Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bouncer Round 6 #41

Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 52,000 words


Super-brain Alexis likes everything exactly so. Perfect prep school grades.  School supplies arranged eight inches apart at exact angles. Timed phone calls with her mother. Scheduled hook-ups with her boyfriend Ben. As long as her ongoing self-harm streak is hidden, all is well.

When Alexis gets a B on an essay and then endures an excruciating break-up, her once orderly life spirals into chaos. Now she cuts precise parallel lines on her leg, one inch apart, one for each day since Ben broke up with her. She bangs her head, burns herself—anything to self-soothe and reassert some control over her life.

After her friend accidentally sees her scars, Alexis is forced into disclosure to her parents, trapped into weekly therapy sessions with a counselor, and worst of all, faced with dismissal from school if she can’t stop hurting herself. It’s up to Alexis to pull herself out of her hell—if she even can.

I am an educator and a member of SCBWI, and I belong to several critique groups. I am also working on two other YA projects.

First 250:

A bright red B. Oh my God.

I dug my fingernails into my arm and risked a glance at the comments on my English paper. All bad. I couldn’t read any more—plenty of time to memorize the rest later. I stuffed the paper into my binder before anyone could see it.

My throat closed up and I couldn’t draw a full breath. My G.P.A. would sink. Miranda would pass me in class rank. One B could ruin everything at our school. My mother was going to kill me.

“I’ll be right back,” I said, and walked-ran out of the classroom.

Made it into the hallway, close to the bathroom. Such a fool. I clenched my teeth. I should have spent more time on the paper until it was flawless.

I made it to the safety of a marbled stall before the tears started.

Why didn’t I work harder? I didn’t deserve an A anyway. Dummy, lazy, fat moron.

I jerked up my left sleeve. I uncurled a paper clip, molding the metal into a straight line. I scraped the clip back and forth across my fat upper arm until a pink welt popped up. So stupid, so stupid….

It wasn’t enough. I took a deep breath. I scraped four more times, changing the line into an angular B. Exactly what I deserved.

I pulled my shirt sleeve back down as far as it would go, clutched it with my fist, and went to my next class.


  1. This is intense! I actually read the first 250 before the query and they really caught my attention so I went back up to see what the story was all about. Nicely done. :D

  2. Your query totally hooks the reader, and wow, what an important topic to grapple with in a YA novel! Kudos!

  3. You've got some good stuff here. Your excerpt makes for an intense opening that reveals a lot about your protagonist. After this, I would certainly read on.

    Good luck in the round...


  4. Love the premise of this one, and your 250 is very intense! Well done!

    Larissa (#18)

  5. EEEEkkkk--- I agree that this is a great topic. Your query and first 250 look great as well! Good luck. ~Lara (#3)