Entry nickname: Oh Sweetcrabmeat
Title: The Wildness in Mellie Feye
Word count: 65,000
Genre: YA Fairytale Retelling/Magical Realism
Break her curse. Save the bay. Fix her family. Mellie must decide which is more important and which she must sacrifice.
Sixteen-year-old Mellie and her fellow triplet sisters discover that their long absent father betrayed their mother on the day of their birth. But when Mellie seeks revenge, her mother banishes her from their trailer deep in a Florida swamp with a curse that can only be broken by true-love's kiss.
But crabs, what is true love? And when her beloved bay turns septic? Who cares. She sets out to discover what's killing off the fish and oysters, but when her mother gets sick, Mellie realizes fixing what's wrong with the bay and her mother are connected to breaking her curse. Now she must right the wrongs of the past and figure out how to reunite with her sisters without giving up this wild, cursed life she's grown to love.
My manuscript has an ecological tone similar to HOOT and is based on the fairy tale of Melusine.
I could be cursed as worse things. I still have the ability to enjoy the warmth of the strong Florida sun on my skin and the silky bay water on my legs. The faint balmy breeze lifts my hair and I smile until jarring vibrations crowd out the soft ones of the scallops I'm hunting.
Standing thigh-deep in Sand Blast Bay, I look behind me. A boat is heading toward my sandbar, the hip-hop reverberating off the water. I grit my teeth in irritation. The music means they're not here to fish. Or if they are, they have no clue. A party boat.
The sapphire of scallop eyes flash in the grassy, brackish water. I go underwater, blinking to clear the salt and sun from my eyes as I push the bay grass aside. The scallop clicks its two shells together, an underwater butterfly fluttering deeper into the mucky bay floor. I grab it.
When I break through the surface, goosebumps race down my arms. I was underwater less than a minute, but in that time, everything's changed. Bruised clouds have swallowed the sun. A menacing wind slaps me.
I glare at the sky, wondering what I did to bring this on as I wring water out of my Fish Shack tee shirt.
The boat slows, I guess whoever is on it sees me. The nearest shore is two hundred yards away. I wade toward the gnarled, twisted pines.
The stereo cuts off as it gets closer.
Entry Nickname: A Few Quick Hellos
Title: Under the Fresh Turned Earth
Word Count: 56,000
Genre: YA Magical Realism
Nel has friends who are alive, but she spends most of her time with the dead in the Drutherton Cemetery. Her idea of a perfect afternoon is lying in the dirt of the fresh dug graves and listening to the stories of those buried beneath.
The most recently deceased, a seventy-two-year-old widow, Harriet Murphy, thought her stories died with her. She hadn’t planned on meeting Nel.
To learn more about her, Nel breaks into Harriet’s home and steals her diary. Within the pages she uncovers a secret the whole town of Drutherton has been waiting to hear for more than fifty years. Harriet reveals that she possessed the Carte Dorare, a magical Book of Wishes.
Nel feels certain Harriet held onto the book and that it’s hiding place is spelled out somewhere in the diary. All she has to do is keep reading.
The Carte Dorare has the power to grant the holder one wish and make their deepest desire come true. The book has changed history before. When Nel gets her hands on it, she can change history again.
Peering between the branches of the pear tree in her back yard, Nel watched caretakers erect a tent over a grave in the Drutherton Cemetery.
“It's a small one,” she called down to her Grandma Dahlia, who sat at a card table on the back patio, working a jigsaw puzzle. “Only two chairs this time,” she said joining her Grandma.
“Poor thing,” Nel’s Grandma shook her head and forced a piece into the jigsaw puzzle.
“Not there, you can’t force them.” Nel took the piece out and placed it to the side. “Who do you think it is?”
“Can’t say. No one I know has been sick.”
“Could be anyone.” Nel held a puzzle piece up to her mouth and fought the urge to nibble it. She stared out to the headstones just past her fence. “Maybe I . . .”
“Go on child.”
“Thanks. I won't be long. Just a few quick hellos.” Nel skipped across the yard. She climbed up and over the tree, landing on the green grass of the cemetery.
Walking along the first line of markers, she stopped near the headstone of Mr. and Mrs. Gruver. It read, 'Together in Life and Forever After'. They had died at the age of sixty-three on the same day.
“Morning. There’s a new grave a few rows over.” Nel spoke to the headstone as if the dead buried beneath were listening. “I’m going to the service. I’ll introduce you after I meet your new neighbor.”