Title: PICKED APART
Category/Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 96,000
My Main Character would prefer to live in:
Hands down, Tris prefers the cold. To her, it’s the lesser of evils. Sure, twelve below sucks, but at least no one’s gonna bat an eye if she’s covered enough for an excursion to Hoth. Then again, the Midwest only has two real seasons–winter and construction–and if she can stay indoors and avoid them both, all the better.
People aren’t supposed to be polka dotted. Too bad Tris missed the memo.
A compulsive mutilator, college sophomore Tris Thatcher’s used to it all: the stares, the questions, the jokes. Whether it’s from strangers, shallow classmates, or her own mother, the off-color-comments remind her that being covered from head to foot in small, circular scars isn’t natural. She hates it with a fiery passion, sure, but it’s not like she can just stop; her wounds are the byproduct of habitual picking. Helpless against herself, she’s carved out years of struggle with her own hands. In a superficial world, understanding people are hard to come by. And when she gets roped into a class dating auction? That works out about as well as hotdog-flavored ice cream.
Except that Ky, the dreadlocked Filipino pseudo-hippie from the school bookstore, has seen people with the dermatillomania disorder before. Having a kid brother who suffers similarly, Ky wants to help Tris–not just break the habit, but break out of her shell, as well. When he helps cultivate a love for acting where she’d been too self-conscious to pursue, she discovers she’s more talented than she gives herself credit for. That’s not all she doesn’t give herself enough credit for, either, because, where she sees only scars and hideousness, Ky sees that she’s more than her pain.
Defying her own gravity, she gets a handle on herself, makes lead in the university play, and even crosses the threshold into a relationship with Ky. But Ky grows scarce, and, in his absence, self-doubt creeps back in. And, if internal discontent’s not enough, there’s plenty to go around from her peers, because, the closer it gets to the production, the more apparent it becomes someone doesn’t want the scar-faced student heading that precious curtain call. Stress builds, betrayal ensues, and Tris’s dark habit becomes a siren-song–one she’s not sure she can withstand.
First 250 words:
Another two-steps-from-hell-hot summer. Ninety-seven degrees out and Tris still couldn’t break her no-shorts motto. Not “wouldn’t” but “couldn’t.” It was a public service. At least, that’s what she told herself. Some skeletons belonged in the closet–out of sight, out of mind, and definitely out of shorts.
Thank Heaven for air conditioning.
“It’s pretty much that you can figure out the answer to something if you ask enough questions,” she explained, starting on a second lap around the mall interior. Studying Socrates was a lot more interesting with more to look at than a marathon of Times New Roman.
Chloe crinkled her nose, fighting a sneeze as they passed a candle shop. “What, like the answers to all of life’s questions are already inside us?”
“Kinda, but more like people can get to the root of stuff like personal beliefs or morals with enough critical thinking. It’s a lot to do with self-reflection.”
“The only self-reflection I want to do when this class’s over is figuring out ways to stay far, far away from any more humanities.”
Tris laughed. It felt good, getting out and stretching her legs. Summer semester or not, the week before finals was grating. Factor in the school’s ancient cooling system? If Chloe hadn’t proposed a trip to savor the free, high-octane air conditioning, Tris would’ve gone ballistic on the next carefree floormate treating the hallway as a racetrack. Stuck in jeans with the thermostat pushing close to triple digits? Even Ghandi’s patience would’ve worn thin.