my works in progress:
Ugly Breathing Things – Query Ready; Literary Fiction / Suspense
A fourteen-year-old girl who survives rather than dreams has been abducted. She awakens on the floor of a cramped big rig, her redheaded captor at the wheel. She reels through the many things she doesn’t know and the one thing that she does: no one looks for her. The girl’s broken family and the ways in which she has broken people, especially her ex-girlfriend, fade in and out as her body breaks at the hands of her captor.
The graves of the redhead’s other victims spread along busted truck routes from the Pacific to the Atlantic, squalid motel rooms and sticky diners dotting the route. They visit each butterfly boneyard, their final suffocations falling from her captor’s mouth as readily as bedtime stories. Her reluctant butterflies come alive at each telling, white-winged girls dancing in night’s velvet box. The broken girl listens, watches, transforms. She becomes.
She is two people: the one she protects and the one who knows how to take abuse. One of them wants to survive, the other doesn’t know if either of them should.
This story explores the breakdown of an abductee from her own perspective, from a perspective often ignored in the hunt to understand serial killers and their motivations. It is as much a story about the various forms of suffocation society enacts upon girls, impoverished and not, as it is about the harrowing account of the narrator’s captivity.
The Wards of Madtown – WIP; Literary Fiction
Penelope, a biracial Latina-American, thinks she put a friend in a coma and she’s running – not on the run, but running. A vagabunda with baggage.
She wants to forget who she is in San Francisco: a hard-loving, people-pleasing, alcohol-addled shell of a woman. She dumps her six-year relationship, chooses to have an abortion, and is disowned by her strict abuela. She hops a plane to a Czech rail town where she fakes it as a bartender and buries herself in the g-stringed philosophies of exotic dancer Lina. Still, her choices claw at her. Relentless. If Penelope denies them, they’ll kill her.
This story mines Penelope’s perspectives as a reflection of contemporary society. It inhabits the broken life of a twenty-something as she explores how, and whether it’s possible, to reassemble herself within the confines of her family and womanhood as a whole.
the darkness we’re headed for – WIP; Literary Fiction w/ Magical Realism
There’s a curse on the MacColl family. All of its women, or the women who marry into it, abuse various substances. No one talks about this curse. None of them are addicts because none of them are allowed to be addicts.
Sylvie and her father move into Blackbird Glen on the day of her Pop’s funeral in 1996. It’s no matter that they must care for her great-grandmother Hazel and return the estate to its former beauty; for the first time in years, Sylvie has a permanent home and her mother cannot show up on her doorstep. She chooses Hazel’s childhood bedroom with its smoke-stained walls because it’s far away from everyone else. It still looks like the 1920s, the last decade anyone set foot in the room. What she finds is that the dollhouse in her room comes alive at night, Hazel’s deceased mother Margaret reliving the two years before she dies in a house fire fueled by bootlegged alcohol and cigarettes.
With that, her dissection of the family curse begins, one tale after another falling from Hazel’s lips or dancing across the dollhouse’s floorboards. She, like those mothers and daughters of generations past, navigates strained relationships and malleable identities in a coming-of-age story that explores how the individuals we accrue, tend, mend, and unravel affect the self we project.
Of These Five Women: Small Skeletons & Slow Yellow Sheets – WIP; Literary Fiction
This story follows a commercial fisherman, Joanie, as she recounts the lives of five women she’s met and the ways in which she or they may have taken another path. Joanie’s experience during this time is influenced by a decade of my grandmother’s life on a commercial fishing boat. It is also inspired by Elizabeth Bishop’s poem, “The Fish.”