Mind Over Splatter
Release date: August 4, 2021
Series: Stand-alone novella (80 pages)
Genre: Rom-com, new adult
Tropes: College first kiss, cinnamon bun hero
About the story
If it weren’t for the squashed bug on the window, I wouldn’t be in this mess.
When my Neuroscience professor demanded to know the title of my thesis, I should have said, “undecided.” But knowing I’d be docked a grade point for not being prepared, I blurted out the first thing that popped into my head: “Mind Over Splatter.”
It was a joke. What can I say? The dead bug looked like a Rorschach inkblot.
Now I need to find an art major willing to be my research buddy.
So when a super cute guy with paint on his chin is tossed in my path, I pounce. After strongly suggesting I can guarantee him an easy A, he agrees to help. All he has to do is wear an EEG machine while he paints.
But the joke’s on me because the way my brain lights up when he kisses me is a data point I really wasn’t prepared for.
This is a stand-alone novella, featuring a quirky heroine and a nerdy hero. It is part of a shared world, multi-author, new adult, steamy contemporary romance series set on a college campus in New England where twelve couples will fall in love at first kiss.
Read an excerpt
Excerpt from Abbie’s terrible quick thinking
Professor Pumpernickel—so deemed by me because his class was so hard to digest—was in a particularly foul mood this morning. He’d already called out three students for not having submitted their project thesis statements yet. I knew he’d be turning his watery gaze on me soon.
I stared at the ceiling, hoping an idea would magically come to me.
Come on, Universe, give me something. Anything.
A fluorescent bulb flickered, then faded. Great. Thanks for nothing.
Turning my attention to the window, a spectacular splotch caught my eye. It looked like a moth that had become intimate with the backside of a 300-page Neuroscience 201 textbook.
It also kind of looked like a Rorschach inkblot. According to data, three-quarters of people see a human figure in at least one of the standard test blots. And the people who don’t—people like me—tend to struggle with social interaction.
Which made things hard when I needed a project partner. Even though I was a Junior, I didn’t know anyone in the class. I’d just changed my major from Business to a general Arts and Science degree. Virtually everyone who’d taken this class said it was an easy A—the only requirement to get a full grade seemed to be to meet all of professor P.’s deadlines.
And boy did I need an A. I was on academic probation and if I didn’t pull off at least a B average this semester, I’d be moving back to New York City.
But not back to Manhattan with my parents. I’d rather live in a shared apartment in Brooklyn and work as a barista than have to face their daily disappointment. Actually, no. That sounded just as bad, but in a different way. Having strangers draw conclusions about my character and intelligence based on my appearance was worse than having Mom do that thing with her lips when she’s trying to understand why I can’t be normal.
At least my parents’ judgement was based in facts.
- Fact 1: I failed two out of five classes last semester.
- Fact 2: I was kicked out of the business program as a result.
- Fact 3: I grew my Instagram following to over 50,000 people in the same four months.
- Fact 4: I earned over $400 pairing photos of shoes with music on my feed.
- Fact 5: The only facts my parents cared about were the first two.
As Prof P. berated some other poor project planner, I thought about the poor planning of the moth. I wondered if it had listened to too many psychology lectures and thought it could get through the glass using some kind of mind over matter voodoo.
“Abigail Arbor?” Professor Pumpernickel pulled me from thinking about moth psychology. “Will you be participating in a meaningful way in this class?”
Inhaling through my nose, I pasted on a smile and turned to face the old man at the front of the room. It was the start of the third week and while it seemed like every other classmate had paired up and figured out their project thesis, I was still without either a partner or a research idea. I’d even come to class early to try to join a research team, but everyone said they were good. Didn’t need—or want—me.
“I plan to, Sir.”
“Then what’s your project title and thesis?” he asked, tapping his pen on his desk.
“I don’t have a partner yet, Sir.”
“You have until Friday to find a research partner. But your project title and thesis are due now.”
I looked back at the window, at the Rorschach moth, and said with entirely unwarranted confidence, “Mind Over Splatter.”
“Excuse me? Mind over what?”
“Splatter. As in,” I clapped my hands together and made a farty sound, “Pthpt.”
Professor P. cleared his throat. “And what, pray tell, is your thesis statement for this… no doubt singular research project, Ms. Arbor?”
If he expected to dock me a few percentage points for not being prepared, he was wrong.
“Just a second, I’ve got it here.”
I flipped open my text book in an effort to stall. It fell open to a page with colorful images of EEG brain function measurement. I stared at the words on the page—Motor, Visual, Sensory—while my own brain repeated ‘mind over splatter’ a half-dozen times.
“Ms. Arbor. I’m waiting.”
“Um, well, by analyzing the EEG results of a… of a trained artist… um… versus a non-artist who is just, you know, splattering paint on a canvas, I intend to prove that… um, brainwave activity and the quality of art are linked. Yup.”
I looked up from my textbook to my prof. He was making notes. Shit. Then he looked up and we made eye contact.
“Do you have your own EEG hardware because I can’t authorize that equipment to an undergrad?”
“No, but I’ve seen the devices online for home use. So, if you approve my thesis, I’ll order one.”
“They’re close to a thousand dollars, Ms. Arbor.” He tapped his pen in time to his words.
“Education fund,” I muttered, hating that I just had to say it out loud, have other students know.
“Good, good. You have my go ahead. If you can’t find a partner who is already in this class, they need to be enrolled by the end of the week.”
“Not a problem,” I smiled and gave him a thumbs up while my guts expressed a very clear thumbs down stomach-ache response. Not only did I not have a clue what this project was going to look like, I couldn’t think of a single person in my contacts who was in the fine arts program.
The bell rang and I hustled to the Student Union building to post a call for help on the ‘Student Seeks Student’ bulletin board. Tearing a page from my journal, I wrote in big block letters,
ARE YOU A PAINTER?
EARN AN EASY ‘A’
BE MY STUDY SUBJECT
MUST ENROLL BY FRIDAY
DEETS: Abbie @ 347-555-1212
I pulled a thumbtack from a flyer advertising a fat-shaming diet scam, tossed it in the recycling bin and posted my notice front and center. Then I prayed to the Goddess of Arts and Science that someone, anyone, would text.