Thank you for considering this submission. Naomi’s Garden is a MG magical realism novel of 25,000 words.

After Naomi discovers that her family is moving, she consoles herself by working on a secret discovery: a magical garden, abandoned and overgrown, comes to literal life in her hands.

But when money-hungry developers threaten the future of the garden, Naomi uses the garden’s magic to drive them away.

When fourth-grader Naomi Flores chases her wayward pup into the abandoned lot at the end of her street, she discovers a magic garden growing around a strange house that appears to have sprung from the ground itself. She and her best friend, Ayanna, learn something incredible as they work to restore the overgrown garden to its former glory. Sunflowers spring up immediately after Ayanna drops her bag of sunflower seeds. A sapling appears moments after Naomi buries her apple seed in the soil. Everything they plant grows instantly and every piece of fruit they pluck reappears right away. As the girls spend their early summer days unearthing the garden’s secrets, the new owners of the lot show up with plans to sell the property to a developer. Naomi isn’t willing to give up without a fight, especially after she discovers an incredible connection between the mysterious garden and her own family. She devises a plan to drive the developers away, but when her plan goes awry, the garden steps in to show these new owners what it’s capable of.

Naomi’s Garden is about finding magic in everyday life, regardless of where we find ourselves. Naomi herself is an example of adaptability. Her love for nature leads her to discovering the magic garden, which helps her navigate a difficult time in her young life. And when others tell her she’s too young to make a difference, she proves them wrong.

I’m a writer and teacher based out of Waco, Texas. I recently earned my Master of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. During my time in that program, I published my first short story – a piece of women’s fiction that appeared in the 2017 summer issue of Mused, a women’s literary review journal.

Naomi’s Garden is my first novel. The idea for this story was born during my time teaching at a low-income elementary school in the heart of the city. I was inspired by my students’ resilient imaginations, and I wanted to create a story for them – a story that encourages children to look beyond the surface of their less-than-ideal circumstances and create something incredible right where they are.

Thank you for your time,

Amelia Nolan

 

Naomi’s Garden

 

“Leo!”I shouted for what felt like the hundredth time.

It was no use. The moment my overgrown, overexcited dog caught sight of that pesky squirrel, the chase was on. No amount of yelling or pleading from me was going to bring him back now.

I stood on my tiptoes and peered into the small patch of woods where Leo had disappeared. Brambles and briars grew thick beneath towering oak trees. Wild grape vines stretched between the heavy branches. It was dark, and it looked more like a jungle than the corner lot in my grandmother’s busy Houston neighborhood.

“Going for a hike, Naomi?”

I turned to see Ayanna watching from the sidewalk. She raised a skeptical eyebrow and pointed to the abandoned lot. “Please tell me you’re not thinking about going in there.”

I let out a frustrated sigh. “It looks like I have to. Leo decided to go exploring.”

“You can’t go in there!” Ayanna insisted. “You’ve heard the stories.”

I had heard the stories. Everyone on Ross Avenue had.

There were rumors of ghosts in the abandoned lot. There were tales of a witch who lived among the crumbling remains of an old house somewhere inside. There were stories of monsters and goblins and every other creature imaginable.

I had heard them all, which is exactly why I wasn’t about to leave Leo in there alone.

I adjusted my glasses, put on a brave face, and said, “You can wait here if you want, but I’m going in.”

“No way am I letting you go in there by yourself,” Ayanna said.

“I’m fine on my own,” I insisted, but I was secretly thankful for the company. The sunlight disappeared as I pushed aside two heavy branches and stepped into the undergrowth. So did my brave face. If Ayanna hadn’t been right behind me, I would have run straight back to the safety of the sidewalk.

“This feels like a bad idea…” Ayanna muttered.

I thought so too, but I wasn’t going to admit it out loud. Instead, I took another deep breath, then another big step into the dense woods.

Low-hanging branches caught my hair. Dead leaves crunched beneath our feet. The air was still, as though the trees were holding their breath. Every branch seemed to turn towards us as we walked by, almost as though they were watchingus.

I shook the thought from my head. It was just my imagination getting the best of me – that’s what my mom always said.

A loud snapcame from somewhere in front of us, and we both jumped.

“Leo?” I said. The lonely call of a raven in the trees echoed the crack in my voice. Fear tugged my heart. But Leo was out there, somewhere. And as soon as he lost that squirrel, he’d realize he was lost and would panic. And then what?

I had to find him.