Genre: YA light sci-fi
Status: R&R. Hiatus.
Comps: IN TIME meets FORGET TOMORROW
Word Count: 73K
Seventeen-year-old Liam is a Time Slave, indentured to an affluent society hidden beneath modern-day Manhattan. His servitude ends when his family's debts to the society are paid, but fifteen more years seems like another lifetime to Liam. Instead of finishing off his debt Liam runs, but his botched escape plan results in both the deaths of his parents and disappearance of his sister. In a last ditch effort to save the only family he has left, Liam plans to get her back in a hostage trade: Sahar— the society’s heiress—for his sister.
Holding Sahar captive, Liam discovers an unsettling truth—Sahar is unaware of her society’s wrongdoings. What’s even more unsettling is her ability to quell the anger inside him. But as Liam introduces Sahar to the realities of his time-bound servitude, he finds her drawn to a side of her society Liam has yet to see and with it, the most unsettling truth of all: her allegiance to them.
With his sister’s rescue hanging in the balance, Liam fights between trusting Sahar and sticking to his original plan. If Liam chooses incorrectly, he’ll lose more than his sister—he’ll lose his heart too.
Chapter One: Liam
Repayment Time Owed: INACTIVE, 15 years, 98 days.
Repayment Time Paid: 16 years, 364 days.
There's no easy way to admit you've failed the ones you love, besides convincing yourself you haven't.
I study the sole picture I have of Octavia, my sister. She's perched precariously on the limbs of a cherry blossom tree—her fearless face painted with happiness. It was her first experience of seeing the world above-ground. The first of many times to come, so I had promised her. One of hundreds of promises I failed to keep.
"It's not your fault she's missing," Will says from my bed. He's sitting cross-legged, arms folded across his chest, back against the wall. "There could be a million explanations—"
"You weren't there." I shoot my oldest friend a sidelong glance. His grey eyes—nearly clear from experimentation—watch me carefully as I pace the length of my room. "She called me a monster. It's my fault she went above-ground."
"You did what you had to Liam. Hell... If it was me." Will tugs at a nonexistent piece of lint on my black comforter. "I—"
"Let's go over the plan." I slap Octavia's picture face-down on my desk, pretending it makes what I have to do less horrific. "Tell me how to get to Hesham's daughter."
Hesham Ihsan—CEO of Generation Co.—is on the forefront of genetic research and specialized combat training.
Above-ground, he's a business god. Below-ground, he's our creator.
Status: Undergoing revisions
Comps: DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE/SPIRITED AWAY meets Islamic/Persian lore
Word Count: 64k
Naked sight unseen,
Lurks among the in-between
Of dying day
And triumphant night.
Those who believe, beware:
We are coming.
After the sudden death of her father, sixteen-year-old Farrah stumbles upon the in-between of the human and jinn worlds. With nothing but her father's jewel encrusted ring to call for courage, Farrah discovers Azazil, a sinister fire-jinn, and his master plan to rid the Earth of human control, starting with taking over Philadelphia to restore his fire kingdom.
Determined to protect both the families who love and hate her, Farrah teams up with Idris, a curious looking half-jinn with milky white eyes and hair. Idris reveals for the fire-jinn's plan to work, he must rid his people of the link all humans and jinn share. Without the secret of the link destroyed, Azazil's plan will fail.
Farrah and Idris travel throughout jinn homeland territories in hopes of stopping Azazil before everything Farrah loves burns to the ground. But what she doesn't know is Idris has plans of his own and none of them include saving her family.
When I was small, my father taught me to be truly free, we must confront the things that scare us. Dust swirled around my ankles as I pressed the heel of my foot into a shallow crevice of the boulder I was climbing. Fingers crimped into the rough rock, I reached into my harness and sought a silver clip to keep me against the wall. Once secure, I leaned on my rope and released my right hand to survey the ground. With fifty feet of open air below me, I paused and wondered of Baba's yearly lessons.
I wondered of the fears that kept him trapped.
But I didn't need to wonder for long. After all, being the father of a harami child posed within itself a plethora of worries. Of fears to confront. Or in Baba's case, to hide.
I wondered if given the chance, if he'd reconsider having me. If he'd do it all again.
He'd erase you in a heartbeat. No one would redo having a bastard child if they could help it.
I shook the sour feeling away and focused on the soothing motion of the climb. I dug in my bag for another clip to anchor me to the wall. Climb, clip, climb, clip. Higher and higher I went, rivaling the spiral of treetops. I felt impressive in my ascent. I peeked at Baba's tiny figure from the ground, watching. I secretly hoped he thought the same.
