Name: Aidan Larson
Title: FRENCH FLAVORED LIFE
Genre: Women’s Fiction
75 Word Pitch:
A cooking vacation in the beautifully rugged Languedoc-Roussillon region of the South of France, buzzing French markets, and table after table of tempting French food haul Melissa from the brink of a boredom breakdown and help her find her raison d’être. FRENCH FLAVORED LIFE buzzes with the thrill of finding your passion, following where it leads, and being brave enough to shake things up even if (especially if) you thought you’d already seen the ending.
First 500 Words:
Lucinda should be here. In her email she said she would be here. With a sign!
French buzzed, rolled R’s and nasal endings tumbled lazy and loose into blazing blue, the sky stretched tight like a clean sheet. Its unfamiliar soundtrack tuned to the pitch of her growing panic. Melissa squinted into this French day, dressed in Texas clothes, and forced herself to be still. Rein it in, Mel! She scanned the crowd for Lucinda, pretending insouciance while her mind spun tales of abandonment and worst case scenarios, moving her closer and closer to utter freak out. Bodies rushed by, all going places--to a waiting family, lover, air-conditioned conference room.
Now she’d done it. Never should have let herself be swept away, fixated truth be told (obsessed!) by a vacation ad at the back of a cooking magazine. Better to have stayed safe and bored at home and just gotten over it, sucked it up and redecorated, reupholstered, rewound.
She’d seen the Mediterranean sparkling up at her as the plane overshot the coast and curved back to land. Now, its briny breeze kicked up the eyelet hem of her skirt. It lifted and swirled, kissing her knees. She caught the skirt and pinned it down with one hand, afraid it would blow up to reveal her underwear (boy shorts, pale pink with gray lace) and dimpled thighs. A moody looking guy watched, eyes traveling lazily, up and down. He exhaled a long curl of smoke into the salty air. Sweat flowered in the crook of her elbow from death gripping her carry-on.
Matt always compared her to a duck; serene on top of the water, gliding peacefully while underneath her legs paddled like crazy, working overtime on anxieties and fears. And now something new. An indescribable rage that made her heave angry sobs on a for no good reason, think mean thoughts about women her age chasing toddlers at the park, and fight the urge to ram her grocery cart into smug, basket-carrying men. A duck!
She whispered to the sunshine. ‘I am daring, I am daring, I am daring…’ She had started this positive affirmation hooha, which turns out isn’t really a load of crap after all and actually seems to work sometimes.
‘Melissa?’ She turned her head in the direction of a pack of teenagers whose short, shrill bursts had startled her not five seconds ago.
‘Melissa Whitman?’ There! Her name again, she was sure of it, and lo and behold, a pretty brunette came around the teenaged cluster holding a sign that said: ‘Madame Melissa Whitman. Mas Pics-Verts.’ The sign! Melissa took a couple of steps to meet her. The teenagers didn’t notice. Moody guy kissed someone hello, still seeping smoke.
‘Yes! Hi, I’m Melissa. Lucinda?’ Lucinda was just as she’d expected, just like she’d looked on the cooking school website where she smiled and cradled a bunch of happy sunflowers. Her shoulders relaxed. See? Nothing to worry about, you silly duck!