Genre: MG Fantasy
Title: In Libris
Word Count: 69,000
35-Word Pitch: Armed with a notebook, twelve-year-old Cricket Silva enters LiteraCity, a whimsical kingdom of literature, and hopes the story she writes there will tame her monstrous father and restore peace and safety to her family.
First 500 words:
Cricket Silva heard the Monster come home around ten o’clock. For the past few years, she had learned to detect the clues of his sloppy returns, from his bellowing voice to the squeaks of his dirty fingers dragging along the wall. It was a super power she didn’t ask for and didn’t want, but that night, her ears picked up the commotion in the hall as she lifted her head from her book about zombies. A stumble. A curse word in a thick male voice. A roar. The Monster was back, and like always, he was sick. Cricket preferred “sick” to the truth. “Sick” implied that the Monster’s condition was temporary. “Sick” meant that he could be cured, either with the help of doctors or some magic draught conjured up like in witch stories. After all, it was a drink that did this to him, a bubbling liquid that transformed her father into the Monster.
That night, he was especially sick. His unsteady legs bent and wobbled like licorice sticks. His nonsense words sounded like a foreign language. A thud. Another curse word that she wasn’t allowed to repeat (but she’d heard it oh so many times).
“Same old story,” she whispered to herself, closing her book. Zombies didn’t seem so scary when a real creature of the night stumbled around in an undead stupor and trashed the little Brooklyn apartment. She watched her open bedroom door for a sign of movement, breath held as if it helped her see better. The slump of jackets spilling to the floor signaled that the Monster was still by the front door. She was safe—for now, at least. But when her mother’s footsteps stomped from her parents’ bedroom, Cricket slammed her head into her pillow and braced herself for the inevitable explosive argument.
She loathed the script. It always began with her mother scolding the Monster and the Monster shouting some jumbled response that made no sense. The arguments would fly back and forth like a furious game of tennis, and then her mother would give up and storm away.
These stories with unhappy endings because Monsters never listened.
His voice was the loudest it had been in a while. A boom rattled through the apartment as he struck the wall. The noise rumbled deep within her chest and set her heart ablaze. He was home. He was sick. And he was angry. But Cricket was going to finally do something about it. She’d stomp down those stairs, look the Monster straight in the eyes, and yell at him—no, threaten him—the way he always threatened her. What a fierce girl she’d be. And the Monster would crawl away, afraid of a twelve-year-old girl.
Now was the time to change the ending to the story she hated the most.
Her feet touched the carpet and made no sound. Good. Ninjas had to be swift and silent. Through the darkness, she darted to her open door and listened for the Monster as her fist tightened.