Title: The Statue Says Spring
Word count: 88K
Genre: Young Adult
As the daughter of a conquering tyrant, fifteen-year-old Ida has everything but freedom: freedom to make friends, to eat, dress, and sleep unwatched, and—when her father banishes her mother to the slums for defiance—to be with the only person she loves. But her father’s guards won’t stop her this time. She smuggles her mother food and valuables until she’s caught and thrown out too.
At first, Ida is enchanted with her new freedom. She explores the maze of streets, befriending beggars and crypt-dwellers. But slum life is harsh: her mother slaves in a factory, their lascivious slumlord leeches most of their money, and small-time parasites devour what’s left. Ida sells everything she smuggled to keep a locked door between her and the predators outside, but when her mother loses her job, only debt remains.
Desperate, Ida asks her father for help. She hopes for crumbs, but in a moment of twisted conscience, he offers a vicious deal instead: return to her old home of wealth and privilege, but give up her mother forever. If she accepts, she’ll live a lie, playing the obedient daughter for a chance to steal for her mother again. If she refuses, she risks starvation. With a simple yes or no, Ida must choose: father or mother, privilege or poverty, subservience or the freedom to live on her own terms.
THE STATUE SAYS SPRING is set in a world that blends elements of Victorian and medieval England.
Ida couldn’t wait until dawn; the pillory would be frozen by now. She collected the bag of supplies, put on her glasses, and snuck past her sleeping mother. The hall was deserted and she reached the back door without trouble. Stopping only to tie her leather shoestrings around her ankles, she hurried into darkness.
The icy sea wind was a slap to the face and she pulled her long, lank hair over her ears. It didn’t help. Why was it so cold tonight, of all nights? It was mid-September, but it felt like February and Mr Hanson was confined in only a thin shirt and breeches. He would be frozen half to death.
“Ikshik,” Ida cursed as she passed the Basilica gates. Maybe he was frozen to death; it was cold enough. She cursed again and sped up. If only her mother hadn’t guessed she would sneak out, if only she hadn’t sat up to stop her, if only she had fallen asleep sooner, Ida would be wrapping Mr Hanson in a blanket right now.
Her mother never listened to reason.
“He’s your oldest friend,” Ida had argued. “We’ve got to do something.”
“No,” her mother said. “The streets aren’t safe at night and you can do nothing in the day. Remember that woman who was stoned to death for helping her pilloried husband?”
“No. It’s too dangerous, you’re too young.”
“I’m fifteen. You were married at my age. If I left now—”
“I forbid it.”
Entry Nickname: Elephants Never Forget
Title: THE IVORY NEEDLE
Word Count: 72K
Genre: YA Magical Realism
Continents apart culturally, sixteen-year-olds Chessie Charlton and Daniel Jomo Olanga should never have crossed paths.
Which would have been just fine with Denver teen Chessie. Bad enough she’s stuck wasting a whole summer with her ancient grandmother in middle-of-nowhere, Kenya. No phone. No friends. No fair. But when Chessie finds a priceless ivory needle in Gram’s attic, things take a total left turn toward weird. Chessie is contacted by the spirit of the elephant matriarch who was murdered eons ago for its tusks. Filling Chessie’s head with cryptic songs—and totally flipping her out—matriarch Jhelani’s desperate plea emerges: save the last of her once-immortal tribe before their species vanishes forever and Earth pays the price.
Meanwhile, Kenyan teen Daniel can’t feed his family when the rains never come and their last goat is dragged off by a starving lion. Desperate for work, Daniel is coerced into a gang of poachers with their sights set on a huge payday: the remaining elephants of Jhelani’s tribe. Just one job, he swears. Then he’ll find honest work. Finish his education. And hold his head up again.
By the time Chessie gets over herself and agrees to help Jhelani, it’s too late. She finds the elephants but the poachers are closing in. With elephants charging and bullets flying, Chessie is taken prisoner and her world and Daniel’s collide. To survive this deadly situation, Chessie must conquer her fears and seize any opportunity to escape. And Daniel must decide just how much of his soul he’s willing to sell for a payday.
The IVORY NEEDLE is told from the alternating viewpoints of the two protagonists.
When your family falls apart, I suppose you shouldn’t expect anything to be the same again. Not even your mother’s smile.
Mom’s goofy I-love-my-life smile hadn’t been seen in months, and I’d become all too familiar with the distant impostor that had replaced it. But the smile she was wearing right now? Pretty sure I’d never seen that smile before. Like something you’d grab at the mall without stopping to try it on, it was too tight and way too bright.
The incredible aromas filling the air pulled my attention away from the strange smile for a moment. The kitchen smelled so good, the table covered with our favorite foods. Mom’s cooking and smiling? My stomach rumbled, my mouth watered, and my heart clenched. Something wasn’t right.
“Roast chicken? Dibs on the drumstick,” Bent shouted, slamming his scrawny ten-year-old frame into the chair nearest the chicken. He leaned in, freckled nose practically up the bird’s butt, and took a deep melodramatic sniff. “Look, Chessie, your favorite mac-n-cheese, too.”
“Are you sure this isn’t a mirage?” I teased. I dropped into the chair the chair across from him and watched my mother, still in her nice work clothes. She pulled something from the oven, her hair frizzed out in all directions from cooking in the early summer heat.
“Mom? What’s going on?”
And don’t you dare say nothing.
She set a tray of steaming cornbread on the table and sat down, smile still on high-beam. “How would you kids like to meet your great-grandmother