ladle moved in to replenish.

“Thank you,” Sally murmured in Russian. Admitting she was full wasn’t an option – not if it meant looking up into Mama’s unblinking eyes.  

Yesterday evening Mikhail Grigoryevich had been drinking tea in the chair across from Sally, asking her questions, complimenting her Russian, treating her like she was part of the family. His mug sat on the table where he’d left it. He’d only gone out to walk the dog.

But Sally had to stay focused. She’d been preparing for this day her whole life. No way was she going to blow it now.  Anyway, what could she do to help? Nothing.

She stood up. “I should get going.”

Mama froze with another ladleful of kasha poised halfway between the stove and the table. “What? Go where? Sally dear, you can’t. It’s not safe.”

“But she has to,” Irina said, twisting around in her chair. “The competition starts today. Remember?”

Mama dropped the ladle back into the pot and lowered her voice. “Irina, the District Administration might not stop with your papa."


  1. Such a brilliant concept. SUCH beautiful writing. I'm just waiting for this MS to take off and go far. GO SWT GO!!!!

  2. I second what Leigh Ann said! I've been lucky enough to read this beautiful book in its entirety, and I want more people to have that chance. It's a brilliantly plotted story with an exotic setting and unforgettable characters. Hooray for SWT!

  3. That's such a winning title and 250. Nice one!

  4. Oh wow, I've seen this one around other contest too and it sounds absoutely wonderful, both in premise and in voice. Not to mention, the setting is incredibly exciting too--Russian history is amazing.

    Good luck with it!

  5. I must say the query didn't quite give me enough to go on...but your first 250 show promise, and I like what I see of the premise. You're in!

  6. Yay! Love what you've done with the new beginning. Rooting big for you!

  7. Love that you're still giving this novel your all. Good luck!