Title: Warden of the Lost
Entry Nickname: I'll Stand Bayou
Word Count: 99K
Genre: Adult Southern Gothic Fantasy
Thaddeus Fortier is a Warden of New Orleans, guardian and peacekeeper to all things that go bump in the bayou. The job’s got terrible benefits: zero sick days, no dental, and it comes with a sort of compulsive conscience to keep Wardens walking the straight and narrow. Murder, mayhem, even little white lies—all off the table for the City’s chosen guardians. Which is downright problematic for a man like Thad, who’s hell-bent on avenging the murders of his mother and brother. He’s got the whodunit down; all signs point to the City’s resident racketeer, a bougie backwater baron named Papa Ru. The trick is convincing Mama Nola that there’s more to Thad’s mission than a good old-fashioned revenge plot—preferably before Papa Ru makes good on his promise to turn Thad into gator bait.
Thad’s got a plan. Wardens and supernaturals are going missing in New Orleans, and turning up dead if they turn up at all. It stinks of Papa Ru and his one-man war on all things otherworldly, and if Thad can connect the dots back to him, it might be just what he needs to convince the City to let him have his vengeance. But with Papa Ru’s threat hanging over his head, and more pissed-off supernaturals than he can stir with a stick, it might just be Thad who’s next on the list of the lost.
WARDEN OF THE LOST is a mash-up of Elmore Leonard’s whackjob crime novels and Neil Gaiman’s darkly bizarre supernatural stories, and would appeal to fans of fantasy, horror, and magical realism alike.
The taxi driver blinked at me in the rearview with glazed-over eyes. “Where to?” he asked. His voice had the dull monotone of somebody who’d said the same two words so many times they’d stopped sounding like words. Just reflex, now. The bless you after a sneeze that just wouldn’t quit.
Three pine tree fresheners dangled from the mirror, and I still smelled something rancid-sweet wafting up from the upholstery.
“Belle Knoll cemetery,” I said.
The driver’s eyebrows ticked up toward his hairline. “Funeral?”
“Yeah.” Not exactly tough math to do: black suit, dark tie, headed to a graveyard. It was the kind of no-shit question that begged for a sarcastic answer, but I’d lost my sense of humor with my luggage at the last layover.
I looked away from the rearview to watch the airport traffic give way to good old New Orleans highway. Flat land, green grass, that unlikely mix of palm trees and crepe myrtles growing side-by-side—I’d figured I wouldn’t ever see it again, but the City had her own ideas. And Lord, she could be a real bitch about getting her way.
“Friend or relative?” the driver asked. The question fell on the wrong side of personal, but neither of us batted an eye. Taxi drivers are the bartenders of the road: you sit in their seats, you tell them your woes, and you walk away with a lighter heart—and a lighter wallet. It’s a pine-scented taste of everyday magic, and it’s true what they say: all magic has a price.
Title: Going Native
Entry Nickname: Neurotic Aliens in NYC
Genre: Adult Sci-fi
Lance has a good life in New York City . . . until he learns his home planet is planning to colonize and has to decide whose side he’s on. In a panic over losing everything he’s come to love about Earth––including his human girlfriend––Lance tells a lie to put off the colony, saying the planet has been ravaged by earthquakes and using the movie San Andreas as “evidence.”
Just one little lie, but it has consequences. Lance’s planet, Xaclan, is in political turmoil. Without the distraction of a new colony, the government is taken over by a power-hungry general with a fondness for beheadings. Lance’s sister and her wife, a high-up-official in the former government, flee to Manhattan with their children and take up residence in the Ritz-Carlton––a situation made trickier by the fact that Lance’s sister-in-law, unlike the rest of them, refuses to transfer into a human body.
When Lance and his fellow scouts, Katy and Matt, are notified that additional, unknown fugitives are roaming the city and a retrieval team has been sent after them, it seems unlikely that Lance’s lie will remain unnoticed. If the new government learns the truth, they’ll send a colony to raze the planet and round up all the humans, pausing just long enough to arrest Lance and take him back to Xaclan to be executed.
Lance always knew his time on Earth could be cut short at any moment. With the end looming ever closer, the life he’s built––and the humans he’s come to love––feel more important than ever. If he does nothing, then sooner or later he’ll lose everything. But if he tries to take action, he may just lose what little time he has left.
First 250 Words
“You're supposed to try and look normal.”
Katy turned to discover Lance had come up behind her while she was sorting through mail in the lobby of her apartment. “Running downstairs to get the mail in your pajamas is normal.” She looked him up and down. “Spending an hour on your hair and wearing $300 jeans on a Tuesday? Not so much.”
“Hey, I’m just playing the part. I gotta be Lance. And Lance––” he flicked an imaginary fleck of dust off one sleeve and straightened his immaculately-pressed cuffs “––knows how to dress.”
Looking up, he discovered she’d thrown her mail in the recycling and was heading towards the elevator. He hurried after her, turning to face forward as the door slid shut.
They were both average-looking humans, the kind you wouldn’t look at twice. Lance was a twenty-something black guy with fashionable clothes and carefully styled curls. You wouldn’t be surprised to learn he told people he was “in fashion“ but really worked part-time at an upscale clothing store in Tribeca––though you might wonder how he could afford all those clothes on an hourly wage.
Beside him, Katy was about the same age, with pale skin and messy brown hair. She wore fluffy pink slippers, pajamas with tiny hearts on them, and a short bathrobe over top. You wouldn’t be surprised to learn she was a blogger––though you might wonder how she could afford such a nice apartment.
You might also wonder what they were doing together in an elevator at ten a.m. on a weekday.