Blackbird Fall

My City Owl Press sister, Em Shotwell, has a new book out! YAY!!!! Here are the deets you need to know.

About the book

Blackbird Falling

Meet Delia. Gifted. Magical. Broken.

Hell hath no fury like Delia Caibre—Gifted single mom with the power to make people love her, and a chip on her shoulder the size of the Mississippi.

When last summer left her broken by a monster, and abandoned by the man she trusted, Delia pulled herself up and vowed to never let anyone hurt her, or those she loves, again. So when Thomas Richard shows up, begging forgiveness and flashing his hundred-watt-smile, Delia lets him know that it will take more than dimples and promises to win her back.

Besides, raising her daughter, Genevieve—whose Gift is rare and stronger than anyone in the magical Caibre family—leaves little room for things like dating. But Thomas is persistent. And cute…and it would be nice to feel carefree and nineteen.

Until a masked-man from her past wields a Curse that leaves Delia’s beloved sister on her deathbed, and makes off with Genevieve. It will take the most powerful in the Caibre family to put things right. But bringing her broken family together may prove impossible, even if not doing so means their destruction.

Available everywhere October 30th. Be sure to ask for it at your local library and favorite book shop!

Buy your copy

Want to be at the launch!

Em Shotwell invites you to help her launch her latest book, BLACKBIRD FALLING. The launch will be hosted on November 9th, 2018 by Conundrum Books in St. Francisville, Louisiana. Em will happily sign books and answer questions. Check out Conundrum Books online for more info (

Em will be speaking about her writing process and answering book questions at the Zachary branch of the Baton Rouge Public library on December 12th. For more information, please contact the library at (225) 658-1840.

About the Author


Em Shotwell is a mom, writer, cancer survivor, foster youth advocate, podcast producer, and a casual geek–among a million other things. Sometimes she writes books about misfits and the people who love them.

When she’s not frowning at her computer screen, Em enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, or indoors daydreaming and wishing she could play the banjo.

*Em is available for signings and book discussions. Please contact her via email or her website. She loves speaking with students and book clubs.

Previous Works: Blackbird Summer, Forget Me Not, The Chans, These Roots Run Deep, These Resting Bones, and This Hollow Heart.

Find Em:




Review Quotes for Em’s Work

Sweet. Magical. Heartbreaking. Healing. (In Forget Me Not) Em Shotwell delivers an engaging, romantic paranormal fantasy with a real-world message.”   –JD Horn, Author of the best-selling WITCHING SAVANNAH series.       

“This magical romance (Forget Me Not) draws you in from the first page. What starts as a sweet romance with the appearance of a classic love triangle quickly breaks down into something much heavier–a fight to reclaim happiness after the inevitable scars of wartime.” – E.J. Wenstrom, Author of MUD and winner of the FWA book of the year.

“Fans of Sookie Stackhouse and Beautiful Creatures who are looking for their next fix from the sticks should look no further than Blackbird Summer. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.”-Kchase, Goodreads Reviewer and Reader. (Link)

“This southern gothic paranormal blew me away. The take on magic was refreshingly new and the characters deep and well-developed. Fans of Beautiful Creatures who wanted something with a bit more of an adult feel to it will love this.”- Award Winning Fantasy Author, Heather McCorkle (Link)

“One of my favorite things about this novella (Forget Me Not) was that, while the story was engrossing and something entirely new, it still included some of my favorite aspects of Blackbird Summer. The large, close-knit family dynamics, for one – particularly the relationships between strong, passionate women. The rich, southern gothic atmosphere was equally well-developed, and I felt like I was escaping to another world every time I opened the book.” –Andrea Berthot, Author of The Gold and Gaslight Chronicles.

“It’s unbelievable when you get dropped into an Em Shotwell world. As a writer myself, I must tell you that this is one of the biggest compliments I can give.”-Award winning author Randi Perrin.

Rheia by Cassandra Page: Book Blitz!

