Did you know most literary agents and editors accept or reject a manuscript based on the first 5 pages alone? As I await my fate, I thought I’d let you be my judge. Below are the first 5 pages of the second young adult novel (ages 14-19) I’ve written, titled Random Lee Chosen (Random Lee is the name of the main character’s love interest in the story). Hope you enjoy!
“The only rules that matter are these:
what a man can do and what a man can’t do.”
–Captain Jack Sparrow
I bought the hair dye last night at Walgreen’s on a whim. April first made me wonder if I’ve been a fool carrying a torch all these years for Random Lee, unrequitedly and in secret. So I devised a plan.
“Why does my shower look like a scene straight out of a slasher movie?” I ask my best friend, Nicole, towering over me.
She laughs diabolically, pretending to wield a knife, as I inform her, “This is not funny. You said you could handle this. Did you read the instructions right?”
Cocking her head to the left, she says, “Hang on, Olga. This may hurt a bit.” She scrubs shampoo into my hair and rinses fiercely before lathering on the deep conditioning treatment that came with the home kit.
Five minutes later, after we wash out the conditioner, I holler, “Holy crapola!” Although my caramel hair turns darker in winter when Michigan doesn’t see sunlight for six months, it’s never devoid of all brown and gold.
“You look like you dyed your hair with a bottle of Cherry Cola,” Nic adds, not helping by snapping a picture of us in front of the mirror above the sink.
I pick up the box and examine the photo on the front. “I don’t understand what happened. It warns the results may vary slightly from the color you see in the picture, but this isn’t even close to Strawberry Blonde. And by the way, you dyed my hair.”
Nic shrugs. “Congratulations. You win first prize for observer of the obvious, again. Anyways, what’s the big deal? After thirty washes it’ll be gone.” She checks the photo on the mini LCD screen and shows me. “See, you look a hot bad a–!”
“No cussing!” I reprimand, wiggling my finger.
“Ugh! You’re so not fun. You’re opposite of fun. Your parents were right to name you Olga.”
I roll my eyes before applying cinnamon colored eye shadow. Wearing makeup is something I don’t usually do, but I asked Nic to bring her cosmetics bag over this morning.
“I know, I know. Horrible name, great idea.” Mom chose to honor her late grandmother from Russia at my expense. John, my dad, fought her tooth and nail over the choice, but Elizabeth had the last word, as usual.
Sighing, I eyeball Nic as she sends a text. “Hurry up, girl. You know Random and the boys always plan a big prank for April Fool’s day.”
Nic nods, brushing on some lip color. “Yeah, yeah. But seriously, what’s the no cussing thing about? Your parents are the real religious ones.”
On to manicuring my eyebrows, I raise them slightly. “Um, exactly. My parents don’t want me to have a potty mouth so I try not to.”
“We’re juniors! Who cares about parents? We bimbos need to stick together,” she retorts, rubbing mousse between her palms and smoothing out her straight brown hair that flows to just above her rear-end.
“Deep words, Nic.” But I can’t stop myself from chuckling as I slather on some extreme styling gel, trying to order my long, wild curls into a nice part down the middle of my scalp.
Nic says in her native New Jersey tongue, “Fuhgettaboutit. You can’t tame that beast of hair! Seriously though, do you like the color?”
“Um, no,” I admit as I brush loose powder over my face with an oversized brush.
“Oh, come on! It really makes those bright blue eyes of yours pop.”
“Thanks,” I mumble through almost closed lips as I apply the last bit of makeup, a shade of lip stick titled Hot Kiss. A girl can dream, right?
A light tapping echoes through the bathroom door. “Are you almost done in there? I need to get ready for work,” Mom reminds. Aside from the fact I must share the sole bathroom with John and Elizabeth, A.K.A. my parents, I really don’t mind the two bedroom apartment . . . most days.
Cracking open the door, I laugh at her messy pixie-like hair and tease. “Yeah, Mom, you really do. Just give us a minute.”
A look of shock spreads across her delicate features. “Why did you dye your hair? And you’re wearing makeup!”
