Entry Nickname: Reality Star
Title: I Was a Summer Reality Star
Word Count: 79,000
Genre: Women's fiction
Jen is a bit disillusioned with life after college. She works long hours at an uninspiring job, and she’s suffocating under overdue emergency room bills. When she finds an ad seeking intelligent, puzzle-loving twenty-somethings for a competitive reality show with a cash prize, Jen grasps at a solution to her problems.
Any uncertainties about the wisdom of pinning her future to a TV show evaporate when Jen finds herself unemployed, single, and homeless. She moves into an all-glass, fishbowl-shaped house in Los Angeles with eleven strangers. Jen dives into the competition: solving puzzles, exploring mazes, and having the time of her life. She clicks instantly with fellow contestant Justin, but can't tell whether his interest is real or fabricated for the viewers. When she finds herself battling competitor Ariana for Justin’s attention, Jen discovers that some of her housemates aren’t above backstabbing, lying, and cheating.
Over the course of the summer, she struggles to win challenges— and viewer votes—while trying to figure out how Justin really feels. It’s a tricky balancing act, especially if she isn’t willing to sink to Ariana’s level. When Jen finds out she’s about to be eliminated, she must decide whether to sacrifice her values, the money, or her chance at love.
First 250 Words:
I huddled at my desk, wrapping a blanket over my hoodie. Maybe one day management would trust employees to turn the heat above sixty degrees. I held my caffeine molecule mug close to my body, futilely trying to gain warmth from the steam drifting off the top. The coffee tasted horrible; drinking it wasn’t an option.
With my right hand, I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, scanning jokes, cartoons, and idle chatter. It wasn’t allowed, but everyone did it. “Marketing assistant” apparently was advertising jargon for “lots of sitting around.” The irony wasn't lost on me. Anyway, after working insane hours all week to include last-minute changes on a major project, I appreciated the break while my boss reviewed it. I turned up the volume on my computer to project my music over the howling November storm. My toes danced on the linoleum floor.
What was that? A post from my old Beginner’s Drama professor caught my eye.
"Do you want to win $250,000? Are you outgoing, vivacious, engaging? Do you always have to be right? Do you love puzzles and trivia? Do you usually find yourself surrounded by less intelligent people? We’re looking for smart, spunky 21- to 25-year-olds for an exciting new reality competition! Email Stephanie your name, age, 2-4 pics, and a little about yourself for more information."
A reality show for smart people? Before I could investigate, a new email popped up at the corner of my screen.
It was Seattle General Hospital’s billing department.