Maybe today I could tell him it's time to take his own advice. He can't hide me forever.
A birds shrill squawk startled me. My fingers lost their grip and I plummeted--ten, twenty, thirty feet--to the ground. My stomach dropped as rope slipped from clips. I braced myself for impact, but the last clip held, suspending me two feet above the ground of Wissahickon Park. I nearly passed out.
After taking a few deep breaths, I unbuckled myself from my harness. So much for being impressive. I would have kissed the road if I didn't have an audience hurdling full speed toward me.
And by audience, I meant my father.
"Farrah jan," Baba said, "my dear, are you hurt?" He spun me around, surveying quickly and efficiently for signs of distress. I set a brace face and shook him away.
"I'm fine. It's not like I haven't fallen before." I smoothed my ponytail to cloak my trembling fingers.
"This is why I told you to wait." He ignored my protests and loosened my harness around my hips. "You aren't ready to lead climb by yourself."
I bristled. "Of course I can. I practice in the gym all the time--"
"Apparently not enough to know you clipped in backwards."
Definitely not impressed.
My face paled. "But in the gym--"
"You're not in the gym," he countered. "And we're done for today."
Genre: Historical literary
Status: Hiatus for now
Comps: AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED
Word Count: 2K
When fifteen-year-old Bahadur stows away on a freight train, he leaves more than his shoes and prayer rug behind--he abandons his sister too.
Set in late 1930's Uzbekistan, THE PROMISE tests the bond between fifteen-year-old Bahadur and nine-year-old Mariam when their father's decision to escape communist rule means saving one sibling and leaving the other behind. In a twisted tale that spans a decade of briefly finding and losing each other all over again, readers explore the heart-breaking lessons of what it means to hold on to a promise that was never meant to be kept.
“Take this corner.” Bahadur balanced a fraying blanket in one hand while gripping hammer and nails in the other. “Quickly, hold tight Mariam jan. The daylight for maghrib prayer is fading fast.”
“I’m trying.” Mariam scrambled to his side. On tiptoes, arms outstretched, she pressed the blanket to the window in their tiny living room. Three taps and the blanket was secured. A flicker of movement caused Mariam to clasp her hands together and squeal.
She lifted a corner of blanket and planted face to glass, pointing to a dragonfly.
Bahadur clicked his tongue and tugged her from the window. Being exposed to the outside made him nervous. “How many times do I have to tell you to— ”
Mariam twisted from his grip. “Remember what Baba jan said, about the dragonflies?” She hopped up and down. “Remember, brother. You have to. Remember what they are?” Mariam darted to the window, mesmerized by the bug.
“The souls of the dead,” Bahadur muttered under his breath. Old Uzbek lore—a childish tale fifteen-year-old Bahadur no longer believed. He opened his mouth to shame his sister for entertaining nonsense, but the words faded the moment her bright grey eyes turned to meet his.
“Who do you think it is this time?”
Her question seeped into the quiet spaces of their home, igniting memories Bahadur promised to bury.
Mariam’s breath fogged the glass; she waited for an answer. Bahadur swallowed the bitterness of longing, shrugged away the tightness of loss in his chest.
“We both know where Mammy is, Mariam jan. Now please. Leave the window and say your prayers.”
Mariam’s shoulders slumped as she drew away from their makeshift curtain. Regret drowned Bahadur’s heart, but he knew it was best to banish these fantastical thoughts—make her reality easier to bear.
The consequences of performing their daily prayers were tremendous. One utterance of an Allahu akbar, God is great, and Bahadur’s fate was sealed. In 1934, no one in the town of Samarkand was safe from the Communists. Not him, not Mariam—even Baba knelt at the mercy of the Soviets.
He watched Mariam grasp for her worn white hijab—the last present she received from her mother. Bahadur remembered the grin on Mammy’s face, the excitement of laying the headscarf lightly on Mariam’s shoulders, kissing her forehead. The stray bullet that hummed its song through the yard. Mariam’s scream had pierced the air as Bahadur rushed to his mother’s side, blood pooling beneath his fingers.
“Never leave her,” she had begged.
“I-I didn’t see it. Mammy, please. Baba will come.” He had shouted at Mariam to fetch their father before clinging to his mother’s chest, listening for the steady whoosh of life passing through her lips.
“Promise,” she had rasped.
“I promise, I swear.”
Bahadur had waited for the whoosh to come next, but it never did.
Later that night, after completing their prayers, Bahadur settled on the ground next to Mariam and watched her sleep. He counted the rise and fall of her small chest, listening for the steady whoosh.