Beautiful Woods


Ely Azure


YA Urban Fantasy

Word Count:

77,000 words


Sixteen-year-old Mecca isn’t quite human. She and her family are banished from the Midlands to Earth and must consume chi from humans in order to survive. When her family feeds, people die. As the body count climbs, they are forced to hide because Guardians of the Outer Lands (humanity’s protectors) are hunting them.

Although she’s outcasted by her family for her differences, Mecca ends up being the one they need. When she feeds, humans turn to stone—stone slaves. Leaving behind an army of emotionless minions isn’t quite her thing, especially after meeting Kess, a human who can make her belly flutter and it have nothing to do with hunger. The chemistry between them is like lightning to silver. And he’s the only one immune to her power.

As the Guardians get closer to discovering her family’s cloaked hideaway, Mecca learns the Amelia River running through Kess’s town still holds the magic of the Bermuda Triangle. The only thing her family wants more than feeding is to take back the Midland throne. They find a way to harness the river’s magic and open a gateway, but it’ll kill every human in town. Mecca wants to save Kess, but to do that she must turn her family over to the Guardians. She’s never had the courage to defy her family before and to stop them will mean betraying everything she knows.

BEAUTIFUL WOODS is a 77,000 word YA, dark fantasy and is told in an alternating POV. I believe fans of Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older and SyFy’s Lost Girl would enjoy this book.

I am an African-American female writer and my maternal grandmother was Cherokee. I hold an MFA in Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California-Riverside. I am an SCBWI member and a 2016 Writing in the Margins Mentorship recipient. This novel was longlisted in Mslexia’s 2015 Novel Competition. I was selected as a semi-finalist for the Speculative Literature Foundation’s 2014 Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds Grants. My short story “Never.Give.You.Up.” was first runner-up in Ragazine Art & Entertainment Magazine’s 2013 Speculative Fiction Writers of Color Contest.

First 300 words:

It was her laugh that first caught Mecca’s attention. The opposite of the sharp, giggles normal teenage girls break into when they tell secrets. This girl’s scratched deeper, huskier, like she’d recently recovered from a cold. She’d coughed a little too, and Mecca couldn’t resist stepping from her hiding place to sneak a glance at the girl’s face.

Breath caught in her throat. The girl was perfect. Perfect. She had the same Mayan tan complexion, big brunette eyes, and pixie-shaped face. The hair was wrong, but that could be fixed. She was even the right age. Mecca bit her lip and blew air hard through her nostrils. She looked just like Laila. She could be her.

She’d been following the girl for almost an hour while she shopped with her friends, stared at jewelry and boys, laughed, held hands, and tried on clothes. They’d finally stopped to catch a film, bogged down with shopping bags and Icees, popcorn and candy. It was dark in the theater, but Mecca could make out every detail.

She’d already separated the girl’s scent from the three girls and memorized it, listening only for the tone of her voice above the others. She watched for her to move an arm, check her phone, flick her hair, anything. It was a game. When she moved, Mecca would inhale. If she leaned over to whisper to her friends, Mecca would exhale.

She was three rows behind the girl, six seats to the left and she’d looked over her shoulder twice already. Mecca had to have this girl. None other would do. The ending of the game settled only when she’d make her move, not if. There was nothing stopping her from doing it now. There was  only the thrill of the hunt.

One Comment

  • Hi Ely,
    Thank you so much for participating in the WCNV contest! I really enjoyed this opening and would love to keep reading BEAUTIFUL WOODS. Please send the query letter and first 50 pages as a Word doc, to my attention, to fullcirclelit@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
    All my best,
    Taylor Martindale Kean
    Full Circle Literary

    p.s. If you receive multiple requests from Full Circle agents, please just note that in your query letter.

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