All of Us With Wings, Literary Magical Realism

Name: Michelle Ruiz Keil

Genre: Adult/Literary Fiction/Magical Realism


Word Count: 92000

Themes: Own Voices, Feminist, Coming of Age, Found Family, LGBTQ


35-Word Pitch: In a mashup of Western fairytale, Native folklore, and Mexican myth, Xochi loves her job as live-in nanny for San Francisco rockstars, but a riot-grrl ritual uncovers old trauma, threatening her place in the family.

First 500 words:

In the reserved section, people wore their backstage passes with white Victorian picnic clothes or spiderweb layers of black, eyes painted like Egyptian royalty. A knot of hippie girls lounged by the lobby doors, scoping for no-show seats up front. Xochi had grown up around so many kids like this—tanned skins, tangled manes, names like Sunshine or Freedom or Feather.Wide blue eyes locked onto Xochi’s, definitely familiar. She should have expected this. Lady Frieda’s fans were more black leather than tie-dye, but the Rite of Spring concert would be catnip for the hippie kids, with pay what-you-can balcony seats and after-parties all over town. 

The girl waved, slipping through the crowd like a fish in a river. “Hey now!” she called. “Aren’t you the girl with the Aztec princess name?” 


And you’re Marley, right? You used to trim for my next door neighbors.” 


Xochi’s Badger Creek neighbors owned the biggest pot growing operation in town. After a winter in Mexico they came back convinced Xochi was an incarnation of the Aztec goddess who shared her name. Xochi tried to explain that her mom had gotten the name out of some book, a sentimental nod to the Mexican boy who knocked her up. They’d just smiled and nodded, assuring her there was no such thing as coincidence. 


“They’re my aunt and uncle.” Marley grinned. “Small world, huh?” 


“Yeah it is.” Too small.


“Um, hey. I heard about your grandma. She was friends with my aunt. I’m really sorry. She seemed super cool.” 


“She was.”


“So…” Marley’s eyes moved from Xochi’s face to her chest like a slow reader trying to decipher a difficult page, “…how’d you score one of those?”


Xochi froze, gripping the backstage pass hanging from the lanyard around her neck. Now she remembered—Marley was a total gossip. Seeing Xochi at a concert in San Francisco was nothing to write home about, but Xochi with a backstage pass? That was going to get repeated. It doesn’t matter, she told herself. No one’s coming. No one cares. 


“Io and Leviticus have a kid,” Xochi said. “Pallas. I take care of her.” Her official job title was still undetermined. Pallas was pushing for governess, but Xochi felt ridiculous saying that out loud.


Marley moved closer. Amber under patchouli. Amber, patchouli and pot. Too familiar. “So do you live with them?” Some involuntary movement must have given Xochi away because Marley was nodding. “Damn, girl. That’s sweet.” 


Now Marley knows where I live. 


“So,” Marley said, “is there any way you could get me into the after-party? I hear the house is awesome.”

“I wish I could. I’m supposed to stay upstairs with Pallas.” Xochi was lying her ass off now. The entire family had been talking up the concert and party for weeks. This was a special year, Lady Frieda’s tenth anniversary.


7 thoughts on “All of Us With Wings, Literary Magical Realism

  1. klcarleton says:

    I’m cracking up at “Io and Leviticus”! Please send the first three chapters with the query and synopsis to kirsten[at]prospectagency[dot]com. Looking forward to reading more!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jen Azantian says:

    Thank you for sharing your work. I’d love to read more! Please send along a query, 1-2 page synopsis, and the first 50 pages in an attached word document to queries at azantianlitagency dot com. Also, please include Pitch America in the subject line. I look forward to reading!


  3. Roseanne Wells says:

    I’d love to see this again! Please send the full manuscript and synopsis as Word .doc or dox attachments to the email you have and mention the Pitch America contest. Can’t wait to read!


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