Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
35 word pitch: 15-year-old Claire must choose whether to follow her calling as oracle and lose her freedom, or betray her psychic family's beliefs by letting an impostor take her place. Percy Jackson meets That’s So Raven.
First 500 words:
It’s Friday night. I’m thinking about my destiny and watching a beautiful boy play guitar.
The coffee shop is nearly empty. Half a mile from school, it’s usually filled with kids, but they clear out on a Friday and on Open Mic night you might as well let a skunk loose in the restroom—that’s how empty it gets. Which is fine with me, the emptier the better. I can almost pretend it’s just him and me.
The boy’s name is Gareth Davies, and his grade in speech class is three points ahead of mine, but I’m going to catch up. I’ll practice, practice, practice, until my knees don’t shake and my voice doesn’t waver when I spit out those facts and figures I’ve worked so hard to research, and my team is going to beat his in our final debate. He’ll be so impressed with how soundly we’ve defeated him, he’s going to ask me to every dance we have left in high school, and we’re sophomores, so it’s kind of a lot. And then—
I don’t know what happens then. I don't know if any of that is going to happen. This is a daydream, nothing more. Hardly prophetic, though in my family, you can never be sure.
“Earth to Claire. Come in, Claire.”
Fingers snap in front of my face, and I shrink back so fast I nearly fall out of my seat.
My best friend Danica peers at me, hovering so close I could practically taste her lemon tea with honey. Gold eyeshadow glints against her dark brown skin, and her strappy top falls in creamy folds past her hips. From the waist up, she looks like the statue of an ancient queen. From the waist down, it's tennis shoes and jeans. “You gotta focus, babe, you’re on soon. There are like eight people waiting to hear your poem and six of them are actually awake.”
“Eight people?” I repeat, wondering if that includes Gareth, and whether I want it to.
“Two more than last time.” She takes a breath. “And you know how you could have got two more—”
“No.” I don't like where this is going. “I don't want my aunts here.”
“Come on, Claire Bear. Your aunts have never seen my Lady Macbeth.” Danica straightens the wire circlet crowning her short dark curls. “And you know they don't want to miss that.”
“They can watch the play with everyone else. Aunt Hope can’t wait.”
Danica beams at the praise, secondhand though it is. “Still, if they were here—”
“Dani, stop.” I push up my glasses, bite down on my lips a moment. “I need this to be just a Claire thing, okay? My aunts are up in my business enough as it is. They’re all but inside my head.”
Danica’s eyes capture mine. “But they aren't. Inside your head. You’ve made that very clear.”
Thank the gods they’re not, but they could be. That’s the thing.