Cassandra Page
Publication date: October 13th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

“Beauty and the Beast” meets Ancient Greece, with a steampunk twist

Every year, Rheia’s father brought home four prisoners of war, sacrifices to keep the demon Typhein bound. Rheia never gave them much thought … until her father’s enemy made her one of them. Now she has two weeks to find a way to escape death at the hands of the Beast and either save her people or condemn them to destruction.

The last thing Rheia expected was to fall in love with the Beast oath-bound to kill her.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Smashwords


Rheia waited, fidgeting, until the herbalist finished tying off the bundle of fennel and counting out her change. Then she tucked the herbs into her basket and followed her brother, head down so as not to attract attention: an unwed, unaccompanied woman. She would kill Aias if his running off resulted in any slight against her name. She swallowed and adjusted her veil, making sure her hair was completely covered.

She found Aias standing in the deep shadows beneath the statue. He couldn’t see into the temple from there, wedged as he was between one huge sandalled foot and an outer pillar, adjacent to the shadowed porch, but his head was cocked as he listened, eyes wide as wine cups. “You just wait until I tell Mammidon about this,” she hissed.

“Shh,” Aias whispered, raking her with a contemptuous gaze. “I’m listening.”

“And if the priests see you out here, lurking like a thief, what will they say?” She grabbed his arm and tried to pull him away, but he eeled from her grip and stepped closer to the entrance. If she tried to grab him again, he might stumble backward, out into the bright sunshine where he would be much more obvious. Grinding her jaw with frustration, she glared at him.

He glared back, head tilted upward to meet her gaze. “Rheia, something is going on. They are stirred up like an ants’ nest. Don’t you want to know why?”

“No,” she whispered, shaking her head emphatically. And she didn’t. She wanted to browse the trinkets at Phidias’s stall, see if he knew her name, see whether Galen was lurking out the back somewhere and might come over to see her.

But she couldn’t do so without Aias. “All right,” she said with a sigh, crossing her arms and looking away towards the harbour as though she was merely taking a moment to shade herself from the hot sun. “One minute.”

Resolved not to listen to the voices inside the great building, Rheia studied the mason’s mark hidden at the statue’s heel as though it were the most interesting thing in the world. She had heard of Myron, even though he’d died when her grandmother was a baby; the huge statue had been his last great work. But a babble of raised voices as they passed close by the inside doorway caught her ear: the words thysia and offering louder than the rest, as the speaker emphasised a point. They fell away, and she wondered what had happened to cause such consternation. Had the helot girl tried to escape again? Had she been successful this time? There would be a city-wide manhunt to find her if it were true. A surge of sympathy for the girl made her purse her lips. How awful it would be, to know you would be dead when next the moon was full.

Aias’s fingers digging into Rheia’s arm brought her back to herself. “Rheia,” he whispered, the sound sharp with fear. “Let’s go.”

“Finally,” she muttered, glancing up and down the street for watching eyes before hurrying him away from the temple, her hand at the small of his back so he couldn’t dart off again. But when she tried to stop at the goatherder’s stall to buy a pottery jar of milk, he dragged her on, out of the agora. “Aias, stop! Wait!”

“You heard what they said.” He shook his head, curls bouncing emphatically as he hauled her along the street, almost at a run. “We have to get home. Father will know more.”

Rheia’s heart felt strange in her chest, anxiety making it flutter. “More about what? I was trying not to listen. As you should have been.”

Her little brother stopped, staring up at her with his mouth ajar. Then he pulled her by the hand into a quiet alley, away from the bustling traffic of the main street. “One of the helots is dead,” he whispered, eyes glittering with excitement. “One of the girls. Suicide, they say.”

Rheia’s eyes widened as she stared at her brother. The flutter in her chest expanded to swallow her belly. “But what will happen now? It’s only two weeks until the festival. The offering!”

“That’s what they were arguing about. One of the priests thought the triremes would be sent back out, while the other said it was too late. Father will know; if the ships are to be sent, he will captain the fleet. Come on. Before he leaves!”

