22 January 2014


MENTOR: Marieke Nijkamp
ALTERNATE: Genetta Adair
CATEGORY / GENRE: MG / Contemporary
WORD COUNT: 61,000

PITCH: Thirteen-year-old germaphobic Skyla faces a Mayan tunnel, a volcano, and an earthquake in Guatemala’s toxic dump to use her OCD skills and solve an epidemic before it kills her friend.

EXCERPT:My world stands still every time an airplane arrives or takes off. Nothing else matters. Jets come from all over, roaring like giant magical creatures before landing within two miles of our high-walled compound.

“There you are,” I whisper to the Iberia Airlines jet screeching high above my window, making a note in my journal. “You’re seven minutes late, you know.” A tingle runs across my shoulders as the four-engine airplane from Spain flies by. After studying them for the past eighteen days and eleven point five hours since we came to Guatemala City, I can identify most airlines by their tail logos.

I wonder how high they fly over my head after take-off from La Aurora, the airport in zone thirteen. An idea jumps into my brain. A formula could track those altitudes from their shadows. But I’ll need pictures. The best place for that is the courtyard in the center of the monastery compound. I rush from my window to get started.

Before I can go, I stop by the bathroom for the ritual. My fingers flinch at warm water flowing over rough knuckles. I lather with lemongrass soap, counting aloud, “One, two, three … twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty.” Even when my hands burn from so much washing, I just can’t stop.

I think of Dr. Umy saying, “It is what it is. Relax. Let it be.”

Shielding my fingers with the towel, I twist the faucet handle. A tap to my hip confirms my sanitizing wipes and latex gloves are where they should be. I grab the tablet from my desk. I’m ready.


  1. Genetta, I love the OCD element in this opening, which you establish so well. Big fan of GT/LD kids and books about them!

  2. Thanks so much! Skyla is such a unique character, and I love her for that!