Granite Heights

Title  

Granite Heights
- I knew that I wanted to write a mysterious story about a exclusive school, but the name I had once used for a similar story is something I assigned to a town in my recent novel so I had to think on my feet for this one. I tried a few tools like random generators to spark ideas and that was where I had pulled Heights from. I loved it and thought 'The Heights' would be the perfect townie term fo a mysterious place, and Granite is so hard and versatile it just seemed to fit.

Cover

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I designed this cover using GIMP and an online cover layout tool I found called Canva. I did a stock photo search for a building that fit the description of the school in the story and wanted to add the appeal of the mysterious night look. I enhanced the contrast in the image before uploaded it to the layout site. 

Target Audience


16-30 would be my target range. I am marketing it as a Mystery/Thriller with paranormal attributes mixed it. Though I find that I write across difference genres I seem to always fall into the young adult fiction category. 

Blurb

When V is granted a scholarship to the mysterious, but exclusive Granite Heights Prep she didn't expect that she would find a mystery within its walls. When her classmates start disappearing she begins to suspect they were all brought there for something more than an education. Nothing about life at The Heights is what she expected and the closer she looks into its secrets the more dangerous her life becomes.

Exerpt

Granite Heights Preparatory Academy was a mysterious place. I would never have imagined that I would ever have the chance to set foot in its halls, let alone actually attend it. The red brick building had always sat miles out of town surrounded only by acres of lush green land and hundreds of trees that kept its students out of view from passing drivers.

I had my first up close look when my Uncle drove up the winding gravel road and through the trees the school finally came into view.

"Whoa" my words didn't even do the reaction justice. I heard a chuckle escape my Uncle and I turned my eyes to him. "What? It's impressive" I defended with a smile and he simply nodded in agreement. I don't think Uncle Jack ever thought I'd see the inside of The Heights either, but it looked like we were both wrong.

It had all started a few months ago, when a woman came to the house. The school counsellor had recommended me for the advanced placement scholarship. After reviewing my history, the school had agreed and the rest of it all seemed like a whirlwind. Before I knew it the summer had ended and I was starting my senior year at the best school in the province.

Jack was nervous about leaving me there, I could tell and given our lives together, I couldn't really blame him. I had only been four years old when I'd come to live with him.

After my parents had died in the fire, Jack, my mother's younger brother and my only living relative, had been appointed my legal Guardian. He had gone from a single, twenty-five year old bachelor, to an instant father in a matter of days, and in my opinion, he'd done it flawlessly.

We were all each other had now, and despite my best attempts to meddle, he had never attempted to find a family of his own, maybe with an empty nest, he could now have the chance. "You know I'm not leaving forever right?" I reminded him. "I'll be home at Thanksgiving, and Christmas."

I began to list the holidays for which I would be home harassing him once more. While I was definitely going to miss home, the excitement of getting to attend The Heights was overwhelming; it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

If I put the work in, rumour had it that attendance at The Heights practically guaranteed your entrance into any college of your choice, in fact no one that had attended The Heights ever came back to Strathburg.

"I know that" he assured me "It's just that" he stopped himself there and I could sense that he was holding something back from me.
"What?" I asked. 
"I just worry, let me have that alright" he joked as we pulled up to the gates. Talk about intimidating, the school was surrounded by tall black iron gates; each iron stake was topped with a sharp pointed edge that ensured they gave the message to keep out. There was a stern looking man in the guard house who stepped out of the door and tapped on my window. Jack rolled it down before the man barked.
"Name?"
"Victoria Lennox" I voiced nervously, though I had affectionately gone by my Uncle's nickname 'V' for years. "And Jackson Martin my guardian" I added. 
"Room?" he continued without so much as glancing up at us, his gaze focused solely on the clipboard in his hand. 
"21, Wright Building" I offered and he seemed satisfied with the answer as he waved at his co-worker to open to gates. Jack and I exchange a wide eyed look briefly before we both turned our gaze to the gates swinging open to welcome us inside.

He drove the car up and parked it by the entrance of the Wright building. "This is it" I voiced.

"Your parents should have been here" He said that familiar sense of loss came over me.
"Yeah" I agreed softly. They should have been there for a lot of things in my life, but the fire had made sure they'd never be. No one knew much about the fire, I had been too young to remember and still, to this day, wonder how I managed to make it out of there alive. The papers said it was an electrical fire that had started in my parents bedroom, that the firefighters had only made it in time to pull me out, but something about the whole story had never sat quite right with either of us.

If I had been older at the time, I might have pushed them to look into it more, but by the time I learned what had truly happened any and all leads had been long buried. "At least I've got you" I led with. The sad truth was that I didn't actually remember my parents. I had photos, very few in fact, what little had been salvaged.

Unfortunately, true, honest memories of them did not exist. In my conscious memory Jack had been my parent, he had raised and supported me for thirteen years. Taking a breath in slowly, I let it out with force through my pursed lips as I tried to calm the butterflies that were fluttering in my stomach. "Guess we should head in?"

"Nervous?" he asked and a smile spread across my lips, despite the nerves.
"Terrified."

Finding my dorm room had been the adventure of a lifetime. I had never seen a building with so many staircases and hallways, each one looking as though it were hundreds of years old, pulled straight out of an Austen book. Walking through the halls felt so different than my old school. Each corner I turned there was a painting, or sculpture on display, stained glass windows and old intricate woodwork that reminded you what an exclusive institution you were visiting. 

