Title: Fighting Chance
Word count: 60,000
Genre: YA Thriller
Second-degree black belt Nica McDonald talks better with her fists than her mouth, so when the local bully is murdered, she becomes the prime suspect.
After almost killing a boy in her California hometown, seventeen-year-old Nica is shipped to the armpit of Tennessee. She vows to keep her anger in check until she can pass the GED and blow the one stoplight town. But when local bullies, known as The Brigade, stuff bald, defenseless Braeden Hall into a trash can, her fists make another statement.
Saving Braeden is easy. Ditching him? Impossible. He becomes her shadow, following her everywhere. Nica shuts him down until he makes a tempting offer: become his bodyguard and he'll help her ace the GED. Eager to escape high school, and tired of being a loner, Nica agrees.
But when The Brigade's leader winds up dead behind a local hangout, all evidence points to Nica. With rumors about her dark past making her appear guilty, Nica and Braeden team up to prove her innocence. When another member of The Brigade is targeted, and Nica is linked to the scene, police tighten their case against her.
Desperate to stay out of jail, and afraid Braeden is in danger, Nica hunts the killer alone. And when she unmasks the monster, who's been hunting her all along, she'll need more than a fighting chance to stay alive.
First 250 words:
My scars were impossible to hide. The jagged marks carved deep in my knuckles glowed under the fluorescent lights in the convenience store.
I did everything I could to hide my hands. Slide them into my pockets. Lock them behind my back. I hated the white gouges between my fingers and slashed across my pale, freckled skin. Each mark was a small, taunting whisper, reminding me what I’d done.
I shoved the money across the counter while the owner gazed at me with pursed lips under a full white beard.
“You want a bag?” His lingering gaze focused on the thick, red line along my chin that took forty-two stitches to close.
I shook my head, hiding behind my dark hair and grabbed the carton, slipping it under my arm.
I’d been sent on an impossible mission – find soy milk in a tiny town surrounded by acres of dairy farms. My flighty stepmother, Annabelle, insisted we couldn’t survive without it — something about regular milk having growth hormones which destroyed our bodies. It was typical Annabelle. In her mind the entire planet was poisoning us. Personally, I thought it was a load of crap, but I didn’t argue because other than her granola-leanings, she was pretty cool.
The door chimed as I walked outside. The scent of bitter, day-old coffee lingered on the sleeves of my gray t-shirt. The parking lot was empty except for my ancient, silver Honda parked in the last space — a reluctant gift from my dad who didn’t have the time or patience to drive me around.
Entry Nickname: DAMNED
Title: AND WE ARE ALL DAMNED
Word count: 70K
Genre: YA Dark Fantasy
On an isolated island, beneath a lush canopy of resurrection ferns and prickly palmettos, a Victorian colony festers. Monetary wealth carries little weight. Lineage is currency and nothing is of greater import than blood.
Orphans Haeden and Veanne are fifteen-years-old when their adoptive father, the sole doctor, mysteriously dies, leaving them without knowledge of their parentage and defenseless against rumor of a spreading illness threatening to divide the decaying hierarchy.
The unexpected return of the doctor’s biological son, vanished from the island for over a decade, presents a double-edged sword equally sharp as the one buckled at his waist. Even as he offers protection, and romances Veanne, he harbors devastating secrets.
Combating plague, pirates, and moral corruption, Haeden and Veanne must unearth both the truth behind the sickness and their birth in order to survive the systematic destruction of the only home they have ever known.
First 250 Words:
Inside the black oak coffin, Raymond Able lay carefully arranged with arms neatly folded across his cold body. Gold-rimmed spectacles lay tucked inside the left pocket of the doctor’s vest, the chain of his pocket watch dangled from the right.
Veanne imagined she could still hear it ticking.
The evening sun beat through the gaps of the forest canopy. Despite the heat, Veanne leaned closer to her brother’s familiar presence. Head bowed, her gaze caught a patch of uneven dye on the toe of her left slipper. She sighed. Ankle length skirts and asymmetrical shoes; she looked like a peasant child playing dress up and not a grieving fifteen-year-old girl.
Straggling mourners filled in around the open grave, dug so Raymond would forever rest with his head facing west. Their steps were in measure with the tolling bell rung from town, one strike for each year of the doctor’s life.
“At this time individuals may come forth, if they so wish, and share pleasant reminiscences,” said the high parson, Alister Wraeb, standing next to the mound of unearthed peat and sand.
Veanne felt her brother stir to speak, but she put a hand to his vest.
“Oh, stop shooshing me,” Haeden hissed, twisting away. “Raymond raised us.”
“We were his wards, Hae, not his children,” whispered Veanne. The tips of her ears turned red beneath her bonnet. She felt sick. She needed water, something to soothe the tension in her stomach. “Not blood.”