Saving her long-lost mom will trap Natalie as a seal--forever
I grew up in New Jersey but have moved back to South Africa to help my folks out. I was organizer of two writing groups before the move, and I miss my IRL writing community. Luckily we have the internet!
I write YA, usually contemporary, fantasy, or a mixture of the two.
I read mostly YA and adult, contemporary, historical, fantasy, or light sci fi. Also adult romance. (I find it hard to believe YA contemporary romances that are HEA instead of HFN.)
Not big on literary fiction and horror does nothing for me.
Sixteen-year-old Natalie yearns for her mother who died in a car crash ten years ago, but her father won’t talk about her. So Natalie definitely can’t tell him about the voices calling her to the ocean, or the time the high school pool feels like acid and Nat almost drowns. Certain that the compulsion to ditch chlorine for saltwater is somehow connected to her mom, Natalie seizes on old letters that point to long-lost family on a small island in Nova Scotia. Surely someone there can tell her about her mom. She decides to use her winter break to go there—alone.
But her supposed family won’t talk to her, instead threatening her to leave the island. Her only help comes from Fiona, a seventeen-year-old environmentalist whose friendship sparks something deeper in Natalie. Fiona reveals the island’s secret: they’re all selkies, a species of Scottish seal shape-shifters. The selkies’ isolation protects them from pelt hunters, but some have wandered into human arms. Eventually, they return to the sea, leaving behind any half-human children. Children like Natalie.
With time running out before school starts, and her romantic feelings for Fiona getting stronger, Natalie braves the rite that will make her a seal. But her recklessness gets captured on YouTube, and suddenly the island is swarming with cryptozoologists. Natalie must save the community from further exposure, learn the truth about her mother, and choose between an ordinary human life cut off from her selkie kin, or a solution that will save the selkies but trap her as a seal—forever.
Content Warnings: Discussion of suicide, child abandonment
If Coach Gina says one more good word about me, I may scream. Coach thinks repeating our meet times every week is motivating. I just want to crawl into a hole. I don’t deserve praise for something that comes so easily. There are other girls who work three times as hard. They deserve the praise, not me.
Every time she says my name, I expect this to be the time the team glares at me with jealousy.
“Natalie Mulligan, 1:42.02.”
Instead, the girls whoop and clap for me, because my points are their points. They don’t care where the numbers come from. Cheers bounce around the pool and I catch David grinning at me from the other side, not paying attention as the boys’ coach reads their scores. When his name is called the guys thump him on the back and chant, “Ecklestein! Ecklestein!”
We’re a pair of winners, a matched set, the perfect couple.
So why don’t I enjoy competing? I just want to get in the water where things feel good, where I can swim and forget about stuff like what I have to cook for Thanksgiving.
Smile for the other girls, Natalie.
I jump in for warm-ups, the water swallowing me. I rush downward, the bottom twelve feet below. I was off sick with the flu most of last week and this is my first time back in the water. When I slow, I open my eyes and gaze up through the jelly-like water to the lights above.
It starts as a prickle on my arms. Then I want to rub my eyes. They’re gritty, like I haven’t slept. Just as I’m thinking how weird that is, the pain kicks in. I gasp water.
I cough convulsively, but there’s burning water in my airways. I can’t breathe! Needles drive through my skin, setting my nerves alight.
I’m the best swimmer in the state and I’m drowning.
Working on a contemporary about a girl whose father wants her to attend a purity ball.
Here are some best practices for reaching out to a potential CP:
- Include the link to your own CP Match profile! You can find it on your Dashboard. Don't have one yet? What are you waiting for? Anyone with a WriteOnCon.org account can make one!
- Introduce yourself a little, and say what appealed to you about their listing.
- Respect what's listed here in their profile. They took the time to fill it out, and they've included this information for a reason. Don't send a message about a book they specifically say is a Hard No, for example.
- Offer to swap a small sample of your works, so you can see if you're really compatible. First chapters are a good starting place.
- If one party no longer wants to continue the interaction, it's nobody's fault. Sometimes finding the right CP takes time.
Happy writing and CPing!