“About time,” Nic mutters.
Mom peers around me. “Do you mind waiting in your car? I need to speak with Olga, alone.”
“Sure, Mrs. Burke.” Nic clears her throat loudly as she shoots past me.
“Mom, I don’t know what happened.” I hold up the box. “I aimed for Strawberry Blonde and-”
She cuts me off, crossing her arms. “That’s not the point. You didn’t even ask first. And I thought we decided you don’t need makeup.”
Placing hands on my hips, I argue, “No, you decided. In three weeks I’ll be seventeen. Don’t you think it’s time to loosen up? I’m not your little girl anymore, and I’m tired of looking like one.”
She squares her shoulders. “I only agreed to let you work part time to save money for college. If you’re going to throw your cash away on hair dye and makeup, then you can kiss your job goodbye. This is a time to focus on your studies, your future, not to . . .”
“Have fun,” I interrupt. “Because that’s what all my friends’ parents tell them. They say things like, you’ll only be in high school once. Have fun.”
Narrowing her eyes, she cries, “Oh, and if all the other parents said to jump off a bridge, would you do that, too?”
Flailing arms in the air, I vent, “Mom that is so clichéd it’s not even an argument.” Closing my eyes before I accidentally roll them at her, I flip on the cold water faucet and bend over the sink, rinsing the makeup off my face. I could feel my cheeks flushing red during our argument and the water feels refreshing as it dribbles down my neck, spilling onto my collar.
“You’re getting water on your sweater,” Mom acknowledges in a chilling tone.
She yanks open the linen closet and holds out Dad’s ‘Rather Be Sailing’ hand towel, arms rigid. “Thanks.” Flashing a fake smile, I snag it from her.
“Watch what you’re doing, Olga! You’re getting dye all over the towel.” Mom gathers my hair as if she’s about to fix it in a ponytail and gasps. “Did you even realize the nape of your neck and earlobes are dyed red, too?”
Leaning in closely to the mirror, I hate to admit it, but she’s right. “Oh my gosh! I’m going to die! Can I please stay home and fix it, Mom, please?”
The tick in her protruding eyes isn’t a good sign. “Well, I’m sorry if the first decision you made on your own turned out to be a disaster, but you’ll just have to live with the consequences. Your hair stays this color until it washes out on its own. Maybe this is God’s punishment for not honoring your parents.”
Sucking in a deep breath, I hold it in my mouth for a few seconds, feeling a scream rising in my throat. But then I think, fine, have it your way. I’ll just wash my hair thirty times tonight and be done with it.
Grabbing the hair dye box, I shove it into my book bag before jetting out the front door to Nic’s idling silver Honda Civic. “Time?”
Nic glances at her Hello Kitty watch, which came in her younger sister’s Gina Happy Meal at McDonalds last week. The new accessory fits her corky personality nicely, even if she is seventeen, so she swiped it. “Seven twenty-five. Ten minutes of driving still puts us at school fifteen minutes early, demonstrating my perfect timing once again,” she says jokingly, since we average two tardy slips a week. “Ready, Sizzle.”
Nic coined the nickname Sizzle for me when nobody asked me to dance at the eighth grade prom. I spent the night at her house afterwards, where, during her pep talk, she touched my arm and said, “Yeow! You’re red hot, sizzling. Those boys are fools if they can’t see that. That’s gonna be my nickname for you. Sizzle. It has a much cooler ring to it than Olga.”
“It’s been three years already, Nic. Give the dumb nickname a rest.”
“Never!” Her responsive laugh is a cackle. “Even after eight years of being your best friend, I still can’t stomach your name, or the woman who gave it to you. Why does she always have to be so judgmental? And what happened to your face?”
I flip down the visor mirror without answering. “Where’s your cosmetic bag?” She points to the back seat and I turn around to retrieve it, quickly reapplying everything with the vengeance of fighting for my freedom.
Okay . . . let me know what you think! Feel free to be brutal as long as you are constructive:)