Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Word Count: 85,000 words
Some people are born to throw a curve ball or solve for X or sink a putt from fifty feet out. Neelie Nichols was born to hit a high D-flat.
Throughout high school, that D-flat and a modicum of effort were enough for Neelie to get by as the best singer in the room. But when she arrives in Indianapolis for her freshman year of college and gets the chance to hear her new classmates sing, she realizes that she’s just one little soprano fish in a big, sparkly operatic pond. Now Neelie is forced to decide whether or not she’s willing to make the necessary changes in her life to hold her own against the likes of Jugs, her biggest rival, and Seth Banks, the beautiful, enigmatic baritone.
MERELY FRESHMEN is a young adult novel about a girl, her voice, and her plans for world opera domination. Oh, and it’s also about the boys, the booze, and the band that threaten to derail those plans.
I am a failed opera singer who has written about television for the past five years for the website PhillyBurbs. More recently, my blog Hammervision has been picked up by ChicagoNow, a Chicago Tribune Media Services collection of local blogs that receives millions of hits per month.
I shuffled down the hall, slid into the first empty practice room, and set my backpack on a battered armchair. Muffled scales and arpeggios pulsed through the walls on either side of me and I knew then that there would be no secrets in these practice rooms. I would not be able to hide my bum notes and poor piano skills. But I could hide my face. I pulled a spiral notebook from my backpack and ripped out the last page, glancing around, guilty, worried that someone had heard the tearing paper over the trills and staccatos. I tucked the paper into the tiny window on the door. The paper fit perfectly, as if the window had been created with embarrassed students who had access to spiral notebooks in mind.
Not knowing where to begin, I stood in front of the mirror and fixed my hair in its butterfly clip. Then I fixed it again. And again. And I put on some lipgloss. Then I strolled over to the floor-to-ceiling window and gazed out at the blue sky, thick with haze. I watched members of the football team run in a sweaty pack beneath me until the trees at the edge of campus devoured the herd. Nothing left to distract me, I slid onto the piano bench without pulling it out and I stared at the keys. I wondered if I should grab some music from my backpack. Should I run through a couple songs? Warm up with some scales?