Sunday, September 16, 2012

CAGI Finalist #35

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 67,000 words


Being confronted by her three boyfriends is the last thing Dena Krester expects on her seventeenth birthday.

Truth is, she used to be friendless. Uprooted almost yearly by career-obsessed parents, she was shy and introverted, and she spent all of her time making art quilts, dreaming of the Art of the Nation Scholarship, and hanging out with her nanny. So when three boys—Liam, Wes, and Keith—befriend her, Dena is over the moon with all of the attention, until the boys want more.

Dena can’t bear the thought of being a loner again, so she doesn't say no. Fearing rejection, she weaves a web of lies to keep these relationships secret, but her tireless effort of keeping everyone happy eclipses all her priorities, to include her looming scholarship deadline. When Dena falls in love with straight-laced Keith, her guilty conscience rips her carefully crafted plans at the seams. And when Keith discovers the truth, she realizes that this time, her penchant for stitching things back together might not fix the mess she’s made. She risks losing everything—her first love, her art, and who she thought she was—unless she finds a way to thread the strands of her life back together.

First 250:

I’m a breath away from scattering this small mountain of torn paper napkins, tempted to cover our table with white fiber. It would be so easy; even a quiet puff could give flight to these tiny squares.

Instead, I stick my finger in the mound, and swirl a crater into it.

“Ready for your surprise?” Keith asks from across the table, his grey-blue eyes expressionless.

I hesitate, searching his poker face for the right answer. I force a smile as the anxiety brewing in my belly slithers up and squeezes my vocal chords. I clear my throat and will a steady voice. “Aw, you didn’t have to get me anything.”

His lips press into a thin line and he goes mute once again. He palms his coffee cup with both hands, and in his silence, I reach for another napkin from the dispenser.

Today is supposed to be my day, my seventeenth birthday. I’m in the most beautiful cafĂ© in the City with my gorgeous boyfriend waiting for some epic present to come through the door.

But I can’t enjoy it, not the way I should be. The sun’s rays beating through the stained glass windows are uncomfortably hot on my temples; the boy band coming through the surround sound is annoying at best. And with Keith so sketchy, I can’t help but think—oh God no, please—that it’s because of me.

I hear frantic beeps and look up to find that it’s Keith texting.  


  1. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I like the hook...and at the same time, I almost feel like the MC needs to be a little less self-deprecating to really pull it off. It feels like it would run a very fine line between rooting for or against her for doing this to these guys...I'm not convinced with the voice I'm seeing in the first 250 it's quite there yet!

  2. Natalie, thank you so much for your feedback! I'll definitely re-look my first 250 with this in mind!