Rheia let Aias drag her up the hill towards their villa, her mind whirling with the implications. The Broken Ones were meant to have the thysies for a full ten days before the ritual. Something about cleansing rituals. But that would only give the triremes three days to get to the helot lands and back again. Would it be enough?

And if not, what was the alternative?


Author Bio:

Cassandra Page is a mother, author, editor and geek. She lives in Canberra, Australia’s bush capital, with her son and two Cairn Terriers. She has a serious coffee addiction and a tattoo of a cat – despite being allergic to cats. She has loved to read since primary school, when the library was her refuge, and loves many genres, all of them speculative fiction. When she’s not reading or writing, she engages in geekery, from Doctor Who to AD&D. Because who said you need to grow up?

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram



(click on the link below to access the Rafflecopter)

a Rafflecopter giveaway 



#PitchWars Mentor Wishlist

G’Day! Welcome to the #PWMWL of #TeamOz! #TeamOz consists of two Aussie YA authors, Sharon M. Johnston and Stacey Nash! Even though we’re Aussie, we accept entries from authors of any culture or nationality. We’ve both dealt with English spelling and American spelling before. We’re #TeamOz cause that’s where the magic happens.


Image via Giphy

Who are we?

FullSizeRender 5

Sharon Johnston writes speculative fiction and contemporary stories across the Young Adult and New Adult categories, and has numerous short stories published in anthologies. She loves to create stories with usual premises that keep the reader guessing. Her Open Heart series is out now with City Owl Press. Growing up in the tropics in Queensland, it’s no surprise that Sharon loves writing at the beach or on her family’s boat. She also has OCD, which would explain why she makes SO MANY bookmarks.

7150198Stacey Nash writes adventure filled stories for Young Adults in the science fiction and contemporary romance genres. She loves to read and write books that have a lot of adventure, a good dose of danger, a smattering of romance, and plenty of kissing! Her debut novel, Forget Me Not was released as a three book series (The Collective) through HarperCollins Australia during 2014 / 2015. And her Oxley College Series, entailing Shh!, Wait!, and Pretend… is available now. Hailing from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Australia, she loves nothing more than immersing herself in the beauty of the local area.

So what do we bring:

Sharon: My strengths are finding plot holes, inconsistencies, things that are going to get readers scratching their heads…or get readers offside…problematic type things, missing things. I find the stuff that you can’t see because you’re too close to your story.

Stacey: My strength is an eye for detail; inconsistencies, timeline issues, weird grammar choices, missing words and typos. I’ll pick up all those little things that slip past because you’ve read the story so many times you read what should be there, not what is. I’m also good with characterization.

We are open to all genres of YA with the exception of horror.

But to give you a bit more of an idea of our tastes, here are some stories we love:

  • Strange the Dreamer
  • Name of the Wind
  • Court of Fives
  • Six of Crows
  • The Raven Boys
  • Boys I’ve Loved Before
  • OCD Love Story
  • We Were Liars
  • Into the Deep Blue
  • Gone Girl
  • Beautiful Malice
  • The Spinster Club
  • This is Where It Ends
  • The Scorpio Races
  • Red Rising
  • Lunar Chronicles
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
  • The Illuminae Files
  • The Curse Workers Series
  • Anything by Jane Austen
  • The Night Circus
  • Throne of Glass
  • Code Name Verity
  • Jane Eyre

And here’s what we’d like to see in our inbox (in no particular order):

