PW #149: Adult Women’s Fiction: PRETTY CITY

Manuscript Status: 2 weeks delivery

Mentor Name: Melissa West

Mentee Name: Kerry Reardon


Category: Adult

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Word Count: 84,000 words


When a feminist doctor inherits the town pageant that stole her confidence in fourth grade, she must face an army of pageant diehards and a lifetime of self-doubt in a journey to redefine “pretty” for the town…and herself.


Summer of 1996
The summer I auditioned for the pageant, I was nine years old and spent my days making overcooked brownies in an Easy-Bake Oven and stuffing my training bra with tube socks. I might have lived a lifetime of summers like that, summers free of nightmares about cotton-candy-colored ball gowns and the girls who wore them, if it wasn’t for stupid Orphan Annie.

It started when my sister June and I were tossing a Frisbee in our yard and got it stuck in the neighbor’s sycamore tree.

“We should call the fire department for help,” June said. “That’s a great way to meet men.”

I wasn’t so certain, but June was fourteen, which meant she didn’t have to stuff her bra and had real-world romantic experience. That experience consisted of kissing the paperboy on the mouth for three seconds, but it was way more impressive than my frenzied make-out sessions with the back of my hand.

“Okay,” I agreed. “Let’s call.”

But before we made it to our house, Mom barged out carrying boxes full of clothes and books and a vast collection of Precious Moments figurines. Dad tripped over the doorstep as he chased after her, murmuring her name in a pleading tone.

June and I forgot about the fire station hunks.

Our neighbor, Mrs. Mapleton, who should have been furious about the Frisbee situation, called us over to eat cookies on her front porch. She smiled too widely and tried to distract us with Scrabble, but the only word June formed with her tiles was F-U-C-K.

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