Title: A FLICK OF THE SWITCH
Word count: 130,000
When a San Jose, California hospital settles a controversial case and removes the life support systems for a viable baby, Emily, a nurse recovering from the death of her own premature baby, flicks the respirator switch back on.
Relying on lessons learned from her unscrupulous estranged husband, good-girl Emily must lie, steal and manipulate to keep the baby hidden until he can breathe on his own, all the while risking her own dreams of becoming a doctor.
As the baby – whom the world thinks is dead – recovers, Emily also must juggle the affections of three men, her husband in rehab, the sweet hospital maintenance man and a determined reporter who keeps pursuing the truth about “Baby M.”
Throughout her ordeal, Emily must transform herself from a depressed, reclusive victim into a strong and often conniving woman on a mission to save a baby who is not even hers.
“A Flick of the Switch” is a fast-paced, chick-lit blend of drama, mystery and romance. The manuscript is complete at 130,000 words and is available upon request. I have included the first 250 words, per contest rules.
A former journalist, my day job is now as a tenured college journalism professor, with side passions of writing both children’s books and adult fiction. The idea for “A Flick of the Switch” came to me when working on an article about premature babies for a parenting publication.
I have to stand by while a baby dies.
I duck into the bathroom on my lunch break. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is buzzing with activity and some well-meaning nurse is sure to try to talk to me if I grab a sandwich in the cafeteria.
Thick shoes clop on linoleum.
The door opens. I slide into a stall and sit. There's not enough time to lift my cheap brown loafers.
“Emily, is that you?”
It's Rosy, my only friend here at the hospital. We worked together at Memorial Hospital across town for years. She was transferred here to Santa Clara a month before me; the hospital system was trying to equalize the quality and move “good nurses” like Rosy to the “bad” hospital.
“Yeah, it’s me.” I curse the fact that I wear the same shoes every day.
“I've been looking for you," she says. “Did you see all the protesters out front?”
“Yeah. News travels fast.”
I flush the clean toilet. I can’t hide forever.
Rosy follows me to the sink. “Honey, you look greener than your smock.” She touches the side of my cheek. “And these bags – you’re still not sleeping. Makeup?”
“In my locker.” I avoid meeting her eyes.
Rosy rifles through her purse and hands me powder, which I dab around the darkened corners of my eyes. “You don't have to be in with Baby M. I’ll go.”
“No, I was there at his birth. He knows me, better than his own so-called mother.”