Sunday, September 16, 2012

CAGI Finalist #29


Genre: YA Magical Realism
Word Count: 62,000


Betrayal is a concept Taylor Anderson knows all too well. Thanks to a lie orchestrated by her best friend, Sunny, her friends won’t talk to her and the boy she might love won’t return her calls. Betrayal is the reason Taylor wants to disappear, and after an accident her wish becomes a reality.

But instead of disappearing to a peaceful place filled with puffy clouds and harp-playing angels, Taylor opens her eyes to find an endless gray staircase climbing up, up, up into a clear blue sky. Led Zeppelin? Yeah, they totally nailed it.

Until the ghosts appear.

Not the ghosts of others trapped on the stairs – Taylor would welcome a visit from anyone who could explain why she can’t turn around or how snow can fall when there’s not a cloud in the sky. Instead, the ghosts of everyone she wants to forget swirl before her and plunge her back to the horrible week before the accident. Turns out that disappearing from your life doesn’t mean you get to leave it behind.

But the staircase is more than a haunted punishment. Within it lies a second chance to uncover the true value of everything Taylor thought she wanted to leave behind. But first she must unravel the mystery behind Sunny’s betrayal, and find the strength to forgive the unforgivable.

Unless the staircase breaks her before she can reach the top.

WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS is a 62,000 word YA novel with both contemporary and fantastical elements. The humor, emotion and character transformation will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver’s BEFORE I FALL and Gayle Forman’s IF I STAY.

First 250:

I hadn't noticed my pointy elbows before. They were thorny things, jutting out from my sides like useless wings. I flattened them against my body, not wanting to give anyone yet another reason to avoid me.

It didn’t help.

A line of three girls made an unnecessary show of skirting past me, exchanging smirks with the subtlety of elephants. Once out of view I heard thehiss, hiss, hiss of heated whispers passing between them.

That was her, right? She’s the girl?

I fought the urge to spin around and shoot venom right back at them, but I didn’t want to waste my words on three girls I didn't care about yesterday. Besides, Sunny was the one who caused this whole mess.

No one was at Sunny’s locker when I passed by. Without the swarm of bodies and hum of morning activity it looked like any other locker in any other hallway. The only sign that it meant something more was the key-scratched heart and initials I carved into the tan paint earlier that year.

I <3 J

My heart lurched. Had Sunny gotten to him, too?

The hallways seemed longer than they had before, twisting labyrinth-like between the classroom wings. Posters hung above archways, their edges curling into the hand painted block letters like they were ashamed of the drips and wrinkles in the imperfect writing announcing the upcoming spring formal. I straightened my shoulders. I would not be like the posters.


  1. Hi #29,

    I'd love to read some more if possible. Please send your query letter, a synopsis (~1 page) and first 3 chapters to (subject line: CAGI request: WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS). I hope to hear from you.

  2. Hello! Please send the first 50 pages, as a .doc to terrie(at)akaliteraryllc(dot)com with subject line: CAGI - Where the Staircase Ends - Finalist #29. Looking forward!