Entry Nickname: Sway Me Buble
Title: Sway Me Buble
Word count: 92,000
Genre: Adult Women's Fiction
When Ava Elliot was nineteen, she broke off her engagement to Eric Wentworth, her high school sweetheart, and fled to New York, leaving both fiancé and pretentious family behind. Eight years later, armed with a Master’s degree from Juilliard but no job, she has returned home to the twisted symphony that is her new life: her dad has lost their Hollywood Hills mansion and Eric has gone from struggling musician to successful jazz singer.
Eric is also back in LA after a sold-out tour. He doesn’t want to see Ava, but it’s hard to avoid each other when they share the same friends. Despite Eric’s spiteful songs, Ava goes out of her way to prove that she’s long over him. It’s okay when he starts dating her sister’s best friend because she’s met someone new, too—Gage, a handsome actor with sweet words and chocolate kisses.
But no matter how perfect Gage seems, long-buried feelings for Eric are starting to replay like notes from her favorite sonata. Ava is forced to face the truths about herself that she has long avoided. If she can’t forgive and forget the mistakes of her past once and for all, Ava will never be able to fight for another shot at a future that could-have-been.
First 250 words:
The cab inched its way up the twisting road. Royal Empress trees blocked the view of our final destination. The wind blew through the open window, twirling my hair around my face, tickling my cheeks. I listened to the leaves rustling, the sound like a flute transposed to a lower octave. I took a breath and exhaled slowly. It wasn’t that I was nervous exactly, more unsure. Unsure of my reception. Unsure of my feelings.
“We’re here,” the cab driver said, stopping the car.
Slinging my bag over one shoulder, I exited the cab and stared at Kellynch Mansion—my childhood home. The camel-colored stucco, stretched windows, even the ridiculous marble fountain were all ingrained in my very being. It’s been so long, and yet it feels like I never left. What a cliché. I dropped my gaze. The cab driver had pulled my suitcases out of the trunk and was waiting patiently.
“Do you want me to help you bring them up?” he asked, eyeing the staircase leading to the oak front door.
“No, that’s okay.” I slipped him some cash and waited for him to drive away. Leaving my luggage at the foot of the stairs, I headed up, finger-combing my hair and adjusting my blouse.
I pushed the doorbell. Weird—ringing the doorbell to my own house. Peering through the windows, it took a few minutes before a shape appeared, distorted by the etched glass.
The door opened and Aunt Rose stood over the threshold. Her pale gray linen suit looked fresh off the Chanel runway, she had slicked her hair back into a low bun, and the pearls around her neck were as familiar to me as my own name.
Entry Nickname: Penny Lane Grows Up
Title: Somebody That I Used To Know
Word count: 95,000
Genre: Women's Fiction
Ali Fisher was a fan of rocker Matt Hartley in her teens, but at 27, her high school fantasy is grown-up reality. It’s been five years since he asked for her number after a show, since she fell in love with the real Matt. Her friends are climbing career ladders and buying properties, but Ali’s in no hurry.
Then she meets the 19-year-old who claims to be Matt’s lover from the road. Shameful parallels between them spotlight how much Ali sacrificed to be a songwriter’s muse, and no personalized power ballad can make up for that now.
Stuck in a sterile admin job and an apartment on the corner of Nearly 30 and Nowhere, Ali seeks who she might’ve been had her wildest dream never come true. Growing envy of her friends’ figured-out lives threatens to maroon her. Visiting Britain was a goal long before Matt, so when her boss needs artwork for a new building, Ali volunteers her rusty painting skills for a commission to fund her trip. London’s streets, the Cornish coast, and the Scottish Highlands reawaken her artistic ambition—as does British bassist Thom. Then in an English gallery, she stumbles across her own neglected muse. Ali must decide when to let go of impractical dreams, and which are really impractical. She faces a choice: pursue stability while she still has time, or risk it for what her unreliable heart wants. But which will close out her twenties with hope, and not regret?
First 250 words:
Ali Fisher’s got it all. That’s what friends say when introducing me, or what my sister says with a shake of her head. Never mind that I’m still renting at twenty-seven, or that I’m assistant to a threesome-loving Trump-wannabe. If you ever dreamed of talking with a beloved personal hero—be it a musician, writer, or actor—and that they’d listen and love you back, then you’ll be interested to know that it does indeed happen.
No matter how underground or mainstream, if there’s someone who inspires you with their talent and passion and ability to share it, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. This isn’t about leaving him on a pedestal. You’ve got to be realistic; PR whitewashes 80% of his screw-ups, after all. I’m talking about stumbling into his world and peeling back his layers like an artichoke to get to the good stuff. The real stuff. The part where you can make a difference.
Tonight, I’m celebrating that difference with my best friend Val. The band has outdone themselves but now I’m restless, waiting for the encore. Teasing Val about the drummer’s newborn, cradled by its mother nearby, is my chosen distraction.
The truth is, a lot of babies look like Phil Collins. This one’s a doozy. I think it’s the perfectly round head, the stubborn wisps of hair, and an awareness out of place if your age is still tallied in months. The resemblance makes me cringe at Val’s guilty obsession.