Name: Janis Sofia Villadiego Alvarez
Genre: MG Fantasy
Title: Keeper of the Crossing Rooms
Word Count: 45K
Themes: Identity & Family
Pitch: Micaela sees energies others can’t. After a mago attacks, she is rushed to her deceased mother’s familia where she learns she’s not alone. But to stop her denatured foe, she’ll have to sacrifice her father.
First 500 Words:
CHAPTER ONE: The Big Uneasy
The crows had been bad last week—the worst they had ever been. Every year since Micaela Rivers-Yaguara’s mother died, tens of thousands of crows crowded into the neighborhood trees on the anniversary of her death. It was bad enough they came: Pouring into the Garden District at dawn like black streams from the west as if bits of night had broken off to fight the coming day. From dawn to dusk, they perched on roofs, in the trees, along the fences and power lines.
Micaela’s family didn’t need the reminder of their loss. Or the reawakening of the old stories and rumors about her mother and her mysterious family– the Yaguara. Even in New Orleans, where tales of witches and vampires lived on every block, the lore surrounding the Yaguara’s connections to the unearthly took up its own postal code. The annual visit of the horde of black beady eyes unsettled all of the city’s residents. And this year, for 11 year old Micaela, the crows kicked up trouble in the form of Delia Cameron.
“Oh look, Micaela. You’ve got visitors,” said Delia as the purple Gawquers of Ghoul Tours van pulled against the curb in front of their school. A few girls across the classroom snickered.
Micaela sighed. “Actually, it’s your ride back to your crypt, Delia.” The class became silent. The curly haired girl glared at Micaela for a moment before she glanced at the clock— 11:42. Just 3 more minutes before the end of school year bell rang. Delia turned towards a few girls assembled in the far corner of the classroom. The girls whispered excitedly amongst themselves. Tressa Engel, a thick girl who looked like she dropkicked chimneys for fun, smashed her fist into her hand and glanced at Micaela.
Micaela turned away and looked at her two best friends, Liselle and Indira. Concern crawled over both of their faces. They had good reason to worry. Micaela had heard from two other girls that Delia wanted payback after the crows had swarmed her on her way into the building that morning.
Liselle shook her head. “If crows swept into the city because of my family, you’d better believe I’d make sure Delia and her crew’s knees knocked at the sight of me,” she said in a whisper. She wiped her red hair from her face. The trio sat away from the rest of the class, next to the door.
“She’s right,” said Indira. “Next year, you should leave a voodoo doll coated in bird droppings in her locker,” she said as her hazel eyes grew bigger.
Micaela sighed. “That’s really not helping,” she said as she glanced again at Delia and her posse of bullies-in-waiting. “Besides, they’re just stories.”
Liselle bit her lip. Indira looked away.
Micaela saw their reactions but didn’t say anything. They were just stories, she thought. Admittedly, they were everywhere: In school, in the store, at her soccer games and on the streets as the Yaguara were featured in local guided tour routes.