Name: Monica Sanz
Genre: YA Paranormal
Title: PHOENIX RISING
Word Count: 99,000
Themes: #ownvoices (Main character is afro-latina)
Your 35-Word Pitch:
A grieving 17-year-old witch discovers her dead best friend is a Phoenix and must recover his stolen ashes before they’re used to invoke the demon that will destroy her.
Your first 500 words:
I still remember when he walked out and slammed the door behind him. The sudden emptiness in my chest told me something would change forever. Ryan never slammed doors, never got mad. He was the calm, and I was the storm. He was the balm, and I was the burn. Now he’s dead, and it finally feels like we’re one and the same.
An unseasonably cool August breeze blows a curtain of yellow flowers from the dogwood tree across my backyard. One bloom clings to my bottom lip. I start to brush it away but stop; maybe this is a gift from Ryan somehow. A kiss from a flower to make up for all the kisses that will never come again. I close my eyes; another gust whips past and like him, the flower is gone.
My chest caves and I hate myself for thinking this. It’s a stupid thought, and a dumb flower. The dead don’t send their love from the other side. They leave us here to mourn their departure, surrounded by cold gusts of wind, flowers, and memories.
The patio door groans open behind me. “Callie? Why are you out here so early?” My mom stands on the top step, a mug of coffee cupped in her palms. Her tight, black curls are tied up in a crooked ponytail, her face still puffy from sleep. “You could’ve slept longer. I would’ve driven you in.”
I curl into my jacket—not my jacket, but Ryan’s—and turn my head down, to the blanket of dead flowers scattered around me. My nose brushes against the collar. Ryan’s scent of musk and pine clings to the fabric and fills my nose, clutches my heart and squeezes.
“I couldn’t sleep. You don’t have to drive me. I thought I’d swing by the…by…to see Ryan.” My throat dries and words fade. I’m grateful to the next gust that rustles the leaves; their hush steals away the crack in my voice.
Mom presses her lips together and nods. Before Ryan’s death, she’d never let me leave the house at 6 am, regardless of how safe our town is. But I think she senses what I know. Whatever happens to me doesn’t matter. My life was tied to Ryan’s. I’m already dead.
She sits on the top porch step and brings the cupped mug to a rest on her knees. “Call me if you want me to pick you up… and be careful.”
I dig into my messenger bag and hold up my can of Mace. “Always am.” I don’t bother telling her I fell asleep looking at pictures of Ryan and so my battery is at 2%. No reason to worry her, I’ll charge it at school.
Turning, I walk the length of the yard and open the back wooden gate. It’s in desperate need of oil and moans in protest, reminding me of the countless times I promised Mom I’d take care of it.
“I love you, Callie. I’m here for you, whenever you need me.”