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Super Intern Contest – DEAD SISTER DAYS

Wednesday, 13 June 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Genre: Contemporary YA
Word Count: 57,500


Dear Ms. Chapman:

I found the Super Intern Contest on Twitter and am pleased to send you the opening 250 words of my contemporary YA manuscript, Dead Sister Days.  The story might appeal to readers who enjoyed the candid emotion and colloquial style of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay.

Good girl Jamie persuades her parents to let her younger sister, Gwen, come to a weekend cottage party celebrating college acceptance letters and new beginnings.  When Gwen plummets to her death in what appears to be a drug-fueled suicide the blame falls on Jamie who refuses to believe what everyone is saying.  The Gwen Jamie knew would never get high and throw herself off a cliff, even if her sister’s reputation and list of past mistakes have everyone else convinced that she was troubled and impulsive enough to jump.  As family and friends memorialize a Gwen that Jamie doesn’t recognize, Jamie’s own grief is consumed by the need to show them that they’ve got Gwen all wrong.  It’s the only way she can honor the sister she loved and quiet the inner voice that keeps telling her she let Gwen down.  As she unravels her sister’s true character, the relationships keeping Jamie together unravel as well and she finds herself questioning if she ever really knew Gwen at all.

The manuscript is complete at 57,500 words and I would be pleased to send you the opening chapters if you are interested.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my work.

250-word excerpt:


We buried my sister last Thursday.  Closed her inside a wooden box lined with satin, which she would have hated, and tucked her into the ground with dirt.

Today is Dead Sister Day, my first day back at school since it happened.  Sort of like haircut day, the Monday after an adventurous weekend hairdressing appointment, when everyone knows that something has changed but not everyone says something about it – at least not to your face.  I hate haircut day.  Dead Sister Day can only be worse.  Maybe I should have gotten a bad haircut so they’ll have something to talk about besides my sister.  Too late for that.

I grab a grey t-shirt from my dresser drawer and catch a glimpse of my bleak expression in the mirror.  Maybe some mascara would help.  Am I allowed to wear make-up on Dead Sister Day?  I think so.  I’m pretty sure that Gwen would have gone to school in full dark make-up if the tables were turned.  How could she hold a little mascara against me?

Eric’s blue Civic pulls up in the driveway just as I squish the sticky black wand back into its tube.  I wave at him through my window above the garage so he doesn’t get out, then grab my school bag and head down the stairs. There’s no sign of my dad in the house and it’s a good bet that my mom is hiding out in her home office.  I can’t blame them for avoiding me after what I did, but I’m glad to be escaping this place today.  It can’t possibly be this lonely at school.

Filed: Contests, Misc

  • Personally, I’m totally diggin’ the voice in this excerpt.

    John Lucas Hargis

  • Hay Farris says:

    I agree with John Lucas. Intriguing voice and title.

  • First. I’m a HUGE Gayle Forman fan, so that already got my attention.


    This is good. It got my attention and kept me captivated the whole time. I want to know what happened with Gwen, so this query did its job ;o)


    You pack a heck of a lot in this 250. The voice comes through and I love the idea of Dead Sister Day. Anyone who has experienced a significant loss would relate. Including me. I would have read all of this and more.

  • Thanks to everyone for your kind words about my writing, and to Erica for taking the time to provide us writers with all this valuable feedback. I’m very grateful to have been a part of this contest.

  • You’re welcome!

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