Title: DOWN AND ACROSS
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 58,000
My Main Character would use sun or snow to battle their biggest obstacle:
Scott Ferdowsi would be jealous of the solar system. Planets orbit the sun; they know exactly where they belong in the greater universe. Scott does not have that luxury. He feels passionless and unsure about his future—which doesn’t sit well with his demanding father. So he runs away. In DOWN AND ACROSS, Scott embarks on a journey to find the center of his universe. What he wants more than anything is the fiery passion of the sun. He's looking for heat—the potential energy burning somewhere inside him.
Sixteen-year-old Scott Ferdowsi has strict Iranian parents and a track record of quitting. Piano lessons? Nine years. The Great American Novel? Two chapters. Remembering to floss? It’s an on-and-off relationship. With college apps looming, his dad insists that he should just pursue a “practical” career like engineering or medicine. But Scott can hardly commit to his summer job, let alone a 30-year plan. The last thing he wants is to set his life on the wrong course.
When his parents take a trip to Iran, Scott sees his chance. He runs away to Washington, DC to meet Cecily Mallard—a famous professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of success. Scott seeks answers from Professor Mallard that will help him find meaning in his life and plan his future.
He never expects to make friends on the Greyhound bus to DC. He never expects an adventure. But that’s what Scott gets for sitting next to Fiora Buchanan, a ballsy and carefree college girl who writes crossword puzzles. When the bicycle she lends him gets Scott into a high-speed chase, he knows he’s in for the ride of his life. In the weeks that follow, Scott sneaks into bars, attempts to meet girls at the National Zoo, and even gives the crossword thing a try—all while racing to decide his future career before his parents decide it for him.
First 250 words:
Eight mornings before running away, I found myself at McDonalds, wondering about the direction of my life. It was one of those moments that should have felt important. I should’ve said to myself: Hey Self! You’re having a Pivotal Moment in a Meaningful Place. On a scale of 1 to serious, I should have rated this occasion at least a 9. But I didn’t. My Serious Scale didn’t even register. Not a single brain cell inside my head cared to define that morning in the grand scheme of things. Or in any scheme of things, really.
That morning I wondered about dirty tables. The one in front of me had almost certainly just been wiped down, still freshly wet and slippery. I imagined the motions the McDonald’s employee made cleaning that surface: up, down, up, down. Left to right. Loop-de-flippin’-loop, like a drunk man on a Zamboni joyride. Still, the table reeked, and I knew they “cleaned” it with a dirty rag. This conundrum hijacked my focus. On one hand, sure, it was better for the environment to use a rag to clean hard surfaces. But then, wasn’t the rag transferring gunk from one surface to another?
“Pay attention,” he snapped. “I’m trying to understand what you want.”
Right. My dad. He clenched his hands tight, the skin bunching up around his knuckles. I felt guilty. Not for anything I had actually done, but for what I wasn’t doing.