Week 6 Finalist

Author: Anne Van
Category: Chick Lit

Like any good art student, I had taken a solemn oath. Starve to death before ever resorting to the classroom. I’d even considered having “Teaching is the artist’s vampire” tattooed on my forehead.

Yet here I sit in my beat up Civic, parked across from the formidable ivy covered brick façade of Woodbridge Academy. The school that just last week was plastered all over the cover of Star Magazine because one of its celebrity students had been busted with a bag full of pot at the tender age of 13.

To remind myself why I was here, I reached for my latest bank statement. The series of zeros seemed to be laughing at me. Fat chance I’d ever fly off to Holland to study the Dutch masters with my negative net worth. Teach or move back with my psycho parents. What a choice.

I stared in disbelief at the procession of limos and chauffer driven Rolls-Royces. I hadn’t seen a display of this magnitude since the Oscars viewing party at Leslie’s apartment. But this time I didn’t have the buffer of three cosmos and a crappy 28” TV. This was real.

My nerves were getting the best of me as my palms began to sweat. I needed to hear my roommate Sam’s reassuring voice. She had been my anchor ever since we met in painting class freshman year. Barely able to grab onto my cell, I punched in her number, but my call waiting was ringing through. “Hello?”

“Honey, have you finished the interview yet? You didn’t blow your last chance did you, Angela?”

I could always count on my Mom for moral support. “Mom, I just now got to the school. I can’t chat. I’ll be late.”

My Mom’s ability to not listen to a word I said didn’t fail her. “Now honey, I know how you feel about teaching. You can be a starving artist at home. The door’s always open.”

“Look, I’ve got to go. I’ll fill you in later.” Clicking off the phone, the thought of moving back home with my well meaning but dominating mother made me even more frantic to talk to Sam. I had barely enough time to try her again. She should be just going on her lunch break from the gallery. Please let her pick up.

“Sam speaking.”

I loved the way she always sounded so official. After years of answering the phone for her father’s dental office, she couldn’t seem to break the habit.

“Tell me one reason why I should go through with this interview?” No need to identify myself to Sam. Who else would be calling her at this time in the morning on the verge of a panic attack?

“Because you need the money.”

I hated it when she got straight to the point. But that’s what best friends and roommates are for, to give you a reality check. I spotted a familiar teenage male getting out of one of the limos. “Oh my God. It’s Charles Tallen.”

Sam’s interest was suddenly peaked. “You’re kidding? I just love his show. Malibu Heights is must-see TV on Monday nights.  Jeffery Summer is to die for, you know, the guy that plays his older brother?”

“Right. Like I can watch anything else at 8:00.”

Sam sucked in a breath. “So what is he wearing? Does his tan look real? My kid sister will kill me if I don’t get the details. ”

“He’s wearing the outfit that’s all over the Abercrombie and Fitch billboards. From fifty feet away he looks pretty damn good. But sorry, Jeffery isn’t here with him.”

A childish giggle came through the other line. 

“Sam, this is serious. How am I supposed to teach a bunch of kids whose flip flop collections are probably worth more than my parent’s annual salary?”

Sam’s other line clicked. “Sorry, I’m expecting a super important call.”

What a time to be put on hold.

Then Sam clicked back on. “It’s Jessica from the gallery. I’ve got to get back to her. Just get the job and worry about the complicated stuff later.”

Clicking off the phone, I grabbed a Kleenex from my makeup bag and blotted my forehead as the procession of kids continued to emerge from their chauffeured cocoons of privilege. I studied myself in the rearview mirror, making sure my makeup was still okay. Great, my roots were showing. Now everyone would know my sun-kissed highlights were fake.

Get a hold of yourself. Sam is counting on you. Nope, that wasn’t working. Only one thing would calm me down at a moment like this. Digging through my purse, I retrieved a Hershey’s kiss, popped it in my mouth, threw open the door, and marched across the street.

I walked quickly through the massive brick archway of the academy, determined not to be late. Faced with a series of buildings lining a main courtyard, I had no idea which was the office, but I heard voices coming from just around the corner.

“Tori get real. You know your residuals from your Malibu Tan commercials alone will more than pay for the trip to Paris this summer.”

“Well, my parents are really strict with rationing out my money. They insist that I go to Yale. My Mom’s friends with Jodi Foster and she never shuts up about what a great experience it was for her.”

“Blah, Blah, Blah…”

Knowing my interview was minutes away, I decided to risk getting in the middle of a verbal catfight.  “Excuse me, can you tell me where the headmaster’s office is?”

