Manuscript Status: Finished
Mentor: Phil Stamper
Mentee: Jenny Howe
Title: DAMAGE OVER TIME
Category: Young Adult
Word Count: 76,500
For Caity Hopkins, slaying monsters as Caelyssa—a fearless Ranger in the multiplayer online game, Unholy Realms—is her only freedom from the anxiety that crushes her in real life. But Caelyssa’s daggers and arrows can’t help Caity choose between her lifelong crush, who unexpectedly kisses her, and the boy from Realms who has stolen her heart. To make that choice, Caity must step out from behind her keyboard and find her voice or risk losing them both.
Alexis Redman: Just found a lime on my dog’s bed. No idea where it came from.
There might be a margarita buried in your couch, Caity typed into the comment box below Alexis’s post.
Her computer mouse hovered above the SEND button as she read the words over. Then she shook her head and jabbed her finger at the keyboard, deleting them.
Ha! she wrote instead. And deleted that.
After another second, she settled on lol, only to delete that as well.
By the time she hit LIKE, four other people had already commented, and every one of their responses, Caity realized, was far funnier than hers.
She scrolled through the rest of the main feed, her stomach clenching every time something new appeared. Words came so easily to everyone else. To her, though, thinking of something to say was like typing on a broken screen. Slow, painful, and she usually got it wrong.
Her computer dinged with a new update.
Kyle Lucas: I’m bored. How can we fix this?
Caity shoved her thumbnail in her mouth and bit down so hard it cracked. Not that this stopped her from chewing on it. Really, it was amazing she had any nails left to speak of thanks to Kyle Lucas.