At the American Night Writers Association (ANWA) Conference in September 2017, I received my first 1st place award in ANWA’s BOB (Beginning of Book) Contest. I’ve won 2nd and 3rd places before, but this is my first time winning 1st place. The award was for my submission in the Middle Grade category, Speakeasy Orphanage. My friend, Chanda Simper, won 2nd place in the Middle Grade category.
Here’s my entry:
“Del, how long do we have to wait?” Danika whispered, squirming a little more into the small space in the armoire where they hid.
“Shhh.” Del pushed back slowly. “We don’t want Regina to hear us.” Being small for her age usually had its drawbacks. No one ever believed she was twelve, and the nuns at the orphanage gave her children’s clothes to wear. But Adella couldn’t bring herself to regret her size at that moment. Had she been any bigger, she might not have been able to breathe in the tight space. They were so close she could smell the pizza from lunch on her sister’s breath.
Why’d you have to make her mad again?”
It was a good question, and her little sister deserved a good answer. Adella wished she had one. She just couldn’t help but speak up sometimes. Mom told her God blessed her with a lot of heart, but no height. Dad used to quote Shakespeare about her. “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”
“I’m sorry, Dan. Regina was picking on Charlie.”
“She’s always picking on someone. She’s twice our—”
Footsteps sounded down the hall, outside the orphanage laundry room. Danika and Adella froze, barely breathing. The steps turned into the basement room, echoing with another set of paces that followed behind.
“Where did they go?” Regina’s voice sounded far away when heard from the bottom shelf of the closed armoire, but Adella knew she was only a dozen feet away.
“Kate said she saw them come down here.” The next voice belonged to Ashley, Regina’s partner-in-crime and almost as big of bully as Regina. “Bet she’s lying again.”
“Maybe they’re hiding in a dryer? We could turn them all on and give them a ride.”
Danika gasped. Hiding in a dryer had been her idea, but Adella had pulled sheets from the bottom shelf and pushed them into the nearest machine. Adella had never been happier she’d followed that little voice inside her head.
Dryers began turning on, amidst hysterical laughter, as more footsteps circled the room in opposite directions. Despite her outward bravery, Adella’s palms began to sweat. Those girls had mean streaks as long as the matching red-punch-dyed strips in their hair. When the footsteps stopped in front of the armoire, Adella pushed farther into the corner of the cabinet.
Something clicked and then squeaked behind her. Adella prayed it wasn’t a rat.
No. The back panel of the cabinet was loose and flapping out at the bottom. With her rear, she pushed harder against the back panel to silence the sound, but the entire panel shifted. Too far. Adella’s eyes widened as she grabbed for her sister’s arm.
Together, they rolled backward into darkness.
Lying on her back, the smell of dust and mildew almost made Adella cough, but she forced herself to hold her breath. A foot above her, a dim strip of light wavered as the secret panel shuddered to a stop.
Can’t wait to write this book!