Lisa Stringfellow (engagereaders on QT) has signed with agent Lindsay Davis Auld of Writers House.
The book is about 12-year-old Kela who is grieving and guilt-ridden about her mother's recent death and is able to wish on a mermaid's comb to bring her mother back from the dead.
I am a middle school English teacher and my inspiration for this story came from thinking about two books I loved, The Tale of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler and Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I thought it would be interesting to write a dark mermaid story, but I had never read a story set in the Caribbean or that had a West Indian protagonist. The 12-year-old me would have loved a story like that.
I now use a little more structure when I write. I like to have a loose list of scenes, but I am flexible enough to add, remove, or move them around as I write. I guess I'm something between a planner and a panster.
Make sure your manuscript is polished and it's the best you can make it on your own. That includes having others critique or beta read your work and revising it at least a few times. Also, critique other people's work. You will improve your ability to see issues in your own work and build karma in your writing community. Those writer friends can support you during rejections and other tough times and they will cheer for you when you succeed!
Put aside your manuscript for some time before coming back to revision. Seeing your writing with fresh eyes after a lengthy break is invaluable. Write other things while you are taking a break from your manuscript.
Read, read, read. You should read extensively in the audience and genre you are writing for. It will help you find comps that you can mention in your query and also identify what is current in the marketplace. Most importantly, you can learn so much about writing craft by studying other writers. Read like a writer.
Dark Tide is a middle grade fantasy that is a twist on a traditional mermaid tale, rooted in Caribbean culture and folklore. It currently stands at 35,000 words. Oral storytelling elements blend with a setting similar to The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste and an atmosphere akin to Hoodoo by Ronald Smith.
12-year-old Kela never imagined "I hate you" would be her last words to her mother, and after her death, Kela would do anything to take it back. Powerless to change the past, she finds solace in jewelry-making and the sea. While scuba diving, Kela salvages a mysterious box containing a beautiful hair comb. When she touches it, a magical connection opens to a dangerous mermaid named Ophidia. The comb is Ophidia's soul, the immortal spark she took from a human long ago, and without it, she will dissolve into sea foam.
Bound by rules of magic, Ophidia offers Kela a wish in exchange for her comb's return. With only three days to return it, Kela accepts and wishes her mother back from the dead. At first, Kela is overjoyed to have her mother back, but worries as her mother sinks into depression, the consequence of being torn from the afterlife and her soul. But before Kela can help her mother or keep her end of the bargain with Ophidia, the comb is stolen. As time runs out, Kela struggles with the reality of her choices. She must find the thief so she can return the comb and keep her wish, or brave the mermaid's wrath and risk losing her mother again.