Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"The Girl with the Teardrop Tattoos on Her Guitar"

A new YA paranormal thriller


by the formidable team of Inky and Peequeat


(this is our first official effort at live-tweeting a story. hope you enjoy it!) 


(if you'd like to follow the next one, keep an eye out for the hashtag #YAMwow, like "Shamwow," on Twitter. it stands for "YA Masterpiece - wow!") 


(also, we can hold 12 times our weight in adverbs!)




   It happened every year, was almost a ritual. Taylor Swift looked out across the empty arena and smiled. She picked up a rag, wiped the traces of blood off Strum's strings, and settled onto the stool at the center of the deserted stage. 
   "Why couldn't they see you belonged with me?" she said sadly. Backstage, someone - something - nodded.
   Her rough fingers caressed the strings and picked out a single minor chord. The teardrops inked onto Strum's body started to glow. She hadn't wanted to play Stockholm, but her manager had insisted. Something was happening...something bigger than Ticketmaster.
   "Who's there?" Taylor called out nervously. Her delicate voice sounded even smaller as it echoed through the Tealight Thunderdome. No one spoke, but a strummed chord roiled through the stadium. It was a D... a D minor.
   Taylor jumped up, clutching her guitar. "Really, pal? A D minor? Try out a diminished B-flat sometime, and we'll see who's scared!" She, for one, was not afraid. She may not have been cheer captain - may have spent her life on the bleachers - but she could jam. 
   "Seriously, man," she yelled as she stepped up to the mic. This specter, whoever it was, was messing with her ritual. "SPEAK NOW!"
   She let loose with the rockingest country-pop love ballad Sweden had ever heard, only stopping when she heard screams. The painful shrieks echoed from the rafters -- literally FROM the rafters, Taylor realized. "Who's up there? Are you all right?" 
   A pair of sunglasses dropped to the ground. "Special Agent Berg," the spy gasped. "Your chords are...killer."
   She tossed her perfectly tousled ponytail over one shoulder. "So I've been told," she said casually. 
   With a zipping noise, the spy dropped to the stage and pointed an unfriendly-looking machine at Taylor. "You're going to have to come with us," she said.
   Taylor sized up the spy. This one was no tougher than the suit they'd sent after her in Oslo. It was time for a diminished B-flat. 
   "Imma let you finish, ma'am," the spy said impatiently. "But I'm not here for the concert. I'm here to save you." 
   Taylor paused, ready to strike the fatal chord. Could she trust this spy? "Save me from what? I don't want to go back to December."
   "It turns out freedom ain't nothing but missing you," the spy said, and as an explosion sounded in the distance Taylor understood.
   "Fine, Agent Berg, I'll come with you," Taylor said. "But we're traveling my way." She braced her feet and blasted a wicked G major.
   Strum wasn't just the beloved guitar of an independently wealthy pop star. It was also a weapon. Lucky, because when they landed on the muted, decrepit outskirts of Stockholm, after flying past the site of the explosions at a reckless, Fearless pace, a horde of popular girls were waiting. They had never understood Taylor. They didn't even try. And there, in their midst, stood Drew.
   Taylor froze. She couldn't just play a C minor with Drew there. HE was the reason for the teardrop tattoos on her guitar. Not only that, something was strange about him. He didn't look sheepish at all...and he was levitating gently.
   "Taylor," Agent Berg said, "I think you've already met Drew, Kristen, Kirsten, and Gibby. But... meet your new special ops team."
   It had been easier back in her lunchbox days, but she'd really done it this time. Taylor was still an innocent, but she knew that a vicious guitar battle with Axl Rose himself would hardly compare to a locker room showdown with these divas. But there was Drew. The teardrops on her guitar glowed eerily as she stared him down, and then she nodded. It was showtime.
   "All right, Berg," Taylor said, brandishing Strum at the rude girls. "I'm already missing GOSSIP GIRL tonight. What's the op?"

Friday, March 2, 2012

An Open Letter to My Anonymous Co-Writer

Dear Anonymous Co-Writer,


You and I make a great team.  Remember the little gem we live-tweeted a couple of months ago?  The opening of  a Young Adult Steampunk Justin Bieber Vampire Romance Novel?
(Yes, everyone else, this happened. Excerpt posted below.)
Well, I've been having a little problem of late.  I keep coming up with inspirations similar to our live-tweet attempt -- story ideas and titles so original and fresh
(read: outlandish and ridiculous)
that I am beginning to have trouble resisting the urge to just write them already.  Here are some of my ideas:


-Catch of the Century, a YA Romance/Fantasy Dystopian/Steampunk novel about Waterlily, a mermaid who falls for a time-traveling vampire named Ymthrigulyx


-Going Green: My Summer of Guacamole and Saving the Planet, a YA Eco-Foodie-Superhero SciFi novel about a girl torn between an unabashed love of avocados and the idolization of her hero, a 21st-century update of Captain Planet


-A Wizard of Waverly Place in King Arthur's Court, a Middle Grade Fantasy FanFic novel about Selena Gomez, who is really the long-lost, time-traveling, amnesiac daughter of Merlin


-O'Flanagan, the Pot o' Gold, and the Ring o' Fire, a gritty Dystopian Steampunk YA about the life of a cage fighting leprechaun in Victorian England


-The Girl with the Teardrop Tattoos on Her Guitar, a YA Paranormal Spy Thriller about the fictionalized secret life of Taylor Swift


So here's the deal, Anonymous Co-Writer.  You choose which one you want to work on next, and at a mutually-agreed-upon date and time, we'll start live-tweeting it.  140 characters at a time, we are going to bring one of these ideas to LITERARY LIFE!!
(and then I'll post it on the blog for posterity.)
Your move, Anonymous Co-Writer.  Your move.


- Inky






"Untitled Young Adult Steampunk Justin Bieber Vampire Romance Novel" excerpt:
(purple text is mine; black text is ACW)


My weather app reported that the night was dark and stormy, as the strains of 'Baby' wafted from the deserted street outside.  Above, in the dirigible, sat Chad Vampwick, the coolest guy at my school - and the most undead.
"Coming, Selenia?" he called out.
I flung my garlic-laced muffler, my only protection, around my throat and raced to the roof.  My heart pounded as he lifted his marble-like chin and gazed at me with his blood-tinged lavender eyes, switching to track 5.
"You're looking well," Chad purred, before wrinkling his nose at my scarf. "Must you wear that? I swore I'd leave your neck alone."
"It's...it's for the concert," I stammered. "Justin Bieber loves garlic. Don't you remember? 'One Less Lonely Clove'?"  I couldn't meet his lavender eyes, for fear that he would see how desperately I wanted to rid myself of that aromatic accessory.
"It just looks a little tacky," he said finally. And with a puff of smoke and the grinding of gears, we were off. 
The city rushed below us, a sea of smoggy sepia. I knew Chad would soften once we got to the Tealight Thunderdome for the concert.  His goggles twinkled as he docked near the Thunderdome and held out one icy hand to help me down; my heart pounded generically.  How could he be at once so hot and so cold?
"Thank you," I whispered. "Do you think... I mean, do you have the tickets?"  The concert - my idea - was my only hope that Chad would briefly forget the deathless (and awesome) war between our species.