Name: Yvonne Dutchover
Title: The Haunting of Casa Soledad
Word Count: 107,000 words
Themes: immigration, Texas history, women, Mexican folktales
Your 35-Word Pitch:
In this ghost story, a modern retelling of a Mexican folktale, Marcy must uncover her family’s connection to la llorona before she repeats a gruesome murder-suicide in San Antonio, Texas.
First 500 words:
Marcy knew she should feel satisfied and relieved, maybe even proud. She was done with college, and it was time to celebrate. Instead, she dreaded the night ahead. She stood on the balcony of her mother’s second-floor bedroom. It offered an unobstructed view of the backyard and the crowd that had spilled over from the large patio and onto the lawn. The crowd stood underneath lights that twinkled like stars in the enormous oak trees. Everything looked impeccable, of course. Mercedes was not a woman who believed in doing anything halfway, especially not parties.
Even though the invitation highlighted Marcy’s college graduation, it was hard not to feel that the true purpose was to show off her mother’s new house. Mercedes moved every two years or so, each time finding a place, fixing it up, then selling it and making a profit. She worked in real estate, but Marcy felt like there was more to the constant moving than just investing. This house was the largest, the most extravagant yet. Mercedes said she wanted her dream house, and she’d had the Spanish-style villa built to her specifications on a one-acre lot in Stone Oak.
The potted palm next to her began to sway with the breeze and Marcy closed her eyes. The graduation party was impeccable, but it was also crowded. Too crowded and too hot. Marcy had escaped to find a little peace inside the house. She heard the bedroom door open but didn’t move. A few seconds later, a cold glass pressed against her bare back and she gasped. She’d chosen a backless dress that night in turquoise, her favorite color, but she regretted that choice for a moment. Then the cold was gone, as if it had never been there in the hot and muggy San Antonio night. Next came the light touch of David’s fingertips. She shivered, then turned to smile at him. He handed her a champagne flute filled with golden liquid, bubbles rising to the surface.
Marcy stared up at him, looking into the hazel eyes she loved so much. Tonight they appeared both blue and gray because of the dark blue shirt he wore. His eyes never looked the same; they changed with his clothes and the light. It was one of the many reasons she loved him, but it wasn’t the only one. He was the kindest and calmest person she knew. When chaos swirled around her, he found a way to hold steady and, even better, he helped to steady her too.
“To you,” he said, clinking his glass against hers. “Congratulations.”
“Thank you,” she said and savored the dry, crisp champagne as it rolled over her tongue. She’d felt tired and out of sorts all night, but the bubbles seemed to lift her mood as they traveled down her throat, and she found herself laughing, though she wasn’t quite sure why.
“What’s so funny?” David asked.