  • Anything that you could comp to the stories on our favourite list above (and you can see we have diverse taste genre wise – WE WILL TAKE ANY GENRE except horror, even if your genre isn’t listed in our fav books or below).
  • Diversity! W want it. Diverse settings, diverse MCs, diverse stories.
  • Reimaginings (gender flips a plus)
  • Alternative histories
  • Swoonworthy romances
  • Dark stories
  • Girls into science
  • Heists
  • Warrior girls
  • Magicians
  • Summer camps
  • Cosplay
  • Ruthless characters
  • Spaceships
  • Fantasy
  • Pretty Little Liarish stories
  • Kissing
  • Gaming (bonus for gamer girls!)
  • Criminal elements
  • Mysteries
  • Strong female characters
  • Curses
  • Suspense
  • Computer Game inspired stories, like Carmen Sandiego
  • Fantasy
  • Courts
  • Secondary worlds
  • Historicals
  • Fantasy + any other genre (minus horror).
  • Activism
  • Cry ugly stories
  • Bloggers
  • Cowboys and Cowgirls (They don’t have to be in the traditional Wild West)
  • Genre mash-ups
  • Frienship
  • Laugh-out-loud
  • Gothic
  • Pop-Culture inspired
  • Unreliable narrators
  • Speculative Fiction
  • Aspiring journalists
  • Alternate Universes
  • Settings we don’t see often in books
  • Contemporary
  • SciFis
  • Mythology
  • Fan girls
  • Geeks
  • Thrillers
  • Mental Health
  • Cons
  • Stories pulled from the news (topical)
  • Magical Realism
  • Anti-hero
  • A good girl gone bad.
  • Psychological thrillers
  • Uniqueness
  • Gasp-out-loud twists.

And if you can’t find your story in amongst that, send it to us anyway!

You can see tweets about more specific wish lists on Sharon’s twitter feed and Stacey’s twitter feed

Play Time Is Over! Let the PITCH WARS BEGIN!














































































Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.

This entry was posted on July 19, 2017. 1 Comment

Forget Me Not Cover Reveal

Today I have fellow City Owl Press author, Em Shotwell on the blog to day with her cover reveal for her latest book.

FORGET ME NOT is Em Shotwell’s 1969 pequel to BLACKBIRD SUMMER. It is on pre-order for .99 and Em is donating all of her royalties to the military charity OPERATION HOMEFRONT.


Tell us a bit about the novella and what inspired you to write it.

The main characters are actually from BLACKBIRD SUMMER. Evelyn and Rex are Tallulah and Delia’s grandparents. In fact, many people told me how much they loved snappy Evelyn and thoughtful Rex, so I thought, Why not tell their story.

I first got the idea in Feb 2016 when I was hosting a Love Letter Challenge on my blog at Authors submitted love letters written in the voice of one of their characters. I originally was going to write one from Tallulah or Logan’s point of view—but they aren’t really the love letter types. That got me to thinking about who would be most likely to pen a letter and it was definitely Rex Somersby when he was a young man. So I wrote the letter in his voice when he was 18. The idea of how they came to be just wouldn’t leave me alone until I explored it. That turned into a short story which turned into a novella and almost a novel! Lol.

Is there anyone else from BLACKBIRD SUMMER in the novella?

Actually, yes! Aunt Trudy, the matchmaker in BBS, is Evelyn’s older sister and we get to meet her as a young woman. She is fun, too. Very dry, but she loves her family. You will definitely want to know more about her before the BBS sequel releases this winter.

What made you decide to donate your royalties to Operation Homefront?

The Vietnam War plays a big part in the story. I started researching the war and the draft and it broke my heart. I chose Operation Homefront because they have a stellar reputation with making sure donations gets used in a way that is actually helpful. They find emergency shelter for vets, they help military families visit their soldier loved ones, and they actually have programs to help vets find treatment for both physical and psychological injuries. Basically, it is a great organization.

Tell us about the cover.

I am in love with this cover! I have a big thing for silhouettes on book covers. As a reader, I gravitate toward them in the book store, so when City Owl Press’s cover designer showed me mock-ups for Blackbird Summer, I was thrilled. We continued the theme with FORGET ME NOT, and I love it even more than BBS, I think.  I love the turquoise background on the back of the paperback cover, you will see Evelyn’s tree. It has a heart with RS+EC carved in it. So cute!

Where can we get a copy?

FORGET ME NOT is available for preorder on Amazon, and for a limited time the ebook preorder is .99! Snag it while it is on sale (and then buy the paperback to contribute more to Operation Homefront).

