Thursday, June 20, 2013

QK Round 4: Mississippi Crazypants versus Lies and Lovers

Entry Nickname: Mississippi Crazypants
Title: This Side of Crazy
Word Count: 86,000
Genre: Women's Fiction


Cissy Pickering swears that shooting her daddy in the back was the smartest thing she’s ever done. After surviving more than eight years of his abuse, she had to prevent him from having the same secret with her two baby sisters. What she didn’t count on was being sent to the Greater Mississippi State Hospital instead of prison.

When a caring, yet unorthodox, hospital psychiatrist tries to unlock the family secrets that led to Cissy’s crime, the 16-year-old retreats to a world of make-believe and compulsive counting. Meanwhile, three generations of women struggle to understand and forgive Cissy while coming to terms with the loss of their son, husband and father.

But when the psychiatrist digs too deep and Cissy retreats even further from reality, her maternal grandmother uses her wealth and connections to help Cissy escape the hospital. On the road, and with no plan, Grandmother doubts her ability to ensure Cissy’s emotional survival. Their tender relationship and an unearthed secret from Grandmother’s past force Cissy to decide what’s best for her own future — and whether she wants to keep running.

THIS SIDE OF CRAZY is told from two viewpoints: Cissy’s and Grandmother’s. This book will appeal to readers who enjoyed the strong female Southern voices in Secret Life of Bees.

First 250 words:

My sisters and I had already consumed an impressive stack of books since school let out, reading long into the sticky June nights, even under threat of punishment. We’d needled Mama until she finally agreed to take the three of us to the Biloxi library this morning. Her chief argument against getting more books — and a flimsy one at that — was that we read too fast and the books we had should have lasted all summer. I ignored her complaining. It's one of my special talents.

“Cissy! Get your butt down here right this minute! Your Corn Flakes are getting soggy!” Mama’s voice carried easily from the kitchen, down a long hallway and up a flight of stairs. That was her special talent. As was prematurely pouring milk into cereal to punish her daughters’ lollygagging.

I slipped into a plaid cotton sundress and my pink plastic sandals that squeaked when I walked and rubbed blisters on my little toes. The sound irritated Mama just enough to make those blisters worthwhile. Some might call this childish behavior for a 16-year-old but I took fun wherever I could find it.

Mama and our housekeeper, Bess, were locked in a battle of wills over one thing or another. I tuned them out, rushing out of my room and down the hall toward the bathroom to brush my teeth. What I saw stopped me short, the plastic of my shoes sticking fast to the wood floor.


Entry Nickname: Lies and Lovers
Title: Lies My Father Told Me
Word Count: 34,000
Genre: Contemporary YA (in verse)


When fifteen-year-old Eden Thompson’s dad dies, poetry is her only escape. Her friends are distant and her mother spends most of her time shut away with a bottle of wine. Desperate for a connection with other people, Eden shares her words online. Just beyond the screen she finds Mason, a university student who leaves her long poetic messages that fill the empty space in her life. Having also lost a parent, he understands her pain and quickly becomes her one constant.

When they finally meet in person, Mason’s passionate words and the heat of his fingertips against her skin awaken a part of Eden she didn'tknow existed. But she swore to her dad that she would wait until marriage to have sex, and she doesn’t want the last promise she made to die with him. Uneasy with Mason’s desire for more, Eden struggles to untangle her own conflicting desires from her fear of losing him if she says no.

On the anniversary of her dad's death, Eden's mom drunkenly slurs a secret that changes everything: her dad wasn’t the person she thought he was. Her family, her life, her promise to him––all of it was based on a lie. Now that everything she knew is broken and betrayed, she turns to Mason, hoping for an escape from her pain. Torn between what her father wanted for her and what Mason wants from her, Eden must finally decide what it is she wants for herself.

First 250 words:
This Is The Part Where My Father Dies


At the funeral, 

everyone laughed,
but my mom’s voice—
it sounded more like a cry. 

She drank too much wine
and laughed too loud at the stories 
my dad’s
family and colleagues and friends and students told, 
their voices rushing 
to fill the emptiness 
with anecdotes. 

They were all 

Her lips and teeth were stained 
with red, 
and when I looked at her, 
all I saw was 
an empty shell,
a book
without any pages. 
Dead but not dead.  

She was a stranger,

Sometimes there was a glance
in my direction
for a few moments
too long.

Like sweat,
I could feel it on me.

Nobody said anything. 

I had lost
my words.  


I couldn’t understand how 
there could be 
an afterwards
now that 
he was gone.

The car swerved
to avoid

a deer

my dad

it was ten months later.
I was fifteen 

and ready for high school:
with my knee socks and their elastic bands
slipping down my legs, 
with my tartan kilt in green and blue, 
with my ring and 
my promise 
I made him 
only weeks before
            he died.

I want you 
to keep this
until you get

The ring slid on 
so easily.
It fit 
so perfectly. 

But it was so much heavier
than the metal it was made of, 
and the way it wrapped itself
around me, 
like it could never leave.

Like it would be there


  1. This comment is reserved for judges. Go get 'em judges!

    1. Victory to Lies and Lovers.

      Both great pitches and intriguing premises, Lies and Lovers just pulled at my heartstrings more. I still would totally read Crazypants. GAWD - I hate picking now - love you guys!!

    2. Victory to Crazypants


    3. Awwwkkk! So hard...

      Victory to MISSISSIPPI CRAZYPANTS because I think it potentially has more commercial appeal.

    4. NO! Why did these have to be paired? Two of my favorite entries!!!! NOOOO.

      Since I have to choose, I choose ...

      VICTORY TO MISSISSIPPI CRAZYPANTS. Only because I really could connect to the voice right off the bat. With Lies and Lovers, I connected but what I loved about it was how excited I was to get to know the girl more. So tough!! Good luck to you both

    5. I'm really mad at this match-up because these are two of my favorites! I love the concept of novels in verse, but I have to give this one to MISSISSIPPI CRAZYPANTS because I think the stakes are higher in this one and I see more ability to sustain them over the course of a novel.

      Victory: MISSISSIPPI

    6. Victory to Lies and Lovers, but man it wasn't easy.

      These are both EXCELLENT premises with true voice and talent in the first 250, but I think the power of the verse here carried the day.

      Well done, both!

    7. Victory to Lies and Lovers.

      I just can't get over the awesomeness. Crazypants, LOVE your whole entry! Choosing is SO DIFFICULT! I'm just going with my gut now.

  2. GOSH NO GOSH NO. These are two of my favorite entries, and they are against each other!!! NOOO!!!

    Victory to Crazypants, because even though I LOVE LOVE LOVE Lies and Lovers, Crazypants has a more intriguing premise.

  3. Victory to Mississippi: I really love the voice in your query and 250.
    Lies and Lovers: You're still awesome.

    Good luck to you both.

  4. Michelle is evil for this! Two of my favorites.

    Victory to Lies and Lovers. I love the power of your poetry

  5. Both of these are awesome!

    So hard to choose ... but I'm going with Mississippi Crazypants. I LOVE the voice of Cissy.

    But really, can't we declare both winners?

  6. Aahh, what did Cissy see?! lol I want to know.

    But I'm going with Lies and Lovers on this one. I've never seen a story written in verse (though I'm sure there are others and I read too slowly).