Seeking representation for my YA novel Awaken the Dawn…

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Some teens go to Europe to party. Seventeen-year-old Kat is going because she received a package from her dead father. It’s not a message from the “other side,” and despite the parcel’s origin (Transylvania) it doesn’t involve vampires.

Kat sets out for her dad’s homeland. Her mission: decode a cryptic scavenger hunt he made before he died. Romania is tough, even for an Atlanta girl, and she solicits the help of Maksim, a reformed scammer with the perfect skillset for solving the clues. The problem? Maksim’s crime-boss cousin has an agenda for watching Kat.

Things get complicated when Kat falls for Maksim. Romance wasn’t on the itinerary, but as she grows closer to him, her cynical heart makes an unexpected detour. There’s more to this Romanian hunk than meets the eye. His kindness is a healing balm to Kat’s brokenness, and sparks fly between them during an excursion into Transylvania—that is, until the clues uncover deadly secrets about Kat’s dad and why he really created the scavenger hunt.

He was on the run from Maksim’s cousin. The crime boss is searching for the prize at the end of these clues: an inheritance so big Romania’s biggest crime syndicate is after it. Kat must beat the syndicate’s men to the fortune, which they’ll use to expand their underground networks—an outcome her dad died to prevent. She must also figure out if she can trust Maksim. Is what happened between them real, or is he still working for his cousin? Her heart can’t decide, and if this is a trap, the crime boss will say la revedere by shipping her home in a body bag.

Excerpt

He led me to the end of the corridor, and we entered an enormous open plaza full of people. A flock of birds took flight in front of us, disappearing into the gray sky.

I stopped. Gasped.

A beige clock tower, square and stately, rose up from a red-roofed merchant house in the middle of the square. A greenish-black pointed roof topped the tower—like a square-brimmed witch’s hat sitting above the clock. Pastel merchant houses rimmed the outside of the square, adding splashes of color to the scene—green, pink, light blue, deep gold, and a yellow that reminded me of my new pullover. The buttery color was definitely prettier on the merchant house than on me.

“Do you see something?” Maksim followed my gaze across the plaza. “What is it?”

“Ox-drawn carriages,” I murmured, more to myself.

“Where?” Maksim lowered his glasses. “What do ox-drawn carriages have to do with the clues?”

Council Square

Ox-drawn carriages didn’t have anything to do with anything. It’s just that I finally got what Dad had been talking about. He’d never said much about Romania, but when he had, it’d usually been about Braşov. Now I understood why. Something about this plaza was magical, like I’d been transported into another time, another place.

Into a fairytale.

Did the peasants of fairytales ride around in ox-drawn carriages? Maybe, although it was hard to say since fairytales were about princesses. But as I stood in that colorful, medieval plaza surrounded by mountains, I knew ox-drawn carriages had to be in fairytales somewhere, at least in the background or off the beaten path.

The black minute hand on the clock tower moved, clicking onto the next digit. I blinked, my gaze landing on Maksim, who was smiling.

“It’s lovely, isn’t it?” He took in our surroundings. “I spent every day here last summer. Over on those benches, by that fountain.” He pointed at a stone fountain made up of large triangles pointing toward the center.

“Can we go sit down? I need to get my bearings.”

“Of course.”

The benches were full, but a couple scooted over, leaving enough space for one person. Maksim offered me the seat. People snapped selfies in front of the fountain, using the Carpathian Mountains as a backdrop.

On the way to Centru

“Look at that.” Maksim squatted beside me, drizzle spattering his glasses, and pointed to our right.

I squinted at a dark mass beyond a row of merchant houses. At first, I thought the mass was part of a mountain, but it was actually a gargantuan building. “What is that?”

Biserica Neagră. The Black Church. The architecture is gothic, of course. Notice how the edifice appears to be reaching up to heaven”—he pointed—“with statuesque carvings around the exterior. It would be nice if you could see those a bit better. And the spire.” He peered skyward. “You’re not quite getting the full scope in this weather.”

My gaze followed the dark stone to a steeply slanted roof. Gray clouds, dense with moisture, had sunken over the mountains, blanketing them in a fog that rolled off the emerald forests as a peculiar mist. Some of the fog had settled on top of the Black Church, giving it a macabre look.

“I’m in Transylvania,” I whispered.

Soundtrack

  1. Flagship (Instrumental) – Amanda Cook
  2. Summer Girl – Misty Edwards
  3. Words Remain – Josh Garrels
  4. Brave New World (Instrumental) – Amanda Cook
  5. Say the Word – Hillsong United
  6. Season of Rain – Josh Garrels
  7. When the Fight Calls (Acoustic) – Hillsong Young & Free  thegirlintheredscarf
  8. Falling Into You (Studio Version) – Hillsong Young & Free
  9. Wake (Live) – Hillsong Young & Free
  10. Rule – Hillsong United
  11. Pursue – Hillsong Young & Free
  12. Symphony – Switch ft. Dillon Chase
  13. This is Living (Acoustic) – Hillsong Young & Free
  14. Falling Into You (Acoustic) – Hillsong Young & Free
  15. Bitter / Sweet – Amanda Cook
  16. Never Have I Found – Josh Garrels
  17. Tightrope – Misty Edwards
  18. The Wick – Housefires
  19. Never See the End – Amanda Cook
  20. Don’t Wait for Me – Josh Garrels
  21. Sinking Deep – Hillsong Young & Free
  22. Captain – Hillsong United
  23. Lake Yarina – Josh Garrels
  24. The Voyage – Amanda Cook
  25. Desert Father – Josh Garrels
  26. Even When It Hurts (Praise Song) – Hillsong United)
  27. Heart Like Heaven – Hillsong United
  28. Embarkation – Josh Garrels
  29. Heroes – Amanda Cook

For EDM (Electronic Dance Music) from the club scene, check out Kay’s SoundCloud.