Ebook      Print



Maybe falling for the good guy isn’t so bad?

When Rex Somersby’s family matchmaker sets him up with the famous Evelyn Cadeau, he can’t believe his luck. Evelyn is the woman with the perfect Gift—the woman every man wants—while Rex’s own magical ability leaves much to be desired.  He travels from Missouri to meet his dream girl in her rural Mississippi home, where Evelyn makes it clear that winning her heart won’t be an easy task. Good thing farm-boy Rex has never been afraid of a little hard work.

Evelyn Cadeau is used to getting her way. As the woman with the most powerful Gift, she knows she can have her pick of anyone she wants. And who she wants is slick, handsome, and off-limits Guy McCallister—not gawky, buttoned-up Rex Somersby. Yet, after an arranged date with Rex takes a dramatic turn, leading to a bottle of wine and sneaking to the creek for a late night skinny dip, she realizes there may be more to by-the-rules Rex than meets the eye.

Just as the young couple start to think their family’s tradition of matchmaking isn’t quite so backward, Rex is drafted to Vietnam. With war threatening to tear them apart, will love be able to save them? Or will it take a bit of magic?

Author Bio: 

46b45f_da69b95862c043a3bd4b00776895fd1c~mv2Em Shotwell is a cancer survivor, foster care advocate, and casual geek. Sometimes she writes books about misfits and the people who love them.

When she’s not frowning at her computer screen, Em enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, or indoors daydreaming and wishing she could play the banjo.

Visit her online at She hangs out on facebook at where she often hosts giveaways and posts witty memes.




Diversity in Oz Fic Series: Neurodiversity and Autism with Darren Groth

Welcome to the first Diversity in Oz Fic post. This series of interviews and post aims to highlight the diversity that exists in Australia and how that diversity can be represented in our literature. It can be a tool to help Australian authors looking to have true and diverse representation in their works.  Interviews will be with authors, book bloggers, readers and industry professionals who each have a personal take on diversity in Australian fiction. The series of interviews and posts aims to help authors educate themselves on various diversity topics. It’s important to remember that interviewees are relaying their personal experiences/areas of expertise. This may not be the same as what others have experienced. It’s recommended to research multiple sources when included an area of diversity that you don’t have personal ‘own voices’ experience with.

The first interview is with acclaimed YA author, Darren Groth, who is talking to us about neurodiversity and the autism spectrum.

Would you please tell us a bit about neurodiversity and the autism spectrum.

