Title: The Gallant Princess
Word Count: 71K
Genre: YA LGBT Fantasy
PRINCESS CHARMING AND THE BEAST winds mythology and fairytales around the story of a princess who wants to be free of her abusive prince.
Seventeen-year-old Princess Rafi is sick of suitors eyeing her feudal kingdom – she’d rather practice sword-fighting with boys than kiss them. Too bad the neighboring kingdoms will never let an unmarried woman rule unmolested. Rafi devises a plan to stay single as long as possible by challenging each suitor to a foot race. Disaster strikes when Prince Frederick cheats. Without evidence of his guilt, she risks losing her throne or, worse, triggering a war if she breaks the engagement.
Forced to live at Frederick’s kingdom, she chafes under his restrictive rules and escalating threats. She can fight, but she can’t beat a castle full of guards. Frederick controls where she goes, what she wears, and even what she says. He’s determined to make her submit or destroy her trying. Rafi despairs until she discovers a magical passageway that allows her to sneak around with her companion Lady Bea, who she would like to kiss.
Even if Rafi wins the heart of her fair maiden and runs away, she won’t get a fairytale ending. The prince plans to use his army of mercenaries to force Rafi’s father to step down, whether their wedding happens or not. After all, cheating is fair in both love and war. Time is running out for Rafi to find a way of ending the engagement that gives Frederick no claim to her throne. If she falters in this race, everyone she loves will suffer, starting with Bea.
Prince-what’s-his-name waited for me, slouched in front of the fireplace, chin on his hands. Firelight flickered over his sculpted face. Girls called him handsome, although I never noticed that sort of thing myself. A muscle twitched in his jaw. Probably rehearsing what he was going to say.
I coughed. He looked up, eyes wide under short black hair. “Rafaela!” Why did my suitors always refuse to call me Rafi? His voice softened. “You came.”
“What do you want?” I crossed my arms over my chest, legs shoulder-width apart, ready. The loose skirt over my trousers wouldn’t get in my way, but my hips felt naked with no sword. He wore his—as always—its ornate hilt peeking out under his cloak.
He pouted. “You’re cruel. I’ve been up all night thinking about you.” Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before. Nice try. He leapt up, reaching me in a couple strides, and nodded at Jean behind me. “Surely your servant can leave us alone for a lover’s chat?”
Jean had already slumped into an armchair near the door. Her head bent down and wisps of grey hair fell over her eyes, which closed. Usually I appreciated her naps. This one was poorly timed. “We’re not lovers, Prince…”
“Call me Reginald.” He grabbed my hand to kiss it.
I grimaced at the bristly skin above his lip. “I told you I wasn’t interested, I’ve asked you to go home.”
“Women always say that. You want to make the chase more exciting.”
Entry Nickname: Guinness
Title: Blacktop Oracle
Word count: 65,000
Genre: YA Paranormal/Fantasy
Cooper “Coop” Lambert is a disappointment to his parents. While mom and dad graduated college with honors in medical research, the only thing Coop excels at is trouble and convincing half the town he’s bonkers in the process. After a run in with Johnny Law, the solution the D.A. offers is diversion. Put it this way, community service is a vacation compared to this gig. He’s assigned to Mac, a crotchety piece of work who Coop swears is two days older than dirt, but the guy has a way with cars and owns a 1969 GTO that is bad ass. While working with Mac to restore her, Coop discovers the one thing he’s good at: refurbishing classic cars. What was supposed to be a punishment is now an escape, from his parents, from the law, from the rumors, until Coop arrives at the garage one afternoon to find Mac dead.
Days after burying his elderly friend Coop is still reeling, and things only grow more confusing when he finds out Mac left the GTO to him. Coop’s parents are less than thrilled, but seeing their son excel at something overcomes their reservations. Then Coop is ticketed three times for reckless driving. They think he’s regressing to his bad habits, but Coop isn’t the one causing trouble, it’s the car. If it even is a car. No vehicle he’s ever driven goes all funhouse mirror while he’s doing 80 on the interstate. The windows wash out and instead of the surroundings he sees visions, people in trouble, people causing trouble. If that wasn’t looney toons enough, those visions start coming true, and the cops are eyeballing Coop since he’s knows details of the incidents that haven’t been released to the public. He doesn’t have to tell anyone, he can keep it to himself, keep his own fat out of the fire. Until he witnesses a murder. If he keeps his mouth shut, someone he knows dies. If he talks, it’s a one-way ticket up crap creek, where his parents have a rubber room on reserve.
Dust swirled around Coop’s head like pollution, clinging to his hair, his skin, and his eyelashes. Grit lined his nose and tickled his throat, but he loved it. Except for the tedium of bodywork.
He stopped the sander and ran his gloved hand across the fender. A grunt got his attention, and he turned to Mac, sitting with his cast up on a case of WD-40.
Coop placed the sander on the ground and pulled the dust mask from his face. “What?”
“Don’t go on many dates, do you?”
Mac was famous for causing whiplash with his topic changes, but Coop had learned to go with it. “Huh?”
“A car is like a woman.” Mac shifted in his chair to ease the pressure on his leg.
Coop wiped his arm across his forehead, mopping the sweat gathered there. What the hell did that have to do with anything? Mac’s wrinkled gaze had homed in on his, and he realized Mac wanted a response. “Yeah, how so?”
“A woman must be handled gently.” Mac ran his calloused hand lightly, almost lovingly, across the fender. “Stroked in a way that soothes rather than offends. A car is the same way.” Mac was full of…little bits of wisdom.
Coop looked down at the sanded spot, his mind struggling to follow.
“Take that blasted glove off.” Mac’s gravelly voice landed on Coop’s last nerve, but he ripped the glove off.
“Now, run your hand across that spot you’re sanding, from right to left.”