This is my second year trying out Pitch Wars. While I didn't make it last year, the contest helped me turn my MS into a new story that's actually being published as SHE'S POWERFUL TROUBLE through Parliament House Press next May.
I'm a high school English teacher by day and a writer by night. I studied Creative Writing at UNC Chapel Hill and somehow ended up in the Honors Thesis class, which taught me so much about craft (and more importantly, about the importance of community). I'm a FAST reader, an even FASTER worker (I'm so Type A, it hurts), and I love diving into a good story.
Now, onto my MS, CROSS-COUNTRY THEATRICS!
When he found his mother dead in the bathtub, Tye Knotts stopped speaking. Three months later, with his father threatening to institutionalize him and his sister begging him to start over in California, the mute seventeen-year-old pours himself into designing the lights and sound for his school’s upcoming theater competition in New York. He’ll give them Beauty and the Beast like they’ve never seen before.
Rora Smith, the star of the show, knows all her lines and lyrics—and that talent scouts await her in New York. She’s certain one of the casting agents for an upcoming sci-fi thriller will notice her and whisk her away to Hollywood. There, she'll dedicate herself to acting and forget about her parent’s stupid divorce and Dustin, the boy who never notices her. It’s why she’s created all her food rules—everyone knows you must be perfect to succeed in show business. And in Rora’s world, perfect means bone thin.
But when she chokes on stage during the performance of her life, Rora’s future turn to ashes. After she darts offstage, Tye rushes to comfort her, and she begs him to travel to LA for an audition that offers her redemption. Hesitantly, Tye accepts—maybe this trip will help him rediscover his voice and abandon his demons.
Together, they embark on a cross-country road trip in search of fame and escape. Instead, they dump the dead body of an old woman who gives them a ride, hitch to Chicago with a mysterious troubadour, and hide from a biker gang after stealing one of their motorcycles. As Rora starves herself in pursuit of perfection, she must decide whether her dream is worth dying for. Meanwhile, as Tye watches her strength dwindle, he must search for the strength to act—to say something—before he’s hovering above another corpse, silent as stone—before it’s all, once again, his fault.
As a teen, I battled an eating disorder triggered by a need to control my life as my mother died of cancer. CROSS-COUNTRY THEATRICS, a literary young-adult novel complete at 73,000 words, combines the comedy and heartbreak of THE END OF THE F’ING WORLD with the spirit of ELEANOR AND PARK. It is for teens who feel alone in their struggle with eating disorders and isolated in the wake of losing a parent.
IN THE STORY...
- A platonic (ish) girl/boy relationship
- Discussions on mental illness (specifically, PTSD, depression, and anorexia nervosa)
- Teens dealing with grief in their own way
- ALL THE FEELS (I hope)
- THE END OF THE F'ING WORLD by Charles S. Forsman
- ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell
- I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson
A mute boy and an anorexic girl take off across the country. He's running from the ghost of his mother. She's chasing a dream in the midst of a breakdown.
Follow Tye and Rora on a cross-country road trip as they chase very big dreams and run from very real nightmares.
(ANY AND ALL HELP WITH PITCHES IS APPRECIATED)
MY TWO MC'S
TYE KNOTTS: Tye found his mother dead in the bathtub and stopped speaking. After he watches Rora Smith choke onstage, he rushes to save her, desperate to feel useful in some way. But then she whisks him away on a road trip to LA, and now he's stuck in a giant purple van with a dog and a girl who won't eat...but maybe, just maybe, he'll find his voice somewhere along the way...
RORA SMITH: Rora wants—more than anything—to become the next big thing in the acting world. So when she completely blows it at a national musical competition, she knows she has to redeem herself. There's an audition waiting for her in LA, and she's got her mother's credit card...have means, will travel. All she needs is someone to look out for her...and Tye Knotts is just, you know, right THERE...
As a contemporary YA novel, CROSS-COUNTRY THEATRICS doesn't quite have a true human antagonist (unless you count Douche Doug, a biker who looks a bit like Orlando Bloom). The true villain? Crippling self-doubt and anorexia. These hold our heroes back...and puts one of them in serious mortal danger...
AND NOW...JUST A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS...
- THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood (one of the most beautifully written books of all time)
- CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi
- THE BELLES by Dhonielle Clayton
- CARRY ON, FANGIRL, LANDLINE, ELEANOR AND PARK and really anything by Rainbow Rowell
- THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak
- SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli
- THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END by Adam Silvera
- THE CHAOS WALKING SERIES, A MONSTER CALLS, RELEASE, THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE (aka ANYTHING by Patrick Ness)
- BABY DRIVER
- PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
- THE LORD OF THE RINGS
- LOVE, SIMON
- SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
- BRAVEHEART* (*Mel Gibson is the worst...but that soundtrack is BOMB)
- TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
- JANE THE VIRGIN (it is number one forever)
- BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
- GAME OF THRONES (but like season 6 onward...ALL THE WOMEN DOING ALL THE THINGS)
- THE END OF THE F'ING WORLD
- DEAR WHITE PEOPLE
- THE HANDMAID'S TALE (I see a pattern here, don't you?)
- PEAKY BLINDERS (CILLIAN MURPHY IS AN ACTING GOD)
Good luck to all you hopefuls out there! This community is so very powerful. Even if you don't make it, know that you've worked hard...and that good things come to those who WORK HARD and PERSEVERE! <3