The girl with the perfectly styled bob and amber low lights said, “Gee, you look too old to get into trouble.”


26 responses

23 10 2007

Anne, this sounds like a fun story. Love the celebrity students angle – you’ve done a great job of giving us a glimpse of what her job is going to be like if she gets it – pure hell. 🙂 Also, I like the pacing – the bits of backstory are nicely woven in and her bits of humorous introspection provide additional information about her life, without sounding contrived or tedious.

I’d definitely keep reading!


23 10 2007
Week 6 Winners Announced « Chase the Dream Writers Contest

[…] the meantime, check out this week’s finalist and mini-critique […]

23 10 2007
Marcia James

Anne, I love the last sentence of your entry! 😉 You’ve set up a premise that allows for a lot of humor — just the type of book I love to read. I’ve never tried to write in first person, but you’ve done a great job of making me like your heroine and want to read more about her. Congratulations on finaling!
— Marcia James 😉

23 10 2007
Rhonda Stapleton

Nice–I liked this! The conversational tone drew me in.

One thing, though–the mini-critique link just leads back here…can you fix that?


23 10 2007

An interesting chick lit notion. I like the entitled rich kids’ voices to set the tone of what the heroine will be up against. Also, can’t wait to read the Mini-Critique Winner when the link’s ready! Thanks!

23 10 2007

This should be working. Are you able to access the link now?

23 10 2007
Rhonda Stapleton

Nope–whenever I click on the link (or try to type the address in the bar), it forwards me to this page still…

23 10 2007

It’s not working for me either. It goes right to the finalist page instead of the mini-critique.

23 10 2007

At first I thought I was doing something wrong (I just woke up), but I keep getting forwarded to this page, too, when I try and click on the mini-critique winner’s page.

23 10 2007
Rachelle Chase

It’s been fixed – sorry for the problem. Please let me know if it’s not fixed.

23 10 2007
Rhonda Stapleton

Got it–thanks!!

23 10 2007
Pet Aubol

Are you going to give us a hint at who all those celebrities are?? Can’t wait to read this book!

26 10 2007
Leigh Michaels

Anne, I really like your opening scene. The details you choose — like the reference to her psychotic parents, the bank statement, and the application of chocolate to calm her down — all helped me to know and like your heroine. And that’s a great ending line!

30 10 2007
Anne Van

Sorry for the late post, my internet connection has been misbehaving since last week. Thank you Leigh for the great comments. You hit on the exact points I was trying to use to express Angela’s feelings. And I wanted to thank everyone else who made such nice comments about my story. This contest is a wonderful opportunity for writers. I’m looking forward to seeing who you pick tomorrow. I’m learning so much from the mini critiques as well!


9 11 2007

Fabulous first paragraph, wonderful first-person voice. Congratulations!

20 11 2007
Cynthia Andersen

What a great hook! I’ll definitely be waiting for the rest. And so timely with the celeb kids!

21 11 2007

Anne, it sounds really good! Best of luck!

21 11 2007
Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

Anne – Best of luck to you!


23 11 2007
Aprile Lanza Boettcher

Catchy title. Terrific writing! I’m immediately hooked-in …cannot wait for more! Bravo Anne Van

24 11 2007
Rene van Verseveld

Dit is een heel leuk verhaal hartstikke goed


29 11 2007
Nancy & Bob Chess

We liked it very much — well written. Jargon, celebrity references, etc. most appealing to certain demographic of today.

29 11 2007
Nancy & Bob Chess

We liked it very much — well written. Jargon, celebrity references, etc. most appealing to certain demographic of today.

The very best of luck to you.

30 11 2007

nice read

3 12 2007
Paula Eykelhof and Megan Long (editors, Harlequin)

Good concept! We did wonder if this moment was the most effective place to start the story. Perhaps during the interview instead? Or first day teaching?

We feel we must add that Chick Lit is a declining sub-genre these days–and the tone of this story is definitely Chick Lit.

5 12 2007
Elaine English (agent)

I thought your opening was very good — setting up a strong conflict. You did a good job of incorporating backstory for the characters. Unfortunately, I felt that the narrative started to lose its momentum and emotional impact by the time you got to the telephone calls. I agree that it’s really hard to place chick lit these days.

13 12 2007
Cheryl Ferguson

I like the opening and the heroine has interesting dynamics, but the scene needs to narrow and focus on the plot elements which will move the story along with much more impact.

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