Title: Following Shadows
Entry Nickname: No Heroes Here
Word Count: 94K
Genre: Adult Fantasy, OwnVoices
Kieron Lawson is a dashing hero on a quest to save the damsel in distress...in his dreams. In reality, he’s a socially awkward lord with a penchant for heroic fables and an aversion to touch. Determined to discover his destiny, he makes a deal with his family: in exchange for permission to leave home on his own and attend the royal tournament, he’ll finally choose a bride.
Before the tourney even begins, a royal favor is stolen from Kieron’s grasp. Chasing down the thief earns him a private meeting with the princess and the hope of his very own happily ever after. When the princess slips into a deep sleep after being poisoned, Kieron is promised her hand in marriage if he can retrieve a cure from a forbidden land.
The fairytale falls apart when Kieron’s company abandons him, and the only person he can find to guide him through the forbidden lands is the thief who stole from him—a man named Eidolon, who inspires feelings Kieron doesn’t understand and can’t control. When dangerous opposition and Kieron’s own temper threaten to derail the mission completely, he finds himself faced with a choice to be the hero and save the princess, or follow his feelings and save the thief.
Imagine a classic medieval fairytale, where the charming prince is an asexual man on the Autism spectrum who falls for a male companion, rather than the princess he sets out to save.
Hollowness spread through Kieron Lawson’s chest as he stared out the lancet window. Lunch had not gone well, but he couldn’t imagine why. He’d done everything by the book.
“Must you keep doing this?” asked Viscount Lawson, tapping his fingers against the table.
“Why do you assume I did anything?” Kieron kept his eyes on the horizon. The sun shining on the wheat field was almost blinding. Cumaro’s farmlands seemed to stretch on forever. By now, he’d all but memorized every golden stalk and hay bale.
“Lady Voss left in tears.”
Father’s methodical drumming sounded like a ticking clock.
“I don’t know why.” Kieron shrugged, thumbing his cold metal tankard. As his etiquette text dictated, he’d nodded politely as the lady spoke, though he couldn’t remember what she’d said. “I didn’t say anything.”
“Yes, that’s exactly the trouble. She says you sat silently for the majority of the meeting, staring at the wall behind her. Then when you did say something, you called her by the wrong name.”
Kieron turned away from the window. “You mean her name isn’t Liza?”
The rhythmic tapping skipped a beat. “No. Her name is not Liza. We’ve known the Voss family for years. How do you not know the girl’s name?” The drumming grew louder. “And did you have to tell her you didn’t like her dress?”
Kieron cocked his head at his father’s squat frame and frowned. He’d answered a question when asked. What else should he have done?
Title: Amirah and the Red Scarf
Entry Nickname: Twisted Red Riding Hood
Word count: 86k
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Protected by an enchanted red scarf, twenty-three-year-old Vidjeti hunter Amirah, tracks and slays the wolf-like demons known as Kurjak. For centuries, these nightmarish creatures have inhabited human hosts, assuming their lives for one year before seeking a new victim.
When Amirah's first solo hunting mission goes awry, she returns home to witness her grandmother in the clutches of an enormous Kurjak. In a desperate attempt to save her grandmother's life, she gives it what it seeks: a sacred family book, only to watch as her grandmother is murdered. Left despondent and alone, she struggles to maintain her semblance at a normal life. However, Amirah's plans are soon shattered when an unexpected attack leaves her possessed by a Kurjak. Rescued by another Vidjeti, the mysterious and handsome Liam O’Malley. Sent to find her, Liam both opens Amirah's eyes (and heart) to an intriguing and vast world of Vidjeti outside her own.
When Liam is captured, Amirah is forced to make a terrible decision. For a chance to save Liam from certain death and reclaim her family's book, she must forfeit her magical red scarf. Problem is it's her only defense against the evil creature now living inside her from assuming complete control.
The sweet aromas of freshly baked baklava and cinnamon buns swirled around Amirah and her grandmother as they stepped out of the bakery and into the chill evening air. Amirah's grandmother placed her hand on her elbow. Startled by the unexpected touch, Amirah turned to face her.
Shadow clouded her grandmother's face as she spoke. “Here, Scre,” she said, calling Amirah by her Serbian nickname, meaning “heart”. “You will need this tonight. ” She untied the red scarf from under her chin, gently removing it from her silver-colored hair.
Amirah looked down as her grandmother held it out to her, the red silk draped over the old woman's gnarled fingers. “What are you talking about, Baka? You’re coming with me.”
Shaking her head slowly, her grandmother looked up toward Amirah with deep brown eyes, a shade darker than Amirah’s. She sighed. “No, not tonight, Srce.”
Furrowing her brows, Amirah pressed, “But you always hunt with me?”
“I know,” she said and gave her a warm smile. “But you’re ready now. I’ve taught you everything I can. My eyes do not see as clear as they once did. I fear my presence during the hunt this year would only place you at great risk. You’re a woman now, Srce. You knew this day would come. Tonight, you must do this on your own.”Her grandmother placed the scarf in Amirah's hands, forcing her fingers to close over the silk fabric. A shiver of magic rippled through the scarf, tingling Amirah's palms.