Thursday, October 27, 2016

NoQS Minion 5: MILES TO GO, YA Contemporary

Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 67,000

My main character’s most stressful relationship is:

Leila’s most stressful relationship is with her father. Her mother’s behavior is justifiable—it’s the ups and downs of having Bipolar II (and being convinced that you don’t). But Dad, what’s his excuse? Taking care of Mom isn’t a shared responsibility, it’s Leila’s. They’re on opposite schedules, so their discussions are few and far between—and never about anything real. Serious conversations lead to heart palpitations and tears. And when she takes off on her cross-country road trip, she gets all the way from California to Arizona before he even calls.


Seventeen-year-old Leila Holloway is withering away in the shadow of her sister. Worse, Rose has been dead for seventeen years. Nothing like competing with a ghost.

Conceived in a test tube to provide the stem cells necessary to treat Rose’s leukemia, Leila was born three months too late to save her. Ignored by parents who can’t deal, Leila pours her heart into musical theater, and the stage becomes her second home. She counts down the days until she can pack up, leave San Francisco behind, and move to New York City. Destination: Broadway.

When Leila finds Rose’s plans for a sister road trip she hoped they’d one day take—with New York as the final stop—it feels like fate. Although Leila hates asking for help, she need wheels, and the only person who can deliver is Parker, her ex-best friend with a van and a strong desire to make amends. Leila’s more than willing to take advantage of his offer; it’s an opportunity to get what she wants and, in the process, hurt him the way he hurt her. Leila believes Rose’s dream is the access point she needs, both to connect with her sister and understand her parents’ grief. This journey could bring her miles closer to helping her mom and dad, and maybe they’ll even become a real family. And if she can make Parker’s life miserable along the way? It’s a win-win.

But a lot can happen in 2,906 miles. When tension between Leila and Parker threatens to cut the trip short, Leila must decide which is more important: getting revenge or piecing her family back together.

FIRST 250:

Another family is going to die tonight.

As I’m singing the closing lyrics to “Finale B” of Jonathan Larson’s RENT, I know it’s over. Final harmonies go flat in some places and sharp in others because how can we sing if we’re choking back tears? The notes falter, the hugs linger, and the pain is sharper. With a musical as emotional as RENT, the final night is more than a performance. It’s holding onto this family for dear life. We’ve held each other’s hearts in our hands for the last twelve weeks and we’re not ready to give them back yet.

God, I hate goodbyes.

I’m not ready to say goodbye to Maureen, the badass bisexual girl whose skin I’ve lived in for the last three months. She's an enigma, a figure of mystique until she steals the stage near the end of Act I. She's fearless, bold, beautifully free, and basically everything that's not me. It never mattered that I didn’t touch the stage during the first hour of the show. I’d wait in the wings, counting down the moments until my solo, counting down the seconds until it was my turn to shine.

It’s the only place I shine, right here on this stage. Where a piece of the roaring applause is mine, all mine. My hand covers my heart, begging it to stay inside my chest. Otherwise it'll explode, I'm sure of it.

Silence. Except for my too-loud heart.

Then the curtain closes and I’m only Leila Holloway again.


  1. I'm SHRIEKING for the first 50 pages! Please send your query in the body of an email and your pages as an attachment, and include Query Kombat 2016 in the subject line. I look forward to reading!

    - Lauren Spieller

  2. SCREAMING for the full! Please upload the manuscript to my query inbox using the following link:

    Looking forward to reading!

    Tracy Marchini
    BookEnds Literary

  3. Shriek! Please send the first 50 ages as an attachment to Please use REQUESTED: Nightmare on Query Street: MILES TO GO in the subject line. Looking forward to reading more! Jennifer

  4. Shrieking! please send the first 50pages to, with Nightmare on Query Street in the subject line. Thanks!

  5. Shrieking! please send the first 50pages to, with Nightmare on Query Street in the subject line. Thanks!