Dear Agent,

When children can be customized like luxury cars, no one cares what happens to the rejected Designer Kids.

Cal and Sephrim, 14 and 16, are rejects on the run. Though genetically perfect and tailor-made, the doctors at the lab couldn’t fix their “undesirable” personalities, so they escaped. To remain free, they must avoid the Slingers, soldiers from the lab who seek to return the rejects, so they can be used in secret experiments. Their lab created skills are useful for survival, but the revolutionaries—others fighting the power of the lab—agree, and kidnap Cal to use her to aid in their own plans for rebellion.

They implant her with a mind-controlling chip and Sephrim must overcome his crippling anxiety to rescue her. Success only leads to a new challenge—deactivating the chip before the rebels can turn Cal into their own weapon.

Cal and Sephrim navigate the Designer Kids underground railroad racing to find the answers they need. If they succeed, freedom is theirs, but the cost of failure doesn’t belong to them alone. If they can’t stop Cal from unwittingly helping the rebels, they risk dooming rejected Designer Kids to live as mindless child soldiers.

CODE WORD FOR CRAZY is an 84,000 word YA science fiction novel. It is own-voices for anxiety and child abuse and deals with similar issues to UNWIND by Neal Shusterman as well as AMONG THE HIDDEN by Margaret Peterson.

I am a native Texan with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Creative Writing from Texas A&M University. I also teach creative writing classes for a non-profit organization called Write Create.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

E.C. Farrell


Chapter One


In the rust-brittled railroad car where they lived, Sephrim and Cal never ran out of dirt.

“This stuff sticks like engine grease,” Sephrim huffed, as he made a valiant effort to muck out his boot tread with the end of a dulled screwdriver. “The storm didn’t help at all.”

“Storm, noun, a heavy fall of rain, snow, or hail, or a violent outbreak of thunder and lightning, accompanied by strong winds.” Cal muttered the words in a voice as fragile as their four walls, then shoved up from her stomach onto her knees. “Think they’ll come tonight?”

She leaned forward to take a peek out the door and Sephrim jerked one of the straps of her canvas overalls, fear wrenching his gut. Cal rocked back and landed on her rear. The goggles she always wore slid down her forehead and into her face. Overhead, their tools jittered and shook in the gray metal compartments they’d screwed into the roof.

They both winced at the noise, held their collective breath, and listened. The clinking stopped as their gadgets stilled. Sweat stinging his lower back in spite of the cold, Sephrim strained to hear past their walls and into the train yard beyond. Too far from the city for even murmurs from the billboard screens, only the sound of settling metal interrupted the silence.

Letting go of a sigh, Sephrim tugged the collar of his hoodie away from his throat. “I don’t think so, but just in case, let’s not make it easy on them to see us before we can run, huh?”