Neurodiversity was first coined by an autistic Australian scholar, Judy Singer, almost thirty years ago. The term gained notoriety in 1998 when Harvey Blume used it in an article he wrote for The Atlantic. A definition of neurodiversity I like: neurological difference is recognized and respected as per any other human variation. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is, according to the Geneva Centre for Autism, a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how people communicate and relate to others.       
Why is this area of diversity of interest to you?
My fifteen-year-old son is diagnosed ‘moderate classic’ ASD, placing him pretty much in the middle of the spectrum. I also taught special education for a number of years after graduating university. 
My understanding is that there is a lot of diversity within the autism spectrum itself. Are you able to explain to us some of the differences that exist within the spectrum?
I’m not the best source for that explanation. What I will say is that the differences are as many and varied as the people themselves. There is a saying in the ND community: if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.  
What are some of the stereotypes that exist around the autism spectrum/neurodiversity?
Silence, giftedness, aggression, a belonging or natural place in the occupations of information technology, lack of interaction with others and the world around them.
What are some of the most misunderstood behaviours of people with neurodiversity/autism?
I think what is most misunderstood is that challenging or perceived anti-social behaviour isn’t just uncontrollable compulsion, but more often than not is borne out of need or purpose. And, indeed, need or purpose that neurotypical people can very firmly relate to.
What issues have you seen in stories relating to neurodiversity and the autism spectrum?
Stereotyping. ND/AS as an enemy to be conquered. ND/AS as strange gift or magical power. ND/AS as a distancer, an ‘arm’s length’ phenomenon to be studied, observed, perhaps even awed by. ND/AS as the sole lens through which a character is described, viewed, voiced. ND/AS family life as suffering or noble or both. There is also the issue of ND/AS being towards the bottom of the ‘diversity hierarchy’. ND/AS rep overall pales next to race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief and economic status.    
What impact have you seen as a result of this problematic representation?
To be honest, due to ND/AS being something of a diversity afterthought, I’m not sure many people see it as a problem. The ND/AS voices advocating for more representation and truer representation are few and far between. Those that do exist lack the platform afforded race, gender, etc. As such, any narrative discussion of ND/AS still revolves around ‘Rain Man’ and ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, both of which typify ND/AS as remarkable, arm’s length phenomenon.
What are some key points/character traits that are often missed when people write about neurodiversity and the autism spectrum?
Essential humanity. The ‘another’ rather than ‘other’. I wrote a piece about this on my blog, calling for a shift in this imbalance: ‘Another’ Post About Book Diversity
Darren Groth copyAbout the Interviewee:
Darren Groth is a Vancouver author and citizen of Canada, having moved from his native Australia in 2007. His novels include ‘Kindling’ and the highly acclaimed YA work, ‘Are You Seeing Me?’. His new novel, titled ‘Exchange of Heart’ in AUS/NZ, will be published August 2017. In CAN/US, the book will be released October 2017 under the title ‘Munro vs. the Coyote’.

Darren was the winner of the 2016 Adelaide Festival Award for Young Adult Literature and has been a finalist in numerous other prestigious prizes including the CBCA Book of the Year (Australia), the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards (Australia), the Governor General’s Literary Awards (Canada) and the BC Book Prizes (Canada). 

For fun, he watches ‘American Ninja Warrior’ with his beautiful Canadian wife and eats at Fatburger with his wondrous fifteen year old twins.

Find Darren on Web|Facebook|Twitter

Giant Bookish Giveaway!


Lakewater Press was created one year ago by my friend Kate Foster. To celebrate Lakewater Press’ birthday they’re having a GIANT giveaway! It’s HUGE. Amazon gift cards, books, bookmarks swag! You can find out all the details here.


#PitchMadness Candy Land Edition…Game on!

Licorice Castle

Welcome to Team Licorice Castle! It’s been a long week of reading through all the amazing pitches. Our wonderful readers have narrowed the slush, and your team hosts have chosen seventy pitches for the agent round. To meet the slush readers and hosts go to this post here. And you can find out more about the participating agents on this post here.

For those of you not familiar with Pitch Madness, it’s a contest where agents compete in a game against their peers for pitches and you can find the rules and instructions of the game here.

I’m co-hosting with the amazing Jeyn Roberts! Check out her site and follow her, you’ll be happy you did.

Jeyn Roberts

Jeyn Roberts

Website | Twitter

Author of the Dark Inside trilogy, The Bodies We Wear and When They Fade. Vancouverite. Animal lover. Destroying words in a coffee shop near you.



Scroll down to view all 10 picks for my blog or click on the links to each post …

Middle Grade

SJ 1: MG Magical Realism (#OwnVoices) – Wok Magic

SJ2: MG Fantasy (#OwnVoices OCD) – The Deepest Lake

Young Adult

SJ3: YA Science Fiction – Submerge

SJ4: YA Psychological Thriller (#OwnVoices PoC) – Girl In Ruins

SJ5: YA Fantasy – The Merciful Crow

SJ6: YA Horror – Neffers

SJ7: YA Science Fiction – Rogue

New Adult/Adult

SJ8: Adult Paranormal Thriller – Specter of a Chance

SJ9: Adult Literary Historical – The City With Three Names

SJ10: Adult Gothic Science Fiction – L’Abatteur


Comments are set to moderation so the agents won’t see the other agents’ requests. Please no comments other than those from the agents. After the agent round, we’ll release the moderation and let you all comment on the entries.

