My novel What Love Means is about boys and spelling bees. This is a scene from the beginning after Max’s sister April wins a small spelling competition at her school and wants to train for the harder bees.
This excerpt contains a little bit of material from the book but is mostly an extended scene that didn’t make it in the final version.
After April won, I walked over to where she stood with a crowd of her friends. She had a gold star sticker on her shoulder for winning. I gave her a high five. Her friends scattered. They had a hard time being in my direct vicinity without blushing to death.
“Will you help me prepare?” she asked.
“The real thing is different. It’s a lot harder,” I warned. These were easy vocabulary words that anyone who studied had a shot at. It was different when there was a whole dictionary to choose from and kids who wanted it just as badly.
“I want to do it,” April said firmly.
“Kids study a lot for it. It’s all they do,” I warned.
“Give me a word,” she ordered.
“Give me a challenging word. Come on,” she urged.
We had a mini stare-off before I relented. “Alright… how about ‘sputnik’?”
A boy near us giggled at the word but she didn’t even hesitate. I thought a little harder this time, then tried again. “Salve?” My favorites had been Salvic, German and Old English languages because I thought they were the most fun to say.
April got it again.
“What about shrieval?” Okay, maybe that one was a stumper. It was an old English word used for sheriff.
She nailed it without hesitation and smiled confidently at me.
“How do you know that?”
“I’m smart,” she said like it should be obvious.
“I never doubted it,” I assured.
“Good, then I should have no problem competing.”
It dawned on me. “You stole my old workbooks,” I accused.
“Borrowed.” She waved that off. “I’ve been training.”
“You didn’t tell me.”
“I knew you wouldn’t like it.”
Well, she was right. I stared at her as she tried to stare back seriously without grinning. Crap. I didn’t want to give in. We both knew I would.
“Alright,” I relented. “It looks like you’re going to be a spelling champion.”
Check out the full book here.