Title: SHADE AND SHADOW
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
Word Count: 80,000
My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:
I once had a bite of sugar-free cake on my Old-School's 67th birthday. Never again. Sugar-free must be what party planners serve in hell.
After moving to the tiny Texas swamptown of Uncertain, sixteen-year-old Ari Jones meets the very charming and very dead Samael Lowood. Great. Just when she thought she'd gotten her head trips under control. But as it turns out, Sam is not a hallucination: he's a real live ghost. Ari can't help but feel relieved. Hallucinations? Hell no. Actual ghosts? That could be interesting.
But even gentlemanly ghosts have agendas, and Sam's is a grave one. He wants Ari to find something called a Nanorian, a demon's heart hidden over a hundred years ago.
Forced into the search when three hellish sisters kidnap her father, Ari discovers death doesn't always mean the end. With Sam's help she sets out to find the Nanorian and rescue her father. And when Ari learns the Nanorian puts anything within the grasp of whomever knots it around their neck, she'll have to choose carefully. Even if the only choices are bad ones.
First 250 words:
It wasn't a dark and stormy night. It wasn't even late afternoon. Despite that, the sight looming on the horizon fit perfectly into a ghost story. It was a house: dark, dreary, and desolate. The windows peered out like gloomy eyes, and the front steps were barely visible through piles of brown leaves. Bare trees were spaced evenly on either side of the driveway. They would be pretty come spring, but right now they resembled disfigured hands begging the sun for warmth.
"What do you think, Ari?" Judith Jones parked the car and turned to her daughter. "A little paint, maybe a garden, and it’ll be perfect."
Ari didn't mirror her mother's good mood. She bit back a sardonic laugh and turned to stare out the window. Her mother, gardening. Right.
Judith threw open her door and jumped out into the chilly air like an enthusiastic child. She hugged her arms around her middle and smiled up at the house. After a moment, she motioned for Ari to join her. "Just look at it," she said as Ari shuffled over. "It's calling your name. Can you hear it? Mariaaan."
"Mom, you know I hate it when you call me that," Ari mumbled. She kicked a clod of dirt, expecting it to skitter across the ground. It stuck to her toe instead.
"Of course I know, sweetie. It's the house calling you that." She gave Ari's foot a playful nudge with her own. "And stop getting mud on your shoes."