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PW #220: YA Contemporary: ACING ATHERTON

Monday, 2 November 2015  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

 Pitchwars Badge (Square YA)

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Diana Gallagher
Mentee Name: Kelly Garcia
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Word Count: 73,000


When an honors student with master hacking skills stumbles upon her school’s richest bad boy in a compromising situation, she schemes to improve her senior standing, and learns blackmail is harder than a perfect SAT. Pretty Little Liars cyber-infused with Mr. Robot.


Lindy Montoya bellied up to her terminal, as comforted by the smell of stale electronics as turkey roasting on Thanksgiving. After an all-nighter preparing for a butt-kicking English final, she was primed to lose herself in cyberspace.

“My new hashing algorithm rocks.” Zach’s Cheetos-riddled breath tickled her arm.

Lindy turned her head, keeping her fingers on her keyboard. Hijole. His face was an entertaining mix of pride and apprehension.

“I don’t mean to brag…Okay, I’m bragging, but not even you can crack this one.”

A warm fuzzy sensation filled Lindy. Zach, like most kids in the cybersecurity club, played games by accessing other students’ accounts. Not Lindy. She was a white hat hacker. She never crossed into gray, not even to deal with her neighbors and their dog that barked the whole block awake at six every Sunday. And no one, not even Mamá, would be upset if their Wi-Fi crashed every sixty seconds, all day.

But Zach wanted Lindy to play. That was as clear as if his invitation was served on a silver platter. Besides, Lindy was in need of a little virtual R and R.

She stalked Zach with her periphery. Like every other cybersecurity freak, he was delusional. Sure, perfectly encrypted code was impossible to crack, but hashes were written by people, and people made mistakes.

Lindy noted the time when Zach logged onto his terminal and opened his email, the info she needed to snag his mac address. Then, opening her own cracking tool, she analyzed lines of data, and B.I.N.G.O. The game was on.


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