Title: A Dance of River and Tree
Word Count: 78,000
Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction
Thuja is a 145-year-old Western Redcedar: anchored to the earth, holding up the sky, and always looking to the horizon. Until a boy speaks to her in the forest’s language – something humans can’t do – and acknowledges her wanderlust. From him Thuja learns the truth: she is dryad, a tree spirit, and can choose human form just as the boy’s mother did.
River has returned to his mother’s birthplace in order to find a way to put down his roots – quite literally. He’s done with wandering without connection, and knows there must be some way to access his half-dryad nature that would allow him to anchor to the earth and hold up the sky.
They strike a bargain: River will show Thuja the world, and in return she will speak to the eldest dryads on earth on his behalf. A simple, mutual partnership. Except Thuja already knows males can’t be dryad, and River knows the particular difficulties – and murderous tendencies – of a dryad in human skin.
Though burdened by their lies and half-truths, Thuja and River discover peace in each other, and their love story begins. But there are only two ways their story can end: in tragedy laced with blood, or in the tragedy of goodbye.
First 250 Words:
She was 133 years old the day her predictable life irrevocably changed.
A small human boy ran up to her and placed a tiny, pudgy palm on her trunk. She didn’t pay any attention to him at first; his touch was the flit of butterfly wings, insubstantial and fleeting.
“You’re a grumpy tree,” he said, and at that she took notice.
Some called her Western Redcedar, others just called her “tree” if they bothered to call her anything at all, but once, decades ago, a bespectacled man with a clipboard and calm smile had called her Thuja plicata. Divinity in the form of a grey man with hiking boots, he walked among her friends with surety, naming each one, and she had accepted her baptism.
This boy was the very opposite of the grey man. Absolutely nothing about him looked divine: shaggy black hair fell in his eyes, the back of his scalp was a gnarl of tangles that rivaled lichen, and he had a smear of something on his cheek. And yet he’d placed his palm on her with intention, as if feeling for a pulse beneath the bark, and his brown eyes had looked up into her slightly swaying branches, as if searching for her breath.
And, most remarkable of all, he'd spoken his thought in the language of the forest, not in human words.
“Yep. You’re a grumpy tree,” he repeated, this time out loud in his native tongue. He nodded, agreeing with himself sagely, and the absurdly self-confident gesture stifled Thuja’s argument.
Entry Nickname: Eye Above You
Title: Tree Roper
Word Count: 26,000
Genre: MG Contemporary
Born with one eye, twelve-year-old Jimmy Parker spends more time climbing trees with a rope and saddle, than hanging around with people – after all, trees don’t tease. Even though his prosthetic eye looks great, it is smaller than his good eye and sits lower on his face, attracting unwanted attention. Since money is tight, Jimmy works with his professional arborist father this summer to help pay for the cosmetic surgery that will soon fix his face – and his life!
When his family moves across town for his mom’s new job, Jimmy meets cute and candid Sam Fulton, and local loud mouth Jared (whose attitude stinks worse than his breath.) While helping his father during a routine limb removal in the new neighborhood, a climbing line breaks, sending Jimmy’s father crashing onto the roof below. With his father recovering in the hospital, Jimmy and Sam conceive a plan they hope will save the tree business, and keep Jimmy’s summer goals alive.
First 250 words:
It was the third day of summer vacation, and I was hanging in a tree. Perfect. Well, almost. But at least I was having fun and making money at the same time. My client stopped pacing as I glanced down at her tired face and the untidy nest of white hair below me.
“Please don’t walk right under me, Mrs. Murphy. It’s not safe!”
“Oh, of course. Are you okay up there? Maybe you should come back down and I’ll try again with the food.”
“I’m good. I’ve done this many times. Besides, I don’t think your cat’s that hungry yet.”
I was anxious to show her I could do this. Not just for the money she promised, but because of the way she had stared at me three days ago when my mom introduced us. Mom had noticed too, but had gone on about how moving to this side of town was going to make things so much easier for our family—mainly being able to walk to her job and the better school for me and Ethan. Like Mrs. Murphy, most people didn’t even realize they stared. But I knew.
Even while Mom was talking, Mrs. Murphy kept staring at my face. She couldn’t have known then that the right eye was a fake, though. Mom probably told her later.
As I hung from the rope above her yard, my arms throbbed and my stomach burned from the workout. I relaxed into the canvas and leather loops that formed my climbing saddle. It was Dad’s old one, and it fit me okay. Well enough that I could use it this summer to help out with the tree business. I leaned back and felt the freedom of empty space all around me. What a deal. Climbing trees—and getting paid for it!