Entry Nickname: Girl of Your Nightmares
Word Count: 93K
Genre: YA Psychological Suspense (ownvoices)
All Marlowe wants is control. Of herself, of her environment, and most importantly, of the people around her. When an attempt to prove the strength of her self-control through sleep deprivation lands Marlowe in the infirmary of The Diana Banesbury School for Exceptional Young Women, she crosses paths with Gwyn, Sloane, and Ellie. Gwyn, who developed major depression after the death of her brother, wants closure she’ll never get. Sloane, recovering from a black eye, wants an adventure to save her from the monotony of her daily life. Ellie, a student volunteer who recently transferred from her small hometown to the exclusive girl’s boarding school, just wants friends to make the adjustment easier.
When Ellie offers lucid dreaming—the ability to control one’s dreams—as an unconventional solution to each of their problems, Marlowe sees a better opportunity. Under the pretext of a club for learning lucid dreaming, Marlowe convinces the girls to move to an abandoned classroom in the woods around the school, aiming to gain control by gaslighting and manipulating them until they’re incapable of differentiating reality from dream. As Gwyn, Sloane, and Ellie question their identities, realities, and the lies Marlowe has bound them with, they must find a way to wake themselves from her influence before they reach the end of a path leading to psychological destruction and death.
LUCID is told from both the perspective of Marlowe, as she manipulates the girls, and Gwyn, Sloane, and Ellie, as they attempt to resist Marlowe’s manipulation. It contains #ownvoices elements, including an LGBT ensemble cast and a protagonist struggling with major depression.
People didn’t tend to believe that insects had free will, but Marlowe never doubted. If something had free will, she could control it. The fly was no exception.
Marlowe was halfway through the second day of her vigil when the fly landed on the bulb of the green shaded lamp on her bedside table. The rest of the girls in the dormitory were asleep, which left Marlowe alone with the dark, the quiet, and the long wooden room with its vaulted ceilings and double rows of beds. She was wearing her favorite silk pajamas and doing fairly well considering it’d been nearly three days since she last slept.
She watched the fly intently, the way its filmy wings shuddered, how it threaded its spindly, segmented arms back and forth through its proboscis whenever it took a break from its paces along the surface of the hot glass. Once they’d been properly acquainted, Marlowe devoted her thin morning hours to mentally coaxing it in one direction or the other, “Come here,” “Go there,” over and over again.
Most of the time, it wouldn’t. But on the rare occasion that its movements aligned with her mental command, she became re-energized by the illusion that her will had been so strong that the insect had been unable to resist, that the sheer force of her own thoughts had pushed it back onto the glass bulb when it wandered off. She indulged in the fantasy that this small, fragile thing would burn itself alive if she wanted it.
Entry Nickname: Cheshire Hearts Alice!
Word count: 70k
Genre: YA Contemporary #ownvoices bisexual, mental health
Rhodes Ingram never thought she'd peak at seventeen. She's dedicated six years of her life to her education as a visual arts track student at Alabama Fine Arts Academy, but depression threatens to undermine all her work. In spite of an empty portfolio and plummeting grades, Rhodes has one last shot at success: The Birmingham Arts Collective's New Horizon Scholarship.
Iliana Vrionides has spent the last two school years struggling to prove she deserves to even darken AFAA’s doorstep. What she lacks in technical ability, she makes up with ferocious commitment to creative expression. But when her parents lose her college savings in bankruptcy court, a last-minute scholarship may be the only chance she has left.
By day, Iliana and Rhodes tear each other down to the studs as they compete for the same scholarship. By night they unknowingly piece each other together again through Slashspot, their school’s anonymous fan fiction community. Then, Iliana’s laptop is stolen by an online bully who knows way too much to be a stranger, and before long their steamy relationship becomes public knowledge. The senior show looms on the horizon, the scholarship hangs in the balance, and when their identities are revealed, both girls must reconcile their love for each other online with their combative relationship in real life.
Iliana Vrionides rests a hand on the curve of my shoulder, and a singular dimple emerges when she smirks. To anyone watching at a distance, this would look like friendship.
This has never been about friendship.
Studio B’s windows are wide as they are tall, bathing the room in glorious, priceless natural light. Air conditioning rattles in the exposed pipes overhead, and Iliana's breath curls hot in the shell of my ear.
“The difference between a dog walking all over a canvas with paint on his feet and a human doing the same thing is creative expression.” She gestures to the sketch pad that sits across my knees. It’s embarrassingly empty, devoid of anything save a few sketches in the corner.
Every day, we take seats across from one another in Drawing III. We spend seventy-five minutes glaring over the tops of our sketch pads at one another, ignoring Benjamin Talley’s blathering, endless artistic direction. In spite of this, Iliana manages to churn out one sketch after the next, light-handed and fluid and the kind of technique that’s carefully hidden beneath what she’d call personal style. Her voice.
Every day, I pray the Lord smites her ass straight off the face of the Earth.
Each prayer is a reminder that God doesn’t listen to me.
“I don’t draw.” A class-mandatory 2b pencil with a blue shaft rolls between my fingers, and I fix my gaze on the purple ponytail in front of me.
This is a lie.