Wednesday, July 18, 2012

#12- Washed Up (YA contemporary)

Seventeen-year-old Melia Dawson has been in and out of the Royal Alexander Center for Mental Health since she was six years old. Convinced she can breathe underwater, Melia has spent the majority of her young life waiting to complete her transformation into a mermaid. What her parents think are multiple suicide attempts, are actually Melia’s way of trying to begin her life, not end it. When a stunt at the local pool lands her back in the Center, she meets fellow patient Kass Mercer. To Melia, It seems like the stars have finally aligned; not only does Kass believe that she can breathe underwater, Kass thinks he can fly.  Somewhere between broken curfews and lame horror movies, Kass and Melia fall in love. Together they explore the boundaries of their supernatural abilities through skydiving lessons and late night swims, all while appeasing their therapist, Rick.

When a fellow patient dies unexpectedly, Melia begins to question whether she and Kass are special, or just sick.  Meanwhile, in hopes of curing Melia of her delusions, Rick sends her on a surprise trip to the ocean, where she can finally complete her transformation. When the experiment doesn’t go as planned, Melia sinks into depression, dragging Kass down with her. Together they teeter between reality and delusion as they struggle to accept themselves for who they truly are, before one of them pushes their limits too far.

WASHED UP is a contemporary young adult novel, complete at 57,000 words.

My debut novel, Second Hand Lace, is due for release April of 2013 by Turquoise Morning Press. My name is Jenna Lehne and I live in Calgary, Alberta with my husband and 2.5 dogs. 

Thank you for your time.

Jenna Lehne

First 500 words:

My parents first had me committed when I was six years old. They found me in the pool, floating above the tiled bottom, with the pockets of my sundress filled with rocks. The second time, I was eleven and I jumped off the lower deck of the cruise ship we were holidaying on. My older brother tattled on me, even though he promised he wouldn’t. Now I am seventeen, and have just been dropped off at the Royal Alexander Centre for Mental Health for the third time in my short life. The process is the same; Mom hugs me, all tear-stained and snotty, my brother stares at me, his eyes brimming with tears as he wrings his ball cap, and Dad stays in the car. My doctor, Rick, an attractive man in his mid forties takes me to his office while an orderly puts my bags in a room, after undoubtedly searching them.

“Sit,” Rick orders as he points to a well-worn leather sofa. I obey, popping my sandal-clad feet on the coffee table, and unwrap a candy from an old-fashion jar. I take a deep breath, enjoying the familiar scent of the old books he stocks his shelves but doesn’t read. “I saw you last month; you were fine. What happened?”

“I just need to be in the water,” I murmur as I stare longingly at his aquarium.

If I were a fish none of this would be an issue.

“I know that,” Rick says as he reaches for a sucker. “But you also need to breathe.”

“I don’t,” I protest, feeling a sense of familiarity as we slip into a conversation we’ve already had. “I was only down there for six minutes. I would’ve come up if I knew they were there.”         

“You were in a public pool,” Rick replies. His forehead wrinkles as he begins to massage his temples. “The lifeguards found you floating face down in the deep end. Mothers wailed, kids screamed, people thought you were dead.”

“I was just trying to catch my breath,” I say as I rip the candy wrapper into confetti.

“You fought against the lifeguards when they tried to pull you out. You kept diving back into the water and swimming to the bottom. It took three of them to restrain you until your parents got there.” Rick’s blue eyes drill into mine, wordlessly asking for an explanation I’ve already given a hundred times.

I sit in silence, remembering the bliss of being underwater. The blue serenity of the pool was too much to ignore. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be around water unsupervised, but I just couldn’t help it. I had meant to come up before the morning swim class got there, but I lost track of time. I might have overreacted with the lifeguards—they were just trying to help—but they took me out too soon. People don’t understand that I need to be in the water.


  1. I'd love to read the full of this! Could you please send to, with the query letter too?


    Adriann Ranta
    Wolf Literary Services

  2. Jenna, I remember your query from Query Tracker's forums! I'm so excited for you to get a full request. Best of luck with your ms! (A girl whose fellow novel also includes a boyfriend named Cass)

  3. This was one of my favorite entries. I want to know if she's a mermaid or if she's mental :) Totally intrigued and really hoping for the former. Good luck!

    PS--the part where she's sitting in the bliss of the blue water reminds me of Percy Jackson.