31. FALSE START – Young Adult Magical Realism

Assorted_Uzi_Water_Guns_lgMentor Name: Kes Trester

Mentee Name: Jennifer Hawkins


Category: Young Adult

Genre: Magical Realism

Word Count: 79,000


Friday Night Lights meets The Raven Boys.

Delaney will do anything to help her football-star-bestie score college recruitment—even open her family’s playbook of cursed magic. But when she accidentally gives him a love potion, he kisses his undefeated season goodbye. Delaney’s mistake reveals dark truths about her family, exposes quiet racism in her hometown, and threatens her friendship with the boy she’s secretly loved since childhood.


Numbness seeps into my calves as I press the backlight button on my phone. 6:45AM. Shifting, I feed my legs a little blood flow.

Desperation and choke-a-skunk incense saturate the dim room. They swirl together in fingerlike tendrils, reaching through the crack of the closet door to my hiding spot. The funk tickles my nose. Wrapping my long hair around my face, I bottle a sneeze and hope the pressure won’t cannonball my eyes against the wall.

Mustn’t. Get. Caught.

Aunt Phoebe’s chipped onyx nails scrape the inside of the coyote skull—ch-ch-ch—like a macabre mortar and pestle. Squinting, I peek through the sliver of light. Blood-red liquid dribbles over her fingers with little clumps of not-quite-dissolved herbs.

Phoebe’s Potions add an extra shot of cheesy to Coyote Park’s charm. Tourists love her products, but residents prefer their Haterade to her little bottles of magic. Except for Old Man Sanchez. He won a modest cash prize in the Texas lottery after a swig of Prosperity Potion. The money helped him start the Coyote Park Carnival, which stuffs his pockets and keeps tourists visiting.

That’s the potion Marshall Renner asked me to steal.

Phoebe pours, tweaks, stirs and grunts—an obsession with Love Potions tugging her puppet strings. I roll my eyes. A supposed curse plagues the women in my family. We can only love once.

If that’s the case, I’m one-hundred-percent screwed.

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