Name: Elizabeth Chang-Gibson @ewgibson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Title: DAUGHTERS OF THE DRAGON
35 word Pitch:
35 word Pitch:
In an ancient China that never was, sixteen-year-old artist, Shala trades her brushes for a sword to save her little sister from a sorceress hell-bent on eating souls to feed her magical powers.
First 500 Words:
"A heavenly spirit rides on the back of the white crane, carrying secret messages from the world where butterflies dream." ~ Apoism #28
For five years, I have waited for a message from my dead mother. Now that I had it, I wished to all the gods I could send it back.
Huddled under the covers, I rocked my firefly lantern back and forth to the drone of the rain hitting the roof. The motion agitated the fireflies and they reacted by flashing a cold light inside the transparent silk container. Every night since I lost my parents, a nightmare would yank me from a deep slumber. Bleary-eyed, I’d hunch over my book of dreams, and with the stub of my charcoal stick, I’d gouge black shapes into the paper to banish the demons.
This time, when I opened the book, I found something I hadn’t drawn. The blast from my lantern illuminated mother’s chop—her signature seal in Chinese characters—stamped on the bottom left corner of the page.
Grandma Apo had cautioned that our ancestors always returned in some form. Their souls redressed in new skins and then booted out the ten courts of hell. “Don’t step on the cockroach,” she would warn me. “It could be your thieving great uncle, Feng.” But no amount of forewarning could’ve prepared me for the sight of my mother’s calligraphy.
The chop bloomed as red as the algae that bleeds the ocean the color of blood. Above it, six stacked horizontal lines, dressed in the blackest of ink, stood like a legion of soldiers in formation. Was this the written language of the dead? Simple lines and no words.
In the distance, thunder rumbled like a wounded animal.
“Shala!” Jaz, my five-year-old sister, cried out. When our parents died, she was barely a month old. Since then, my sole concerned was protecting her.
I rolled over in our shared bed and cradled her in my arms. “Shhhhh. We’re okay, monkey face.”
Her tiny body trembled against me. “I hate thunder. It makes everything dark,” she said.
I rocked the lantern and handed it to her. The glow from the light brightened her face now full of smiles. Then I finger combed her sweat-soaked bangs from her eyes. “Remember the puppet master’s story about his shadow puppets, the sun, and the moon. Well, this morning, the sun is late chasing his wife, the moon. He’s probably napping under a blanket of clouds. As you should be.”
She sat up and puffed herself up as big she could. “I’m not a baby.”
Covering my mouth, I stifled a laugh. “That’s a relief.” I pinched her nose. “Now I can go back to sleep while you light the kang stove and use fresh dung cakes. Don’t forget the congee this morning. And remember, I like green onions in my rice porridge. Then you can work the rice fields today. ” I lay back on the bed, wishing she would do the same. She was in such a rush to grow up and I wanted her little forever. More precisely, I wanted her ignorant of the monster inside me.
“I have to tell you what I saw,” she said with a tiny pout.
“You can tell me your dream later. After you wake up.”