Just informed that I got a place in the Writer’s Voice contest run by Brenda Drake & Co (more info here). So, the blog’s coming out of retirement, and I’m posting my query and the first 250 words of my middle grade contemporary fantasy novel, BETWIXT, both for the contest and for your reading pleasure 🙂
In the small Appalachian town of Candle Creek, the boundaries are clear, yet Elsa Roberts still manages to get tangled in them. As a scholarship student at the prestigious Candle Creek Day School, the public schoolers at her church can’t trust her. At the private school, she’s been labeled “trouble” since the day she punched Izzy Whittaker in the glasses (even though Izzy deserved it). And it doesn’t matter how much Mamá tries to convince her otherwise; Elsa already knows that the kids of Candle Creek will never accept her as one of their own.
And so, she escapes her thirteenth birthday party, crossing a bridge into the wood beyond. There, she finds Aza, a spirit trapped by an ancient curse, who gives her the acceptance she has always craved, and who tells her that she can be a hero.
But the wood beyond is full of danger as well as wonder, and when Elsa sets out to slay a dragon and break an enchantment that threatens to destroy her family, she releases monsters that she never could have imagined. Caught between the dark forces of ancient magic and the very human monsters of Candle Creek, Elsa must find the power to reshape the boundaries of her world, or risk losing her place in it forever.
A middle grade novel that combines fantasy elements with the bittersweet realities of modern middle school, BETWIXT is a story about a girl growing up stuck between worlds, between communities, between histories. Complete at 70,000 words, it is available upon request.
1 | The Wood Beyond
Elsa Roberts was fleeing her birthday party.
She had to climb down the oak tree to do it. Her bedroom was in the attic of the house, three stories up, and the only way for her to escape the party unnoticed was to clamber over her window seat and onto the sill, her fingers clinging to the top of the window frame as she stepped across the two-and-a-half-foot gap to the oak tree’s nearest branch. In jeans and sneakers, it was a feat that made Elsa’s heart pound, no matter how many times she managed it.
Of course, she wasn’t wearing jeans or sneakers. She’d already put on her dress.
There was no time to change into anything more practical. She’d taken too long getting ready, and Mamá would soon come up to check on her. And so, with the late August breeze grabbing at her skirt and the branches trembling beneath her feet, she scrambled out her window and into the old oak, scuffing her shoes against the rough trunk as she lowered herself through the branches. She dropped into the backyard, pausing just long enough to catch a glimpse of the guests through the downstairs windows.
Elsa ducked behind the oak before anyone could think to look outside. At the other end of the yard, a weeping willow tree bent over the path into the woods: a path that led to the Candle Creek, to a bridge that Elsa had never dared to cross—
Not until today.