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Just This Once – Query for The Writer’s Voice

Title: Just This Once

Genre: Contemporary YA

Word Count: 94,000 words


For Sydney Harrison, perfection is more than just a lofty ideal. It’s her only hope of escape from the new life she will never accept. When her dad’s stroke left him disabled, she lost her dad, her home, and her belief in God all at once. Now she’s living in a broken-down trailer with her family of seven, eating donated food, and making big plans.

World domination being a bit of a stretch, she’ll settle for academic supremacy. Armed with only her scholarly prowess and unwavering work ethic, Sydney is determined to trade in her thrift-store jeans for an Ivy League education. There is no room for distractions in Sydney’s senior year.

But there is one thing she hasn’t counted on: Sheldon Miner. When Sydney gets stuck tutoring the rich, popular sports hero, her rigid focus on her goals becomes more of a floppy blur. Suddenly she can’t remember why she should avoid delicious distractions like mid-study-session snowball fights, or kissing boys in giant coat-closets lit with twinkling Christmas lights. Or fantasizing about kissing boys in giant coat closets…

Sydney’s only hope lies in holding rigidly to her plan. Unless maybe the right distraction can help her open her heart, share her fears, and accept her life as it really is. But that will mean forcing herself to try all the things that terrify uptight brainiacs with plans—Just This Once.

First 250 Words:

A 175-pound millstone fastens itself around my neck

When your life has fallen apart and you’re trying to pick up the pieces, sometimes it’s the small things that matter. It’s like you reach down and pick up the piece of your life where a functioning water heater used to be, and you realize that not only will your father never be the same again, but you will also have to shower in freezing water. Because that’s what comes with the dumpy trailer where your family of seven is now forced to live while eating from food stamps and wearing donations from Deseret Industries. And oddly enough, this small detail matters. And it makes you angry.

It was the first day of my senior year of high school. I was prepared for this day. I was ready for anything that could come at me. But all the same I shrieked when the first drops of icy water hit me.

I stood as far from the spray as I could while I sudsed my hair with the Suave and washed my body. Then, taking a deep breath for courage, I ducked under the frigid downpour and rinsed faster than you can say polar ice cap. I finished my shower and wrapped myself gratefully in a towel. The tiny bathroom had me feeling claustrophobic—four close walls and a low ceiling were pressing in on me.

I dashed across the narrow hallway to the room I now shared with Tia.


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