Manuscript Status: Finished
Mentor Name: Ashley Martin
Mentee Name: Valerie Pepper
Title: FIRST CHAIR
Category: Middle Grade
Word Count: 48,000
Lula James is obsessed with goals. #1: Make first chair flute so her parents will finally look at her the way they look at her brother Marcus. When Lula succeeds, she definitely gets noticed—for all the wrong reasons. New goal: Repair the relationships damaged in her pursuit of perfection, or forever be known as the “Ego Princess.”
The best thing about playing a piece of music just right is how it makes me feel. All tingly, breathless, and filled with this warm cloud of awesome…it might be the most amazing feeling ever.
No, it’s definitely the most amazing feeling ever.
I needed that feeling right now, because I couldn’t walk into the orchestra room. My feet were heavier than timpani drums.
Students jostled past me. I practiced my breathing: inhale for ten slow beats, exhale for ten slow beats. I, Talula James, could do this. Every year I made new goals and every year Get Into Stevens Academy for Seventh Grade was on top. The Academy took the city’s 350 best arts students and lumped them into one school, seventh through twelfth grade.
Now that I was actually here, I was shark bait. How was I supposed to act with high school kids? They were everywhere. I was a sixteenth note and they were the symphony, drowning me out.
I inhaled. A sign above the orchestra door said Passion! Believe me, you had to have passion to get into this school. I’m talking two and three hours of flute a day kind of passion. Running scales, practicing your technique, working nonstop. PASSION!
I exhaled. I. Could. Do. This. Inside that room were kids like me – kids who lived, breathed, ate, and slept music.
New goal: make friends with the flute players. Because if I didn’t, I’d be eaten alive.