Title: DECIDING FAITH
Word count: 25k
Genre: YA Contemporary
25,000 worded collection of two short YA stories.
Yasmeen recently started wearing the headscarf and she faces problems like an atheist teacher with mis-information and unwanted attention from a boy. She struggles with finding her place at school. Yasmeen meets a faithful Christian girl named Jenna and she has questions about Islam. They try to explain it to Jenna's parents, but they are making it hard for themselves to understand and let her to be herself. Jenna finds strength in her new found faith and family.
Hala is starting her second semester of her junior year and it's hard for her to adjust. Her adjustment lasts longer than usual. In the middle of it is not endless darkness, but a challenge. As a Muslim she only has girl friends. She is not allowed to be friends with boys. That challenge is having her first crush. Usually she just says hi and goes on with her day, but this one becomes a friendship. She tries to not let him get to her, but soon enough she doesn't know if he is flirting with her. She doesn't say anything at first; slowly she does. She questions her faith.
Yasmeen figures out how to deal with the next level of faith while Hala gets her first crush and figures out whether to fall for her desires or stay strong in faith.
I remember as a toddler I always go to the mosque with my mom and sister. It is another Friday, yet we are rushing. My mom didn't get anything to keep me busy or put on my headscarf. At the mosque while everyone is listening, I wander around the room. I like seeing all the women and girls in their scarves. They are colorful.
Getting bored, I go to my sister. I pet my own hair. Then I touch my sister's scarf. She understands what I want, but doesn't have my scarf, so she sends me to my mom. I do what I did to my sister to my mom. She gives me my scarf. I go back to sister to help me put it on. After that I sit down patiently.
We didn't stay in the community too long. We moved a few cities away and then to a new state. Finally, in the end of eighth grade my family settled in a small town. We've been to this community before while my parents look for a house. The day we officially move in they throw us a welcome party. At the mosque is a dinner and cake. They decorated with a sign, some balloons, and streamers. We pray the sunset prayer and then get our seats and food. It was simple, but great to properly introduce each other and meet others before Ramadan comes. I'm Yasmeen and I start high school in a few days.
Entry Nickname: RedDryad
Title: A Dance of River and Tree
Word Count: 78,000
Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction
Thuja is a 145-year-old Western Redcedar: anchored to the earth, holding up the sky, and always looking to the horizon. Until a boy speaks to her in the forest’s language – something humans can’t do – and acknowledges her wanderlust. From him Thuja learns the truth: she is dryad, a tree spirit, and can choose human form just as the boy’s mother did.
River has returned to his mother’s birthplace in order to find a way to put down his roots – quite literally. He’s done with wandering without connection, and knows there must be some way to access his half-dryad nature that would allow him to anchor to the earth and hold up the sky.
They strike a bargain: River will show Thuja the world, and in return she will speak to the eldest dryads on earth on his behalf. A simple, mutual partnership. Except Thuja already knows males can’t be dryad, and River knows the particular difficulties – and murderous tendencies – of a dryad in human skin.
Though burdened by their lies and half-truths, Thuja and River discover peace in each other, and their love story begins. But there are only two ways their story can end: in tragedy laced with blood, or in the tragedy of goodbye.
First 250 Words:
She was 133 years old the day her predictable life irrevocably changed.
A small human boy ran up to her and placed a tiny, pudgy palm on her trunk. She didn’t pay any attention to him at first; his touch was the flit of butterfly wings, insubstantial and fleeting.
“You’re a grumpy tree,” he said, and at that she took notice.
Some called her Western Redcedar, others just called her “tree” if they bothered to call her anything at all, but once, decades ago, a bespectacled man with a clipboard and calm smile had called her Thuja plicata. Divinity in the form of a grey man with hiking boots, he walked among her friends with surety, naming each one, and she had accepted her baptism.
This boy was the very opposite of the grey man. Absolutely nothing about him looked divine: shaggy black hair fell in his eyes, the back of his scalp was a gnarl of tangles that rivaled lichen, and he had a smear of something on his cheek. And yet he’d placed his palm on her with intention, as if feeling for a pulse beneath the bark, and his brown eyes had looked up into her slightly swaying branches, as if searching for her breath.
And, most remarkable of all, he'd spoken his thought in the language of the forest, not in human words.
“Yep. You’re a grumpy tree,” he repeated, this time out loud in his native tongue. He nodded, agreeing with himself sagely, and the absurdly self-confident gesture stifled Thuja’s argument.