We’ll reveal the agent requests on March 17 starting at 4:30 Eastern time. All the twitter fun will happen on the hashtag #PitchMadness, where we’ll tweet the results of the agent round.

Join us for the Twitter Pitch Party on March 23 from 8AM to 8PM Eastern time on the hashtag #PitMad. It’s open to everyone!

How do you twitter pitch? You can find all the details here.

A huge HUGE thank you to my team and to the wonderful agents!

Go to all the hosts’ blogs to read more winning pitches …

Team Ice Cream Sea –
Team Peanut Brittle House –
Team Licorice Castle –
Team Peppermint Forest –
Team Candy Castle –



This entry was posted on March 16, 2017. 1 Comment

SJ 1: MG Magical Realism (#OwnVoices) – Wok Magic

Title: Wok Magic

Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Magical Realism (Own Voices)

Word Count: 30,000

Pitch: Song Li is destined to be a great chef. But he only wants to be a K-Pop star. When his family’s wok works magic on him, he discovers his true self.

First 250 words of manuscript:

I received a wok for my 10th birthday. I asked for singing lessons for the fifth time and a phone for the second time. I even suggested cash or some better fitting underwear. But no. I got a wok. And it was an old wok — greasy, stinky and black with decades of burnt soy sauce caked on. When I expectantly opened the gift, my response was… well, let’s just say, unexpected. “What the… huh!?”

Mom looked hurt. Dad glared.

“Song Li! What is it? You don’t like birthday present?”

“Well, it’s just that… I was kind of expecting… something else.”

Dad started getting red. “You want something else? You don’t want your future? That wok was given to me when I became 10. It was big honor! It meant I could cook magic with grandpa. I would start my training to be great chef.”

“Yeah, that’s great.” Not. No one was fooled. There’s nothing great about this.

Mom walked out with her head bowed in shame and sadness.

Dad spoke softly but firmly. “Our family has made good food for kings as well as people with no homes. This has been our sacred wok. See, no holes like other old woks. It holds secret flavors from our ancestors. And it only works for our family. If you do not cook, you will fail us all. No pressure.”

Somehow, somewhere, dad learned that if you add “no pressure” to any amount of pressure, it lessens the pressure. He learned wrong.

This entry was posted on March 16, 2017. 6 Comments

SJ2: MG Fantasy (#OwnVoices OCD) – The Deepest Lake

Title: The Deepest Lake

Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Fantasy (Own Voices OCD)

Word Count: 50,000

Pitch: Ever since her dad’s accident, Pearl counts everything by twos to keep everyone safe. It works, she swears—at least until a freak storm sweeps a mind-reading girl with a death wish into her backyard.

First 250 words of manuscript:

When the storm hit last summer, the Girl was in her underwater house at the bottom of the lake, pacing the halls in her long white dress. She wasn’t dead, not yet. I hadn’t even met her. I was hiding in my bed from the thunder, and the rain was aiming for me, smacking my window so hard the glass shook, just like me.

“Dad? Dad?”

I called for him like I was still a little kid, like he could still climb the stairs and keep me safe. Like he wasn’t out cold from his pain pills most nights.

I should have known better. He never checked on me, not anymore. I checked on him.

So I forced myself out of bed, and I trudged down the stairs by twos, my hands over my ears. Like always, I skipped the odd steps, because they were odd, or because I was odd, or both.

Okay, both.

In the living room, Dad was sprawled out in his La-Z-Boy, sound asleep, like the sky wasn’t exploding. Like the world wasn’t out-of-control.

“Dad! Wake up!”

He didn’t move, not an inch, but at least he snored. At least he was breathing. In the dark, I couldn’t see the brace and screws along his leg. I imagined the storm could melt them away. I imagined I’d give anything for that. But I did not imagine the Girl was rising up out of the lake and into the air. Spinning toward us. Toward me.

This entry was posted on March 16, 2017. 7 Comments