I had to admit it was intimidating, something I hoped would pass with time. I watched passing students with interest and Jack and I finally settled onto the room. 21, sure enough my name was written on the memo bored attached to the door. Victoria Lennox, Elisha Tanner. I guess that was my roommate. "This is it" I confirmed.

"No kidding" Jack countered "I never would have guessed." I rolled my eyes with a smile before opening the door. It looked like Elisha Tanner, whoever that was, had already moved in but there was no one in sight, just her things, already unpacked. It looked like whoever she was, was a pro at moving into dorms.
"Guess I'll take the bed on the right" I deduced which suited me just fine. The room was far larger that I ever would have expected, room enough for two double beds, two desks, one against the window, and the other against the far wall. Dropping my bags on the bed I finally took a moment to soak it all in. This was it, my last year of school and hopefully, with the changes, it would be the best. 

"Look Kiddo I hate to drop and run but-" 
"You have that meeting this morning" I finished. "It's okay, I'm just glad you got me here" I admitted. I wasn't going to cry, I had already convinced myself of that. The promise was short lived as he stepped in and pulled me into the world's tightest hug. I wrapped my arms around him in return as my eyes began to gloss over with threatening tears. 
"Love you V, you just impress the hell out of this place alright?" and I nodded.
"I promise" and I did.  I had every intention of getting the best grades. I wasn't going to throw away this opportunity, not a chance. 
"Alright, that's my girl" and he pulled back from the hug. Placing his hands on my shoulders, he took one last look at me before stepping back towards the door. "And don't have too much fun" he warned.
"Wouldn't dream of it" I assured him with a laugh as I watched him turn to leave. "Oh and Uncle Jack?" I asked, causing him to stop in the door frame glancing over his shoulder briefly. "I love you too" I reminded him. 
"Yeah yeah, you say that now" he smiled and offered a gentle wave before disappearing into the hall. 

A few seconds of silence and the tears already began to stream down my cheeks. It wasn't the end, just a new adventure but somehow, my heart still felt like it was losing a part of itself. Turning back to my things on the bed I opened the suit case and began to unpack. 

"Hey!" a voice came from behind me. I whirled around quickly with wide eyes. "You better change, the welcome assembly's in ten minutes" she said. 
"Where-" had she come from? I hadn't even heard the slightest sound of footsteps. 
"Elisha" she introduced herself "Lis for short and you're Victoria I guess?" 
"V" I corrected. 
"Lis and V?" she mused "I can work with that, but seriously get your uniform on newbie, we gotta split."

I nodded, in my awe of the school and the adventure of trying to find my way to my room I had completely forgotten about the welcome assembly and being late on my first day was not the kind of first impression I wanted to make. 

I quickly pulled my uniform out of the bag. Grey pleated skirt that fell just below mid-thigh, a white oxford button down, maroon cardigan and plaid tie. Not having to think about what to wear was probably going to save me about half an hour each morning. I quickly changed and pulled on my grey knee high socks before I slipped my feet into the black ballet flats I had chosen for my school shoes. 

"Let's go, let's go, let's go!" she prodded me and I grabbed my bag before following her out into the hallway. "So just so you know this is the senior's only wing, which means no letting the Frosh kids through the door. The stained glass door at the end of the hall separates us from the boys wing and the door only locks from our side. Mirna, that's our House mother, she holds the only key so at 10 PM sharp she locks it and it's light's out" I nodded along trying to retain all the info she was telling me. 

"10 PM, got it" I repeated. "Wait this is way too much info at once" I told her. My brain was still trying to get used to the idea of going here and now she was laying it all out at one time. "Where are we even going?"
"Just keep up, you'll figure it out pretty quick. It's not as big as it seems in here there's just a lot of stair cases" and I followed her lead all through the school until she stumbled into the assembly hall. It looked as if it doubled as a theatre on off days but I didn't have much time to look as Lis was dragging me into a seat. 
"What are you-" but just as quickly, she shushed me. Just in time it seemed as a very stern looking woman took her place on the stage and the chattering that surrounded us lulled into silence.

"Welcome students!" her voice commanded the room and a vibration shook through me. "Now for those new students I would like to Welcome you to Granite Heights. We expect nothing but the best from you. This school has been around for nearly a hundred years, put in place to help the most exceptional minds achieve their greatest potential" she explained. I listened as she went on about the history of the school, how it had started with just a few students and over the years grown into one of the most coveted institutions in the country. 

I continued to listen as she then shifted the speech from the history of the school and onto the course work and class expectations. The one fact that was made abundantly clear was the level of academic excellence we were expected to maintain throughout and the year and the consequences if we fell short. "Should you fail to achieve this or maintain this excellence, you will be dismissed from Granite Heights." 

A sinking feeling settled into the pit of my stomach at the realization, wow, no pressure or anything. "Those of you who truly excel here may have the opportunity to attend our sister school out of province" she continued. "We will be keeping a careful eye on your performance. If you step out of line, we will know."

 My eyes must had looked wide enough to pop out of my skull because Lis leaned over and whispered.
"Don't worry she tries to sound all hard ass at the beginning of the year, it's tough but it's not THAT tough" she assured me. 

The headmistress then went on about the regular school rules; meal hours, lights out, behaviour policies; basically all the boring stuff that was probably important but I couldn't be bothered to focus on. "Now, the orientation for the new students will begin in the dining hall in fifteen minutes. Do not be late."

 

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