Friday, July 29, 2011

Beck McDowell's THIS IS NOT A DRILL to Nancy Paulsen of Nancy Paulsen Books at Penguin Young Readers

I am thrilled to announce the sale of Beck McDowell's debut THIS IS NOT A DRILL to Nancy Paulsen of Nancy Paulsen Books at Penguin Young Readers.

Here is the Publishers Weekly announcement!

Nancy Paulsen of Nancy Paulsen Books at Penguin Young Readers has acquired This Is Not a Drill, a debut YA thriller by Beck McDowell. The story is told from alternating viewpoints of two teens who must protect kindergarteners from a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder who opens fire in the classroom. Publication is scheduled for fall 2012. Jill Corcoran at the Herman Agency did the deal for world rights.

THIS IS NOT A DRILL is one for the record books! I signed Beck within 24 hours of receiving her query, and we received our first offer within 36 hours of subbing to editors. Plus, within 5 minutes of the book's sale announcement in PW Children's Bookshelf I started getting Hollywood interest. go, Beck!

I gobbled up THIS IS NOT A DRILL, and when I wasn't reading it I was thinking about it, and the characters and horrific but oh so true images that still haunt me.

When high school senior Emery Austin finds herself locked in a kindergarten classroom with eighteen five-year-olds and a guy she's sworn never to speak to again, she must search for a way to help the tiny hostages. Brian Stutts, a U.S soldier back from Iraq who’s suffering from PTSD, only pulls out the gun to scare the teacher into handing over the son he's not allowed to check out because of a custody battle. But the situation turns deadly when a security guard appears at the door and Stutts impulsively opens fire. When the teacher lapses into a diabetic coma, suddenly her life and the lives of the children are in the hands of Emery and Jake, whose shares Emery's low opinion of himself after a recent drug arrest.           .

While Jake searches for a way to communicate with the policemen surrounding the building, shy Emery, fighting her panic disorder (and POTS), courageously  reaches out to the wounded soldier. She learns the source of his problems, gains a new understanding of the hidden damages of war, and discovers remarkable strength in Stutts’ small son. The story, filled with kindergarten comic relief, moves to a terrifying, surprising, and touching conclusion that leaves three people dead and Emery and Jake reevaluating their relationship.

In a paranormal-filled market, THIS IS NOT A DRILL is a fresh, fast-paced, realistic story told in the alternating viewpoints of two ordinary teens who share the grief of losing a parent (Emery through divorce and Jake through death) and the uncertainty of reestablishing trust in relationships damaged by betrayal.

Beck McDowell is a beloved (this I know for a fact!) former High School English teacher. Check out , a project Beck pioneered with her students over a two year period. The site offers student reviews of 50+ books and 60+ student produced book trailers that are amazingly professional.



  1. The obvious problems with this story are that the main characters aren't put in enough peril and the stakes aren't high enough.

    (Since it translates poorly in print, that was sarcasm.)

    Sounds intense.

  2. Hooray! Sounds awesome. Congratulations!

  3. What an amazing concept! Can not wait to read it.



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